I’ve found that the vast majority of my time as a voice over artist is spent on running this whole venture as a business. In fact, if I had to put a number on it, I’d say I spent about 90% of my time looking for clients, chasing leads, following up with current clients and generally stumbling around in a daze wondering just what the hell is going on and the remaining 10% actually doing voice over work...
Well, that last bit might just be one of my own personality traits, but the point still stands! There’s a lot of work that needs to go into this as a business and probably the most vital of these is making sure your client relationships are top notch.
I’ve touched on some of the business aspects in the past in a previous blog here about finding your niche, but today I wanted to delve into a little more detail on another key aspect of the business side of voice over and running through some handy rules for keeping the clients happy.
Rule 1 – Always be offering something of value to the client
I’ve mentioned this before, but I always think it’s worth repeating – The client owes you nothing. We need our clients far more than they need us. It can be easy for us to take every ignored audition or unanswered email as a cruel personal rejection and we lament “Oh why won’t these clients just see my greatness as I do and give me money?”
Again, the clients owe you nothing. This is true for any business though, not just for the plucky voice over artist! Whatever type of business you’re running you need to remember that your competition will run into the thousands, that’s thousands of little voices all clamouring for the client’s attention all screaming “pick me!”
So, instead of shouting pick me how about showing what you can do for the client to make you stand out? Here are just a few of the little bits of added value that I’ve used in the past:
· Discounted rates for long term clients or those signing up for large projects
· Referring other voice over artists where I’ve found my own skills weren’t a match for the role or I wasn’t available
· Referring clients to other contacts who might need their services (Basically always try to keep your clients in mind!)
· Do proper research on your clients, what are their needs? What services do they use? What are their interests? Once you’ve done your research share content with them related to those interests or content that might help them, this can be anything from blogs and videos to suggested networking events you think they might find useful
· Offer small free samples. I always offer to record a short sample of any client’s project free of charge before they take me on. This way they can see the quality of my work and have lost nothing if they decide my voice isn’t a good match for the project in the end. Its offering value by making your service risk free for the client!
· Share the client’s own content on social media. Don’t go crazy with this mind you, I’d only share something if you enjoyed the content yourself, you don’t want to come off as disingenuous by oversharing!
This list isn’t exhaustive and are just a few of the things you can do to add that extra value to the client.
I keep a big old spread sheet with all my clients on there with a couple of columns added to the end that say, “How can add value to this client” and “Who can I refer this client to”. I’ve found these 2 simple columns to be very handy for always keeping the client in mind and I’ll add dates to the list to follow up with some sort of value adding action.
Just remember, try not to bombard your clients and overdo it!
Rule 2- Be communicative
I really shouldn’t have to mention this one here, you’d think this one would be a no brainer but you’d be surprised at the comments I get from clients who are frustrated at the lack of communication for other voice over artists.
Numerous times I’ve had clients come back with “Thanks for the quick response” even if I’ve not been able to respond for at least 24 hours (and this is just to an email by the way, not a full project!), so I can only imagine what slow repose times other voice over artists might be giving them!
Technology has made it even easier than ever to keep in touch with your clients so there’s no excuse really! Some points I follow are:
· Always respond to clients as soon as you’re able
· Keep clients up to date on the progress of any projects
· If it looks like you’re going to miss a deadline always and I mean ALWAYS let the client
know well in advance. The vast majority of the time they’ll be completely understanding and will appreciate you getting in touch.
· The same applies when you think you might not be suitable for a project. I’ve turned down a few projects because I’ve not felt I’ve been the right fit for the job, and in most cases the clients appreciate the honesty and keep me in mind for future projects that might pop up.
· Always make it clear when you’re not available
Rule 3 – Try and go above and beyond
So, the client needs that project by the end of the week? - How about getting it to them the next day?
You’ve noticed some wording in a script that could be written to sound more natural? Give the client a shout and ask if they’d like you to make some amendments free of charge? Now, I know some voice over artists will always charge for this but I do a lot of overseas work with scripts written by none native speakers, I always this type of proof reading for free and it really doesn’t take too much time out of my day. And the reward of building an excellent relationship and repeat clients is more than worth the time.
What I’m basically saying here is always keep an eye out for how you can provide a better service and always try to keep standing out from the crowd.
Rule 4 – Remember the client is only human too
It can be easy to see clients as faceless pixels at the other end of an email. This can be especially true for the modern voice over artist who will spend time copped up in a home recording studio and might never even speak to a client let alone meet them in person, all work being done entirely online.
That’s why its important to remember the client at the other end is only human, too. Don’t worry if you feel they’re not engaging, maybe they’ve had a bad day? Remember, they’ll be getting bombarded with emails too so may not be keeping you at the top of mind.
Try to get to know their interests through their website and social media, the clients aren’t just leads to be pumped for jobs but living, breathing people with their own goals and desires so try and treat them that way in your daily dealings.
There are of course a lot more aspects to maintain a client relationship than the points I’ve mentioned here but these are a good list to get started with, so get out there and start making friends!