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Conversation With Self About Business and Life 2019

Sometimes I sit around thinking to myself “What can I do better?” If you are in business for yourself you have probably read a ton of self-help books and marketing books etc. I remember asking a friend more than 10 years ago “What should I do about my business?” I felt like there was nothing I could do to improve it. He replied to me “Have you done everything you can think of to boost your business?” To me, this indicated not only that I needed to dig deeper and plan more, but also that I needed to exhaust all possibilities and take a risk. As the new year started and I watched others on social media plot out their year, I borrowed some of their ideas and formulated some of my own. I believe that being in business is a balance between professional and personal success. If you fail in one, it makes the other harder to excel in. With that, here are 19 things to Make A Successful 2019 for me that may benefit you too. Study- Learn as Much as you can about whatever your business or craft is. I’m a voiceover talent. I realize that every day the competition for my job becomes more fierce. Everyone with a voice is trying to enter into this arena. My advantage is that I’ve been here for 15 years. But no-one should rest on their laurels. Whether it’s more classes, conferences, or understanding the trends in my industry, I need to study regularly. Practice- Perfect practice makes perfect. We’ve all heard practice makes perfect. Well practicing wrong makes things worse. Understanding that right way and focusing on doing that daily is the path to [...]

The Making Of A Narration Demo With Gabrielle Nistico

Demo production is both an art and a science. It’s a combination of matching the voice and personality of the talent along with the trends in voiceover production. To do that, not only do you need a producer that knows what are the current trends in voiceover (things like the 6 second commercial), that person also needs to know, or at least have a feel for you as a talent. My Demo Producer Pick It had been too many years since I had updated my demos. When I sent out my last set of demos to various production companies, clients and agents, I had almost always received positive feedback. But among people who knew me, including myself, I had always felt that my demo was a bit stiff. It didn’t truly reflect me as a person. So when I decided to do a new narration demo I wanted someone who knew me as a person as well as having great experience and insight into the world of voiceover. So I picked Gabrielle Nistico. Relationships Matter Gabby and I have known each other for years. She knows my background. She knows my voice and every time we speak it’s always fun. She teases me. We’re both New Yorkers so she gets me and she sees a lot of my crazy social media post and follows me on my adventures. Oh, and she gives great hugs too. While not every talent and their producer will have this kind of relationship, it’s important that there is some kind of relationship beyond “ok, when I press record, say this line kid”. Why is this important? Because the scripts she picked out have to be tailored toward me personally to [...]

Vacation & Voiceover In Australia- The Movie

I had met Australians in various parts of the world; China, Thailand, Hawaii and even in South Beach. And my experience with them has always been the same…. Excellent! I had found them to be intelligent, friendly and laid back people who were relatable and worldly. And this was the conclusion that I reached long before I made the plans to actually visit. But when I arrived even I wasn’t prepared for just how hospitable they are on their own soil. I met Marion Just, a fellow voiceover artist on LinkedIn after she saw a posting of my Vacation & Voiceover Video In Hong Kong. We messaged with one another for months as I was planning to visit Down Under. Her spirit shone even through her online presence as she reminded me of the open invitation to visit her and her husbands studio in Sydney. And I accepted. It was a 15 hour ride from L.A. straight with no layover. American Airlines had the best direct flight but for a deal, check out China Eastern. Upon arrival, we were picked up by my cousin and his best friend and taken to the hotel where we freshened up. From there they took us to a large Aussie lunch gathering of friends and family who refused to let us pay for our own meals. I wasn’t used to this. But this was the start of Down Under hospitality that didn’t stop till we boarded the plane to go back to the States. Everyone was so friendly and so conversational and happy. I felt at home in a place I had never been. BlackBox Voice Productions And that spirit continued when I met Marion Just and Mark Kennedy [...]

Should My Facebook Page Be Personal or Professional in What I Share?

Facebook has done well for me in a lot of ways. It’s made a person who ordinarily struggles to reach out to friends actually keep in contact. And my facebook page is more than just a portal to my personal contacts. It’s been a great marketing tool also. I’ve been allowed to share my business with clients, potential clients and colleagues. I’ve shared this blog, helped inspire and teach other voiceover pros and “newbies and I have also learned a lot from you guys. But with 1584 friends to date, admittedly I don’t know even half of the people on my friends list. While I wanted to have a space where I could share personally with friends and family and professionally with contacts and colleagues, those two things often conflict. My ideas, ideals and even sometimes elements of my lifestyle are not always agreeable with professionalism. Striking a balance between self expression on a page that “I own” and posting the happy go lucky kind of post that don’t scare off those who write the checks or support my blog, is tough. There are things that I have passions for outside of my career like social justice which make some people “uncomfortable.” I can hear them in my head everytime I post video of police misconduct saying “Why is Dane SO political?” And perhaps that cost me a few readers. Maybe even a few dollars. But I decided that awareness and activism was more important. But then I learned the harsh reality of facebook algorithms and the happy happy online community. For the most part, FB chooses who you will interact with based on what they think you like and filters much of what you [...]

