What's your niche? How did you find it? Or did it find you?
In this blog, we're going to explore voiceover niches, and whether they are things you yourself can determine, or whether they happen naturally.
When I moved into Voiceover, I came from an acting background, so naturally, I assumed that the likelihood was I would be working in acting-based voice-over, things like audiobooks, gaming, animation, and audio drama. Now despite the fact that I do record audiobooks, the other areas haven't been a place of constant work for me.
That may be because of the competition, the need for a big agent, or the fact that I'm not as skilled in those areas as I need to be at this stage. There are a myriad of reasons. But after reviewing a lot of the work I've done over the past few months, this got me thinking about the work that has found me, the work that has landed in my lap, the work I have sought out, and the work that I didn't expect to be doing.
So let's break this down into three ideas, the work you want to do, the work that finds you, and the work you didn't expect. Then finally we'll delve into mastering those niches for yourself.
So let us begin...
The work you want to do:
Like many voiceovers, I have demo reels for almost every area of the industry, commercial, corporate, educational, gaming, animation, and audiobooks. I have samples that allow clients in all of those industries to hear what I can do. Does that mean I am always working in all those sectors, NO! But of course, it displays that I have the skills to do so, should a client come along.
So if we're thinking about designing our own niches, not only do we need to address the areas of the industry that we want to work in, but within each of those, the styles that might lend themselves to our voice.
So for instance,
I want to work in commercial voiceover,
Does that mean promo?
High-end television ads?
Character Commercial Voices?
Or all of the above?
And a lot of this also ties into knowing your voice, which I'm sure we'll be blogging about in the not-too-distant future. But if you are trying to carve out a niche for yourself in one or more of those areas, you need to make sure you have examples of your voice in those styles, and a great understanding of what they require, and why they are different.
Sidenote - niches as subjects
Now, something I have done, and am continuing to do with more areas, is create niches in areas I am interested in, instead of ones that the industry already predetermines.
On my website, I have a Sustainability work page, which showcases all the work I have done for sustainability companies, and my inspiration behind lending my voice to them. This has brought more work of the same type my way, and created a niche for my voice as a self-branded 'voice of tomorrow.'
So if you really want to be a voice for healthy foods, the construction industry, or new music promos, create a landing page specific to that niche and showcase the work.
The work that finds you:
As many of you will know, the demos you have, the auditions you send out, and the work you have in your portfolio, will naturally bring work to you. And for the most part, it may well follow along from styles and examples that you previously had.
And over time, the likelihood is, that the work that finds you will determine your niches for you. As you continue down the road of gaining more and more work, you'll begin to see patterns emerging. The more corporate work I do, the more I realise most of it is split into two categories, the inspirational, motivational video where I talk about how great the company is, and the narrative, storytelling video where I introduce the company - sometimes they are both those things in one.
The more audiobooks I have recorded, the more I've worked in Romance and Historical Drama, my voice seems to lend itself to that kind of storytelling.
So when the work finds you, even if it's not something you thought you might be voicing, follow the path, as long as it's properly paid and doesn't go against any of your morals, be sure to allow the work to help you determine your niches.
The work you didn't expect:
Now this is interesting because I have spoken to many VOs over time who've said things like 'Oh I never thought I would be doing this,' or 'I hated the idea of this area of work, but it just kept coming.'
And sometimes, even if we know our voice very, very well, it determines an area of work that we just didn't expect. When I first started narrating audiobooks, I never thought I would move into Erotica, not because I have any moral gripes with it, it just didn't seem like something I wanted to do. I never imagined I'd be able to get through it without giggling like a schoolgirl, but it's become a constant part of my business.
So when work comes your way that you weren't expecting, evaluate whether you want to do it or not, but just know that it could lead to a constant stream of work, in an area that is surprising and interesting.
Being the master of your niches:
Now, once you've kept working, and once your demos are bringing in the work, it's time to master your niches.
How do we do this?
Well, there are a few ways. Once you notice the pattern of work that is coming your way, the regularity of corporate work, medical narration, e-learning, or whatever it is that seems to pop up more frequently in your job record (oh, and by the way, you need to keep a record of every single voiceover job that you do, it's really important for not only finding the work online but to look at the patterns of what you do) then you can start to use that to your advantage.
Write your own demos: don't be afraid to write some of the spots for your demos, and include previous work in them as well. By writing styles that you know you're good at, you're much more likely to attract that work, especially when it is also reflected in your portfolio.
Seek out related work: if you've worked in corporate narration, make sure you seek out more work in that area, market yourself to corporate production companies, and connect with potential clients in that area.
Create landing pages: as mentioned with my sustainability page, create landing pages on your website to feature specific areas, such as medical voiceover or IVR. Then when clients discover you they can see you already have a niche and work in that area.
So when it comes to your niches, if they haven't found you yet, then that's fine, keep working towards the areas you are interested in, and they will eventually become apparent.
And when they do, you'll be able to master them, market them, and generally increase and build your business.
Happy voicing everyone,