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Monday, September 21, 2015

Are You In It for the Long Haul with Your Clients?

The voice over industry has changed dramatically over the last 10 years.  Competition has gone up, with more actors looking for jobs than ever before.  However, there’s also more work out there, with the rise of video game voice over and other niche markets.  So with all this competition and, thankfully, available jobs, how can you ensure a steady flow of work for yourself? Well, one way is to view your clients as long-term fixtures in your career, rather than simply seeking a short-term gain from them.

There are a few reasons why it is advantageous to you to enter into professional relationships with a focus on the long haul.  One is that you increase your chances of getting and maintaining a regular work flow when you’re working with known clients.  When your clients know and trust you, and are familiar with your skill set, they’re more likely to keep throwing work your way.  Another benefit goes toward your reputation. Long-term relationships with clients tell other prospective clients that you are an experienced professional who works well with others.  Finally, working with clients long-term also creates a smoother, more efficient working relationship, with both of you understanding each other’s needs and communicating more effectively.

So how does a voice over actor cultivate these long haul relationships?  Well, the first step is to do your homework on potential clients.  Make sure they are legitimate companies that will pay as promised. The fastest way to upset a voice over actor and destroy a working relationship is to not make payments for completed work.  Don’t become a victim – check references and do what you can to ensure the new client can pay up when it’s due.

Another necessity for maintaining long-term working relationships is to be upfront and honest and expect the same of your clients.  Establish this in the beginning, and be sure that effective communication plays a role in every exchange. Many actor-client relationships have ended prematurely simply because the parties didn’t know how to communicate well.

Finally, if you want your clients to look after you (i.e., keep the work coming), you will need to look after them.  This means being fair and honest, recognizing your capabilities and limits, and not taking on more work than you can handle.  There may also be times when issues arise regarding fair payment. I’m talking about script reworking, re-reads, and things of that nature. If you don’t feel that the originally agreed-upon compensation is fair any longer due to changes in the project, speak up.  However, if it’s something that ends up being a minor detail, like changing out a few words, you might want to let that slide.  While there are actors that don’t agree with this philosophy, instead demanding more money for “extra” work, these are the situations that result in short-term work. 

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