Voiceover Blog

For our full, regularly-updated blogs please visit BigFish Media Voiceover Blog and Voiceovers by BigFish Media Blog.

Our blogs contain lots of useful information about how to run a Voiceover Business as well as frivolous tales.

While you are there please subscribe to it or follow us on Twitter @RickyBigFish.

Here are a few posts from the BigFish Media Voiceover Blog:

How to start your Voiceover Career

So by now you either have some experience of being an actor or a broadcaster. You have done your voice training and made your voiceover showreel. So what next?

Get yourself a good professional photograph as agents and some "pay to play" voiceover directories allow you to upload one. There are a number of voiceover directories which allow you to list your audio for free. They include Voice123, Voices.com, VoiceoverDirectory.com and Bodalgo.

However many of the free sites may not generate much work for you (or they may restrict how their site functions until you pay a fee.) Some also require you to record an audtion for every job that you bid for, thereby encouraging voiceover artists to constantly lower their fees to get the work.

The BigFish Media Voiceover Directory is found on the free (or organic listings) on one page one of Google for the highly-competitive keywords of "voiceover" "voice-over" and "voice over". That's why we charge a small annual fee to be listed.

We have dealt with the technical aspects of setting up your own home studio in other blogs on this site, but should you invest in your own home studio? Do you even have the space and peace and quiet for one?

Alternatively try to find a local studio (or another voiceover artist who lives close to you) who may let you use their studio for a reasonable price. Then at least you can find out if you are employable. If you find that you are getting lots of work it's time to invest in your own voiceover booth!

So what next? Contact local radio stations and video production companies. It is a time-consuming marketing exercise, but by the time you have a dozen jobs under your belt you will know what your strenghts are. Maybe it is obvious to someone else in the industry if not you.

If you get booked for lots of local radio adverts but no e-learning then maybe this is what you are best at and should focus your energies on persuing radio and TV commercial work.

Unless you are exceptionally talented - and very lucky - you will probably have to get 2 or 3 years experience of the voiceover industry under your belt before a voiceover agent will consider taking you on.

In the meantime keep at it and update your voiceover showreel - as you should improve with practise. You should also not bother to approach advertising agencies as they only deal with the best voiceover talent via voiceover agencies.

And remember, there are very few full-time voiceover artists - most combine being a voiceover artist with production, writing, acting or radio or TV work.

How to do Voiceover Networking

Running a voiceover business we know how important social media is to its success. You know: Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Linked In etc.

I have met a couple of real life friends through Facebook. We have also made a good few business contacts (both as voiceover artists and clients) the same way.

But this week we met a potential business partner through Twitter. In real life. And there I was thinking no-one actually reads what is posted there. How wrong can you be?

Anyway Phil runs a video production company also in Woking so we met for a cup of coffee and a chat about the day-to-day running and the challenges facing media production and voiceover businesses in 2011. We exchanged ideas and discussed how we might be able to help each other - or indeed work together - in the future.

It seems to have become the norm for people who live and work very close to each other to meet through an international medium of the internet.

Funny old world isn't it?

A Voiceover Challenge

Often here at BigFish Media we proud ourselves on being able to deliver voiceover files extremely quickly and meeting the most exacting of timescales but this week we had a request from a client which was hugely challenging.

The production company called us and asked for a "big voice" for a TV-trailer but they only had 3 hours left in the edit for the video and needed to add a voiceover to the video before they lost their edit suite.

I gave them a choice of half a dozen voiceover artists, they chose one; Richard, who scrapped his plans for the afternoon and was in our Voiceover booth within 90 minutes, did two takes of the script with 20 minutes that we had left on the clock.

Result: the client was delighted and we made the deadline!

How to get a Voiceover Agent

Are you looking for voice-over representation? Are you looking for a voiceover agent? As well as being a recording studio in Woking, Surrey BigFish Media may be in a position to offer you voiceover representation.

However we are a small agency and do not take on inexperienced voice artists. What's the point? We couldn't guarantee you any work and it is our reputation that suffers if you can't cut it in the booth.

