BUSINESS: PART 1
Is Your Voice Over Business Profitable?
The Bottom Line Is Running It Right
September 11, 2013
Note: The author presents The Voice Over Wheel of Fortune, an important session in the Business and Marketing track at the Voice Over Virtual online conference, September 18-20, 2013. Click for details and registration.
By Bobbin Beam
Having a successful career as a professional voice actor isn’t just about the craft of voice acting. In voice over, it’s mostly dependent on your business sense, and ability to manage your business.
And if you’re newer to voice over - and unless you’re earning more than $100,000 per year - in most cases you won’t be able to afford to hire a manager to handle your business details as a voice talent.
So that means, running a successful professional voice over services business is up to you!
FOLLOW A PLAN
The bottom line: You must be making enough money to retain a healthy enough profit margin to maintain and grow your professional voice over career.
You’ve probably heard the grim statistics. Most new businesses close down within one to three years. So I strongly suggest you have a road map, such as a business plan. Revise your business plan as often as necessary, and do so at least every 18 months.
The way the voice acting business has changed and morphed, and with the constant infusion of new voice talent to the space, even if you’re an experienced voice over actor you must keep up with trends in professional voice over and voice acting, auditioning, digital audio delivery and more.
The changes in just the past five years have been mind-numbing.
COLLECT HATS ...
You’ve no doubt heard or have already learned that a business owner wears many hats.
Running a successful enterprise is similar to running a marathon. You need to be in for the long haul!
In our field, we’re the product, the voice over artist, talent, director, producer, editor, creative writer, procurement officer, actor, accountant, trouble-shooter, marketer, designer, social media networking pro, bill collector - and the list goes on.
Show business is really about 10% "show” and 90% business!
YOUR BIZ STRUCTURE
Many ask if it's necessary for a VO talent to have some kind of legal and organizational structure. Like any business, there are options.
There’s the "C” corporation, the "S” Corp, LLC, and partnerships. Each is very different.
Setting up your business structure is best discussed first with a professional, like your CPA to see if the financial disposition of your voice over business warrants it. Then consult an attorney.
For instance, my CPA is worth his weight in gold. I actually consider him part of my management team, and consult with him on weighty matters.
An attorney will advise you to do whatever is possible, and will do what you wish, for a sizeable fee.
WHAT'S BEST FOR YOU?
Weigh the pros and cons.
For example, I incorporated a C Corp for a different company and hired an attorney to handle things. It can be cumbersome and costly to properly maintain necessary records, set up tax and payment entities and execute everything by the book.
Also consider: You’ll have the cloak of liability protection in a C Corp, the S Corp and LLC/LLP to a degree…but really… at what cost? And why?
Unless you are making over $100,000 / year, or are unscrupulously, blatantly plagiarizing ad copy and pirating music and sound effects, or if you have a studio where clients come and go regularly, I suggest your liability exposure is practically nil.
The attorney fees and business liability insurance, hiring a CPA to file special tax returns - other than bragging rights - I feel it’s unnecessary, unless you are making so much money you can no longer manage the enterprise by yourself, and you need help
ORGANIZE FOR PROFITS
A successful business is highly organized. In order to become organized, you need the proper tools, coupled with the right mindset and discipline.
When you are organized you can focus, run at peak efficiency, and make a profit. Once you’re making money, you can move forward, gain momentum - and make a profit.
You’ll notice I’m focused on profitability!
Note: Earning $25 on a message-on-hold gig doesn’t mean you’re making a profit.
See Part 2: Rates Should Reflect Your Costs of Doing Business
Bobbin Beam is a very active voice talent specializing in projects for broadcast and business. She also writes a very entertaining and informative blog, Bobbin's Blog.
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