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.

In the last week, well-established voice over Goddess Kim Handysides, released a blog of her favorite/highly recommended voiceover blogs: 

https://kimhandysidesvoiceover.com/2019/07/01/top-10-voice-over-blogs-collins-courvo/

The list is still unfolding actually. Since then, not only have I been ruminating over why I blog, but I have also been thinking about some big “no, nos,” the imaginary line in the sand that is not to be crossed. Some rules that seem straightforward to those amongst Kim’s top 10 but perhaps were not so clear to those left off the list. Perhaps it is better framed as a positive list of tips and suggestions of what I think works and reaches the people we really want to reach.

Tip #1: The Blog Helps You Seem More Relatable

A blog can accomplish many goals, but a great one is that clients and industry friends alike can get to know you better. Whether you are sharing a recent personal experience or your work philosophy, the blog gives a more in-depth glimpse into who you are and how you tick. It let’s folks know what is going on in your head, and you can really open up. The catch though, is that in the voiceover world we give up our private lives a bit for the sake of our public ones. We may not be Beyonce or Lady Gaga, but in our own sphere we have given up our anonymity by existing on the multiple profiles we post and share. So, when attempting to share, carefully think about the way in which you reveal yourself. If you want to seem relatable, make sure that you in fact post blogs that are warn, helpful, and approachable.

Tip #2: The Blogs Establish You as a Professional With Expertise

Yes, you likely have a client list on your website. Sure, you have demos. And you probably have shared some of your finished jobs on your website, LinkedIn, or YouTube. But, a great way to let clients and potential clients alike have a glimpse into what sets you apart from others in the field is to blog about your feelings on a recent work experience or booking. Perhaps you want to kvell about a commercial you were thrilled to be a part of? Perhaps you have a new tech insight that is valuable? Perhaps you were in a dream project and it meant the world to you. Or you want to write about some new coaching that you got and how it played out in a recent casting. All of this helps clients understand why you are special.

Tip #3 The Blog Helps Folks Feel Like they Know You

The world is getting smaller and that is a good thing! One of my favorite aspects of voice over is that we work with people from all over the world. Literally all over the world. Even as a solopreneur, I think globally. My very first ever booking in voiceover was for a women’s clinic in Islamabad, Pakistan. Since then I have had clients in Italy, China, France, Germany, England, India, and the list goes on and on. I am thrilled to have every single booking, but what I can tell you is that I work at home in a padded foam booth, and I want to build a relationship with my clients. It is hard when our time zones are three hours apart. When we are more than 8 hours apart, we rarely speak on the phone. Typically a few emails back and forth is the only correspondance we have. So, it is my feeling that having these blogs on my website gives clients an available glimpse into who I am. I feel the same is true of my newsletters. I can’t tell you how often tidbits are commented on or repeated back to me that only came from a blog. I also check my google stats and my blogs are pretty well read, so it does make a difference.

Tip #4 Stay Positive

When you are having a bad day, don’t blog about it. Call a friend. Go for a walk. Meditate. But for heaven’s sake, do not have a public melt-down for all to see and post it on every voiceover site and share it with every person you know. The voice over community is small. People want to have each other’s backs. We generally lift each other up. I feel that I have a wonderful family in my VO friends. Blog about the lessons you learn from rising up, from over coming, from doing your best. Everyone has good days and bad, but your clients do not need to know about the bad ones. Give them a reason to think the world of you and to hire you. Give them a reason to sing your praises from the rooftops. Give them sunshine and pixie dust and sparkling glitter. Give them what they can get only from booking you! That is what you blog about!

When  People Just show Up

As a full-time working mom, I have a pretty rigid routine from day to day. On Sunday mornings, I typically relish my quiet time with my kids, and although I am home alone with them because my husband is usually playing basketball, I am usually working. On a Sunday morning, I tend not to be in my recording studio, but instead tend to be comfortably seated at the kitchen island and I usually maximize my time between 9am and 12 pm writing my weekly blog post and working on that weeks marketing goals. So this Sunday, when my very loved and very welcome in-laws walked-in unexpectedly and unannounced at around 9:15 am, I had a quick choice. And really, it was no choice. I needed to abandon my work plan and go with the flow. The work would be there when I came back to it but my opportunity to make my family feel welcome and appreciated would be fleeting.

In order to understand this scenario, you need to understand a few key details. First, members of our immediate family, both on my side and on my husband’s, all have our garage code. So, they tend to just enter the house, much like on a sitcom. We often have no idea who is coming when or how long they are staying. They just show up. Luckily they all get along really well. Next, this may give you the mis-impression that I am in some way relaxed. Quite to the contrary, I am wrapped very tight. When my twins were born, my husband and I agreed that an open-door policy was more fair to all grandparents. We didn’t want them to miss out, and so all of this craziness, is the result of said policy. So, I have had to change my behavior and learn to “go with the flow” a bit. What does that mean. Well, according to zenhabits.com, “What is going with the flow? It’s rolling with the punches. It’s accepting change without getting angry or frustrated. It’s taking what life gives you, rather than trying to mold life to be exactly as you want it to be.” So yesterday, it meant holding off for a better time to write and just enjoying my family. And you know what, I did!

There is another issue at play. I think people get a vibe when they are greeted. Do you want the people you love most in the world to feel welcome and like there is a red carpet for them, or do you want them to be unsure if they should be there? I want my family to want to come over. According to hospitality.net, “the spirit of welcome is so important in creating a strong foundation for the guest experience. Each person, each point of contact, can add so much to the ‘welcoming’ experience for guests! A welcome goes beyond words, it creates a feeling of caring and gives a sense of pleasure. A sincere welcome reaches out and positively pulls guests in to the hospitality environment they have chosen and makes guests feel like they have made a good choice. A cordial and courteous welcome gives guest the feeling they have been invited to join the setting even though they chose to go on their own. The power of welcome is to affirm the guest made the right choice and is further welcome to enjoy.” I think we only get one shot at this feeling, and if I had excused myself to go do work, it just would have been all wrong.

