Q&A with Voiceover Artist & Entrepreneur, Kelley Buttrick
Kelley Buttrick, an award-winning voiceover talent heard in national television and radio ads, corporate videos, TV promos and radio imaging, is trusted by clients like Disney, ESPN, Country Crock, Pampers, IBM, Carnival, Target, Michelin, and Clinique. In the VO industry, she is known for her box-smashing marketing efforts. To hear Kelley’s demos and work, please visit kbvoiceovers.com.
Can you tell our readers about your background?
My work experience and education are in PR, media, and marketing but I also have a double minor and a background in acting. Voiceover is a marriage of both my passion and my experience.
What inspired you to start your business?
I was inspired to start my voiceover business because the job combines my acting background and marketing experience. I wanted wake up every day excited to work but also to provide an example for my daughters that a woman can run a successful business and a household simultaneously.
Where is your business based?
While my professionally-equipped VO studio is located in a soundproof room in our basement, I work with clients worldwide.
How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?
Voiceover is much more than having a “good voice.” To succeed in this field, one must wear many hats. From the moment my first demo was produced, I began planting seeds through networking and mass marketing, then cultivated those seeds through personalized relationship-building. I’m still reaping the benefits of those first plantings from back when I started KB Voiceovers in 2010.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?
Perhaps the most impactful way I’ve raised awareness of my business is the skill and professionalism I deliver in every voiceover session. In essence, my work speaks for itself and my passion for my craft comes through in every VO project I voice. More than 70% of my business is generated by repeat clients and referrals from those clients and my colleagues.
What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?
One of the biggest business challenges I’ve faced centers around the fact that I’m awful with bookkeeping. For the first year, my records were kept in a notebook with figures penciled into the “in” or “out” column. Even after training in Quickbooks, I realized that I was losing money (and my mind) trying to do my own accounting. One of the best moves I ever made was to hire a bookkeeper. It just so happens that Missy of M2M mobile bookkeeping is another mom running her own business, and I love that. There was a learning curve since voiceover accounting can be a bit tricky, but Missy quickly got a handle on it. I don’t know what I’d do without her.
How do you stay focused?
Because my workday is very similar to that of a plate-spinner at the circus, it’s difficult to stay focused. A friend suggested I try the Headspace and Calm apps. When I have 10 minutes, I’ll do a full-on Headspace meditation, but most days, I’ll grab three minutes here or there, between VO sessions and do deep breathing with Calm. It helps me focus on the task at hand.
How do you differentiate your business from the competition?
The voiceover industry is highly competitive. Differentiation is key. While I’m incredibly collaborative and will even create marketing opportunities together with my competition, what separates me is that my background gives me a big picture perspective and genuine understanding of what it’s like to be in my clients’ shoes. In addition, my experience and reputation help to distinguish me in an ocean of other female voiceover talents.
What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?
My most effective marketing strategy has been to make every effort personal. Working alone in a 4x5 soundproof VO booth with only your clients’ voices in your headphones, it’s difficult to make a personal connection. When I’m networking, I go to an event genuinely interested in learning other people’s stories. When I’m voicing live with clients, I take a personal interest in each person in that session. When I’m doing broad-stroke marketing, I do everything I can to make it feel less “mass” like writing a personal note on each postcard.
What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?
Look before you leap. Dreams are the stuff memes are made of, but this is real life, so do your research, plan your strategies, take action and evaluate. Then, do it all over again before taking each next big leap.
What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?
The Google Calendar app is a vital tool for my voiceover business. A client of mine recommended I try it. In January 2017, I switched and have never looked back. It’s easy, intuitive and works across my phone, computers, and iPad. I’m still old school when it comes to my handwritten to-do list, but Google Calendar keeps my VO session schedule in check.
What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?
My favorite business tool is my Neumann TLM 103 microphone. I hired an engineer to help me with my first voiceover home studio and was a little shocked at the amount of money it was going to cost to purchase the mic. When I said I’d read about other less expensive mics that might be fine for my voice, he said having this Neumann microphone would let people know that I was in the game to win. It was great advice. Not only is this microphone ideally suited to my voice, having a Neumann mic in my studio has helped with my marketing and differentiation. It’s also the only piece of gear I’ve never had to upgrade.
Who is your business role model? Why?
My mother is my business role model. She was an English and art teacher and, prior to that, worked as a graphic designer in an ad agency. When my little brother came home with an “F” on a colored-in ditto sheet because his tree trunk wasn’t brown and the leaves weren’t green, she did her research and found many elementary schools were losing their art teachers. She planned a strategy to put art education into the hands of classroom teachers. She took action by turning a bedroom into a studio to film a series of educational videos for classroom teachers to teach art across mathematics, science, social studies, and literature. My mom then devoted the next couple of decades to marketing and perfecting her art education program. She married her skills with her passion.
What do you have planned for the next six months?
In the next six months, I’m planning on updating my commercial demo with the more modern, conversational sound I’m booked most for these days and expanding my voiceover offerings to generate more television promo work. I’m also about to launch a fun blog where guest bloggers and I turn song titles into business advice for entrepreneurs and creatives called the Business Practice Playlist.
How can our readers connect with you?
If anyone would like to connect, I can be found on: