Marketing/Branding

The Importance of Amazing Website People

If you are in voice over and you have never met Joe Davis and his right hand woman Karin Barth of Voice Actor websites, that

Laura Schreiber with Team for Voice Actor Websites and Kim Handysides and Shelley Avellino

It was a true joy when Karin Barth, Joe Davis, Kim Handysides and her husband Ed, and Shelley Avellino came to visit!

would surprise me. They are incredible people. I don’t know what the average professional voice actor’s relationship is like Joe and Karin, but they are warm, trustworthy, and brilliant with everything from website design to SEO. If our website is our store front in voice over, it is essential to have a solid relationship with the folks who run your store front. Having a solid relationship with people like Joe and Karin is so easy, they are two of the kindest, hardest working people I have every met. I can think of dozens of examples of times when I have had “emergencies” and they have been supportive and helpful, and one time when I changed my email signature (which they of course designed and coded) and I could not get it to load in my iPhone, Joe offered to fly from Florida to New York to help. Now that is customer service. So to say that I am appreciative of the team at voice actor websites and that I depend on them would be accurate. It would also be accurate to say that the success of my business is intertwined and inextricably linked to my voiceover website. Consequently, the journey I have taken with my voice over website is representative of my voice over journey as a whole.

How it All Started

It all started with a single scrolling webpage. I did not know about Brad Newman, sadly, years ago and I had to deal with host

Laura Schreiber With Brad Newman and

Here I am with Brad Newman of Upper Level Hosting and Nazia Chaudry at VOcation

gator hosting and that is another long story, but I am also so very thankful to have hosting with Brad now and have the joy of his outstanding customer service at Upper Level Hosting. Anyway, I had one scrolling page. There was a menu at the top and if you clicked on it the cursor would jump to the section selected, so it felt like there were multiple pages, but really there was just one page. When my page was first created, I was very concerned with branding. I worked with Anne Ganguzza and she came up with the concept you see today. While branding was on my mine, SEO was not. The initial website that launched in March 2016 looked amazing. I was so proud. It was breathtaking.

Initially I did not Do Anything On My Own

When I started my business, Sara Waters designed the site and Joe was in the picture, but he was not the entire picture. At some point early on he ran the show. The transition was seamless because I cannot pinpoint a moment in time when the transition occurred, it was juts my friend Joe running things and before I knew it the more I worked with him the more he and his team became my friends. I did not do a single thing for my website on my own. NOT. ONE. THING. Here is a list of basic support I got from the team at voice actor websites:

  • adding client logos
  • adding testimonials
  • adding and/or updating demos
  • adding/posting blogs
  • SEO services
  • eSignatures
  • marketing materials
  • social media banners and updates

I was extremely dependent on Joe’s team. First, once I tried to do an update myself and made a big mess of my page. Next, it saved me time to have them do it. Time they were doing these services is time that I could be in the booth recording or simply doing other things. I lacked a skill set that they all had, and their expertise was extremely reassuring. Not only was it reassuring, but it helped me to establish myself as a professional in my field.

The Big Upgrade

Home-NEW

In 2018 I made a huge website update. I went from a single scrolling page format to a multi page format. I had amassed an impressive body of booked work to post. I also had worked with so many coaches by that point and had so many professional demos produced that I really needed different pages for each genre so that I could showcase the demo and booked work I had done in a more spectacular, attention getting way. What I did not understand when I initially started the process in 2015 was that my single scrolling page, as beautiful as it was, would never have the SEO that the multi page site has. Joe and his team coordinated efforts. I began writing content and organizing all the video clips. Voice Actor Websites continued to help my professional dreams come true, my store front made a huge leap that year and the website truly became a place to show where I was professionally and all that I can offer my clients.

The Bold Move: Learning to Do Some Things in Word Press

After YEARS in the industry, I have gotten better at time management. I love learning new technology related to anything in voice over. So, I became curious about the workings of Word Press. I wanted to understand the magic that went into adding a logo or inserting a testimonial. I started small. I started by posting my blogs. But one day it occurred to me, if I could post my blogs, then surely I could learn to do more. Karin spent a good bit of time teaching me how, step by step. I made note cards and I was really excited. More than that, I was inspired. I decided to make a bold move and add an entire page to my site.

Covid Response and Emergency Management

I did have one little hiccup when doing it, when I added this page I somehow made my commercial page disappear, but Joe fixed it!

