sign up for our

Home Shop Subscribe Advertise Articles Directories Classifieds Calendar FAQs Contact Us Login

Are You STILL Not Getting Lots Of Repeat
Business From Your VO Clients? (Here's Why)

August 26, 2016

By Paul Strikwerda
Voice Actor

This may sound like a pop quiz, but ...
  • Are you a go-with-the-flow person, or do you like to plan everything out?
  • Do you like surprises, or do you prefer to know what will happen next?
  • How well do you handle uncertainty, and last-minute changes?
Personally, I think life would be unexciting without the unexpected. I like not knowing what I will get for my birthday. I love to give a chef free rein, as he creates a special dish for me.

I purposefully seek out new ideas and uncharted avenues. It keeps the brain cells bouncing around in playful anticipation.

But forget personal preferences for a moment. Letís talk about the lifeblood of your business: your clients.


If thereís one thing clients all over the world consistently hate, itís not knowing what to expect.

Thatís understandable. In an uncertain and stressful world, clients want:
  • reliability,
  • dependability, and
  • predictability.
If your work is inconsistent, you canít be trusted to deliver a product or service a client can count on.

As an example, Iíve been going to the same restaurant for years, and the food was always outstanding. Always. Until a few months ago. The menu had changed. The wait staff wasnít the same, and the open kitchen had disappeared. That evening, I had one of the worst meals ever, and now I hesitate to go back.


Consistent delivery is about much more than the way you read your lines.

As a solopreneur, youíre judged by the way you deliver a total package. This starts with first impressions:
  • What does your website look like?
  • How do your demos sound?
  • What kind of equipment do you use?
  • How do you present yourself in person, via email, in social media, and over the phone?
If done right, all of these elements should send one consistent and congruent message: In a time where anyone can hang out a shingle and pretend to be a pro, it is easy to spot the inconsistencies that turn clients off.

Do you want examples? Be my guest!


On her website, one freelancer boasted about "years of experience.Ē Then I looked at her client list ofÖ seven companies total. None of them were names you would recognize.

Another colleague thought that adding that amateur Polaroid snapshot to his website would really impress visitors. I hope his ideal clients are into Margaritaville, because thatís the logo I spotted in the pictureís background. 

Can it get any worse? Of course.

A few years ago I went to a recording session in Manhattan. The first thing I heard when I came in, was the sound of crying kids. One of the other talents had brought her two toddlers to the studio. The high-end client who had flown in for the session was not amused.

One voice actor described himself on his website as detail-oriented. In the next paragraph I found not one but two spelling errors.

Sending mixed messages like that undermines credibility. It kills trust.


Hereís another inconsistency that clients talk about all the time.

They hire a voice over based on a kick-ass demo. The talent gets the script and records the audio. But when the client receives the recording, it sounds nothing like the voice on the demo tracks.

You can guess how this came about. The super slick demo was overproduced, and later doctored by a talented audio engineer. When it was time to do the real work, the voice talent went back to her boomy closet booth where she self-directed.

"Iím not going to pay for that,Ē said the angry producer. "This girl charges top-dollar for something I canít use!Ē

Thatís another inconsistency. In this case, the quality of the product did not match the price.


Hereís one more pet peeve of mine.

A talented voice actor offered a quick turnaround time. It took him over a week before he got back to me. Mind you, during that period he was all over Facebook.

Iíll have to think a very long time before I ever recommend him.


Now, before you tell me that this advice is one of those "nice reminders for beginners,Ē you should know that I find these types of inconsistencies across the board.

In fact, fresh talent seems a lot more willing to please, because they still have to make a name for themselves.

Some veteran voice actors, on the other hand, have become complacent. They believe that their reputation should speak for itself.

Although a nice portfolio doesnít hurt, many clients donít want to know what you have done for others in the past. All they need to know is this: "What can you do for me, today?Ē

Hereís the bottom line. If you advertise yourself as a pro, you have to present yourself as a pro on ALL levels.

Thereís a reason why a fashion designer doesnít dress like a slob. It is obvious why a fitness trainer is usually in good shape. Itís part of a consistent message. A message a client is more likely to remember and respond to.
Paul Strikwerda is a 25-year veteran of the voice over industry whose Nethervoice service features German and Dutch voice overs, translation and evaluation services. Born in Holland, he has worked for Dutch national and international radio, the BBC and American Public Radio. Although 90% of his work is in English, Strikwerda also records in Dutch, German and French. Clients include Novartis, Johnson & Johnson, and the Discovery Channel. And he is author of the new book, Making MONEY In Your PJs: Freelancing for voice-overs and other solopreneurs, and publishes an informative and entertaining blog, Double Dutch.

Double Dutch Blog:

Making MONEY In Your PJs:

Your Daily Resource For Voice-Over Success
Tell Us What YOU Think!
Please Note: Since we check for spam, there will be a slight delay in the actual posting of your comment.
Your Name:
Your Email Address (will not be published):
Your Comment:
Your Comment:
Security code:     
Comments (3)
Jim Conlan
8/31/2016 at 10:13 AM
Paul, it's not just the "home-made" demos that misrepresent talent. I know of certain voice talent who are tricked into paying a lot of money for a demo that doesn't represent their ability or their market strengths. It sounds great, but bears little resemblance to reality. A strong demo involves lots of time, plus lots of attention to how a voice talent fits into the market. I caution newcomers to avoid come-ons from "experts" who offer a few remote recording sessions for thousands of dollars that result in a slick but meaningless demo.
Paul Strikwerda
8/29/2016 at 10:48 AM
Bernard, check out the website of Cheryl Welch: Cheryl designs logos and much more. Her husband is Roy Yokelson, and that means she knows a thing or two about our business.
Bernard Schaer
8/27/2016 at 6:28 AM
Great advice, Paul! You wouldn't happen to know a logo designer, would you? Bernard
Back to Articles
Voice over tools, tips and techniques
On Michael Langsner's Voice-Over Roadmap Podcast
Get your bi-weekly dose here ... all things VO!