“How do I find work?” I hear this all the time, as a matter of fact, it’s one of the top 5 questions I get from new students looking to make it in the industry. Experienced talent knows the idea of simply “finding” work is misleading. It implies that being successful in VO only requires one to lift the right rock and jobs will fly into your inbox. “Finding” VO jobs shifts the responsibility from the voice actor and on to a mysterious place where jobs exist. That’s not quite how it works - this is only one part of a multistep process in getting the gigs. Your first priority, and the better question to ask in this uber-competitive industry, should be “What can I do as a voice talent that will convince clients to hire me - and also keep them coming back?” Your next move is to take the responsibility and ownership to make yourself "hireable" so that you can do the work - and do it amazingly well - once you get it. So how to do this? Let’s discuss.
Get good. Be good.
First things first. One of the most important things voice actors can do to position themselves for work is to make sure they have invested time and energy in great performance coaching. VO acting is unique and comes with an extremely special set of challenges. Unlike on camera or stage acting, VO talent often work alone and in a vacuum. We don’t have other actors to play off of, no costumes to help us get into character, no set to inspire our mood. Everything exists in our imagination. There is no time to warm up into a read, when the record button is pushed, you’re on. To be a successful voice actor, it’s critical to be able to perform and deliver excellence when asked. It is the most fundamental truth that you have to have performance chops in order to work, because if you don’t, no matter how hard you try to “find” work, you’ll never book the audition if you can’t tell the story. Start with a great coach to set a strong foundation for your voice over career.
A sound foundation.
Now more than ever your audio quality matters. In the days of wine and Covid, voice actors need to be able to provide consistent, studio-quality audio. The time of “passable” audio for auditions is gone. If you don’t have the ability to deliver amazing sound on your auditions, you will be disregarded for someone who does. So, what does that mean? Well, it means you need to be well versed in the technical side of recording. You need to have quality gear with excellent frequency response. You need to have a low noise floor and a treated space with little to no echo. You need to understand the difference between an .mp3 and a .wav file. In a nutshell, you need to become your own audio engineer. That might mean investing in an industry professional to help tweak your space and sound, and/or a series of courses that will train you on the basics of producing high-quality audio. You can start by checking out the latest VO BOSS Audio podcast series with Tim Tippets - some great nuggets of wisdom there. Oh and here’s a little insider secret, don’t waste money on discount bundles of low-quality gear. You’ll end up having to reinvest in quality gear eventually. If you are serious about this as a career, don't start on the wrong foot.
If you have to ask if you are ready to make your demo, you’re not ready. Let’s be clear, you need to have been coaching in the genre you’re pursuing for some time. You should have enough coaching under your belt to know what good sounds like on your own. And (see above) your sound quality needs to be impeccable. During pandemic times, you’ll most likely be recording your demo from home. I’ve listed having a high-quality demo as 3rd on this list because it requires you to have become proficient with both your talent and your audio quality. Find a demo producer with a good reputation in the genre you’re interested in. Your demo is your calling card. It’s your ticket to the table. Without it, you can’t play. Your demo should showcase your range while still maintaining consistency within your genre.
Coffee is for closers
It’s not about finding work, it’s about working to get work. Here’s where most new voice actors get stuck and give up. By this time, you should have a good idea of your strengths and weaknesses. Create your branding around your strengths. This final step is just as important as all the others. It makes little sense to go through all the effort up to now and then not take the final steps towards success. You can’t just make a demo and then expect jobs to fall out of the sky. You’re an entrepreneur, take the initiative! There are several types of marketing you can focus on. Content marketing (check out the VO BOSS podcast series on Content Marketing with Pamela Muldoon for some great tips), direct email (VO BOSS Blasts can help!), Website SEO, vetted lists, social media, and networking are just a few of the avenues you should be pursuing full time. In the beginning, you will more than likely have to spend up to 80% of your time marketing. And even once you are established, you will need to spend a good portion of your time marketing to continue to get the work.
You gotta love it.
Instead of asking how to find work, ask yourself if you love voice-over enough to do what it takes to shine. Are you willing to work like a startup business (because you are!), putting in long hours and late nights? This isn’t a game of hide and seek. You don’t just find jobs. You persist by learning, listening, working, and marketing. You succeed through consistency and grit. So go on - get out there and get that work like a boss, a VO BOSS! I have faith in you.
Much love and Keep on rockin' your biz.
About the Author: Anne Ganguzza is a full-time voice talent and award-winning director and producer who works with students to develop their voice over and business skills - including VO demo training and production. She specializes in Conversational Commercial and Narration styles, including Corporate, E-Learning, Technology, Healthcare - Medical, Telephony, and On-Hold. Located in Orange County, CA, Anne offers private coaching and mentoring services to students in person and via Skype, ipDTL or Zoom.