Monthly Archives: September 2012

Making the Most of LinkedIn

With 150 million members in over 200 countries, LinkedIn has established itself as a professional social media powerhouse. Below are a few hints & tips for navigating and making the most of LinkedIn.

Much like Facebook, LinkedIn allows a user to set up a personal page as well as a business page. A personal page should be used to show an entire history of your work, much like a complete online resume. You can acquire recommendations from previous employers, colleagues and the like. A business page should be used for the business you currently own or a business in which you function as an employee. Although there are similarities in how both pages are used, your business page should be completely focused on the industry you currently work in while your personal page content may vary.

PERSONAL PAGE:

LinkedIn is meant to be strictly professional, so there shouldn’t be any intimate details or incredibly personal information that appears on your profile.

If you have a business Twitter account, make sure that you link that account with your LinkedIn profile. This will allow you to share updates using your Twitter account. In order to link your account you need to log into LinkedIn, click on ‘Profile’ and then ‘Edit Profile’. In the top portion there is a field called ‘Twitter’. Click ‘Edit’ next to that field and you can add in a Twitter account and choose to import your tweets directly into LinkedIn.

Make sure that your personal brand image is aligned between LinkedIn and what a potential client would find if they did a Google search for your name or your business name.

Include an up to date professional headshot as your profile picture. As always, make sure that this image is consistent with your online brand (it should match your profiles on all sites.)

Your profile information should always be up-to-date and accurate. Add new projects that you’ve worked on and review your information on a regular basis to make sure that it is the most current information you have.

Collect recommendations from past colleagues to establish credibility with future employers or clients. Also remember to recommend colleagues that you respected from past jobs.

Be sure to network! LinkedIn’s focus is networking. Make sure that you find old connections, clients and peers and establish new connections through groups with similar interests to yours. Seek out companies that you hope to work with in the future.

BUSINESS PAGE: 

Create a company profile for your business, linking your personal profile to your company. Potential clients can keep tabs on your company page to see what you’ve been working on.

Make sure that you include your services on your company page. You want to make it easy for people to see what you have to offer. To adjust this, click ‘Admin Tools’ on the right side of the page, then select ‘Add a product or service’. From there you select a category that best fits your service. You can name it, add an image, a URL, contact information and more.

Post regular status updates separate from your personal page to make sure that your company profile doesn’t become stagnant. You should aim to post one or two updates each day from your company page. The content can come from various sources, such as your website or blog.

Check the analytics of your business page to see what people are gravitating towards and what they’re steering away from. You can adjust the lesser-trafficked pages to have content more consistent with the popular pages. The analytics tab is the fourth tab over on the top of the page.

Make sure that you add a plugin to your blog or website that can direct people to your company LinkedIn profile. This is such a simple step and can help drive a lot of traffic to your LinkedIn page. Depending on which blog service you use, the way to go about this varies. If you are having trouble figuring out how to add this plugin, I would recommend doing a quick search on Google.

One of the greatest features of having a LinkedIn company page is that you can create multiple versions of your page that can be aimed at different audiences. Once you create the first version, you can click “New Audience” to create another version with a different description and overview to target that audience.

Working from home- separating work & family time

One of the challenges that voice-over artists face when working from home, is creating a balance between work and family time. Since voice-over jobs can theoretically occupy your time around the clock, as you jostle between time zones, open auditions and deadlines–it’s far too easy to never truly turn off the clock for the day. One of the best ways to avoid neglecting work or family, is to create a schedule for yourself at the start of each day. Make a list of everything you need to accomplish that day, and then break that list down into hourly segments. You should keep your list visible so that you can check things off as you complete them. Your list will serve as a reminder for you and will let you know when it’s time to walk away from the mic–to spend some quality time with your family, relaxing and having fun. 

Such A Voice Instructor Charlie Nardozzi is well-known for his weekly radio broadcasts for the Vermont Garden Journal

In addition to being a successful voice-over talent & instructor, Charlie Nardozzi is the go-to guy for any gardening questions!

