By Stephanie Ciccarelli
July 29, 2014
What can you do to improve your odds of booking work at Voices.com? William Dougan shares 10 tips from his own experience covering a wide array of topics such as recording equipment, profile completion, auditioning and how to treat your clients. Knowing your strengths and auditioning accordingly will help you to give prospective customers your very best in an audition. Hear about all this and more on Voice Over Experts.
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William R. Dougan is a talented voice actor who has lived in the San Francisco/Bay Area for the past 34 years. He is also a musician who plays the trombone and piano. Right now, he is learning to play the guitar, and also learning to speak Italian. He is passionate about movies, music, language, and thoroughly enjoys the "creative process" that goes into making quality entertainment.
His partial client list includes American Red Cross, Porsche, Hallmark, Delta Dental, Allergan, Inc., FaceShift, Four Story Creative, CEV Multimedia, Ltd., Switch Video, NogginLabs, Inc., Ovatio, Eelke Dekker Film & Animatie, Modio, Mary Pomerantz Advertising and How It Works Media.
Welcome to Voice Over Experts, brought to you by Voices.com the number one voice over marketplace. Voice Over Experts brings you tips, pearls of wisdom, and techniques from top instructors, authors and performers in the field of voice over. Join us each week to discover tricks of the trade that will help you to develop your craft and prosper as a career voice over talent. It's never been easier to learn, perform and succeed from the privacy of your own home, and at your own pace. This is truly an education you won't find anywhere else. Now for our special guest.
William: Greetings fellow voice actors, as well as all of you aspiring voice actors out there. This is William Dougan, and I'm here to talk to you about getting the most of your voices.com membership. Perhaps you're thinking about signing up or, better yet, you've recently signed up with voices.com, but now you're wondering what next? How do I go from hoping, or aspiring to get work through voices.com, to actually booking real work? Well, hopefully I can help you with that. So that's why I've created my top ten tips for successfully getting started using voices.com. Now, these tips aren't in any particular order of importance. Rather, they are all useful and important things to remember, especially when you're starting out, but even for us veterans or, as they say, working voice actors, and these are all things that I, personally, find helpful as I go about my day in this wonderful world of voice overs. So, enough chit-chat. What do you say we get started with the list? My first tip is to start off with a band.
You'll need to start off with the right equipment. Now, I'm not here to recommend or sell you a certain brand, instead I'm recommending that you at least get the basics down. What you need are a computer, a quality microphone, and some sort of audio recording software. There are so many types of each of those items that we'd run out of time going over the pros and cons of what's available. So if you'd like to know what I specifically use, feel free to check out the equipment section of my profile page here on voices.com. As a side point, most of us don't have an uber professional sound studio, however you can set up your home studio in a way that can give the impression that you're actually recording at one of those uber professional studios. One thing that I found helpful is making sure my microphone is surrounded by insulating or acoustic foam. Personally, I use something called a porta booth, made by Harlan Hogan, but you can certainly shop around for something similar.
They're inexpensive, easy to set up and use and they actually work. Once you have the right equipment you're ready for my next tip, which is number two, have a complete profile page. What does that mean? Well, once you're a member of voices.com, you have the privilege of creating your profile, and this includes everything from your bio to your experience and credentials to your type of equipment, as we talked about earlier, and many more things. You'll also notice that you can upload a ton of demos to your profile, so that potential client can easily listen to what you have to offer. Now, if you click on the My Account tab you'll be able to see just how complete your profile actually is. The goal is to get it to 100% complete. Why, you may ask? Well, it has to do with the voices.com voice match score. That's how the auditions are organised for the client when they are actually reviewing and listening to them.
So, in order to be ranked higher on their list, you'll need to one, have a complete profile, the higher the percentage the better, and two, audition early in the audition process, and this is important because if you are number 105 out of 120 auditions, you might just get lost in the shuffle. I mean, can you imagine having to listen to the same thing over and over and over? At some point they might all start sounding the same. So auditioning early in the audition process will allow you to be heard, and perhaps the client will make a note if they like your audition, and then circle back later to re-visit the audition because they liked it. If you're having trouble completing your profile, customer support is very helpful in providing resources and advice in this regard and, again, feel free to check out my profile to get an idea of what you can and should be including. We were just discussing auditions, so why not move on to my next tip? Tip number three, know your strengths and audition accordingly.
What that means is we all have different strengths or fortes, when it comes to voice acting. Some of us can't sound like Morgan Freeman or James Earl Jones, while others of us have no business auditioning for a high pitched cartoon sound. So know your strengths and audition accordingly. Don't waste your time on auditioning for parts or jobs that you know you won't excel at, because there are plenty of other voice actors who do excel at those parts. One of the great things about voices.com is that there are so many auditions it's hard to keep up. So focus your attention and efforts on jobs that are a good match for your talents, and this tip goes hand-in-hand with the next tip. Tip number four, always give your best in an audition, but also realise it's a numbers game. What I mean by this is, if you're going to take the time to audition for a job, why not give the client a proper representation of what you will do with the final product if they hire you.
