It’s the new year, and if you’re one of those folks who embark on New Year’s Resolutions, why not consider one for your VO business? I don’t mean vague platitudes like, “market myself more” or “get more gigs.” I want you to get really specific so you can take action. What does “market myself more” or “get more gigs” look like to you? What do you do every day to make that happen? Marketing sometimes gets a bad rep because we are taught to be humble and modest, so it may feel like you’re bragging when you’re marketing yourself. Or worse, it feels smarmy and needy. It doesn’t have to, though!
Consider this your Couch to Mic guide. Here are ten steps that can help you market your voice-over skills:
1. Give yourself permission to talk about your work. Ultimately, even though you’re talking about you, this isn’t about you. This is about how your voice adds value to someone else’s project. So, let’s ditch the idea that talking about ourselves is bad. Let’s instead look at it from this perspective: if you don’t tell people how to view your work, they will either a) ignore you or b) come up with their own point of view (which might not jive with your own).
Next, we need to make time to do this work. For many of us, marketing and branding is not second nature and we’d rather get a root canal than do this. Let’s change that! Remind yourself that marketing helps you to invite opportunities to do what you love: perform VO! Everytime you share what you do in a clear and effective way with the people who are in a position to hire you, the more opportunities you will have to audition. That will only mean more opportunities for you to book work, which means…cha ching! Yay!
2. Make the time for marketing your voice-over skills. Literally schedule time into your calendar. If you’re just getting started, it’s going to take a little more time to ramp up. I’d recommend an hour a day for the first month. As you gain more experience and confidence, you might only need a few hours a week. Soon, you’ll be able to do this in as little as an hour (or less) per week! This takes time, so be patient. Schedule marketing into your calendar so you know you have carved out the time to do the work.
3. Define what success looks like and track your progress. This can be a specific list of outcomes you post somewhere visible. It can be a spreadsheet you update daily, weekly, or monthly. It needs to be measurable and specific.
These first three steps allow you to develop a mindset and framework that will help you get off the couch and get comfortable marketing your VO work.
4. Get clear on what your brand is. Just like your VO training has taught you to dissect scripts and figure out who you’re talking to, what point you’re getting across, and how you’re doing it, you need to figure this out for your brand. If you need some tips and tricks on this, read through Cultivating Your Brand as a Voice Over Artist or 5 Steps to Discovering Your Personal Brand as an Actor. For many of you, this takes some time, introspection, and research. Give yourself the time to process this (but also give yourself a deadline to get it done).
Once you know your brand, it’s time to start networking. It can be in-person or via email, social media, etc. That’s why it’s important to do the following:
5. Connect with people. This is where the rubber meets the road and where most VO actors start to get uncomfortable. Networking is gross and icky, right? WRONG! Networking is the opportunity to connect with people, share your goals, and share how your voice-over skills add value to the projects you want to audition for and ultimately book. Networking is about building relationships and communicating with others. The best person to tell the world about what you do best is YOU. The only way to let them know is to tell them.
6. Don’t be afraid to ask for and/or hire help. Graphic design is not my specialty so I hired people who can do that part for me. You might be amazing at graphic design, but you may really need a push when it comes to articulating your brand in words. Maybe you need to find a copywriter to help you clarify things verbally. When you’re first starting out, you may not have a big budget to work with, but trying to do everything (especially when you just have no love or skill for certain tasks) is a recipe for getting overwhelmed and procrastinating. Carve out a budget for marketing (the same way you do with your VO training), so that you can hire help on a regular basis. You can also consider trading services with someone. Create a team to help you delegate these tasks and allow yourself to focus on what you do best.
7. Find a buddy. Accountability partners are great for keeping us on track towards accomplishing our goals, whether it’s working out or booking more VO gigs. (Scientifically proven, people.) It’s helpful to have another person encourage and push you to get a task done. Need help finding a buddy? Maybe start with a classmate from that SAV Master Class you took or a VO buddy you met in a workshop.
8. Check in regularly with yourself. Remember where you wrote your goals down? Once a week, check in and see how you’re progressing towards those outcomes. Ask yourself:
- What went well?
- What did I accomplish this week? Any wins (big or small)?
- What could I have done better? How can I fix that for next week?
- What do I need to complete next week so that I stay on track?
Checking in with yourself or your accountability partner gives you a moment to digest the work you’re doing and make adjustments so you can be even more nimble in the future.
9. Celebrate! When you hit those milestones you’ve defined as your markers of success, take a moment to celebrate that win. It doesn’t have to be a blow out party, just something that allows you to draw energy and momentum from your success so you can move onto the final step.
10. Lather, Rinse & Repeat to put that nose of yours back to the grindstone and keep at it. Marketing your voice-over skills effectively takes time and practice. It gets easier with time, as you start to learn what works and what doesn’t work for you and your VO biz.
You might be wondering, “How long does all this take? This feels like work.” It is, but it’s also fun, liberating, and amazing when you start to see the results of your hard work gaining traction. You can set this process up in 4-6 weeks if you are disciplined. I recommend keeping marketing and outreach an ongoing part of your business process. As you gain experience and confidence, you’ll be able to execute on your marketing in a few hours a week and revisit your strategies on an annual or semi-annual basis.
When you decided to start taking VO classes, you most likely were starting from zero. It was challenging, maybe even scary. Eventually, you got comfortable and started growing your voice-over skills. Getting cozy with the business side of your VO business is much the same. Embrace the challenge and get off that couch, my friends! You got this.
Now I want to hear from you: How will you use these ten steps to kickstart marketing your voice-over skills in 2018? Comment below or share your thoughts with me on twitter @diamondsong.
About the Author
As a voice actor, Ratana’s voice can be heard in numerous commercials (Vail Resorts, Fantastic Sam’s and others), video games (Skylanders: Giants), animation (Daddy, I’m a Zombie, Mummy, I’m a Zombie), as well as many industrial narration projects. A self professed “nerd,” she’s also a lifetime learner who constantly seeks new resources to keep her skills sharp. In addition to performing as a voice actor, Ratana coaches VO for Such A Voice. You can find her professional voice-over work at: ratana.net.