Make Working from Home, Work for You – by Marilena Gant

Make Working from Home, Work for You – by Marilena Gant

May 14, 2021

When I was studying for my University exams I found every excuse under the sun to procrastinate. I would clean, cook, re-watch Friends for the 85th time and facetime every distant relative I could think of, to avoid opening my books. This desire to procrastinate has never left and I’m sure I’m not the only one. However, now that I run my own freelance voiceover business, procrastination isn’t really an option. With many of us now working from home in the voiceover community and beyond, productivity and procrastination are the buzz words of 2021. 

Over the years I’ve come up with a couple of tricks and tips to fight the urge to clean my windowsills to avoid doing my expenses. Here are 6 ways to boost your productivity and make working from home, work for you.

Ready, set, go…
 I came across this tip on social media and it has changed the way I work. If there’s a task you’ve been dreading, grab a cup of tea and set a timer. See how many emails you can send or how many invoices you can get done before the timer runs out. By treating it as a challenge or game, you’ll be amazed at how much more you can accomplish and how much easier it is to stay on task.

Disconnect to reconnect…
No one can concentrate for an entire working day without taking a break. When working from home, it’s easy to work through lunch or skip breaks altogether. Now more than ever, it’s so important to give your brain some much needed rest during the day. Try to move away from your workspace or studio for at least fifteen minutes and get some fresh air, eat some lunch or grab a coffee. Disconnect from your work for a little while and you’ll feel refreshed and focused afterwards. 

Your schedule is your new best friend…
As voiceover artists, we don’t always know what our workday will look like ahead of time. For a long time, I avoided creating a schedule for this reason, however I found myself feeling a bit aimless during the quiet moments of the day. When I finally decided to create a flexible schedule, ready to be adapted at the drop of a hat, I noticed I was ten times more productive! Thanks to the internet, there are hundreds of tools and apps that can help you create a flexible schedule that works for you. 

Lists aren’t just for shopping…                                                                               

Who would have thought that in 2021 there would be entire websites, blogs and products dedicated to the art of list making! If you think a more traditional schedule is not for you, why not try making a list every evening of the tasks you need to complete the next day instead. Decide how urgent each task is and how much time each will take to complete. You’ll be able to mentally prepare for the day ahead and keep track of what needs to be done. 

A biscuit or two…
A little self-bribery goes a long way. I love chocolate biscuits. A lot. So once I’ve completed a task I’ve really been avoiding, I like to reward myself with a little bit of the sweet stuff. It keeps me motivated and on task, knowing that a biscuit or two is waiting for me at the other side. Whatever your vice, allow yourself a little reward after completing something you’ve been avoiding like the plague. 

Chunk it up…
Trying to tackle a big project in one go can feel hopeless. Instead break your work down into bite sized chunks. You’ll feel like you are making progress when you are able to tick off each chunk you’ve completed. 

Above all, be kind to yourself. Some days might be more productive than others and that’s totally okay. Social media seems to be awash with productive people who are unaffected by procrastination or self-doubt. In reality, no one can be productive 100% of the time. Remember also that every individual is different, what might work for one person, might not work for another. Hopefully some of these tips will give you some ideas on how to make working from home, work for you. 






Written by Marilena Gant








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Creating Leads (Pt.2) – By Rich O’Donoghue

Creating Leads (Pt.2) – By Rich O’Donoghue

May 4, 2020

What you don’t want to do at this point is bombard them
with information and I would suggest no showreel at this
point as well. It’s just a general welcome, letting them know
where you had their email address from “Hi John, my name’s
Rich, Jane suggested I contact you regarding voice work” etc.
A great way to get a response is to ask a question, and what
better question to end your short and snappy email with
than “I wandered if I may send you my showreel for your
reference?” this is the engaging part, if you were to just send
the email with no question then you would potentially get no response.

It gives the potential client the option to engage in
business with you and strike up a working relationship. If you
get that response then great, this is where you show them
your shop window and let them know the door is open
(alright Rich calm down on the metaphors!!) so what’s next?
The response email arrives “Hi there, thanks for getting in
touch, great to hear from you and yes, sure, please do send
me your showreel”. Again, you don’t want to respond leaving your life story so, short, snappy, and get straight to the point.

Include details like, you are based at
your own studio with ISDN, source connect etc and you can
turn around MP3s same day or include your availability.
Include some sort of offer like, you can provide a few
auditions for their clients to choose from and try to
accommodate some of their needs from the off, after all you
may end up working with these people for years to come.

Negotiating rates at this point is subjective, you don’t want to
pigeon hole yourself and so perhaps say your rates apply on a
job by job basis but you work to equity rates for radio work
etc. As long as this email contains just the right amount of
information to get across what you can offer, along with your
showreel, then you’re ready to go.

