Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Gratitude in 2013

It's that time of the year again! Since 2013 is coming to an end very soon, I thought I would list my top ten things I am thankful for. This is not a ranking system. I am just listing them as I go.  I would love to read YOUR list as well. Feel free to share it at the end of my blog. I'd love to see what you come up with.

1. Parents: I am very grateful to my parents for the all of the support they have given me over the years. As a teacher, my father has been an inspiration. My writing and speaking skills are a reflection of what I learned from him.  He is also the reason I am such a Minnesota Gopher fanatic.  It's a sickness that runs deep within the Johnston family. They've both put up with a lot of shenanigans, especially during my high school years. Or, high school year depending on who kept track of the days where I actually showed up! More about that in another blog.  Well, that would take 2-3 blogs!

2. Tracy: The love of my life. She has helped me so much. In personal growth as well as my business. She has a way of lifting a person up when they get down or are having a bad day. Waking up next to her every morning is like waking up and finding a gift at your bedside. Her smile is like a beam of light coming down from the skies. She does an awesome job with her photography and social media customers as well. They love working with her and I love being with her. Last year around this time, we got engaged by the Rockefeller tree in NYC. It was a beautiful moment and one we'll never forget.

3. The Neumann TLM 103: Would I sound insane if I told you that my microphone was one of my best friends? I think he would make a heck of a best man!  I just need to find a tux that fits him! We're a match made in heaven and without it, I wouldn't be in business and doing what I love.

4. Family: I am grateful for my family and Tracy's family. They make living life such a joy on a daily basis. My family even has a private facebook group page that we all stay in touch on. Some of the conversations are downright off the wall but that's what makes us unique. It's also brought a few of us closer together and with my youngest sister and brother-in-law living in NYC, it's been a great tool.  A good support system can be taken for granted but I have been lucky to have such wonderful support from my family throughout my life and career.

5. Facebook: Rumor has it there is a cool social media site out there called facebook? I'll have to check it out. Seriously, facebook has not only been a ton of fun but it's proven to be a powerful business tool. Just this year, I was hired by at least a dozen clients who found me on facebook! Not to mention that Tracy and I would not be together if it wasn't for this addictive little gem. Tracy and I went to the same high school in the early to mid 80's but we weren't exactly close friends. We got to know each other via facebook a few years back and the rest is history. Just like many others, I also reunited with several cousins, high school friends and even my sixth grade teacher!

6. Friends: I am honored to have so many friends not only in the voice-over industry but close friends who I have known for quite a few years now. They were there for me when I went through my divorce, when my mother had a stroke and on days where I am feeling a little down. As a die hard Minnesota sports fan, you need good friends to help you cope with the disappointment! Lol!  The closeness of some friendships have the tendency to fade over time.  It happens with everyone but it doesn't dilute the importance of them.

7. Pets: My dog Kaytee has been a staple in this house since 2003 and with the addition of Tracy's cat, Huckleberry, they are as entertaining as a good sitcom! A couple of true characters that amuse us on a daily basis. They should shave their own comic strip! Kaytee is aging now and she's a had a few minor health issues but is still a beautiful dog and is enjoying life to the fullest.

8. Clients/Students:   It's true!  Without them, we would be living at YOUR house! What good is a microphone if you don't have any clients? I am grateful for all of my clients and students. They are fun to work with and we learn from each other. The learning factor is something that gets taken for granted on occasion. Think about it. Every time I do a medical narration or an audio book, not only am I getting paid to do it but I am also getting an education! Many of my students move on to becoming successful voice talents and it's such a joy for me to watch their careers blossom. I'm honored to be their Obi-Wan!

9. Eggs: Sometimes it's the little things, right?  Scrambled, boiled, over-easy.  It doesn't matter.  Eggs are the answer to most of life's problems.  I love them and they love me.

10. Working from home: There is nothing like heading downstairs to the studio in your flannel pajama pants and your hair standing straight up. Sometimes I take this for granted until I have to run to the store and see Highway 394 backed up to Jupiter! I didn't handle rush hour very well back when I was working in Corporate. It's even worse now because I'm no longer used to it. One morning, I came close to pulling a "Bill Murray in Stripes" and considered leaving my car on the side of the highway and walking away!

It's always tough to come up with just ten but this is a start. Again, feel free to comment with your own lists. I would love to read what you have been grateful for in 2013.  Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!  

Thursday, November 21, 2013

It's Just Reading!

"It’s just reading! Anyone can do it! Grab a mic, plug it into your computer, press record and ta-dah….you’re a voice actor!” We could spend hours listing off all of the different myths and misconceptions that we hear and read about our line of work on the Internet every single day. Just like the person who thinks the entire pool is completely shallow, you realize just how deep the water of this industry can be the farther you go into it.

From the surface, sure! It may seem like one of the easiest jobs that you can have. The truth seems to get overlooked within these myths and misconceptions, because it is much harder to make a living doing voiceovers than many people think. Think about all of the planning, training and execution that is involved – all of that takes not only time but money as well.

The person that says, “It’s just reading!” has clearly never had to handle a grueling medical narration or even be the sole reader for an audio book that is over 350 pages. Too many people just think that all that we do is pick up a script, step in front of a microphone, read the script and then collect a check. Don’t get me wrong; I would absolutely love it if that were the case but it’s not. It takes a lot of work to train your voice to be able to have the endurance, versatility and quality delivery that is required in order to complete the average project. Once the recording phase of each project is complete, many people seem to forget about the review and revision stages as well, which take even longer than the recording itself.

One advantage and common saying that is true about this business, though, is that it is not very intense on the physical side because you are really not required to put forth any physical labor in this line of work. However, the mental exhaustion alone can completely drain you much quicker than you might think. I absolutely love my job primarily because you can have a lot of fun doing it. You just need to make sure that you are realistic about what to expect from this career, especially if you are in it for the long haul.

Even the A-list celebrities that are hired to do voiceover work for multi-million dollar movie and video game franchises admit that it was much harder than they thought it would be. Having to basically stay in character as you record sometimes for hours at a time can be strenuous for anyone – especially if they make their living doing this on a daily basis. Many voiceover professionals have studied this art for countless hours, polishing their craft daily so that they can continue to be successful in a competitive market Acting, improvisation and voiceover coaching are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the quality instruction that we receive behind the scenes both in and outside of the studio.

As is the case with any business, we also are responsible for the marketing, advertising, accounting and administration side of our jobs on top of everything else. Becoming a voiceover professional is truly rewarding, enjoyable and can allow you to eventually fulfill your dreams of never having to punch someone else’s time clock ever again. However, it is imperative that you always remember that it is much more than just reading.