When you are first getting started in the voice-over industry, sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin — who to market to, how to make a cold call, or what business strategy will work best for you. Many people think it would be easier to hire a voice-over agent outright to help you land the gigs that you have been dreaming of. Most pros will tell you that it is more profitable to learn how to be your own voice-over talent agent before you go looking for help elsewhere.
Learning how to make connections and land jobs in the beginning is an important learning process that, despite the headaches and jitters you get in the beginning, will help you in the long run. First of all, you should learn how to network with potential clients in your local community. Building relationships is key in the voice-over industry, and being your own voice-over agent will add the personal touch clients appreciate — and will keep them coming back for repeat business.
Representing yourself helps you initially by informing small businesses that they can afford to hire a voice-over talent, and in some cases they can’t afford not to. Contacting the potential client directly without an intimidating (and expensive) voice-over agent sends the message that you, and the negotiation, is approachable, and allows for a more open dialogue about how they can benefit from your professional services.
Don’t forget that you also don’t know exactly what you are looking for when you first start out as a professional voice-over artist! As in other areas of your life, sometimes you don’t know what you want (or don’t want) until you have it. The voice-over industry is no different, so allow yourself the opportunity to find what types of voice-over work make you happy.
However, you may reach time and a place when you are ready to get a voice-over agent. Oddly enough, that time is when you already have a good client list! What, did you think your voice-over agent would start your client list for you? Remember that agents are working for their bottom line, so you need to show them that you both will benefit. If you don’t have a sizable client list, there isn’t much incentive for the agent to get you a job because you haven’t proven that you are bookable.
Once you figure out what types of voice-over jobs you enjoy the most, an agent will be able to help you grow within your niche. If you don’t have a client list, an agent also won’t have any idea how to help you grow within a specific niche.
Most professional voice-over artists have told me that it’s just a matter of figuring out how to network and market yourself to the types of clients you would like to work with. Once you get to the point where you feel you need an agent, you might not even have time to take on new work if they get it for you!
Catherine Marshall is PR & Social Media Marketing Director for Such A Voice, a voice-over training and demo production company. Check out her blog at http://suchavoice.blogspot.com or follow her on Twitter at @SuchAVoice.