You’ve invested a significant amount of time, effort and money into developing your acting chops and producing your demos. Next, to give yourself the best chance for success, you’ve got to develop your marketing and promotional chops, as well. You’ve got to build a brand. You will be auditioning for work that is most often promotional and marketing in nature, so the more professionally you can promote yourself the better. The shrewder you can be about how to market your talents and offerings, the more potential producers will see you as a good tool to market their company, products and services.
The best way to distinguish yourself, and most effectively present yourself as a potentially potent voice of a brand, is to creatively and professionally brand yourself. This means that you must approach this industry not as an individual actor trying to land a gig, but rather as a business to business venture. You are a contractor bidding for a contract from another company, and consequently you’ve got to present yourself as a credible and successful business vendor. So, think about what successful businesses have in common: professional branding and packaging.
This means applying the best tools of the trade to your business. Those tools include a logo, website, templates for any deliverables – including digital cover letters, resume and invoices – and finally, a unifying theme, design, color scheme, etc. across all of it. By having that as your goal, you can impress with your creativity and business acumen, which oftentimes will be the competitive advantage that lands you the job over other, equally talented folks, who don’t present themselves as professionally.
First, come up with a name to brand your company. If state law requires, register it as a sole proprietorship (or consult legal advice about becoming an LLC, Corporation, etc.). Then, consider opening a business banking account. Professionalism is a state of mind, so the more steps you take toward being a professional may actually help you become one.
The next step is to start crafting your physical brand. Start with a logo. If you have experience with graphic design, or a friend/colleague who is a designer, you can create a logo less expensively. However, if not, it is worth the investment to collaborate with a professional. The logo should capture you and your work.
Once you have a logo and corresponding color scheme created, apply it to everything used for correspondence. In this digital age that means all things emailed: cover letters, resume, email signature, invoices, etc. There is less of a need these days for physical deliverables, but if you print business cards, CD labels and stationary letterhead, you’ll want to have your logo/color scheme on those things as well. The idea is to create that unifying theme over all of your stuff to show that you are a professional brand to be reckoned with.
Finally, a professional web presence is crucial for promoting your brand. So, eventually you’ll want to build a website. You’ll need to get a web domain name with a corresponding email address. Then design a simple, creative site, to where you can direct all prospective producers, casting directors, agents and the like.
But don’t spend a lot of money right away. Because there are start-up costs and annual fees for the server storage, domain name registry and email address, you may want to wait until you are booking work and making money before investing in your own website. However, Voices.com or Voice123.com can provide a website for you. Once you’ve created your profile on those sites, they basically build you your own site, with a URL that contains your name. And until you have your own website to promote, and your Such A Voice webpage, you can promote yourself with this link. These sites have templates that are used by all if its members, so it’s not very original or unique, but it is certainly an acceptable and effective way to start.
Remember, just because you have invested the time, money and effort towards becoming a talented voice actor, you need to go beyond just developing your technique. You’ve also got to build your business branding savvy!
Alan Schwartz is a nationally recognized voice over talent who has served as the voice for Sprite, Verizon, Smirnoff Ice, and “Alex” from the Mac Operating System, among others. You can find more of his work at ajsvoiceover.com.
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