The Frugal Voiceover Business

You don’t need to spend money to start your voiceover business. I’m serious. You don’t. All you need is you and some ambition to practice.

It’s easy to get caught up in the spending frenzy. “Gotta spend money to make money.” No you don’t. That’s crap.

Treat your money like you don’t have any of it. Invest more of your time and effort. Spending money won’t make you good. Practicing will.

Here’s what I mean. You can check books out for free from your local library. You can read endless blog posts. For free.

You can improve while getting paid to produce a narration. You know what that’s called? Working. And on the job is the best way to learn. Yeah you will suck at first. But everyone stinks when they start. You don’t start as the best. You work to be your best.

Working in voiceover is the best way to learn. The only person who really cares about how you sound is your client. If you can please them, you’re off to a good start.

The less money you spend, the less desperate you’ll be to find work. Being desperate doesn’t land jobs. Read that again and let it sink in.

Find clients. It can be anyone. It can be someone you already know very well. Your best learning experience won’t be from a book. It’ll be from a job. Does a plumber read a book? No. They do the job and learn on the job. And if you hired a plumber who’s hold a “plumbing for dummies” book, run!

Save your money. Run your voiceover business so that it has a cash cushion. You never know when important things will be needed. Important things like equipment, the things that you run your business with. You can’t work without a mic!

When cash levels are good, that’s when you can play a bit. Buy your clients something nice. That’s money well spent.

Thanks for reading.

Should You Join A Voiceover Marketplace?

The Internet has changed the game for voiceover. Before the web, you either had to be in the media centers (LA, NY or Chicago) or work for a tv or radio station to find voice work. The audio equipment was all in professional studios. The means of high quality production were not in your home. Then the Internet came and brought with it affordable audio equipment. Game changed.

 

Casting websites (pay to play membership sites) came around at the turn of the century and filled the niche of connecting buyer to seller. Voices.com, Fiverr, VoiceBunny and Voice123 are just a few to name. The voiceover marketplaces remove geographical barriers and connect talent seekers with voiceover talent for projects of all sizes. This article is about helping you make the decision of whether to join or not. For the record, I am not a member of any casting marketplace (but I have been a member in the past).

 

You should join a casting site for these reasons:

  • You want access to auditions from major casting agencies and talent seekers
  • You have the capital to afford an membership on these sites.
  • You love competition
  • You don’t want to invest in a website at the moment and just want to find voiceover work

 

You should not join a casting site for these reasons:

  • You have an agent who gives you auditions (more than you can handle)
  • You have little or no capital to invest in a membership
  • You want to keep middlemen out and develop direct relationships with clients
  • You want to keep your expenses low
  • You feel like you can get higher rates on your own

 

I hope these reasons help you make your decision. Like I said, I don’t want my bias to persuade you. It is your decision, not mine, to make. These marketplaces present opportunities that didn’t exist 20 years ago. The game has been changed and the home studios are here to stay. It’s up to you to find your own path through the voiceover universe.

 

Thanks for reading!

2 Things You Can Learn From PR Disasters

Oh, what a week. Two major companies had very big, public PR nightmares. I won’t name names (because you can look it up) but when a soda company has a commercial that touches a social subject in the wrong way, or a major American airline handles a passenger a little rough, the 2017, social media savvy world is going to tear it apart. Both of these companies will recover (I think) and they will learn something from this.

 

As a voiceover business, you can learn from these public relations disasters. Here are my two takeaways:

 

When you play with fire, you will get burned.

A soda commercial shows a supermodel handing a police officer the soda and everything is all good. Nope, it’s not. And when you play with fire, you will get burned. It’s probably best not to take a heated social issue and make light of it, even if you have the best intentions. Respect the issue and the people involved. It is not a laughing matter to them and if you’re negatively associated with making fun, you could get hosed.

 

It’s 2017 and anything is fair game

When any company treats a customer poorly, there’s no hiding it anymore. Anything can and will be documented, including the words in this post. Choose your words and actions wisely, because they can and will haunt you. I advocate conducting your business with politeness and honesty to everyone you interact with. It’s a privilege to have a voiceover business and every day you exist, you should never take it as something less than a gift.

 

It’s unfortunate to see companies blunder on this big of a stage, but when you live by the sword, you die by the sword. If you conduct business like a jerk, it’ll probably come out eventually. So just treat all your customers and people in general how you want to be treated. Simple right? You would think so…

 

Thanks for reading. Share what you’ve learned in the comments!

What the Navy SEALs Taught Me About Life

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By Evan Schmitt

The other day, I had the good fortune of a last minute booking based on a recommendation. The client was the Navy SEAL Foundation and the event was a 5k run. Live event announcing gigs were some of my first paying voiceover gigs starting about 7 years ago. All was well and good, except I didn’t go into it 100% healthy.

But was I going to say anything? No and I wasn’t going to complain either. I’m surrounded by Navy SEALs! I knew better!

So what did I learn from this experience?

  1. You can grind it out. I had some nasal congestion that I was fighting. I was on some medication for it. I didn’t sound like myself but did it matter? Not so much because these people hadn’t heard me before. So I just had to summon the energy and get the job done. The free coffee drink sponsor for the event also helped me tremendously.
  2. Discipline and focus helps you. Most events I do, they run late. Awards run late and people usually complain. This event was different. Should we be surprised? No. It’s the Navy SEALs. We were ahead of schedule for everything. I left the venue before my projected time. I was home taking a nap with my dog before noon!

