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  • what you need to know

    What you need to know to start your voiceover business

    After all the ups and downs he experienced, Jacques Belissant has definitely become one of the industry’s best voice artists. He has worked on a couple of well-known brands for commercial ads and a few famous video games, animation flicks, and TV shows. A lot of his colleagues suggested that he should start a company of his own.

    Incidentally, many of his friends and a handful of his fans have expressed that they would appreciate it if Jacques would help them in their careers. As much as Johnny would want to help, he couldn’t. It all boils down to the fact that Johnny has no idea how it is to start and put up a voice over business.

    The basics of setting up a business are pretty much the same for any industry. The only difference there is with starting a voice-over company is that you need to invest on equipment and proper knowledge first before you can ensure the quality of service you can offer. Then market your offer not just locally, but all around your country and in the world thanks to the power of Internet. 

    voiceover business

    We will look at six easy steps on starting a voiceover business. A lot of sources in the internet mention many different solutions, but  let’s try to make things easy for you. So, we have compiled them and summarized them so it would be explainable.

    1. The very first thing you need to do when you are planning on putting up your own business is ensuring that you have a workable home studio complete with the necessary equipment such as a good microphone, audio mixer, and a soundproof room. Not to forget the right editing software.
    2. As with any business, it is important to brand your business properly. Kay Miranda of Demand Media says that you have to create a logo that will represent your business. But, you can’t just create a logo right then and there. You have to consider how you want your business to be viewed as. If you are concentrating on commercial advertisements and announcements, then go for more conservative logos. But, if you are for dubbing and comedy, you can opt for more fun and vibrant logos.
    3. You should record a series of demos and then upload them in a server,  dropbox or similar; better still, become a member of a voice bank or just build your own website. You will upload the demos there to allow any potential customer not only listen but also download your samples. You should feel in a position that you are  your first customer, critical and objective about the service you can render, about the quality of the samples. If not sure, it’s always a good policy to ask for different opinions to friends, etc and even better get a voice coach to help you release the best of your voice. So record several good samples that will showcase your talents and skills and distribute it to a lot of agencies and producers to let them know of your presence.
    4. Aside from distributing your demo to agencies, through an e-mail for example you should also make the effort to create a working relationship as partners with companies that can give unique skills that you cannot offer at the table at the moment. This will increase your credibility and the chance of landing a good project as your services will be more varied.
    5. Lastly, a business is not a business without pricing involved. According to Vibhavari, the voice industry is a good place to earn good money and that you will not know your value until you quote your price. Quoting your price involves a lot of considerations. You may become shy about quoting your price which is why the first thing you need to consider is how the current rates of other voice talents go. This is to keep you on the safe side. Second, quote your price according to the volume of work, the cost of using the studio, and the time consumed doing all of it including the editing. Lastly, you should be flexible enough to deal with losing clients because of quoting too high or even too low. It is a learning experience so be prepared. You can check our related post about pricing.
    6. And last but not least, you should register your company so that it acquires a legal entity. It could be a one-man company easier to run but where your property is the guarantee against debts or a limited company more convoluted in paperwork but where your property and that of your family is protected. In both cases you need help from an accountant or a lawyer. It’s a sign of professionally to be able to invoice your voice-over jobs properly and you will see the interest of having a proper company in case you need to expand. Sooner or later you will have to buy a home studio, studio monitors, that expensive mike or make a good-looking website. Your savings from your VO work might not be enough so you will need a load from a bank. If you are a company with a proven record of profits, even though small, it will be easier to get that credit line and that’s deductible from taxes.

    So if you apply those steps chances are that you can start living off voice acting. According to Bill DeWees it’s realistic to think that if you have the right connections and of course good voice talent you can start earning as much as $ 2,000 a month. If you devote entirely to this business and get yourself noticed, that figure can easily rise. Some happy few earn as much as six figure monthly salaries because they get hired for national TV ads or movie trailers. Don’t miss this video…

    See? If you look at the big picture, you will see that starting your own company is very doable. All it takes is persistence.

    So, have you thought of it? What are your thoughts on starting a voiceover business of your own? Comment below!


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    1. February 19, 2013

      All great tips and certainly important pieces of the puzzle when starting your own voice over business.

      Another thing I might add to the list would be patience. This is not a get rich quick business. Overnight success, while much publicized for Ted Williams or Jake Foushee, is certainly the exception, not the rule!

      If you’re going to make it in this business you’re going to have to be willing to put in the time and work very hard. If you do those things, it can be a very fun and prosperous career!

      • constantino
        February 21, 2013

        Yes, it’s a long term investment that pays off at the end. I think that even if you do this activity on the side of a regular job, it’s really worth it, because voicing has an interesting “creativity” side that is very stimulating.
        If you end up living off VOs that’s great, but I believe the majority of talents today have other jobs or diversify their offer with other services.

    2. February 21, 2013

      Thank you for these articles. Although I have had the pleasure to make a living out of voice over jobs for several years now, I realize how good it feels to read about others’ experiences, something I am just starting to do via this professional social media. May I add for the benefit of the newcomers that I still face quiet periods but I make the best of it by working on prospects, promotion, pricing or stats. You would be surprised how the demos you sent even two years ago might bring you work unexpectedly.

      • constantino
        February 21, 2013

        Thanks Marie Elaine for your comments. Yes I think there is a kind of “solitary confinement” for many voice talents, who are most of the time alone in their home studios waiting for a customer. So social media and related sites are an open window where we can learn from other colleagues how to optimize our service offer, and yes diversifying your services as you do is the way to go. I think that a voice talent that is also able to edit audio and video, or capable of copy writing, translating etc has more chances to be active on the market.


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