Tag Archive for social media

The Devil and the Danger in Comparing

These days, most folks are on Facebook and other social media platforms. It’s wonderful in a lot of ways, allowing you to keep up with friends and family you might not stay in touch with otherwise. There’s plenty of uplifting posts, puppy pictures, and food porn to amuse. (Not to mention games to while away the time)

And it’s also a cesspool of argument, vitriol, and poor spelling. People defend their opinions from the towers of half-educated ignorance and personal attacks. It can really get you down, reading the same kind of negativity day after day. Even voiceover can fall victim to these type of arguments, as we have our well known bastions of polarization. (p2p, anyone?) Arguments over the ‘right’ way to engineer something, or who has the most (best) resume and many other issues light up every group I’ve ever been a part of.

But in my opinion, the greatest danger to us is in the land of comparison. When you look at social media, the picture that you see of someone’s life is very one dimensional. There aren’t usually the smudges, the busted corners, or the effort it took to set up the perfect photo of 4 family members and 3 dogs. Whether it’s just that it feels like every other mom (or parent) has it together when you don’t, or that every other vo has booked so much more work than you, those comparisons are everywhere and a slippery slope of bad feelings and worse consequences.

VO (and freelance in general) is a very isolating way to work. For those of us who work full time, you’re home, often alone all day with a work environment of a small padded room. It’s natural to look to the internet to provide the ‘water cooler’ that we lack. And those comparisons seem to follow along right after. This person is always posting their great gigs, and gosh, it seems like they hardly have any down time. What are they doing that you aren’t? The next person not only has time to record audiobooks, they also go to the gym and look fantastic in the bargain. Yet another person has an attentive spouse, a great looking home, and beautiful children.

It may sound silly, but I really believe mental state is an important component of work for freelance professionals. We sometimes have very little work day structure, and a ‘bad brain day’ can make it much harder to get things done. Where I’m trying to go with this is to say that you don’t have to compare. Remember how much you don’t know about other’s lives. You don’t know how much down time is between the photos that are posted. (They may have been saving pictures for 6 months.) The second person has no kids so they’re able to get up early and make it there. Not a fair comparison since that’s not your life. The perfect home? You missed the fact that out of 3 hours of tornado kids, this was the 15 seconds they were still and smiling.

Don’t let appearances lead you into false comparison. You’re on your own journey, and that probably looks different than everyone else’s. The important thing is how far you’ve come and where you’re going, not what someone else is doing.

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.

What ever happened to Experts?

expertiseI’ve written many times about the changing nature of our industry, and how it’s important for each voice talent to find their own way, and create a life and work situation that fits them individually-that what works for someone else might not work for you.

But several things have come together recently to make me pause and take the time to draw a parallel point. I read an article a while back called The Death of Expertise, and it’s stuck in my head. Recently, this article has some together with my endless reading of social media and forums to trouble me.

There are lions in our industry that have been working for decades. Some of them are not with the modern era-refusing the acknowledge the changes in the industry-but many of them have risen to the challenge and are still making money and voicing lots of big ticket things that we all see or hear. But despite their wealth of knowledge, sometimes these people are seen as little more than carnival barkers with an opinion.

Obviously, it’s hard to know from words on a screen what’s going on behind the lines. It’s hard to know just how real or true what someone says is. But rather than quickly judging or condemning people, perhaps the wisdom is in trying to find out more about the person. People who seem arrogant or brash online can be kind and unassuming on the phone or in person. Someone who seems to be tooting their own horn from a post that you read might have something really valuable to offer. Other than time, what will it cost you to delay judgement and harsh words? What could it gain?

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 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.

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.

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: 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?

Social Media Navel Gazing

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

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.

Why I Stopped Liking Everything (on Facebook)

facebook_logo2I read a lot of stuff online, and a while back I caught this article about liking on Facebook. It caught my attention, I felt much the same as the author, liking was just something that you did. My like was the internet version of the nod along during conversation. A thumbs up, a pat on the shoulder of support, whatever was the appropriate conversational emotion, a like allowed me to include it.

But what struck me after reading the article and deciding to give it a try is that a like is also a bit of a cop out. It’s not that it’s bad in and of itself, per se, but it’s an easy way to just skip through all the content coming at you and feel like you’re participating at some sort of social minimum. When I didn’t have the option of a quick click, I had to stop, engage, and really think about what I wanted to say. I was forced to do more than a drive by addition to the conversation. Even if I just told someone, ‘congrats!’ it required more from me. It was uncomfortable, a little frustrating, and I really liked it!

Much of my business results from online engagement. The more I talk to people, the more they see me, and generally the more connections and business I get. It’s easy to be lazy and just click like on someone’s post. Reading everything and engaging takes a lot of time, and multiplies the scheduling that I have to do to get through my day. I have to stretch and do a bit more work, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I really believe after trying this for a while that it’s worth it–and I’m going to keep doing it. I’m recommending it to you–see what not liking does to your news feed and your personal engagement on Facebook.

Social Media Milestones, What Next?

rulerThere have been thousands of pages, reams of articles, and loads of studies done on what Social Media means in the business world. From everything I’ve read, the conclusions basically run to: Yes, Social Media can really help or hurt your business. How do we measure it? Well, that’s not so easy.

Recently, I managed to hit over 2000 followers on Twitter. I’ve been on that site since 2011, tweeting and retweeting things that I find interesting, informative, or funny for the voice over community. I’ll have to admit that achieving this number made me feel pretty good. Twitter followers are a nice, measurable statistic. It was a similar feeling to reaching the level cap in my favorite RPG game. I felt confident, cool, “I got this.”

Then I wandered over to Facebook. I’m working on gathering some unscientific statistics for another article, and sadly, I had lost my question in the pile of group posts since it had been a few days since I’d asked it. Now, after a moments fretting and trying a few things to find my post, I spotted a little search icon in the upper right hand part of the group. Clicking it, I typed in my name, and sure enough, there was my post.

What do I take from this? Rather a fundamental lesson that I’ve been reminded of many times before-don’t assume you know everything. Don’t stop learning, and don’t get comfortable. It’s very easy to miss a simple (hello, search bar, duh!) solution to your problem that you might not see due to a flaw in your perspective. Not only has this proven true in my personal life, but also particularly in my work life–the field of what we do never stops changing! What could you be missing because you think ‘you’ve got this?’


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