Such A Voice instructor Charlie Nardozzi has a friendly, natural, positive sounding voice with a great genuine quality- a sound that certainly matches his personality! Charlie has been involved in radio and television for the past 15 years hosting his own shows and appearing as a guest on numerous other shows. He hosts a call-in radio show on WJOY-AM in Vermont and is a frequent commentator on public radio and often is a guest on their daily magazine show, Vermont Edition. Charlie writes and records his own segments for the Vermont Garden Journal on public radio from his home studio. He also is a frequent guest on nationally-syndicated shows such as Martha Stewart Living Radio and has recorded podcasts, promotions, and commercials for all his shows and events.

Charlie also appears regularly on regional and national television. He has hosted his own nationally broadcast PBS television show called GardenSmart. He’s been a frequent guest on other nationally syndicated shows on networks such as HGTV, Discovery Channel, and DIY. He currently does weekly tips on the local CBS-TV affiliate in the Burlington, Vermont area and has also has written and starred in how-to, web-based videos. He also recently recorded a VO for a video for this product. Certainly right up his alley!

You can check out some of Charlie’s work below:

Here are his weekly broadcasts of the Vermont Garden Journal on public radio.

Here’s a link to his TV segments on the CBS affiliate in Vermont (WCAX). He’s the guy in the straw hat.

Here’s a recording from his weekly AM talk radio show on WJOY.

Charlie, you have certainly found your niche! Congratulations on all of your success!

Successful Voice Talent Natalie Donegan Checks in with Such A Voice on all of her recent success!

We sat down with Natalie to see what she’s been up to and we were very impressed!

Despite studying theater and drama in college (and always having an interest in the arts), Natalie Donegan never had any desire to be in front of a camera or on stage. At 20 years old, she discovered that voice-overs existed, but didn’t have any space in her busy schedule (she was single, had a mortgage and a very demanding job as a sales manager of a daily newspaper) to pursue a possible career shift into voice-overs. 12 years later, Natalie was married, a mom and she was looking for an outlet that would challenge her creatively. That was when she searched out Such A Voice.

When Natalie was ready to step into the voice-over booth, she was happy to have a trained producer, Heather Costa, from Such A Voice by her side “In an area that I knew nothing about I was happy to have someone so well-versed in recording demos. I had invested in Such A Voice to create my demo because I new I needed to make sure I got the best demo I could. When you have an empty resume that is what you’ll be selling yourself with at the beginning! I was on a tight schedule, very eager to get things done, but also extremely nervous… at this point I had never stepped foot into a recording studio, spoken into a microphone to have my voice recorded or even worn audio headphones. Heather kept me focused and to this day I still remember many of the tips she told me.”

Natalie did a great job marketing herself, she attributes this to the fact that she was in advertising sales for 9 years when she entered the voice-over industry. “I am determined and I know how to sell, I’m just selling my voice now instead of a product. When I first started in the business I created lists of local potential clients: advertising agencies, marketing agencies, TV stations, radio stations, producers, telephone on-hold companies and more! I had no problem picking up the phone and calling them to sell myself and get my demo’s out to as many people as I could.” Natalie has since recorded over 100 voice-over tracks, of which almost 50% of these have been telephone recordings. “I recall that amongst the Such A Voice resources there was a suggestion to find your niche. However I didn’t have to find mine… it found me!” When Natalie started recording voice-over tracks to build her resume she accepted any work that she could get, it appeared a lot of businesses wanted to take advantage of her professional, friendly and genuine British accent to represent their companies on the telephone voice mail and IVR messages. Natalie has now tapped into this niche.

