Gobs on Sticks

Thoughts mostly (but not always) about the voice-over business, from London Voiceover Artist, Mike Cooper

  • About the author

    My name is Mike Cooper. I'm a full time Voiceover Artist living and working in London, and this is my blog. Find out more about me on my main website (there's a link further down this column), or if you'd like to hear some of my work, check out the files below.
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Recession? What recession?

Posted by MikeCooper on March 27, 2009

Try this one on for size: “Recession is a state of mind”.

Controversial, eh? Let me say, right up front, that I’m not being flippant here. Anyone who’s been laid off and is reading this shouldn’t take offence at what I’ve just said, but I think it’s time I set out my own stall on this for anyone who is working as a freelance. You see, I decided some time ago that I wasn’t “doing” the downturn, myself, and guess what? Things here are going from strength to strength. This post applies to anyone who works for themselves – not just Voice Actors – and the three points I make apply pretty well to anyone who falls into the freelancer category.

I’ve studied more than a little NLP (that’s “Neuro Linguistic Programming”, if you’re unfamiliar), and one of the tenets of NLP is that you get more of what you focus on. Call it the Universal Law of Attraction if you like (plenty’s been written about that, after all) but the truth is that you usually get what you expect, and if you’re spending a lot of time thinking doom and gloom and convincing yourself you’re just holding off the inevitable decline, then you’ll probably talk yourself into just that.

So, if you’ve been walking around sounding like Marvin the Paranoid Android for the last few months, what can you do to “reframe” for a more positive outlook? Here are three things to consider, to get you started on the Road to Recession-Free Enlightenment:

Firstly, remember that there are always some businesses that thrive in a recession. In any given sector there are always survivors, even when their competitors go to the wall. The key is working out what sets these businesses apart – and then doing the same things yourself. NLP calls this “modelling behaviour”. What is it that makes a successful business a success in the “current climate”? (I hate that phrase, by the way.) Is it how they market themselves? How they treat their customers? The quality of their work? Or something else? What could you be doing differently to give yourself that same advantage?

This leads into my second point: how much are you applying yourself to the business of making new clients? Repeat business is often said to be the best form of business – it just keeps coming, without you having to put in the effort. But at the moment there’s a chance that your existing contacts may be cutting back on their requirements, whether that’s in voiceover or other areas. Even if this applies to just a few of them, and even if that’s just by a small amount, the voice talent or freelance who relies too much on their existing clients for work may soon find that the pot starts to shrink…

So, get out there and make new contacts! Talk is cheap, so pick up the phone. No good at cold calling? This is a seriously good time to get over it and get some practice! (What’s the worst that can happen? They put the phone down? C’mon!) Alternatively, increase your chances of success by doing some research and reframing them as “warm calls” instead. Martha Retallick has a great article on this at Freelance Switch (which is, incidentally, a great source of information for anyone who’s working for themselves).

Finally, for now, here’s another powerful reframe that might help you to shift gear. One of the greatest benefits of being freelance is that you’ll never be made redundant. You work for clients on a per-project basis. Projects and clients may come and go, but you’re self-employed for as long as you want to be. And no one can tell you different! This is a really powerful shift in mindset, if you choose to accept it.

The above three tips apply to anyone who works for themselves. Please share them with everyone you know who might have convinced themselves that this has to be a struggle. Replace “struggle” with “hard work”. Then ask yourself if it even needs to be that hard. If you’re going to work for yourself, then you’re going to have to work. So, as someone once said, “work smarter, not harder”.

Next time I’ll talk about why the Voiceover business might actually be one of the better places to be in the throes of a recession, and I’ll share some great resources I’ve found recently.


2 Responses to “Recession? What recession?”

  1. I totally agree that recession is a state of mind. There are so many stories of people who are actually doing better during this recession than they were before! It’s the small ideas that make a difference…


  2. Raka said

    I am a freelance writer myself, so I actually know both the pain and gain of being a freelancer. These are tough times I guess… but surely wouldn’t last forever…

    Your post was really nice and encouraging.


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