Entries Tagged as 'voiceover advice'

death of the voiceover blog?

Death of the Voiceover Blog?Sometimes we as voiceover business owners are so focused on the operations of our business, the business of doing business, we neglect to paint our stores and sweep our steps.

The ‘stores and steps’ references our web sites. We often look at our sites from the back of the house instead of standing out front and looking at what the visitors see.

A while ago I wrote a blog post about checking out what your web site looks like by going to electronic retailers and calling up your web site on various computers, tablets and phones.

While that applies to web sites, that advice also applies to blogs.

I’ve had a blog since 2005 and in those 12 years, I’ve written a lot about voiceover, marketing and advertising (over 1,300 posts). That’s why I named the blog voxmarketising. In all those posts there are some real golden nuggets and some absolute crap. Trial and error, baby!

But one of the areas of blog management I had fallen way behind in was managing all the links I had listed on my blog to all my fellow voiceover bloggers. It was my way of sharing the blog love by listing their blog link, in the hopes that they would do the same. Some did, some didn’t.

But recently, I did a complete review of all the blogs I had listed on my site to see what blogs were still active and what blogs had given up the ghost.

Over 80 (EIGHTY) voiceover blogs were just cut from my web site because they hadn’t published in 3 or more years or because their bloglink just went nowhere any more.

There were probably 10 or so links that needed to be updated and they have been.

But 80 dead blogs was an amazing number.

Why so many? Based on what I saw and what I know, here are my theories

  • Some folks started blogging about voiceover because they thought they were supposed to for better web traction – they had no desire to blog and no point of view in their writing so they just quit
  • Some people clearly didn’t not make it in the VO business — so why blog about voiceover when one is now selling life insurance?
  • Some folks just got bored with the process of blogging

Sure there may be a myriad of other reasons and all of them are legitimate. Blogging is not mandatory in the voiceover or any other business (unless you’re in the blogging business, then I suppose it’s pretty mandatory.

But does blogging help or even impact a voice talent’s business? That depends.

From a broad perspective, blogging should help a voiceover talent’s business for SEO. If one is blogging about their industry, using a widely accepted blogging platform like WordPress (either as a blog or as part of an overall web site), that alone should generate attention from search engines like Google and Yahoo.

Digging down a little further, if a blogger’s content gains enough interest from a targeted audience and the blogger builds up a dedicated readership, that subsequent attention also generates positive SEO notice and builds the credibility of their brand and reputation.

So SEO is the only reason to blog? No, but it’s a big one because depending on what you write, you may enjoy some unexpected organic word search success. Sure you can buy word search, but organic is less financially cumbersome.

I think in voiceover, there are primarily two types of bloggers – thought leaders focused on SEO (and listening to myself, ‘er, um THEMSELVES speak) and then coaches who want to sell services and also enjoy some SEO love. Neither is bad. Blogs are a marketing tool…just decide what you are marketing what your audience wants to hear.

But what if you aren’t a coach and you don’t think you have a thought that worthy enough to lead anything? Should you still blog?

That’s a personal question.

Blogging requires some sort of commitment. Obviously time but, maybe more importantly, thought.

For bloggers, I think the smart foundation for having a blog should not be ‘what CAN I write about’ but rather ‘what do I WANT to write about?’. Because if you don’t have a real desire to write about something at least about 6 times a year, then blogging is not a tool for you.

Don’t worry, there are other marketing tools, but blogging will not be one of them for you. 80 of my voiceover peers, many of them well known to voiceover community, found that out the hard way. It was not the end of their careers, it was just the end of blogging….for them.

For the rest of us…full steam ahead.

P.S. If you check my blog page and see I’ve gotten the wrong link for your site, you can contact me at peter at audioconnell dot com. Of course, you DO have a link to my page on your blog site, right?!

P.P.S. If you have a voiceover blog that I do not have listed on my blog site and you would like it listed there (and you’re going to offer me a link to my blog as well) please let me know.

with your social media branding – get the picture!

