I’m celebrating my tenth year working from home as a female-owned small business. I have wonderful clients whom I’ve learned a lot from. They hold a variety of positions, from producers at digital production companies to ad agency creative directors to eLearning instructional designers. I have a wonderful time collaborating on their projects and keeping in touch over the months and years. These long-term business relationships bring insights and gems of knowledge. This blog post celebrates the gems of wisdom that I’ve learned from my dearest clients.
Ask for Auditions
All clients on most continents can ask for a free audition prior to finalizing which voice actor is hired. Listen to your shortlist of voice actors with a few lines of your script. Like me, most voice actors appreciate the audition opportunity – it’s my way to show you how I fit your brand! Fun fact: Before the internet, auditions were actually paid for, and managed via talent agents.
Let’s Share All Details
There are simple but important details associated with hiring voiceover services to ensure everything runs smoothly. Ask for a brief overview when either considering me or having selected me from an audition. Things like audio specs, usage, copyright, timing and invoicing are important. I have a checklist so we can review and finalize all expectations and parameters in writing with full transparency. Most importantly, no surprises!
Pay How You Want to Pay
I’ve learned it’s important to accept payments from you in a variety of ways, and not frustrate you with mysterious online systems that feel cumbersome. I’ve had to jump through some hoops and get around obstacles, and I’m able to handle most every request. Paypal, Checks, Direct Deposit, Wire Transfer, etc. A client from my old home town, Doug, asked me to share this with VOs:
“Please accept my payment with a plain old check or credit card. I don’t need to sign up for ACH or any esoteric invoice processing system du jour.”
Discuss Relevant Script Background
As appropriate, I’ll ask lots of questions to help qualify what you’re hoping the outcome will be and take suggestions. Many times you can benefit from the broad range of experience that I have, which might improve the piece. Two wonderful clients told me:
“Writers love to talk about their work, and there will be takeaways about the character or scenario that you might not have otherwise got from just the script.” – Anthony
“Every brand, company, etc. has its own ‘voice’. Sometimes, they don’t even know it. But I think a great VO actor will learn what the voice is and be better able to adapt their delivery to match that voice.” – Matt
Communicate When Stuff Goes Wrong
There are moments no one, you or VO actor, can control… weather, technology, personnel changes, and so on. Mother nature can sometimes wreak havoc on a local level, either for the VO or your location. It can also feel like havoc when technology fails us, either through the internet or within local electronics. Layoffs or management turnover can mean my ‘person’ is no longer working for your company. In any of these situations, patience and professionalism are the best recovery systems from small changes to large disasters. This includes everyone doing the best to communicate directly, appropriately, and earnestly.
Some Clients Only Work with a Voice Actor Once
For certain clients, every project is so unique that a new voice is found for each one. It’s a bit dismaying to voice actors like me, who want to cultivate an ongoing relationship and develop recurring work with you. Regardless if the project was super fun, creative and energizing, it doesn’t always mean more work. So, I’ve learned to enjoy the experience within the journey.
“As a small production company, we make an effort to use a variety of voice talent so our website/work doesn’t get repetitive. As much as we would like to find one person to work with and stick with them, it just doesn’t make sense. The unfortunate reality is that every project is unique and we almost never reuse a voice talent unless it’s an ongoing series.” – Scott
No Client-VO Relationship is Forever
Many of my clients have worked with me for many years. And there are client relationships that last only a few years or are based on a finite advertising campaign or branding strategy. I accept the transitory and subjective nature of the work that I receive. I’m also confident and work on my craft, knowing there are new clients on the horizon.
Some Clients Work with a VO Actor Consistently
Let’s end this list on a high note for me! My returning clients are fun because of the personal relationships that develop, and the success of creating voiceover recordings that consistently meet or often exceed my client’s expectations. As we work together, I learn a lot about your needs and deliver accordingly. It’s a professional, mutually collaborative and creative partnership, enjoyable personally and professionally. This is what I strive for.
Recently I had a fun conversation with a partner company’s new employee. I shared insights about the VO industry and what it’s like to run a VO Actor business. My history in video production, advertising, cable tv operations sales and marketing all prepared me to run an owner-operated business in voice acting. I’ve learned, stretched, grown on all counts, from audio engineering or VO acting skills, to marketing and all the administration. I started with a dream and continue with lots of support from loved ones, mentors, virtual teams and wonderful clients. Thank you!