In this final installment in my series on Getting Started in Voiceover, we discuss how to go about getting voiceover work. After all, you've come this far - you've done your research, worked with a good coach, built a home studio, and you’ve recorded your first demo. Now it’s time to market yourself. This is when you turn up the heat, so to speak. You are in the driver’s seat now and in total control of moving your business forward. So exciting! Remember earlier when I talked about the 80/20 rule? This is when that 80% of the time that you spend outside of the booth really kicks in. And it is especially critical when you are just getting started and gaining traction in the industry.
The Quintessential Question – Where do I Find Work?
This is the most common question by far that new voice talent has when starting out. Wait who am I kidding? It's a common question for all of us - veterans alike! Where do I find voiceover work? The answer to this question is complex and has many layers. Alas, if it were that easy, we would all have thriving voiceover businesses with little to no effort. But here is where you need to really concentrate your efforts, and keep up the momentum. As I have said many times over, this career is a marathon, not a sprint.
There is good news, however. The system for getting work has evolved significantly over the last 10-15 years. Technology and the internet have disrupted a system that was originally much smaller in scope and focused around a series of local gatekeepers, agents, and professional studios. Today, it’s a brand-new world for getting work in VO. Let's discuss the three main ways to get work opportunities - Agents, Internet Casting sites, and Self - Marketing.
Casting agents, talent agents, and independent studios constitute a large segment of current voice-over opportunities. Creative agencies typically still use the established system of hiring actors through casting and talent agents. This system has benefited from advancements in technology. Auditions can be distributed and uploaded quickly through digital methods, and therefore can be cast quicker than in the old days of auditioning in person at a studio. If you’re looking to book work as a commercial actor, having a great agent or multiple agents is the way to go. An agent will work on your behalf to help promote you, offer audition opportunities, and negotiate a fair rate for your services. However, just because you have an agent doesn’t mean you can just take your hands off the steering wheel. You should be working together as partners to create a mutually beneficial relationship.
Internet Casting Sites (P2P)
Internet casting sites or “Pay to Play” sites have seen exponential growth in the past 10 years. These are websites that provide casting opportunities for a variety of genres of voiceover work. Pay to Play (P2P) sites work with creative departments and independent producers directly, effectively replacing the talent or casting agent. These can provide multiple voiceover opportunities on one platform. Typically these sites charge a membership fee, or tiered membership fee, that allow the members to actively audition and book jobs on the site.
Reality Check: Not all P2P sites are created equal. There have been an alarming number of nefarious and malicious business practices perpetrated by a handful of these sites in recent years. Be careful, read the fine print, and know what you’re getting into. Research the voiceover groups to get recommendations for which sites have been helpful - or not - to talent. If used correctly, a lot of work may be gleaned from these casting sites.
As of late, the industry has seen the pay rates of VO jobs drop below industry standards. A lot of times this will happen when new talent intentionally - or non intentionally - underbids a job on a casting site in order to win a client and gain valuable job experience. Or may even perform voiceover services for free.
Don't let this be you.
It's important for you to value your worth, and ask for fair rates, whether you are new to the industry or a veteran. If you have been following this series, you have already invested time and money into your journey. Your rates should reflect this investment, whether you have been in the industry for years, or are just getting into it. A "newbie" price will never yield a profit for your business. A great place to start is to consult industry rate guides such as GVAA , GFTB , and SAG/AFTRA .
Self-marketing has become an increasingly popular method of gaining clients and establishing yourself as a player in today's voiceover industry. There are many ways to self-market. A combination of one or more of the methods listed below can really help to get you in front of potential clients. The idea here is for you to become "known" to your client before you have to blindly audition for them. Marketing 101 says that people buy from people they know, like, and trust. Use your 80% and the suggestions in the list below to really build up your brand and online presence so potential clients can see who you are, hear what you sound like, and know what your business has to offer.
Websites and SEO
The list of ways to self-market seems to grow every day. Make yourself stand out - Ask yourself what out-of-the-box way can you come up with to connect with potential clients? At the very least you should have a professional website with your demos and contact information that you can point your prospective clients to. This is where a good business coach or mentor can come in handy to help you navigate the current market. (There's that coaching thing again) They can lead you to best practices, and help you avoid pitfalls.
Reality Check: There really isn’t one “right” way to find work in voiceover. There are many avenues and side streets that can lead to the same destination. What may work for one person may not work for another. A key is persistence and consistency of marketing your business over time. Always be looking and working towards your next great client.
When you’re starting out it’s not unheard of to make 50 touches a day. What’s a touch? A touch is reaching out and contacting someone about your services and abilities. It could be an audition, a networking meeting, social media interaction, direct email marketing, or even a phone call. Your goal here is to not just let that pretty demo sit on the shelf, you need to get it in front of your potential clients.
One fundamental truth about this industry - you will face a lot of rejection. I mean, a LOT of rejection. This is not an industry for thin skins. You will need to be ok with that, and resilient enough to handle a consistent stream of “No thank yous” or just silence. More than likely, you won't ever receive feedback from any auditions you submit. You will have no idea how close you were to being cast. The best thing here is to “Submit it and forget it.” When I audition, I’m focused and use all the skills in my toolbox. But after I send the audition in, I let it go. I completely forget about it. Don't get wrapped up in hoping you’ll get cast for everything you audition for. Or that your performance wasn't good enough. Casting is subjective. You may have sent in a fantastic read, but you just weren’t the flavor they were looking for that day. And that’s ok.
Trust the process, keep your skills up, and you’ll land work.
I know it can seem like a lot. That’s because it is. Your success in voiceover depends on skills, talent, and perseverance. Anyone who makes it sound easy or a quick path to riches is only trying to sell you something. Remember above all to have fun, and seek joy in this career. The joy of educating the listener or the goofiness of character reads. Sometimes it's just knowing that the words we say will make someone’s life better.
Remember that you are the master of your own destiny. The VO community is one of the friendliest and most welcoming communities I have ever had the pleasure of working in. Believe it or not, we’re all rooting for you., and truly want you to be successful. As they say, “A rising tide raises all boats”. Be patient, persevere, and you can find a very rewarding career in voice-over.
Make sure to check out the whole Getting Started in VO series!
Much love and Keep on rockin' your health and 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.