Well back in January of 2019, I wrote a blog highlighting why It was important to understand your niche as a voice over artist. Since writing that blog, I recently watched an online video with an African-American voice over artist, called Earl Hall. During the 15 minute session, Earl spoke about knowing your ‘micro-niche’. For example, if you were an audiobook narrator, that was your niche, but if you specialised in narrating romance novels, that was your micro-niche. Earl really spoke to me and it made me consider what my own niche was, but perhaps more importantly what was my micro-niche? So after carefully reflecting on these questions, it became apparent that my niche was animation and my micro-niche was character animation. As I have recently voiced various character animation projects.
Earl also outlined that our websites, other wise known as our ‘business cards’ would not really resonate with our target audiences. In my case animators, creative directors and stop motion specialists. Earl’s reference to creating a landing page, was truly a ‘light-bulb’ moment. In other words creating a landing page that was separate from my your own website, would be where I could create my micro-niche. Why had I not thought of this before? Perhaps because as with so many other voice over artists, we tend to generalise and rather than specialise on our micro niche. This is why I am booking a strategy session later this month to discuss the importance of developing my own micro niche, with Earl. Following that I also intend to focus on creating my own landing page, that will reflect my essence, whilst driving potential leads to the landing page. So it truly is important to know your micro-niche as a voice over artist.
I had come to the realisation that I needed to have a closer look at how I could provide further clarity of vision for my business and life. Then, whilst doing some internet-based research, I came across Natasha Marchewka, a US based voice talent who happened to be offering a course that reflected my very needs. The aptly named ‘Master VO To-Do-List,’ offers a very structured approach to planning, with a range of practical hints, tips and strategies, whilst organising your business into a series of lists. For example, one of the very first area of focus was on ‘what does a freelancer voice talent need?’ What I really liked about this was the simplicity in which Natasha breaks down what you need, into easily understandable areas such as the craft, systems, relationship building, content and publicity. Each area has a series of bullet points that you can check through to see what still needs to be done.
As I went through this three-week online course, I personally felt more focused, organised and able to really look at how I effectively used my time, whilst minimising doubt and frustrations related to getting enough done in a day.!!! The beauty also of this course are Natasha’s videos, as she eloquently talks through each topic in a very relaxed and calming manner, whilst providing some opportunities for you, to add personal comments and feedback for other members. What you quickly realise is that through the sharing of comments and feedback, it felt more like you were part of a voice over community, rather than an ‘isolated’ voice talent who is continually trying to figure out what you should be doing next within your business. The other benefit of the course was that it felt that she had pitched the course at the right level, primarily at voice talent with experience in the voice over industry and those voice over talent, who wanted to take their voice over business to the next level.
Overall, as a result of doing Natasha’s course, I now have a greater clarity of purpose and understanding of what I need to do in order to fulfil my desired goals and objectives.
I realised from the outset of when I decided to dabble into the world of voice over, that to get really noticed, having demo reels would be an important part of my overall marketing strategy. So back in 2009, I did some market research into the top demo producers in London at the time, where I could get a corporate, commercial and narrative reel. By 2010, I got each of the reels professionally recorded, edited, with all the music and special effects. Whilst at the time I was very pleased with the end product, I was still uncertain as to whether or not I would be able to get any voice work. With a bit of effective email marketing to local, regional and national clients, networking at local events, I slowly began to see progress in my own voice over business. However, surprisingly, it was not in the corporate, commercial or narration genres, but rather I was getting work across the radio and e-learning markets. So whilst there was a steady growth in corporate voice over work, I thought to myself, let me continue to target more radio and e-learning clients and then re-invest the money in order to get specific radio and e-learning demo reels developed. It was one of the best moves that I made at the time, because as I result of these reels, I began to land more national and overseas radio and e-learning work. One prime example was a client from India, who found me on Linkedin and I continue to receive on-going voice work, for nearly 6 years.
I also do quite a bit of accent work and decided to create a specific accent reel, which had a Jamaican, Russian, Nigerian and Cockney voice clips. Each of those accents, has landed me both national and global work and I firmly believe that you never quite know when your demo reels will come in handy for a potential client.
Whilst the demo reel is a key part of your marketing strategy, there are other factors that are also very important too, like your ability to take direction well, being technically competent, being reliable and working to very tight schedules.
So, demo reels are really important in the world of voice-over, but as one mentor used to say to me, always continue to work on your craft, by keeping yourself relevant.
One of the areas that I have focused on as a professional voice-over artist in recent years, has been to embrace my own core values. This perhaps has become more apparent when developing relationships with new clients. ‘Trust’ is a value that I often hear from clients and I can personally relate it to an existing client of mine who emailed me about several e-learning voice projects. The first thing that she mentioned was that the deadline would be tight and wondered if I could get the projects recorded as a matter of urgency. I believe that because I had previously voiced other projects with tight deadlines, she trusted in my ability, to get the job done ahead of schedule.
I was also reflecting on some of the reviews from my own website, which provide further clues as to the importance of core values. Perhaps what struck me the most, was the review from one client who mentioned importance of ‘professionalism, dedication and reliability’ I believe that these core values are not just important within the voice-over industry, but in life in general. I firmly believe that developing one’s core values, should be at the heart of everything voice-over artists do as part of their businesses.
Often I draw from the wisdom of my own parents and elders from the African community that I originate from. One of those sayings that always sits well with me was to ‘know thyself, understand your essence and let it shine in the world.’ These poignant words, were echoed by my parents and are cemented in my heart. Hopefully as voice-over artists, you will continue to strive to stand by your own core values as part of your own tool-kit, when developing and nurturing relationships with those new leads or clients.
In recent years many new and experienced voice over artists would have noticed the explosion of Freelance and P2P (Pay-2-Play) sites popping up on the internet. Whilst the camp remains divided on the value of such sites, I for one can say that they have played a beneficial role in the development of my own voice over business. I developed some useful clients, that have turned into repeat business. However, there are many other voice over artists who have developed very lucrative voice over businesses without using such sites.
Looking at my own marketing strategy, I have tried a variety of methods. Most recently I tried ‘cold-calling’, yes doing some research on a prospective business, picking up the phone and exploring how I could ‘add value’ to a local company, who in this instance specialised in animation. Well, initially I met the owner informally over a cup of coffee and during the first two meetings we just got to know one another and it was only during the third meeting that we talked ‘business’ and even then I just listened to him talk passionately about his own business. By the time we met again, he mentioned that he had been commissioned by a local organisation, to lead on developing a health related animation project, which also required several voice over artists. He mentioned whether I was interested in the narrator role. As you can imagine, I was very pleased at not only getting the part, but also collaborating with a new client, without having to go through the ‘traditional’ competitive audition process. So, what had I learnt from this process? Well, firstly that, ‘cold-calling can work, but it requires a planned approach. Secondly, building and nurturing trust with a potential new client requires patience, understanding, a willingness to listen, whilst adopting a non-intrusive approach.
Another creative approach that I recently adopted, was keeping in touch with previous work colleagues. For many years, I had previously in the charity sector and I remember my Mother mentioning to me to always, try and maintain ‘good relationships’ where possible. My Mother was right, because my ex-boss, contacted me to discuss a conference that he was organising later in the year. During our conversations, he mentioned that it was going to be a conference with an opening video. That is when I suggested that I could narrate part of the opening video as delegates entered the event. I devised a 2 minute script, added the background music/sound effects and provided two draft revisions. As a result of the success of this collaborative process, he informed that there potentially would be further opportunities to use my voice over skills in the near future.
All this goes to show that when you are figuring out what marketing strategy to use, remember, some may be more effective than others .The key as many other voice over artists will tell you, is to firstly to have a clear plan of which social media platform you intend to use, implement it, then evaluate its impact on your voice-over business, before moving onto another. By doing it this way, I believe you are not only learning a new skill, but also gaining further insight into what works and what does not for your own voice over business. Equally, with Freelance and P2P sites you will hear some voice over artists, complaining that some are not as effective as others and again as a voice over artist, you have choices and decisions to make that are for the development of your own business. I did and have stayed with a few P2P sites over the years, however, alongside this, I also focused my time, by developing direct links with prospective leads through email marketing and attending networking events.
In the end it goes back to my original question, Why attracting clients to your voice over business, involves trying out a few different marketing strategies? The answer is, it really does involve trying out and evaluating what works for you and your voice-over business. I would also add that maybe its worth going out of your ‘comfort zone.’ otherwise how will your voiceover business grow, if you keep on doing the same old same old?!!
When I started doing voice over work over 15 years ago, I remember trying out so many different genres of voice over, including, radio commercials, jingles, corporate, TV commercials, gaming and short films.
I also kept telling myself to ‘have a go at doing that radio drama audition’. It was partly to try out whether I would get it and actually to also take myself out of a comfort zone of that we as voice over artists can easily fall into.
Then I realised when looking at my voice over CV, I know some of you might be saying a CV? well it actually helped me to evaluate where I was getting more of my voice work and also where I should focus my niche as a professional voice over artist.
Interestingly I began to notice that I was getting less and less gaming auditions, but more e-learning, corporate and commercial voice over work. Also I was getting more requests for specific African-English voice over work. So I decided to develop a strategy, which focused on marketing my services to companies within this genres and I would say that over the past 5 years, not only has more voice over work, increased as a result of ‘honing’ in on specific areas of voice work, but globally this has been the case too, with more clients specifically requesting more accented voice work especially African-English, RP and Jamaican-Patois.
So it is important to focus your efforts as you gain more experience on niche areas that bring out your uniqueness as a voice actor, especially as we now tend to operate in a highly competitive marketplace and being known for specialising in particular genres of voice work, could also lead to more repeat work and clients that respect and value you for the specialist talents that you possess.