clients

The Scenario: Two Weekends in a Row

As a working mom, I try to only work on weekends under specific scenarios: if booked work comes in that the client specifically Laura Thinking about itneeds over the weekend, if I get a direct audition for the weekend, or if it is something like my blog which I generally do while my kids are asleep. Otherwise, the weekend is cherished family time. So, if a client tells me they need something over the weekend, I am generally pretty sympathetic that they have someone on the other side who needs something and has a deadline. It happens that both last weekend and this weekend I had bookings come in over the weekends. While I was delighted about both bookings, the one this weekend was much more pleasant.  I think the two bookings lend themselves very well to case studies on what makes an ideal voice over client to work with and what makes a client a little more challenging.

Client A

Earlier in the month a client I have worked with before reached out to me with a small budget for a local TV and Media campaign.  After a lot of back and forth, we came to a price we could both live with. It took quite a while for the scripts to come in. Of course I When you really want to say somethingfinally heard from them Friday evening. I confirmed receipt of the script and asked Client A if Monday by midday was okay and they said it was needed over the weekend. Normally I would add either a “RUSH” fee or a weekend fee, but we had negotiated and the budget was low so I could not do that here. The other snag was that the client only sent one script. We had negotiated a bulk rate assuming that I was recording at once, and sending everything piecemeal was not a great start.

Client A is in a different time zone. The client is quite slow to respond to questions I have or to give any feedback when audio is sent. I sent all audio Saturday and did not hear anything back until Thursday. Typically when I deliver finished audio I invoice, but as this was just one of four deliverables, I could not invoice for the first TV spot until the entire slow moving project is complete.

Client B

My experience with Client B has been very different than my experience with Client A. I met Client B when I presented at an eLearning conference in June online. We had a follow up Zoom and the work that came in on Friday evening was also a long time coming. Like Client A, Client B also sent this booking in the evening on Friday. Also like client A, Client B was in a different time zone but in the other direction, so their workday would start before ours on Monday. In this case, Client B did not specify that they needed the work by Monday. In contrast, I was excited to get the ball rolling.

Like Client A, Client B sent clear specs and a sample. Unlike Client A, Client B, was very easy to communicate with. They answered all questions promptly and were extremely clear and direct. Client B is an international client who also needed copy writing services. Again, the ease of communication made this go extremely smoothly. I invoiced when I delivered the finished audio as I typically do and Client B paid within an hour of delivery. They also sent three follow up emails the team reviewed the files that I sent. I felt as though I were in Italy listening with them. It was great to be part of the team like that.

What Made All the Difference?

As I think about it, working on Saturday was not the problem. Subtle contrasts between Client A and Client B made the experiences quite different. I made this chart to help make the nuances more clear. Please see below:

Client A Client B
Asked for work on weekend    X   X
Sent Sample     X    X
Sent Specific Specs    X    X
Easy to Correspond With      X
Needed Copy Writing To    X
Gave Specific and Timely Feedback      X
Self Directed     X    X
Paid Promptly     X
Overall Felt Like were on the Same Team      X

It is much easier to work with responsive people. It is also much easier to work when you feel that your work is valued. Everyone works at their own pace, and as the voice over actor, I cannot control the pace at which the scripts are sent to me. Even though I ask that revisions come in within 48 hours in my terms at the start, I try to work with all clients, even if they pace the projects differently. While it does not feel good to have it dragged out, when I saw the first cut of the first commercial, it turned out great. The client was really nice and was working with a large team.  I understand that the client cannot always control pace.

So, in the final analysis, what steps can I come up with as a business owner to have more interactions be like those with client B?

  • Be clear about my terms at the start.
  • Always maintain a professional demeanor.
  • Maintain industry standard rates and never devalue myself.

When those are in balance I am doing my part to protect my interests, and I have to have hope that the clients will do their part as well. If all is in balance, then yes, it is worth making the effort to accommodate clients over the weekend!

