Ready, Set, Ready, Set, R... How to stop procrastinating. Part One of Two.


NOTE: This is the first post in a two-part article. Click here to read part two!

Just about everybody procrastinates at something, to one extent or another. Including voice talent at all levels of experience and stages in their careers. What have you been putting off? Do you have good reasons for delaying? Sometimes there are some. But are yours really good reasons, or just excuses? If the former, when does a delay turn bad? And if the latter, how can you get off that dime and start making more dollars?

What are we talking about really?

If you’re experienced talent, maybe you’re putting off freshening your demo or expanding your genre capabilities. Or, you’re coasting on your current client list, you’ve been putting off plans and activities for finding new clients. It would be wise to start. New-client marketing can boost your career, or improve the quality of your client list, or readily fill the hole when a longtime client goes away.

If you’re a budding talent, maybe you’ve put off making your first demo. Have you become a perpetual student? In VO, as we say, “learning never ends.” But learning alone is not a VO career.

Or maybe you’ve pulled the trigger but delayed doing your marketing homework. A voice-over career is (roughly) 20% recording, 80% business activities. Don’t put off the latter. Unless you’re doing the business stuff, you’re either very lucky or probably don’t have a sustaining career.

Or maybe you’re still eyeing the possibility of a voice-over career, but haven’t begun to work with a coach.

Let’s take these in reverse order. What are some excuses, and solutions to them?

EXCUSE: I don’t have time for voice-over training. I have a full-time job and/or other responsibilities.

SOLUTION: If you haven’t yet taken an introduction to the contemporary voice-over industry and training practices, how do you know? Consider our Investigate Voice Over class, which includes a preliminary evaluation of your voice potential and coordination with one of our career consultants. You’ll learn that you can train at whatever speed your schedule and budget allow, and by training remotely at home (which has also become an industry norm for recording), you’ll save commuting time. You can even learn in your pajamas.

Sorry if that sounded like a sales pitch. Our point here is that until you’ve truly familiarized yourself with the facts of the issue, how can you solve it? Check it out.

EXCUSE: I’m not ready to produce my first demo.

SOLUTION: Let a qualified VO demo coach be the judge of that. By “qualified,” we mean he or she should not only be a good VO coach, but also very familiar with the current VO industry and its trends, and just as familiar with your capabilities and personality. It is possible to produce a demo too soon – it’s wrong to produce a demo before you’re ready and able to create a marketable one, or (just as important) before you’re able to reproduce such performances on demand. But when you’ve reached that point, commit to pulling the trigger!

EXCUSE: I could make my demo, but if I wait, it will be better.

SOLUTION: Your demo is never “finished.” Throughout your career you should continually add fresh work (that you’re proud of), expand your range, and focus on your “money” capabilities. As you gain real-job experience and credibility, your demo will always be “better.” Meanwhile, show that you’re an experienced professional in whatever specialty you’ve chosen, and market yourself. Get that real-job experience.

EXCUSE: My upstairs neighbor just took up tap dancing and outside is a noisy construction project. I thought I could work from home, but not anymore. What’s the sense soliciting business if I can’t deliver?

SOLUTION: Granted, limitations in your sonic environment might limit your ability to turn around a recording job in hours. But not every type of job, nor type of client, is so immediately demanding. Construction workers do go home, babies do sleep, and maybe you can work out a schedule with your neighbor. Even some of our coaches have had to put off recording a job for a bit, until the lawn crew has finished mowing or whatever. And they have flourishing careers.

Also, talk with your coach. Some genres tend to be recorded at the client’s site, and some types of clients have longer lead times. And, although it’s difficult, expensive or virtually impossible to soundproof a home studio perfectly against some types of audio disturbance, there are various measures you might take to achieve acceptable recording quality, ranging from a sound booth to choice of microphone. Most importantly – recognize that although based in reality, this comes down to being an excuse. Vanquish it, trying the simplest potential solution(s) first. Until you determine whether or not the sonic imposition as significant as you think, until you test whatever accommodations you can work out, and until you see how flexible your clients’ schedules will be, you’ll never know.

And if you simply wait the months or a year or whatever for the neighbor to move, or until you “get more time,” guess what ... odds are another excuse will turn up by then. There will always be “reasons” to postpone your launch. The real problem might be that you’re afraid of success. So recognize that fact, and find ways to deliver.

As someone once said, “Nothing focuses the mind so much as responsibility.”

EXCUSE: I want to start my VO career, but don’t have my marketing plan together yet.

SOLUTION: Don’t try to do everything yourself. Work with a marketing coach to set objectives and find ways to meet them. Hire a starving artist or designer friend to do your graphics. Network your existing contacts and start with the low-hanging fruit. It’s important to have a Business Plan and a Marketing Plan, but yours doesn’t need to be as presentable as if seeking venture capital. You’re the only one who sees it. If you’ve set out a plan of things to do, do them.

Do you have yet another excuse? Hopefully you also already know the solution, you just haven’t committed to implementing it.

The important thing is to recognize that you’re not alone in your procrastination. Everybody does it. It’s just that different sorts of people procrastinate on different things in different ways. Those who manage the tendency well are most likely to succeed.

Next week, we’ll give some insights into that, hopefully helping you to proceed. We’d include them below, but haven’t finished building our list. Really.

Part Two: How to avoid procrastination -- The answer is finally here.

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