Let’s face it: people get into the voiceover business to get paid. Anything less is the pursuit of a hobby. If you’re looking to get paid, this article is for you. We’re going to share some hard-earned practical tips on what you can do to get voiceover work.
Many who are new to voice acting unwittingly put the cart before the horse by attempting to get work before they’re truly proficient in the craft or the business. After all, you don’t need a license, certificate, or even a job reference. But without the right things in place, this is a crash-and-burn approach.
If you’re ready to get work in voice acting the right way, here are seven steps to get you started.
- Create branded marketing materials.
The moment you reach out for work, you are establishing your brand, or lack thereof. Your brand is the impression people take away from an experience with you. A series of consistent, positive, professional experiences will lead to a positive brand association.
The way you leave a voicemail, answer your phone, or write an email are all contributing factors to your branding, as are your social media posts. The graphic presentation of your business cards, web site, stationery, etc., have a lasting impact.
So before you make first contact, have your smartly-branded marketing materials ready. If you can, hire a branding expert to help. It’s a worthwhile investment as branding is one of the most effective ways to get work.
- Secure talent representation.
An agent is your primary connection to auditions, and auditioning is your primary job. Adding a manager to the mix increases your auditions as they also find audition opportunities. The manager, however, is set up to go the extra mile of devoting more personal, one-on-one career guidance.
Ideally, select a manager who is adept at working with agents and already has a good relationship with yours. Now you have a team of expert advisors who scour the industry to find you work and assist you in making smart business choices along the way.
The agent and manager don’t get paid unless you do, so you have to be exceptional before they make the choice to invest in you. Your talent is obviously the most important piece, but your marketing materials will go a long way toward helping the cause. What you think is great branding is different from what their clients (award-winning creative directors) will think.
- Pitch buyers directly.
Major media entities like TV networks, ad agencies, and various media producers (video games, audiobooks, industrials) prefer to work with agents because agents vet the voice actors and sort out the types of voices and skill sets to best meet the producer’s needs. This cuts out a lot of work for the producer.
However, you can reach out to buyers as well. Phone, email, and snail mail are all legitimate approaches, but only if your branded marketing materials are in stellar order and you’re prepared to follow up in a professional, timely manner.
Do your research before reaching out. Make sure you understand who they are and what they do. If you make a genuine connection (scheduled call, in-person meeting, email asking you to stay in touch), talk to your agent and/or manager about how to nurture the relationship going forward.
4. Utilize friends and family.
Right now, you have contacts (friends and family members) who work for companies that produce in-house media projects for a variety of purposes: instructional videos, sales tapes, web commercials, etc. These projects use voice actors.
Your friends are in a unique position to investigate and identify the project decision makers. They may be able to make an introduction or at least give you the necessary contact info for a cold call.
Of course, the onus is on the you to ensure that a highly professional and positive impression is made should an intro be granted. Be clear that your friend is putting their credibility on the line to help you. Anything less than making a great impression could be excruciatingly awkward for everyone involved.
- Attend trade conferences.
We recommend conferences with a focus on meaningful networking, job creation, and practical education. There are no guarantees you’ll get to make the perfect connection, but it’s the best chance you have so get in there.
That’s Voiceover!™ Career Expo is the longest running voiceover conference in the world and is carefully designed to bring together content creators, agents, casting directors, and voice actors for the purpose of creating work. The focus is on job creation, auditions, and connecting talent with buyers.
Other conferences we recommend skew more to the content creators and marketers as these provide powerful networking opportunities for the shrewd VO entrepreneur. PromaxBDA, NAMIC and ADCOLOR are three such conferences.
- Practice “Super Prep.”
Training and preparation have gotten you representation and put you on track for success, but there will be hurdles to get over with each opportunity. This requires another level of preparation we call “Super Prep.” It’s an internal rallying cry, akin to a sports coach psyching up his team before a big game. For the more spiritually inclined, think of it as a mantra. It’s an active choice to believe in yourself and your ability to win and succeed.
- Create a social media presence.
Social media is the new resume. More importantly, it gives you means to build and demonstrate influence. If you can, over time, become a genuine influencer, meaning you are someone from whom others will take cues. Buyers and agents will take note as you now possess the power to extend the reach of their brand.
If the buyer has to choose between to equal voice talents and one has five times the social media reach, guess who gets the job. The chosen voice actor may even be able to negotiate above scale rates as a result.
Your social media impressions are part of your brand. It won’t happen overnight, and much depends on your personality and the help of a social media expert. To start, follow and/or like the top ad agencies, CEOs, talent agencies, and casting directors. Follow the major trade publications, conferences. and media influencers. Engage smartly and regularly, beating with the pulse of popular culture.