“I found myself sitting at home with this great demo and no idea where to start to get my name out or how to land work. The Such A Voice resources thankfully had step by step guidance for what to do to get going. Everyone has heard of CareerBuilder.com, but until I started working with Such A Voice I had never even heard of voice-over marketplaces. Such A Voice pointed me in the right direction and even gave me a free month on Voice123.com which I have continued to be a member of. The Such A Voice resources also gave me guidance on a business plan, marketing plan and legal tips. I am so glad that I was able to do these things at the point when I set up the business from home. Once up and running these are the essential things that don’t get done if not at the beginning. Otherwise you are a ship sailing without a compass.”

Natalie has voiced for over 100 companies in Asia, Canada, Europe, Great Britain, New Zealand and the USA on projects that have included Telephone Voice Mail, IVR, On-Hold, Educational  and Travel Videos, Corporate Presentations, e-Learning, Video Games, GPS Prompts, Radio Commercials and Competitions, Television Commercials, Internet Videos, Tag Lines, plus more. Natalie specializes in Telephone Voice Mail, IVR and On-Hold messages which can be dry-voice only by hiring Natalie directly or if a client prefers their telephone script prepared, recorded, edited and royalty-free background music added Natalie works with Go On Hold.

To continue with her training on Pro Tools and working towards her goal of running her part-time business as a full time business within 5 years, Natalie is also currently a sophomore studying a Pre-Recording Industry Management degree program. “My goal is within 5 years to have gained my Recording Industry Management degree, to be able to offer complete production pieces from my home studio and to run my voice-over business full time.”

When we asked Natalie what her advice was for aspiring voice-over artists, we couldn’t help but nod emphatically as we listened to her answer: “If you are getting into the industry, get a professional demo cut! Use every avenue you have to promote your name. I requested testimonials from every client I worked with and asked permission to quote their company name. Within a short period of time I had an impressive resume for voiceovers!”

I also took the advice of Robert Sciglimpaglia with his opinion on the benefits of a voice talent incorporating as an LLC, after reading this article. So I am now British Voice Over Talent Natalie Donegan LLC.

 

Time for a Career Change?

Perhaps we all at least think about it now and then, in those moments when we realize that we aren’t completely happy in our current job. Some take a moment to make themselves appreciate what they have, but then some of us actually decide to take the plunge. Making a career change can be a daunting task…  thoughts about the risks and the unknown can be overwhelming. As we talk to so many of our students who have actually made the move, we would like to share their insights for those who are making the same considerations. We find that it is much easier to handle mentally (and financially!) if you look at it as the process it should be, rather than a sudden and risky move. This means that you don’t have to put off pursuing your dreams, but you should take your time and make sure you are ready before cutting off all ties with your current stream of income.

Step One: Make your decision. Even though it may be a year or more before you have made your complete transition, you can’t actually begin the process until you decide that you are ready to commit!

Step Two: Preparation. Complete your training for your new career, at whatever pace you need to maintain your current work schedule. Figure out how much time each week you can realistically devote to training for your new career, and fit it into your schedule. This will vary for each person, depending upon the current work load and personal responsibilities you have. Make the most of your situation, but also respect the time you personally need in order to be fully prepared and find success in your new career.

Step Three: Continue to work as you perfect your abilities and set up your own voice-over business. Most importantly, continue to work in your job even as you start to book voice-over jobs. It may take you a year or more before you are booking solid work and earning enough of an income to let go of your old steady income.

Step Four: Complete your transition. The time will come when you will need to weigh out your options. Do you feel that you now just need more time to fully succeed in your new career? Then you may decide it is now time to dive in and let go of your old job- so you can focus on your new one! Or perhaps you are financially dependent on your income and need to continue to take it slowly until you have solidly replaced your old income. Some may find that an adjustment to their old commitments allows them to do both part time and have the best of both worlds.

When it comes down to it, you will want to take both your personal and financial needs into consideration to decide when (or if you should at all) cut off all ties with your old career. The beauty of making this transition into a voice-over career is that you are your own boss. You can help to dictate the length of the process to match your needs. It may take you longer to get there if you have other commitments, but taking your time through the process also allows you to start as soon as possible, rather than waiting for that “all or nothing” moment to arrive!

