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How To Cultivate Repeat Customers
For Ongoing Voice Over Work 

Amy TaylorBy Amy Taylor
Voice Actor  

Sure, we all love the one-time gig that comes along and pays our mortgage and car payment with perhaps a little left over for that flat screen TV. 
We should all strive for those gigs any chance we're given.
However, the truth is that for most of us, those dream jobs are few and far between and leave a whole lot of mortgage and car payments to cover in the interim.
This is where the repeat customer comes into play.

Although there are a few exceptions of talents who make a living without repeat customers, for the rest of us expecting to make a living doing voice overs, it is imperative that we have a stable of repeat business in order to survive.
This means having a stream of work that we can count on every month, especially in tough economic times. 
It depends on your rates and financial obligations, but I suggest at least 10 of these clients who bring you daily or weekly work.
Repeat business customers may be - but are not limited to - production houses, web-based audio companies, advertising agencies, on-hold messaging businesses and recording studios.
It may not be the glamorous kind of work you'd rather be doing.
It can be tedious work involving serious editing and may take a whole lot more time than a quick 30-second spot that paid triple what you're going to make per job.

But the steady flow of this kind of work will help pay those bills on a more consistent basis than the elusive big money projects.
Do not ignore these smaller companies when the one-time high-paying gig comes your way!
You don't want to jeopardize that steady - albeit smaller - paycheck when times get tough again.

Okay, so how do you find these repeat customers? 
Start with clients who have hired you in the past, even if it was just one time. You need to remind them that you exist. Be creative.
If you are comfortable with it, offer them a discount if they use your services in the future.
Keep good records of clients you've worked for in the past. Know how much work you do for them on a monthly basis. 
If you have clients for whom you notice you're doing a lot of work some months, then periods of no work and perhaps a small amount of work the next, you can suggest working for them on retainer for an amount of work you'd be willing to do.
Negotiate a price with the client.
Once an agreement is reached, if the client feels that they are paying you regardless of whether you do the work or not, they will be more likely to send the work your way.

Radio imaging talent already use similar retainer systems for the stations they do business with.

What if you're just starting out? What if you haven't gotten any clients yet?
I strongly suggest joining at least one of the pay-to-play websites at the paid level. This type of membership will allow you to send in auditions to the leads you receive.
Occasionally, I've seen leads that say something like, "Looking for talent who can provide on-going work." 
If you pick one audition to answer that day, that should be the one. 
Really take the time to come up with a quote that you can live with, because if chosen, you'll need to honor that agreement.
Do not quote so low that you'll be kicking yourself every month for agreeing to a ridiculous amount of money for the effort you'll put in.
Do offer a reasonable rate for your voice over services. Answering these leads could land you a few repeat business customers.

If there are small companies in your area that you'd like to turn into repeat business customers, they are a great source of income for voice talent. 
Start with companies you patronize. It's much easier to sell yourself to them if you really use the product or service they offer.
Good examples are the gym you go to, the bank you use, or your dentist's office.
Many of these companies use IVR systems (interactive voice response), and guess what they need for those? You guessed it, voice talents.
If you have a rapport with these people already, suggest they use your services for their voice prompts, on-hold messages, etc.
This may not only land you that specific client, but it may put you in touch with the on-hold company they use. 
It could snowball into a ton of work for you. 
Those who are put on hold when calling these establishments may be potential clients, as well. 
When they ask the receptionist whose voice they use, they will say you! Once you are heard on one system, chances are you'll get more clients who will want to use you on theirs.
Be consistent. Provide high-quality recordings in a timely manner. 
Your professionalism goes a long way in garnering repeat business customers. 
They will keep coming back if they like the results you give them. Voice on!  


Amy Taylor is an award-winning ISDN bilingual voice talent specializing in English and Spanish voice overs. She has recorded for Nickelodeon, Subway, Clorox, Radio City Music Hall, ESPN and Verizon Wireless. 
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Comments (7)
Amy Taylor
10/13/2011 at 6:44 AM
Keep doin' what you're doin' Chuck!

Roxanne- every job counts.

Roy- I have to disagree there. I was chosen for an ongoing gig on a P2P back in 05 from a field of 98 applicants. That one client has netted me about 10K a year. If I hadn't thrown my hat into the ring, I'd never know. There are clients who listen to each audition and hand pick the one that fits. Sure, I've auditioned plenty that never get opened. You just never know. Auditioning is quick and usually painless, so why not send one in? To quote the CT Lottery slogan, "You can't win if you don't play." Happy voicing to you, Roy!
Roxanne Hernandez
10/12/2011 at 3:11 PM
Hey, Amy - you're SO right on! I've been saying these exact things to my friends who are new in v.o. and don't know the power of steady customers. It's a referral based business and once it kicks off tends to create its own momentum. Big jobs, small ones....all fair game over here.
Roy Wells
10/12/2011 at 12:02 PM
Regarding the pa- to-play sites, there's one site that right now has an open job with 142 applicants. That's just ridiculous. You can't possibly hope to be noticed in a crowd like that, and it's unlikely the voice-seeker will even listen to half of those auditions. These sites are an exercise in futility.
Chuck Davis
10/11/2011 at 4:53 PM
Well said Amy. Both you and Bob Souer via his "Invite the Avalanche" talk at FaffCon have made me realize that the way I've been doing business...what seemed like the right in fact, just that.
Amy Taylor
10/11/2011 at 11:39 AM
Very eloquently put, Lisa. I love the patchwork quilt analogy. I've been blessed to work on so many different projects and I've learned so much in the process. And Judy, it's a mix of several income streams indeed. Volunteering your voice is noble, especially for charitable organizations. It'll pay off. Streams of income that were once lucrative may dwindle down to a trickle, while others gain momentum and become our main source of income for a while. We just have to be flexible and go with the flow.
Judy Fossum
10/11/2011 at 9:58 AM
Thanks Amy, for sharing such great ideas on places to contact for potential VO work. This business is most certainly a mix of several income streams (small and large).

There are opportunities everywhere. One never knows who you will bump into or meet who has a need for what we do.

Another venue for voice is museum audio tours. Most cities (large and small) have several museums, some of which may need their audio tours updated. In some cases it is possible the museums do not even know this is something that is available. This has been my experience a time or two and the people at the museum were happy that I brought it to their attention. I am grateful to have voiced the audio tour for our local Children's Village. I did the work on a volunteer basis, but who knows where it will lead.

Thanks for helping us think outside of the box.

Judy Fossum
Judy Fossum VoiceOvers
Lisa Rice
10/11/2011 at 8:00 AM
Thanks for another great article, Amy. I agree with you. The high-paying projects are sweet but the "bread-and-butter" ones sustain our business.

Many voice talent have disdain for Pay-to-Play sites but several of my regular customers either found me there and by-passed the system to hire directly or awarded the job once and continue to do so.

For some of us, voice over work looks less like a cashmere blanket and more like a patchwork quilt.
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