Thursday, March 1, 2012

Making the Most of LinkedIn


With 150 million members in over 200 countries, LinkedIn has established itself as a professional social media powerhouse. In 2010, LinkedIn members did almost 4.2 professionally-oriented searches. Below are a few hints & tips to 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 current business that you own or are working for. 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 can vary.

PERSONAL PAGE:

While I recommend maintaining privacy on most social media platforms, LinkedIn is the exception to this rule. 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 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 that 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 you 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. 


Written by:
Bethany Baker
Such A Voice Marketing Director

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Rest Your Mind and Your Voice


Countless nutritionists, physicians, sleep experts and various other medical professionals are always touting the numerous reasons why sleep is SO important to your health. I am here to offer you one more reason, your VOICE.

You rarely hear about a voiceover artist bragging about practicing habits that are obviously detrimental to their voice (such as drinking excessively or voicing a long script when they are stricken with something such as laryngitis), yet you often hear people trading war stories about their lack of sleep. They wear these stories almost as if a badge of pride, talking about how late they stayed awake to work on an audition just to wake up only a few hours later to voice a job for a repeat client. I'm always surprised to see these stories, considering how much sleep impacts vocal performance.

By now you probably know the effect that sleep has on your voice without even realizing it. Does your voice sound different in the morning, afternoon and evening? Chances are that your voice sounds it's deepest in the morning, when your vocal chords are the most rested. Some of our students claim that their optimal voice is 2-3 hours after waking up and others say that their voice is at it's best immediately when they roll out of bed. Depending on the type of script you are reading, you may choose to voice different jobs at varying times of the day.

There have been studies that link a lack of sleep to the constriction of your vocal chords. After a restless night, you will find that your voice may have difficulty reaching or sustaining notes in a higher octave and it almost seems as if your vocal chords are sore. So unless you're going for that 'I've spent all night in a smoky bar' sound, make sure that you get a full night's rest!

If your short evenings of rest become habitual, you must be very careful not to continue to put stress on your vocal chords when they are at a less than optimal performance level. Although most vocal strain is reversible, you can develop nodules on your vocal chords if you keep repeating this action over a long period of time. Although nodules can typically be removed surgically, you run the risk of missing out on income generated by voiceover jobs while recovering from surgery, if not changing your voice itself permanently.

Don't forget that a lack of sleep also puts a damper on your energy level. This can be extremely detrimental if you're voicing a script that needs a high-energy level or a reading that is particularly lengthy. Your audience may never have a chance to see what your body does behind the mic, but it is still imperative that your energy level comes across appropriately in your voice. Sometimes the best auditions are achieved by physically moving your body to up the energy level of a read. This can seem like quite a large task if you're exhausted.

The amount of sleep that you need can vary greatly. It can be anywhere between 5-9 hours (or more). Recent studies have shown that 8.25 hours of sleep is the optimal amount for our bodies and that anything less can decrease cognitive functions. Unfortunately, there aren't many people out there that are able to get the full 8.25 hours of sleep each night, so instead of focusing on the number of hours that you sleep, focus on the quality of those hours. If you have a fitful 9 hours of sleep, it will obviously be less restful than a solid 6 hours.

To ensure that you're getting a quality night's rest, make sure that you're in a dark, quiet room. You also shouldn't consume any alcohol or caffeine close to bed time, you should make sure that you don't eat a late dinner or exercise right before you lay down and try to keep your mind as stress-free as possible in the time leading up to your rest. Also remember that your bedroom should be thought of as your room of rest. Outside stimulus such as a television or a computer has been shown to interrupt the REM (rapid eye movement) stage of sleep, which directly affects your quality of sleep.

I've found that my personal sleep requirements tend to vary depending on quite a few factors. My physical health, recent physical activity and stress levels are three examples of variables that change my sleep requirements on a daily basis. In general, just try to listen to your body and rest when you feel tired. Your body will do a wonderful job of telling you when you need to rest, all you have to do is listen!


Written by:
Bethany Baker
Such A Voice Marketing Director

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Talent of the Month: An Interview with Kim McKay (AFTRA, Voice Over Artist, Print Model and Actress)


"I have already landed a national radio AFTRA voiceover for McDonalds!"

Kim's performing (and voiceover) career started long before she began her training with Such A Voice. "I've been an AFTRA (union) performer for years. I had voiced two jobs long before I had even thought of pursuing the voiceover industry full throttle." Kim had kept busy doing soap operas and primetime cop shows, so she didn't have too much time to consider pursuing another avenue of performing, despite many people telling her that she should venture into voiceovers more seriously. Kim enjoyed her past experience in the voiceover industry so much that she decided to pursue it further by getting the proper training.

Kim had the pleasure of attending an introductory class on the voiceover industry held by Such A Voice President, Dan Levine. From there, she researched her options and concluded that coaching with Such A Voice would give her everything that she needed to seriously launch her voiceover career. "The Such A Voice training included many valuable training sessions. I really enjoyed the bi-weekly live training series, which included subjects such as 'How To Market Yourself', 'How To Self-Direct', 'What Not To Do Before An Audition' and many more topics."

Being that Kim is already an AFTRA (union) performer, she mainly wanted to pursue training for voiceovers to add another dynamic to her resume. Kim found that her acting background helped with her voiceover career quite a bit. "When you audition for roles, you have to be focused, trust your instincts and become that role. Fortunately I have the ability to take direction very well and really listen to my producers/directors when making changes. All of this experience I had previously gained from acting was easily transferred to the voiceover industry." Kim also uses her acting background when going after a new job. "I used to worry too much about 'getting the part'. Now I handle this by going to each audition by just repeating to myself 'I am this character, in this moment, in this time'. It really calms my nerves and helps me to deliver the best audition that I can!"

