Tag Archive for self promotion

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.

Archive Thursday: 6 Questions for CheapVoiceovers

cheap voiceoverThis week’s Archive Thursday was originally posted on August 27th, 2014.

CheapVoiceovers originated on Twitter, and quickly garnered notice for their stellar marketing efforts and unique take on the voice over industry. As soon as I saw them, I just knew I had to find out more and so I got an interview! You can find them on Twitter as @CheapVoiceover

1. So tell us how CheapVoiceovers came to be?

Cheap Voiceovers was set up to highlight a side of the voiceover industry that’s overlooked. Those clients that blow all their budget on the production of the video and leave the voice til the end. It’s dedicated to clients that love to sacrifice quality and the reputation of the brand by settling for any old voice. It’s here for clients whose emails start…”we don’t have much budget”.

2. What made you decide to accept all levels of talent? Do you have any standards?

Standards? Nah, we’ll accept any old rubbish. Our clients don’t care. They are more than happy accepting a voice with no experience. They don’t care if the quality of the voice sounds like it’s been recorded in a toilet either. So, we’ll accept anyone that has a microphone and a computer. After all that’s what makes you a ‘professional voiceover’ right?? Great acoustics optional, a bit of bedroom reverb never killed anyone we’re sure. We love NOISE. We just turn the music track up to hide it.
3. What drives your pricing standards? The purchase of tea or a sandwich?

Pricing is pretty much decided on how much the voice over needs to pay for their shopping. Or maybe they were thinking of buying a cake on the way to their regular job the following morning. So, it can vary from 45p up to £12. Some of our voices have F*** all to do of an evening so the thought of being sat voicing a 9000 corporate video doesn’t phase them. They just get excited, that the following morning they’ll have money for a Latte before signing on. If a client says they have very little budget, we say, bring it on.

4. How would you respond to criticism of the talent you accept and the fees they collect?

Our talent is the finest we can find from the bottom of the barrel. These are people that just want to be given a chance. Our talent roster will be full of people that want to tell their friends that they are a professional voiceover. If your mum said you have a good voice then that’s a good enough testimonial for us. There will always be client and a voice ready to dumb down the industry and join us. Hey, why have your production represented with a credible voice with years of experience working with well known brands, when you can have a butcher or a mechanic with zero experience to represent your company for a fraction of the price?

5. How much is it to join?

It’s free to join. Just direct message us and we’ll give you a link to send in your demo. If it meets our strict criteria, ‘the 3 H’s’, Hum, Hiss and Hinterference, then we’ll add it to the site.

6. What is your long term goal with CheapVoiceovers?

Our long term goal is to be the worst we can be. There is always a market for the cream of the crap. FIVERR may have given the industry a shake allowing professional voiceovers to charge £5 / $5. But we think we can beat that. Come on Big Brands, come and ruin your fine work here!!!

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 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.

Social Media Navel Gazing

bellybuttonFirst, a definition for anyone who’s never heard that term:

na·vel-gaz·ing
noun
noun: navel-gazing
  1. self-indulgent or excessive contemplation of oneself or a single issue, at the expense of a wider view.
    “he lapsed into his customary navel-gazing”

Social media is a great place to talk about yourself and what you are doing. Your friends, family, and colleagues that aren’t in your daily life can get a quick snapshot of how things are going for you and what you’ve been up to. But this, like all things in life can be over done and it’s really easy to slip into what I like to call “bullhorn mode”.

When you’re using a bullhorn, you’re not listening. You are only broadcasting, dominating others and are only putting information out there in the world. When you’re on your bullhorn, you’re not taking time to listen and read, you’re not interacting with others, and there is no community in what you’re doing. It’s so easy to skim, click like a few times, write something about what you did to day, and move on.
Recently, I read an article on not liking things on Facebook. I think this is an important concept, because it makes it harder for you to just take the easy way. It’s not that it’s bad to like, but it’s like the social media version of a non-verbal head bob when you agree with someone. You feel like you’ve done your social duty, and nothing more is required of you. From the time that I stopped liking things my engagement with other talent and with my friends and family has increased many times over, and my Facebook feed has cleaned up, just like in the article.
What do you gain from engagement? Well, that’s the neat thing, you really don’t know. What you put out online stays there forever, and you never know how far your positive statements, your good actions, and your happy thoughts might reach. (The same is true in reverse, of course.) I can’t count the number of connections I’ve gained simply from the fact that I made a post some time, somewhere, or someone mentioned my name online.
So put down your bullhorn. Get your nose out of your navel. Engage, discuss, debate, encourage, uplift, and mention. See how far you can really reach, and see how much good you can do out there.

