In coaching voice over artists, I often address the business aspects of voiceover in addition to vocal performance. Breaking in can be difficult, so I like to help people identify a (perhaps) previously unrecognized market niche to explore, to solidify their brand in the VO landscape and isolate a great roadmap to drive their business forward. Finding your niche and building it into your brand will drive the success of your voice over career.
A mistake many people who get into voice over make is not approaching the work with a business mindset. Often the attractiveness of getting to be “the voice of” some new product, video game or animation is what got them on the VO bus, but they often haven’t fully grasped what is needed to actually drive it down the street. Let alone keep in on the road year after year.
Ignoring the Business of Voice Over Is Hazardous Terrain
To be successful in voice over, you have to recognize you are a solo-preneur, responsible not only for the product you produce (the voice over performance), but every aspect of your one-person shop. Ignoring the business of voice over is hazardous on the road to making a living in this industry.
You are your voice over business. You are responsible for the nuts & bolts of running your biz (equipment, website, invoicing, ingoing/outgoing, systems for CRM, bookkeeping, taxes, etc), crafting and launching all marketing campaigns, maintaining all client relationships, seeking out multiple revenue streams to even out the steep peaks and valleys that come with being a contract worker in a creative field. You need to be able to step back as the CEO of You, Voice Over Actor Inc. and look at the broader business landscape to figure out if there is a niche you can explore to keep your business fresh and top of mind to buyers. You need to make sure your brand is one that easily comes to mind when someone is shopping for voice over. You also need to regularly check in with your mindset, remembering why you came to this industry in the first place and if you’re still on track.
Interests and Background Can Lead To A Voice Over Niche
Finding the right niche markets can make or break any business. But how do you know where to find them? Look to your background or interests beyond voice over. These non-voice over interests can lead you to finding a new niche to explore for VO.
Disruptive Advertising likens a niche to a high school clique. If Voice Over is the school, then think of niche markets as the areas on campus where different groups hang out. The jocks might be at the gym (radio imaging anyone?), while the theater kids might be out in the courtyard singing show tunes (audiobooks, for sure). Me, I’m a science nerd. So my preferred niche markets are medical elearning and air and space narration. And these are niche areas to which I actively market. I also speak French (no, not good enough to work in it – I speak it with an English accent – but) good enough for anything peppered with French words.
Speed Ahead of the Pack With A Brand For Your Voice Over Business
Brands are important. They act as a type of shortcut for buyers. Think cars – I say Bently, Ford or Tesla and before you’re done hearing the name, you know what kind of car I’m talking about. Like with cars, you can speed ahead of the pack with a brand for your voice over business. But people new to the concept of brand generally stumble trying to figure out what theirs might be.
Your brand is the aspect of your business (and yourself) that you choose to reveal and promote to your clients. It is your competitive advantage, your value proposition, how you stand out in your industry. Deciding on what you want to highlight and how you want to present it, however, takes a little digging. Details that come out in my brand include my long experience (a full-time voice over artist since 1991), my vocal and acting range (commercials to TV narrations to elearning & tons of stuff in between), and the fact that my work has won dozens of awards. But it’s more than that. It’s also your reputation and the feeling people get when they work with you.
The Key Driver to Succeeding Like A Voice Over BOSS
Ok, so you’ve found some niche markets you’ll be perfect for and you understand your brand enough to know what to highlight, what steps are next? There are many moving parts in any entrepreneurial venture, but I find that another key driver to succeeding like a voice over BOSS actually has two parts – set goals and then get organized to work toward them. How? Try my trick:
1) identify the goal,
2) list the barriers to accomplishing your goal,
3) break down the barriers into manageable steps, and voila!
4) you’ve just created your ToDo list for managing your business.
There are many resources you can use to find tools for setting and achieving goals – blogs like The Hartford Small Biz Ahead have great advice and often so do the business sections of your local newspapers.