Managing Your Voice Over Career – 3

Your Demos – How To Make Sure They’re Working For You!

We all know that the demo is the most important tool a voice actor can have, so it needs to be great.

Whether you’re working with an agent, or handling your bookings, marketing and relationship building on your own, you need to find ways to make sure your demo will get you work.

I’ve written before on techniques for making sure your demo (or demos) are professional in this blog post.

But I want to talk specifically about:

  • making demos to target different clients, and
  • positioning yourself so that you can be found.

What Kind of Voice Actor Are You?

Before you even make a demo, you need to be very sure about where you’d fit into the industry. 

Your disembodied voice will have certain characteristics that mean you’ll be suitable for certain kinds of work.

  1. Perhaps you’re the ‘girl or boy next-door voice’ – natural and bright, cast in the latest McDonalds ad.
  2. You might be a 40+ male or female whose voice carries with it life experience, warmth, trust or gravitas and you book (or want to book) corporate work (also called Business or Industrial). Your narration skills are slick and you understand how to approach long-form scripts – which I call anything over two minutes.
  3. Perhaps you have a quirky, unusual, stand-out different voice and you’re brilliant at jumping into other people’s shoes and really telling a storyyou want to do character ads and animation.
  4. Then there’s the promo voice, mostly a male dominated area – think ‘In A World’.

I could go on and on, listing the different styles and types of scripts out there!

The fact is, there are many, many different genres and styles of scripts that voice actors are given each day. 

To be successful in voice over, you don’t need to be brilliant at all of them – you just need to know what you’re good at.

I’ve had demos sent to me by novice voice actors who, without any coaching, have just put together a stack of reads, sent the demo out and ‘hoped for the best’.

Well that’s just not going to work! 

Sounding like you don’t know what you’re doing will never get you a job. 

To get a job and keep getting booked, you need to really understand:

  1. What you’re great at so you can include an example of this brilliance on your demo, and
  2. Who’s looking for your talents and how they can find you.

1 Targeting Demos To Specific Clients

A good coach will help you:

  • work out what your style strengths are, and
  • direct you to the kind of material to record for your demo – so that it can be sent to people who are looking for someone with your ability.

Targeting a voice demo, so that it gets you work is something that takes planning and strategy.

When I work with voice artists and have nailed what they do naturally and well, I suggest they think about creating different versions of their demo to send to those studios, producers or radio stations who are looking for what they have.

For instance:

  • you wouldn’t send a demo that was full of energized radio promo’s to a sound studio – they’re usually looking for voice actors.
  • you wouldn’t send the sound studio demo to a producer who regularly created video content for online business that is often ‘drier’ – requiring authority, gravitas and trust, and
  • if you’re a solid corporate, or business narrator, why would you send your demo compilation full of short grabs of different commercial styles to someone looking for a long-form narrator?

So, now that you get what I’m saying, that it’s all about giving those who books voices, samples of what they want, it’s time to look at your demos.

Here’s some questions to ask it:

  • It the material you have on the demo providing those casting with a solution?
  • Can some of it be edited out to form the foundation of another demo?

2 Who’s looking for you and how can they find you?

Mmmmm!  Can they find you?  Do they know you’re there and, more importantly, what you can do?

Yup this is key to winning you a client and making sure you can get on-going work.

If you’re with an agent and they have a website – lucky you!

You’ll be positioned as a premium voice performer with specific style qualities, reliable all-rounder abilities – or something really special and unique.

Having yourself positioned where someone searching for a voice actor can find you, read about you, and listen to your work is fabulous.

But what do you do if you’re not with an agent? 

Well apart from the above, and making sure you have demos structured to give producers and casting people an example of what they need, you’re going to need one of these…

Your personal website!

If you’re managing your own voice over business (or even if you have an agent) and don’t yet have a website to showcase yourself and your work, you need to seriously think about doing it.

  1. Start planning – ask friends to recommend web designers.
  2. Look at other websites that small entrepreneurial businesses have – collect a list of those URL’s to show who ever you choose to do the job, what it is you like (and don’t like!)

You can get a simple website of a few pages for under $1,000.

Your website plan:

  • Collect material for the content – make it the good stuff.
  • Get video as well as audio samples if you can. Often an ad you’ve appeared in will be online, so it’s easy to link to it, but sometimes you’ll need to ask the client for permission to include it on your website.
  • Start writing the copy for the pages – that’s often the hardest thing to start. You might like to rise above your fear of making it perfect first up and just do it, saying anything and everything and then pass it on to a trusted friend to edit and sort for you.
  • Wherever you are in the world, you need to optimise your opportunities by optimising your website.

From my own experience, it’s well worth getting some professional help with understanding how to place value keywords and phrases within your site – so that you come up in the right kind of searches.

Marketing your voice talents, just like any business, takes planning and preparation. 

It’s does cost, but if you’re canny, it won’t cost a lot.

In the next e-news I’ll be giving you some great marketing techniques, so stay tuned for that one!

Quick re-cap – if you’re managing your own career, then you need to be doing this:

  • Constantly making sure your demos are in shape and you’re sending them to the right people.
  • Creating or attending to the content of your personal website to make sure you’re being considered.

Happy voiceovering!