By Stephanie Ciccarelli
September 17, 2007
Discover 10 of the most common mistakes made by voice actors who use the Voices.com web service and learn how you can avoid them to make the most of your Voices.com experience.
If you're looking for a road map at Voices.com for how to improve your opportunities for success, this article is for you.
For those of you who like lists, here's a constructive one that will not only identify some of the mistakes that voice actors commonly make at Voices.com but also how to solve or avoid them in the first place.
We want to help you get work and one of the best ways for us to do that on a large scale is to publish helpful resources like this one here for you to use at your convenience should you need it.
Here are 10 Mistakes that Cost Voice Actors Work at Voices.com
1. An Incomplete Profile
Your Profile is your online storefront at Voices.com and is used to conduct business with clients from around the world if used effectively. An incomplete Profile is not representative of you and your body of work nor will it attract prospective clients or index much about your skills as results for search engines such as Google, MSN or Yahoo!.
One of the criteria to be integrated into the Voices.com Search Engine is "Profile Completeness". People who have completed profiles will rank higher in search results than those whose profiles are incomplete. You can measure your Profile Completeness in your account.
• Fill out as much of your Profile as you can
• List anything and everything that supports your voice acting career
• Upload samples of your voice
• Use keywords that relate to your voice, studio equipment, clients, etc.
• Select voice ages, skills, years of experience and other criteria
• Add testimonials in your Experience field
2. No Visual Differentiators
Does your Voices.com website have a placeholder avatar where your picture, logo, or graphical representation could be? Without an image that represents you as a professional, it is hard to relate to you and next to impossible to see how you brand yourself and your voice acting business.
Upload a photo to your account, whether it be a professional head shot, cartoon image or corporate logo. This is a golden opportunity to brand your website! Let people know more about you visually to become intrigued enough to listen to your voice over demos. If you don't want to present a photo of yourself, you don't have to, but it is wise to have something to brand yourself with - just don't be a placeholder.
3. Directing Clients Away from Your Voices.com Website to Listen to Demos Elsewhere
A client has made it to your Voices.com website, whether through your own marketing efforts or through interaction at Voices.com. Your job now is to convert this lead or prospect into a client who is interested in working with you.
The moment you say "Listen to my demos here at X site", you've not only deterred business, you've let the fish get away. The reason why a person comes to Voices.com is because they want to be at one place where they can complete every activity and project.
Make everything that you want the client to see and access available to them on your Voices.com website.
Respect a prospective client's decision by making everything that you would have available to them on your own website easily accessible at your Voices.com website.
If it's demos, upload your demos. If it's a client list, include your client list in your Profile.
Premium and Preferred voice talent members have ample room to store audio files, even video files and text files. Preferred members have 25MB of storage which technically could allow you to upload 10 - 15 + demos or more. Premium members have 50MB of storage allotting them even more room to showcase their vocal talents.
Clients want to listen to your voice, communicate, and do business with you at Voices.com. That's why they are here! Give them a reason to stay at your Voices.com website and contact you for work.
4. Demos Are Not Tagged
When you go to a store and pick up a product, you likely read all of the advertising copy, the ingredients (if it's food), and once you've done so, are able to discern what it is that you may be purchasing. It's the exact same with demos. Simply giving your demo a category isn't enough when a client is looking for something very specific to their needs.
Be sure to properly name (the "title") and label (the "tags") all of your demos in the appropriate field when you are in the process of uploading them. If you do that, you'll not only rank higher in the search results and be found in more places, clients are more likely to listen to your demo and hire you for work. Why? Because you've clearly identified the style, voice type, tone, and supplied other adjectives that describe your voice and the audio recording.
Don't make any assumptions - not everyone is a casting director by trade and most people will appreciate the extra details.
5. Demos All Sound the Same
No matter how you slice it, sometimes, interpretations can sound more like reiterations or regurgitations. The client doesn't want to hear theme and variation when they click on demos that are classified as being in completely different niches or for distinct applications.
Make sure that your vocal style, interpretation, tonality, versatility, and range varies not only from demo to demo, but from spot to spot.
If you work in radio as an announcer, for instance, be sure that your voice is not stuck in a radio rut. Announcers and DJs, (sorry to pick on you!), do at times adopt the same delivery and vocal approach for voice over as they do when on the air. The trick to all this is to concentrate on voice acting and really interpreting a script, internalizing it, and giving the words their own unique embodiment using your voice.
6. Proposals Are Not Personalized
My voice is perfect for your project. I've worked on hundreds of other projects and know that my voice rocks. Hire me.
If you received this from someone applying to work for you, what would you think?
What you can do is address the client by their proper name and explain how you personally can make a difference on their project detailing how your specific skills would be best suited to make their project a success.
People like to be addressed personally. I'm sure you will agree that you appreciate it when the same courtesy is given to you. Whether or not you are hired for a job, it is inevitable that you will make an impression, positive or negative, in the client's mind. Be someone who they would hire, consider, or at least refer by being courteous and professional.