Taking Ownership

I am extremely thankful for all of the support I have gotten from Joe and Karin of the years. Having a team of people who are wonderful like the team that Joe has built has helped make success possible for me.  I have no doubt that as time goes on there are many services I will need to pay them for and many lessons I will need, but the sense of pride that I got in being able to upload my own client logos and add content as I want to  meant the world to me! As small business owners, voice actors wear a lot of hats. For me, my website was the wild west, and feeling that it is not such uncharted territory fills me with so much joy.

On this Sunday morning, lets’s grapple with this question:  if there’s a low barrier to entry in voice over, what defines a pro?

Spending more time in Facebook Groups These Days

Like many in the voice over industry, I have been spending more time than ever on social media these days, especially on FaceBook. I long for human connection and to feel part of our beloved community, and frankly I enjoy the banter more than ever. Yesterday this post from highly esteemed coach and casting director MaryLynn Wissner caught my attention:

There’s a lot to this. We work in an industry where you don’t have to come from a career in theater or on camera work to get started, though many did study performing arts in school, pivoted for a first career, then returned to voiceover.  I, myself, was a History teacher. Christian Lanz was an architect. Maria Pendolino worked in finance. Dana Hurley was a pharmacist. The list goes on and on, and there is nothing wrong with changing careers and bringing all of those skills with you into your business in VO. The question that is being asked here, is what is the difference between a guy who buys a plug in mic and a membership on a pay to play and calls himself a “professional” and then has the credit of having some good coaches, the benefit of being in good company, and an actual working professional? To me, if working with the best of the best in coaches is removed as a criteria in defining a pro, than we need to look to a voice over actor’s website, testimonials, bookings/credentials, and social media standing.

The Website

Put simply, the website is our storefront. More than our business card, our website is our calling card. It not only houses our demos, it is the voice actor’s place to showcase actual booked work. We can display our business philosophy. We can post testimonials. We can make it easy for clients to find us. This is how we create a sense of our brand. And a voiceover professional, unlike an amateur, has all of these things: sample of work across genres, a brand, comments from clients. Joe Davis and Karin Barth were recently interviewed on the “Middle-Class VO Podcast” talking about what sets voice over actor’s websites apart, in terms of what makes them professional and what makes them findable by google. The entire podcast can be found here:

 and Joe’s main words of wisdom are that the “website needs to work on whatever device….making sure that they are mobile compliant of mobile responsive….in today’s world more than half of web traffic is mobile.” A telltale sign of an unprofessional talent is one missing key information on their website, missing demos, with demos named improperly, or with a site that is not mobile responsive.

Testimonials:

A professional talent has an abundance of testimonials. Period. They should have them proudly displayed on their website, on LinkedIn, on whatever Pay to Plays they are on, and likely they share them on social media. Testimonials are not difficult to get. Happy clients who have just received pristine audio are typically delighted to provide them. My very first voice coach, Anne Ganguzza, told me how important it was to get testimonials! She asked for one from me about our work and gave me my very fist one. A voice actor without testimonials is likely not a professional voiceover actor.

 

 

Street Cred

Ok, I am talking about a solid client list with proof. What is proof? Samples of actual work that has aired. If a voiceover actor does not have samples of work in the genre or clients in a specific genre they have not likely worked in that genre even if they have a demo for it. The exception to this is likely eLearning as so much eLearning is proprietary content. Where can you find samples of work voice actors have done? Booked and finished work is typically prominently displayed in places like voice actor’s websites, YouTube pages, facebook, LinkedIn, ispot.tv, sometimes imdb, and more. So, a real, actual working professional has a body of produced work that they can easily share with anyone who wants to see it.

Social Media

Typically actual working professionals are active on social media as networking is really important. We typically post finished jobs, especially when these jobs have been done for large, recognizable brands. We love to share these clients on Facebook and Instagram. Often we have large social media connections and followings as well. YouTube is another sign of a voice over professional. Typically we post samples of work here. Many of us have videos about our professional philosophy, showing our studios, discussing our work, and more. A lack of a professional social media presence is a major red flag.