On this Sunday morning, lets’s grapple with this question:  if there’s a low barrier to entry in voice over, what defines a pro?

Spending more time in Facebook Groups These Days

Like many in the voice over industry, I have been spending more time than ever on social media these days, especially on FaceBook. I long for human connection and to feel part of our beloved community, and frankly I enjoy the banter more than ever. Yesterday this post from highly esteemed coach and casting director MaryLynn Wissner caught my attention:

There’s a lot to this. We work in an industry where you don’t have to come from a career in theater or on camera work to get started, though many did study performing arts in school, pivoted for a first career, then returned to voiceover.  I, myself, was a History teacher. Christian Lanz was an architect. Maria Pendolino worked in finance. Dana Hurley was a pharmacist. The list goes on and on, and there is nothing wrong with changing careers and bringing all of those skills with you into your business in VO. The question that is being asked here, is what is the difference between a guy who buys a plug in mic and a membership on a pay to play and calls himself a “professional” and then has the credit of having some good coaches, the benefit of being in good company, and an actual working professional? To me, if working with the best of the best in coaches is removed as a criteria in defining a pro, than we need to look to a voice over actor’s website, testimonials, bookings/credentials, and social media standing.

The Website

Put simply, the website is our storefront. More than our business card, our website is our calling card. It not only houses our demos, it is the voice actor’s place to showcase actual booked work. We can display our business philosophy. We can post testimonials. We can make it easy for clients to find us. This is how we create a sense of our brand. And a voiceover professional, unlike an amateur, has all of these things: sample of work across genres, a brand, comments from clients. Joe Davis and Karin Barth were recently interviewed on the “Middle-Class VO Podcast” talking about what sets voice over actor’s websites apart, in terms of what makes them professional and what makes them findable by google. The entire podcast can be found here:

 and Joe’s main words of wisdom are that the “website needs to work on whatever device….making sure that they are mobile compliant of mobile responsive….in today’s world more than half of web traffic is mobile.” A telltale sign of an unprofessional talent is one missing key information on their website, missing demos, with demos named improperly, or with a site that is not mobile responsive.

Testimonials:

A professional talent has an abundance of testimonials. Period. They should have them proudly displayed on their website, on LinkedIn, on whatever Pay to Plays they are on, and likely they share them on social media. Testimonials are not difficult to get. Happy clients who have just received pristine audio are typically delighted to provide them. My very first voice coach, Anne Ganguzza, told me how important it was to get testimonials! She asked for one from me about our work and gave me my very fist one. A voice actor without testimonials is likely not a professional voiceover actor.

 

 

Street Cred

Ok, I am talking about a solid client list with proof. What is proof? Samples of actual work that has aired. If a voiceover actor does not have samples of work in the genre or clients in a specific genre they have not likely worked in that genre even if they have a demo for it. The exception to this is likely eLearning as so much eLearning is proprietary content. Where can you find samples of work voice actors have done? Booked and finished work is typically prominently displayed in places like voice actor’s websites, YouTube pages, facebook, LinkedIn, ispot.tv, sometimes imdb, and more. So, a real, actual working professional has a body of produced work that they can easily share with anyone who wants to see it.

Social Media

Typically actual working professionals are active on social media as networking is really important. We typically post finished jobs, especially when these jobs have been done for large, recognizable brands. We love to share these clients on Facebook and Instagram. Often we have large social media connections and followings as well. YouTube is another sign of a voice over professional. Typically we post samples of work here. Many of us have videos about our professional philosophy, showing our studios, discussing our work, and more. A lack of a professional social media presence is a major red flag.

