Developing a Voice Over Business Plan

The Professional's Guide To Voice Acting

Why is mapping out a voice over business plan a must for building a career as a professional voice actor?

You may say to yourself: Wait a second—I’m an actor working in a creative industry. My work is artistic. I shouldn’t have to manage myself as if my personal identity is a business.

The truth is, if you plan on pursuing self-employment in the voice industry, and intend to reach a point where you’re fully supporting yourself by doing voice overs and voice acting work, then crafting a business plan is something you are absolutely going to have to do.

If you want your voice acting career to be treated seriously, then you first have to start treating voice acting like a business (your business, as a matter of fact). And the product that you’re selling, in this case, is literally your own voice.

Your voice is your instrument. As a voice actor, your voice allows you to communicate messages to audiences who are waiting to hear them. You’re a storyteller, a communicator and entertainer wrapped in one. The human voice is the most persuasive tool that we have as communicators to reach hearts, minds and ears.

When you think about voice from a business perspective, it is good to remember that your voice is the product you are selling. Everyone wants to book more voice over work, but only those who have a good understanding of voice acting as a business will be able to build upon and replicate their success.

For this, you need a solid business plan.

Having a business plan will help you stay motivated; remind you of why you want to be self-employed, and what you offer that makes your services different from those of other voice talent. It will help you keep track of your business and assess where you may need some financial backing in order to achieve your goals.

As your business takes off, it is important that you regularly check in with the goals that you initially set, and continue to revise and update them. Your voice over business plan should be a living, breathing document that matures over time.

Key Elements of a Voice Over Business Plan

Voice Over Business Proposal

Your voice over business plan should open with a description that clearly expresses your business’ purpose, the industry it will belong to, and the demographic you’re hoping to target. Make sure to include personal objectives and any extra factors that will contribute to your company’s success. This opening proposal will serve as the backbone for all other sections of your voice over business plan.

Voice Over Market Overview

Conducting a thorough market analysis is a crucial step toward composing your business plan. At its core, a market overview should demonstrate what you’re up against in the voice over industry. You’ll need to research key metrics such as job statistics, average voice talent earnings, economic stability, and the estimated net worth of the industry, or industry segment you work in (i.e. cartoons). Be sure to provide detailed information about your target markets and client demographics.

Voice Over Services

This section of your voice over business plan should be devoted to outlining the services you offer, including any complementary services, like music production, copywriting, or post-production. Outline the solutions that you provide to your clients and how they benefit from working with you specifically. List your rates for each type of voice over service.

Voice Acting Experience & Qualities

Briefly outline the training and experiences that you’ve had in the voice over industry, and how they have shaped your current pursuits. You should also note any specific vocal qualities that make your services appealing to customers—whether that relates to styles of vocal performance you specialize in, unusual sounds you can make, or vocal attributes that you uniquely possess.

Business Operations

This section exists for you to outline how and where you plan to run your voice over business. Detail all of the costs involved, as well any special licences or legalities that will factor into said cost, especially considering that you may be working entirely from home. You should similarly provide detailed information on administrative needs, including any projected human resource costs, such as hiring an assistant or bookkeeper. Your overhead includes the acquisition and maintenance of your recording studio and equipment. List all of the expenses that will be necessary for you to follow through with the services you are offering.

Development and Growth Plan

Don’t be afraid to dream big. This is the section where you’re allowed to openly envision your business’ future endeavors. Provide specific details regarding how you plan to market your business, where you’d like to see yourself in two years, and demonstrate exactly how you intend to get there.

Financial Summary

In order to achieve your future dreams, it’s important to zero in on the present. Round up a range of financial data, including assets, investments, and total net worth (both your own and your business’). This section is particularly important if you’re in search of a business loan, since it gives the lender some numbers to work with as they estimate your ability to repay the loan. Don’t forget to highlight anticipated cash flow: the amount of money required to run your business, as well as expected annual income.

Executive Summary

This section essentially serves as a synopsis of everything in your voice over business plan. We’ve listed the Executive Summary at the end of our list because it’s the final part of your voice over business plan that you should write, after all the other components are compiled, although it should be placed at the very opening of your plan. Brevity is key with this section, which should not exceed one or two pages.

5 Most Common Voice Over Business Plan Mistakes

1. Drawing on old information: When you’re crafting your voice over business plan, be careful not to feature statistics about the state of the industry that were published 10 years ago. It’s worthwhile to fully commit to doing comprehensive research to uncover information that examines what the current and projected statistics are. Cite your sources, and use graphs and visuals to illustrate your points whenever possible. Your business plan should be as up-to-date as possible.

2. Biting off more than you can chew: While it’s commendable and even encouraged to be ambitious when mapping out your voice over business plan, make sure to substantiate your claims, assumptions, and projections, with industry forecasts that are wholly rooted in reality. This will help you set goals that are achievable and clearly defined, which will result in potential investors taking you and your business plan all the more seriously.

3. Using inaccurate financial data: If your voice over business is liable to suffer financial setbacks, it is best to be transparent about this from the beginning. Be open with yourself and the future audience for your business plan. Every successful business encounters numerous road bumps along the way, but these road bumps can become a severe hindrance when you have ignored financial realities and neglected to properly plan for them. It will serve everyone better in the end to carefully map out your voice over business plan from the get-go.

4. Thinking you can do it all: Remember what we said about the signature voice earlier? While most voice actors want to perform all sorts of roles and in a variety of styles, successful voice actors know that they have a signature voice and can pinpoint areas of voice over that they specialize in. Once you have figured out where your voice shines, include that information in your business plan. Being able to clearly articulate what your strengths are as a voice actor will define your brand and help people to appreciate why they should hire you and not someone else. That said, you also need to be honest with yourself about your weaknesses. If you’re including a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) in your business plan, you can identify areas of voice acting that you are purposefully not pursuing. Strategy is knowing what not to do. It’s about making choices that set you up for success and differentiate you from other voice actors.

5. Not knowing your target audience: Directly related to the point above, voice actors need to know who they are targeting. A good voice over is one that connects with its intended audience. This means knowing who you are speaking to, why you’re speaking to them and how you can connect with the audience your voice is reaching. If you try to be all things to all people, you will flounder, both as a voice actor and as a marketer. Knowing your signature voice opens the door to knowing who will listen to you (the target market) and what roles you are more likely to book. If you don’t know who is more likely to hire you to record voice overs for their companies, not many banks or lenders will want to give you money to build your business. Get financial institutions and lenders on your side by clearly identifying distinct buyers of your voice. This will make all the difference. If you don’t have a target, you’ll miss every time.