It’s always relative. The discomfort you’re feeling, the company you are around, everything. You always have good and bad days. If these were people I knew, I probably would have disclosed my mild congestion. But isn’t that just an excuse? And these military veterans are probably the last people you want to give an excuse to. So you pull it together and do it. Ride out the storm.

What are some experiences where you pulled through? Email them to me, evan@evanschmitt.com.

And if you enjoyed this short story, please share! Thanks for reading.

1 Thing You Need To Do To Sustain Your Voiceover Business

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By Evan Schmitt

You’re going for the next sale because getting paid to use your voice is a lot of fun. But wait, consider building a friendship before you just make the quick sale.

When you build a friendship, you build trust. You trust your friends, right? So when you meet a warm lead (potential client), don’t try hard to make a sale. Don’t even try at all! You could turn them away in disgust.

Instead, be a friend and be there when they need you. Introduce yourself and wish them a good week or weekend. I’ve had many gigs “fall out of the sky” because I met people (years before in some cases), stayed in contact and when I WAS NEEDED, they contacted me. I didn’t have to do any sales pitch, no Facebook or Google ads. I simply answered the call.

I don’t think that would have happened if I had aggressively tried to make a sale. When you hire someone, you hire people you like and trust. Spend time in your clients’ shoes and you’ll book more work. Open as many doors as possible and you will find work without auditioning. It just takes time. Humans drink when they are thirsty. Voiceover talent are only hired when they are absolutely needed.

Trust is required in business. Voiceover pro Dave Courvoisier even started a Facebook group that addresses trust and relationships within the industry. If you can establish trust between you and a client, do whatever you can to keep it.

My friend Bob Souer says voiceover is a great way to make a living, but it’s a terrible way to make a living quickly. Let your relationships grow. Don’t expect business to pick up overnight. Be nice, be useful and provide something of value and I assure you something good will happen.

Thanks for reading! If you found this useful, please share.

Beginner’s Guide to Your First Home Voiceover Studio

My Home setup.
My Home Setup.

By Evan Schmitt

You’re going to do it. You’re going to start doing voiceovers. You’ve been hearing it from everyone you know and you’re finally going to try it out. If you found this, you definitely were searching for something that would get you started.

Well, here is a quick little guide to help you get up and running on a small investment in your house. This is by no means a pro level set up, but the first step is the most important. Your voiceover career has to start somewhere. My career started in my house and yours can too.

Here are the 3 most important things to know for your first home voiceover studio.

The Space

Where you record is important. Pick the quietest place in your house. Make sure all the surfaces are soft. This means carpet on floors and blankets on walls and ceilings. Closets are great. Bathrooms are not. Soft surfaces absorb sound, which is good. Hard surfaces reflect sound, which is bad.

The Equipment

Anything electronic that can record you will suffice. This could be your phone, a usb microphone, a digital recorder or a full on microphone. Buy something within your budget that can record you. It’s even better if it can connect to your computer (laptop is ideal because it can fit in your closet with you).

You

The sound originates from you. This one is the easiest piece of the studio but it’s probably the most important. Once you get your setup running, have fun! Play around with everything (mic distance, moving your body while staying silent and creating the performance that is convincing). Learn how to make yourself sound good! Read other articles online about sounding good (Dan Lenard’s posts on voiceoverxtra.com is my recommendation).

You’re only as good as the sound you produce. But if you have a spot in your home that you can practice and play whenever you want, you will be one step closer to reaching your goals of voiceover awesomeness!

Like I said, this is just a start. This first setup is the perfect opportunity to make mistakes and learn as quickly as possible. If you earn money, invest in better equipment and space treatment. Hire someone to help you get better. Once you get your sound quality up and get a demo, you’ll want to get an agent.

Thanks for reading! If you found this useful, please share!

How to Get a Voiceover Agent

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By Evan Schmitt


As a voiceover talent, you should be marketing yourself everyday. If you’re not, here are three ways you can do it today.

So you want an agent?

First things first, do you have a professionally produced demo? No? Get professionally trained and get one produced. Yes? Great! If it’s a commercial demo, make sure it’s a minute. This is the industry standard and the agent on the other side of the conversation is very short on time.

The demo is absolutely required. I don’t know any agent who will talk to anyone without one. Your demo is how they sell you and they need it in order to sign you on their roster.

Once you have your demo, write a solid introductory email that is no more than three sentences. Say “hi, I’m a (union or non union) voice talent and I’m interested in joining your roster. My demo (and one page resume in PDF format if you have it) is attached for your convenience. Thank you for your time, (your name)”

That’s it. You can use that, just insert your info. Your demo will do the talking.

If they like you, they will write back.

Follow up every few weeks until you get a response. They will tell you yes or no eventually. Be nice either way.

The most important part is to show value. That’s what they want. Value they can sell their client. Write to as many agencies that invite submissions. Always read their guidelines if they specify. Never call them. Never get stuck on one agency. There are hundreds of agencies and one of them will sign you if you have something they need. Just keep knocking and someone will answer.

I love my manager and my agents. They are worth it because they will fight for you. They take care of you and go the extra mile. They are one more log in your voiceover fire. A log waiting to ignite.

Let me know your feedback and please share if you found this useful.