If you are seeking a voiceover agent. Do not send us:

videos of you on youtube;
your radio presenter/disc jockey showreel;
you commentating on a football match or similar
or, and this one we had quite recently, a recording of you talking on the telephone. No agent will take you seriously again. Ever.

Just because you can present a radio programme doesn't mean that you will be any good as a voice-over artist. They are different, if related, skills. However it will give us some idea of your level of experience and what your voice sounds like. You will, though need to get a proper voiceover showreel made. This is something we can do for you. Please ask for details. Once you have your voiceover showreel made, then and only then should you think about approaching a voice-over agent

We have mentioned in previous blogs about how having a theatre, acting, radio or TV presentation or broadcast journalism background helps enormously – but you do need more. Can you take direction without getting uppity? Can you use your voice in different ways – albeit slightly. Can you read out loud and bring a script to life? Are you any good at sight reading? Sometimes you just don't get the time or opportunity to read a voiceover script beforehand.

If you are used to writing and reading your own scripts, how will you cope reading someone else's, badly-written, over-written or technical scripts. Can you read a voiceover script to time? This is often necessary to fit the words to the pictures of a video if it has already been cut. And - finally if you suffer from claustrophobia, forget it. Voiceover booths are often very, very small places indeed.

There's more to this voiceover lark than you might think.

Is a Good Voice Enough to be a Voiceover Artist?

Here at BigFish Media we get lots of enquiries about representation: things like "my mates think I sound like Barry White" but that doesn’t make you a great singer with star quality let alone a voiceover artist.

Ask yourself are you really the next Leona Lewis? Or are you more like Michelle McManus - or one of those deluded people, who we love to laugh at because they can't sing a note?

You won't stand a chance of making it without some sort of entertainment, broadcasting or acting experience. We do not take on voiceover artists who have no experience. Why would we? We could never get you a paying job.

Do you also have the ability to run a business? Can you do the paperwork, the accounts, the VAT returns? Do you have the determination to get the business in the first place let along chasing late-payers ? Do you have the technical ability - not only with your computer, but also your website and your studio?

Do you even have your own studio? Do you have the space to build for a studio? One which will meet the standards required? And are you prepared to stump up thousands of pounds on the equipment - upfront - before you have even earned a penny? It could be a huge gamble which doesn't pay off.

Having said that you could of course work without your own home studio but then you are reliant on using other peoples' studios or you have to be good enough (and famous enough) to get the really big voiceover jobs (which tend to use London studios).

There is plenty of money to be made by doing more jobs which don’t pay as much (or have as much glamour associated with them) - the best chance you have of making some sort of living inthe voiceover business.

On a broader note, why should we give free advice to someone who may become our competitor for a job? Time is money. But if you want to pay us for advice, then we are open to offers...

Do Voiceover Directories Work?

In short: Mostly Not.

Many of the voiceover directories are over-subscribed and any producer who is trying to find a voice is not very likely to pick you. You are just one of hundreds or thousands of voiceover artists who are listed.

Then have a look at how many of these directories are on the first couple of pages when carrying out a search for voiceover. Apart from the widely-respected voiceovers.co.uk there were none. In fact, just searching today I got to page 5 before one voiceover directory was listed.

When I tentatively started pitching for voiceover work in 2002, I got listed on as many free voiceover sites as I could. Then plucked up the courage to spend some actual real money on voiceovers.co.uk; my first voiceover gig followed shortly afterwards.

There are dozens and dozens of directories: Voice123 (voiceover artists bid for the work - how low will you go?); Voices.com; Opuzz; BigTalent; thevoiceoverdirectory.com; the voiceworks; voicefinder.biz and Bodalgo. As far as I know I only secured one client (who spent thousand of pounds) from all of these websites combined. They are free for a reason.

And then there is another site which I discovered recently called voicejockeys.com with a 50 per cent commission rate and terms and conditions from the dark ages.You do wonder how many of these voiceover websites have your interests at heart. Or do they just treat you like a number as fodder for their own potential clients?

From my own experience, it's much better to spend your money on your own decent website and pay for Google Adwords. In the short term, this is the only way to get onto page 1 or 2 of Google.

