Thursday, July 16, 2009

Voice Over and Studio Life: Is it a Hobby or a Business?

My partner in all things Paul Clark made a great post yesterday at his music blog about treating your music career like what it is--a business.

But I think it's worth repeating in the voice over and production studio realm, too. I think it's easy for careers like ours, where we have so much fun and get to do such creative projects, to start getting a little too lax in how we treat our time and our mindset.

I think too that the bulk of voice over artists and studio owners have left a 'first career' in a less creative industry or a string of unsatisfying day jobs for the freedom of studio life, which makes it seem like a vacation. (In our case, Paul did that very thing. He was in the transportation industry for 18 years. For me, this is it!).

But, ultimately, as Paul quoted John Assaraf saying in the post linked above, "If you treat it like a hobby, it will cost you like a hobby. If you treat it like a business, it will pay you like a business."

I've found this to be true, on both sides of the coin, and I've made a few changes in my routine in order to facilitate my "business", that you may want to adapt to your life, too:

#1: My workday has set hours. Your clients do. And everyone in your life will thank you for this (including yourself, once you see how much more you can work in!

This was actually the hardest one for me, because I hate to say no to my clients. I want to be available on the weekends or holidays, or 2am if I happen to catch an email. But my life suffers, my work suffers (always remember that--especially with voicing, if you're not in peak shape, it will show up in your recordings), my health suffers (especially the ears).

#2: My workday hours are organized and scheduled. This is amazingly effective. I spend half of my workday on office time (paperwork, filling orders, talking to clients and prospects, email, blogs, updating the website...all the good stuff), break for lunch, the spend the last half on studio time. You find that when you limit the time you're working, you only perform your highest income and highest impact generating tasks. If you're loosey-goosey about your schedule all day and float in and out of work and play modes, you'll find yourself blurring the lines. Too much time on Facebook. Too much time cleaning out your inbox. Before you know it, nothing has really been accomplished, but you've not noticed because you stayed "busy".

#3: I say "No thank you". Remember those "highest income/impact" activities I mentioned above? Guess what? That's all you need to do. To the rest, say "No thank you," like the polite but stern owner of your own destiny.

I know, I know, they HAVE to get done too, right? I mean, your desk HAS to be clear, your inbox HAS to be sorted, your magazine racks HAS to be organized by year/month/and paper type.

Does it? I mean, does it really matter if you have too many emails (here's a quick hint: If you haven't read it yet, you don't need it. "Delete" is your friend.)? Will the world end or your business fall apart if you don't have every file folder labeled in the same font?

I'm not saying being a perfectionist is bad (though I DID get interviewed about that in Oprah magazine, believe it or not!). Just be choosy about what you're a perfectionist about. Want to have a perfect office? You'll be a great decorator (unless you're actually trying to be a voice over artist or producer). But want to have a perfect business? Be perfect with your time. Practice perfectly. Hold yourself to the perfect standards of focusing in on the critical things that will make the difference, instead of the time sucking details that will rob you of your dreams like a thief in the night.

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