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Working alone without a Casting Director can be challenging for actors. How do you maximize your odds of booking when you are working solo? I asked veteran VO artist, John Matthew, to share the secrets to his success as a voice actor.

John has worked with a range of clients during his career spanning over 20 years in the business. He has voiced hundreds of projects for radio, TV, web, corporate, and other media. Clients include Kia, Geico, Toyota, Staples, GE, Campbell’s, HP, Toshiba, Dell, Microsoft, Ricoh, John Deere, Food Network, Lucas Film, and many more.

John describes how he knows if a piece of copy is suitable to pursue. He says:
“Part of the decision is knowing your strengths and weaknesses (what you book and what you don’t), and part is knowing what the client is after for the project. That knowledge mostly comes from experience; however you don’t want to be overly rigid in your decision, as sometimes you’ll be picked for a project you really didn’t think you were right for. The Geico “Old MacDonald” spot was a good example of that – I didn’t think I could do what the spot seemed to need but they bought my audition. You’ll also take into account budget, script length, who the client is and so on.”

How do you follow this path if you’re just starting out? One way is to record a range of copy and then review it a week or more later when you can distance yourself. Listen and decide which performances are appropriate and what ones are not a good match. Enlist the help of a coach or acting buddy to also weigh in on what types of copy best suit you. VO workout groups are also a great way to get a sense of what works and what needs refinement.

A seasoned pro of course can reflect on past auditions and jobs. John shares tips on how he does this: “I keep an mp3 of each audition I submit and when I book a job, I save a copy into a separate folder. I review these ‘winners’ on occasion and this gives me a good overall idea of what tends to work. You’ll also get a sense of the sorts of reads that don’t book, just from trying different things over the years. There are a few reads that I really enjoy doing, but they just never book – so I usually leave them on the shelf.”

So it’s important to keep your digital recordings organized and be ready to review your auditions moving forward. Set aside time to listen to your auditions as you book more jobs. At the same time be open minded to new trends to expand your VO styles to match changing styles in the industry.

However, remember that taking risks can pay off too. Playing it safe all the time can limit your chances for booking gigs. As John Matthew explains there are times when taking chances pays off: “Every so often I’ll look at an audition and think ‘I really don’t think I can give them what they’re after – but, I’ll give it a shot anyway’. And once in a while I book that job. That expands your repertoire and teaches you that the client perceives you differently than you do – so, as I mentioned earlier, you want to be both realistic, but not overly rigid in your self-assessment. I remember one audition for a corporate piece for the construction industry – pre-stressed concrete to be specific. They were looking for a blue-collar, weatherworn sound that I really don’t have so I thought I was a long shot. But I gave it my best try anyway and ended up booking.”

So don’t ever psych yourself out of a job. Keep an open mind and commit to whatever you are given. You never know what will appeal to an advertiser. Your only job is to give as much creative truth to every audition that you have so that you will maximize your bookings.

Keeping toned and ready is paramount to your success too. It’s important to play with a range of copy all the time in your home workouts so that when you get the copy that’s a stretch you have a shot at booking it. Use the improvisation “yes, and” mantra during your VO workouts. So play, reflect on your work, and be ready to book anything and everything that comes your way.