Long before we had the internet, we had to market ourselves the “old fashioned” way. At the time I got in it was all about submitting cassette tapes, and not long after that it went to CDs, which you did if you wanted to get noticed. We all paid A LOT in postage for mass mailings, it kinda sucked and it was expensive to do. I still remember going into the duplicator with my little cassette and having them duplicate 200 copies of it – and then mailing them out by hand. It’s a whole lot easier these days.
One of our colleagues, a voice actor named Wally Wingert, played John from The Garfield Show, and the Riddler in the Batman Arkham series and a bunch of other really great stuff. He had a bobblehead made of himself and he sent them to every casting agent and studio in town – you can still see these things sitting on people’s desks! It was kinda genius and people remembered him for it.
It’s still important to market yourself these days – probably even more so, because the talent pool has increased exponentially. It used to be a small group of people who did this kind of work, now everyone’s got a home studio, its global, and honestly – it’s tough for the new kid on the block to get looked at or listened to. You’ve got to be proactive with this stuff.
Fortunately, you guys have the internet. YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook. There are so many ways to get your stuff out there quickly and efficiently to a worldwide audience.
As I’ve mentioned before in my voiceover classes, if you’re marketing yourself please make sure that you are doing it honestly. If you book a job be prepared to use your entire skill set and don’t misrepresent yourself with characters that you can’t recreate, perform or sustain. That’s really important because it will bite you in the butt afterwards.
You are the product, you are your brand and you are what you were selling. So, you need to know who you are, what your strongest assets are and what makes you different and marketable. There are a lot of people out there. You need to know your stuff so you can accurately convey it to people who are in positions to hire you. This is why I stress the importance of figuring out WHO you are. If you’re ready for marketing it’s a good idea to start the branding process, and it’s a good idea to start it early. You can begin with the creation of a logo. But before you do that, you must figure out how you want to represent yourself.
Originally, the only thing I was interested in was animation. So, my logo was fun and playful and cartoony. I put the logo together myself, and soon after I started creating postcards with that logo. Before I had a lot of characters I would just do a blank piece of paper with my mug on it and some catchy little thing on there. My first tagline was: “The Right Voice Choice”. I used variations of that logo on everything: business cards, cassette covers for my demo reel, announcements, and at that time I printed most of my materials on fluorescent green cardstock so that it stood out in a pile of other stuff on an agent’s or casting person’s desk. People remembered it. People still remember the fluorescent green guy! I drew the little animated mouth myself and I even type set every element by hand and I cut out the individual letters with an exacto knife and physically glued them together before I took it all to the print shop. They didn’t have digital printing back then, so everything was manual.
You guys have the advantage of creating professional-looking branding and logo materials very inexpensively online, and because they’re digital they’re easy to manipulate and resize and repurpose. We didn’t have that luxury, I had to get it right the first time. I had to get the specs from the print house, and I had to cut those things out and it sucked!
If you’re ready to begin this process of creating a logo, I would recommend that you look at samples to get some ideas. There are sites like wix.com or freelogoservices.com, logojoy.com or Fiverr. I’m not endorsing these sites but browsing through their logo creation tools will give you an idea of what’s possible, especially if you’re not a graphic designer.It’ll help you to hone in on how you want to represent yourself creatively and stylistically.
When it comes to websites which I taught in Class #24 of my Voiceover Teaching Series, you need to take control of how you’re presented out there in the world very early on. That way you can evolve it on your own terms. You don’t want other people deciding who you are, that’s how you get pigeonholed, and that’s also how you get overlooked.
Once you get the logo in place, you can use it on your website and all your printed materials, and you can make branded letterhead for your email correspondents. I still use that same logo, just used a different variation of it, it has carried through my career.
You can also make thank you cards using your logo, I used to do that all the time. If you have a live audition with a casting person or an agent, send them a handwritten thank-you card. I still do that. They’re appreciated because most people don’t write anything by hand anymore. Just don’t send more than one! Don’t want to overwhelm them. One nice, short, sweet little thank-you is cool to write, and have your logo and your branding on that. If you have a color that’s associated with you or a pattern that that you like, or something funny or interesting, include that in your branding.
