The Secret to Success in Voiceover
Every new voice artist wants to know the secret to being successful. After all the work has been done of getting professional training, buying the gear, setting up your audio chain, eliminating unwanted noise, honing your talents and getting your demo produced, you are finally ready to learn the most coveted piece of information - this is the key; The golden ticket; The brass ring. This is the thing that every professional voice artist understands and the secret that every SUCCESSFUL voice artist closely guards. This is the one tip that can make or break your career. It's the single most important factor in voiceover being either a career that can bring in six, or even seven figures per year, or a hobby that earns you beer money.
Are you ready? Are you REALLY ready? OK, here it is:
The more people that know about you,
the more successful you will be.
I know, I know: ground breaking information, isn't it? But amusingly, there are voice artists that just don't get it and spend their entire short-duration careers whining that they never get any work and that someone else is always landing the big jobs.
It's always someone else's fault why I'm not successful.
I got involved with a conversation on one of the social networks about this very topic. The individual had their demo professionally produced and was using the tired excuse that the voiceover industry is being monopolized by a handful of professionals who are preventing the fresh new voices from being heard. This person didn't want to take any responsibility for their own career. They felt that the only way to be successful was to get an agent, and no agents wanted to listen to them. And what was this person doing to get an agent? Nothing. He had his demo made and felt that this should be enough.
This person, though they were young, had subscribed to one of the most archaic of voiceover legends. And like most legends, it's entirely wrong.
Marketing, marketing, marketing.
When I first got into the VO business, I came to a surprising revelation: the business of voiceover has very little to do with your voice. Almost nothing, actually. I'd say that a true VO career is maybe 5% about the quality of your voice, and the rest is all about marketing that voice.
Think about this:
You could have a custom built recording studio with careful attention to acoustics.
You could have a professionally produced demo and get training from a top-quality VO coach.
You could have perfect elocution and enunciation. "She sells seashells by the seashore" rolls off your tongue like butter dripping off of a hot biscuit.
You could dance over complicated medical narration scripts with the grace of Fred Astaire.
You can believably sound like you're from New York, or Old England, or South France or West Germany, or the mid-West...
...but so what? How does anyone know you even exist?
It comes down to this:
"If you don't get
your vocal cords
to vibrate against the right ear drums,
you will go nowhere."
To succeed in VO, marketing is the key: You have to be able to sell who you are and what you can do, to the right people, at the right time.
Exceed their needs and expectations
It's important to understand that marketing is not just about selling a product (in this case, your voice). It's about focusing on the needs of your customers.
Say for example, you have a lemonade stand and sold cups of lemonade for $.50 a cup. You might get a few customers and that would be fine.
But what if you thought about where you were going to set up your lemonade stand? Say, for example at the bottom of a busy off-ramp on a hot Summer afternoon during rush hour. And what if you packaged your lemonade in a plastic bottle to make it easier for your potential customers to drink it when they're waiting at the stop light? And what if you put your name and website on the label so customers could go to your website later and buy the product directly from you? And what if you posted a sign at the top of the on-ramp telling people that there would be ice cold lemonade for sale just a few hundred feet down the road?
That is marketing.
You can be a voice over artist and might make a few bucks. But if you want to succeed beyond working for whatever gig you can land from a freelancing or P2P site, a consistent, organized plan for marketing your voice is in order.
There are several tactics when it comes to voiceover marketing. I won't go into specific details (mostly because I don't have the space here to dedicate to it.) What I will say is that you need to have a plan. You need to take a piece of paper (or open a new document, but that doesn't sound nearly as romantic) and write down a specific, organized strategy for how you're going to get people to hear your voice and eventually hire you for work. This plan is what you use to promote and push your business forward.
Spend the time to carefully write out a strategy that you'll use to promote yourself and then follow that plan out to the letter. It may take some tweaking and some trial and error to find the right combination, but by doing this, you will be far ahead of the individual who thinks the world owes them something simply because they spent money on a demo and they want it really bad.
In my mind, the three most important parts to a successful voiceover business are: marketing, marketing, and marketing.
About Rob Marley -
A Los Angeles native, Rob is an accomplished voice talent, coach, producer and writer, now living in the hill country of Austin Texas.