With the Holiday Season around the corner, many of us are thinking about taking some down time and looking forward to spending quality time with family and friends. However, for voice over actors, the reality is that sometimes it’s hard to close down shop completely. This blog post is going to discuss the pros and cons of taking time away from your studio and making the decision to book out or not.
Managing Your Business
We, as voice talent, are our own bosses and don’t have a vacation pay that we can count on when we take time off. But that doesn’t mean that we should never take some time off.
At the end of November, I took a very much needed beach vacation getaway. I considered some different factors, and made the decision to book out. About a month before leaving, I warned certain customers with whom I was working on extensive projects that I would be unavailable from a certain date to a certain date and I made sure to complete other ones before my departure date. I booked out with my agent, as well. If we manage our upcoming vacation time well in advance, we can expect that things remain under control until we get back.
Voice Over Travel Gear
I know that a lot of VOs bring travel gear. They build those infamous pillow forts for sound treatment and choose to work during their vacations. I am definitely not opposed to working a bit during certain vacations, but considering this was my first international trip since the beginning of the pandemic, I chose not to bring any voice over gear. That being said, I did end up doing a bit of work during my vacation. I allowed myself to work on little things, such as answering emails – nothing that took up too much time. Also, while I was away, my daughter, who is also a voice actor, was short listed for a series of commercials. She was required to send in an audition with very little notice. The casting director understood our situation, and we were allowed to record the audition on a cellphone. It all worked out.
I seen posts on various voice over Facebook groups discussing if voice actors should bring their travel gear or not when they take vacation time. Some say that if you don’t, you’re guaranteed to lose out on work. I am of the mindset that it doesn’t have to be either or. While that may be true, you can look at it in another way – if you choose to work during your vacation, then is it really a vacation? I’m not saying that the loss of income doesn’t matter. But considering the amount of vacation time that most North Americans take compared to our European counterparts, I would challenge you to think about if it will make a huge difference to your annual income if you take one week off.
Some Factors to Consider
I’m not saying that you should reject a super high paying, high profile job. If you were to book, say a National commercial campaign, it would definitely be wise to accept to do that job even if you were on vacation. Those jobs are few and far between, even for top bookers in the voice over industry. But you might not want to work on that e-Learning project or Audiobook while you’re taking time off, as those genres of VO are much more time consuming.
Also, you might want to consider that even if you build that pillow fort or have a travel booth, like this one from Vocal Booth to Go, the sound treatment will likely be different from your home studio. Another option for working while out of town is to ask fellow voice talent to allow you to use their studio space, or you could always rent a local sound studio where you are vacationing.
Think about the definition of Vacation by the Merrian-Webster Dictionary and this might help you in making your decision.
1 : a period spent away from home or business in travel or recreation
2 a: a scheduled period during which activity (as of a court or school) is suspended
b: a period of exemption from work granted to an employee
3: a respite or a time of respite from something : INTERMISSION
Giving Yourself Permission
I’m happy that I allow myself to have the option to work or not during vacation. I am definitely set up with travel gear so that I can make that decision to work while I travel, if I want to. We shouldn’t, however, feel guilty for taking time off. We all need and deserve a break. Whether you’re going away during your vacation or you simply need some downtime during your staycation, enjoy your time off. Don’t feel guilty and question yourself about it.
Realities of Running a Voice Over Business
In today’s day and age, we can literally work all the time! 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year! Thus, the need to make that decision to shut off to keep ourselves mentally and physically healthy. We all need to mentally decompress and rejuvenate from time to time. This will help to keep us performing at the top of our game. The Voice Over industry is highly competitive, but that doesn’t mean that you should be afraid to book out. You should really consider that the time you take off could actually be beneficial to you as a voice actor.
When I got back from my vacation, I was really happy to get back into my booth and missed auditioning, etc. This is the type of feeling that will help voice over artists succeed over time. This type of mind set is so much more beneficial than one feeling afraid and/or guilty, yet tired and burned out.
My Holiday Message to you
This is my last blog of 2021. I would like to thank you for taking the time to read it and I hope that you enjoyed it! I would like to wish you and your loved ones a very Happy Holiday Season! Merry Christmas to those who celebrate! Best wishes for 2022! Live, Love, Laugh and be Safe!!