Peter K. O'Connell Male Voiceover Talent facebook

So many voiceover talents tell me that they don’t have time for marketing. That’s usually code for ‘I don’t know how to do it and that fact scares the pants off me!’

Other voice talents are little more honest and say they don’t know what to do or how to start.

Whether it’s marketing, accounting, legal documents or technology, we each have elements of running a business that scare us because we don’t know how or where to start. Me too.

My plan is usually to contact someone who specializes in the area I am clueless in and at least get started in some direction.

For business, I have a greater affinity for marketing (I’m not an expert….NO ONE in voiceover is a marketing expert and if they tell you otherwise, run away!).

What I’ve noticed is that soooo many voice talents are missing a simple yet prominent branding opportunity that is easy to set up. Oh, and it’s FREE!

So what I thought I’d offer is a really quick step that will offer a little boost to your branding. It involves Social Media and you don’t have to pay for anything.

 

IT’S SIMPLE AND EASY SO WHY NOT?

Peter K. O'Connell Male Voiceover Talent SoundcloudMost of us in voiceover have social media accounts on channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and SoundCloud. There are a million others and what I will cover here will probably be applicable to those others.

Most of us in voiceover also have some kind of logo (a specifically designed image with or without words to represent your company) or word mark (just your name or company name in a specific font or design) that we use to brand our voiceover businesses on web sites or printed materials like business cards.

But many voice talents with the aforementioned social media accounts, who also have these logos or word marks, do NOT put the two elements together on their social media pages. I know because I just look at some social media accounts for some fairly well known talent and I saw blank spaces where banners should be.

That’s not smart for many reasons.

First, it’s easy to upload and place these images on social media channels. Second, most voice talents have links on their business web sites to their social media pages and when a visitor clicks on the link, they will notice the branding is inconsistent (or maybe not really know where they are and lose interest. Third, some prospects may come across you/your company via social media FIRST and not your web site.

So it would probably be a good and easy thing to make sure your social media pages have your branding on them. I’ve yet to come up with a reason as to how that kind of business branding can hurt a business social media account.

 

WHAT IS BUSINESS AND WHAT IS PERSONAL

Peter K. O'Connell Male Voiceover Talent TwitterAs many people as there are on social media, there is an equal amount of different reasons people participate on social media. If you ask 10 people, you’ll get 10 different answers.

Most people who do not own their own business use most social media channels for personal reasons and that’s fine. But if you have a business web site (and thereby your own voiceover business) and you have social media channel links on that web site, those social media channels that your business web site is linking to better have some professional branding.

Can you have both personal and business social media accounts? Sure. But on your business web site, only link to your professional social media pages, not the personal ones. On your business social media pages, show them your talents, your knowledge and your shiny, happy, professional side.

To specifically address business versus personal on social media, let’s talk about one of the most informal and popular social media channels, Facebook. Here’s how I do it and you can take this for what it’s worth.

I don’t link to my personal Facebook page from my voiceover web site. I set up a business Facebook page and that’s the only Facebook link I share from my business web site. Why?

Maybe on another day I’ll post something new about how you should post only professional things on business social media pages but I also kinda think if you need me to tell you that at this point, you’ve got bigger business problems than branding.

If you’re directing clients to your business social media pages – there should be no political, religious or personal public discussions or fights. You are a vendor, you are to be professional and that’s it.  If you disagree, I respect your opinion and would like to advise there is nothing on this or any other page that can help you. You should move from this place and good luck.

 

SIMPLE BRANDING ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Peter K. O'Connell Male Voiceover Talent LinkedInFor the purpose of this post, I just want to focus on your profile image and most especially your banner. If you handle these two items well, then you completed some valuable marketing tasks.

Most everybody has posted at least a profile picture on their social media pages. This usually leads to a discussion about if a profile picture on a business social media page should have a picture of you, the voice talent or your logo.

