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Let's talk business

Continuing with the 10 things you need to know when starting out in voiceover. Well, looky here. I managed to come up with number 2 in my series of blogs. Forgive me if I am slightly smug and impressed with myself. That’s one more than I thought I would get to. So, let’s get to it.

Number 2: This is a business. There’s no business like show business. It’s a well known saying but so many people forget the word that repeats in that sentence. Voice over is a business. More accurately a B2B. In other words, we provide a service to another business. Namely we provide our voice for audio and video projects that are then disseminated to the world and beyond!

Can you treat it as a hobby? Yes, you can. And many people do. The Merriam-Webster definition of hobby is as follows: “a pursuit outside one's regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation”. And I get it. There are people out there who just love making funny voices and hang out on Discord and Facebook groups or love to post on TikTok. Or those who scan for unpaid voiceover work. For those who are treating voiceover as a hobby, I think that is great. And hopefully it will lead some into the professional world of voiceover. And that is what I am discussing today.

A professional voice over gets paid. Now the term professional is one of those ambiguous terms. I like this definition that Merriam-Webster provides: “participating for gain or livelihood in an activity or field of endeavor often engaged in by amateurs” // a professional golfer. And that is the distinction that I will make as we move forward. A professional voice over is someone who participates for gain. In other words, we get paid to talk.

OK, I am glad we cleared that up. That all sounds bloody marvelous. So, I can just switch my microphone on, and huge wads of cash will start flowing into my bank account? Well…….NO. Working in an industry that is B2B means that at some point or other, you will be required to interact with another business. You know – business 2 business. In doing so, there will be some expectations put on you by that other business. They may expect quotes, invoices, W9 with EIN (Employer Identification Number) and much more (US specific). This means that in most cases, the first thing you should do if you are serious about becoming a professional voice over is register your business. You may want to check with a lawyer to see if DBA/sole proprietor or LLC is the best way for you to go. That is out with my skillset. I chose DBA/sole proprietor. You will need to apply for an EIN with IRS, create a business bank account with your bank and register your business in your county. I’m not sure how this works in other countries outside the US. This may sound daunting or expensive, but it shouldn’t. Registering my business in Texas cost less than $100 and all the other stuff just requires forms to be filled out and submitted. And once you have registered, you can start keeping all your receipts related to your business as these expenses are tax deductible.

I know that most get into this industry for the performing. I get it. Being a voice actor is one of the best jobs in the world. Running a business was not on the radar for many who started out in voice over. But it is a necessity if you are going to make a career of it. And I like to treat it as a challenge. Instead of it being a burden, I see the business side as a new opportunity for me to learn new skills. And the rewards are worth it. There is just something very satisfying about sending a quote for a job, booking it, performing the work, invoicing it and then best of all, the payment hitting your business bank account. You see the process through from start to finish and it just makes me feel good.

So, don’t be afraid of creating a business. Believe me. I had absolutely NO experience in how to start a business before I started mine. Yet, it was fun, interesting and I have learned a great deal. And there are many resources on the old interweb that will help you out:

Good luck on your journey and feel free to reach out if you have any questions.

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1 Comment

Paul Schmidt
Paul Schmidt
Apr 26, 2022

Such a great list of resources you've included, Craig. Above and beyond what this article might have called for. Always thinking.

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