Such A Voice Instructor and Producer Tom Force has recently booked a new job through VOPlanet!

Tom tells us about his experience and adds a little advice for us all as well, “The audition called for a talent with a Ken Nordine-style of read for a series of beat poetry spots. The client is a well known restaurant in Portland, Oregon called Sayler’s Old Country Kitchen. The specs on the job called for a VO talent that has ISDN access. I don’t, but I knew my friends at Ron Rose-Milagro Post in Southfield, MI did, so I did the audition and forgot about it. Four days later my phone rang with the news that I had the job. We did 3 spots and all went really well. This was a lesson in flexibility. Many of my friends who used to do a lot of ISDN work don’t spend the money maintaining the lines anymore. It’s easier and cheaper to send the business to a local studio who can accommodate the job at a reasonable rate. Now you’re one of their clients which is a great way to stay on the top of their minds and even better with a studio that does lots of VO work. Make sure the studio has a copy of your demos for future reference with their clients. It’s the circle of life in the VO biz kids!”

Click here to listen to the Sayler’s Old Country Kitchen spot, voiced by Tom Force.

Such A Voice Alumni Phil Williams Finds His Niche in Audiobooks

“My wife made me do it!” Phil Williams tells us… and now that he has found repeated success, it turns out to have been as good a reason as any to get into the voice-over industry!

When we asked Phil what made him want to get into voice-overs, we received an unusual response, “Truly, the real answer is my wife made me do it.” We found his honesty and humor both intriguing and inspirational. “I never had some secret, long-held desire to be in radio, or images of Don LaFontaine running through my brain for years ahead of time.” He elaborates, “Quite simply, the opportunity to attend one of the introductory ‘You’re on the Air!’ classes came up in a local college class list, and my wife firmly announced, ‘You’re going.’ We actually drove back early from New Orleans so that I could make the 7:00 PM start time. The 2 hours in that classroom were just pure fun… I came home, told my wife that I thought I’d found a new interest and after some financial considerations were nailed down I signed up a few months later!”

While it sounds a little simple, the truth is that Phil possesses many of the skills that students don’t often realize are vital to voice-over success. Knowing what your strengths are can be key to finding your personal success story. Yes he does have a stunning voice (click here to listen to some samples), but he also has a technical background. This knowledge has helped him to master the needed audio recording and editing skills voice-over artists must learn. He even created his own website and built his own sound booth with a soundless ventilation system- wow! With some basics already nailed down, Phil continued to search for his strengths within the industry by identifying a niche for himself.

“I’ve tried commercials, phone recording, and one time presentations, and finally tried audiobooks… and what I discovered about myself was that more than the money, I was looking for a lasting effect. Audiobooks seem to give me that effect.” Phil shared more details about his most recent success. “My latest audiobook, Rewire Your Brain: Think Your Way to a Better Life has been very successful and a lot of people have downloaded it in a short period of time. With royalty work, that kind of result works quite well. It also makes me feel like I’m making a difference. I’ve even gotten a hold of the author and we’re planning to get together sometime later this year. He’s submitted another work and he likes what I did with the Rewire book so much that he’s hoping I’ll do his next one. Talk about pumping up your enthusiasm!”

Phil has also voiced corporate video narrations, a speech recognition project, an NPR piece and two audiobooks in addition to this project. He is clearly enjoying his new career and offers some insights to his fellow aspiring artists, “Overnight success is probably not on your plate. It only happens once in a while.” He further recommends, “Use every tool in your arsenal. Talk to everybody and anybody who’ll listen, because, like any other job interview, you never know if that person at the super market might be a booking agent, or know one! Have your 30-second self-promotion piece nailed so that you can capture their attention with your capability. Shameless self-promotion is recognized as a strength- NOT a character flaw! My biggest advice is don’t be afraid to try different types of VO work. Everybody said ‘Find your own niche!’ You’re never going to know if you are good at certain types of voice work unless you just try them, and then try them again.”