The Flip Side

While I think it is clear how to differentiate a professional voice talent from a wannabe, there is, of course, a flip side to all of this. As there is a low barrier of entry and many do not depend on agents or entry to the union for job sustainability, there is a chance that amongst the many with a plug in mic and a computer our bookings ratios will go down and our community demographics will shift. One of my favorite talents who I had the privilege of spending a day with at a VO Revolution conference in 2016, Dave Fennoy, speaks to exactly this issue as the final thought that I leave you with:

What Voice Over Client Correspondence is Appropriate during a pandemic?

As a small business owner, this is a very personal choice, but to me the line is extremely clear: the only unsolicited  communication that should happen during a pandemic is genuine, caring correspondence. Period. If you have spent years of your life building and maintaining client relationships so that each booking is not a one-off, but instead a life-long client relationship, than be a friend and check in. But when I say this I mean genuinely check in with care and concern in your heart. If your heart isn’t in it, don’t do it.

Why is it wrong to try to see yourself right now?

If you are reaching out to folks you have already worked with, odds are they know as soon as they see your name and your email that you are a voice actor. If they needed you for a booking they would have asked. I have been checking in on clients. At radio stations, the program directors and operations managers are working with skeleton crews and their limited crews are running multiple stations and doing the jobs of many.  They are working long hours just to keep radio going. Other clients tell me with great concern how their business has been decimated. Those who also do live events have had massive cancellations. So does this seem like the time to ask how their projects are and send a demo? NO.

This is a test…

This time period will pass. Some companies we have worked with will exist when this is over, and others won’t. If you have clients, actual clients that you have worked with repeatedly, be a friend now. Be supportive. Don’t make it about you. When the pandemic ends, regardless of what is left of their business, do you went to be remembered as a greedy pest or a supportive, kind soul? Only you can decide what your Coronavirus legacy will be, but I would much rather be defined by posting too many pictures of my precious dogs than by stalking my clients in their darkest hour.

If My Job is to Voice Other Brands, Why Does my Brand Matter?

As a voice over artist, I have the privilege of voicing projects for the brands we know, love, and use in our daily lives! While every single job is exciting, when a brand name that my family uses all the time, like Dove or Gap or Kind Bar, books me I am ecstatic because those brand names have such huge brand recognition. Why, then, does it matter if I, as a voiceover actor, have a brand associated with my name? What I learned as soon as I began my VO journey years ago is that I am not just voicing projects for these brands. Instead, I myself am also a small business owner and need to create and maintain a brand that my clients can identify with and connect to in order to understand the service that I provide. Branding is essential to success in voiceover.

When Did My Own Branding Journey Begin?

My very first coach in voice over was the amazing Anne Ganguzza. When we started working together years ago  on my commercial demo, I immediately had lots of questions about her website. Anne explained to me that we could have separate sessions to work on my branding as we got closer to my recording date. We scheduled everything so that my website would be ready to launch when I had my demo.  Even though I was new to the industry, Anne’s website stood out to me because there was a grandiose impression to it that others simply lacked. I had considered doing my commercial demos with other coaches. Frankly, Anne’s website and the brilliance of Anne’s virtual store front was so impressive and resonated with me so much so that I just had to work with her. Over the years I have continued to follow Anne on all fronts and I continue to learn from her. Her marketing is seamless. Everything ties together. She is  sets the bar high for us all.

So what was our approach? Well to really understand it you would have to work with Anne, but we did have a session where there was a lot of question and answer. To be clear, I think that Anne is able to help with branding so well because she works so hard to get to know her students on multiple levels. Anne then worked with creative genius Sarah Waters. They came up with the concept that is on my website and all of my marketing content today. It represents my personality, my hope, my dreams, and my vision for my small business. My branding concept was the result of a collaborative effort of a lot of creative people.

Your Website as Your Store Front

Now let’s enter the folks at https://www.voiceactorwebsites.com/, Joe Davis and Karin Barth, absolute geniuses!! At some point years ago Sara stepped away and Joe took over. Joe is so amazing and the transition was so seamless that I actually had no idea it happened.  I have been working with Joe for so long that he has become a close and cherished friend. I value his advice and feedback as there is frankly no one who understands a voice actor’s SEO better than he does. I also work closely with Karin to make constant changes and updates and she has been a true blessing. She is wonderful. At some point, I think around 2018, I upgraded my website between the initial scrolling page that I had done with Anne and Sarah to the mega multi-page format that is alive today. This was a huge undertaking and a tremendous investment in my brand.

