Strategic Planning and Business Development for the Professional Voice Actor
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated to reflect more recent findings via a Voices.com research report from 2020.
Getting into voice acting is one thing, but becoming a successful voice actor is another. Success requires thoughtful strategic planning. When you think about it, as a voice actor, you are essentially running a business. And, your business in turn require business development. Those are the activities that you pursue to build and continuously develop relationships.
Sometimes, you may be lucky enough to have ‘staff’ like agents, managers and other supporters to help you. But often, building the business – at least at the start – is a solitary endeavor.
So how can you work smarter, not harder?
To help voice actors answer how to become successful, Voices.com compiled internal data, as well as survey data collected from voice actors and coaches, to help bring best practices to the surface.
The following post is a synopsis of the key points and takeaways, but you can also view the full report, How to Become a Successful Voice Actor in our reports pages.
Top 3 Takeaways from the Voices.com Report on How to Become a Successful Voice Actor
For many voice actors, the acting is the fun stuff. And rightly so. If you didn’t have a passion and a talent for performance, you probably wouldn’t have embarked on this career. However, what separates a career from a hobby is having business acumen.
Here’s what we learned about what successful voice actors are doing to balance both sides of the industry – including how they manage talent development, home recording studio tech, auditioning and demo creation, and more.
1. Receiving Training and Coaching Can Increase Your Voice Actor Salary
There’s a reason why the industry cliche ‘practice makes perfect’ continues to be used – it works.
As a voice actor, there are many ways to pursue ongoing education so that you can turn your raw talent into pure gold. There are seminars, group classes, and of course, voice acting blogs to help you get started.
However, when it comes to taking it to the next level, voice actors are getting a lot out of selecting the right voice over coach. This is not only on a personal or artistic level, but also in a much more tangible, financial sense too.
On Voices.com alone, voice actors who list that they’ve received training:
- Make 13% more on a job-per-job basis
- Book 21% more jobs
As a further testament to the importance of ongoing education, voice over coaches also put their money where their mouth is too: 71% of coaches receive training themselves.
However, if you don’t have a coach nearby or live remotely, you can still access coaching (assuming you have a phone and/or the internet). When you’re searching through a voice over coach directory, there are many options to connect via online coaching.
2. Home Studio Tech Makes the Difference for Sound Quality, which Can Make or Break Landing Voice Over Jobs
Building a home studio can seem daunting, but, thankfully, it’s more affordable than ever.
Rather than cost, the most important aspect of setting up a home recording studio is actually ensuring that your recording software and hardware are user-friendly and bring out the best in your voice.
Find the Best Microphone for You
When it comes to your performance, what is more personal than your voice? Microphones aren’t made to be one-size-fits-all. In fact, 25% of voice actors said that they chose their mic by trial and error.
Top Microphone Brands
The fact that ‘miscellaneous’ makes up 23% says something – microphone choice is as personal as it is crucial. Here’s How to Choose the Best Microphone for Your Voice.
User-Friendly Software Depends on the User
While no voice actor should rely on software alone to make or break their performance, there’s no denying that software makes a difference. Luckily, each major brand can offer you great quality audio – whether you’re looking for free audio recording software or are open to investing.
If you’re wondering what those major brands are and how they stack up against one another in the voice acting community, here are the top picks as indicated by professional voice actors.
5 Most Popular Audio Recording Software Brands
According to data on voice actor profiles on Voices.com, these are the most popular software programs:
- Adobe Audition (38%) (subscription $20.99 USD/month)
- Audacity (26%) (Free)
- Pro Tools (16%) ($24.92 – $599 USD)
- Logic (8%) ($279.99 USD)
- GarageBand (5%) (Free – Standard on all Macs)
Bonus: If you’re looking for additional signs of user-friendliness, or great technical support – you can also read more about the most popular audio recording software downloads.
Don’t forget about headphones!
“Imperfections in your audio prevent you from booking work,” says Julianna Lantz, Talent Manager, Voices.com. “Good-quality headphones are important as they allow you to catch imperfections before they get to your client’s ears. Find the perfect pair of headphones by testing them out at your local music store. Start by listening to the lowest cost pair of headphones and work your way up in price. It’s a really fun way to determine what headphones meet your budget and quality goals. Plus, it allows you to find a pair that’s also comfortable.”
View the full report to find the most popular headphone brands.
3. The Number of Auditions and Demos You Complete Can Influence the Success of Your Voice Acting Career – and So Can Your Voices.com Profile Setup
Winning Voice Over Auditions
If you want the best chance at winning the job, being choosey pays off. Being selective by auditioning only for jobs that you’re qualified for (e.g. noting language, style, vocal age, etc), is the first key to winning more auditions. But – so is the number of auditions you’re completing daily.
In fact, if you’re not auditioning at least 7 times a day, you may be missing out.
Voices.com internal data shows that voice actors who audition 7 or more times a day make approx. $20,000 more per year than voice talent who audition less.
A Complete Voices.com Profile Will Help Connect You With the Best Voice Over Jobs
It seems really simple – but it’s true: a fully filled in Voices.com profile will land you more auditions – in both quantity and quality.
“An incomplete profile will cause you to miss out on Voicematch points, Voices.com search results, and even keep your profile from appearing in Google. Voicematch needs a complete and accurate profile to ensure that you’re getting invited to work, and to let you know how well you’re matched for specific jobs. The higher your score, the higher you appear to clients in their audition responses.” – Cornelia Klimek, Product Marketing Manager, Voices.com.
Having More Voice Over Demos Equals More Voice Over Jobs and a Flourishing Voice Over Career
When it comes to adding voice over demos, more is more. In 2017, those voice actors who had 7 or more different demos uploaded to their Voices.com profile experienced:
- 290% increase in their hire rate
- 312% increase in their earnings
- 300% increase in being ‘favorited’ by listeners (Clients use the ‘favoriting’ feature when they want to short list demos as a way to stay organized and connected to voice actors whose voices they like.)
Tip: If you’re wondering why 7 seems to be the magic number, our full report helps to explain this interesting phenomenon.
About the Report Data
Data supporting this report has been assembled from four main sources:
- A 2018 survey of a sample group of over 100 Voices.com voice actor members and affiliated coaches.
- 2017 Voices.com data collected from information hosted on public profiles of voice actors (e.g. profiles that list equipment used, additional skills, etc).
- A 2015 survey of voice actors from around the globe. Approximately half of the respondents self-identified as a professional (52%), and half (48%) identified as a beginner.
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