Tag Archive for Online Presence

Audiobook Narrators need Narratic!

I try not to write posts that are too restricted in content, but when I saw the neat tool that Craig had developed for narrators, I knew I had to sit down with him and capture the details and story behind what Narratic was and how he came up with it. I love to connect with innovators and see how they do what they do. If you’re a narrator and interested in your reviews, this is a great aggregate service! Hope you enjoy!

1. Narratic! What does it do? 

Narratic tracks your audiobook ratings and reviews automatically. New reviews are sent in a daily (or weekly) email digest, or you can view all your recent ratings and reviews on one page on the site. No more sorting through all your titles individually on Audible! Narratic can also notify you of new releases, and report detailed statistics on your titles (e.g., how many five star reviews you have total). Besides checking in on listener feedback, it’s a great tool to compile review quotes for marketing.

2. How did you come up with the idea?

As a narrator myself, I’m a compulsive review-checker. As my list of titles grew, it became really time-consuming to look through all my titles and search for new ratings and reviews. I have a tech background so I decided to make my computer do the hard work. I’ve been using a simpler version of Narratic just for myself for a couple years. When I mentioned my system to other narrators, they expressed interest in using it. So I worked on and off for a year to fully develop it into a website and make it public.

3. Do you run the back end yourself?

Yes! I’m a one man band. I’ve always been a bit of a hobby software engineer.

4. You’ve got quite a good array of features already, do you have any plans for expansion?

Yes, absolutely! The next big feature is adding Audiofile review notifications to the site. More features are also in the works.
5. A lot of your fellow narrators have mentioned marketing to authors, is that in the works?
Narratic is definitely aimed toward narrators and other audiobook industry folks, since it only tracks audiobooks, but authors who have a strong audiobook presence would absolutely find it useful.

The Memes are Lying to You

There is a common cultural trend nowadays, to ignore the ‘haters’ in life. I’ve seen a thousand colorful pictures with trite sayings explaining how only your dreams matter, how everyone who tells you no is trying to drag you down, and to not allow those people ‘power over you.’. Of course it’s very true that there are always people who are negative for no reason, who do harm and intend to do nothing less. But the ‘ignore the haters’ trend can very easily be taken too far.

In the voiceover industry, there have been tectonic shifts over the past 20 years or so. What was once an industry exclusively conducted in professional studios has now morphed into an army of at home talent who buy some equipment, hang some blankets, and record some stuff. There are those who regard this trend with somewhat of a jaundiced eye, seeing raving packs of lowballers and people who are diluting the market. Others may view things more charitably, seeing it as an opportunity to expand the market, and allow more flexibility in terms of how the work is done.

Where these two trends intersect is in the way that some voice talent ferociously defend how they do things. Whether it’s low rates, or artistic choices in audiobook prep, these people will fight to the death that their choices are just as valid as the anyone else’s and no one can deny them the right to do whatever they like.

But there’s a few points I think those folks are missing:

  1. It isn’t personal.

    No one is attacking you. Seriously. It may seem like people are lining up to take potshots at you, but I promise you, I have met hundreds of voice talent in my 5 years doing this, and the vast majority of them are really nice people. In most industries, the kind of advice and real world experience that you can draw upon FOR FREE would cost you a great deal of money. People want to help. What they are sharing are things that already work, because most of the folks who are sharing often in those groups are working professionals. No, you don’t have to robotically follow their advice, but it can really pay off to carefully consider their thoughts and experience, because this is about more than your choices, this is about your business in a whole. Do you really want to dismiss this, and lose out on the chance to reach your goals faster?

  1.   This is real world advice.

When you ignore or dismiss advice from working pros, you’re not ignoring words from people who are rich and famous and have no connection to the regular working stiff. Each and every one of those people have worked their way from beginner to pro by tenaciously pursuing excellence and craft, and learning every step of the journey. Yes, there is bad advice out there–vet your advice! If someone is well regarded, knowledgeable, and experienced, you can find out pretty quickly with a few questions and some quick searches. If someone is promising you the world when you do this or that thing, or if you pay them lots of money? Yeah, that you can ignore. But when someone who is living and working where you want to be with your career gives you advice? Step outside of yourself, quiet your ego, and listen.