However, the BigFish Media website is now near the top of page one of Google in the organic (free) listings - thanks to regular blogging, a good reputation (gained through hard work, repeat business and client satisfaction), using social media, (Twitter, Facebook, Linked In etc) and six months of dedicated work by the team behind our Search Engine Optimisation process.

And we don't have to pay for adwords anymore.

Now all we need to do is work on the SEO for podcast production...

You Need A Voiceover Showreel to get a Voiceover Agent

As a Voiceover Agency we are often bombarded by Voiceover Artists and would-be Voiceover Artists seeking representation.

TV presenters, radio presenters, newsreaders, journalists, travel presenters, DJ's, actors and actresses send us their showreels. Some are good, some are bad. Most are average and the vast majority add nothing to the overall sound that we can offer our clients; they just sound similar to someone who we already represent. And then occasionally there's the great demo!

What has surprised us - though - is the number of appalling "voiceover showreels". Reading the news on the radio doesn't make you a voiceover artist, so why include it in your showreel? Reading the travel news doesn't count either. Or reading excerpts from a Shakespearean play.

Sometimes we will reply to an email from someone wanting to be represented, request a showreel, and then never hear back from them. Ever.

But often we hear voiceover showreels which aren't voiceover showreels at all: they're a couple of voice clips recorded on a bad microphone on a laptop or even - once - on the telephone! We hear from people with bad lisps, speech impediments or terrible diction.

Then there is the monologue showreel which sounds like it's recorded in the bathroom.

If you don’t have a great voice, or a great presence at the microphone, you will never make a great voiceover showreel. However if you have the first two we can make the great voiceover showreel for you.

But please, stay off the laptop. And out of the bathroom.

Just Another Voiceover Directory?

Did you know that in April 2004 the government made it illegal for voiceover agents to charge up-front registration fees?

If you are seeking a voiceover agent make sure that you are not charged a joining or registration fee. Neither should you be charged a monthly or annual membership fee. There are a lot of websites which do charge a monthly or annual fee but these are either Voiceover Directories or dodgy agents who will take your money and not find you any voiceover work. Ever. They are not bona fide voiceover agents.

Due to the overwhelming demand for the BigFish Media Voiceover Agency, we have now launched our own Voiceover Directory. As a a Voicover Agecny we do not charge an annual fee; we do take a 20 per cent commission but only on work which we secure for you on a non-exclusive basis. However we do charge a small fee to be listed in our Voiceover Directory.

So, you may think, "Oh no not another directory!" but the difference between us and all the others (except for one), is that we are at - or very near the top - of page one of Google when you search for the highly competitive keywords "voiceover" or "voice-over".

We have invested in our website, we have invested in Search Engine Optimisation and this month we have had over 2,700 hits. It's time to invest in your voiceover career; our half-price introductory offer can't last forever.

How Voiceover Agents Earn Their Money

One of the jobs of a Voiceover Agent is to go through all the voiceover reels that they get sent (mostly via email these days rather than CDs in the post). They then have to choose the voiceover artists, who they think, they can make money from.

The first thing - the very first thing - that you will need is a professionally-produced Voiceover Showreel. If you don't have one you will never, ever get a Voiceover Agent. Just because you are presenting programmes or reading news or travel bulletins on the radio or tv, doesn't make you a Voiceover Artist. We don't want to hear you broadcasting because our clients don’t want to hear it. They want to hear what you might sound like selling or promoting their product.

There is only one instance in which this is useful - and that is in assessing whether we can make you a voiceover showreel.

Many voiceover agents won't even reply to unsolicited voiceover reels, so do bear with us if it takes a few months to reply. It's hard work - and long hours - running any business and this aspect of the job is a low priority. Don't be offended, that's just the way it is.

Voiceover Agents listen to many Voiceover Showreels from many “would-be” Voiceover Artists and make their decision to listen further within the first few seconds. If they like what they hear on your voiceover showreel and take you on, there is no guarantee that you will get any work -let alone regular work - as a voiceover artist.

The agent handles the details of the booking and negotiates contracts and your fee. Most Voiceover Agents take a 20% commission.

