Building A Voiceover Business Plan

March 21, 2022 by Kathy Grable

Make a plan. Sometimes it’s good to dream a little, or at least take a breath and think about what you want. In a perfect world, what would you want? In that world, what part of it would you want a voiceover career to look like?

For example, it could be that you’re an actor, and you want to make a living acting.  Voiceover is a part of the acting world, and that’s helping you accomplish your goals of making a living as an actor. Maybe your goal is that you are SAG-AFTRA and voiceover will help you your goals for insurance and a pension. 

By the way, that’s a bit of how I got into the voiceover business. It was acting, I loved it, got a few jobs, and wanted voiceover to be part of my acting career. I also knew that sometimes I could be only $50 from making the minimum to obtain my insurance and didn’t want to turn down a legitimate job. Because I was a versatile actor, there were many times that a combination of commercials, TV, film, and yes voiceover, helped me accomplish my goal of making a living as an actor.

Alternatively, voiceover alone might be the one area that you enjoy and want to focus on. That’s okay too. Look at your life goals and see how voiceover can fit into your life. 

I’ve touched on some of these aspects before, but here are not only some new insights and information, but also a reminder to put them into your plan. Your voice is your primary asset, so develop it. Hone it and your acting skills. If this takes some classes, coaching, and/or workout groups to stay in shape, then build that into your business plan. It’s also an instrument, so take care of it.

Equipment   

After you’ve taken some classes and know you want to proceed, or maybe you’ve even booked some jobs and know this is for you, the next step is investing in some quality equipment. Ever since COVID began it’s become the norm to audition from a home studio, and you will have to be able to at least do that. It’s starting to become heavily suggested, although not always mandatory, to have the capability of recording jobs from your home studio.  This is now a requirement in the Los Angeles market to be represented, as is having access to Source-Connect.  

Here is the equipment you will need:

  1. A good microphone. Do your research and have a good quality microphone that will best showcase your voice.
  2. An audio mixer.
  3. Good editing software. 

You’ll need to know how to operate your equipment.  There are classes, YouTube and other videos, books, and information online to help with this. If you’re recording at home, it will also help to have a room that you can soundproof and turn into a studio. This can be as simple as a closet that you’ve soundproofed or a whisper room.  Make sure you do the research and know what you are getting into. 

So many people are getting into voiceover, and with on-line shopping, it’s hard to choose with all the options. That’s why I wrote a booklet on ‘Creating a Home Studio’ – I felt like some people were getting ripped off by spending money on certain areas that might not serve them well. It has Budget A, Budget B, and Budget C options designed so that when you want to upgrade or expand your budget, you won’t have to throw out everything and start over. You don’t have to spend a small fortune to get started. You can ease into it.

The Industry and Market

Just like any business, you want to know about the business you are in. Brush up on voiceover terms and lingo. Have a working knowledge of market rates depending on which markets you are working in.  

Network. Get to know the community in which you are involved. Start to build relationships not only for community, but also so people will know you are there when they are looking for voiceover talent—so that they can get you work.

Voiceover has many different niches of work. I’ve gone over some of them before, but here’s an updated list.

Here are the main areas:

  • Commercials (Radio, television and web content)
  • TV (Long form or short form)
  • Movie Trailers
  • Audiobooks
  • Videogames
  • Narration
  • Documentaries
  • Animation films and series
  • Phone Messages
  • GPS and Electronics (think Google Maps and Siri)
  • Toys
  • Training videos
  • Explainer videos
  • Podcasts

Learn about how each of these areas work and which ones you want to pursue.  Different types of voiceover work come with different types of clients from various industries—who can include everything from creative directors, copywriters, ad agency executives, producers (ad agencies hire producers, as do TV networks), voiceover talent scouts, voiceover casting directors, TV network producers, video game developers, and more. Each area will work in different ways. Start to understand and ask around how the area you want to go into works and then start working towards your goals. 

Branding and Marketing 

Here are some things to consider for your branding and marketing:

  • Your business name. That is, the name you want to go by. Choose it and stick with it. If you are already in or decide to join SAG-AFTRA, your name will need to stay consistent.
  • SAG-AFTRA membership
  • Business, financial and marketing plan
  • Website
  • Business e-mail
  • Business cards
  • Business bank account, and possibly PayPal, Zelle, and/or Venmo
  • Social media presence
  • High-quality demo reels

Talent Agents 

This is a goal of most voiceover actors. Again, think about what kind of career or what kind of jobs you would like to pursue. More than likely, you will need a talent agent to get the best opportunities. Bottom line: there is a certain amount you will need to do on your own—things you will need to do on your own even after you get an agent. But the good opportunities for the most part will come through agents and/or managers.  

Good Business Practices

Voiceover opportunities tend to come very last minute and have quick turnarounds. As a professional, it is imperative that you reply to any messages, texts, or emails promptly.

Communicate with your clients after receiving the script, as well as during the recording and after the job. Nurture strong relationships and keep in touch with existing clients.

Auditions: I’ve heard it said, “An actors job is auditioning. And now and again you get paid.” Every audition is a chance to hone your skills. You are getting to do what you love! You will have to audition and to continuously submit your demo reel to studios and contacts. You will constantly be needing to put yourself out there, as will your representatives.

Be flexible with your marketing plan. I always tell everyone that a business plan is a guide to go back to, not to berate yourself over if you get off track just because life gets in the way or you get stuck. If you have a basic business plan, you can evaluate it and adjust it as needed.

Next month let’s delve into more specific marketing strategies.

Kathy Grable

Kathy Grable is an L.A. voice-over prototype with a warmth and sincerity that reminds listeners of a close friend. You’ve heard her in animated shows like Tom & Jerry, Rocket Power, and Futurama and commercials for Pepsi, Disney, Dunkin’ Donuts, Burger King, and as the Baskin-Robbins “Talking Spoon.” Kathy was also the voice double for Nicole Kidman in the hit film Batman Forever. On-camera, she’s been seen in Mike & Molly, Harry’s Law, Last Man Standing, and The Wedding Band on TBS. She’s a sought-after V/O coach, director, and demo producer. When not performing, Kathy co-owns and operates a company that distributes e-books, comics, audio dramas, and her own podcast, In My Voice, with guests from all aspects of the voiceover world. Find it on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify, or go to https://anchor.fm/kathy-grable0 for all the episodes.

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