I think the answer is: it depends.

Some channels like LinkedIn strongly advise you use a picture of yourself. On LinkedIn, I agree. For Twitter and other channels, it depends on your branding and in some instances, what you are comfortable with.

Remember, with a profile space, it’s fairly small so any logo (or if you’re like me, a secondary logo) needs to be able to be pretty recognizable in that small space. A highly detailed logo will likely not be visually useful.

If you go with a personal picture of yourself, it does not have to be a professional head shot, just a nice, usually smiling and clear shot ….not you wearing a lampshade or you holding a beer. Common sense, I know, but as we all experience on a daily basis, common sense is not so common.

So let’s get to that social media page banner. Do you have a logo you really like? Or a studio shot that might have a little corner logo? Or maybe a cool shot of you recording something in a studio? All these ideas and I’m sure many others will help tell people you are a professional voice talent.

All would make good social media page banners. Just make the image consistent with your branding.

That’s it! That’s the entire purpose of this branding exercise.

 

HOW DO I GET THE BANNER SIZE CORRECT FOR MY PICTURE

The honest answer is I don’t know.

I can only tell you how I do it. It ain’t pretty but it works.

I have downloaded countless social media banner size templates and directions over the years and maybe I’m just ignorant (a real possibility) but the numbers and the sizing tools I use (probably incorrectly) just don’t match up.

For me it’s trail and error.

I start with Power Point. This is all done on my MacBook Pro, so how you work with Power Point on your computer may vary but most options listed should be pretty close to these directions (I hope).

These will LOOK like a lot of steps but I am trying to be super clear, so once you actually do it, it won’t feel like as many steps. Do not be overwhelmed, these directions are not hard.

From to tool bar window, I go to File and then I go to “page setup” — the “size” window will come up

  • I believe the default set up (depending on which version of power point you are using) will come up as “On-screen show (4:3)”
  • Change that setting to “On-screen show (16:10)”
  • Save that page as a .ppt document, title it something like “social media banner” or something equally creative
  • Make sure the page is laid out horizontally by clicking on the page layout icon on this same page size pop-up screen, then click OK
  • From the tool bar at the top of the power point page, click on “Insert” go down to “Photo” and then you might get another option that allows you to pick “Picture from photo”
  • Find the picture you want to use, click to insert it on the Power Point page and it should appear on your
  • How you adjust the photo on the Power Point page will depend on the operating system you’re using so I will not try and direct you here
  • Some pictures (not logos) can easily fill the banner space…if that’s the case with your chosen image, then awesome
  • I will say you will likely want a lot of white space around your image (especially if your image is a logo) to be able to work with the banner space within most social channels…of course, some images are big and you may just want to fill the banner with the image….that works too…it all depends on the image
  • So if you have the image the way you want it (or the way you THINK you want it until you upload it to the social media channel banner space to see how it will actually lay out), you should save it twice…once as a ppt file (which means just hit save) and then again as a .png file
  • You should be able to click the “Save As” button and when the window pops up, there will be a drop down window which will say .ppT. ….. click on that and you should get a selection of file types….pick .png and hit save
  • Go over to your social media channel, click on the profile page and find the banner space; if you are signed into your account, there should be a button on that page that says “Update image”, click on that, a window of some sort will pop up that says pick photo
  • Follow the windows to your photo and insert it
  • It may give you the option to adjust the picture or zoom in on the picture (this is where all the white space comes in handy)
  • Position the picture where you think it would look best -when you are happy with it, click save…done
  • When you look at the finished picture on the page layout, you may decide you need to re-size or adjust (as I usually do)…don’t get frustrated as this happens to many folks…just adjust on the PPT, re-save as a .PPT and .PNG and upload the new. PNG file with your adjustment

Remember to do this on ALL your social media channels. Hope this helps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘help me for free but first, this insult’

don't burn bridgesFirst impressions, they matter.

Last weekend, another person looking to get into voiceover email me. Yes on a weekend and yes I answered (if I wait until Monday, I’ll forget).

