Any voice actor worth her salt will have enough talent to deliver a range of styles that fit a range of projects. My wheelhouse sound (authoritative/intelligent/warm) works well for documentaries, corporate narrations, IVR, eLearning, some commercials, some explainer videos, some video games, and so on. But saying you’re a jack-of-all-trades doesn’t really help those who are looking to hire you for their specific project. After all, at any given time, the people who are hiring you are producing only one — not a slew of different projects across these different genres.
Finding Your Niche in the Voiceover Industry
So it’s important, in my opinion, to develop a niche, something you’re known for so that people can, yes, label you. We all do it anyway; in the blink of an eye, we’re making assessments about each other. So why not make it easy for people to assess you the way you want to be assessed?
But, here’s where it gets a little tricky. It’s not just about how you want to be perceived — no matter how badly I’d like to think of myself as a young ingénue, I’d be doing myself a disservice to market myself like that since that’s not how the world sees me!
Sally Hogshead wrote the great book: How The World Sees You, which is an interesting look at us from the other side of the mirror. She writes:
- The greatest value you can add is to become more of yourself.
- If you don’t know your own value don’t expect anyone else to.
- To become more successful, don’t change who you are. Become more of who you are.
- Every time you communicate, you’re either adding value or taking up space.
- Instead of focusing on strengths, highlight your differences.
- You don’t learn how to be fascinating. You unlearn boring.
- The world is not changed by people who sort of care.
These ideas are parallel to what we must do in assessing our signature sound, finding our true voice, our real self. Peeling away layers of paint or patina to get to the raw material.
How do people hear you? What do you get hired for on a regular basis? What are the specs of the jobs that agents are sending you (that you’re also booking)?
Making Your Mark in the Voiceover Industry
So, who are you? How can people ‘get’ you quickly? Where does your voice fall in the spectrum of personalities? These are important questions, and if you can’t answer them, ask those who know your work how they perceive your voice.
Finally, to answer the question I posed in the title of this blog, I think that whether you’re in a small town (where you should be marketing yourself as local talent), or a big city like NY where I am (where you should be marketing yourself as local talent), the fact is, we are part of a global economy. Our clients are around the world — making for a very big pond, indeed. But our task is to make the experience an intimate one — so that you are big in the eyes of your client, as you swim in waters both shallow and deep. Next week we’ll get into more detail around branding, in the meantime, help yourself #BeHeard.