It's not the biggest of gardens, or the most spectacular. The shed is wonky and hogs the evening sunshine. Tree roots make it quite tricky to get things to grow in some places as well. But it's mine and I can shape it.
Since I became a full time VO artist about 10 years ago and set about building my Voiceover business, I have always thought of my voiceover career as a garden. So with all the extra "lockdown based love" for my garden fresh in my mind, I thought I'd share my thinking on this!
When you start out in Voiceovers, you need a few fundamentals in place - the "groundworks" if you will. A good studio / recording space, microphone, some training and showreels. These are the foundations on which your garden can be built. Without these basic structures it's just an empty patch of ground - there is no plan. These early days can be very productive and extremely hard work and often a bit disheartening. You need to plant seeds and nurture. Reach out to potential clients and stake your claim as a valid voice talent that the world needs! (Not very British is it).
As the years unfold, you'll realise that Voiceovers can be a bit "feast or famine" sometimes. Your garden may look great in the spring - those daffodils you planted in the autumn are giving you colour and vibrancy. But as summer approaches perhaps you haven't got much to harvest. Plant more seeds, nurture more clients. The idea is that you want something in the garden to always be popping up for you to harvest and enjoy, all year round.
By planting and nurturing more, you are building yourself a sustainable business - you are smoothing out the famine times. I set out to build a business based on repeat work from my clients. That way I could smooth out the troughs and create a more predictable income.
If you set out to build a sustainable and predictable business by planting the seeds and contacts and delivering great work of a high quality and being good to work with, your Voiceover garden will grow! This predictability gives you the freedom and confidence to try new things - plant new shrubs you'd never dared to before and see what happens. Many VOs do specialise in a few areas but we are all keen to reach out and try new work genres when we can as well. These new shrubs may well grow and take over a previously empty area of the garden. GREAT!
Now that our seeds are growing and bearing fruit throughout the year, we have some new shrubs, we are nurturing, watering and continuing to plant things, it's time for a tree or two!
For me, the trees are the ultimate jobs and achievements. They might be signing with a big agent you have been keen to work with, getting to voice that dream job (for me this is TV documentaries for National Geographic and national and international TV Commercials). The trees aren't just landmarks in themselves and "one offs". These trees are there to help you define your career and your achievements. People see and hear them, they build your credibility in the longer term. Maybe you can build on them too - treehouse anyone?
Sometimes the beans you planted will get eaten by some mystery creature who pops out in the night and seems determined to chew up the lovely leaves (true current gardening problem I have!). Not everything goes well all of the time, but I'm Googling the bean issue, I'm going to learn from what's going on and take the right steps to prevent it happening and maybe I'll need to sow more beans and try again. I'll let you know!
In Voiceover, there is so much learning.. about ourselves, or our skills, things we need to get better at and what's worth spending our energy on and what isn't. What suits your soil and your environment will be different to what suits mine.
But that's the beauty of it. Grow your business and voiceover garden in your own unique way. Enjoy it, nurture it, learn from it and sometimes allow yourself to stand back, hands on hips and feel proud.
Clare Reeves is a professional Voiceover Artist - based in her own broadcast quality studio - with a warm voice and a delivery full of cool vibes and fresh sea (and garden) air. Get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org