#VOnow — As a Voiceover Artist, how do I get my business started?

'If You Build It, They Will Come' Ecclesiology Part 1 (Building your business)

Debbie Irwin Recording in Scotland

I’m back! Thank you for all of the well wishes while I was abroad. The studio in Scotland was wonderful. And so was the fort I built to get recording done in my flat. But how did I get there? How is it that I’m the voice of the Statue of Liberty?



Gone are the good ol’ days, and good riddance. I never knew them anyway.

Getting started in this business I made the mistake of thinking that getting an agent was my primary goal, job #1, the Holy Grail of voiceover. If I found an agent who was interested in me, I’d be set! My phone would ring!

Not true, and if you think about it, it makes sense. Why? What’s an agent’s job? To make money for herself and her firm. The only time she’s going to be interested in representing you is once you’ve proven that you’re bookable. How do you do that? By booking business. How do you do that? You train, train, train until you’re ready. Then you go on the hunt.



How do you search for business? By connecting with people, online and in person. Sometimes it can feel easier to connect online — I can be very shy when in a group or meeting people for the first time. If you feel the same way, to get over that you can imagine you’re the host of your own party, greet people warmly and follow up with questions, or confess that you’re feeling nervous — they’re likely to admit the same! Either way, the more live contact you have with people — on the phone or in person — the more information you will learn about them, their needs, their work, their joys, and even their sorrows.


There are 101 different ways to network with people. Here are just a few:

  • Get to know fellow voice actors — we refer business to each other!
  • Take classes with casting directors — repeatedly — so they will know you well
  • Connect with your school’s alumni association
  • Attend public library events
  • Take classes in areas that interest you outside of voiceover
  • Join book clubs
  • Find Meet-Ups of interest
  • Attend events held by groups that are in ancillary fields (Writers Associations, eLearning Associations, Mobile Voice Conferences)
  • Cold call studios in your area — everybody’s into local these days! (In this age of Internet everything, how quaint and valuable to be around the corner in case of a VO emergency!)
  • Join the Chamber of Commerce and attend their events to get to know your local businesses
  • Join groups on LinkedIn (you can be a member of 50), and add to the conversations
  • Follow people you would like to work with on Twitter and see what they’re talking about
  • Join the Pay to Play sites to audition, find work and locate companies that hire voice talent
  • Volunteer your services for a non-profit organization where you have a genuine interest
  • Read trade magazines for the niche that you’re developing, to find more avenues to connect



And while it’s true that in time you will meet and work with agents, the fact is you have to build your business yourself — one brick at a time. Back when I was a stockbroker for Smith Barney, we ‘dialed and smiled’. 100 calls meant, on average, we’d reach 10 people, and 1 person would be interested in receiving information on whatever we were selling. Then I had to follow up, repeatedly, engaging the person enough to learn who they were and what they needed, so I could help them reach their financial goals — some of them, anyway.  It was hard work.

I liked to contact retirement communities and be a lunchtime guest speaker explaining the differences between corporate and municipal bonds, mutual funds and individual securities.

The personal interaction was key — those who had a need had a chance to get to know me and learn to trust me, as I got to know them and help in any way I could.

So be a contrarian thinker. Go where others are not. Get out and get to know people so they in turn will come to know and trust you too. That’s how you get business; you network to increase your net worth. And that’s the only way you’re going to #BeHeard.

Next week we’ll discuss building your business infrastructure. Until then, #VOnow.