With technology today, it is easier than ever for someone with a computer and a microphone to get into voice-over. Heck! There’s even an app that makes it possible for us to audition straight from our smartphones! It can get a little overwhelming when you think of the plethora of voice-over artists that you may be competing against. In truth, there is so much more to setting yourself apart and breaking into this wonderful industry than just having a, “good voice.” Here are my five steps to getting noticed in a competitive marketplace:
- Be crystal clear about your product. Know what words best describe your voice. Know the emotions you can readily convey. Know the genres in which you shine, and your voice is best suited for. Even more importantly, know the emotions and genres that your voice is NOT suited for so you don’t waste your time (or anyone else’s) trying to make those projects sound good.
- Develop an accurate and consistent brand. Once you have a clear understanding of your product, you can develop your brand: company name, branding statement (a one to two phrase statement that tells people about your voice), and logo (a visual representation of your voice which should really be done by a graphic artist). Make sure all of your “marketing collateral” (e.g. your social media feeds, invoices, emails, business cards, postcards, etc…) is created to represent your brand!
- Create a studio-quality audio environment. In speaking with audio engineers, one of their biggest concerns is audio quality. If you need to take a class in order to get help, do so. If you need to add additional soundproofing to your studio, do so. Never lose a job as a result of the quality of your audio or editing. It’s a good idea to get an outside ear on your work regularly to check for areas of improvement.
- Follow directions. When you receive an audition, or (Hallelujah!) you get a job, follow the directions given to you. There will most likely not only be performance delivery directions, but also how they would like the files edited and delivered (mp3, wav, etc…). I shouldn’t have to say this, but make sure that you deliver the finished product within the client’s deadline; or, if you can’t, communicate why BEFORE you miss the deadline.
- Charge a fair rate. Oftentimes, I’ve seen voice-over artists come into a relationship with a new client with the attitude that they are “the talent” and need to be revered. The reality is that you are a resource for the client. If they hire you, you are part of their marketing team and should act accordingly. You are certainly worthy of fair compensation for your important contribution to the success of the project, but the project does not sink or swim based upon your involvement.
So there they are, my five steps to make sure that you get noticed in a competitive marketplace when you are trying to break in. You’ll notice that only one of these steps has anything to do with your vocal delivery. The further into this voice-over journey I go, the more I am convinced that you need more than just talent to truly succeed. Make sure that your marketing, audio engineering, and relationship-building skills are honed as well. To broaden your abilities, attend my Marketing and Social Media classes, join the Such A Voice VIP Membership, and find resources offered by your local Chambers of Commerce and Small Business Associations or SCORE.org (a business mentoring organization). I wish you the best on your own voice-over journey!
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Jillian Nielsen is an expressive voice talent with over 14 years of experience in radio and television commercial and promotional voice-overs.