Defining your Voice Over “Type” and Finding your Niche
Jan 30 2014
Over the past year, a friend of mine has been investing in the stock market. He’s been doing quite well – because he has a pretty simple rule: he only buys stock when he understands exactly what the company does, and how their product is useful in the real world. If the company’s product description is vague (what is “consulting,” really?), he stays away.
This got me thinking about the relationship between voice actors and potential clients. Are we losing clients by being too vague with our own “product description”?
Successful marketing is all about convincing a client that what you offer is a perfect match for what they need. Yet, in fear of missing out on opportunities, we try to be all things to all people. We present ourselves as generic “all-purpose” voices. The result is that our marketing is equally generic … and clients can’t easily tell that we have the specific skills they want.
Consider, for example, how the audition sites Voice123.com and Voices.com have been fine-tuning their search parameters: actors who upload genre-specific demos and tag them with client-friendly keywords are rewarded with more auditions and higher rankings in client searches. In other words, if your narration demo is simply tagged “narration,” it won’t show up in as many search results as a demo that is tagged “corporate, warm, trustworthy.” If the system can’t tell what you offer, it won’t know what auditions to put in your inbox! Beef up your profile with specifics on your vocal age range, styles (perky mom, corporate trainer, casual best friend), and tones (friendly, sympathetic, wry, sincere, etc.). These same descriptors need to be on your website, and ideally will be reflected in the overall look of your logo and website design.
DO NOT be afraid of getting specific. Nobody has a voice that is genuinely “all-purpose.”
Bonus: defining what you offer makes your marketing easier! Once you stop trying to be “all-purpose” and allow yourself to focus on your natural strengths, you’ll avoid wasting energy and time pursuing areas of the industry you’re not ideal for. The payoff? More energy and time to focus on the clients who need your type of voice.
Of course, the million-dollar question is … how do you figure out where you fit?
Step 1: Listen to as much VO as you can. Make a note each time you hear a vocal sound and delivery style similar to yours – essentially, any time you think “I could do that.” Write down a description of that sound (Wacky best friend. CEO. Neighbor). This is your “type.”
Step 2: Find your groove. Where do you feel the most natural? Some people excel at making corporate training sound easy and relaxed. Others find corporate work uncomfortable, but can bring vibrancy to a museum tour. Yes, you’ll want to stretch out of your comfort zone eventually … but start by playing to your strengths. This is your “niche.”
Step 3: Make sure your website copy and demos/samples reflect and support your type and niche.
Step 4: Use Google to figure out if there are any production studios out there specializing in your niche. For example, a quick search reveals companies that focus on guided tours; medical videos; corporate compliance; supplemental programs for homeschoolers; and much more. Bingo! Get your demo to the appropriate company (or even record a custom sample based on the material from their website) along with a customized cover letter.
As your career progresses, you will make adjustments to your approach. You’ll expand that comfort zone and add new demos; you’ll update your website many times; you’ll find yourself confidently auditioning for jobs that seemed out of your league just a year before. That’s the fun part! But to get there, give yourself the gift of starting out with a focused understanding of your type and your niche. Your future self will thank you.
Kristin Price is an Edge Studio coach. For more information about coaching with Kristin or any other Edge Studio instructor, please call our office at 888-321-3343 or click here.