Marketing/Branding

Why Leaving the Foam Booth is Worthwhile

As a full-time, working mom, working from home is a major perk. I realize often how lucky I am to have my home studio. Whether it’s a day where I can accommodate multiple client sessions and run to m kids’ school to watch a special presentation, or a day when I am feeling exhausted and want to stay in yoga pants and no one knows the difference, working from home is a pretty sweet gig. But I will also be the first to say that in order to be a successful solopreneur, I need to leave to comforts of the home office that I have worked so hard to build in order to broaden my professional network.  I have made amazing connections in both expected and unexpected places because I made the effort to leave the booth!

Connections in expected places

I have blogged in the past about my conference adventures. From voice conferences like WoVo Con and VO Atlanta, to eLearning conferences like DevLearn, I have made very important connections at these conferences. At voice over conferences, I have met

Wonderful industry friends at WoVo Con, a night out with Uncle Roy in China Town the weekend of Sovas, an eLearning Guild conference in Orlando, and the WWRS in Burbank!

industry friends in person that I otherwise only know online from facebook or instagram. The bonds that form are amazing and so meaningful. These folks have become my daily support, my confidants, and my work family. These are the people I trust and confide in. The relationships would never be the same if we were not together in person. We also often refer business to each other, and again, we would not trust each other to share clients if we did not know each other so well, the way you do when you actually spend time together.

I have traveled pretty far for eLearning conferences like DevLearn and other eLearning guild conferences too. These conferences are different because you are putting yourself face to face with the companies who might need your services. Some of my most regular clients are from the smallest conferences I have gone to! The tricky thing about these conferences is that companies often send their sales team, and these are not people who cast voice talent, so as a voice over actor, you have to learn how to access the people that you can work with. You also have to learn the difference between the people who create content and the LMS providers, as they never need our services. It is also important to note that simply meeting these people at a conference and exchanging pleasantries in know way guarantees the connection. Instead, it takes months if not years of consistent follow up to build a rapport and maintain the connection that began at the conference.

Connections in Unexpected Places

I have also made wonderful connections for my business when I was not “on” or in “networking mode.” Once, at an ATD conference in Atlanta, I was totally exhausted. I did not know how I would get through the day in the massive venue with so many booths left to walk through in the expo center. I decided I needed a snack break. I had to take the escalator up four flights, which

This is what the first glimpse looked like. It was an enormous expo and several days there was both a great opportunity and exhausting all at once!

felt like an eternity, and I began chatting with a really nice lady from Boston who is now a client. She also needed a break and like me was desperate for a bottle of water, and being in that snack stand at that moment, seemed meant to be. We chatted and chatted and this instructional designer started venting about talents she had used in the past that had not worked out. The conversation flowed, and the opportunity was natural.  Sometimes it is these genuine, real chats that make the most impact and help people get to know you and then if there is a professional synergy it is that much better!

Recently, I was at the AI conference at NJIT in Newark. To be honest, even though I was only about four miles from my house, I was petrified to be in such a tough part of town and I was seriously questioning the logic in having a potentially great conference at such a venue. Well, there was another young man and woman who also had to walk from the parking garage to the main building around the same time. We just started walking together. I was relieved and started venting immediately. It turns out this woman was a talent agent from Denver and we had so much in common! That first chat has led to multiple phone calls. I am now on their talent roster for voiceover, promotional modeling, and on-camera work:

Laura

So, like my experience at ATD years ago, this wonderful connection came from a genuine, heart-felt conversation and there also happened to be true professional synergy. I did not start out trying to market myself, I just sought out human connection. This is why leaving the booth is so essential!

A Blog About the Blog

So, Why Another One?

Recently I was Facebook Messaging back and forth with the brilliant and talented Tracy Lindley, voice over talent and creator of the amazing LinkedIn Edge https://www.thelinkedinedge.com/home, and she said blogging is one of those things on her list.  As a working mom, I think this is so common! I never intended to blog when I became a voice over actor years ago. I did it because my website guy Joe Davis https://www.voiceactorwebsites.com/ said it would help with my SEO, and since I can’t work if no one can find me, that was good motivation. Even though I recently posted https://www.lauraschreibervoice.com/blog/top-tips-for-the-vo-blogger/, believe it or not I still have more to say on the matter when it comes to actually getting it done!

Make it a Routine

Try to have a set time that you always blog and post. Then, try to have a rain date/makeup time already scheduled. For me, my set time is Sunday mornings around 8 am. My kids are typically asleep, and my husband is typically at basketball.  I love sitting at my kitchen island with my dog Violet on my lap and enjoying the quiet time to write and research. If we have plans on a Sunday, are traveling, or have unexpected guests, I typically blog Monday or Tuesday morning.

My blog routine is not just about having a set time to blog. I actually have a very set routine:

  • I have a set time to blog.
  • I have two specific places I prefer to sit when writing blogs.
  • After writing, I then have a specific order for researching art work and photos for my blog.
  • I then either record or post a video to the blog.
  • Once all is gathered and in my blog dropbox, I then post the blog.

It’s Actually a Ritual

Even though I never set out to blog, now that I have found a system that works for me, I am very “into it.” There is definitely a flow to blogging that takes on a life of it’s own. For me, there are some other specifics that represent me and my brand:

  • I have a lot to say to be part of the professional discourse.
  • It is important to stay positive.
  • I want my clients and industry friends to get to know me.
  • I am willing to share without crossing a line of personal information about my family.
  • I love to write and research so this gives me a little outlet.