I’d had absolutely no previous interaction with this person before they sent me the following email.

Hello Mr. O’Connell my name is (OMITTED) and I’m trying to figure out where I would start with Voice Over work. Many people have told me I should pursue this but I’m confused if I should talk to someone if I do have the voice or voices for this work, or take some training to hone in on what I want. If you have time to respond to this e-mail thanks and have a good day!

As I do with all these types of inquiries, I directed this individual to read the Voiceover Entrance Exam.

Hi OMITTED,
There is a free ebook on VO that I wrote – see if that helps you.
Best always,
–Peter

He read it and, in his professional opinion, was significantly unimpressed.

Tell you the truth I thought the ebook was lackluster and a warning more than something to guide you. No book can gauge ones drive and talent while seeing what they have over the computer. It wasn’t a waste of time but it was in a way, like how you said you get straight to the point I do too. I appreciate the Ebook warning and how long it took you to write that but if you have serious input to give on the matter pls email me thanks.
-OMITTED

He’s right on one count, the book ain’t Shakespeare. And it is a book with a direct point of view, because people who are going to make a professional and financial impactful change of career need to understand the reality. And it is just my viewpoint, it isn’t the Gospel of voiceover.

Further, I’m OK with criticism. You don’t have like my stuff, you can even dislike my stuff.

But this person, new to our industry, is looking for help. Free help. I didn’t email him/her, she/he contacted ME.

I’m reading this email thinking to myself ‘don’t come looking for help, “appreciate” my effort in writing a boring book and then tell me if I care to get serious about helping, you’ll be awaiting my email’.

It’s not the criticism I find fault with but rather the sophomoric arrogance with which this person communicates to a stranger. A stranger that he/she wants to learn something from.

My book is a warning that voiceover is a business and needs to be treated as such. And business is about building relationships with strangers to the point where strangers gladly give you money.

I’m thinking this person is not a relationship builder so much as a bridge burner. And one I will remember.

I moved on quickly from there.

If my book was lackluster than anything else I would say would probably be heard as the same.

Good luck and seek your help elsewhere.

Best always,
–Peter

No one, especially me, is expecting any kind of reverend deference from someone seeking business help, only professionalism and courtesy.

#voicestrong courage

#voicestrong for voice agents

History has taught us that it is NOT easy.

Experience has taught us that it is rare.

Life has taught us that it is within each of us in large and small ways…but it IS in there.

The mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.

– The definition of courage

Courage_audioconnell_350

History books and movies are great at depicting amazing and even dramatic acts of courage.

But the truth is, in comparatively smaller, even daily acts, courage can be just as profound.

Profound because showing courage in almost any situation is hard.

One example.

To wake up one morning and find that, completely outside of your control, a key profit center of your business has been significantly altered in a way that is antithetical to your core business beliefs is a situation no small business in any industry wants to face.

But that’s what happened this week to hundreds of voiceover talent agencies and casting directors when a Los Angeles-based, central voiceover casting web site announced it had agreed to be acquired by a generally disrespected Pay 2 Play voiceover web site based in Canada. This Canadian company is known for and has admitted siphoning money budgeted for voiceover talent into their own corporate coffers under the guise of project management, unbeknownst to their paying clients.

Putting aside for a moment the ethical dilemma faced by agencies having to consider having business dealings with a disreputable company like that who now controls a key lead generation tool used daily by agencies, for these small business owners there is an important and hard financial decision to be made.

If agencies stay in partnership with this new ownership, they risk working for even lower commissions based on lower fees likely to be offered to voice talents on project posted by the Canadian company that now owns this popular casting site  (which is something the Canadian company, as a P2P, has been documented to do for some years now). But if the agencies drop the relationship with the new company, they will get commissioned on 100% on nothing. A key revenue source will be gone. How will they replace that lost revenue?

An ethical and financial quandary at the doorstep of voice talent agencies around the globe, all before breakfast.

