The weekend after the Chicago Cubs won the World Series in 2016, when the ticker tape parade was happening and overjoyed fans were pouring into the city from all over, I landed at Chicago O’Hare for Bill DeWees’ Voiceover Revolution Workshop. Knowing little about Chicago, I did not realize how far Kankakee was from Chicago and my first mistake was that I should have flown to Midway. I ubered 90 miles to get there! I had studied with Bill When I first started in voiceover and watched a lot of his youtube videos, so having the opportunity to learn from him in person was really exciting. I did not realize that Dave Fennoy, a voiceover celebrity, was also going to be presenting for the second day of our workshop. I could go on and on about how much I learned from Bill and Dave and what it meant to have this time with them. Something struck me about Dave. When most people think of him, they think of his video games, especially since he was BAFTA nominated for The Walking Dead. In working with Dave, however, I learned that he does all sorts of voiceover work, from commercial, to narration, to promo, to eLearning. Like the rest of us, Dave also has to update his demos and works on professional development. This really had my wheels turning. As professional voiceover actors, we are never to big to diversify our revenue stream. If all of your business comes from one place and that client disappears tomorrow, you essentially have to start over.
Even if your business plan is to diversify your voiceover business, you still have an opportunity to do what you love. Since the beginning of my business, I have booked a lot of commercial work. That is just how my cookie crumbled, but I also happen to LOVE doing commercials. I happen to do more radio spots than tv spots, but I enjoy them all. I also love the new genre: the bumper. When auditioning, especially on pay to plays, I tend to scan the list and submit for commercials first as I have a high booking ration with commercials. I also tend to submit substantially higher auditions for commercials. As a professional female voiceover talent, I have worked hard to keep my reads conversational and relatable. Whether my client needs millennial, teen, or middle-aged, I try to work with them so that every new client becomes a repeat client. Even though I have been doing this for years, I am still excited for every single booking.
Focus on Other Skills That You Are Good At
Another way to diversify is to think about what you love and pick skills that align with that. The first area this led me to was eLearning. Before I became a full-time, professional voiceover actor, I was a teacher. When I discovered the joy of eLearning, it was the perfect fit for me. It seemed like the natural segue from teaching to voiceover. All of the skills that I used from years in education now had a place in my voiceover career. As a more professional, polished sounding voice, I immediately felt comfortable working in eLearning. I also found that I really clicked with the people at eLearning conferences. At places like DevLearn, ATD, or the Focus on eLearning conferences, I easily connected with everyone from instructional designers and content creators to the folks who worked on the LMS.
The other field I naturally fell into was telephony. My parents would joke about how much I loved to talk on the phone. Little did they know I would be paid to be on the phone some day! Whether it is an on-hold message or a greeting, I am so proud to be the voice of someone’s business. I have also found a lot of similarities between the on-hold messages I do and the scripts for the commercial work that I do. It may be my approach, or it may genuinely be the writing, but I am very passionate about my telephony work.
Discover New Passions
When you try to diversify your business, don’t be afraid to try something new. Since I knew I love commercial work, I tried to think about everything that fell under that umbrella. A light bulb went off in my head and I thought that since I have A LOT of energy and do a lot of radio commercials perhaps I should try radio imaging. This part of my business has been one of my greatest joys. I have worked with different stations all over the country and gotten to know some fascinating folks. I particularly love the work.
Diversifying is Essential
Back at the VO Revolution in Kankakee, Dave talked about hitting rough times, after having great success. It can happen to anyone. It does not matter how many commercials you have booked and how well you are known in the industry. Business strategy is so important. One of the major takeaways I got from the conference was to live each day is if we are just starting out.