Potential employers rely on the Voiceover Agent as a “filter”; they know that Voiceover Agents are bombarded by people wanting to get into the voice-over business, most of which are not talented enough or ready to break into it yet.

Even as an existing voice talent, it’s still difficult to get a Voiceover Agent; most try to keep their pool of voiceover artists to a manageable size. They will also want variety among their performers; they won't represent a voice or style that they already have. These are the two main reasons for rejection.

However if you cannot break into our represented voices, you could invest in your career by buying space in our Voiceover Directory.

How To Write Your Voiceover Script

If you are looking for a voiceover artist to record a voiceover for your radio or TV ad, website or corporate video or podcast, for your finished product to be effective, firstly you need a good script.

No matter how good the voice talent is, if they are reading a badly-written script, your potential clients aren't going to get the most out of your project if they are unable to take in the information which you want to convey.

There is a huge difference between writing for a newspaper or online and writing for broadcast. Or to put it another way you need to write for the ear not the eye. And it's not as easy as it sounds. The voiceover script needs to flow easily, be conversational and not be full of sub-clauses or long, complicated sentences. Your sentences need to be short and to the point.

If you, while reading this blog, doesn't quite get a point at first or mis-understands an idea, you can simply re-read it. With the broadcast media - and your voiceover - you don't have that luxury.

A bizarre phone call about voiceover work

Sometimes life as a voiceover artist and agent is exciting: you never know how the day is going to turn out or what challenges and riches await.

Other days it is just bizarre.

So there I was in the garden, gardening (and saving money by not employing the services of the gardener) when I got a call from a guy who we will call Mark so claimed to be, let's say, Leeds. We have a chat: what's the voiceover price for a job and what's the project etc. We agree a fee and he will email me the script. He is surprised that I can deliver by tomorrow lunchtime, so I thought here's another potentially happy customer.

A few hours later there is still no email, so, after checking my spam inbox, I call him. Mark must have been on the phone because it was one of those annoying "I am busy, call back later" answerphone messages that don't allow you to leave a message. This is my first alarm bell.

A while passes and I call him back again and speak to the same guy (at least it sounds like the same guy) who denies being Mark. Bemused I hang up.

How to find a Voiceover Artist

What do you normally do when your client comes to you and asks you to find them a Voiceover Artist?

Do you point them towards an agency and let them get on with it?

Perhaps you suggest hiring the voice you hired last time, to save the trouble?

Or maybe you panic about the best way forward, perhaps even by trying to convince them that they don’t need one for their project, and that it’s strong enough to speak for itself?

If any of the above seems familiar then you’re not alone, but it doesn’t have to be quite like that. In the same way that technology has revolutionised the business of making video in the last decade, that same technology has seen a quiet revolution in the world of the Voiceover Artist.

The equipment to produce professional audio doesn’t cost what it once did, and this has meant that more “voices” than ever are working from home studios and marketing themselves either outside, or as well as, traditional artiste/agency relationships. I know because I’m one of them.

Voiceover Artists all over the world now use the internet to find, or attract, work, whether through their own websites like BigFish Media, or via one of the online casting directories like voiceovers.co.uk.

If your client is on a budget, then cutting out both the agency fees, and the time and cost of taking your talent into a production facility with an engineer, could make an attractive difference to the balance sheet. Not only that, but the quality of the finished audio might well surprise you.

Of course you need to do your homework. The lower the bar of entry, the more any profession becomes attractive to those who don’t necessarily possess the skills to do it justice.

But the beauty of the internet is that you and your client can check out what you’re likely to get back before you engage a voiceover talent. You can even ask for a sample as an audition. Most voiceover artists will be happy to record a part of your script and deliver it in a format of your choice.

If you get them to do that, then you’ll know exactly the quality of the end product, including the voiceover artist’s delivery, technical quality and editing skills.

What should you expect to pay? Well, the price range varies hugely. On some casting sites you might be lucky and pay well under the £200 or so that’s still perceived to be the ballpark hourly rate you’d pay for taking your talent into a studio.