These voiceover agents are small business owners just like you and me. Some are bigger than others and each has their other lead sources and contacts. Nonetheless, a decision either way impacts their bottom line.

A very hard decision, with unknown and unforeseen consequences, was before them. Take less of something or 100% of nothing.

I would like to introduce you to some people.

Erik Sheppard of Voice Talent Productions

Jeffrey Umberger of The Umberger Agency 

Tanya Buchanan of Ta-Da! Voiceworks

These are three of my voiceover agents.

Liz Atherton of TAG Talent

Stacey Stahl of In Both Ears

Carol Rathe of Go Voices

Susie DeSantiago of deSanti 

These four folks are not my voiceover agents but like Erik, Jeffrey & Tanya, each faced a very tough business decision following the Canadian company’s purchase. And decide they did.

Each has notified the casting website that they are leaving and will no longer be a paying member. Their collective lack of respect for the new ownership and it’s reputation for depreciating voice talents, agents and their services seems to have helped them make their individual decisions.

There may still be more to add to the exit list, but right there are seven (7) examples of small business owners who individually faced a business problem head on, individually had a tough decision to make and individually made the decision to walk away from a table with money still on it (less though it will likely turn out to be).

The chance for them to lose significant income is very real. So are their mortgage, car and school payments. Doing the right thing can be very difficult on many different levels.

Everyday courage doesn’t often make it to the big screen. But that doesn’t make these specific acts any less courageous.

And courage like that, from people voice talents have trusted as partners in our careers, deserves our unwavering support. #voicestrong

don’t be a $5 voice actor

Twitter adIf you are brand spanking new to voiceover, this post is for you.

If you have attended VO Atlanta or some other massive voiceover meeting anywhere in the world with stars in your eyes on how you are going to become a voice actor, this post is also for you.

If you are an experienced voice talent and you have or currently use Fiver as a way to get voice jobs, you have my sympathies for your difficult financial conditions but you’d be better off reading Monster.com or Indeed.com to find a new job than reading this blog post.

That ad at the top of this post, that’s a real ad.

Some young or stressed or imbecilic media producer may actually think they are getting a pro voice talent for that fee.

The voice (and no, I won’t say “talent”) doing the job for $5.00 for that producer may think they are a “professional” voice because they are getting paid.

Neither the producer nor the voice is correct.

I’ll make this brief.

The journey to becoming a professional voice talent is as unique as the person living the journey and no two journeys are exactly the same. There is no perfect way, mine included.

But every journey has universal pitfalls and $5 voiceover jobs…most any VO job in that range of pricing is less a pitfall or a pothole as it is an enormous moon crater that go so deep you cannot see the bottom.

Just follow this advice: don’t be a $5 voice actor.

I hope this helps.

that place

Crescent Beach 2017If we are fortunate, and sadly not everyone is, each of us finds a place outside of home and outside of work that brings us peace and joy.

Sometimes it’s a nearby place, sometimes it is a far away place.

Maybe, if you’re really lucky, you have many “places”.

Wherever it is, it is a place where you feel at ease and maybe (as in my case) you’re family feels that same peace and joy there.

Having been there, I was reminded that I should remind you…go to that place.

Why?

Because it creates in you a special feeling, new or renewed thoughts, calmness…it might even have smells that bring back or create memories.

The computer is off and the phone is away.

This is not a pipe dream but rather something quite vital to your mental, physical, spiritual and emotional well being.

I’m really not kidding.

Sometimes, to get to that place, money is an issue. I respect that challenge, so I would encourage you to search for an interim place. Some place new and away from the norm that brings you peace and joy without stressing your wallet.

If you feel you don’t have time, I would like to encourage you to MAKE the time.

Life (yours or someone else’s) can end in a second.

Work is not life. Money is not life. Stress is not life. Those are mere elements of life that we each obsess over. Obsessing is not living.

Live life.

Find that place.