The Flip Side

While I think it is clear how to differentiate a professional voice talent from a wannabe, there is, of course, a flip side to all of this. As there is a low barrier of entry and many do not depend on agents or entry to the union for job sustainability, there is a chance that amongst the many with a plug in mic and a computer our bookings ratios will go down and our community demographics will shift. One of my favorite talents who I had the privilege of spending a day with at a VO Revolution conference in 2016, Dave Fennoy, speaks to exactly this issue as the final thought that I leave you with:

Time to Reflect

At the years’ end, it seems like an additional time to reflect. I’m not sure if it’s the food coma induced by all the latkes and egg-nog lattes, or it is just the natural cycle of things, but it is a great time to look back on the best parts of the year and see how far this career I have worked so hard to build has come. So here is my countdown of top 5 best voiceover moments from 2019:

5. WoVo Con In October

Time with industry friends goes by way too fast!!

Without a doubt, WoVo Con is always worth the trip to Las Vegas! What do I love about this conference? Well, the superior sessions, seeing my VO besties, and an opportunity to build important voice over relationships. Over the years I have gone to some amazing sessions. This year I loved Everett Oliver’s session and I loved Brad Newman’s session. I was so happy to have time with Shelley Avellino and to see others like Dana Hurley, Jodi Krangle, Anne Ganguzza, J. Michael Collins, and the list goes on and on. I also had a chance to meet and get to know potential clients! I even went to dinner one night with an eLearning company that added me to their roster, so I enjoyed my time there and made every moment count.

4.Trip to Toronto adjacent to VO North in September

I had an amazing time in Toronto this fall! I had initially planned to be there for VO North, but instead I was adjacent to the conference and spent time with some my VO besties Dearbhla Trainor, Kim Handysides, and Shelley Avellino. We stayed at Derv’s and helped her get ready for the

From the front left is Kim Handysides, Shelley Avellino, me, and Dearbhla Trainor at a NY style diner in Toronto! We had s much fun.

conference. We got to see about of the city and have time together. Kim and I went on an adventure to the middle of no where together to visit clients. That was interesting. We also saw her family and her home town! It was absolutely amazing to have time with these spectacular women and I loved every moment of being with my friends and being in such a great city! Next year I will definitely stay for the entire conference.

3. Trip to LA for WWRS in March 2019

In March, 2019 I went to Burbank, CA for the World Wide Radio Summit. This was the same week as VO Atlanta, so I had to choose between the two conferences. I have been working so hard to grow the radio imaging side of my business and to be there to here the best in the business speak on amazing panels was so inspirational. In 2019, there were not one but two imaging panels, of both voice talents and program directors. To hear folks like Issa Lopez and Ashley Cavalier was a dream come true. These women are role models for us all and they set the bar really high. Their work is incredible and they have achieved so much. I also met people from all over the world, wether they were from across the pond or across the country. To have entire networks like iHeart and Sirius represented was just amazing and the folks that I met were so nice. I have enjoyed keeping in touch with them.

2. Collections are Complete

As a small business owner, it is a pretty major accomplishment to be totally on top of my collections.  Just because I am able to mark this is a goal that I have met does not mean that this was an easy feat. It has taken diligence, patience, and commitment. Most clients are very kind and well-intentioned. Some of these kind clients pay right away. Some are just busy with work and life and forget to pay and need a friendly reminder. But you know what else I have learned as a business owner? Not everyone is nice. Some people do not want to pay even when they are happy. Why? Because they are not nice. So they make small business owners jump through a million hoops to chase them down for money in hopes that we would rather just disappear. This year my multi-pronged approach, wich combines friendly reminders from me with an attorneys letter at the 90 day mark was the right combination. I am thankful.

1. Amazing New Clients and Stayed on Pandora’s Roster

I am so thankful that my client roster this year and always. I am proud that when I work with a client I typically keep working

With an eLearning client at DevLearn last fall and visiting a client in Orlando last Spring:)

with a client. Some of the major brands I have had an opportunity to do voiceovers for in 2019 include Dove, Kyvno, CT Lottery, Michigan Lottery, Cleveland Clinic, Quest Diagnostics, Spoke, CosmoProf, Origins, and the list goes on and on. I am also thrilled that my work for both Pandora and Spotify continued. Pandora has extended another contract to me for 2020 and I am so very thankful for their trust in me year ofter year. This year, a lot of the work I did for them was repeat work because the clients specifically requested me. That means the world to me.

