Ways to Build a Career in Voiceover – 1
In the first of this series of blogs about how to build a career in voiceover…
…I talk about some do’s and dont’s and give some strategies for making good connections.
First, a question!
We may well be talking about how to build a career in voiceover, but what would you say is the most important ingredient for success in any business?
If you answered ‘relationships’, you’d be right.
Ask anyone successful in business and they’ll tell you that creating, building and nurturing relationships, was key to that success.
It’s the same in the voiceover world.
To build a career in voiceover, you must understand that it’s not just about getting skilled up, making that great demo, sending it out and keeping your fingers crossed.
It’s also about an understanding that this is not a job. It’s an enterprise, a business.
And it’s a business with a product; your unique voiceover skills, styles and charisma.
So you need to make some decision and choices about how you connect with those who may want to work with you, how you choose to work, how you perform optimally, and leave them satisfied enough to want to work with you again, and again, and again.
Here are some tips and strategies to making sure that happens.
Okay, so the demo is great. You love. Your mum loves it. Your partner thinks you’re entirely sensational. You send it out.
Ummmm? To whom?
Yes, exactly. To whom.
How do you find out just who wants or needs your demo?
It’s crucial that you know who will be looking for your particular talents and target those radio stations, sound studios or production houses. Or contact directly, individual companies who are large enough to probably have an in-house Comms Department and are looking for voice actors.
This is often where a coach comes in handy.
Some coaches have lists of contacts that they share. Also incredibly important is their guidance on where your voice might get some traction. What kind of voice work are you really suited to. You may have an idea of what you’d ‘like’ to be doing, but sometimes that’s not necessarily where you be likely to get work.
If you don’t have a list, you’ll need to do some work, building a data base of possible contacts.
Google Sound Studios, Radio Stations or Networks and Digital Production Houses in your area.
Think that having an agent will mean you don’t have to do any work.
You need to be the one who makes and retains contact with those you work with.
Negotiate with your agent, if you have one how that will be for you. (and you don’t need an agent to work in voiceover)
Some agents say they’ll send out to people or let people know about you. That’s great, as long as they do it. However, you can work out a strategy together for making contact, or distributing your demo.
Don’t think that if you create a website people will instantly find you. If you do want to attract those looking for your skills, you probably need to work with an SEO expert, who can help you with key word and phrase placement.
It’s so simple really. You just attach your audio demo to an email and send.
If you don’t have your list yet, you need to create one. If you don’t have email addresses, you may need to call production houses who make video, radio stations and recording studios to find out the address of the best person to receive your demo.
Once you have an email address, think about who they are and what they are looking for. Target the email to solving their problem, which will always be, “who will we get to voice this job?”
Make your email short and informal.
Avoid including CV or Bio’s that a re not to do with voiceover. And, if you’re an actor as well, they don’t want to see your acting reel. It has nothing to do with voieover, no matter how good your voice is. 🙂
Do include links to video jobs you’ve voiced, as long as they’re impressive.
Do also include a link to your website, where you may be storing all your demos.
Endeavour to give the email copy ‘a voice’ that’s informal and straight to the point. Don’t forget, you’re introducing yourself into a ‘spoken word’ medium. Give the copy in your email your voice, your personality.
Saying something like: “Hi (having someone’s name is excellent) I’ve attached my (new, recent, updated) voiceover demo/a link to my website etc.
Then you need to create some tasty bait in that email. Think about who they are and what they may be looking for. You need to prove it with your demo though. Make sure it’s top notch.
But the idea with the email copy is that you cause them to want to open it up and listen.
You could say something like, “I’m a character voice actor who can also deliver solid straight reads as well, or…I’m a warm but authorative voice artist whose specialty is narration for the business world. I’ve done etc … or …I’ve worked in promos for radio and television but this demo has samples of my narrative reads…
The other thing you need to think about with emails, is what goes into the subject line.
So think about it long and hard, unless you’re a wizz.
This is about getting the recipient to want to read on and listen to the demo. Be interesting!!!
You need to get this emailing thing right. Don’t waste this very valuable opportunity.
It’s the first contact and it’s not one-to-one. It needs to have impact and, for maximum effect, be delivered at the right time.
For instance, I would never email on a Friday or a weekend, because Monday morning the first thing the studio does is clear emails. Yours may get left until later and never returned to. I’d send at say 11am Monday morning, when they’re now opening new emails as they come through and giving them due attention.
The other thing I want to add to this is the notion of ‘cold calling’. Many people don’t like it, or are nervous or anxious about doing it. I know I was, in the early stages of my career, but eventually, as I began to build a career in voiceover, I realised how well it worked and I got over it.
As I said, you are solving their problem if you are a voice they could use.
So help them by calling and saying, “I’m a voiceover artist. I’d like to send you my voice demo. Do you have a video production or communication department?” Ask to speak to them, or if you can’t ask for an email address and a name to send the email to.
Pester, call too often, or ever just pop in anywhere you’re not invited to for more than *personally delivering something. If they like you, they will call you. Unless you have a very good reason to make contact, don’t. (I’ll talk about ways to do follow up marketing in Blog number 3 of this series.)
*Some people choose to create a marketing item and deliver it. Some things I’ve seen are, a personalised cup, a bottle of wine (always goes down well), a note pad or sticky notes with your name or you voiceover ‘handle’, ‘tag’ or ‘strap line’ on it.
The sky’s the limit with this kind of promotion. It’s optional, but if you’re clever and it’s useful, amusing or yummy, it could carry some weight. 🙂
The next blog will be more about ways to build a career in voiceover. I’ll talk about making sense of the digital world.
If you haven’t already, you can make sure you get the next 2 blogs by signing up to my e-newsletter.