If you are starry-eyed and are thinking, “Wow! I want to be a voiceover actor,” realize you need to create a business to sustain your career over the long run. The glamorized version of Hollywood is simply that. It’s glamorized. It isn’t until you start counting how much you are actually making when you realize, “Hey, this is not all it is cracked up to be.” That means you need an agent, business cards, a demo reel, and a marketable website.
As a voiceover actor, you go from gig to gig. If you are lucky, in the union, and able to qualify for your health insurance and pension, that’s awesome. However, the majority of voiceover actors do not. Many have never been able to crack into the union. Or, maybe you had some good years and then all of a sudden younger actors start getting cast simply because they’re cute.
When you start a voiceover business or any business that’s freelance, you have to treat it as a business.
One way you can stand out is to have a marketable website. I recommend using WordPress, which is a blogging platform. In fact, as a way to increase my income, I became a blogger and then a Blog Consultant. I make money from my websites. Make sure to use the self-hosted version WordPress.org rather than WordPress.com.
Think about it. You don’t want to work in an office if you are a voiceover actor. You want to be able to be flexible and available whenever auditions come up. You don’t want another JOB because voice acting and freelance work requires that you work gig by gig. If you’re serious about being a voice-over actor it’s best to have a flexible JOB.
Residual checks certainly help if you are able to get them, but a 2 cent check (yes, I have actually received some) doesn’t go far at the grocery store.
Creating a marketable website will allow you bring visibility to your voice over business online (which means all over the world) but will also give you opportunities to make passive income that will sustain you if times get tough out there in radio and tv land.
That means you can actually have a family, send your kids to college and go on vacations whenever you like. You are not tied down to waiting for the phone to ring when you BOOK a gig. Auditions are not jobs. They are important, but unless you are booking consistently, they do not pay the rent.
A marketable website built on WordPress is easy to edit and can be integrated with audio and video players, image galleries, mailing list opt-ins and just about anything else you can think of. Oh yes, and PAYPAL buttons. That’s a fun way to get paid.
I discovered that I had a talent for setting up blogs for others but if you are not very technical, you can have someone (like me) set one up for you at a reasonable cost. Then you can always go in and make changes, write blog posts, and PROMOTE yourself. Blogs will help you create CELEBRITY that will bring more attention to you. It’s important to write articles or post other content like videos and audios on a regular basis to build traffic.
Each time you write, Google will bite.
Below are several ways you can increase your income streams without having to spend any money. Most actors don’t have a lot of that to spread around especially if they have spent $1,000+ to get that demo reel made that their agent wants them to redo.
- Teach voice acting or podcasting.
Believe me, there are some horrible podcasters out there making tons of money online. Do it by holding webinars rather than meeting in person so that you can serve more people and not take as much time out of your busy day to drive around. You can also teach using video, live stream or podcast. Believe it or not, there are aspiring voice actors who do not live in large markets like LA or NY who would love to know how the business works.
- Sell affiliate products
Discuss the products you know and love. An example would be how to set up a voice-over home studio. What microphone are you using? What computer programs? They are almost all on Amazon and they have a wonderful affiliate program. Of course, there are other programs that pay much more than Amazon, and guess what? It doesn’t cost you a dime to join them. Write a blog post linking that product to your affiliate link. If someone purchases that product, you make a commission. A check or Paypal payment gets sent to you. It’s just as exciting and getting a residual check.
- Sell your own products.
Have you created some cool MP3s? Do you have special equipment you have created like a recording booth idea or even DVD’s that you have appeared in? Feature them on your website.
- Write an Ebook, or even better create an audiobook you can sell online.
- Or hell! Sell those cute little nose rings you’ve been cranking out and trying to sell on Venice Beach.
Ready to get started? Here what you need to do:
Map out your business plan. I know, that sounds so corporate and you are an artist but DO IT!
Once you have decided what your plan is, you’ll need to pick out a cool domain name. TIP: Pick a .com. Forget .net,.biz,.info, .biz. DOT COM is easier to find. An exception: It may be that someone has the same name as you and has bought that domain name. Then, maybe you can go for the .net. If that person lets their domain expire or disappears off the face of the earth, grab the.com.
As an actor, it’s best to get a domain with your own name if it is available because you are promoting YOU. However, you might want to try a keyword-rich name that will attract people to your business such as www.youwannabeavoiceactor.com (That’s a little long, but get my drift) Google is a goofy sounding domain name but they are making billions so you never know.
You need a hosting account because you want CONTROL over your files. I recommend BLUEHOST. They have excellent customer service and are very reliable. (And yes, this is an affiliate link – I will get paid if you click on the link to Bluehost) I use them myself and have been extremely happy. I have multiple sites and not just this one. Bluehost even gives you a free domain for the first year.
Bluehost has a one-click installation for WordPress. If your domain is on Bluehost just go to the icon in the C Panel that says WordPress and follow the directions. Remember your password. OR CONTACT ME and I will HELP you.
WordPress has thousands of free themes to choose from. They are easy to install. All you do is log in to your WordPress dashboard. Got to http://www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin. Enter your username and password. Go to Appearance and then Themes. (When you find a theme you like, you upload the zip file.) I prefer to use a Premium Theme because there is better support, the themes are updated, are coded well, and have more bells and whistles. My theme company of choice is StudioPress. They rock and are well coded. To install a Genesis theme you upload the Genesis Framework zip file first. (do not activate it) Then upload the Genesis child theme of your choice. Activate that. The Framework is very powerful and runs underneath the child theme. If you make customizations on the child theme, they will not be lost in upgrades.
There are certain settings you will want to use when you first upload WordPress. I can definitely help you with that but my blog post is long enough already.
WordPress has some amazing plugins that you will want to use.
Create a mailing list opt-in box to communicate with your readers. MailChimp is a great one to start out with because it’s free for up to 2,000 names.
So, quit waiting for the phone to ring and start creating a voice-over business now. (emphasis on business)
Disclaimer: This post may contain some affiliate links, which means if you click and make a purchase I might be able to buy myself a cup of coffee.