Podcasts Voice Over Experts Setting Up a Voice Over Business
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Setting Up a Voice Over Business

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Stephanie Ciccarelli
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Join professional voice talent Alison Pitman of the UK in her second podcast lecture “Setting Up A Voice Over Business “. In this episode, you’ll discover five tips that will help you take the plunge into professional voice acting. Alison also shares that if you love what you do and believe in your talents, success is within your reach.

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Alison Pitman, UK Female Voice, Business, Voiceovers, Basics, Voice Overs, Voice Acting

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Alison Pitman

Your Instructor this week:

Voice Over Talent Alison Pitman

Alison PitmanBased in Bristol, voice actor Alison Pitman has voiced various projects for clients based all over the world recording professionally from her home studio in the UK. Known as “The Phone Voice”, Alison specializes in recordings for voicemail, on-hold messages, IVR and corporate narrations. Alison has worked for over 10 years in the film and television industries and played a role in the Oscar nominated “Little Voice”. In addition to her performance experience Alison Pitman has a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

Did you enjoy Alison’s episode? Leave a comment with your thoughts!

Julie-Ann Dean: Welcome to Voiceover Experts brought to you by Voices.com, the number one voiceover marketplace. Voiceover Experts brings you tips, pearls of wisdom and techniques from top instructors, authors and performers in the field of voiceover. Join us each week to discover tricks of the trade that will help you to develop your craft and prosper as a career voiceover talent. It’s never been easier to learn, perform, and succeed from the privacy of your own home and your own pace. This is truly an education you won’t find anywhere else.
This week, Voices.com is pleased to present Alison Pitman.
Alison Pitman: Hello and welcome to the second in my series of business podcast for voiceover artists and businesses. My name is Alison Pitman and this week, I’m going to take a step back a bit and talk about setting up in business. If you’re thinking of taking the plunge and working full time exclusively as a voiceover talent, hopefully this will give you some ideas and encouragement.
Here is the first five of ten tips to help start your voiceover business. Listen out for the final five in part two of this podcast next week.
Tip number one. Doing what you love.
This is often the first thing people think about when they consider setting up a business. Here is an opportunity to make a living doing something I really love and that I’m passionate about. I’m assuming that as a voiceover artist, you have that passion because anyone pursuing any creative business whether it’s voiceover or acting, film directing, musicianship, writing. If you don’t love what you do, you’ll find it so difficult to have a successful business with it. The creative industries are incredibly overcrowded and a really hard nut to crack and if you don’t have a love of what you do and a self-belief in your talents, then it will be a real struggle to make any money at all, let alone enough to support yourself and your family.
Also remember you’re going to be spending so much time and energy starting and developing your voiceover business. It’s really important to know now that you do truly enjoy what you do. Now, remember to keep this in your head when you hit the tough times.
So we now know you’ve got the passion. Now, stand back and think dispassionately. Can you turn your voiceover hobby into a profitable enterprise? Is there a market for your voice? This process of market research is probably something you’ve done already without realizing it. If you look hard enough even for the most unique, unusual voices, there will be projects and productions looking for a sound like yours. Ask yourself whether these projects will be often enough and lucrative enough to make a living from it. If not, what are your options? Change career? Or maybe take some training to develop your range and techniques as a voice artist to improve your employability.
Tip number two, the business plan.
It can be quite useful to write a business plan for your voiceover career. I must admit it’s not something I do straight away but it is a good exercise in focusing your mind getting in the professional mindset and defining exactly what you want to achieve, how and when. It’s also great to have them to refer back to as you business develops. You’ll find various general business plan templates available on the Web and also Voices.com have one which is designed specifically for the voiceover artist in mind. A business plan is also vital if you need to raise finance through a bank loan or overdraft for example. Investors want to see in black and white what they’re investing in. Finance also brings me to my next point.
Tip number three, finance.
How much money are you going to need? What you need it for and how you’re going to get it? With the credit crunch seemingly not wanting to go away, raising external finance through bank loans and investors isn’t as easy as it once was so you need to consider other options. Firstly, what you need the money for. Well to start with, you’re going to need cash to pay the bills and feed yourself until your business gets going. Some say that it can take about three years before a business gets really established and generates a decent income so having savings, an additional job or in my case like many others, a very understanding partner or spouse with a steady income.
So what else do you need finance for? A home studio comes high on the list of most voiceover artist. There have been plenty of articles, blogs and pods about home studio equipment and their cost which I’m not going to go over here. Suffice to say when you’re starting up, do you really need all that fancy gear? Start small and as your experience and expertise grows, then grow your equipment chain around that.
For my first voiceover job, I didn’t even have a proper microphone. I recorded into a Sony digital video camera and edited the audio using video editing software. Needless to say, the audio quality wasn’t brilliant but it got me jobs and I could build up my portfolio and my bank balance so I could afford better and proper gear. Have a look around the web and see what you can buy within your budgets, take a look at Harlan Hogan’s portable studio booth for example. For $129, what more could you ask for and he even has an article with instructions as to how to build one yourself. His website is HarlanHogan.com.
Think carefully and spend wisely. Do you really need ISDN facilities right away? So let’s take a look at other set-up costs.
Tip number four, business cards, website design, domain registration, hosting, office equipment, advertising and marketing costs and a whole host of others.
Work out what you really need now. What would be nice to have in the future? What can you really do without? Also, look at the skills you have now. What can you do yourself to keep costs down? Do you really need a website designer? Could you design a simple site yourself? Are there any goods or services you need that you could do in exchange for, for your voiceover services. For example, why not see if your local printers can get you some free business cards in exchange for you recording their voicemail greetings or website audio.
And always look around on the internet and the high street to get a good range of prices My final tip for this podcast comes under the general heading of professionalism.
Tip number five, be professional from the start.
Everything about you and the way you do business needs to let people know that you are a serious professional. Get yourself some business cards, a work phone number. Get your voice on the business line voicemail and a proper business e-mail address and get professional help. It doesn’t take long to realize that running a voiceover business isn’t all about being a voiceover actor. You are now responsible for a whole diverse range of activities, bookkeeping, sales and marketing, administration, some of these tasks would really benefit from expert help.
If you’re not an accountant, hire one. If you need to write a contract, why not hire a lawyer. This also applies to tax and legal issues. It’s an awful lot easier and often a lot cheaper to get these things sorted right from the start rather than try and to unpick the mess afterwards. Are you setting up as a sole trader or you registering as a business? These will have implications on the tax you’re liable for and the VAT you may have to pay. It’s worth seeking out professional help from your local tax office to get all the information you need and the forms that you need to fill in.
Consider joining professional organizations and unions. The recently created SaVoa organization, the Society of Accredited Voiceover Artists is a good place to start. Visit their website at Savoa.org to find out more. Unions vary from country to country, Equity here in the UK, Screen Actors Guild, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, AFTRA in the States and ACTRA in Canada. It may also be worth considering your local small business organizations where you can keep up to date with the latest in general business practices as well as providing a good avenue for networking.
I hope these first five tips were helpful and please, do tune in for the final five in my next podcast. Thanks for listening and if you would like to get in touch, please visit my website at ThePhoneVoice.com. Until the next time, bye for now.
Julie-Ann Dean: Thank you for joining us. To learn more about the special guest featured in this Voices.com podcast, visit the Voiceover Experts show notes at Podcasts.Voices.com/VoiceoverExperts. Remember to stay subscribed.
If you’re a first time listener, you can subscribe for free to this podcast in the Apple iTunes Podcast Directory or by visiting Podcasts.Voices.com. To start your voiceover career online, go to Voices.com and register for a voice talent membership today.