  1. Ignore your ego.

As I’ve said above, there are plenty of people online and in the real world who are negative just for the sake of being so. But, the majority of opinion and action isn’t something to shrug off for ‘your way’. What experience and background do you have to substantiate your opinion? Where is your expertise? I’m not saying these things to dismiss you-again, as above, this isn’t personal. However, if you can look at the bigger picture, if you can step outside of yourself, and truly become humble and learn, you can find success much more quickly and thoroughly than you will driving yourself very quickly in the wrong direction.

  1. What ARE your goals?

Fundamentally, the higher end voice hirers DO have standards. There are specific things that you will need to approach those people, and it isn’t negotiable. Do you want to do voiceover as a sideline? A few extra dollars here and there? Then keep doing what you’re doing. Keep ignoring those ‘haters’. But if you want more, if you want success, then ignoring those who came before is going to get you nowhere. It’s not that you have to do the same thing, creativity and innovation are certainly both valid and valuable, but defending your views against all comers, accusing and finger pointing, and not accepting the validity of someone else’s ideas at any cost? You’re going to have a hard time creating that career.

  1. Beware of ripples.

We are a connected community. Although you may not see the voiceover hirers in the Facebook groups, there are some there. And more importantly, if you are known as a jerk in the community, people aren’t going to forget, and your reputation will suffer. Perhaps you don’t worry about what other voice talent might think of you. Well, that’s valid, except for one magic word. Referrals. I know quite a few talent who refer work to others, and who seek out people of particular voice niches. (Accents, bilingual talents, etc) who are reliable to use as names for their clients. And you never know who will hear or see something. Things on the internet don’t go away, and something you said weeks, months, or years ago, can easily come back to haunt you.
In conclusion, there is more. There is more than you, there is more than your opinion, more than the current state of your business, more than the obvious and immediate consequences for your actions. Thought, consideration, and reason can lead you away from some serious roadblocks you can create for yourself.

Business vs. Personal

bvpI had a recent reminder of how sharp the divide between the business and the personal can be. A new client reached out to me, and we were speaking on the phone about an upcoming project. In the process of our discussion, I mentioned that I had done a few different types of work, and a few personal belief-related details. I thought nothing of it, and there were no hiccups in the conversation.

But after we hung up, I decided to friend her on Facebook. As I often do, I scanned down her page and read a little about her. To my surprise, I read several things that made me realize how close I had come to offending her. I don’t think she had a problem with what I said, nor do I think this particular incident is an issue, but it was a sharp reminder of how careful you need to be in a professional context.

For me, I have to be extra careful, because every voice actor that is my friend is also a potential client. For you, other voice actors are sources of referrals or perhaps professional recommendations. When we’re in person or on the phone, our community is so relaxed in many ways that it’s easy to slip and say more than you mean to. Online, it’s easy to react before you think and say something that can taint your reputation far wider than you can imagine. Clients, friends, colleagues all will see things you post, and it’s important to be aware of the divide, and what inattention can cost you.

Archive Thursdays: The Commonalities in Your Logo

Microphone

This week’s Archive Thursday originally appeared October 8th, 2012

Over the past couple of years I’ve met a couple hundred voice over professionals, and connected online with hundreds more. One very common thing I see from professionals old and new is the presence of a microphone somewhere in their logo or branding. Now, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with this. It’s a logical step to think about what you do and the fact that a microphone is intimately involved with this. However, something to consider is how common this is. A microphone can be used in an innovative way to work well with a logo, but it is also very easy to be just another VO talent with their name and a picture of a microphone. The other fact here is the microphone says nothing about YOU personally. Is your turn around time fast? Do you truly care about you clients? Do you have a personal commitment to going 110% in your work? Do you have 10 years experience? You get the idea. The microphone says none of these things. It just says that you have one, and many people also use very similar images for their logo.

There are a million billion conversations coming at us every day, and it’s very hard to get yourself heard in the ceaseless babble. It’s important to highlight what’s unique about you personally, what makes you different? Why should people want to work with you?

