Professional Voiceover Artists have been working largely in physical isolation for years and keeping well is essential to their work in a competitive world.
What can the world of business and employees who find themselves in isolation and working from home learn from these past masters of keeping well and carrying on?
Working on your own
It's not everyone's idea of fun. It happens to suit me as am technically an Introvert which means I draw my energy and replenish from time spent on my own. I've worked in large organisations so I have done my research! I spend most of my working day on my own and have done so for many years. What I do have though, is a wonderful network of other people who are happily working on their own too. The Voiceover world is surprisingly collaborative and small - even cosy. We see each other as colleagues first and competitors second. Through a range of social media groups and face to face events (not too many!), we have built a community of people who "get it".. there's usually someone about to respond if you throw a pricing, technical, client or training question out there - around the clock.
It really helps to schedule your work so you can structure your day - block out time for daily tasks and breaks and give yourself project time each day where you chip away at a more involved task.
Tip: Build a supportive social media community and encourage open communication, schedule your day.
Harness the tech
Those of us with our own studios at home have to be connected - it means that we can be directed while we record into our system or that the client can record their end. The ISDN lines (nice BT retro tech) have been around for decades and mine is still my favourite way of connecting with clients. It's a very high quality phone line that can be recorded directly by the client, but it's old and pre internet and gradually being phased out. So we embrace the new and the likes of Source Connect, ISDTL, Cleanfeed and more. Having the right connectivity tools - the ones that your clients need and use is essential. I also use the phone, Skype and increasingly Zoom - and have them ready to use.
Tip: Get the right communication tools up and running and ready to use - or learn how
It's the worst feeling, I'm getting a cold. I don't know how much of a cold - or if it's a sinus thing or a throat thing. But if it gets me then the jobs that I got from auditions last week won't sound the same.. any auditions I do now that I may record in a week or so ALSO will sound different. I know that I need to rest but I also need to work and make that Voiceover hay while the client sun shines. ARGH. Keeping well is essential - it's a prerequisite of my world. VOs take it seriously. If there is a big event and you have a cold - you don't attend as it's very bad form to pass on a cold to a room of people who earn a living from their voice. If we can, we rest, we take it easy.
We steam daily or at least regularly, get fresh air, lots of good food and avoid situations where we can catch colds. Personally I wear hats throughout the winter and slightly beyond when most people do. We stay hydrated so our voices are working well.
The dark and isolation can be cut through with a "SAD" lamp as well. I have one on my desk, it helps keep me positive and boosts my system to keep well
Tip: Keep well with water, food, hand washing, avoiding colds and by resting. Treat your health and well being as an essential work tool.
Roll with the cycle of peaks and troughs
You might be feeling that you're in a bit of a trough with the everyday work pattern being disrupted and you're not quite sure what to do. Voiceover Artists spend quite a lot of time trying to avoid this situation by marketing (more on that in a minute) and seeing the quieter times as hugely productive. This is the chance to update the website, get that new Corporate Reel together, tidy the desk, think about getting visible - blog writing (ahem), what future events could you attend, what tech do you need to upgrade. Even - hold on tight - could I benefit from a morning off to relax?!
Tip: Use this time - when the peaks are back you won't be able to do any of these things. These activities are what keeps your business moving forward - not just the actual voicing
Don't stop marketing
As beneficial as a few troughs are, we don't want too many of them, right? See your work, your business, your client base as a garden. You want to be able to harvest good things all year round. To do this you need to keep sowing seeds and watering. This is the marketing aspect. Voiceover Artists can be quite existential beings out of necessity - who am I? How would I say this? Do people get an idea of my sound from my logo?!
Do not pull the drawbridge up - this is the time to be available and open for business and to tell people that you are. Invest in your marketing and advertising.. is it possible more people will see it now?
Tip: Take a tip from us and go a little deep dive on your brand - who are you and what is it you do that people want or need? Then go and find your people and tell them you're here. Keep doing it. And again.
Look for new opportunities
When times get weird and you think you may never work again - look to new opportunities that use your skill set. Be the go to expert, what other ways could you use your skills to help people achieve their goals? Always look outwards and find ways to be useful to the changing world.
Tip: Get ahead of the game by looking for new ways to be useful
No one quite knows what lies ahead in the next few months but working from home, being in isolation and thinking more about our health don't have to be all bad. Voiceover Artists have done the research - we know! Stay social online, plan well, embrace the tech and look after yourself.
Clare Reeves is a full time professional Voiceover Artist with her own broadcast quality studio and a fondness for planning, introspection, saxophones and fresh fruit. www.clarereevesvoiceovers.com