Voice-over takes on a unique duality in the arts as it has aspects of both a craft and a trade. As with any craft, after the consistent honing of the voice artist’s skill set, the desire is to be called upon, to be that name on the tip of the tongue of a buyer as the “go-to” voice-over artist.
Outside of animation studios and advertising agencies, most individuals and businesses may not need a VO artist as frequently as, say, a good plumber or mechanic, but if and when voice-over work presents itself, being that first name that comes to mind among your family, friends, and peers is invaluable.
So remember, before you cold-call, slap your logo on your merch or even launch a website…there is a treasure trove of voice-over opportunity and connections hidden around you. That’s right, voice-over work could be lurking right under your very nose. There is often untapped opportunity in your community: family, friends, friends-of-friends -people in the position to hire voice-over artists. Think of all the businesses and events in your community that could use the service of a professionally trained voice.
Two of my favorite films to watch are It’s A Wonderful Life and Forrest Gump. Both movies show how much impact just one person’s life can have on their community, and vice versa. I think as an artist there is a takeaway from these types of stories that is more than just their entertainment value. What if, like Forrest and George Bailey, we put our lives to further inspection and see how intertwined our daily routines are with those around us.
As a voice actor, we often get so focused on our “big picture” goals that we forget to look into the network of friends and family around us. How quickly we jump straight into larger scale plans of advertising and self-promotion, forgetting that it isn’t just about the act of networking, but about tapping into the net worth of our real network: our friends, family, and colleagues in our communities. It is this investigation that could be the key to early and consistent voice-over success.
So how can you uncover the hidden wonders of the network around you? Simple as A, B, C.
Announce: Let people know you are training and working as a voice actor. Start small with mentioning it in person to family and friends, and grow the announcements gradually at larger gatherings or even some fun social media postings. Don’t be afraid to post about your “VO victories” both big and small!
Barter: It’s no secret that many companies underestimate the power of a professional voice-over actor and can on occasion fail to budget for one. And it is for this reason that it could be possible to begin some great relationships in your existing network by bartering and trading your voice-services. Something as simple as offering to provide the IVR for your dentist, or recording some professional sounding bumps for your favorite local podcasts or digital media series(Take it from me: I once traded voice-over work for a yearly supply of coffee, as a caffeine addict I took the deal and haven’t slept since!)
Collaborate: Chances are you aren’t the only creative artist in your circle, team-up with other local artists and animators, create your own short series. In VO, the work speaks for itself (pun intended!) As character actor John Carroll Lynch states “Work begets work. Just work.”
In this world of digital connection, even creating a podcast with your friends to discuss a common interest could connect you to a whole new network of like-minded listeners.
Uncovering your network net worth is like finding a treasure map that is both unique and custom-fit entirely to you. It will lead you to small businesses and events only you know of, you may even uncover that your closest friends and extended family happen to be involved in the process of hiring voice-over talent.
And finally, never underestimate the possibility of using your voice to make a difference. There is so much power in sharpening your tools while making an impact. In most communities, there are many volunteer programs and services that allow you to read to the blind, elderly or even live-readings to children at a local library. Even larger local events might be an opportunity to get your voice-over prowess known community-wide. Consider offering to help with announcing athletic events, reading names at local high school graduations or even calling BINGO at a local church or community gathering. The community as a whole will appreciate it, and you just never know who in your network might be listening.
So: What is your network net worth? It’s priceless. For as journalist Lilian Whiting observed: “To be rich in friends is to be poor in nothing!”