Get Ready…Get Set…SLOW!

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A Buildup to a Letdown


Hard Liquor at 9am

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I was so excited.  I mean it!  Not like “This Is Us” excited…but more like “I am pretty sure Jesus is returning today” excited.  (My apologies to all those for whom this would actually be bad news. #sorrynotsorry)

Apprehension had been building.  I had been posting videos, sharing the progress, and envisioning what it would be like to move into my new studio.  Excitement was at a fever pitch.  The time was drawing near, and with each phase of the process having been met and surpassed, I was that much closer to moving in.  The only things remaining to buy were push pins to stick through the pictures of everyone on my wall who ever said I would never amount to anything.  Oh! And voodoo dolls to boil them and drive the van over them in my spare time.

Inspections were passed, insulation was in, electrical was in, conduits were run, drywall was up, mudding and taping were completed, paint was drying, trim was being attached, flooring and carpet were in.  There was never a better time to be an utter success in voiceovers than with my brand new custom office and studio!  Elation was at its peak!  I was flying high and riding a wave of anticipation and excitement!  O For Great Joy And Jubilation!  I could only imagine what would come next!

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Bombing.  Tanking hard.  I believe you young American whippersnappers call it “sucking.”

And that is exactly what it has kind of been since then: a royal suckfest.  Ultimately, yes, I have hit my goal one out of the three weeks I have been in here…but barely.  Kind of a "by a hair's breadth" or "by the skin of my teeth" goal-hitting.

You would think, according to some law of the universe somewhere recognizing all of the excitement, emotions, drive, and particularly, financial investment I have made – after all, I had sunk a lot of money into this rebuild – that I should be utterly prospering and rolling in Benjamins right about now.  Nope.  Instead, each week so far this year has felt like pulling teeth, and that’s especially hard because:

  1. I had such a banner year last year, and
  2. I am not a dentist.

There I go talking about teeth again.

Honestly? I had a funny feeling this would happen.  On the coattails of a banner year, there is always the great trepidation that the subsequent year will not measure up.  So far, that is proving to be exactly the case.  2022 is so far proving to be "2020-Too."  Thankfully, we are still fairly early on. I ended up hitting my January goal after all.  Barely…but I hit it.  I need to breathe easier.  I need to trust, keep my head down, keep auditioning and keep planting seeds. I am building up a cache that will eventually explode in results.  I have had to continually look back on my history and track record of success for moral support and emotional reinforcement, knowing that I can indeed do this, and I have the teeth for it.

More teeth references.

In the meantime, pass the hooch, as the jobs coming in are sparse, and I have no more room to store all these teeth that I have pulled.

It's like I have always said: Dentibus obsessus videtur.  As far as you know right now, I have always said that.


The Drive to The Drought

Desert, Drought, Dehydrated, Arid, Badlands, Erosion

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What causes a drought?  Who knows.  Spending is down.  People’s thoughts are elsewhere.  A particular breadwinning genre that I excel in is still ramping up for its own season.  Someone saw Elvis. Who really knows.  Sometimes, it really does depend on the genre.

My client Tonna with Cedar Interactive offers the following: "Our busiest season is the 3rd quarter of the year – when our clients are pushing their eLearning projects through to completion in order to use up their department’s annual budget for training. Our eLearning projects are put on hold at times as our clients are met with FDA approval process delays. When the approvals are processed and official, the product is ready for immediate release to the market – and there is an urgent need to complete the accompanying end-user training. We must be flexible with our standard development process and turn the professional voice over fast for the approved training and make the deliveries as quickly as possible. And this is why I turn to Joshua Alexander [me] to meet our voice over needs. The common claim of “fast turnaround” means nothing if we have to go back and forth with corrections and rereads and days are lost. Joshua provides a fast turnaround – and it is accurate and professional. Working with Joshua has made my job incredibly easier."

I am Joshua, and I approve this message.

My client Melina with SpaceJunk says this: "Our busy season usually falls around autumn through winter, but it can vary. Usually, the reasoning behind that has to do with end-of-the-year finances for companies. Most companies’ fiscal year goes by calendar year. Universities tend to follow the academic year (June/July), and they must spend the funds they’ve budgeted for the year before they lose it. Eventually, it becomes a mad dash to get projects done. Something that might affect a change in when and how we produce our videos might be because of unforeseen budget shifting and/or business cycle. In some cases, a project will be put on a hold per the client’s request until the proper funding is available. Sometimes certain parts of a project may be modified to keep the momentum to be able deliver on time, or the project could get canceled altogether."