Even if you haven’t really gotten started professionally as a voice actor, you can still do charity events. You can read for kids. There are all sorts of things that you can do. And you can use that stuff to print on your flyers and business cards and hand them out at the end and at networking meetings.
I have a little Facebook community group that was created precisely for the purpose of letting like-minded people connect with each other and to network with each other. I don’t get to participate in it as much as I’d like to because I’m so busy, but the group kind of took on a life of its own, and we have a very strong anti-bullying policy in there, everybody is accepted. It’s free and it’s called the Blumvox studios community on Facebook. So, if you don’t know about it, please check that out, some great resources in there. www.bvsfb.com is the link. Find other groups like that, either in your town or city or online. They’re great ways to meet people and to potentially get gigs!
There are also professional associations like SAG-AFTRA, the Union, which offer lots of free classes and mixers to their members, but even if you’re not in the union yet there are tons of things like this available all over the country and many of them are free. You’ll need to do your own research to find those where you are. It’s great to do those in person, and great to network.
It’s critically important just to be nice to everyone, as a policy. Just get used to doing that, and if that’s not your normal way, work on that! You’re building your reputation in this process and you never know who will be promoted to casting, or a directing position in the future. I’ve worked with several people who are directing now that used to be receptionists.
If you don’t know how to create a resume or bio, or some way to have headshots done, get online and start researching. That information is abundantly available and nobody’s going to do it for you. Again, this is a business and you must be proactive and take charge of your own career from the very beginning and get used to doing that because it never ends. I’ve had an agent for years and years and years and I do most of my own leg work to this day.
A huge part of your career in this business, like I mentioned before, is about the relationships you build and the referrals that can result from the relationships. So, you really want to be mindful about how they begin. A lot of my work comes from referrals these days. I still have to audition, but at least I’ll get the chance to audition because they’ve had a good experience of me in the past or somebody else has and referred me. Even Engineers have referred me before. So build those relationships, I’ve mentioned these in other classes I teach too. I was able to get some auditions because I had a good first impression with a receptionist and they needed somebody. If they have three people on the list, and the receptionist says, “well he was nice”, they may just say “okay, bring him in first”. Do not underestimate the power of great relationships in the referral process.
Again, please remember to be polite and respectful in all your interactions, including social media. Make sure that you do your homework, know who you’re talking to in advance, if possible. Follow up without being a pest, and never, never, never, never, never, please, never come from a place of desperation. It just never helps. That kind of thinking can sabotage you, before you even get started. If one resource doesn’t work out, or even if you blow an audition or an initial meeting with somebody, don’t take it personally, it’s okay. We all make mistakes and learn from them. We must trust that other opportunities will come. If you’re in this for the right reason, just do your best and be ready when those opportunities do show themselves
Think about how you want to be represented out there long-term before setting up your pages, and don’t do stuff on YouTube that might embarrass you later, or sabotage your career later. Don’t do negative things where you’re spouting off on someone, try not to do that from the very beginning, if you can. Just be careful about what you’re putting out there because it’s out there forever.
Social Media can be used as a massive calling card and an unlimited resource for networking. So pay attention to what’s happening out there. Do you research on it. There’s so much that’s happened even in the last year. It’s increased exponentially, the opportunities that I’ve seen casting-wise for voice actors on Twitter are great.
I am NOT an expert in social media. I don’t have time to become an expert on social media, and we’ve made unbelievable mistakes along the way. Painful, super expensive mistakes. I pay people to help us with it now, but there’s a ton of stuff you can do immediately that will cost you nothing. I built my voiceover career, without any help in the beginning. I did a lot of it on my own so I know that you guys can too.
I encourage you to get out there, get going and please don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do this work because of where you live. You can do this from pretty much anywhere, if you have an internet connection.
So that is my marketing pitch for YOU! Get at it, and build the career you want!