Navigating a successful voiceover business is not an easy task, especially when you're just starting out. I've been in the voiceover business for more than 15 years and looking back, I wouldn't trade it for the world! It all began with a desire to run my own business and have a career that I was passionate about. Over the years as my business evolved, I learned many lessons and developed some helpful best practices along the way that really worked for me, and I'd love to share! But first:
Always Believe. There are many facets to my voiceover business - from voice-over to coaching and demo production, to podcasting and event hosting, and everything in between. One thing that remains constant is a belief in myself and in my business.
That’s where I want YOU to start. Every day. From the moment you open your eyes - I want you to believe in yourself, believe in your abilities, and believe that success is within your grasp. Sometimes that can be a big hill to climb. It is often said that this business takes a thick skin. It's true. You’ll hear “no” a lot more than you hear “yes”. And that’s ok. Belief is a daily practice, it’s a habit you build. Believing in yourself is the first step to creating and building the business of your dreams.
"Believing in yourself is your first step to creating and building the business of your dreams." - Anne Ganguzza
The best practices below are in no particular order, and honestly, I think each one is just as important as the next. I find that if I keep these practices top of mind, they provide ample room for my business to grow. It's my hope that they do the same for you.
Find Your Niche.
Find your lane, and get good at it. Become the "Go-To" talent for your specific niche. Many entrepreneurs try to do it all and diversify way too early. They stick their toes in every genre of VO all at once and pursue a multitude of demos right away. Don't get me wrong - there’s nothing wrong with trying a variety of things at the beginning. But don't let it get in the way and overwhelm and confuse you. You are a brand. Make it a point to know who you are, and you will be able to market yourself confidently and successfully.
Daily practice will help you create good habits that work for you. If you find yourself constantly shifting gears, you’ll end up bouncing from task to task without making much headway. Take the time to set a routine and stick with it. For example - schedule time for vocal warmups and/or exercising every day - It will help improve your performance! Schedule time for honing your skills with coaching, practicing, or working out with others. And you can't forget about marketing! And don't forget to schedule time for online research and education too! Set aside time each day to read articles and blogs (like this one!) on the industry — and actually do it! If a voiceover career is really what you want, then you should be vested in learning more about it.
You've probably heard it a thousand times, but it's true - this business is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time to build a strong healthy business. Sure, it may look like some talents are overnight successes - especially when you are reading social media - but the truth of the matter is that 99% of the time, it takes time to find that success. My overnight success was a long night that happened around 10 years into the business! :) It really comes down to this - It is your responsibility to do what you can to make it in this business. Don't wait for success to come to you. Stick with it, keep at it, and build it one day at a time.
Market, Market, Market.
Oh, and did I mention? Market yourself. You can have the greatest voice in the world and act circles around the best script, but if no one knows you exist, they can't hire you. Put yourself out there and while you're at it, make sure to invest in a great website. Your website is your business card. Make sure it introduces who you are and showcases your abilities to potential clients. Make it easy for them to reach you with a link to your email address or phone number. Make sure that it's easy to navigate and professional-looking. Trust me, this is not the place to try and save money, it's an investment in your success!
Know Your Customer.
It sounds simple at first, “My customer is someone who wants a voice-over.” But you need to go deeper than that. Get to know your customers’ needs and wants. Know what’s important to them, and what their fears are. I’ve found the best way to do that is to create a customer “avatar”. Start small if you aren’t sure where to begin. For example, start with gender (male/female/non-binary), age range, and income bracket, and then add more as you get more specific in your marketing efforts. It will help you narrow down who you are targeting and also help determine where they might be hanging out online, which leads me to my next point…
Market where your potential clients hang out. Online and offline. For example, If you know your customers are mostly between the ages of 35-60, chances are they spend time on Facebook. If it's business executives between the ages of 40-55, LinkedIn might be another one of the places they would spend time online. For those 20-35, try Tik Tok and Instagram, and don't forget a good old email marketing campaign once in a while.
Know Your Competition.
You may hear that this industry isn't competitive. But really, you are competing with others who also provide voiceover services. How will you stand out from the competition? How do these other businesses present themselves? What kind of image are they projecting? Is it the kind of image that you would like to project?
Consider their websites, their marketing materials, their social media presence, etc. Who they are and what they offer. Make sure to set your rates accordingly. Just because you are new to the industry doesn't mean you should charge less. You more than likely have already invested money into your business with coaching, demos, equipment, etc, so you can charge the market rate from the get-go. Don't cheapen your brand by undercutting others in the industry. Set the bar high for yourself, and customers will respect you and follow. Think about the last time your purchased something cheap that really wasn't up to par - don't subject your brand to that either!
Keep a Schedule.
Make a plan. Before you start your day, write down everything you need to accomplish. That way, if something comes up and throws you off track, it's easier to get back on track later in the day. If you have a schedule, you’re more likely to be able to stick to the things that are going to help you build your business.
Here's one of my biggest challenges - Don't forget to take breaks from time to time throughout the day. It’s easy to become so focused on one project or task that you forget about everything else that needs to be done. If possible, do something active for at least 10 minutes during each break to refresh and really stimulate your body and brain. I am on a mission this year to get healthy and I hope y'all will keep me accountable!
I learned this lesson early on in my career, and once I got over my freakish need to control everything :) I saw my business flourish and grow in amazing ways!
Take a deep look at your business practices and delegate those tasks that do not bring you joy, and that other people can do better than you. Delegating means you've moved beyond your own petty need for control, and have embraced the bigger picture for your life and your business. You recognize that others can do things at least as well as you can (and probably better), so why not let them? Surround yourself with excellent people who will help you build the success you desire. That way, you can benefit from the excellence of others, and focus your energy on building on your strengths.
Take advantage of all networking opportunities that come your way. You never know who might be able to help you (or who you might be able to help).
Make it a priority to build great relationships with your clients. Your clients are the people that make your business work, so building a good relationship with them is essential to keep them coming back for more. Make sure to check in on them from time to time. A follow-up email, a phone call, or even meet them for a cup of coffee! And when you talk, you don't have to make it all about business. Marketing 101 says that people buy from people they know, like, and trust. So engage on social media, go to industry events, and join online forums. Meet other people in the industry - coaches, agents, engineers, and other talents. Meet people outside the industry that you want to work with. Invest in an eLearning conference or one that caters to many different industries that use voiceover services.
So, there you have it! These best practices certainly aren't the only ones for running a successful voiceover business, but they do provide a helpful starting point, and hopefully provide you with a competitive advantage. But remember, above all else, you have to believe! You can do this, you can succeed, and you can create a thriving voiceover business.
Thanks for reading!
Keep on rocking your business like a #VOBOSS
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Anne Ganguzza is a professional voice actor and award-winning director and producer who works with students to develop their voiceover and business skills - including voice over Coaching and Genre-based Demo Production. She specializes in conversational Commercial & Narration styles, including Corporate, eLearning, Technology, and On-Hold Messaging. Located in Orange County, California, Anne offers private coaching and mentoring services to students via ipDTL and Zoom.