While you may be auditioning several times a day, this could very well be the first encounter they have with a professional voice talent; you are center stage for a time while they are making their first impressions of the industry as a whole. Talk about responsibility! Show them that you want to earn their business and be the voice that will get the job done right. Never put yourself above a client when trying to earn their business or they will scratch your name from their digital list of candidates.
* Also, be sure to present a clear and accurate quote - quoting "0" may confuse someone and make them think that you're going to record for free (!). If you're open to negotiate, mention that in your proposal to prevent any possible confusion.
7. Vocal Descriptions are Ambiguous
When a client is looking through the Voices.com search engine or is visiting your website at Voices.com, the first textual impression they get of you and your voice comes from your vocal description. If a description lacks the appropriate adjectives that best describe your voice and an element of pizazz or originality, it makes it easier for a client to overlook your Profile due to lack of perceived information or detail upfront before they listen to your voice over demos.
What's an example of a weak description? Try this one on for size:
Strong, great for all kinds of reads, can be old or young.
Really and truly describe your voice. Three adjectives (unless they are extremely telling and succinct) aren't enough to whet an ad exec's appetite when they are looking for something that stands out from the crowd and gives them an immediate impression of your vocal capabilities.
Ask yourself "If I were a client, would I hire me based upon what I have on my website?"
Your vocal description should not only be a litany of complementary keywords about your voice but also a persuasive advertisement for your voice. Those who can describe their talents in an inviting and appealing manner will be listened to and hired.
8. File Types Other Than MP3 are uploaded
Files that are in any format other than MP3 will not play in the flash player.
If you have uploaded .wav, .aiff, .ulaw, or any other audio file format, the flash player will not load your audio for clients who click on the play button.
This could pose several issues as your demos are presented via the flash player in the Search Engine, Featured Voice Talent Directory, and on your Voices.com website.
For best results, only upload MP3 files to the Studio component of your Voices.com Profile.
The best sample rate is 44.1 kHz.
If you upload files at any other rate, they will not play correctly. What do I mean by that? You'll either sound like on of the Chipmunks or like Darth Vader (and not in a good way!).
9. Demos are Not Featured in the Directory
If you are a Premium or Preferred member, you have the ability to promote your voice in a variety of application specific categories such as TV Commercials, Movie Trailers, Telephone Voice Overs, and so on.
If you aren't making use of the real estate being provided to you as part of your membership subscription, you are missing out big time on clients finding you who prefer to search in this manner.
When you are uploading your demos, be sure to check the box that says "Feature this demo". If you are a Premium member, you have up to 5 categories to feature your voice in. As a Preferred member, you have 3 categories to feature your voice over demos in.
You can change which demos you feature and their respective categories at any time in the Studio section of your Profile.
10. No Evident Call For Action
How effective are ads or websites that have no obvious call for action? Not very, but with a solid call for action or invitation, you'll see remarkable results.
Invite and encourage potential clients to send you an email if they like what they hear so that you can further discuss their objectives and how you can work together.
Now, those are just ten of the most common mistakes. Here are some more that fall in line with what we've discussed but are further along in the routine chain of events.
Related Mistakes that Can Be Easily Avoided
An error in judgment often made is not formalizing an agreement with a client and getting payment upfront, whether through SurePay or by other means. If a formal agreement has not been made that can be tracked, seeking our help to rectify the situation is next to impossible as there is no documentation available or avenue for our team to intervene or arbitrate on your behalf. Use SurePay and we'll be with you every step of the way.
Now, to take a turn on the artistic side.
One common concern is "I've got a really great voice, have clients from other sources and know I can make money at this. I'm very disappointed with my experience. Why isn't Voices.com working for me?"
That one takes a lot of soul searching.
Each expert knows exactly what they are talking about and give very realistic options that will create incredible results for your voice acting career given the chance. I strongly suggest to any beginner voice actor, part-timers and those who are seasoned in the art form to Subscribe to the Voice Over Experts podcast.
Topics that have been covered so far include:
Finding the Music in Copy by Marc Cashman
Coloring Words by Julie Williams
How to Prepare for a Commercial Voice Over Demo by Bob Bergen
Tips and Tricks for Auditioning by Debbie Munro
Making the Most of Your Message by Bettye Zoller
The Myth of Rejection by Joan Baker with Rudy Gaskins
How to Make an A-List Voice Over Demo by Marc Graue
Sounding Clean While Speaking Naturally by Deborah Sale Butler
Promote Yourself : Voice Over Strategies by Rodney Saulsberry
Acting In The White Spaces by Elaine Clark
Making Your Art Your Business by David Bourgeois
The Characters In My Pocket by Penny Abshire
Basics of Building a Home Recording Studio by Dan Lenard
Self-Evaluation for Voice Actors by Connie Terwilliger
Each Tuesday, a new episode featuring an awesome coach with invaluable advice is released. Be sure that you don't miss one!
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