9: Marketing Your Voice On The Internet
As someone not particularly famous once said, “The internet is the great democratizer.” Of course, this had nothing directly to do with politics. He was referring to the fact that ANYONE can be on the internet, and with a good web designer, anyone can look very credible, even if they haven’t had a shred of experience.
Of course, this has its upside and its downside…in that there are many people who have never done a paying commercial outside their radio jobs in their lives (and who sound like it), but whose web site would lead you to believe that they are the greatest thing since sliced bread. And some of the most gifted and experienced VO folks in the world have really terrible web sites because they haven’t done much work outside the channels they’ve always known, and their web site is just an afterthought.
But, as a VO beginner, that works in your favor. You’ve got an equal shot at getting your stuff online and looking, at the very least, credible. And that alone can get you some consideration as a legitimate competitor for the work…providing anyone ever sees your site. But first, let’s talk about what your web site needs to include to make it worth visiting in the first place.
Demo(s) – This is the most obvious (and the most necessary) element. People need to hear your work, and the internet (especially with a broadband connection) makes that possible almost instantaneously. The de facto standard is now MP3/128kbps. Some people like to go higher, but for the human voice range, I see no reason. If your demo is music-heavy, you might want to consider 192kbps or even 320kbps (though the file size is pretty large).
What else? Contact information is also essential. You need phone and email contact info on there.
Less important would be personal info about you. How long you’ve been in the business. Maybe a photo (some VO artists don’t include them and feel strongly that they should not). However, it’s also true that people (especially internet clients) want to know who they’re dealing with. A pic and bio can go a long way to doing that. The counter-argument of those who do not use pictures is often that they have “a face made for radio”…or that they don’t want to limit the client’s perceptions of their age or ability to relate because of a picture. I’m sure that happens. I personally use a picture…but, who knows if I’ve ever lost work because of it?
Also, a client list (possibly with links to their web sites), a list of local studios (especially those with ISDN facilities), links to friends (including other VO folks, if you’re feeling bold).
You may also want to include helpful info, such as links to resources, info on the quality of the MP3 format for those who’ve never used it before.
And some people like to include info on rates as well…especially if theirs are especially low….feeling that they might have a real competitive advantage if people can see them.
What will you call your web site? Well, many artists will go with their name, if it’s unique and hasn’t been taken yet. However, many names are long gone. A second good option (and some would say a better option) is to take a descriptive name (say… for example… errrrrr..: ProfessionalVoiceTalent.com). Obviously, many of those are unavailable as well. If you’re not feeling especially creative, you can try searching deleted names directories, or you might want to check out a site that allows you to purchase pre-owned domain names that may be a good fit.
HAVING YOUR WEB SITE DESIGNED FOR YOU
There are bazillions of web designers out there. Just Google “web design” and you’ll find a few hundred thousand.
GETTING FOUND ON THE WEB
Wow…this one is the $64,000 question, isn’t it? Once upon a time, only a few people had web sites for their VO services. But that day is long gone. Take a few minutes to browse the search engines using the keyphrases “voice talent” or “voiceover” , and you’ll get a sense of just what you’re up against. Many hundreds of sites…and Google only lists 10 on their front page. What are the chances that anyone will ever find you? Not too good!!
“What’s a choosy mother to do?”
Well, there are several options to consider….and, of course, all of them cost money. But, considering the potential return, you may want to take a look:
Search Engine Optimization – This is truly a “black art”. Well, actually, it’s referred to as “white hat” and “black hat”, to indicate the ethical nature of the practices of SEO “experts”. “Black hats” are given to outrageous claims…very few of them delivered on. However, there are things that can be done…the “White Hat ” way. And you may want to pay someone to help you say things in a search-engine-friendly way and to tweak your pages so they get the most attenion. But, to be honest, there’s very little movement on the major search engines for the top spots month-to-month.
Purchased Advertising – Google Adwords is the big dog in the industry right now. A lot of folks spend a few dollars a day to get listed on the front page of Google, for example. However….with the increasing number of folks tryng to grab the spotlight, ad prices have skyrocketed, leading to the increasing popularity of…
Group Sites – Joining a group site allows you to gain some visibility, as well as quality link back to your own site. Many of these sites are highly visible on the search engines (either thru ranking or purchase advertising). However, it’s in their best interest to have as many VO talent as possible on their site…while it’s in your best interest to have relatively few. It’s very hard to stand out in a crowd of 200! These sites generally cost $300+/yr to join. But that’s a decent investment if you get some work out of it. Some you may want to look at: Voice123.com and Voices.com. A somewhat newer model is found at Upwork.com…where you can directly advertise yourself as a service provider, and try to find a match with those who want to have some work done. If you’re really a beginner and super-motivated to get a little attention and not by money, check out Fiverr.com.
Places People Gather – There’a a very active site for radio folks called All Access. Among those who frequent the site are those who make decision on voice for imaging and commercial tracks. You may be able to do some networking there. Same with TVandRadioJobs.com.