Every so often I like to take a moment to recognize how vast the voiceover universe is. So many articles, ideas, and tips on how to succeed in voiceover….I have come to realize that we all have a niche within this niche here. For voice actors, your niche might be the professional conversational guy nailing down those corporate narration auditions, or you could be a warm and friendly mom type, booking up all those national network spots for Cheerios and Kleenex. For coaches, the niche is a bit different. My niche(s) are audition preparation and proven techniques for the commercial voice actor. I am grateful for those out there who have made a niche out of voiceover marketing. It truly is an entire universe of information, strategy, and work for those ready to take it on. The important thing to take note of here is that the majority of you out there competing for voice work absolutely cannot avoid this part of the business. You don’t have an agent, you’re not in a live-casting market, and you need to find your own opportunities every single day. And there’s more beyond the marketing alone. There’s keeping up with voiceover trends and the future of the voiceover industry. Thanks to the online presence of voiceovers nowadays, things are changing entirely from the way they used to be. Joe Schmo in Nowheresville can now make money with his voice. From his closet. Wow. OK, back to the marketing. These are the must-do basics to begin your voiceover career and pursue work:
1- Get professional voiceover coaching. Learn. Grow. Improve. I personally like the idea of students getting trained by at least two different people and more importantly, two people with different perspectives such as a coach like me with a background in Casting, and then from a successful voice actor currently working and booking jobs. Two perspectives double the possibility of improving and collecting useful techniques and strategies. Do your research, get second and third opinions. Vet everyone you are considering paying money to.
2- Make your demo. DO get your training first, and without upfront payment for a demo. DON’T sign up with a school or coach that also takes your money for the demo as part of the training package before you have even discovered whether you have talent or not. I discuss this in great detail in my article How to Make a Great Voiceover Demo. Read this and you might save yourself hundreds to thousands of dollars.
3- Get your demo up, on your website. Oh, yes, then MAKE a website if you don’t have one. There are more than likely thousands of experts out there to help you with building a simple website, so I don’t have any references that would be useful. That’s another universe entirely. I will say that you need a very simple site, and that you should probably have your demos right there on that first page or else super easy to find, along with some powerful descriptive words for what kind of voice range you have. For example: smart, conversational, witty, warm, real, etc. Your demo is your calling card. This is how you prove to the voiceover community that you possess skills that are valuable and necessary to bring copy to life.
4- Pick a pay-to-play site and try it out for a year. The two biggies are voices.com and voice123.com. There will be compliments and complaints about these sites always. Glance over them both and see which site’s functionality looks better and give it a try. You are casting a wide net and this is your first throw.
5- Begin making your cold calls. Yes, they’re freezing cold, but they do sometimes work. How about just one a day? So easy, but that means you are making 365 cold calls a year! Call your local businesses. Call video production companies, advertising agencies, recording studios, tv and radio stations, talent agencies. A big one according to savvy voice marketers is mandy.com. This is a comprehensive listing of film and tv production resources all over the world. You could say it’s one-stop-shopping for your marketing plan. But – don’t stop. Craigslist has been another place for voice actors to shop for audition possibilities. Search under jobs and also gigs and get creative with your digging in there.
6- Make an effort to get listed on multiple voice talent sites. This means those that are self-represented (by the actors themselves) and also those that are talent agencies. This means that you are actually trying to get representation by these agencies. Many of them will not ask for you to sign an exclusivity contract so the more the merrier. This is a quantity pursuit folks. Get noticed more, get more representation, get more answers to your calls, get more auditions, get more voiceover jobs.
7- Stay organized. During all of these marketing pursuits keep carefully lists of whom you’ve called and what was covered so you don’t repeat your efforts. Think outside of the modern internet box as well – send postcards to clients you’ve already booked work with or that you’re pursuing. Familiarity breeds comfort.
8- Don’t forget to replenish the well. This means stop and smell the roses. Don’t get burned out. Schedule time for yourself to actually grow as a person and this will grow your range as a voice actor. It will also make you more likely to enjoy the time spent marketing as a pleasurable challenge and not an exhausting chore. You have nothing to offer the voiceover community if ALL you are doing is marketing ALL DAY LONG. You will eventually lose the person you are marketing – yourself. Keep yourself interesting as a performer by being interested in life outside of this business. Go ride a bike in between cold calls. Go see a show, a new art exhibit. Get out some crayons and paper – why not? Go have fun. And then get to work.