Name something in your life or business you want to change.
It could be anything.
Maybe it’s to get more voice over jobs.
Maybe it’s to work fewer hours.
Or maybe you just want to improve something you’re doing.
Change is good.
But it can also be overwhelming to figure out exactly how to get started with making that change.
One of the easiest ways I’ve used to succeed in making a change is to break it down (whatever it is) into smaller sized tasks.
By making a bunch of little changes, you start to see a huge overall difference.
Like last month…
My wife and I did something we’ve talked about doing for a few years.
Last month, we bought a house that no one seemed to want.
It was a decent house in a nice neighborhood but it needed some love….
Then 30 days and a bunch of small changes later, it looks like this:
Here’s the crazy part…
Once the house went back on the market it sold in just 2 DAYS!
We couldn’t believe it!
It went from a house no one wanted to getting multiple offers in 1 day!
SIDE NOTE: I’m not a pro house flipper but real estate (rental properties) is part of my retirement plan (I also like Roth IRAs). This was the first time we ever fixed up a house to sell, but I like how it turned out.
So what changed?
Yeah – we fixed up the entire house (which may look overwhelming).
But when you break it down, all we did was make (a ton of) small changes to improve the house.
Maybe the change you want to make isn’t as big as a house.
The point is, small changes over time can make a huge difference.
The same is true with your voice over business.
Seeing the results the changes made to that house reminded me of the changes made in my voice over business over the past year.
Today, I’m going to share 4 changes I made last year and how they made a big impact.
When I make a change in my voice over business or life even, it’s always a test. No matter what it is I’m changing, I can figure out if it’s a change worth keeping by asking:
Am I better off because I did X?
If the answer is yes, then it’s a change I want to stick with or repeat.
Of course, not everything I tested ended up being a success.
Ok, let’s get to the stuff that did work.
Change #1 – Accounting System Had to Go
For years I stuck with:
and PDFs to invoice and keep track of my VO business income and expenses.
It’s simple and it worked.
But it was a real pain to manage.
The problem was I was spending way too much time creating invoices, sending invoices, closing paid invoices, following up on unpaid invoices, etc.
I started to dread the end of the month because I knew that process was approaching.
So I looked for a solution. I needed something that would save time.
That was the goal.
After a trial run of Freshbooks (told you I like to test things), I was impressed with the idea but there was one thing I just didn’t like.
Sending an invoice is one more way to communicate with a voice over client.
But when you send an invoice via Freshbooks, you’re basically sending out an ad for Freshbooks.
Take a look at this invoice I recently received sent via Freshbooks:
Freshbooks owns that email.
They’ve branded not only the email (5 mentions) but also the invoice itself.
If you think of an invoice email as a marketing message to your client, you don’t want to be competing with Freshbooks for attention.
For me, it didn’t make sense to pay Freshbooks for them to be all over the emails I send to clients.
Which is why I kept going back to excel, word and pdfs in years past.
Luckily this year, I found a solution.
It’s called ZipBooks.
It’s a great alternative (better in my opinion) than FreshBooks.
I could do a whole guide on ZipBooks and how I use it for voice over but for now here’s a brief overview of why it’s one of the best changes I made this past year:
1 – No outside email or invoice branding (like Freshbooks did).
2 – It keeps track of Clients, Invoices and Expenses all in one place.
3 – It’s Free! ZipBooks makes money from deals they worked out with payment processors like PayPal.
4 – When an invoice is paid, it closes the invoice automatically.
5 – It sends invoice reminders to clients automatically.
6 – It makes it easy to generate an income statement, which is perfect around tax time.
…And a bunch of other cool features.
If you want to save time on the accounting end of voice over, check out ZipBooks.
This small change saved me many hours of time that would have been spent on accounting.
Change #2 – What Do You Do?
This is a really, really minor change but it’s something I’ve thought about for awhile.
One struggle I’ve always had is referring to myself as a “talent”.
As in “Voice Over Talent“.
Let me clarify…
When I’m on a live directed session and the director introduces me to the writer or someone else on the team as the “voice talent”, I don’t have a problem with that. They can call me whatever they want…voice talent, narrator, voice artist, vo dude…
In fact my issue is not with what anyone calls me.