Phil has also found both networking and continuing education to be crucial in pursuing voice-overs. Plus, remember that inspiration he had to get started in the first place? “My wife… Yeah, remember where you came from, and who helped put you there. Give back! Now that the audiobook niche is helping us, we go out a lot more, and she likes that!”

Best wishes to you Phil! We look forward to hearing about your continued success in the years to come.

A Typical VO Work Week

There is no typical work week in VOs – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing! One of the beauties and challenges of doing voice-overs is that work tends to ebb and flow depending on the seasons and holidays, as well as your own productivity and networking.

Networking is one aspect of your work week that should be constant, no matter how busy or bored you are. Reaching out to potential contacts and staying in touch with producers and clients is the only way to ensure your plate will be full when big holiday opportunities come along.

So, how far in advance should you prepare for the holidays? Three months is a good rule of thumb for all major events. That means that you should now be checking in with clients who might need your services for winter holiday commercial promotions. By November, you should have your eye on Valentine’s Day voice-over work, then Mother’s Day, and so on. Be sure to keep a pulse on the timing of holidays or events that fluctuate from year to year, like Sweeps, which is typically in March.

When you start to get the hang of the yearly work flow, you will be able to plan ahead to dry spells more accurately. For example, January and February tend to be relatively slow periods for national commercial spots. Being able to predict a slower work flow will let you be more responsible with your voice-over business planning, as well as help you relax when you do not have a lot of work to do!

Preparing for a light load of national commercial spots does not necessarily mean you will not be working much. Take advantage of the down time by concentrating on networking within your local community. Balancing your efforts and planning ahead is how you will stay as busy as you want to be!

Audiobook Narration

Have you been dreaming of finding a place for yourself within the niche of Audiobook Narration? Perhaps you have been…. without even realizing it! One of the most common things we hear from people aspiring to be a voice-over artist is “I can do all kinds of voices!” Well, to many people’s surprise, in most voice-over work this actually isn’t a requirement. These days with a “conversational tone” dominating the industry, imitating voices is “out” and sounding like yourself is “in” for most commercials and narrations. However, if beyond your own “everyday voice” you find that there are all kinds of character voices inside of you just dying to be let out…. audiobooks may be just what you are looking for!

Audiobooks have quickly become very popular with frequent book readers, and as a result have become a great source of bread and butter for voice-over talent who excel in lengthy narrations. Audiobooks are a wonderful opportunity to showcase many skills including narration, stamina, character voices, overall acting ability and more. There are many genres within the audiobook niche, so if you are passionate about reading, chances are you will find several that appeal to you. Fiction, Non-Fiction, How To’s, Best Sellers, Classic Literature and Children’s Books just start the list. As you can imagine, each one comes with its own set of special skills required. Can you motivate? Instruct? Bring life to a children’s book? What types of books do you love to read? Pondering these questions will help you to choose which specific areas you should target.

The Audiobook niche works much like other areas of voice-over, and the best way to showcase your aptitude for work within it is to have an audiobook narration demo. Audiobook demos are often much longer than a standard commercial or narration demo, to showcase that needed skill: stamina! Once you have your fully produced demo, you will find your search for audiobook work to be much easier, since this has become a standard expectation when considering talent. Start by searching and contacting audiobook companies, and create an account for yourself on ACX.com (much like voices.com or voice123.com, you can easily audition specifically for audiobook work, but without a fee!)

Once you have an audition opportunity, you should do research on the book first. Break down the script and plan any character voices that may be necessary. Have a dictionary handy for any challenging words or terms you may come across, but most importantly let your love for reading dictate what you do! Authors often have a hand in choosing who will narrate their book, and if you are passionate about what you are reading, it is sure to be recognized right away. Lastly, as you may have heard a million times before… “practice, practice, practice.” So keep on reading, and read out loud. If you have a passion for literature and voice-overs, this may be the perfect niche for you. Practicing is always a lot more fun when it’s something you enjoy doing!