It’s not A Hobby…

What makes a professional voice over actor a professional? Well, besides the years of training, the demos, the home studio, and being a part of the community, a big, big, big characteristic is booking PAYING work at INDUSTRY STANDARD RATES. Not Fiverr. Not bargain basement, but once a voice talent begins earning a consistent, sustainable income they proudly earn the title of professional. If they are booking repeat gigs or lots of gigs, they now have the goods to call them selves a pro. Even in WoVo, our professional organization, once you book five gigs at industry standard rates, you are eligible to apply to be a “Professional” member. Thus, it is the act of being paid for the work that you do that is essential.

So, you wouldn’t think that being paid would be so tricky, right? You book a gig, your record your amazing audio in your professional studio, you deliver your audio, and the client pays you? That’s how it should work. But often, too often, it does not play out that way. This month I was fortunate. Almost all, about 80% of my bookings, were paid within 24 hours if delivery. This is not the norm. This blog post is inspired by a less than kind client who although pleased with the work I did, and cast me in repeat commercials and campaigns in the last two years, acted as though he was giving me some sort of loan when he paid his invoice at about 90 days past due. This is simply not acceptable. His total lack of professionalism is appalling. I should not have to explain myself, and neither should you. So, instead of focussing on the exception, let’s focus on why things typically run smoothly and how to create a system that makes it easy for a working talent and for your clients to pay promptly:

Terms Up Front

When I book a job I send a “Seal the Deal” email. This email is extremely detailed and clear. It has multiple components, all of which are important:

  • It thanks the client for casting me in the “Name of Project.”
  • This confirms the casting.
  • It confirms the details they want including specifics about the recording and any requests for tone, style, etc.
  • It covers details about guided sessions/phone patch.
  • It confirms the rate.
  • It confirms my revision/pickup policy.
  • The end of it also has legal jargon making this email an agreement. This is how all of these emails end:

Warm regards,

Laura

Acceptance and jurisdiction: Acceptance of this proposal constitutes agreement that usage rights are limited to the medium and region listed in the job description, and expansion would require renegotiation of these terms. Your acceptance of the above constitutes a contract which – in case of a dispute – you agree will be adjudicated in, and according to the relevant laws of, NY, USA. If the booking is cancelled, the session fee will still be paid in full to Laura Schreiber.

Stating your terms in the initial email is essential. The bigger the job, meaning the more money it pays, the more essential it is that you state your terms up front as you have more to lose.

Invoicing Made Easy

AKA “Invoicing for Dummies,” I want to make it as easy as possible for my clients to pay me. I actually spent years figuring this out, so the client is not the dummy here, I had about a five year learning curve. I tried multiple different ways of invoicing, and find that this system is much more user friendly. I use Fresh Books for my invoices. They are clear. They state my terms which are Net 30. They allow me to set 30 and 60 day invoice reminders.

When I send  my finished audio, the last paragraph is always all of the invoice information.  Always. It tells them the invoice number, what is due, and the multiple ways they can pay me. Different people prefer to pay in different ways. Do I have a preference? Yes. But it doesn’t matter, I need to make it easy for them. So, in the last paragraph of my invoice I tell them:

Lastly, you will receive a Fresh Books invoice #XXXX for the amount of $XXXX  after this email. If you prefer another means of payment, I also am happy to receive payment by check at XXXX Road, South Orange, NJ 07079; via paypal at laura@lauraschreibervoice.com, or at Zelle and Chase QP at  laura@lauraschreibervoice.com. Thanks so much again for your business and have a great day,

This email is easy to find. The invoice allows them to pay. This allows them to pay. It’s clear. It’s simple. It’s easy to find again. Make things easy for your clients!

