What happens between L.A. and New York? Well, hidden among the cornfields and barbecue joints are living, breathing, thriving voice actors. If you happen to reside in one of the larger voice acting markets in the country, you may be curious as to how “those people” between the coasts make it work.
As a full-time voice actor and mother of four living in the Kansas City area, I can testify that it takes plenty of hustle, organization, and strategy to be successful. (The same could be said for the coastal residents as well!)
Here are my top five tips for success for those of us who live in flyover country.
1. Develop strong branding.
A lot of people seem to think that “branding” means having a logo and website with a themed color palette. But a strong brand isn’t about colors—it’s about standing out for all the right reasons.
Be honest with yourself and dig deep to discover what your overarching values are in business, what personality traits or interests give you a unique edge over your competitors, and what is distinct and memorable about the sound of your voice. Don’t be afraid to brainstorm with a few trusted colleagues to compile a list.
2. Practice your craft.
We all know that to stay competitive, we have to train regularly with a voiceover coach. But don’t make the mistake of thinking you need in-person training to progress. Most coaches now offer online sessions via Skype or Zoom. Even highly sought-after coaches in L.A. and New York offer training in this fashion, in addition to their in-person offerings.
But do your homework. Just because a coach happens to live in a major city doesn’t mean they’re stellar. Use internet searches, Facebook groups, and online reviews, as well as the coach’s website itself, to determine how much value you’ll receive from their tutelage.
READ: Voiceover Training 101
3. Obtain representation in major markets.
Just because you don’t live in a large market doesn’t mean you can’t score representation from talent agents who do. Don’t miss out on opportunities by failing to approach agents in major markets. Although some projects are location-sensitive, keep in mind that they’re far more interested in your talent than your location.
Not sure which cities you should target? Check out this recent list of rankings from Nielsen here to determine market size (Kansas City is a solid #32 on the list).
4. Employ marketing know-how.
You have to get creative when you live in a smaller market. Develop your own way to directly approach clients for business. LinkedIn is my favorite place to pick up clients. Some people prefer to create a list from online searches, then cold call or email prospects. Others glean clients from Twitter or other social media platforms.
Whatever method you choose, direct marketing should be part of your regular routine. I practice what I call “five daily reach-outs,” a daily step that reminds me every day to build my client base. The principle is to reach out to five new clients every day to generate new business on a regular basis. Five isn’t that many but that adds up to twenty-five per week, one hundred a month, and twelve-hundred prospects per year that have received a personal call, message, or email from you letting them know about your services.
5. Hone good networking skills.
Even if your market size is on the small side, you can still benefit from attending local conferences, meetups, and other events that provide referral opportunities. Shared locality can go a long way in building trust, and face-to-face conversation always carries more weight. Keep an eye out for quality events where you can rub shoulders with the decision-makers who can hire you. It will be well worth your time and gas money
Flyover doesn’t mean leftover. What some may consider a disadvantaged market, I look at as one with less competition. One in which those who hustle will quickly rise to the top.
*This post was originally published on Aug. 8, 2018. It has since been updated.
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and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.