Stephanie Ciccarelli
Stephanie Ciccarelli is a Co-Founder of Voices. Classically trained in voice as well as a respected mentor and industry speaker, Stephanie graduated with a Bachelor of Musical Arts from the Don Wright Faculty of Music at the University of Western Ontario. For over 25 years, Stephanie has used her voice to communicate what is most important to her through the spoken and written word. Possessing a great love for imparting knowledge and empowering others, Stephanie has been a contributor to The Huffington Post, Backstage magazine, Stage 32 and the Voices.com blog. Stephanie is found on the PROFIT Magazine W100 list three times (2013, 2015 and 2016), a ranking of Canada's top female entrepreneurs, and is the author of Voice Acting for Dummies®.
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  • Stu Gray
    July 8, 2008, 5:38 pm

    Alison –
    Another Great Podcast! Thanks for the tips and thoughts.
    A great reminder that we can trade our services for other goods and services as well…!! Plus, hiring “administrative pros” to do what they are good at makes great sense… it frees me up to do the “Creative” stuff I want to do!
    Thanks again – I look forward to next weeks podcast!
    Stu Gray

  • Rick Lawrence
    December 18, 2013, 12:28 am

    Hi! Thanks for this wonderful opportunity to leave a comment! I’d like to ask a question! I’m an aspiring VO talent that has a wide range of skills in Vo and technical. I have studied and learned to create my own commercial VO demo, and have successfully gotten some bites and even two agents with it. However, over the past year, I was not able to afford the commute to the city for an audition I may not land, and put my agents “on hold” as I got a “day job”.
    I’m searching and searching on-line to try and focus my direction in one area for starters. On hold Vo’s. I am having a hard time trying to find a book or something to help me start a business in this. Any suggestions?
    I was thinking about e-mailing some local radio stations or maybe take it a bit farther (my demo) and offer my services for free, since I’m so new, just so I can gain some experience and be taken more seriously. I’m also an actor, and I enjoy doing voices all day long as a front desk receptionist for a clinic that specializes in the developmentally disabled and people with low to no income. It’s great, but I get paid very little. I feel it is time to get paid for my gifts. Any suggestions?
    Thanks for taking the time to read my comment. My wife would very much love to support me in this endeavor. Also, we just found out she is pregnant this morning (first time). She’s the RN, so I’ll prob be the mom at home lol. I have a home studio, and access to a professional recording studio that is often more quite than this apartment is. Sometimes it sounds like the 9 year old upstairs is wearing an iron man costume. yikes!
    God bless!