Session Vs. Usage in Invoice

This is extremely important: when invoicing, always, always, always differentiate between your session fee and the usage of your voice. Why? Well what if Sally at the ad agency decides after multiple rounds of casting and telling you that you were perfect 24 times that in the end she really wants a more robust male voice? No problem Sally, she just has to pay your session fee. This is industry standard. I repeat, this is industry standard. You have done the work. You have delivered the work. The session fee is  the fee that they are paying for you to get behind the mic and turn on your phantom power and record. If you did a live session? Guess what, they are paying for it. The usage is for the usage of your voice for the run of the spot. Do not book gigs in perpetuity. It is a huge problem. That is a separate blog. Just don’t!!

Some People Are just Nicer than Others

At the end of the day, some people are just nice and intend to pay you and some are not nice or are totally disorganized. Some are both. I had a government job this week that had a low budget but payed within an hour of delivery. I was doing my happy dance. I have had similar jobs that take 90 days to pay. I typically find that some clients just cannot pay on time. Some always will. Try not to let the few who are really unkind ruin your state of mind for the rest who really are good folks.

Five Years of Passion

As a working mom, I have talked about how working as a full time, professional voice over actor suits me in countless ways. It seems like yesterday I was sitting at my kitchen island and I was watching a GVAA webinar on eLearning. J. Michael Collins, who I think I have mentioned a lot recently, was presenting the outstanding webinar. Everything he talked about resonated with me. It was not just the rates for eLearning that were appealing, it was that I had come to the voice over from the academic world, so for me I felt an instant connection to an industry that I did not know existed!

I decided during that webinar that I would to an eLearning demo with JMC and I can tell you that demo has paid for itself in

Me with talented coach and demo producer J. Michael Collins.

spades. While I have had many conversations with industry friends about how processed eLearning demos should be, and a lot of folks are confident that there should be little production, I am very pleased with my demo for several reasons. First, it showcases my range from warm, millennial to professional, confident, and knowledgeable traitor and will work across the genres of eLearning. Next, I think my personality shines through. Lastly, it is pleasant to listen to! As most of my booked work is proprietary content and cannot be shared on my website, it is really great to have something that I am happy to share!

I have focussed on building and maintaining solid client relationships in the many years that I have been doing eLearning. While I have been full-time in voiceover for five years, I have really developed the eLearning strand of my business since 2016. Some of my best clients, that I continue to do steady work for, I met face to face at conferences like ATD, Dev Learn, and smaller conferences put on by the eLearning Guild.  I also have worked with some wonderful clients that I connected with on LinkedIn. Regardless of the source of the business relationship, my approach s the same, I treat each client as if they are my most important client and all of my

Finding the right conference to meet your business goals can be tricky! I have a lot of success at the smaller conference. There may seem to be a lot of potential at large conferences like ATD and DevLearn, but it is often easier to find content creators at the smaller conferences.

success depends on them. The result has been great, and as a consequence recent eLearning clients include Walmart, PSEG, Ace Hardware, Victoria’s Secret, Sam’s Club, CosmoProf, Sally Beauty, Club Pilates, and more!

More Casting Trends!

So with all of this eLearning work, what trends have I noticed? A lot of clients are writing the scripts for “real” characters with specific voice and tone requests. These are not typical narrators. I am not Suzie from HR, I am playing a role in a scene. as a voice ACTOR, this is actually great fun for me! For example, in a recent project of Sally Beauty, they wanted to voice to be

With an eLearning client Alicia that I get to catch up with at conferences!

conversational, fun, and upbeat! It was no problem, the script was a joy! Last week I was doing a training module for Ace Hardware. I have been doing their work for a while, but this was very different. They really had a specific character in mind. Before recording the entire module, I sent three samples for approval to make sure we were on the same page and that my interpretation matched their vision. I had so much fun putting these samples together. I think that as the technology continues to improve, the content creators will push voiceover actors even further in our roles.

