Last week I shared about my experience successfully burning a brush pile in our yard and unsuccessfully preparing myself for the smoky fallout of said brush pile burning. I also mentioned that part of reason I felt confident I could manage such an endeavor was due to witnessing the bi-annual burning of the cemetery across the street from our home. That got me thinking of all the other times I’ve seen folks burning their fields post-harvest or scorching ditches along the highway in South Africa. As is so often the case with me, it wasn’t long before I realized I had another fiery VO metaphor to blog about. And lo and behold, here we are. I hope you enjoy, and please do keep your limbs inside the vehicle at all times. I’d hate for you to get burned.
So why do people undertake these burns in the first place? What’s the point? From what I can tell, there seem to be two primary reasons for what is called a controlled or prescribed burn. First, after a harvest, a farmer’s fields often have a lot of plant residue left over that does not easily break down. Burning is one of the easiest and quickest ways of clearing a field of this unwanted detritus and readying it for the next round of planting. Additionally, fires help keep ticks and other parasitic insects that can harm grazing livestock in check. The second significant reason for burning a field is that it actually revitalizes the land, putting essential nutrients from the broken-down plant matter back into the soil. This further helps prepare the field to promote future plant growth.
Look at the cute baby grass coming in!
Okay, this is all very interesting and whatnot, but what does it have to do with voiceover? Well, we all know that VO requires a lot of us as talent. There is so much information to be aware of, so many skills to develop, and so many hats we need to wear at any given time to run our businesses successfully. It can be more than a little overwhelming. As we grow and learn new methods that help us streamline our day-to-day business practices, I think it’s important that we make time to take stock of the practices and tools we’ve made use of up to this point. Oftentimes we’ll find that there is some leftover baggage—some unwanted dead plant matter, if you will—still clinging to us that we no longer need to hold on to. When we find ourselves moving naturally from one season of our VO careers into another, it makes sense to employ a metaphorical prescribed burn to purge our process of anything extraneous so we can proceed smoothly and efficiently into the future.
One of the ways I see this playing out practically is through regularly assessing the tools we use to practice our craft. I’m not thinking so much of hardware like microphones, interfaces, speakers, or headphones—though there are certainly times to change out and upgrade these tools as well—rather, I’m referring to all of the software, apps, and subscription services we utilize to run our businesses. You know what I’m talking about: the e-mail search tools, CRMs, demo players, pay-to-play subscriptions, accounting software, DAWs, and audio editing kits just to name a few. I’m sure most of us have tried and tested any number of all of these tools over the course of our VO journeys, and that’s good. It’s important to “shop around” and establish a toolset and process that works for you. However, with so many options available to us, it’s easy to get bogged down and sometimes forget to unsubscribe from or uninstall the programs we no longer use or need. Not only can cutting ties with outdated systems save us time and money, but it also frees up precious mental (and hard drive) space to devote to the next chapter.
And that leads me to my next point—man, it’s like I planned that or something! When we free up some of our resources, we automatically create margin for what comes next. We allow ourselves space to expand further. We have more capacity to continue learning and becoming that much more fluent in our industry. To carry the metaphor through, we prepare our fields for a new season of growth, which will hopefully yield a more bountiful harvest.
And don’t worry, I didn’t forget about the bugs. Yes, I even have a metaphor for that tidbit, too. Another great way to purge our VO fields is to be extra mindful of how we use and engage with social media. Just like those parasitic creepy crawlies, social media apps can easily be infectious, draining us of our valuable time, good will, and positive outlook. I’m not saying things like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or Twitter are inherently evil or don’t have a role to play in your VO business. On the contrary, when used effectively, they can be a great tool to bolster your business. But effectively is the key word in that sentence. We need to be careful with how much time and resources we dedicate to curating our online presence. More importantly, we need to keep an eye on how easily distracted we can become when using those tools. One of the best things I’ve ever done for my productivity is removing social media apps from my phone and/or turning off the notifications for those apps. Now, my use of social media is incredibly intentional, and my mindless scroll time has decreased exponentially. The bugs may still be there, but they’re definitely kept in check.
How healthy are the fields of your VO business? Are they clogged with all sorts of dead matter that’s bogging you down? Could you benefit from a prescribed burn to clear away the dead weight and rejuvenate your process? Give it a shot. You might just find yourself feeling a whole lot fresher and ready to take on new challenges. Go forth and burn, baby, burn!
Until next time, friends, keep telling stories. __________________________________________________________________________________ Are you in need of a quality voiceover for your next project? I'd love to help tell your story! Request a quote or check out my Demos. I look forward to working with you! Tyler Robbert Voiceover Artist | Storyteller email@example.com www.tylerrobbertvo.com Like what you read here? Looking for more ways to sate that hunger for VO-related content? Try checking out some of these other awesome blogs from within the VO community!