Tuesday, June 11, 2013

I Don't Do “Dollar-A-Holler...”

and have no plans to really retire.

Dollar-A-Holler image
In my younger years I always told myself that I could never retire. I'm just too much of an active person to be idle. So, the plan has always been to focus on the official retirement age as established by The Social Security Administration, which for me is age 66.   So, that magic date is rapidly approaching. The first “big check,” as I like to refer to it, arrives in August.  

 Since the day I left broadcasting in 1987 to pursue  public relations and promotions,  I have always done voice over and on-camera on the side but never thought of it as a business.  Most of the time I traveled to locations designated by the client or video production company for the recording.  This guy of many interests always wanted to have a recording studio at home, which I have had in some form or another over the years.  Initially it was a suite with reel to reel recorders, then it was using computers. Long before USB audio interfaces became the norm and changed the face of home based voiceover, I figured out that the folks at Creative made a sound card with an external interface that accepted professional microphones and had both optical digital audio and FireWire inputs. I know that's just technical jargon. So, bear with me on this.
Audigy 4
That was back in the early 2000s.  I have had a digital recording system at home ever since and have continually upgraded to stay ahead of the curve.  I share this only to illustrate that having a home studio has always been my focus with the ultimate goal of utilizing that studio to continue to do voice work long after I stop reporting to an outside job on a daily basis.

In early 2011, I announced to my employer that I wanted to gradually reduce my hours with the eventual goal of full retirement by mid 2012. The plan was to focus more of my time on voiceover.  That full retirement came a few months early when the organization decided to eliminate the department.  So I took the severance package and bid the job farewell in January 2012 knowing full well that real retirement was just not in the cards. Another opportunity presented itself when the State of New York invited me to participate in a program called SEAP, the Self Employment Assistance Program.  It's a program that helps people start a small business while collecting unemployment checks but without the obligation of looking for work.  Before that I had not considered starting an actual “business” of doing voice work, but thought of it only from the performance perspective.  It was a good move because it changed my mindset.

So, Jerry Reed – Voice Talent, a business, was launched.  Like any young business there are start-up struggles with financial investments and periods of little income, which is natural.  Some say in the voiceover world to become fully established as a business can take many many years. I am fortunate to have had some savings and now I have that “big check” to fall back on.  Why do I bring this up again?   Well, the income is small but enough for me to look at it as seed money for my business. It also helps me to keep from being tempted to offer my services for “a dollar a holler*, ” just for cash flow. I know the value of my work and can stay focused on doing the best job possible for my clients.

The only drawback to this home based business is the lack of contact with people.   The Internet social networks help to some degree, but nothing can replace meeting eye to eye and face to face.

*Dollar a holler – a term often used in the early days of radio broadcasting to describe very low commercial rates being offered by a competing AM radio stations.

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