Voice Awards Controversy

Lots of words have been written recently about the First Annual Voice Arts Awards. You can see their site and pretty much all the details of the ceremony and how it’s done at the presenting organization, SOVAS. (Society of Voice Arts and Sciences.) Voice Over Xtra has run a recent article interviewing Rudy Gaskins, one of the founders of the ceremony. VO Xtra has also covered other aspects of the organization, the why’s and wherefores, and so on. SOVAS has gotten press in quite a few places. They’re covered in everything from industry to Yahoo.

The reaction of the voice over community has been pretty evenly split into two camps. Some folks think this is awesome–that it’s a great investment, and a wonderful idea for an integral segment of the entertainment industry that has long gone under appreciated to finally have something to call it’s own. The other side basically sees this as being a ‘pay to play’ situation–the (few hundred dollars) entry fees being just another way to pay for exposure of your work and talents to…well, whom? They see paying to enter yourself in for an award that you’d win as self congratulatory at best.

Paul Strikwerda, the wonderful Nethervoice has penned his opinion, which covers both camps, and although he has a fair number of reservations, he says that rather than giving final judgement, we should perhaps give them a chance.

I’m not going to come down on either side of the fence. I can see both sides. Personally, I think the idea is great–why not create something to honor the hard work we all do? However, it’s the execution that has me wondering.

Joan Baker and Rudy Gaskins are known as the founders of the That’s Voiceover! Career expo. The number and quality of ‘famous names’ that they have as part of their endeavors is not small. With all these heavyweight people, what I’d like to know is why they’re coming at the awards ceremony concept from this direction–putting the cost and entry on voice talent.

To clarify, Joan and Rudy and their associates know loads of voice over hirers. They know advertising agencies. They are obviously capable of getting a reasonable amount of press for their endeavor. Why not approach those people that they know in the hiring and advertising camps, and persuade THEM that this is a great idea? If the hirers were entering, perhaps in an exchange for some advertising discounts, free press, the cachet of getting in on something new, then the ceremony would move beyond just the community and become something bigger and more profound. Lots of press and notice these days is given to recognizing the ‘little guy’. Those are the stories that often go viral.

Of course companies CAN enter, and I’m sure that some of them will! But the visible effort is being focused on the community itself, not on the folks who hire them. Rather than come to voice talent and say, “Hey, pay to enter this thing and be recognized!” Instead say, “Hey, these names and companies that hire you recognize this thing we’re doing, talk to your clients and tell them about how great it would be if you entered!”

In summation, I think Joan and Rudy and their organization has a great deal of potential. But the way it’s being presented, the way that it’s put together means that most of us would not go beyond congratulating ourselves if we won, and that we have to take their entire (unproven) premise of the value on faith. Perhaps, instead of asking if voice talents deserve their own ceremony, we should be asking should voice talents have to pay for something else to be recognized?

6 Questions for CheapVoiceovers

cheap voiceoverCheapVoiceovers originated on Twitter, and quickly garnered notice for their stellar marketing efforts and unique take on the voice over industry. As soon as I saw them, I just knew I had to find out more and so I got an interview! You can find them on Twitter as @CheapVoiceover

1. So tell us how CheapVoiceovers came to be?

Cheap Voiceovers was set up to highlight a side of the voiceover industry that’s overlooked. Those clients that blow all their budget on the production of the video and leave the voice til the end. It’s dedicated to clients that love to sacrifice quality and the reputation of the brand by settling for any old voice. It’s here for clients whose emails start…”we don’t have much budget”.

2. What made you decide to accept all levels of talent? Do you have any standards?

Standards? Nah, we’ll accept any old rubbish. Our clients don’t care. They are more than happy accepting a voice with no experience. They don’t care if the quality of the voice sounds like it’s been recorded in a toilet either. So, we’ll accept anyone that has a microphone and a computer. After all that’s what makes you a ‘professional voiceover’ right?? Great acoustics optional, a bit of bedroom reverb never killed anyone we’re sure. We love NOISE. We just turn the music track up to hide it.
3. What drives your pricing standards? The purchase of tea or a sandwich?

Pricing is pretty much decided on how much the voice over needs to pay for their shopping. Or maybe they were thinking of buying a cake on the way to their regular job the following morning. So, it can vary from 45p up to £12. Some of our voices have F*** all to do of an evening so the thought of being sat voicing a 9000 corporate video doesn’t phase them. They just get excited, that the following morning they’ll have money for a Latte before signing on. If a client says they have very little budget, we say, bring it on.

4. How would you respond to criticism of the talent you accept and the fees they collect?

Our talent is the finest we can find from the bottom of the barrel. These are people that just want to be given a chance. Our talent roster will be full of people that want to tell their friends that they are a professional voiceover. If your mum said you have a good voice then that’s a good enough testimonial for us. There will always be client and a voice ready to dumb down the industry and join us. Hey, why have your production represented with a credible voice with years of experience working with well known brands, when you can have a butcher or a mechanic with zero experience to represent your company for a fraction of the price?