In voiceover, your website is your store front. If a client can’t find you, they can’t hire you. If they come to your store front and they don’t like what they see, or they can’t find what they need quickly and easily, you will lose the sale. Like all brands, you only have one chance to make a first impression. If you are in voice over, your demos should be obvious and easy to find, as well as your contact information. Everything else is gravy. How you dress it up is your branding. My web page is super pink and super bubbly. Just like me.  Perhaps looking at some samples of other successful solopreneurs to find common trends makes sense, as there is certainly a pattern here:

Cast Study:

Let’s look at some women who are thriving in voiceover today and setting the bar high. I am throwing myself into the mix because I work really hard every single day on my brand and I try to follow the rule and trends that I observe. Here is a chart that I have created and from these examples there is a lot that we can extrapolate:

What Can We Learn From these Samples?

  1. All of these websites have a real brand that is obvious as soon as you open the page. The branding set the tone or vibe about the voice over actor and is maintained through out the fresh content.
  2. All of these women solopreneurs are active on at least one form of social media, and most are on multiple forms of social media. They consistently carry out the branding from their website in their posts.
  3. Many of these women either have their own podcast or are regular guests on others’ podcasts.
  4. These women are often teaching voice over or giving workshops either on their craft, marketing, branding, or something related to some aspect of their business.
  5. These women all have a logo or theme from there website that is unique to their brand and has become recognizable in the industry from their postings.

An Attitude of Gratitude

All year I work hard to maintain an attitude of grattitude. It is not something that just happens. I’m a pretty happy and upbeat gal, and I am genuinely appreciative of each and every one of my voice over bookings and clients, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have to work hard to create a routine that fosters this attitude of grattitude so that the folks I work with know without a doubt how appreciated they are! This time of year is one of my favorite times of year! Not only do I get to spend more time with the people that I love, but it is also a great time to give a little something extra in the way of thanks to those who help a small business thrive! As a solopreneur, I love these special moments and find that they make all the difference!

Being Considerate with Holiday Schedules

According to Nina Zipkin of entrepreneur.com, in the last census there were 2.7 million solopreneurs! Imagine if you went to Whole Foods to go grocery shopping and they did not post their holiday hours, or if you showed up at the mall only to learn that the hours were different over the week of the winter holidays. Now that there are 2.7 million of us, and we are indeed business owners, we need to make it as easy as possible for our clients to know when we are and are not available over the holidays. Here are some helpful hints:

  • You can add  updated schedule and availability to your email signature.
  • Add an updated hours notice to your website.
  • Add an out of office reply when you are actually out of office.
  • If you send a monthly news letter and know you will have limited hours over the holidays, let clients know.
  • Post a travel rig notice on your facebook business page.

Why does all of this matter? Your clients my still need something right away even if it is the week of Christmas and your kids are home. If you have not made it clear that you are not in your booth, do not leave them guessing. Make it as easy as possible for your clients to get what they need when they need it!

Well Wishes and Spreading Cheer

I love sending holiday well-wishes and cards. I send special cards to clients I have worked with in the last several years both domestically and internationally. I spend a lot of time and effort on my cards and I want my clients to smile with joy when they open them. Throughout the year, I update my holiday card spreadsheet, carefully adding new clients and updating addresses when I hear people have moved. It is not easy but I am really excited to send them and hope that my clients and industry friends are happy to open them.

Presents

My special clients who represent a certain percentage of my business get an actual present and a hand written note. Every year I send something different. I try to send presents that have meaning to my family or are from shops from my town. I always pick something that I would be excited to get.  Since I am almost always sending gifts to an office, My husband typically gives his opinion as well, since Harlan actually works in an office. Harlan is of the strong opinion that clients want food, particularly sinful food, and that they would not indulge in on their own. So the past few years specialty food like fudge from the Jersey shore and high-end candies from Sugarfina have made the cut. I have something very special planned for this year.

Thanks!

When you feel truly thankful, it feels great to let people know! My efforts around the holidays are just a continuation of what I do during the year, and I know I’m not alone, a lot of other voiceover talents have similar practices. After I complete a job and send delivery of finished audio, I always, always, always send a hand written note. I now typically send a small Starbucks gift card too. I really appreciate the opportunities that come my way and I realize that there is always a choice when casting, so I might as well let me clients know what they mean. A LOT. Do you know how excited I am every time I go to Starbucks to pick up these gift cards? I am thrilled. Absolutely delighted. Going the extra mile to send my thank you note is my year round expression of the cheer I feel this time of year. I know how I feel when people take the time to write testimonials and say thanks, so I know that a little bit goes a long way.

