Some useful Voiceover Advice to help you on your journey....
Guy Michaels writes a series of articles to help you make the right decisions and SUPERCHARGE your Voiceover Career.
Home-Studio Voiceover gear - buy only what you need
Tempted by a shiny new microphone thinking that it might make you sound better?
Seduced by the upgrade offered on your software with yet more plugin options?
Thinking that you need to spend a month’s income on one of those thingies with valves in?
Anyone who works in pro-audio can be a victim of what is commonly known as GAS – Gear Acquisition Syndrome. As a VO artist or an engineer you may be plagued with the thoughts above and while there may be an incremental improvement to your overall sound, the experience can come with frustrations. As a VO recording from a well set-up home studio, if it works, leave it alone. Instead of wasting time and money implementing new hardware or software, focus instead on the business of Voiceover – nurturing relationships with clients and most importantly exercising your instrument; use that time and perhaps money on you the performer. Whether that be a voice class, an acting or improvisation class or time spent becoming the master of your existing recording environment, shift your focus.
I remember my early forays into pro-audio being a very creative time unhindered by the infinite knobs and dials in most software. For years I used a hardware recorder (a Tascam 8 track) and it was simple and fun. Inevitably, for convenience, we all move to software DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations) and get to work playing with the compression options, the effects and all the other things that are possible with these extremely powerful tools. Using an early version of Cubase in those days, I think it took me a week just to arm a track and get it to record!
Some of the best and busiest VOs I know have a great sound from reasonably priced quality equipment and a simple set-up that they know how to use well. So while there’s nothing wrong with a bit of GAS, next time you’re tempted to upgrade, add-on or spend out, think again.
Now, where’s that StudioSpares catalogue…
Branding for one
A brand? But it’s just me!
I am not a branding expert. Like many of you who are voiceover artists or actors, although I do have admin assistance, I run a business with a staff of one. Me. I do pretty much everything.
Because of this I used to really struggle to engage with the idea of ‘Branding’. In fact, I think I positively resisted it. I struggled with the word. Branding. I associated the word ‘brand’ with far larger and very well established, complex organisations.
In more recent years, however, I’m truly engaging with what it is and what it means for me and my work. During the re-branding of what was once ‘Round Island Voicereels’ I came across and consumed immense amounts of information and thoughts on branding as the business became Voiceover Kickstart Ltd. 'Round Island’ didn’t actually mean anything to me, it didn’t communicate a message or purpose. The name was a leftover from a dissolved partnership and already established for about 5 years prior to me coming on board. In 2015, the time had come (after nearly 10 years) to drop this ambiguous moniker and….rebrand.
To rebrand I had to make the effort to understand what the brand actually meant.
More than just a logo
I went back and forth with ideas. Back and forth with myself…..my team of one. Then it hit me. Voiceover Kickstart! I’d been running the course called Voiceover Kickstart online since January of 2015 and it felt very natural to rename as this. Whether it was the free 4-week programme, the voiceover demo production or coaching - as a business this is exactly what it did. Whether someone was taking their first baby-steps into the world of Voiceover or wanting to breathe new life into their already well established career, Voiceover Kickstart would do just this.
But it’s still me. It is a name, logo, website and twitter account. It is a series of services and experiences but it still boils down to the interaction and relationship with one person. I am my brand. My brand is me.
Going through the rebranding process has shored up and defined what all of this really means to me. I’ve really thrived, working through every aspect of what I do; identifying, addressing and improving what needed to be improved.
Part of the process involved reading through literally hundreds of testimonials since 2006. Seeing the same terms used time and time again helped me to understand the perception of clients old and new. This was really helpful.
I would thoroughly recommend working in a similar way and assessing your brand as a Voiceover Artist. I think that branding goes beyond USP and in Voiceover, an increasingly competitive market, you have to go that extra mile to stand out from the crowd.
Like I said I am no branding expert but to me, in no particular order
what I stand for
the result of what my clients say, think and feel about me
the ways in which I represent myself and my services
congruency of image, style and approach – everything works together and nothing undermines
it is clear
it is striking
it is apparent
it is true
the brand can be described as
my commitment to quality
my investment in relationships
trust, credibility, fun, creativity
Is your brand in focus?
If you are at the stage of wanting to take your Voiceover Business to the next level or about to embark on a website redesign for instance, these are perfect opportunities to assess and bring your brand into focus.
So, what do people (your clients and colleagues) Think, Feel and Say about you?
Does this align with how you represent yourself in the many ways online – your website and social media channels, your blog postings etc?
Does perception (yours and others) match reality?
When meeting a prospective client (face-to-face or virtually) is your understanding of your brand clear and in focus? Are you prepped to talk confidently about your work and how you can help to solve their problem?
Does anything currently undermine your brand? For example, like many VOs, are you touting ‘Broadcast Quality’ and then listing your equipment as Macbook Pro, a cheap microphone and free software? Now, it may be that you are achieving a high quality in your home studio but stating on your website that you are using free software and microphone common to school music departments does not reinforce your ‘professional’ image. It undermines your brand. Check this.
From business cards to demos, websites to social media interactions your brand should be easy to interpret. It is more than a logo, a font style and a colour scheme but these visual representations of you are extremely important. You may want to consider using a professional designer. Like many of you have heard me bang on about before, hold off buying that shiny new microphone and instead invest sensibly in your business. Spend that money on engaging a designer who can help you to improve your ‘shop window’ and immediate image.
You are not alone
You may still be thinking that you are alone and that there is not enough time in the day to ‘market yourself’ or dedicate time to your brand. Believe me, you are not alone, you have a team. You have an ever-growing team of clients and they are your marketing team. Deploy this team. Do all you can to make them ready to reinforce your brand at every opportunity. This means being indispensable, unsurpassable and delivering beyond expectations every time. My clients are my advocates. I work for them and then they work for me.
I’ve never advertised on Google and yet I’ve been on page one for years for many useful search terms. Three-quarters of my demo clients come to me through recommendation. My marketing team are doing a wonderful job for me. Make sure that yours do the same for you.
A recent tweet from a client:
“I go full time in July thanks to Guy Michaels @VOkickstart”
So go out and support your team, give them everything they need to shout from the rooftops about you.
Login to access Branding for Voiceovers . A course developed in partnership with a professional designer. A course created with passion from my own experience.
Branding for Voiceovers is one of a series of inclusive programmes for Voiceover Kickstart members