By Stephanie Ciccarelli
January 11, 2013
What has your career path looked like?
If you were to chart your course, I think you'd be amazed by how far you have come!
You may find that you have a lot in common with Karen DeBoer and can relate to some of her experiences.
Hear Karen's story in today's VOX Daily and join the conversation by leaving a comment on the blog!
VOX: How long have you been working in the VO industry?
KAREN DEBOER: Well, I will give my age away if I'm too honest about this one, but I did my first voice-over in 1990, so over 20 years now. Much has changed since I first stepped into that recording booth at a small ad agency in Lincoln, NE.
VOX: What did you do before becoming a voice artist?
KD: I was busy raising my four children and supporting my husband on the family farm. I was a vocal performance major in college, and was involved in Community Theater during those years as well, which provided many connections to the broadcast industry. I credit those connections with opening many doors for my eventual career as an on-camera actress and voice-over artist.
VOX: What prompted you to make the move into VO?
KD: Initially, I had a number of friends in the advertising industry that encouraged me to explore voiceover, due to the tone of my voice and my previous on-stage experience. I started paying close attention to radio and television voice-overs and realized it was something I was definitely interested in pursuing. My voice-work eventually led to a successful career as an on-camera talent as well.
After devoting a lot of time on the road getting to all those gigs, I desired a job that wouldn't take me away from home as often. I realized that I needed to make a decision about whether or not to seriously pursue my dream of working from home in full-time voiceover.
VOX: What approach did you take to finding work and establishing yourself and your VO business?
KD: It didn't come easy, as most veterans in the VO biz would attest to. I remember spending many long nights, after the kids were in bed, studying the industry, reading every book I could get my hands on, practicing scripts, calling producer-friends for advice and absorbing anything and everything related to a voice-over career. I sent letters and voice demos to producers all over the region, and then would diligently follow up with phone calls and post cards. That was before the digital age changed (and dramatically simplified) my approach to marketing my services.
VOX: How did you view the internet and other digital technologies in the beginning?
KD: Being born prior to the technological age, I found myself experiencing a good share of trepidation over whether I was capable of learning how to set up a home studio, learning how to record and edit, and learning how to convert files to the proper format and send them electronically. It wasn't long before I recognized I had no choice. If I wanted to realize my dream of making voiceover my full-time career, I would need to buck up and just deal with the learning curve. While slow and frustrating in the beginning, I was determined to make it work. I was also fortunate to have the resources of several benevolent friends in the industry that gave me a lot of free advice and technical help when I would get in a pinch.
VOX: How did they factor into your growth as a voice artist?
KD: Frankly, it made all the difference in my ability to succeed in today's voice-over marketplace. In particular, Voices.com has been the tipping point in my ability to go from part-time to full-time. The investment I've made in Voices.com has reaped dividends far beyond my investment.
VOX: Did you experience any notable obstacles when adopting the new technology?
KD: As noted above, it really had to do with the learning curve. Technology wasn't second-nature for me, and I had to be willing to incorporate due-diligence in learning how to utilize technology in my business. I think people who are born into technology have a much easier time of it--while those of us who had to learn it after-the-fact, find it a bit more challenging to get to a point where everything is automatic. I highly recommend having a trusted resource at your fingertips at all times, because the inevitable problems will happen from time to time, and you need to be able to remedy it quickly.
VOX: How did you overcome them?
KD: Patience and belief in myself. Patience that kept me from throwing in the towel, and belief that I was capable of doing it. Then came the hard work of rolling up my sleeves and investing the time and effort necessary to find answers to my problems.
VOX: What advice would you offer other VO artists who are new to computer work/online hiring and auditioning practices?
KD: If I can do it, anyone can! Don't allow fear of something new or unfamiliar to keep you from pursuing a voice-over career. Very few things come easy in life--most everyone has to pay their dues. Don't expect too much too soon, and also don't expect others to do the work for you. Those that have come before us have also worked hard, and I don't expect them to give away their trade-secrets. Figure out your niche, focus on what you do best, and don't try to be all things to all people. Don't dwell on auditions--press "send", then move on to the next one. This industry is a numbers-game, and if you put enough time and effort into it, you will eventually reap the rewards--which are great and worth all the sweat equity you invest!
Looking forward to hearing your story!