It takes a Village so In turn we need to be part of the Village

When I think about how families connect, I often think about this video I once saw of a family singing Les Mis karaoke:

 

It’s amazing, right? I find this incredible because my family will come together to watch Seinfeld or a movie, and we really come together to eat, but this is well-beyond our skill set. But what I think we do best as a family is raise mensches, and I couldn’t do that alone. I think that the reason my kids are so sweet is because they have the attention not just of their parents, both of whom work, but of their grandparents, their aunts, and their uncles, and I think it does take a village. When that village is fragmented, the kids are the ones who suffer. When you wonder how these characters end up on Jerry Springer or Dr. Phil, maybe it was those moments of choice and instead of sticking together and just being together they chose wrong over and over again. My daughter has been watching a lot of Dr. Phil recently, and when I see clips where he admonishes family like this I gather that they made one mistake after another until they stopped supporting each other.

The Time Goes way to Fast

I feel like just yesterday my  twins were tiny babies coming home from the hospital. We were worried that the pot holes would hurt their heads because they were so small.  Now they will be driving in a month. I spend many hours every day alone in a padded foam booth. So, when family comes over unexpectedly, I have decided to look at it as a gift. I think sometimes it is life telling us to slow down and take it in. I do feel like hitting pause is ok. I am blogging 24 hours after I planned. I am not sure when I will work on my instagram posts. Will I get them done? Yes.

How did our day end up yesterday? We had a wonderful lunch as a family at our mall. We took my little niece with us too. We then went to Target and the grocery store. My family come out from NYC and we grilled for dinner. We were all together and it was wonderful. At the end of the day, it was more important to me that my family feel important and loved.

It happens to be a beautiful sunny day, so I may want to take my kids out for lunch, but I think that will be okay too.

Ever feel like you are doing 20 things at once ?!

Any working mom can tell you that there are not enough hours in the day, so social media serves multiple purposes in our life depending on what form you are talking about. And any working mom can tell you that often when we are doing one thing we are thinking about the other 10 things we have to get done at the same time. From enabling a small business owner like me to let potential clients know about my business to staying connected with friends and voiceover industry friends from all over, to staying on top of current trends and hot tips, social media across the board is really important. If you were to ask me how social media directly effects my voiceover business, I would tell you that it depends on the specific genre, so here is a point by point break down of how the most relevant genres relate to my voiceover business. 

Twitter

A few years ago a prominent voiceover talent was offering a class with another industry insider on Twitter marketing. You’ll see as I go on why I leave their names out. I loved the class. I revamped my twitter strategy based on what I learned and was determined that I, too, would make upwards of $20,000.00 after the class. I did every single thing that we learning with gusto. I posted a minimum of 3 times a day every day for 2 years. I never gained more than 1200 followers and I did not book one single job from twitter. I also hired a marketing person to help with my twitter endeavor. Again, we yielded no results. As I book mostly commercial voiceovers, I do not think that folks are looking to hire talents like me on twitter.

Instagram

I love Instagram for personal use but I have also never booked work from Instagram. My Instagram account is a business one. All of my postings are “brand” relevant. I have tried for several years to post here and to connect with industry folks that I am curious about. I also hired a hot young intern who had a pulse on Instagram. Nothing. Then I hired a marketing consultant. These so called experts did not generate any better results than I did. So, I have a lot of fun at night before bed looking at pictures of jewelry and cute dogs but I do not believe that the people who want to hire me directly are looking for me on Instagram.

Facebook

I love Facebook and always have. I love it both as a way to keep in touch as so, so many voiceover talents and production people seem to hang out here. I also love to post and share projects and blogs on Facebook. While I have never booked an actual job from Facebook, I have formed the foundation of some amazing friendships that exist off line. I have met so many fantastic people. I also love the groups that I am in. Especially because we use so much audio equipment in voiceover, I find that the support of these Facebook groups is key to my success. For example, if I am having questions about ipDTL or Source Connect, I just hop onto the group and ask. Also, I love the Voice Peddler’s Tech Tuesdays. Others are always so genuinely helpful and insightful.

LinkedIn

Working side by side with my Dad while on vacation… a real plus of life as a solopreneur!

Now this is a platform where I have gotten quite a few clients! I love connecting with folks from all over the world in all different industries. Perhaps it is because we are all definitely talking about work on LinkedIn, I have made professional friends and booked solid jobs in genres from Radio Imaging to eLearning and everything in between. I am certain that because LinkedIn’s platform make’s it so easy to post samples of voiceover work and connect to our website, potential clients can get a real feel for the service that I provide. I find that the time that I spend on LinkedIn is extremely valuable. For years I had the professional membership but now, with almost 5,000 contacts, I have the basic membership and I am very pleased with it. 

Summary

So across the board the different forms of social media platforms play a different role for me as a solopreneur. In truth a love Pinterest, and spend a lot of time making pages for my house or my nails, but I have not found a way to make it relevant for my business as of yet. I also do use YouTube a lot, but it is typically either to repost work that I have completed or to create videos that will enhance my blogs and help clients and potential clients get to know me. And at the end of the day, that is really what it is all about. Even when I am not directly booking work on genres like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, if it is helping the community get to know me as a person and as a creative that it is worth the time and the energy. I’m not so complicated, I’m a working mom who loves my kids, jewelry, getting my nails done, and walking my dog; so if folks take that away from my post than they get it. And if they understand that I put my heart into everything that I do then the really get it:)