Happy holidays!!

Conference for VOs Run by VOs

As a working mom, when I heard that there was a voice over conference with a focus on “the business of the business” right here at home in NYC, I did not hesitate to sign up, especially when I learned that Carin Gilfrey and Jamie Muffett were running it! From the start, VOcation was extremely well conceived. There is something so special about a conference run by voice actors for voice actors. It goes beyond the over all vibe. From the little details like having talents sign up to announce the speakers, to the clever swag they gave away, this dynamic duo thought of everything.

Panel of Working Pros

I can’t tell you how fantastic it was that the kick off panel on the main stage, moderated by Jamie, was three amazing women talents. Two of them, Elissa Zhea and Maria Pendelino, are union talents, and Joey Shaljo is a non-union talent like me. Simply put, these gals are killing it. They addressed all sorts of issues like when to make the jump to full-time, the unique situation of working in New York City and how leaving the city changes your business, and accounting. These women spoke so well. They set the bar high for the rest of us. Not only did they teach us well, they set a standard well for which we should all aspire to. In an industry where 65% of the bookings are male, I applaud Carin and Jamie’s voice to start the weekend with these women. It could not have been better.

Emphasis on marketing

Any solopreneur can tell you that marketing is essential to maintaining client relationships and growth, and the VOcation team sure had this in mind when they planned key sessions as well. I very much enjoyed Tracy Lindley, Joe Davis, Brad Newman, and Tom Dheere.  I have heard Tracy, a LinkedIn expert, speak at other conferences too. To her credit, she always speaks about something different. This time she focussed on strategies for effective messaging. I hung on her every word and ate it up: it’s as if she knew just what I needed and was talking to me! Thank you, Tracy! Joe Davis of voice actor websites spoke about best ways to optimize your website for SEO. Joe’s team has been doing my website since 2015, so I enjoyed getting the most up to date tips from him. Like Tracy, Joe exudes a passion and genuine eagerness to help others, which makes him a true joy to be in the same room with. Good choice again, Carin and Jamie! I confess that I did not get to attend Brad’s break out session but to plan to attend at WoVoCon. I have the slides and they are incredible. Brad is super smart and I trust his business instinct any day of the week. He has been doing my hosting for years and I can’t wait to hear him speak. Last but certainly not least, was Tom Dheere. I was so excited to meet Tom and learn from him. I have a few industry friends who have been coached by Tom. I see why they all like working with him. Tom’s organized approach to Direct marketing would teach any new talent how to build a strong foundation. The marketing components of the conference were great!

The Future of VO

J. Michael Collins delivered the key note address on the future of voice over. JMC as we often call him is dynamic and inspirational. Everyone knows him and everyone loves him in our industry. At one point he remarked that  if you think the sky is falling, move over. His talk was uplifting and optimistic. He gave hope and spoke of current trends. We are lucky to have such a competent talent walking among us. JMC is a good egg and his success brings success to us all. Like the women in the first panel, I believe he also sets the bar high. By keeping his standards high in the demos he produces and the talents he works with, this if good for the industry as a whole.

Overall Takeaways

Like everyone, I had panels that I loved and could sit through over and over again and panels that made me wish I were shopping at Bergdorffs. Maria Pendelino’s panel on negotiations was a home run. It was my favorite panel of the conference and if you don’t know her you should. Maria is a rock star genius and major goddess of voiceover who is making our entire industry better. Both of the panels on casting were not my favorites. There was nothing wrong with them per se, they just lacked the scintillating genius moments that I tend to cling to.

Lastly, I have heard from friends who were not at the conference that they had friends who complained about the venue and the picnic lunches. My response is that they need awareness about NYC. There will never be a shuttle in NYC. It is not that kind of city. I heard someone complained it was near the subway. In New York, it is a luxury to be near the subway, so having the venue directly across from the express subway line was very, very smart of Carin and Jamie. Further, space and food are extremely costly in New York. Options for talent were either to go out to eat on their own as I did or the provided lunch. There is always a choice, you just have to understand your options. For those who are not local, perhaps a better approach might be to reach out to one of us in advance next time, I’d be happy to go out for lunch and go shopping:)

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!

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.