The client wants to hear and hire the best voice for their specific project, so if you really want them to take you seriously, give them your best audition possible. Make sure the sound quality is good. Try to limit any plosives or inappropriate sibilance and, of course, read the client's custom script. They posted it for a reason. It only annoys them if you send them a canned demo reel, instead of a custom audition, and if you do they'll simply move on to the next audition. Now, all that being said, you still need to remember that booking a job is a numbers game as well. That means that, generally speaking, you're going to need to audition a lot to book something. I've heard that being able to book 1 or 2 jobs out of 100 auditions is considered the norm in some cases, especially for beginners. I remember when I started using voices.com. I auditioned for 20 to 30 jobs plus, a day. That's a lot. That number has since gone down a little, simply because I have actual work, but you can be sure that when I finish a project I'm back there auditioning for as many projects that fit my range and skill level.
Tip number five, network. The more contacts you have in the voice over industry, the more opportunities you'll get to audition for a variety of jobs. Now, I'm not talking about how many friends on Facebook you have, and I think you know that. I'm talking about professional contacts. Let me start by saying I love voices.com, and most of my work has come from the jobs I auditioned for through voices.com, or someone seeing my profile on the site. That being said, there are plenty of other ways I've gotten work as well. Without getting too specific, here's a general list of ways I've networked, that have helped me book work. One, get an agent if possible. Two, use LinkedIn. Three, create your own website. If you want to see mine as a reference, feel free to check it out at www.williamdoegan.com, and then number four, join some of the free voice acting sites out there. Again, I emphasise free sites. They might not yield as much work as voices.com, but they'll definitely help you get your name and brand out there in a professional way.
This tip really segways nicely into my next tip. Tip number six, treat it like a business, because it is. I realise that some of you can't devote a lot of time to breaking into the voice over world, but that's only going to make it that much harder for you. This is a fulltime job for me and no doubt for many of you listening, so treat it as such. One of the best ways to book work, and definitely my favourite way to book work, is through repeat clients or referrals from clients, but in order to get those referrals the client has to trust you. So build a rapport with your clients. Give them quick turnaround on projects, prompt communication, and maybe even a slight discount for repeat work. Remember, this is the client's business and livelihood too. Stay on their good side and you'll reap the benefits. Tip number seven is practice, practice, practice. Any chance you get to hone your skills, take it. Practice reading aloud at home alone, to your pets, to whomever you can persuade to listen.
Get your hands on as many scripts as possible, and keep in mind, the more you audition, the more practice you're getting. Tip number eight, don't give up, and take rejection well. This business is completely subjective. What that means is that talent is in the ear of the listener. The client may have a specific sound in mind for a project, so no matter how well you do on an audition, you may just not be what the client had in mind. Don't let that get you down or discourage you. Take rejection in stride. Don't take it personal, and realise that even the most successful voice actors don't get every part they audition for, and try not to get caught up in playing the what if game. Don't stress about the parts or jobs you missed out on. That will only take time away from being productive. Tip number nine is stay humble and appreciative. This is just good advice really. If you're arrogant and negative, no one will want to be around you, let alone do business with you.
There is so much talent in this industry that if you start thinking you're owed something, or that the client can't do this without you, you'll find out the hard way that you're sorely mistaken. You can be replaced. All of us can be replaced in this business. So stay humble and positive, and appreciate every opportunity you're given. Tip number ten is, never stop learning, and voices.com is great for this. They have a ton of resources at your fingertips that can help you to soak up as much information as possible. In addition to their resources, you may also want to look into some local acting classes and workshops in your area. These can prove invaluable in helping you to hone your skills as a voice actor, and they're just plain fun. So, there you have it, my top ten tips for successfully getting started using voices.com. In case you forgot or missed a few, here they are in rapid fire. Number one, start off with the right equipment. Number two, have a complete profile page.
Number three, know your strengths and audition accordingly. Number four, always give your best in an audition, but also realise it's a numbers game. Number five, network. Number six, treat it like a business because it is. Number seven, practice, practice, practice. Number eight, don't give up and take rejection well. Number nine, stay humble and appreciative, and finally number ten, never stop learning. I hope you enjoyed this podcast, and I hope you were able to find at least one thing useful that you can put into practice. Again, I'm William Dougan, and thanks so much for listening. Happy auditioning.
Thank you for joining us. To learn more about the special guest featured in this voices.com podcast, visit the Voice Over Experts show notes at podcasts.voices.com/voiceoverexperts. Remember to stay subscribed. If you're a first time listener, you can subscribe for free to this podcast in the Apple iTunes podcast directory, or by visiting podcasts.voices.com. To start your voice over career online, go to voices.com and register for voice talent membership today.
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Voice Over Experts is the industry's most downloaded educational podcast featuring renowned voice over coaches from US, Canada and abroad. Join us each week for pearls of wisdom and tricks of the trade to improve your voice over career. Listen online or subscribe in iTunes to hear from leading experts in the field of voice-overs.