It never really gets old. As a voice over professional, when you hear your voice on a commercial spot, or a promo, or some animated project on TV or radio, it is always a bit of a treat.
It’s not quite like being a pop star and hearing your song played on the radio, but it’s still pretty cool.
These days, most of my commercial voice overs are for regional and local markets, so my clients are often in locations that are well outside of my viewing/listening range. Unless I ask for a final copy, I may never actually get to see or hear the finished spot.
Fortunately, there is one big exception.
A few years ago, I was lucky to “accidentally” fall into a niche in the TV market for children’s toys. The success of one particular toy was unprecedented, as far as “sold on TV” products go. It actually became the number one selling children’s toy for infomercials and direct response ads, selling over eight million units in just one month in 2010.
The Pillow Pets is likely my most widely known commercial. I suppose if I took a survey of holiday shoppers at any mall in America, nearly everyone I ask would probably say they’ve heard of the Pillow Pets, and many people would probably say they have bought at least one in the past few years.
A couple of months ago, I was doing some birthday shopping for my son at the local ToysRUs Store. While we were standing near the checkout counter, I noticed an end cap with a variety of kids’ toys that had formerly only been sold on TV, but were now making their way into the retail market.
I looked closer and realized that every toy on the shelf was a product I had done a voiceover for! What a hoot! I had my daughter snap a photo with her cell phone just so that I could document the event. Toys include Flashlight Friends, My Spy Birdhouse, Dream Lites, and Pillow Pets.
Later that same day, we were in Walmart, and in one of the aisles near the checkout section, I spotted a cart full of kids’ toys being readied to go out into the store.
Again, I see an entirely different set of infomercial-type products from the ToysRUs group, which also share the commonality of my voice on all of their direct-response TV campaigns!
Let Your Voice Over Niche Find You
I never set out to be the voice of children’s toys. It just kind of happened. That is often how we discover our unique areas of specialty in voice over.
Sometimes the thing we think we’re best at isn’t what others think we’re best at. Sometimes it’s just plain luck and being in the right place at the right time.
It’s pretty amazing where that one children’s toy gig has led me. I’ll admit it’s a far cry from the Shakespeare and Greek Tragedies I acted in as a college drama major!
I am extremely grateful for the opportunities that have come my way with these products, especially to the select group of clients who have hired me over the years for all of the infomercial and direct response marketing projects. Without your trust, opportunities, and support, I would have never discovered this unique area of specialty. Thank you!!
Check out this playlist below, showing many of my other infomercial and direct response voice overs for children’s toys. Have you purchased any of these for your children or relatives?
What is Your Accidental Voice Over Niche?
If you make your living as a voiceover professional, do you find that you have one particular niche in which you are regarded as the pinnacle voice choice? Did you intentionally set out to do that, or did it just kinda happen?
Or if you hire VO talent, do you pay attention to how well-known a particular voice might be in any particular market niche, and does that have any bearing on which voice over talent you ultimately choose to hire when you create something that falls within the same niche?
Please share your thoughts and comments below!
Randy S. says
I sort of accidentally fell into the same niche, but voicing actual toys (laser tag, handheld games, arcade basketball, etc). Those, audiobooks, and eLearning/eTraining seem to be my main bread and butter and, except for audiobooks, I didn’t actively seek out any of them.
Debbie Grattan says
September and Abbe, thanks for sharing your personal niches, and I’m glad you can relate! Maybe it’s Universal forces at work that keep sending certain things our way (16 year old sounds, or GPS VO) to hint that we need to be moving more in that direction. I do my best to try and listen when that happens, since Universe probably has a bigger perspective than I do.
Abbe Holmes says
Thanks for a great blog. Isn’t it amazing to fall into a niche…especially one that keeps on keeping on. Although, it’s clear you ‘fell’ into it, because your voice style is perfect for this stuff. I must add, we don’t do too many 2 minute ads any more down here in OZ. 15 and 30 seconds being the order of the day. Thanks for sharing with us. Funnily, I get the gig when someone is looking for a GPS voice for an ad. We get a character fee for that down here.
Keep well and have a great Christmas/holiday season. x
September Day Carter says
Loved this article! I really believe in fate and destiny in our industry. I think quite a few of us live “The Secret”, so it’s no surprise you few this to yourself 🙂 My accident is more of a voice, the 16 year old. I never knew it sad something I could do but now it’s a major part of my work for companies like Nickelodeon and LG. I tried for a long time to voice “for my age” but realized that no one ever bought me as a 37 year old and I was much more believable voicing 20 years younger. It was a great lesson in owning my voice and being aware to try new things.
Debbie Grattan says
Roxanne, thanks for your comment. Yes, I agree, it’s terrific when you can have some cornerstone of your business that seems to effortlessly flow and is a cinch for you! Trust that wise woman. I don’t know why we have a natural tendency to want to buck the current! Sometimes, it’s just best to Go with the flow!
Roxanne Coyne says
What a cool niche, Debbie. Mine is bilingual telephony (Eng/Span). It comes to me without much effort on my part and it seems that once that ball starts rolling it just keeps rolling and rolling. Like you, I never imagined that when I started doing voiceovers–and the fact is I do lots more than just telephony. But that one niche is always there and has been the cornerstone of my business for about 20 years. A wise woman said to me once, ‘it’s easier to row the boat in the direction it’s going’. So true!
Debbie Grattan says
Hey Randye, Thanks for weighing in with how things have unfolded for you. It is sometimes serendipitous that we are involved with work and clients that have a real bond with something that is a part of our personal lives as well. So glad you have found a great niche, in addition to all your other creative ventures.
Randye Kaye says
What a terrific post! No matter how much business planning we do, sometimes things just seem to unfold in their own way. For me, the accidental niche was
medical VO. An interest in neuroscience evolved after my son developed a brain difference, and I found I loved the science of it, and even the big words.
As Mr. Spock would say, “Fascinating!” I now voice lots of these, and love the work. It is one of my niches, the polar opposite of other fields I love like radio imaging and character work (storytelling, games, apps, kids’ books)
viva la variety!