Do it your way!
So, let’s pick up from where I left off (if you didn’t read my first blog in this series then I am offended. You have truly hurt my feelings. Can you feel my hurt emotions? To make me feel better you can read it on my website). How did I get my first voiceover job? Well, it’s better if I start with what my goals were when I set out on my journey. I didn’t have connections from previous contacts at radio stations. No former actors or producers I could reach out to. Agency representation was a pipe dream and I was now living in the USA after emigrating from the UK. There was absolutely no-one I could lean on to get jobs that I knew of. I had a 5 year plan with a set amount of revenue I wanted to achieve after the 5 years was up and a roadmap to get there.
Also, I have to clarify this point. This was my journey. This is not a step by step guide on how to make your voice over business successful. It is what worked for me. I promise that I put a huge amount of work and dedication into this. As someone famous once said “shit don’t come easy”. I think it was Winston Churchill, the Queen or someone like that!
The lack of industry contacts didn’t deter me, but I knew my path starting out was going to involve the Pay to play sites (P2P). I did a huge amount of research and made the business decisions that I thought were right for me at the time. I also started my direct marketing campaigns in tandem.
The first P2P I joined was Voices.com in October of 2016. This was 5 months after first getting into voice over. I understood that there was a consensus from many in the industry that Voices.com was the devil incarnate. You can go many of the Facebook groups to find out why. The way I saw it, it was the most used platform by the clients that I was looking for.
It was at Voices.com that I learned my first lesson the hard the way. You need to audition a lot before you get your first job, and this can very soul destroying for those starting out. My first booked gig on Voices was on January 2nd 2017. 3 months after joining. It was an internal video for Whirlpool. I think I had auditioned over 130 times before booking this. It was a huge relief and an amazing feeling that somebody had thought I had what it took to pay me for my services. This was followed by a job 2 days later that I think was instrumental in moving my career along. It was a YouTube video narration for Rolls Royce marine division. This was a brand that I knew would give me some credibility in my direct marketing. More on that in a later episode. So, people were prepared to pay me for my services. This made me feel like I was doing something right. And believe me, I was also doing a lot of things wrong….
Now, to the dreaded numerical nemesis of the VO industry. Fiverrrrrrr! Before you start throwing things at me or just stop reading, please hear me out. I had done my research. I knew what the standard industry rates were and I was adamant that I was going to aim for these as much as I could. I also had the business sense to know I was new to the industry and it would be hard for me to reach those rates initially. So, I checked out Fiverr and decided that I was going to create a gig that asked for $100 for a 2-3 minute internal video that was not for advertising. The gig went live in February of 2017. In truth, the gig didn’t get much traction but eventually, I think it was 1 month after the gig went live, I got a job. It was for a private school in India. I completed the job, and all went well. But I felt “dirty”. I was keeping up to date with the VO Facebook groups and I just knew that staying with Fiverr was a bad idea. A few weeks later I cancelled my membership. It was like a Juice Cleanse and detox. My karma felt pretty good after that!
As the booked jobs started to come in with Voices.com I started looking for other P2P’s that I could use to my advantage. In February of 2018 I signed up for a basic membership with V123. I never really got any traction with them and abandoned them after they imploded just before Christmas of 2018. In May 2018 I was accepted to Bodalgo. I can’t speak highly enough of Armin and what he does for our industry. I have had some good clients from them. I was also accepted to the Voice Realm in Aug 2018. Here is another contentious P2P. Their rates are a little lower than the other P2P’s and some of their behavior is very questionable. For me, it was a pure and simple business decision and I have booked a large amount of work from them over the last few years.
So, contrary to what many people will tell you in many of the Facebook groups, the P2P’s can be used to your advantage. I would go even further and say that if you have no contacts or experience in the voiceover industry, they are simple a necessity to get you started. I know that is controversial, but I don’t care. This is a business. This is your business. You have to strategize and figure out what is the best return on investment (ROI) for you so you can grow your business. I do listen to what others have to say but then I do my research and make the decision that is best for me. A very wise VO once told me that this is the voice over BUSINESS. You must treat it like a business. His favorite discussion is about how much to charge, and he has a very simple way to look at it. Work out how much you need to live on in a year. Divide that by 50 weeks (if you want 2 weeks vacation). That gives you how much you need per week. Then divide that by how many jobs you expect to book each week. That gives you a rate per booked job that allows you to live. Ok, that is a bit simplified but it is a good exercise to let you know your minimum.
How do I get jobs now? Well, direct marketing is a huge part of what I do now, and I have built a good repeat client base. But I still pay for Voices.com (I now pay for the Platinum membership), Bodalgo, Voice Realm, Voiceover.com and Voices.co.uk. Whether the VO industry likes it or not, P2P’s are here to stay. The way we do business is online, think Uber, Amazon and banking. A portal that makes the life of a production company easier for finding voice talent is a no brainer. I also have several agents that I worked hard to gain representation with that send me auditions. I will also discuss this in later episodes.
If there were to be a moral to this episode, it would be do what it takes to make your business work without lowering your rates too much. Don’t be afraid of the more experienced VO’s making you feel bad for working on the P2P’s. Experienced VO’s do not pay your bills, do not know your business plan and sometimes are just plain wrong. They mostly mean well. I am very comfortable with my decisions and do not have to justify them to anyone. Neither should you!
Next week I will discuss equipment and recording space. See you then!
If you have any questions about my journey or just want some advice on a certain subject, please email me at email@example.com. I will do my very best to get back to you.