The second major commonality that I run across is the word ‘voice’ in people’s taglines. I haven’t done searches on this to get accurate numbers, but just from all the sites I have visited, and logos I have seen, this word is vastly overused. Again, I’m not saying that it’s impossible to use that word in an innovative and interesting way, but it’s useful to consider exactly how many people are using it online every day. Every VO professional has a voice, and again, it doesn’t really illustrate anything about you personally or professionally.

If you have one or both of these items in your logo, I’m not telling you to change it, but I do want to point out the realities of their use. If you do want to change it, what should you do? Start talking to people who know you well, and get words that describe you, as many as you can, and see what images that brings to mind. Basics are good here–in jokes are not a good idea. That’s where my lightbulb came from. I hope that this article can help, or at least get you thinking in a new and potentially useful direction.

Archive Thursday: 10 Ways to Use Social Media Wrong

social-media-logosWelcome to another Archive Thursday! This week’s post originally appeared January 7th, 2013.

1. Tell people how you’re annoyed with another person in the community.
It’s so easy to broadcast what you feel. Facebook and Twitter feel like you’re talking to your friends, and it’s human nature to want to tell others how you feel. However, it’s vital to remember that the internet is your permanent record. Your post might not have an immediate affect, however it could easily be the proverbial pebbles that start an avalanche of opinion against you.

2. Discuss intimate life details.
This sort of ties in with #1. This is so easy to do. But honestly, nothing is private. So when you want to post a Facebook status about your personal life, think of it as broadcasting to everyone on the internet, and think about whether or not you would want everyone to know what you’re going to say. Also consider if you would want potential employers or someone who might give you a job referral to know what you were going to say.

3. Be hateful
Being angry is part of life. But the short term gain of blowing off steam online is not really worth the long term detriment of getting a reputation as an angry or unhappy person. Again, think of the reactions of potential employers or those who might refer you to them. Pick up the phone and call someone–it’ll be more personal, and you’ll have that voice on the other end of the line telling you how right you are.

4. Be political
Most people have opinions in this arena. Broadcasting yours will not change anyone’s mind, and will likely just give you that angry person reputation.

5. SPAM SPAM SPAM!
This is often because people are thinking in the mindset of ‘old advertising’. Things like ‘market saturation’ don’t work online. Your post doesn’t go away, and overdoing it will just make people associate you with irritation. No one likes spam, just because it’s you doesn’t mean you’re not spamming.

6. Spell reel good all the thyme. Grammer is, awesome too?
Everyone makes the occasional mistype. However, it’s always good to reread what you’re saying before you post it to cut down on mistakes, and make sure you’re not phrasing something awkwardly.

7. USE CAPS IN ALL YOUR WRITING!
I really don’t understand why people still do this. Online caps = SCREAMING. If you’re writing like that, people are picturing you screaming in their face. Great impression, huh?

8. Post about yourself, all the time, everywhere. The spotlight’s on you, right?
Remember the 80%/20% rule. 80% of your posts should be about others, only 20% of your posts should be about yourself. People are less likely to find you interesting and worth hiring if you only promote yourself all the time. Plus you gain the goodwill of others by promoting them and what they’re doing, which can lead to job referrals.

9. Push your voice to fellow voice talents. Everyone should know how good you are!
This is one particular to our community that I find mystifying. Seeking comments on the state of your demo is understandable, when it’s not overdone, but when you post ‘hire me please’ in voiceover forums? That doesn’t make any sense, and is a waste of time. You could be using the time to find something else to do marketing wise that could gain you money.

10. Say nothing. Better to keep quiet than make a mistake!
Although this is also a very easy course to take, it too is a potential problem. Creating an online presence is vital, not only for your current state of work, but for work in the future. Companies are moving their presence online more and more as time goes on, and you need to have a voice where their attention is. Even if you’re getting as much work as you want right now, can you guarantee the future?

Twitter is the topic in next week’s post, as I update my original thoughts on the subject with something I forgot!

Archive Thursdays: Website Don’ts

to-dont

Hello folks! This week’s archive post originally ran April 18th, 2012. Hope you enjoy!

These are a few things that I’ve seen on various VO talent’s websites all across the web. This list comes from all types of talent. Remember, your site is not a fire and forget kind of marketing. This is an encapsulated representation of you for everyone to see.

