Entries Tagged as 'voiceover advice'

why the horn-toot is so vital to voice-over marketing


During one of my Voice-Over Workshops for a voice talent last week, we reviewed some of her marketing challenges and internal struggles. She is a talented voice talent and a generally gracious human being — all wonderful traits that I aspire to.

But her marketing kryptonite is tooting her own horn – marketing herself (which is her brand) out to the marketplace. She finds it awkward, braggadocios and lacking humility (my words not hers). Like I said, she’s a gracious person.

Let me repeat a secret I have shared here before…horn tooting or self-marketing IS awkward, braggadocios and lacking humility – no matter how subtle you try to be (be warned, a subtlety overdone can completely water down a marketing message).

I have grown a bit more accustomed to it now, but when I started out in my voice-over business, I felt REALLY weird about marketing my brand: me! Using “I” in sentences, talking about MY work, me writing a press release about me. Yuck.

How self-absorbed, how egotistical, how arrogant! Just who the hell do I think I am?!!!

I feel your awkward pain frightened horn tooters but now I’ll share with you the epiphany that allows me to toot my horn with less (not none) awkwardness.

Who the hell do I think I am?

I am a small business owner who has kids to feed and a mortgage to pay…and that money does NOT come in unless I am out there telling people what I do and how I do it and how what I do will help their business. And I AM the company. Whatever the tag line, no matter the iconography, at the end of the day I, as the professional voice-over talent, am the brand. I am selling myself – just not on a street corner…yet.

So I toot (and if you’re 5 years old, you are now giggling uncontrollably at my unintended fart joke—that’s cool, fart jokes ARE funny).

But since I am doing the promotional work (writing, choosing media outlets, targeting the messaging etc), I can control the message that gets put out there, I control the tools and images I use to promote myself. Some people feel more comfortable using a 3rd party to do this…hey, whatever gets the job done for you.

It is a necessary evil in a free-lancers life – this self-promotion.

So here’s is my little imaginary trick for dealing with this unsettling process of self-promotion you must do: pretend as you going through your marketing tasks that you are marketing for another company. Not another person, another company. In your head replace your name with Acme Voice-Over Company. This psychological game with yourself might give you the distance and perspective to get the horn-tooting starting and keep it going.

Listen, you are not egotistical, you are not self-absorbed.

You ARE a freelancer. You ARE small business owner or now what people are calling a Micro Business (soooo teeny tiny like me).

And you have my personal blessing to grab your horn and toot. It’s not only OK…it’s a requirement!

P.S. I did ANOTHER Voice-Over Workshop on Saturday and wouldn’t you know…another frightened horn tooter. It looks like we may have to hold a telethon! But again, now all’s well for him too. So all you frightened horn tooters…you are not alone.

the 2014 midwest voice-over conference march 28 & 29

Midwest Ohio VO

So on Facebook, where voice talent go to cajole, complain and try out new material, I saw there was yet another voice-over group. Like a lemming, I joined it – or should I say I was accepted cause the owner, my friend Terry Daniel keeps it closed (never a bad idea).

The FIRST thing I saw was something I did not know about – something called the Midwest Voice-Over Conference.

Now as anyone in voice-over knows, the world is not lacking for voice-over conferences – most all of them trying to share knowledge and sell stuff – that’s fine. You’re all pretty familiar with my partiality to FaffCon, which is a completely different animal as far as voice-over events go (which is why it’s always a sell-out). FaffCon is great too, not better than other events (that would be a subjective opinion anyway) but great. My point is there’s room for these events. Whether or not there’s an audience for all of them has yet to be determined.

What caught my attention was the concept of a meeting specifically of mid-west voice talents – wouldn’t that be fun?! Same with northeast, southwest etc. Divide it up anyway you want…make it a conference for only voice talents with connected earlobes – who cares, just have fun and learn. The connections these folks make with each conference will prove to be very valuable, even if (as with the Midwest Conference) the conference is mostly for newbies. Hey, it’s never bad to make a new friend.