But make sure you do that homework: if you don’t, then that £45 voiceover track that seemed like such a bargain at the time might not turn out to be all it promised.

It’s still true that in voiceovers – as in life – you generally get what you pay for. Buy cheap, buy twice. And if you’re paying £200 for your voiceover artist, but not paying the traditional associated costs on top, that is still a huge saving.

Check that your agreed rate includes things such as preparation time, session fees, studio costs, de-breathing editing and file transfer. BigFish Media will do all these for you.

Check the talent’s policy on re-takes or amendments in case there’s anything that you or your client aren’t happy with. Don’t be afraid to ask for a written quote. And make sure you have agreed any usage fees, if appropriate.

It’s true that not every project needs a voiceover, but the next time that one does, take heart: With a bit of care, and with the help of the internet, Voiceover Artists from all over the world are now well within your reach.

How to be a Voiceover Artist

Every week we get many people calling or emailing for advice on a voiceover career, so I thought it worth posting this.

So how do you become a voiceover artist? How do you get to be as good as the people who do voice-overs for radio stations and provide the voices of so many commercials?

Well do you know who they are and what they do? Why do you want to become one? Why do you think you can do it as well or better?

Things for you to do and think about. What you need to do first?

Get involved with your local hospital radio station. It will give you technical experience, experience in front of the microphone: everything you will need to give you a thorough grounding in using your voice.

Do you have a local theatre group or amateur dramatic society? Find them and volunteer, voiceover work IS ACTING!!! Even the simplest voice over requires performance skills.

Do you have a mobile phone? Change the voice mail message on it every day, try to impress people with it. Make a note of what works for your voice-over and what doesn't.

Find someone to whom you can regularly read a story. If you're good at characters, well a good story will give you plenty of opportunity to prove it.

Do you want to go on a course and get some professional voiceover training? They'll teach you how to get the best out of your voice.

Enthusiasm is great and it will get you through the tough times, but a space shuttle pilot got to sit in his seat through a combination of training, experience, dedication, enthusiasm and hard work now you must do the same.

I suspect like most people keen to follow a career in voice-over work you would like to phone someone up tomorrow morning and be paid to voice something for them tomorrow afternoon. I've never known that happen for anyone. Now it's time for you to put in the work.

A good, clever or flexible voice is only rung one on a very long ladder. Imagine I am a producer and you need to give me a reason why I should use you in preference to someone else, what would you say? You can't say good voice, good impressions, good at accents; the other guy has got that already.

Work in the voiceover industry can be feast or famine and in the early days it will be thin on the ground, you just need to keep telling people that you are out there. Remember it is not a salaried job so if you don't work, you don't earn. There can be travel involved depending on what voiceover work you are doing.

With the right equipment it is possible to work from home but you will need to find the space for an office and voice-over booth. You can set yourself up for about £4,000. You will need to buy at least one computer and printer, an ISDN codec, editing software (eg Pro Tools or Adobe Audition), Microsoft Office and a decent microphone (Neumann are the best by far but very expensive).

Using ISDN technology you can be accessed live from around the world; most local radio commercial voiceovers are recorded this way. If you are working alone from home (especially without an agent) you will need the drive and determination to succeed, as well as being your own IT expert, accountant, office manager and marketing manager. Just having "a good voice" is not nearly enough.

You will then need to build up your voice-over contacts book, market yourself using the internet, the phone and email. It is possible to break in, and there are lots of people who will give you a first chance, but if you try before you are ready you could very easily blow it. Producers of voiceovers talk to one another so your first session could also be your last.

Practice reading aloud, record yourself, listen to voice-overs on TV, radio, film and ask yourself why they are good or bad. Could you have done better?

BigFish Media are happy to produce your voice-over showreel and put it onto CD for you. Please contact us for details. Any demo longer than a minute is too long. What are you going to put on it? That's up to you, but before you decide, get advice from the experts.

Being considerate pays off

Sometimes finding work when you are self-employed can come from the most unexpected sources.

Through a strategy of a good new website, advertising using Google Adwords and a great guy who does most of our seach engine optimisation work (to get the website listed high up on the google free - or organic - listings), BigFish Media is now proudly on page one. It's very rewarding and has taken most of last year to acheive.

It is because of all these things that clients find our voiceover services. However, a great source of new unexpected work came through a most peculiar route: My parnter had his hotmail account hacked and lost all of his contacts and emails. All of his contacts were then emailed with a link which threatened to do the same thing to them.

So, being the nice guy I am, I emailed all the contacts to tell them to ignore the email and delete it. One of them then returned the email offering me some lucrative presentation training work with an international law firm.

Funny old world eh?

Broadband Troubles

Terrific! On Tuesday afternoon the broadband connection to my office went down. Completely. It had been playing up all morning, but then after one of those wonderful “power cycles” to try to solve the problem, the internet failed. Completely.

How can you run an internet-based business without the internet? Quite Tricky.

Why the phone line (on which the broadband is carried) still works is a mystery to me – and my neighbour – who had the opposite problem a few months back.

After a frustrating call routed via India and a guy instructing me on how to diagnose the problem which involved a series of increasingly bizarre questions, a screwdriver and the BT socket, he gave up and transferred me back to the UK.

Eventually a nice man from BT was promised on Thursday morning who would come out to fix the problem on what the nice woman in Southampton called ” a free visit”. Quite why she was so pleased to speak to someone else in “the south” I don’t know. I was going to ask, and then reminisce about my seven years living there (working for BBC Radio Solent and Ocean Sound/Power FM) and my first ever professional voiceover engagement in Eastleigh, but I decided against it.

True to their word a nice little man from BT turned up today, got out his screwdriver and laptop, fiddled about under my desk and the mass of wires there and eventually diagnosed a faulty filter. He then apologised and said he’d have to charge me for the filter. (That’s fair enough I thought). Oh and for his time. So which bit of the this was a “free visit”?

Still, I am delighted that the voice-over business is back up and running again. Now to that backlog of emails….

Voiceover Artists are cool

According to new research, conducted by MSN, being a Voiceover Artist is among the ten coolest jobs. Working as a Voice Actor, as the Americans seem to prefer to call it, is the tenth coolest job to have. How lucky are we?!

How often should a Voiceover Artist record a new Voiceover Showreel?

If you are inexperienced or if you’re on your first or second voiceover showreel, wait until you’ve done a few paying jobs. That extra experience will help, because with voiceovers, there is a very steep learning curve in the beginning. Your next voiceover showreel will already be much smoother and your skills will be improved even after such a short time.

I’ve worked with many voiceovers who are still new to the game, and after a few rounds in studio, it’s like they’re a different voiceover. More confident, better and really starting to find their own style.

Experienced Voiceover Artist

Once you’ve had a certain amount of experience, the learning curve isn’t as steep anymore. Now you just have to make sure your voiceover showreel is “acting your age”. You don’t need to re-record your showreel every year.

You can refresh your existing showreel every couple of years or so. Do some simple editing, adding new voiceovers you’ve done and take out some of the older work.

New Voiceover Showreels

Then, commpletely re-record a new voiceover showreel every four years. Too often I’ve heard people sound really young on their demo, and then when you get them in studio, they sound nothing like they do on their showreel.

If your voiceover showreel is letting you down, if you recorded a showreel that you were never really happy with or if you aren't getting booked any more, do it now!

How does a Voiceover Artist get a Voiceover Agent?

92% of the voice-over talent said have an outstanding demo.

Research the standards for demos in the genres you plan to create them in. Use top quality national copy that is customized for your voice. Do not self direct; rely on the expert skills of a trained coach. Do not self produce. Hire a skilled producer who is known for their work on voice-over demos.

84% of the voice-over talent said have a great resume of coaches and instructors.

Having had the right teachers speaks to your ability beyond the highly produced demo. Each coach should have a clear area of expertise. One coach may not be all you need. Many talent find that training with a variety of coaches helps them to fast track their goal of landing a big agent.

75% of the voice-over talent said have a great referral.

It’s important to have friends. Other voice-over talent are not only a wealth of hints and advice but they may be your golden ticket to a high powered agent. But choose wisely; a referral needs to be someone the agent works with and respects.

