My September promotion (Voice Over Awareness Today) offers a new VO question each week, seeks answers from the VO community, and some respondents win prizes on a random basis. Hundreds participated, and I do believe a lot of valuable information was shared.
Now, here it is January, and I get a nice email from Garrett Driscoll. I hadn’t met Garrett before, but the question was whether his enterprise — Proud Voices — might be a sponsor of VOAT2013.
One email led to another, and the next thing you know you’re reading a blog about Proud Voices (and yes, you’ll see them as a sponsor this year).
Learning about PV, reminded me of the thing I love about the business of voice acting: it’s enterprising and entrepreneurial spirit. Driscoll seized on a workable idea, and has turned it into a great business model, website, service, and vision. Beyond that, he’s creating work for quite a few voice-actors.
I asked Garrett if he would mind responding to a few questions I put to him, and he replied with the explanations you see below.
Thanks Garrett, and best of luck to you! Be sure to see his offer at the bottom of the questions…(and Garrett, don’t forget me when you think about expanding your roster!)
DAVE: What was the genesis of ProudVoices? What was the perceived need in the marketplace?
GARRETT: Hi Dave, Thanks for giving me the opportunity to do this interview on your blog. Well, I’ve been involved in music since I was 10 years old and I graduated from Berklee School of Music with a degree in Production in 2003. After that I fell into a job opportunity that took me very far away from audio production and I always hoped to go back to it. Because I love music and recording. After school I stared working online. I’ve owned several different types of internet businesses stretching back from 2006 and thought putting the 2 together would be a perfect fit for how I wanted to move forward. I wanted to use what I had picked up running online businesses as far as advertising, acquiring customers online, developing new products, and try to put them all together. One of my teachers at Berklee made a great living recording audiobooks and I thought it might be a good niche where I could own a stable business and get back into audio production. I was also working on a music project at the time and had the idea to use a voiceover for an intro part in a song. I searched the web and was really surprised by the amount of great talent that I came across. So, I started writing up plans to launch the site.
DAVE: How long have you been working to get PV to launch?
GARRETT: Actually, getting the site up and running was a fairly quick process. I’ve run similar businesses in the past, so I just built on what I had learned over the past 6 years. But, getting the site to the point where it has become profitable has taken much longer. Advertising online has become increasingly more expensive over the last few years. You really have to get creative to find new customer sources at a price which makes sense. It’s an ongoing process, but the longer you can work with it, the more you can optimize it and make it profitable.
DAVE: Why is IVR your “bread ‘n’ butter”?
GARRETT: I really like IVR jobs because they aren’t subjective to the customer. For “character type” voice overs, the customer usually has an idea in their head about the tone and inflections that they want in the piece. It can require multiple re-takes and customer service to get it right. But with IVR jobs, business owners just need a clear, professional sounding voice that follows their script. These are much easier to deliver and business owners definitely have the money to pay for them. They are usually very easy to work with.
DAVE: How did you settle on a roster of 10 male and 10 female artists?
GARRETT: Actually we have about 5 male and 5 female voices now. When we started out, we had about 30 voices. It didn’t take long to realize that some artists could produce a much better quality product than others. I like the customers to be happy and really want to give them the best voiceover possible. It just made sense to stick with the talent who could make a great product, really wanted to work, and was dependable. Working with a large talent pool made it much more difficult to maintain quality and keep tabs on everybody.
DAVE: Tell us how your process works – from the client’s call with a need for a voice, to the delivery of the voice for their project.
GARRETT: Customers can either call us or fill out our online quote form. We then send an email with talent recommendations, sometimes a quick sample, and an online order form. We try to do this within a few minutes if possible. Once they place the order, we get started and within 24-48 hours deliver the files.
DAVE: How do you market your services to prospects?
GARRETT: We market our services mainly with online advertising, which I have a strong background in. Making a profit with advertising is simply about getting the customer to your site at the right price. We currently advertise on 10 different ad platforms (including Adwords, Bing, Yahoo, etc). It has taken about 6 months of hard work to find ad placements which are profitable for us. I think that the longer this business runs, the more we can optimize the ads, find new customer sources, and increase volume.
DAVE: You mentioned the next step is a video production service. Why that direction?
GARRETT: I feel like video production may be a larger market than voiceover production. If we want to do more revenue, we have to expand into new areas and develop new products to sell. When we began, customers started requesting video production right off the bat. Video production seemed to make sense, because we have the voice talent setup, so adding a video production service to compliment it would open up a whole new market for us.
DAVE: What other components do you want to add to ProudVoices?
GARRETT: We’re also considering adding products like web design, graphic design, and advertising services. It makes sense because we’re dealing with businesses who may or may not be happy with their online presence. So, if they come to us for a voiceover, maybe we can also offer them a website, logo design, or video, etc.
DAVE: How many people work at ProudVoices?
GARRETT: Not including the voice talent, there are 3 of us right now. We would like to keep it as a small close group, so we can grow it without getting overburdened with high costs and overhead.
DAVE: People may want to approach you about being a voice talent for ProudVoices after seeing this interview. Would you welcome future prospective voices?
GARRETT: If you would like to send us a demo, feel free to submit one to [email protected]