It’s when I’m introducing myself to someone who is outside of the voice over industry.
Typically someone will ask “What do you do?”.
When you answer, there’s always an immediate perception.
If the person doesn’t know voice over lingo, calling yourself a “talent” – may put off the vibe that your arrogant or boastful.
Imagine if you met an attorney and they introduce themselves by saying “I’m a highly skilled professional attorney”.
Do they really need to say “highly-skilled professional”?
No, they don’t.
So last year I decided to change my title to be “Voice Actor”, instead of “Voice Talent” for those outside of the VO industry.
This isn’t a big change but it’s something to think about.
And I think by using this title it makes it easier for some to understand what it is that I do.
Change #3 – Get More Hearts
When was the last time you updated your voice over demo?
For me, it’s been too long.
I always think I’ll have time…
It’s one thing that stays on my to-do list, but I never seem to find the time to get it done.
While I realize the importance of having fresh demos, other more pressing jobs always pop up.
This year I was able to carve out some time to create a couple new segments to use in my demos.
And it paid off!
Take a look at these stats from my profile on one online casting site:
That’s one of the new demos.
That means 519 people liked that new demo segment.
Compare that to the other older demos which only show 1 like each and it’s easy to see what I should be focusing on.
Ideally I’d like to create a new demo every 12-18 months.
I didn’t do it nearly enough this past year, but by updating a couple samples on my demo I was hired by new clients.
I know the demo helped because these new clients asked me to match the read style of that specific new demo segment.
Change #4 – Sub. It. Out.
When a client hires you to record your voice for their project – that isn’t something you can have an assistant do.
It’s gotta be you!
As your client base increases and the voiceover workload explodes, you reach a point where you can’t take on anymore alone.
So to grow your voice over business, you need to have others help out with the work load.
By delegating the other tasks (that don’t have to be you), you’ll have more time to land even more jobs.
The more time you spend behind the mic the higher your earning potential.
I realized several years ago that one of the biggest time suckers for me was audio editing. That’s why I hired a couple audio editors to handle all my long-form editing work.
It’s been great for freeing up my time to keep recording.
This past year, I took it one step further.
By using an evening/overnight editor.
This way if I’m working on a large project all day long and quit for the day at 5, the evening editor takes over the job and it’s ready for the client first thing in the morning.
You definitely need someone you can trust and who can follow direction. I suggest hiring a friend or family member who is looking for a side job. Or you can use a hiring site like UpWork to find someone.
Whoever you hire, you’ll probably need to train them on how you want them to do the job.
You can do that by simply making a how to video that walks them through the exact steps of doing the job.
Hiring someone to edit audio has saved me time, the client gets the project completed faster and I’m not missing out on the next job.
Planned Changes For This Year
As great an impact these changes have made over the past year, life (and business) is constantly changing.
I’m a big believer that you can always improve and become more effective and efficient.
I’ve already got some ideas on things I want to change this year.
Here’s a few:
1 – My Voice Over Demos.
Like I said above, I can see the benefit of creating and updating just a few demos last year. So one change for next year is to stop dragging my feet on creating new demos. It needs to be a priority.
2 – CRM Solution
Just like the accounting headache, I haven’t found CRM software I love. It’s either too basic or way too advanced for what I need it to do. I plan to research that more this year to find a solution. I tried Nimble, Streak and HubSpot last year. While they all have benefits, none were exactly what I was looking for.
3 – New domain
I’ve had my voice over site for years! But at 16 characters, it’s a bit long. It’s a .NET and I’d prefer a .COM. And it’s too vague. So this year, I’ll be looking for a shorter dot com domain name that better identifies me as a voice actor.
4 – Voice Over Booth
As is, my studio is super quiet about 95% of the time. The only exception is when an occasional airplane flys over or when it’s especially windy outside. Today it happens to be really rainy/windy and the noise has thrown off my recording schedule some. So a Studio Bricks OnePlus is on my radar.
I may not make all these changes, but I plan to look into each of these more this year.
How about YOU?
These are some of the changes I made last year and the ones I’m planning to research this year. Hopefully one of the changes will help you in your current situation.
What’s one change you made last year that made a difference in your life?
I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!