-Make your contact info easy to find. If it’s hard to find, people will more than likely go somewhere else.

-Simplicity. Please the eye, don’t overload it. Be classy, not neon.

-Never ever auto play your demo. You will sound like those websites with an annoying talking ad. This will damage your critical first impression by associating your voice with irritation.

-Consider investing in a nice photo. It never hurts for your public “face” to look good. Some people will disagree with me, and its your choice, but if you do post a photo, make sure it’s not a blurry party shot.

-If you’re wanting to make a serious go of being a VO artist, have a website that is up to date and more than something on a P2P site. Even if you have a good stable client base now, you never know when someone with money in their pockets is going to come looking for you.

-If you haven’t updated your blog since 2008, consider its purpose on your site.

-If there’s a blog on your business website, it shouldn’t be written about a pet or good food.

-If I Google your name, or your name with the word voiceover, I should be able to find you. For some people, this is particularly hard if you have a common name, but you should at least be in the top 10 of the search results.

-Make sure your public email is one you check regularly, or at least that it forwards to one that you do.

-Be sure to have someone else read your blog posts. Spelling and usage errors do not make a good impression.

-Test your website on more than one browser. Different browsers can make things behave oddly, and you want to have a consistent image. Also having a mobile version of your site, even if it’s just a simple one, is a must for phone viewing.

To have a good online presence, you have to be aware of many things all at once. Hopefully we can all be more aware, and subsequently more successful.

And next week, I’ll be getting into a couple of vocal tips to clear up those pesky mouth noises.

Archive Thursdays: The Internet Is Watching You

1206564626633666494sarxos_Magnifying_Glass.svg.medHey everyone! So I’ve decided to take Thursday of every week for the next while and dip into my post archives for some previously seen gems. This post was originally published on March 19th, 2012.

There are dozens of examples from every job field. Someone said something thoughtless, crude, rude, or some kind of “ist” and got caught doing it, and got lots of bad PR. When posting something, regardless of where or when, you need to consider the world you are entering into. There are no boundaries here. It doesn’t matter if what you’re posting is on a “Personal Account”. If it can be connected to your name, people can find it. Everything you put out there combines to create an internet persona, a picture people have of you.

This picture has its limitations. The internet is like a permanent first impression. There are no smiles, shadings of tone, pleasant voices, or any other mitigating factors to make up for the solely text based impression of what you say. What can affect this?

Do you post a lot? Even different, substantive posts? Send out a lot of emails? Be careful that you don’t come across as a spammer. Nothing will turn people off faster.

Do you post a lot about personal matters? There’s nothing wrong with sharing things with your friends and co workers, but consider how some of these things might look to potential clients or business partners. Pictures matter.

Do you have a lot of strongly held beliefs? Again, nothing wrong with this, but think about whether you’d be willing to turn down work because someone saw you upholding said beliefs with strong words.

Watch your language! I’m not only talking about cursing, but also about poor spelling, sentence structure, punctuation, and so on. I know phones are horrible about this with autocorrect, but take all the care you can to keep your impression as an intelligent adult. Also, name calling, any kind of name calling, is dangerous. No matter whom or what you are calling a name.

I’m not going to tell you to say, or not say anything. That’s up to you. However, it’s important to consider the impact of your words, not just now, but also when people find them in the future. Try and consider another person’s perspective upon reading what you’ve written. You have a phenomenal advantage when putting things online, you can look at what you’ve written before hitting send, or post! Don’t waste it!

Next week: Although Winne the Pooh is pretty awesome, his buddy Eeyore is not someone you should be imitating.

Face on the Faceless

facelessThe single biggest disadvantage to online communication is that it removes a great deal of context from people’s daily interactions. I cannot count to you the number of times that I have seen arguments explode for days because people disagree on this or that thing. (Although, to be fair, the other element in this situation is that far more people who have the potential to disagree are now in contact with one another.) I understand that a certain number of disagreements are inevitable, however the phenomenon that troubles me is what I think of as ‘dehumanizing’.

Think about it like this. So you’re friends with various VO people on Facebook. Maybe you know them, did a tele-coaching session with them, maybe they just friended you and you accepted because they have a microphone as their picture. You see them post, perhaps about a gig they took, and didn’t charge ‘enough’ for, perhaps it’s a political or religious opinion you don’t agree with, and you decide to correct them or to air your opinion.

