Wooly Bugger Productions in the News

Home Grown: Hearing voices for a living

By Greg Stiles, Mail Tribune
January 19, 2009 6:00 AM

Editor’s note: This is one in a weekly series of profiles on locally owned and operated businesses in Southern Oregon.

What do you do and how long have you been doing it? (Chris speaking) We’re a full service voice-over and audio production company. We represent more than 165 experienced voice-over artists, with clients across the U.S., Canada and South America. We are a home-based, Internet-based driven studio. If there’s something that requires a human voice, we can do it. We also provide creative concepts, copywriting and full commercial production. We officially started the business in 2001.

How long have you lived in the Rogue Valley? We’ve lived here for 12 years. I came here from Reno, Nev., and Derek came up from Quincy, Calif. I’m originally from Los Angeles and Derek was from Carbondale, Ill.

What inspired you to go into this line of work? It was a natural evolution from working in radio and media to more independence and self-employment. Also the love of performance and the passion for creating a really effective commercial message for all types of businesses.

What decision or action would you change if you could do it again? Probably to start marketing ourselves more aggressively from the start-up. Our business has grown slowly, primarily by word of mouth. We probably could have seen quicker growth had we marketed like we do now. Derek stayed with his day job as a radio production director, while I ran the business full-time. He joined the business full-time in April last year. In hindsight, Derek could have left sooner and the business would have grown more quickly with both of us working it, but we were concerned about the potential risks.

What’s the toughest business decision you’ve made? To stick by our rates and pricing, place a firm value on our services and not second-guess ourselves. When you’re starting out in a new business, you can have indecision about where your pricing should be. You want to work (financially) with clients, but you don’t want to sell yourself short. It’s that fine line between correct pricing and under-valuing the business. Naming the business was tough, too. We picked a fun, memorable business name for our love of fly-fishing, but it does create some confusion and results in amusing reactions and mispronunciation.

Who are your competitors? Independent voice talents – there are some everywhere – ad agencies, radio stations, audio producers and similar talent pools. We represent 165 voices, so there are other collections of talent.

What are your goals? Continued growth of our studio and also expanded use of our independent voice talent. We’d also like to possibly move out of our home-based studio and build a custom studio. We’d like to see enough growth to eventually hire staff and maybe take an actual vacation.

What training or education did you need? Derek has a degree in radio and television from Southern Illinois University and experience in theater, as well as more than 23 years working in radio. I have worked in radio and cable television for more than 15 years. I have a business management and bookkeeping background. People considering a career in voice work, it’s a good idea to take classes in acting and voice performance, listen to national-level voices, network and prepare for a lot of auditions and possibly a lot of rejection.

What’s your advice for budding entrepreneurs? Realize that owning a business is more than a full-time job; it takes a lot of planning, dedication and patience. Formal education or hands-on training in the business you are considering is important. It’s also important to find something you truly love. Budget well for advertising, because it’s a priority to get your business message out there. Recognize the value of nurturing long-term business relationships. If you’re going to be a home-based business, you have to find the discipline to not get distracted by personal tasks and focus on the business.