Rates are HIGHER

As a working mom, I am pleased that as the demand for solid voiceover for eLearning increases, the rates that voice actors are paid is also increasing. It is increasing in two ways. First, session fees continue to rise. While I have old clients that still are grandfathered in at their original rate, new clients book at the appropriate industry standard rates. Jobs are typically quoted per finished minute or per word, and there has been a huge jump. When I first started doing eLearning, I was happy to have a minimum session plus $18 per finished minute. Now I quote my session fee plus $35 per finished minute of audio. Frankly, because of the intrinsic value of the content we are providing these clients, I think these rates are right where they should be for corporate clients doing training. 

My Goals

I love doing eLearning projects. Any project is welcomed and makes me happy. As a true Jersey girl who spends a lot of time in my salon getting my hair and nails done, I was thrilled to do so much work for CosmoProf and hope more work in the cosmetic industry comes in. I also love travel, food, and dogs, so if the universe and voiceover gods shine down on me and send me work related to my passions I will be delighted!

In the last week, well-established voice over Goddess Kim Handysides, released a blog of her favorite/highly recommended voiceover blogs: 

https://kimhandysidesvoiceover.com/2019/07/01/top-10-voice-over-blogs-collins-courvo/

The list is still unfolding actually. Since then, not only have I been ruminating over why I blog, but I have also been thinking about some big “no, nos,” the imaginary line in the sand that is not to be crossed. Some rules that seem straightforward to those amongst Kim’s top 10 but perhaps were not so clear to those left off the list. Perhaps it is better framed as a positive list of tips and suggestions of what I think works and reaches the people we really want to reach.

Tip #1: The Blog Helps You Seem More Relatable

A blog can accomplish many goals, but a great one is that clients and industry friends alike can get to know you better. Whether you are sharing a recent personal experience or your work philosophy, the blog gives a more in-depth glimpse into who you are and how you tick. It let’s folks know what is going on in your head, and you can really open up. The catch though, is that in the voiceover world we give up our private lives a bit for the sake of our public ones. We may not be Beyonce or Lady Gaga, but in our own sphere we have given up our anonymity by existing on the multiple profiles we post and share. So, when attempting to share, carefully think about the way in which you reveal yourself. If you want to seem relatable, make sure that you in fact post blogs that are warn, helpful, and approachable.

Tip #2: The Blogs Establish You as a Professional With Expertise

Yes, you likely have a client list on your website. Sure, you have demos. And you probably have shared some of your finished jobs on your website, LinkedIn, or YouTube. But, a great way to let clients and potential clients alike have a glimpse into what sets you apart from others in the field is to blog about your feelings on a recent work experience or booking. Perhaps you want to kvell about a commercial you were thrilled to be a part of? Perhaps you have a new tech insight that is valuable? Perhaps you were in a dream project and it meant the world to you. Or you want to write about some new coaching that you got and how it played out in a recent casting. All of this helps clients understand why you are special.

Tip #3 The Blog Helps Folks Feel Like they Know You

The world is getting smaller and that is a good thing! One of my favorite aspects of voice over is that we work with people from all over the world. Literally all over the world. Even as a solopreneur, I think globally. My very first ever booking in voiceover was for a women’s clinic in Islamabad, Pakistan. Since then I have had clients in Italy, China, France, Germany, England, India, and the list goes on and on. I am thrilled to have every single booking, but what I can tell you is that I work at home in a padded foam booth, and I want to build a relationship with my clients. It is hard when our time zones are three hours apart. When we are more than 8 hours apart, we rarely speak on the phone. Typically a few emails back and forth is the only correspondance we have. So, it is my feeling that having these blogs on my website gives clients an available glimpse into who I am. I feel the same is true of my newsletters. I can’t tell you how often tidbits are commented on or repeated back to me that only came from a blog. I also check my google stats and my blogs are pretty well read, so it does make a difference.

Tip #4 Stay Positive

When you are having a bad day, don’t blog about it. Call a friend. Go for a walk. Meditate. But for heaven’s sake, do not have a public melt-down for all to see and post it on every voiceover site and share it with every person you know. The voice over community is small. People want to have each other’s backs. We generally lift each other up. I feel that I have a wonderful family in my VO friends. Blog about the lessons you learn from rising up, from over coming, from doing your best. Everyone has good days and bad, but your clients do not need to know about the bad ones. Give them a reason to think the world of you and to hire you. Give them a reason to sing your praises from the rooftops. Give them sunshine and pixie dust and sparkling glitter. Give them what they can get only from booking you! That is what you blog about!

Those Shindigs Where You Really Need Them

So about two weeks ago I found myself in Burbank, CA for the WWRS 2019. The event was held on top of what, as an East Coaster, I can only describe as a mountain with amazing views of the Los Angeles area. It was the perfect setting for the radio world schmooz fest that was three days of enrichment, professional development, and networking at every turn. To say that for professional voiceover actors (and my guess is that there were about 50 of us there) business cards were essential is an understatement. The whole point of going was to put ourselves in front of the production managers and creative directors who make the decisions about which voiceover talents to use. And aside from our amazing in-person impression, all we leave them with, in the end, is our tiny little card. I found my self extremely curious about the cards that other voiceover talents were giving out and it made me re-evaluate the ways in which I was using the precious space on my own card. I was standing there in gorgeous Burbank at this conference looking at the card in my hand and questioning, is my card sufficient for the major purpose it serves in life?

Breaking Down Current Trends

According to The Balance Small Business, even in the digital world there is still a cultural precedent to the exchange of business cards around the world: “The ritual exchange of business cards is central to establishing business relationships in many countries. In Hong Kong, for instance, if you are given a business card and don’t offer one in return, you can basically close up business then and there, says Rory Boland in Hong Kong Business Card Etiquette.  In Japan, too, the quality and condition of your business card speaks much about how you intend to conduct yourself and business.” Most professional voiceover actors like myself use their business card as an extension of their branding. It matches their website and other marketing materials in both font and colors. Everything ties together and it is what a client familiar with your brand would expect to see.  Another current trend a lot of my voiceover friends, including me, had been encouraged to follow is to only have our name and maybe a tagline if anything else on the back of the card so that folks that we meet have a place to write down notes when they meet us. Here are some examples of this.  Accomplished voiceover talent  Dervla Trainor has beautiful cards that match her site in color, font, and follow the trend of leaving space on the back side:

 

 

In another example, accomplished voiceover actor, coach, and director Shelley Avellino follows this branding trend as well. Shelley had the clever idea of only having the front of her card glossy and leaving the back matte so that folks have an easier time writing on it:

 

 

 

 

 

This year’s VOA unicorn award recipient Michele Blenker has a little more information on the back of her card while still tying in her branding and leaving space:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is what my card looks like at the conference:

 

 

 

 

What Am I Trying to Accomplish

What I realized at the WWRS 2019 was that there were a lot of voiceover talents who were thinking outside the box. Some had a list of top stations they were doing imaging for. Some had a list of major brands they voiced.  I could do this! Bells started to go off in my head because I suddenly felt concerned that this side of the card was my bill board and I was leaving it blank. Yes, there are a lot of well-established successful voiceover talents doing the same thing I have been doing and their cards look beautiful. But after seeing these other cards, instead of leaving it to the folks that we network with to write down the information that resonates with them, it occurred to me that I can take control of the dialogue and use the space in a way to make sure that potential clients and current clients have essential information that I want them to have. Yes, I realize this goes against a trend. And yes, I realize it looks cluttered. And yes, I realize it is not as pretty. But, once I saw these other cards, I had this real conflict as I could not unsee them. 

