Let me just start off with a little disclaimer. At Gisteo, we LOVE voice talents in general and you are an essential component to everything we do. We’ve worked with hundreds of voice talents over the past few years and the vast majority of you are hard-working, devoted self-starters who have my upmost respect.
That title was purposefully designed to catch your attention and offer some insight to you from our perspective. No hate mail please 🙂
OK, now that we have that out of the way…let’s get on with it. Without further ado, here are my completely subjective 5 Self-Promotional Habits Of Highly Ineffective Voice Over Professionals:
- Email bombing: by this, I’m not talking about you sending out your newsletter or doing email campaigns per se. That’s fine and I get it. This is more about email list management. There’s nothing that turns me off more than getting an email from you introducing yourself, your reel and experience when we’ve already worked together! Yes, that’s right. It actually happens more than it should or more you may think…so please, sort through your email subscription list and develop categories because that can feel incredibly cold and disrespectful to the recipient!
- Generic cut & paste email inquiries: Google Adwords has become incredibly expensive in the marketing and explainer video space. For example, keyword combinations around “explainer videos” can cost upwards of $13-15 PER CLICK. At Gisteo, we fortunately get a lot of referral business and try not to partake in the Adwords bidding war all that often, but nothing stings more than turning on a PPC campaign and 10 minutes later getting a totally cookie-cutter inquiry from a voice over talent, (that we know came from you clicking on our ad) just to see a completely generic, impersonal submission that you’ve literally cut and paste in our contact form. Since you, as voice over professionals, are actively doing Google searches and marketing your wares to video production companies, you’re doing a lot of knocking on doors…which I respect…but it’s real easy to tell when you haven’t reviewed our website, our work or taken the time to write a thoughtful email from your target’s perspective. Often, we just get the standard “Dear (fill in the blank), I do voice overs for etc. and here’s my demo reel.” Ouch. We just paid $14 for that? Come on. Even if you’ve come to us via organic search, at least take the time to at least review our site, mention some things you like about our work and philosophy, give us a tip or suggestion, tell us why you’d like to work with our company in a way that feels genuine. Doing this will take a bit of thought and more time for you but it will go a long way in taking the sting out of receiving your PPC-generated submission and certainly increases your odds of me responding to you or saving your email vs. clicking the delete button.
- Unsubscribing to our email list: Gisteo is not active on email campaigns. We did a total of one email “blast” to subscribers, past customers and other contacts in 2014. I’m not very proud of this at all and it’s something that we need to change because I understand the potential advantages of email marketing done right in general…we just need to set aside the time to do it more often and, hopefully, in a way that adds value. But back to you, voice over people. So we sent our only bulk email of 2014 (a generous, cheeky holiday discount offer) last month. MailChimp notifies you when someone unsubscribes. You get that “Bummer…John Doe has unsubscribed” notification sent you to your inbox. Amazingly, to me anyway, the people who most unsubscribed (fortunately, not many people did this) were the very voice talents who had sent me those email bombs, cookie-cutter inquiries (thus making it on my import list from Gmail) and even several voice talents with whom I’ve worked on a number of projects! Really!? You’re that quick to unsubscribe to someone who represents a past and future revenue stream? One email that was meant to be humorous and helpful, and you unsubscribe? Voice over pros work with so many diverse clients in our industry so forwarding our offer to your former clients or contacts would have been easy for you and potentially helpful to your network….or you could have simply deleted the message or ignored it…but you unsubscribe? Come on now, think! That’s not a very good way to put yourself into the running for our next project, is it?
- Short, sometimes lazy audition reads: this is a tough one, I know. I respect your time and understand that there’s a whole “risk/reward” aspect to doing an audition read. You could sink a lot of time and put your heart into a 60 or 90 second audition with nothing to show for it. That would be frustrating for sure and I have no problem is you send a short sample read vs. a full read when you audition. I do, however, recommend that you do at least 30 seconds or so when you audition to really give Gisteo and especially our clients the full flavor of your potential. 15 seconds is really not enough (and it’s obvious when you don’t put your heart into it)…it’s not overly helpful, particularly when we gather say four auditions and your fellow vo competitors have done full reads or like at least 60 seconds or so. For clients, it’s hard for them to give you the nod when you’ve sent such a brief audition. This is totally unscientific and anecdotal, but I find that the voice talents who tend to send longer auditions or even full reads have a much higher batting average and are generally awarded more gigs.
- Nickeling and diming on revisions: I realize this is tricky too and, as stated above, I truly respect your time and efforts. Developing a working relationship may take a number of projects and I don’t expect you to go overboard simply out of good faith and in the hope that you’ll get a lot of future work from us. I often will butt heads with clients who have been abusive on their voice over revision requests and will ask for more compensation for the voice talent. In addition, on many occasions, we will pay more out of our own pocket because we acknowledge the work required has been excessive. That being said, we’ve worked with far too many voice over talents who try to charge for EVERYTHING. I recently worked with a female talent for example who, when chosen for the gig, proceeded to send me a laundry list of ground rules, fee conditions and disclaimers that read like a pharmaceutical company ad. We had to do a couple of videos so she got two projects in one shot, which amounted to a decent chunk of change. When inevitably the client needed to tweak a couple of words on the first project, the taxi meter was turned on. She charged $100 for a very minor pick-up (3-4 words total) that she sent in a separate file for us to edit. A few weeks past and we were ready to start the voice over for our next project with this particular client. I reached out to her and she responded once again with her long, cut and paste list of rules that was verbatim from before, as if we had never worked together…but anyway….she did the next recording and once again charged when the client decided to reword one sentence after hearing it out loud. She hastily sent a pick-up that had a mistake in it and I had to haggle to get her to re-do the line. Takeaway: despite the fact that she has an excellent voice, we’ll never work with this particular talent again and she’ll lose out on hundreds or thousands of dollars in future revenue over time. If you have so much dough coming in that you can afford to do this, kudos to you! Seriously, if you are so sought after and your time is so valuable that you can risk burning bridges by laying down a few too many rules and restrictions, go for it. I find, however, that the voice over market is growing incredibly competitive and surmise that acquiring decent, honorable clients is becoming more difficult by the day. Gisteo has always paid our voice over talent immediately, often before even recording, we’ve tried to be respectful and considerate of your time, but we also look for mutually beneficial relationships in everything we do. Collaborators who have a big-picture mentality and think about building the proverbial win-win partnerships are priceless; those with baggage and hassles won’t be on our short-list of options for the future. It’s that simple really.
Agree? Disagree? Have something to add?