5. How much is it to join?

It’s free to join. Just direct message us and we’ll give you a link to send in your demo. If it meets our strict criteria, ‘the 3 H’s’, Hum, Hiss and Hinterference, then we’ll add it to the site.

6. What is your long term goal with CheapVoiceovers?

Our long term goal is to be the worst we can be. There is always a market for the cream of the crap. FIVERR may have given the industry a shake allowing professional voiceovers to charge £5 / $5. But we think we can beat that. Come on Big Brands, come and ruin your fine work here!!!

Blog Rerun: Business Card Commandments

Standart_Business_Card_2x3.5_front1Week 3 of my Blog rerun. I want to thank all my readers for their patience while I move, and I hope you’re enjoying these oldie-but-goodies!

In the past couple years since starting this business of mine, I’ve come across a lot of business cards. Many of them are great at getting their message across, at tying into that all important first face to face impression. Some, well, aren’t.

1. Your business card needs to be readable.

This includes both the type of font you use, font size, and also importantly, font color. Looking pretty or cool is far less important than simple readability. I’ve encountered quite a few cards that either made me wish my contacts were a stronger prescription, or made me turn the card in all directions, trying to figure out what it says.

2. A little goes a long way.

When the reason your font is so tiny is because of the amount of text you put on there, you have a problem. This also includes pictures and graphics. Simple and clean always looks better than crowded and eye-overwhelming.

3. Put it all on there!

I’ve encountered cards without an email address! That one boggles my mind. Yes the viewer can go to your website, and doubtless find it there, but in today’s four second attention span world, do you really want to chance them tossing you aside in favor of someone else?

4. Keep it professional.

If you have your own website (and if you don’t, why don’t you? You can read my thoughts on websites here.) why don’t you have an email address with that as the mail to? Yahoo? Hotmail? For heaven’s sake, AOL? These brand you as just one of the pack. Your name is unique. Vast mass herds of email sheep are not.

Most people put some kind of a link on there. This should NOT be your voice123 profile. Sites like WIX and about.me allow you to make a free, reasonably clean looking page with a minimum of effort. You can have a logo or photo, your contact info, and links to your demos, and have something a lot better looking than something that goes through another site before it gets to you. You want to lead seekers directly to you, not through someone else.

5. Are you in shape?

I know that you want to stand out from the pack. But personally, when I’m putting cards in my holder or in my pocket, the last thing I want is one that’s an odd shape, sticks out, or is hard to fit in in some other way. I’m not talking about card stock here, but short, long, large cards. Plus, making them smaller makes it hard to fit that all important contact information on there, and makes them much easier to lose.

Top Secret Sneak Peek

Top SecretLadies and gentlemen, I have a secret. I am doing the background work for a brand new service I want to offer to voice talent.

What is this service, you’re probably asking? Well, I thought about the single most common question voice talent ask me–Karen, how should we organize our voice over businesses? What tips or strategies do you have for us?

And I’ve struggled with the answer, because there really isn’t one that I can give to everyone. What works for one person who is a single guy living alone probably won’t work for the part time VO who does his gigs at night after his job when his kids are asleep. Or the mom who has to squeeze spots in between naps, TV shows, and school hours.

Then there’s learning! Everyone learns and arranges, plans and organizes in different ways. One person makes notes on their iPad, another has to have a pen and paper. Someone loves their calendar and to-do list, someone else gets very overwhelmed at the very idea of a list of all the things they haven’t done.

Last, but not least, of course there’s your work! Not only do you folks talk into the microphones all hours of the day and night, many of you do other things as well, so organizing has to fit around that stuff that actually makes you money.

But I think I finally have an answer! And once I finish my fine tuning you’ll hear more from me on how I can help you conquer those organizational hurdles with my own unique spin on things. I can’t wait to share it with you folks, so stay tuned!

Blogger Profile: Peter O’Connell

artworks-000011353896-xfzwnn-cropPeter O’Connell’s Voxmarketising is a great example of the saying, write what you know. In the community of voice talent that I know, Peter is acknowledged to be one of those guys who just ‘knows’ marketing, how to sell yourself, and that is in fact what he does for a living (in addition to being a voice talent, of course.)

I met Peter several Faffcons ago, and I was instantly impressed by his energy, enthusiasm, and robust sense of humor, not to mention his knowledge base in his chosen career. He and I have worked together before–he was in fact one of the first people to hire me, and he’s as nice to work for as you can possibly imagine.

He’s been blogging for a long time, since May of 2005, and has authored many posts that are useful and informative reading. One of my personal favorites was his 5 Questions for a Professional Voice Talent series that highlighted the stories from all kinds of voice actors, and is an interesting read for anyone who wants to get to know the others in this business.

In short, Peter is always worth a read, and I highly recommend his blog!

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