Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Stuck in a Rut? Get Out of the Grave!

Are you in a rut right now? More importantly, is your VO business in a rut? Ellen Glasgow once said that "the only difference between a rut and a grave are the dimensions." I know that might sound a little spooky – especially with Halloween being last week and all. 

However, she still raises a very valid point. If your VO business is currently stuck in a rut, it very well could be suffering a slow death right before your eyes. The worst part is that many VO professionals are stuck in a rut right now and don't even know it!

At this point, you might be asking, "How would I know if my business is in a rut or not?" Well, here's a question for you to ask yourself: "How much of my work is from repeat clientele, referrals, testimonials from past clients, my online presence, high-quality auditions and my overall voicing techniques?"

Do not be in such a rush to answer that question. Take a moment to really think about it, reflecting on the past year, the past month or even the past week. Be totally honest with yourself!

Each of those key factors play vital roles in keeping your VO business alive. Yes, as voiceover artists, the part of our job that we love the most is the actual recordings! Getting in the studio with a brand new project and speaking into the microphone until we get the perfect take. However, as a business owner, we have a completely different set of duties & tasks that we must handle just as well – if not better.

I'm going to take a note from comedian Jeff Foxworthy for a moment by creating a "You Might Be in a Rut If…" list.

Here we go.

· You might be in a rut if you are more focused on getting brand new clients instead of creating brand new projects for old clients.

· You might be in a rut if you haven't even bothered to ask your old clients for referrals and recommendations simply because you don't think that they would have anyone to refer or recommend.

· You might be in a rut if you have social media profiles and websites created for personal use, but nothing set up for your professional career.

· You might be in a rut if you are using the same demo recording for every single proposal – even if the footage does not meet the needs of your potential clients.

· Here's my favorite: You might be in a rut if you spend more time complaining about your VO business not working instead of figuring out new & improved ways to work your VO business.

It's all about momentum! If you don't have momentum, you have to get it. If you do have momentum, you have to keep it. Therefore, no matter what stage you are at in your professional career, you will always have to work on maintaining momentum in order to avoid building an early grave for your business.

Examine your repeat clientele. What exactly keeps them coming back for more? Find a way to add even more value to their experience, which will make it even easier for them to recommend your VO business to other people. Remember – the difference between a one-time client and a repeat client is a second project. If you are able to lock in a second project, chances are that you can create an opportunity for a third, fourth, fifth and so on. However, if you are waiting for them to ask for it…you might be waiting forever. Be proactive and make the opportunity by pitching new ideas and potential projects to your one-time clients before sealing the deal on their purchases. Doing so will keep that door of opportunity wide open!

When it comes to advertising your business, stop relying on yourself to handle the burden alone! Allow your past, present and future clients to help you with that. How? Word-of-mouth and referrals go a very long way. However, thanks to the Internet, it's even easier than that – especially on social media.

By simply mentioning your VO business on Facebook or Twitter, your clients will expose your company to their inner circle of friends, family, coworkers and colleagues & everyone else that they are connected to online. It kind of takes the traditional testimonial to a whole new level, doesn't it? Whether you realize it or not, you could indirectly generate recommendations and referrals with a single Facebook post made by one of your clients. Being proactive is the key. Chances are that if you "remind" your client to mention you on Facebook, they will do so without even realizing the long-term benefits that one-time action will create for your business.

Lastly, do not allow your auditioning process to become a boring chore. No one likes to do chores – especially if they are dull and boring, right? Focus on shaking things up a bit to keep it interesting and effective! If you notice that your auditions don't seem to get the results that you expect, it might be time to go back to the drawing board. Invest in yourself and your business by getting insight and feedback from a professional voiceover coach. Sometimes, a second set of ears can help a lot when it comes to taking your career to the next level.

Remember – newbies to the VO industry are not the only ones that struggle with getting stuck in ruts. Longtime VO professionals are faced with the same struggle in addition to fighting against becoming complacent instead of competitive in today's market.

Do not just allow yourself to make a new home inside of your rut because, as mentioned earlier, that can become a grave for your VO business. Use these tips and tricks to dig your way out of that hole and keep building your business successfully for many years to come.

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