The Top 3 Voiceover Mics & Beyond

Debating the top 3 voiceover mics is sort of like debating who was the greatest boxers in history or the greatest major league slugger of all times or who was better, Biggie or Tupac. And I display my biases proudly. Muhammed Ali would've outsmarted Mike Tyson and won. Hank Aaron hit 755 home runs without steroids and Biggie was a talented lyricist and not just a rapper. And as goes the subjectivity of those debates, so goes the debate about voiceover mics. I had a chance to sit down with Chris Courier at VO Atlanta and here his take on the subject and why. Thinking back on my own experience with microphones, I remember not knowing where to turn. When I started in 2004, I was using other people's studios for my occasional voiceover work so I was subject to whatever they were using. I didn't know many voice actors to ask and there weren't as many blogs with the information readily at hand. So I turned to my brother who was a music producer and singer at the time. He made several suggestions. The first being the microphone that he used in his studio which was the Neuman U87. I had recorded in his studio before and loved the way I sounded but knew that the price point for a starting voiceover talent was way too high. The second being the Neuman TLM 103 which like the U87 was also a condensor mic. He said this mic would be perfect for me. But at the time, it was still nearly $1500. I sighed deeply and dreamt many nights of the ways to get my dollars for that purchase. If only someone would gift me [...]

Fun, Cool & Inappropriate Things That Duolingo Taught Me In Spanish!!!

I've used a number of websites, apps, blogs, youtube channels and anything you can think of to learn Spanish. All of them have contributed to my present knowledge of the language. I was introduced to Duolingo more than 2 years ago but never really got into it. I was focused on some other methods like Rosetta Stone and memorization techniques. But there were times that there was nothing else around to fill the time. And one day in that time, I picked up Duolingo. Here are some of the Fun, Cool & Inappropriate Things  That Duolingo Taught Me In Spanish!!! So why Spanish? So many reasons to learn Spanish. I presently live in the number one Spanish speaking country in the world. That's right! The USA. More people speak Spanish in the US than in any other country. As I walk the streets even in a southern city like Atlanta I hear Spanish speakers. And on my recent trip through Miami, I barely heard English spoken. With millions of Spanish speakers everywhere, I decided to enbrace it. From a business perspective it also makes sense. Spanish speakers need to have great bilingual voices around them for translation services and for the same services that VO talents usually serve. This means audio books, commercials, video games, IVR, Radio Imaging and the list goes on? From a cultural avenue it allows me passage into a rich culture the spreads throughout almost an entire hemisphere and has great contributions to this country. From the food to the music and customs, Spanish speakers enlighten, educate, feed, entertain and influence our own culture in the US. Furthermore my experience in travelling throughout North, Central and South America has been enriched [...]

4 Reasons To Voiceover Blog- An Interview With Derek Chappell

I’ve been fortunate to do two things that I really love to do in this lifetime. One of them is to travel. The other is to do voiceover. I’ve been all around the world to some really impressive places and in many instances, wherever my physical body hasn’t been, my voice has traveled to. But one such place where neither had ever journeyed to was Ottawa, Kansas. Ottawa is a town one hour from Kansas City and where I met Derek Chappell in person. And from the first moment we met, we hit it off. Derek was quite humble about his town, thinking that my international travels would cause me to be bored as we drove around his hometown. He was wrong. Ottawa was Middle America, at the center of who we are. And how fitting! Derek himself was at center of the voiceover world. Derek was one of the first people to ever pick up on my voiceover blog and channel. When I first ventured to tell my story as a voiceover talent, he was one of the first ones to listen. Derek had been listening to the stories of voiceover bloggers for several years. As a voiceover talent himself, he not only blogged but was an enthusiast and cheerleader of other talents. He developed a system of being alerted of new voiceover blogs and industry news. This not only allowed him to continuously learn more about the business that he loved, but also to promote the work of fellow voice talents that he admired. Derek and I had one major disagreement though. He is an avid Royals fan. As a lifelong Yankee fan and Mets supporter, it was hard not to [...]

Beware Of Voiceover Scams

Scammers are everywhere. In every business and in everyday life. Each day someone is trying to steal your personal information or cheat you in some way and each time you have to be a step ahead of them. There are the ones who call you telling you that "A" computer in your home is infected and they can clean it for you. This past week I received a call saying that the warranty was up on my car. And while I field many calls of these types and embarrass the callers with questions that they can't possibly answer (and making it obvious to them that I know its a fraud), some scams, like voiceover scams are a bit trickier than others. Whenever someone knows your name and a bit about what you do for a living then it gets harder to spot. While I was almost amused by the warranty attempt this week, I was a bit more challenged by a professional scam in the same week. I received a text message from someone who said they found my info on a site called Production Hub. I haven't logged onto that site in a while so to see someone with an interest in my work there was interesting to say the least. But it was welcome. The message asked me to email them if interested. Nothing about that seemed too odd, so I did. Everything was normal. The next morning I received an email from the prospective client which was very detailed and professional. He outlined what he needed, leaving me with few questions. Admittedly I was tied up with other projects when I got the email so I didn't read through it thoroughly the [...]