Voice Over Education Blog

January 2015

International VO Work: How to do more trade, without being seen as a jack of all trades.


Marketing pros understand the importance of positioning – being thought of by your customer as a certain type of product or provider, a specialist, an expert ...not a jack or jill of all trades.

As a VO pro, you, too, should understand the importance of focus. It enhances your credibility as a strong voice over talent. Being known as the go-to person for a particular genre or specialty is likely to bring you more business, more easily, than spreading yourself thin among too many fields.

But, within that focus, when you’ve expanded your capabilities and extended your marketing as much as you can (or dare), how can you pitch additional prospects without watering down your image?

Try this: Expand internationally.

In a wide range of foreign markets, producers seek authentic voices like yours. (Notice that we didn’t say “authentic English-language voices” like yours, because if you live outside the U.S., and/or speak accented English, or if you speak a different language altogether, we’re also talking to you – sell your vocal wares in North America. It may be as simple as applying the following advice in reverse.)

Start your prospecting by asking, where is your language and/or accent considered a premium asset? For example, Americans seem attracted to a British accent as being honest, educated, interesting or simply distinctive. Everything from classical music to cleaning supplies have been hawked in the USA by Brits. And in many places outside the U.S., a neutral American accent is heard as a modern sound, firm common ground among many speakers of English.

Should you write your own demo copy? Avoid the pitfalls of using copyrighted material


In our newsletter a dozen years ago, we wrote a few lines on the subject of using copyrighted material in demos. But it’s a multifaceted issue that deserves more than a few lines. Stay tuned for an update. For now, suffice it to say:

  • For recordings you’ve been paid to voice, it’s okay to put them on your demo, but get prior written permission from the client or their agent.
  • For auditions you didn’t land, it is even more important to get the client’s prior written permission, and even then it might not be advisable, for a variety of reasons.
  • For text cribbed from existing ads or commercials and other copyrighted works, we believe the legal doctrine of Fair Use allows you to use it on your demo, but it is better to use custom-written copy that doesn’t even include brand names. This, too, is for various reasons.

But if you’re not a professional audio copywriter, how do you go about developing unique copy appropriate for your demo?

Writing your own demo copy helps you avoid various potential legal issues and embarrassments. Not the least of these is the possibility that the client hasn’t even run the spot or released the recorded product yet!

Even mentioning a brand name could cause confusion or embarrassment. Suppose Product Y wants to hire you? Thinking you’ve already voiced Product X, they may pass you by. And that’s just one example.

Here are some tips for skirting those and other issues altogether, by writing your own copy:

1. Work with an experienced demo coach who is knowledgeable in your genre. He or she can advise you as to your content options and how best to choose among them. Your coach might even present you with custom copy they’ve developed for you. This has the advantage of freshness and performing under realistic conditions ... you’ve never seen it before, and your coach will have chosen it to demonstrate your strengths.

Are you ready for online casting? Some tips for spending your audition time wisely


One of the great things about the voice over world is that it constantly evolves. If you’re a working VO pro with a flourishing business, that might not seem like the happiest reminder of the day, because it means that your business must also evolve. But ultimately the continual emergence of new genres, easier (and less expensive) technology, and more efficient communication mean additional opportunities for everyone. Everyone who works smart, that is.

Today’s online-casting venues have resulted from all three of those types of change. The two major online casting sites, Voice123.com and Voices.com, were founded in 2003 and 2004 respectively. They came to be known as “pay to play” (P2P) sites, reflecting a focus where even novice talent can submit auditions. We now call them “online casting,” because that term is much more representative of today’s perspective: these services have garnered respect at all levels of our industry.

That’s not to say that everyone is glad to have such an open and competitive marketplace, but producers using the venue nevertheless range from Fortune 500 marketers to sole proprietors, and the talent ranges from wannabes to highly experienced voice actors. A lot of audition submissions are from relatively inexperienced talent. But more than a handful of knowledgeable talent apply their efforts efficiently, and a few even pull in six-figure incomes from online casting alone.

To help more talent work smarter, Edge Studio offers a four-part webinar on the Secrets of Online Casting. It begins this Tuesday.

Where do you stand amid this swirl? Is online casting right for you?

Before proceeding, we should disclose that Edge Studio has good relationships with both Voices.com and Voice123.com, and we recommend both.

12 Ready-made New Year’s Resolutions: Show the world how resolved you really are!


In most genres about this time of year, business begins picking up – clients have fresh annual budgets, fewer holiday distractions, a fresh set of marketing deadlines, and so on. We hope you used the relatively slow holiday season to work on professional development and promotion, and to prepare your professional New Year’s resolutions. No resolutions? Well, here’s a ready-made list. Find time to do at least one of these each month.

1. Take an improv or acting class. In every VO genre, at least to some extent, clients look for the ability to convey emotion, character, memorability or some other factor that has its roots in acting. And nothing helps you think on your feet in a structured situation like improv. Is there no improv group near where you live? Check with your local college or university. You may even be able to study remotely. At the very least, get a book about improv, understand the principles, and do the exercises and play the games, maybe with family or friends.

2. Review your business plan. You do have a written business plan, correct? If not, then create one. A business plan is not just a start-up tool. It’s a living, evolving document, that you should review quarterly and amend as your skills, challenges, competition and opportunities change, expand or contract. If you’re following everything in your plan to a T, great! But it may be time to ask, “What further capability can I add, and what additional opportunity can I reasonably pursue?”

12 Ready-made New Year’s Resolutions: Show the world how resolved you really are!


In most genres about this time of year, business begins picking up – clients have fresh annual budgets, fewer holiday distractions, a fresh set of marketing deadlines, and so on. We hope you used the relatively slow holiday season to work on professional development and promotion, and to prepare your professional New Year’s resolutions. No resolutions? Well, here’s a ready-made list. Find time to do at least one of these each month.

1. Take an improv or acting class. In every VO genre, at least to some extent, clients look for the ability to convey emotion, character, memorability or some other factor that has its roots in acting. And nothing helps you think on your feet in a structured situation like improv. Is there no improv group near where you live? Check with your local college or university. You may even be able to study remotely. At the very least, get a book about improv, understand the principles, and do the exercises and play the games, maybe with family or friends.

2. Review your business plan. You do have a written business plan, correct? If not, then create one. A business plan is not just a start-up tool. It’s a living, evolving document, that you should review quarterly and amend as your skills, challenges, competition and opportunities change, expand or contract. If you’re following everything in your plan to a T, great! But it may be time to ask, “What further capability can I add, and what additional opportunity can I reasonably pursue?”

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