About 20 years ago, when I was first starting out in voice over, I was in a guest director promo/trailer workshop at Voice Trax West. The prodigious Beau Weaver was the featured speaker on one of the five 3-hour night sessions. He spent the last hour of his allotted time to talk about “a subject only 10% of you will get, but could lead each of you to a successful VO career”. He was speaking, of course, about self promotion (SP). It was a topic that spoke to me and made total sense. In fact, I attribute much of the success I have enjoyed in my career to it. However, the key to successful SP is to stand out from the crowd … to be different, original, and engaging.
Self promotion helped me before I even contemplated a life as a Voice Actor. Having started out as an on-air personality and Production Director in the radio industry, one of my main goals was to work for rock n’ roll stalwart KLOS in Los Angeles. After honing my skills for 8.5 years at Santa Barbara rocker KTYD, I decided to go for it. But, I knew I couldn’t just send in my demo tapes and hope for the best as they would likely get tossed onto the pile of other not-listened-to submissions. I had to get the Program Director’s attention, somehow. So, I took an old loafer, painted Nike logos on the sides, painted “Air Avery” on the top, put my demo tapes into the shoe, and placed it into a shoe box with a card that popped up when the box was opened which read “Just trying to get my foot in the door!”. Yes, it worked.
So, when Beau, started discussing SP, I knew I was going to be one of the 10%. Back then, it was a much more time intensive, and costly, endeavor to promote your career. First, you had to gather a mailing list. Then, you had to design your promotional material, have it printed, address each one, and add postage to each one. Though, it was well worth the investment as, with each promotional mailing, my career seemed to grow. Whether it was a full-color glossy postcard promoting my latest big gig, the occasional creative mailing designed to garner attention, or my quarterly newsletter “The Avery Update”, the mailings seemed to help. The idea was to consistently get my name in front of casting directors, producers, and other creatives who might be able to hire me. Though, I must say, it is also important not to overdo it. There is a fine line between regularly promoting yourself and being considered a nuisance, or worse, a spammer.
Today, the voice over industry is as competitive as ever. Technology allows for anybody, anywhere to become a voice talent. As a result, it is more important than ever to self promote. Even if you have an agent (or several agents) and/or a manager, they just don’t have the time or resources to properly promote you on a consistent basis. Fortunately, it is easier and cheaper to do SP than ever! First, you need a contact list. Anyone you ever audition or work for should instantly become a contact … so be sure to get their email address. However, all of your friends and family should also be on that list! You never know when one of them will have a project at work, or know someone who has one, that calls for some VO. Once you compile that list, you can now keep them apprised of your career, anytime, with an email blast. If you want to get fancy with it, you can put together an eye catching HTML email that you can fill with news, images, and links to make it even easier for your contacts to keep up with your progress as a voice talent. Best of all, creating and sending HTML emails is relatively cheap (or even free) and easy, yet can make you look very successful and leave a powerful impression. Constant Contact, MailChimp and ReachMail are just a few of the services out there that offer inexpensive or no-charge HTML email.
Social media is another tool for SP that wasn’t available to us when I started. If you aren’t on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, Google+, etc. to promote your VO career you are missing out on a huge, FREE, opportunity to get your name and career out there. These are the outlets to share every new professional accomplishment or milestone. Plus, they are great places to connect with other folks, be they talent or creatives, who can offer you advice if not actual auditions or work.
Blogging is also another way you can get the VO industry to notice you. Whether you are recounting your daily interactions with producers, agents, and other talents, or offering advice to other voice actors, blogs are a great way to share your career with the world. I can personally attest that it works … after all, you are here reading this, right? 😉
Much like the three most important things in real estate are “location, location, location”, SP can truly be the most crucial aspect to a successful business. And, don’t kid yourself. Each of us voice talents are a business. No one else is going to do this for us. So get busy … Promote! Promote!! Promote!!!
By Voice Actor Mark Avery