If you don’t get a response from the second email I would
just take it as they have all your details on file now and they
will contact, you when something suitable arises. In regard to
making contact with them a second time, perhaps leave it a
month or two and make contact to let them know you’re
around or if you have a new showreel etc. I wouldn’t add
them to a weekly availability email at this point, maybe once you have worked together and they have said it’s ok. The
above is not from the bible and some people may have
alternative ways but it’s something I have crafted since my
first email as a freelancer when I sent the same email out to
300 contacts with absolutely no effort or thought into what I
was doing.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t,
sometimes the work just isn’t there! so don’t get
downhearted if it doesn’t work. The above method has
proved to work for me on a lot of occasions and I have
managed to form working relationships through just a few

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Visualisation (Pt.2) – By Rich O’Donoghue

Visualisation (Pt.2) – By Rich O’Donoghue

August 29, 2018

The knowledge I gained from this study help me with my work as a commercial producer as I use visualisation techniques to bring scripts to life. As a voice director, I describe these visuals to help bring the voice over into the character and setting of the script. This is one of the most enjoyable parts of my work as it really opens the creative experience of radio as a medium and is a lot of fun expressing my interpretation of a script, especially when the voice over provides their own input. I have found this technique to be useful not only in a professional setting but also teaching new voice artists whom have never experienced direction before.

The study for my dissertation has played a great part in my work as a guest lecturer at Huddersfield University. The lecture I deliver covers commercial radio production but has a separate workshop in which I play this soundscape and have the students discuss their experiences in an open forum. The workshop has ignited some interesting discussions and the difference between each listeners experience varies, massively, in some cases. The lecture was also adapted as part of a training module for both sales and creative staff at UTV Media, which helped to evolve my study to be relevant within a commercial setting. How we can create more effective radio campaigns using visualisation techniques to bring commercials to life.

I have often wandered where ‘sound creating visualisations’ has stemmed from in evolution, and I have a theory (hold onto your hats!!):

A caveman sits outside of his cave overlooking the forest and every now and again he hears a loud sound but has no clue what it is. One day he ventures into the forest, into an opening where he sees a beast, which lets out the same loud sound. The caveman now has a visual representation of the sound he hears and disappears back to his cave. The next day he hears the same sound and his mind presents him with the image of the beast, so he returns to the forest. The man is presented with an image of the beast attacking an animal of prey, but how does he know the beast is a threat to him!? His mind uses a memory of what ‘caveman’ looks like and replaces the pray with the image of him (Imagination = memory manipulation) ultimately providing him with an image of what it would be liked to be attacked by the beast (survival instinct) The caveman disappears quickly never to return, at least never when that sound is heard, and lives to carry forth man’s evolution.

How does the caveman know what he looks like if there are no mirrors in the forest I hear you ask? They say never trust a thought that arises at 3 in the morning, so take what you will from my theory! As the great Andrew Sachs said when playing Manuel in Faulty Towers, “I know nothing”.

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Creating Your Showreel (Pt.2) – By Rich O’Donoghue

Creating Your Showreel (Pt.2) – By Rich O’Donoghue

June 29, 2018

Your showreel may vary in length, anywhere from 30 seconds to 90 seconds. There’s no point making a showreel to 90 seconds just for the sake of it! If you have material that showcases everything you can do within 3 or 4 edits, then just use these. On the flip side I also don’t like leaving material out just for the sake of it. If I hear an edit that stands out from your usual work and I think it might gain you work in another area, then it stays in. How long the edits are is also important. You don’t want to bore the listener but also you don’t want to rush through edits so that we don’t hear them properly.

You also don’t have to cram everything into one showreel! Have as many showreels as you need to show what you can do. You could have a character or commercial and then a showreel that highlights the fact you do college work or that you are a native brummie! I always suggest keeping your work separate. The reason being is that if I go onto a voice website and type into the search bar ‘corporate’ and your ‘corporate’ work is hidden in your e-learning reel, then I’m going to miss it and you are going to potentially miss out on work.

“Shall I use branded names in my showreel?” A question I often get asked. Personally, I don’t write scripts with branded names as I want to be truthful to my clients and it’s not on the top of my list anyway. Some voices ask to have branded names and so I negotiate on this. In my honest opinion, from a producer’s perspective, it wouldn’t make much difference if I heard ‘Virgin Media’ in your showreel. I’m listening to hear that you believe in what you’re voicing, be it ‘virgin media’ or ‘Freddie’s Fish Shop’. I’m also listening for variety, diversity and if you are someone that can be directed as I may be able to use you for something you haven’t voiced before.

To recap, explore the possibility of coaching and spend time thinking about where your voice suits best. Try not to create your own showreels, this is your business so invest wisely, the benefits you will gain from being directed will be priceless. Entertain and inform with your showreel, show them what you’ve got. Be open to guidance and direction from your coach/producer, they will bring the out the best of you. Update your reels on a regular basis and compare work from 6 month ago to track your progress. Remember to use your voice, your body and the microphone as your instruments, learn how to play them properly as this is what we hear/feel as listeners.

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