The person who I know most who is presenting at the the Midwest Voice-Over Conference is Laura VonHolle, who is one of my agents at Heyman Talent. Now like all my agents, she’d have trouble picking me out of a line-up, but she and the folks at Heyman are good people and they’re going to have a heart to heart with the folks at the the Midwest Voice-Over Conference about securing representation. That’s a pretty good start as topics go.

My advice (other than for the organizers to drop that annoying audio commercial that plays as soon as you open the site) is if you have the time and you’re working (or want to work) in the VO biz, then head over to Columbus for the weekend and see what the experience has to offer. I hope everybody has a great time.

the voice-over prince of green bay

Carl Romey at The Bridge Recording Studio inGreen Bay, WI

Carl Romey at The Bridge Recording Studio inGreen Bay, WI

This will surprise you: I was on a plane on Thursday.

And when I landed in Chicago on my way to Green Bay, WI, (with no weather related travel hassles mind you…zoinks!) I got an email from my voice-over agent Erik Shepard from Voice Talent Productions.

It seems a client I’d done work for recently changed a couple of sentences in their script and needed some pick-ups done. I’d advised Erik that I could do it once I landed in GRB. He wondered why I always traveled so much…did they not feed me at home? Was I trying to join a commune? I told him I eat too much, I’d get the lines done and that he was going to make someone a wonderful wife someday. ;)

Recording new projects on the road is not a problem with my laptop and my Sennheiser 416. But this instance was unique because I had recorded the bulk of this project in my acoustically studio with a Neumann TLM-103. Now the client would have to prospectively match that studio audio with new pick-up audio recorded in a hotel room (pillows and blankets and noise floors, oh my) on my 416. It had the potential to be an awkward audio match and an inconvenience for the client.

So I made a call.

You see, whenever I travel, I make it a point to know where any local recording studios are. I believe it’s just smart to have a back-up plan and sometimes you get to make new friends. I’ve been amazed to find some cities (towns, hovels) don’t have ANY recording facilities (‘try the AM radio station…they have 60 year old egg cartons on the wall for sound absorption’) so if you want to be audio king pin in Ottumwa ….email me and I’ll get you directions.

But in Green Bay some years ago, I was introduced to Carl Romey by my friend, fellow voice talent and FaffCon Stand-up group member Kelly Klemolin. Carl runs The Bridge Recording Studios in Titletown. While Kelly has her own ISDN and ipDTL equipped studio, she often records at Carl’s studio; Kelly is a very in-demand voice talent (and a whiz on QuickBooks).

Carl’s studio is terrific and he’s a prince of a guy (hence the blog post title). So I called him Thursday when I landed and told him what I was trying to accomplish. He told me to stop by early Friday morning (today) and he’d fit me in. His studio is always busy – Carl is a very popular producer.

Voice Talent Peter K. O'Connell recording at The-Bridge Recording Studio Green Bay WI

Voice Talent Peter K. O’Connell recording at The-Bridge Recording Studio Green Bay WI

So up to his 4th Floor studio I flew and banged out those pick-ups in nothing flat. As you might expect, he couldn’t have been more gracious or accommodating. I was happy, Erik was happy (or as happy as he gets ;) and I believe the client was happy.

Thanks Carl. And thanks Kelly. Green Bay is full of good people. And good football.

a little, tiny Christmas voice-over spanking for my fellow voice talent

Charlie Brown Christmas_ All Right and Trademarks Acknowledged

You are…to every man, woman and child that I know earning a living in the voice-over profession…all talented people of good heart.

If you’re not, well, you fooled me.

But with this sincere compliment offered, I pose this stinging, serious and direct critique that you are free to ignore:

Your Christmas and holiday messages to your clients and peers are NOT the time to wish us well AND let us know your holiday schedules and availabilities. When you do this cringe-worthy act, you unwittingly come off as insincere and desperate as well as seemingly ignorant about what this holiday season is all about for most of the world.

HINT: This holiday season is NOT about you getting more voice-over jobs.

In this one message to your clients at a time of year steeped in a variety of religious traditions for people of numerous faiths that most all people still hold sacred – be real.

Be human.