Tricks About Topics

One of my beloved coaches, Fred Frees, told me many years ago to always keep a notebook near by to jot down inspirations. For years I did so. Unfortunately my back is bad and I have had to downsize my purse many times, but I have found that I can text myself ideas that come to mind and it works just as well!  A lot of times during the week ideas for blog posts come to me. I always jot them down. Sometimes as I write them I feel that they are too personal or that they cross a professional line, so those do not get posted, but the point is to make sure you do not miss an opportunity to express your ideas!

Photos and Videos for Blogs

It is apparently also important for blogs to be enhanced with related photos, videos, and links. For those of us not of the generation where we take selfies throughout the day and photograph everything we do, I actually find it helpful to set reminders to take pictures. I also try to write about topics about something that I want to talk about and then I will have an easier time making a related YouTube Video. When posting these related materials within the blog, I try to always tag them with relevant words that relate to the topic and also make me more findable.

Key Words

This is an interesting one. It has been advised to me to come up with a list of key words to target and write a blog post about it. So, if you have specific SEO goals, That would be great, but my creative juices just don’t work that way. In fact, if almost seems like if I have to write about a specific topic nothing comes to mind. I find that instead, writing about what seems germane to current industry trends, or what is on my mind, and then making a list of key words, is a much better approach for me because it actually results in a completed blog.

Those Shindigs Where You Really Need Them

So about two weeks ago I found myself in Burbank, CA for the WWRS 2019. The event was held on top of what, as an East Coaster, I can only describe as a mountain with amazing views of the Los Angeles area. It was the perfect setting for the radio world schmooz fest that was three days of enrichment, professional development, and networking at every turn. To say that for professional voiceover actors (and my guess is that there were about 50 of us there) business cards were essential is an understatement. The whole point of going was to put ourselves in front of the production managers and creative directors who make the decisions about which voiceover talents to use. And aside from our amazing in-person impression, all we leave them with, in the end, is our tiny little card. I found my self extremely curious about the cards that other voiceover talents were giving out and it made me re-evaluate the ways in which I was using the precious space on my own card. I was standing there in gorgeous Burbank at this conference looking at the card in my hand and questioning, is my card sufficient for the major purpose it serves in life?

Breaking Down Current Trends

According to The Balance Small Business, even in the digital world there is still a cultural precedent to the exchange of business cards around the world: “The ritual exchange of business cards is central to establishing business relationships in many countries. In Hong Kong, for instance, if you are given a business card and don’t offer one in return, you can basically close up business then and there, says Rory Boland in Hong Kong Business Card Etiquette.  In Japan, too, the quality and condition of your business card speaks much about how you intend to conduct yourself and business.” Most professional voiceover actors like myself use their business card as an extension of their branding. It matches their website and other marketing materials in both font and colors. Everything ties together and it is what a client familiar with your brand would expect to see.  Another current trend a lot of my voiceover friends, including me, had been encouraged to follow is to only have our name and maybe a tagline if anything else on the back of the card so that folks that we meet have a place to write down notes when they meet us. Here are some examples of this.  Accomplished voiceover talent  Dervla Trainor has beautiful cards that match her site in color, font, and follow the trend of leaving space on the back side:

 

 

In another example, accomplished voiceover actor, coach, and director Shelley Avellino follows this branding trend as well. Shelley had the clever idea of only having the front of her card glossy and leaving the back matte so that folks have an easier time writing on it:

 

 

 

 

 

This year’s VOA unicorn award recipient Michele Blenker has a little more information on the back of her card while still tying in her branding and leaving space:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is what my card looks like at the conference:

 

 

 

 

What Am I Trying to Accomplish

What I realized at the WWRS 2019 was that there were a lot of voiceover talents who were thinking outside the box. Some had a list of top stations they were doing imaging for. Some had a list of major brands they voiced.  I could do this! Bells started to go off in my head because I suddenly felt concerned that this side of the card was my bill board and I was leaving it blank. Yes, there are a lot of well-established successful voiceover talents doing the same thing I have been doing and their cards look beautiful. But after seeing these other cards, instead of leaving it to the folks that we network with to write down the information that resonates with them, it occurred to me that I can take control of the dialogue and use the space in a way to make sure that potential clients and current clients have essential information that I want them to have. Yes, I realize this goes against a trend. And yes, I realize it looks cluttered. And yes, I realize it is not as pretty. But, once I saw these other cards, I had this real conflict as I could not unsee them. 

My Bold Move

I should note in my passionate tirade about the cards that I have different cards for different genres of voiceover. So, I have one set of cards for eLearning. I have another set of cards for government contracting.  So this set I am all fixated on is for my radio imaging, commercial, telephony sort of work. I decided to do an experiment and actually ask for feedback. This week upon my return I did ask for a revised design from the team at voiceactor websites for the back of my card. This is what they came up with:

I chose this because I wanted to clearly state which genres I work in most. I wanted to remind clients about the studio I have worked so hard to build. And I do actually do RUSH jobs all of the time, so I felt that it was essential to put that on the card. Am I certain that this is the right move? No. I am pleased that it is clean and easy to read. I am pleased that I can be sure clients will have the information they need. But when I look at my friends’ cards, they sure do look pretty.