Is the drought bad?  Not necessarily.  Some voice talents really are grateful for a drought!

Paul Strikwerda says: “My actual voice over work does slow down around the holidays and I am happy it does. I'd rather spend time with my family than with my microphone. I used to be that guy who thought he was invincible, and who had to accommodate any client at any moment. No more! I don't live to work. I work to live. If you are one of those workaholics who can't stop, even during the holidays, ask yourself: What am I doing this for? What do I want to prove, and to whom? Having had a stroke has taught me that you cannot make up for lost time. You can only make the best of the time you are given. This includes time to celebrate with family and friends. Those are the moments you'll remember forever. Work can wait."

J. Michael Collins says, “If you play in multiple genres like I do, inevitably there is a holiday dropoff. That's not true in all corners. Commercial can actually jump a bit during the holiday time if you voice for brands that do a lot of holiday-specific ads. Some other broadcast genres see increases as well. That said, if Explainer, Corporate, E-Learning, Medical, etc.... are your bag, it tends to be deadsville from about the 15th of December until the end of the first week of January. Budgets are exhausted, projects are completed, and people are on vacation. So it can be feast or famine depending on where you play. If you're seeing a slowdown, you have two choices: expand the genres that you work in, or, maybe, take some well-earned time off. After all, we don't live to work, we work to live!"

Did you catch that?  Both A-Listers just socked the message right in our teeth.  “We don’t live to work; we work to live.”  The former suggests enslavement; the latter suggests freedom.  Could it be that this respite I have been given is for a purpose?  Perhaps to open the doors to taking a day off here and there?  Perhaps to exercise?  Perhaps to step back and just breathe a bit?  Perhaps to pursue dental school?

For myself, I am an A-Type. A go-getter.  An early-riser.  A “git ‘er done” kind of guy.  To quote Barbara Streisand’s song from A Star is Born, “I want everything…everything.”

So, naturally, when the chips are down, or I am not seeing the results I want, or, for anyone who knows me, if God forbid I do not hit my weekly goal, then I begin to experience what is commonly known as “Losery Loser Syndrome.”  After all, LLS is a common ailment that strikes most working middle age males without warning, and produces rashes, painful sores, vomiting, imminent detonation, Taco Bell cravings, and murderous rage.  Children and small animals should avoid males with LLS unless equipped with, at the very least, a rudimentary lathe with which to bore out the male’s temples.  Medication for LLS should not be prescribed for males who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.  While suffering from LLS, one should not sit down, stand up, or lie flat.  Some assembly required.  Close cover before striking.  Shoes & shirts required.  Member FDIC.

What is ultimately required to get you through these droughts?  A strong, refined sense of humor.  As I wrote in last week’s life-altering blog that even Jesus - who might just be returning today! - approves of, we are in a career that produces belly-laughs.  Those belly-laughs are needed in order to survive a vocation loaded with apparent rejection: from marketing clients, from auditions, even from colleagues.  All of those interactions can sometimes leave us speechless.  I will now link to another example of something that I wrote addressing exchanges with agents, colleagues and clients that have left me speechless, because I think linking to myself is the bee’s knees.

I am not positive that bees have knees.  But if they do, their knees would be all about linking to oneself.  And I believe that their knees are ultimately connected to their teeth.


Hurry Up and Wait

Animal, Turtle, Bubble, Reptile, Turtle Shell

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How to survive the drought?

Plan ahead.  Save.  Muscle through.  Alanis Morissette sings “The Only Way Out Is Through.”  I agree.  So go through it, and know that the gravy train resumes on the other side….IF you see it through.  Use this time to:

  1. Exercise
  2. Revamp your website or check on its efficiency
  3. Update your branding
  4. Check in on the welfare of your clients
  5. Take some courses or coaching
  6. A sixth thing of your choosing

For me, I had to go from expecting back to wanting.  I want jobs so bad I can feel it in my teeth.

I am thinking I should have been an orthodontist.

You see, I had been conditioned to steadily receiving a lot of jobs, and regularly generating far more revenue on a weekly basis.  But for me, and everyone else out there, when conditions change, we all need to hit a reset button.

I think you were expecting a longer final section of my blog.  I have saved you time by keeping it short.  You are welcome.

Now, git.  Away with you.  Git out there and keep plugging away, or I am coming for your teeth.

Carpe dentum.

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Joshua Alexander
Seattle Voice Actor & Voiceover Artist for hire
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20 thoughts on “Get Ready…Get Set…SLOW!”

  1. LOL, The Suite Life On Deck: “Are all the songs about teeth?” [awkward gesture, hoping for a “no”]

    As someone who speeks Engliksh goodly – I really do get the frustration. In general, earning anything has felt like pulling teeth… Thankfully, I’ve learned and groan (sure there should be a ‘w’ in there somewhere) a lot and thankfully make something now – VO, still quiet, but that will change too. It’s that sticking with it – that sowing of the teeth and so on.

    You have done it, you are still doing it and will continue to rock it! Or chew it, whichever you chews! hehe.

  2. Please know that I do not wish you ill in any way, and indeed I begin every day imploring our Lord to flood you with financial success, but it is oddly reassuring to hear that you also have slow(er) times. Gratuitous mentions of dentition aside, I appreciate the encouragement to see things through the other side. May all the knees of bees be yours.

    1. Great article! I absolutely get the slow-down thing. Mine isn’t even predictable by looking back at 20 years of freelancing. It always happens in different months for me. The only way I have been able to freelance that long and not have a steady stream of cortisol invading my system is by keeping my monthly bills low enough so that if freelancing doesn’t work anymore, I can get a job at Subway and pay them. I haven’t had to do that. But I’ve also never had a car payment, or a credit card, or bought anything (except the house which was $120,000 with a very doable mortgage) without first saving for it. I have a partner now, but was freelancing as a single parent for 10 of those years. I think not having the additional stress of losing something should acting not work out has been one of the keys in making it work for so long. And it doesn’t mean not having nice things, it just means buying a fixer upper and fixing up after the money is saved, or saving for a bigger down payment first to keep the mortgage low. Saving cash for a used car. It can still be a nice car. Anyway, that’s how I have kept myself feeling secure and sane through the ups and downs of freelancing.

      1. It’s all balance, isn’t it? That’s the key. Good for you, Kari. Thanks for visiting and sharing your story. I could learn a thing or two from your discipline in finance and spending! Good for you. And please bring me some Subway – I’ll take the oven-roasted chicken breast footlong with bacon please!

  3. daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaang… You experience slowdowns tooooo??? i thought you were immortal and IMMUNE?!?!?!?!?!??!! Well I hope thing will pick up soon for you…I really do. sorry for the cold I hear you have as well! slowdowns AND a cold. Eeeeek!! Get well soon Josh

  4. We cannot forget to live. If we do, we will wake up one day with a dreadful, icy regret of just what we let slip through our fingers.

    What are some non voiceover things you have always wanted to experience or do??

  5. I loved this with the audio option. I listened while reading along. It was great to hear it the way it was meant to be read! I could say…I really sunk my teeth into it. LOL! YOU’RE THE BEST (there, now I don’t have to worry about any lack of instant approval).

    1. Ha! I see what you did there! Thanks my friend. I’ve started including audio options after having been inspired by Craig Williams…it facilitates further readership and convenience of access, yeah? By the way, MY what big teeth you have!

    1. I’m with you, Dani! Take two pills to treat your LLS and call Dr. Feelgood for a routine checkup after that. You should be right as rain. Until the world does sort itself out, I’ll keep poppin’ ’em. 🙂 Go git ’em this week!

  6. Oh, how I feel this! This year has been slooooooow so far. Not slow for Josh slow, but slow for me slow, which is too slow. And my part time support job is ALSO slow. So…it’s Friday night, and I’m going to go write emails. And hope that soon it will stop being so slow.

    1. Tis the season to be lolli…gagging! This too shall pass. I totally hear you and each week has definitely felt like pulling teeth. I pray you go get ‘em and have utter success over the coming weeks, my friend!

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