Be sincere.

Offer your wish, your hopes or just a simple message of good will. Then stop.

It’s not a marketing opportunity. It’s not a scheduling opportunity. If clients need you, they will find you and you will work.

A competitor won’t tell you about your very awkward yet not career-ending mistake.

But a friend will. :)

how not to start a pay to play web site


I’ve never started a pay to play voice-over web site for many reasons, the first of which is I think they each completely discredit the voice-over industry.

My second reason is I believe the only persons who truly profits from these sites are the owners. The overall crumbs that are intermittently handed out to some voice talents pale in comparison to the consistent fees these owners generally bring in from their sites.

Last but not least some (not all) of these owners strike me as crooks.

Again, these are just my personal opinions, your milage may vary and if you disagree with me you’re probably wrong ;) .

Yet even though I have not myself started a pay to play voice-over web site and am therefore hardly an expert, I think I have found two surefire ways NOT to start a pay to play voice-over web site.

Note please that in the 30+ years of running this and other businesses, I have never made a mistake and my record for perfection has been recognized by Guinness World Records for it’s, um…perfection. So from from high atop Know It All Mountain, here goes:

Way #1 NOT to start a pay to play voice-over web site:

Recommend, in writing, a voice-over talent pay structure so disrespectful to voice-over talents and oblivious to real market factors and with pricing so biased towards bottom feeding clients that there is a near voice-over rebellion on-line when the talents (who are going to be the potential fuel for the pay to play web site’s engine) see the following:


No word yet on whether said site will be offering a buy-one-get-one (BOGO) coupon for voice talents in the near future. This site’s opening after Thanksgiving so they couldn’t offer any Black Friday voice-over specials, if in fact they wanted to.

Way #2 NOT to start a pay to play voice-over web site:

Name your pay to play voice-over web site with a moniker extremely similar to a well-respected, established site run by a well-spoken voice talent like Jonathan Tilley. Then watch your yet to be launched pay to play voice-over web site (and you as the owner) get your corporate ass publicly handed to you with fact after knock out fact showing that you, as the pay to play web site owner, have acted in what might be considered (at least by this observer) as thoughtless…to say the least.

The web video beating was so bad to my viewing I half expected to hear Howard Cosell again in his famous ringside boxing call.

So in summary, those are the two things I would NOT do if I were ever going to start up a pay to play web site.

Which I won’t, cause what do I know anyway.

Living On Air – a book review

livingonair_joe cip

On Saturday, November 16th I began reading Joe and Ann Cipriano’s Living On Air – Adventures In Broadcasting.

It’s now Sunday, November 17 at about 1:00 p.m. eastern time and I have finished reading it.

Some book reviews may rate the quality of the read based on the “star” system or some other measurement.

Here’s my rating: I read the book cover to cover in 24 hours and I’m sorry the story ended.

If you’re scoring at home that’s a five out of five star rating, a “must-read” and two big thumbs up.

If you have ever worked, now work or want to work as a voice-actor – you must read this book.

If you have ever worked, now work or want to work on-air in radio or television – you must read this book.

If you work (or have worked) both in voice-over and in broadcasting…you HAVE to read this book.

We’re not talkin’ “how to” or here’s “how I do voice-over” type book.

It’s the story of one man’s passion for broadcasting combined with how his talent and luck got him to the top of his profession. And maybe even more so how he worked to pay back the universe (and his friends) for their kindnesses to him over the years.

I don’t really know Joe at all having only met him a couple of times when I was in Hollywood at a voice-over conference years ago. He came across as a simple, good guy – which is something I suppose that shouldn’t be taken for granted in La-La land where egos could overflow the Grand Canyon.

I sensed no overflowing ego in this autobiography.

Like the man I spoke with at the voice-over conference, the story was simple and good- a kind of “here’s my life and yes, I fully understand how fortunate I have been combining my work ethic with the talent I have and my passion for this industry.”

A great true story- with anecdotes about many interesting people – told by one of our own about the business we all adore.

I hope you’ll enjoy reading Living On Air as much as I did.

You can (and should) buy the book here.