My Bold Move

I should note in my passionate tirade about the cards that I have different cards for different genres of voiceover. So, I have one set of cards for eLearning. I have another set of cards for government contracting.  So this set I am all fixated on is for my radio imaging, commercial, telephony sort of work. I decided to do an experiment and actually ask for feedback. This week upon my return I did ask for a revised design from the team at voiceactor websites for the back of my card. This is what they came up with:

I chose this because I wanted to clearly state which genres I work in most. I wanted to remind clients about the studio I have worked so hard to build. And I do actually do RUSH jobs all of the time, so I felt that it was essential to put that on the card. Am I certain that this is the right move? No. I am pleased that it is clean and easy to read. I am pleased that I can be sure clients will have the information they need. But when I look at my friends’ cards, they sure do look pretty.

Booking Work is Great, But Repeat Clients Are Event Better

Every time a job comes in for a voiceover actor it is a good day! Jobs for us come from many different sources, but it can be simplified by saying a job is either from a new client or from a repeat client. For me, about 70% of my work is from repeat business. I’m not sure how this compares to the rest of the industry, but I am delighted that folks keep coming back! When a new client sends me work, it is my hope that it is just the beginning of our work together and I do everything that I can to make them happy. So, what are some of the tips and tricks to keeping my voiceover clients coming back for more?

Case Study of Now Foods

I thought to best way to understand what works, is by doing a case study of  a client I have had the pleasure of working with a lot in the past year.  Let’s look at my work with NOW Foods. Above is just one of quite a few projects I have done for them. Initially I booked the gig from a cattle call audition on Voices123. A video production company hired me. I loved their team and the project went well. There were no revisions or pickups and they were great to work with. I followed up with a thank you not and that was that.

A few months later that same producer reached out and said the company wanted to work with me directly and asked if I minded. I said I was happy to do whatever was easy for them. To my delight the company reached out and I have had the opportunity to work with them several times. I have made it a point to be:

  • responsive
  • have fast turnarounds
  • friendly
  • appreciative of the work

I think the combination of all of these factors is critical to building lasting client relationships.

Quality of Work

Do a good job! Every job that you do must be outstanding. Whether the job pays a small amount or a small fortune, treat them all the same. You never know which client with the small job today will have a years worth of work tomorrow. Every bit of audio you send out should have the same audio quality: pristine. Do not ever cut corners with your equipment and software. At the end of the day, if does not matter how sweet you are, you are only as good as you sound and if you don’t sound great your clients will never be happy and they will never call again, even if you are the nicest person on the planet.

Relationship Building

You actually have to put effort into building relationships. Some folks in the industry are friendlier than others. I have made an effort to visit clients when I travel. For example, I had a chance to see a regular eLearning client at DevLearn in Las Vegas this past fall.  Since they are based in the MidWest, it meant so much to me to be able to catch up in person. I went to visit another client that I do regular narration work for when I went to Orlando for an eLearning Guild conference last year. I spend time talking to my clients, whether it is at the start of a guided session or during an actual phone call.  Put simply, if you don’t talk to them, you can’t possibly get to know them.

It has also helped me to get to know my clients by reading their “about” sections on their websites. These are often even more personal than what they might share on LinkedIn and I am often amazed by how much we have in common. For instance, it is not only amazing how many of my clients have dogs, but how many of them bring their dogs to work! This makes it so easy to genuinely connect with the people I work with. I also always send both follow up emails and follow up notes. I believe it is essential that your clients know how invested you are in their project and that you are there for them to the end!

Be A Talent they Can Count On…

If you want to be a client’s go to talent, then you need to be someone they know they can count on all the way through the project! Revisions, pickups, and turnaround time all matter! They matter a lot because we all know that folks make script changes. Their teams just change their minds. It has nothing to do with us, most of the time, it just happens. And then sometimes they have no flexibly and need those new recordings right away. So, if we want to make them happy, we will take care of all of this in a jiffy. We will do it with a smile, and we will make it easy for them. And when you are this “Angel of Voiceover,” i promise they will fall in love!