Marketing is crucial, even if you have a Voice-over Agent

One of the greatest myths in the voiceover industry is that all it takes to be successful and “make it big” is get on a major agent’s roster. There is a lot to be said for working with a well-known and reputable agent but, an agent is not where the buck stops. The most successful voice artists are those who actively employ agent-driven marketing as well as their own.

A lot of talent rest on their laurel’s and say; “I’ve made it now that I’ve got an agent! I never have to look for work again.” Voice Artists who fall into the trap of believing their agents mean they don't have to get their own work are living in a fantasy world.

The Truth

Agents do create and distribute marketing materials using a variety of the latest technologies to reach industry professionals who might hire you. These marketing efforts are not usually specific to any one talent on the agent’s roster. These efforts exist to bolster the agency as a whole. This is why individual marketing is critical.

Every Voice Artist should take steps on their own to bring attention to their unique skills and abilities with or without an agent! Working in conjunction with and communicating with your agent is crucial to get the best results.

In most cases your agent will even offer their advice when it comes to creating the best possible presentation, and why wouldn’t they? Any marketing you do benefits you both!

The Plan

If you don’t have a marketing plan, there’s no time like the present. Instead of putting unnecessary pressure on your agent to be the sole source for new clients, try taking a more pro-active route.

Direct mail campaigns, website advertising, newsletter blasts and blogs are all proven and effective ways to promote your voice. Set aside a small percentage of your earnings for a marketing budget to help you accumulate the funds needed.

Then consult your agent, a voiceover marketing expert and other voice talent about where your money is best invested. Don’t try to blanket an industry; chose proven, targeted methods. If your material is well presented and you give your marketing campaign time to work – it will work!

Dealing with late Voice-over payments

If your day to day billing system is in order then collections can be a very easy process. Most voice-over artists waste time dealing with collections because they are not prepared to collect late payments. That part is easy to fix. What may not be so easy to fix is your mindset about collections. Never assume that a client is going to pay you on time.

Clear Policy

Firstly, have a clear policy regarding clients who fail to pay for their voice-overs in a timely manner. This policy should be available on your website or by request. Make sure that all new clients receive a copy of this policy along with their first invoice. You may even want to ask them to sign and return it or otherwise acknowledge that they received it.

A typical policy might state:

All first time clients are expected to pay in advance of the first voice-over.

After first successful payment, clients will automatically have a 30 day credit system to use for placing future voice-overs.

Future jobs must be paid within 30 days of the date of the job. If a client’s account should become more than 90 days overdue their account will be shut down and all voice-over work suspended.


Should a client bring their account to good standing after a 90 day period, all credit privileges will remain revoked. If the client wishes to re-instate recording privileges, all future jobs will require payment in full, in advance.

The Next Step

Next, create ready to send, draft collection letters. You’ll need three total; one each for accounts that are 30, 60 and 90 days past due. Each letter should be cordial but firm in an attempt to collect a debt. If you’ve never seen a collection letter search for samples online and check Microsoft’s template website for examples.

Once your drafts are complete you will need to set aside about two hours a month to review all the outstanding accounts in your billing system. Start with 30 day past due accounts.

This letter should be the mildest as it is a reminder; perhaps they forgot to pay or the original invoice was lost. Send this letter via email and attach a copy of the original invoice for your client’s convenience.

Worsening Situation?

Then move to the 60 day past due accounts and repeat the process. This letter should be a little more forceful. Lastly come the 90 day past due accounts. First send the letter stating that their voice-over account has been shut down after two prior attempts to collect. This letter should be sent via certified mail.

From that point forward 90 day past due clients should be called and email at least once per week until the issue is resolved.

After six months of attempting to collect a debt you will need to make a decision; either, turn the account over to an outside collection company or attorney, or write it off as bad debt on your taxes.

Writing Off Debt

Writing it off is usually the better option as further collection attempts will only cost you more time and money and aggravation. You’ve lost enough of both by this point.

Depending on how large your database of voice-over clients is, you might want to consider outsourcing your collections all together.

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