I’m not making excuses for anyone’s behavior, but if that person responds less than kindly to you, take a moment and try to see it from their perspective. To you, they are nothing more than a name, some bio details, and a picture. But they are a living, breathing person, with their own challenges and problems, and you really have no idea WHY they said what they did. You don’t know them, and you aren’t giving them the benefit of the doubt.

They’re faceless to you. They aren’t a real person with depth and feelings, they’re just the text on the page, and so you judge them, react quickly, and cause pain.

What you find funny could be so easily misunderstood, and just be seen as mean.

Yes, people in general should develop a thick skin when it comes to online comments. But rather than assuming what others should do, wouldn’t it be better to start your words with a little kindness?

Don’t read the Reviews!

bad_review_imageIt’s really tempting to find out what people have to say about something containing your voice. I know I’d be curious! Although the first thing most people would think of in terms of reviews is audiobooks, it’s important to remember that it also applies to ‘comments on the internet’ in general. If you do choose to read them, it’s important to take them with a huge grain of salt.

Honestly, in these days of internet comments, it’s not so much if you’ll get a bad review, but when. Although it’s pleasant to look at the number of good comments or reviews, really, what good does it do you? It doesn’t make you intrinsically better as a narrator or a VO in general, and you could probably spend the time doing something more constructive. And then there’s that inevitable land mine. Someone will have something nasty to say.

It’s important to remember in internet comments in general that everyone gets information through their own filter and assumptions. It’s really easy for people to assign emotions and intentions to a poster that are no-where in line with what their original intent was. That’s inevitable, unchangeable, and is best dealt with by moving on. You’re not going to change minds or convince. Strive to be better, to improve your craft, but remember that there will always be someone out there who wants to throw stones. Just KNOW that you did the very best you could in whatever you put out there, and let the rest roll off.

Oh, the Humanity!

humanityThe internet, and as automatically follows, text based communication is a vast wonderland of information, kitten pictures, and arguments. It’s changed the way we think, communicate, remember, research, and probably a dozen other thesis making words that I can’t think of right now. A great percentage of voice talent use it as a singular vehicle for their livelihood.

But I see many people in our community forget something very important when communicating online. They forget the humanity of the person they’ve read the words of. This can be on various topics, career related or otherwise, but the effect is the same. They assume, they forget, and they lash out and someone or something with words. Why is this so bad? Let me outline some thoughts for you:

1. What are others seeing reading your words?

Think about how you look when you post an angry rant about something. Whatever the topic or reason might be, think about what people might see and assume when they read that anger and make their own decisions based on it. Although it’s not as prevalent in voice over, hirers do look at social media, and this is only going to increase over time. People want to know who they are working with, and what kind of person they are. And even if it’s not a specific voice talent hirer, your colleagues are going to get a very specific kind of impression of you based on what and how you post.

2. Do unto others.

Regardless if they ‘deserve’ it or not, is ranting necessary? Is it kind? Could you regret it in the future? Whatever you believe, the golden rule is a wise one to follow. Whatever you disagree with someone about, they are a human being deserving of respect and kindness.

3. Beware assumptions!

Recently, I noticed a particular talent write a rant about another. They assigned a lot of feelings to that person, they called them some names and made a lot of suppositions about what they were intending, feeling, and doing. You don’t know what someone else is thinking or feeling? Do you truly know everything this person means with their words? Do you have the entire picture, for sure, with no doubt whatsoever? Could you be misinterpreting something?

If you really, truly need to say something, why not ask them what they mean? Why not ask about it? Find out for sure, avoid making a mistake, and behave with respect and reserve rather than rush in and end up looking like…well, something negative to be sure. 🙂 It’s easy to make a judgement and react on the basis of feelings, but take a pause, a deep breath, and avoid rushing to a potentially wrong conclusion.

Although there’s no guarantee that giving someone the benefit of the doubt, respect, and kindness will garner you any favors, or that it’s even deserved, it’s a good thing to practice. You’ll feel better about yourself, look better to others, and it’s just the right thing to do.

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