Since Kim's training concluded, she has sent out approximately 225 emails of the demo that Such A Voice put together for her. Kim has been picked up by two agencies that have sent her on countless auditions. The first job that she landed after her core training had concluded with Such A Voice, was a national radio AFTRA VO for McDonald's. "I gave them everything that they asked for in the original audition and it was that simple!" Kim also takes the time to remind me that due to her being in the union (and being marketed by an agent) that "sometimes it takes a little longer" to book jobs.

Kim is certainly no stranger to persistence, so I don't even bat an eyelash when she gives me her advice for people interested in the voiceover industry. "Keep on persisting. Keep up with the bi-weekly live training sessions. I kept a notebook on everything that I learned from Such A Voice and I'd highly recommend that every student do the same. This way you can refer back to it often whenever you have questions, concerns or start to doubt yourself."

Congratulations, Kim. We can't wait to see what you accomplish next!

Written by:
Bethany Baker
Such A Voice Marketing Director

Monday, February 27, 2012

Meet Our Staff: Bill Sleeper


Once a month, Such A Voice will be highlighting a member of our staff to give you a little insight into who they are & what they do here at Such A Voice to help you get to know the people behind-the-scenes!

Meet Bill Sleeper. Bill was born in Michigan but moved to California shortly after. Most of his life was spent on the San Francisco Peninsula in Palo Alto (home to Stanford University). Bill now resides with his wife and two daughters in Oregon, just south of Portland. "What's not to love about Oregon? I could talk about recreation such as bicycling, hiking, beaches, skiing or the fabulous craft beer and local farm to fork philosophy of one of the best foodie areas in the country. I can easily sum my love of Oregon by saying that when you're driving around and you put your turn signal on, people always let you in…always! That's the kind of place I love to call home."

Bill is one of our introductory voiceover instructors. He educates people who are interested in possibly having a career in voiceovers.. He is also a voiceover coach with Such A Voice, so he has the opportunity to work with students one-on-one to teach them the intricacies of the voiceover craft. Bill also produces demos for our students in his local area.

His professional history has been largely based in a trainer/coach/mentor capacity, so linking that with his passion for voiceovers is a perfect fit. "I love to get to share in their discovery of this beautiful craft", he states. Bill enjoys the creative aspect of voiceovers and loves the fact that "voiceovers bring everything to life".

Bill is very active in the voiceover community and he's currently voicing a huge eLearning project on the drilling industry. His favorite job was voicing a Lt. Col. William Barrett Travis diary entry for the audio tour for The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas.

We were excited to learn more about Bill!


What are a few of your passions? I've been a singer/songwriter/musician for close to 30 years now. This creative outlet is what actually led me to voiceovers. So I love anything that has to do with that facet of art. I'm an avid bicycle tourist, I love having a sense of place and the memories of how I came to get there. I'm also completely immersed in the environment, I live in a state that's very nature-centric so it comes very naturally!

Where is your favorite vacation spot? I've visited Hawaii for 7 weeks of my life and have seen 5 islands. If I didn't choose Hawaii, I'd have to choose Sunriver in Central Oregon. It's a family friendly place with more activities to keep someone busy than you could ever imagine. I've visited there twenty times and I still haven't seen or done everything that they have to offer!

What is one food you absolutely love? Does beer count? I live in a state that prides itself on microbreweries and beer variety. I love the options that Oregon has to offer!

What/Who is on your playlist right now? I think that my musical selection really celebrates my roots as a musician. Jason Mraz continues to blow my mind along with other musicians such as Mumford & Sons, Adele & Joss Stone.

Do you have any advice for aspiring voiceover artists? It's not about the voice, but what you do with it. Stop performing and let your unique voice and everything about you shine through!

Written by:
Bethany Baker
Such A Voice Marketing Director

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Talent of the Month: An Interview with Mike Slemmer

"My first paying job came only 3 months after getting my demos!"


Growing up making films since he was a child, Mike Slemmer has always had a creative side to him. He always had this regret that he didn't pursue an education in the entertainment business. He is very happy that voiceover work enables him to realize his passion for making a mark in entertainment. In fact, since he graduated from the Such A Voice program, he even managed to book on-camera work!

Mike began his journey into voiceovers in the 1980's in Dallas. Although he loved it from the very beginning, he had to put it on the back burner once his software sales career took off. He always knew that he would want to come back to voiceovers at some point, but didn't know when he would find the time to perfect his talent. After many years and hearing many people tell him what a great voice he had over and over again, Mike decided to give voiceovers another shot.

The fact that Such A Voice taught the BUSINESS of the voiceover industry is what Mike appreciated the most. While realizing that the technique coaching and the demo recording were crucial to launching his voiceover career, Mike feels that he learned the most in the marketing aspect of his training. "The marketing material provided by SuchA Voice on how to market yourself and build a business in this industry is critical to voiceover success. Between the materials in the Members Only Area, the live bi-weekly training series, the coaching sessions and my own sales & marketing experience, I have many great ideas for making my voiceover brand (The Voice of Authority) stand out in this industry!" Mike also received in-depth guidance on the technical side of voiceovers by signing up for Pro Tools training with Such A Voice. "The post-production department's ongoing support and willingness to help with my recording questions has been super!"

Mike's strong, resonant voice is definitely his biggest strength. He has a wonderful range and vocal variety. Top that off with strong business management (specifically a sales and marketing background) and you have a wonderful recipe for success. He has constructed a marketing plan and diligently works on that plan to refine and adjust it as necessary to push himself further every day. He realizes that his voice is his career, therefore making sure that he is always working on refining his talent. "My range isn't where it ultimately needs to be if I'm going to get the big jobs I'm looking for. I'm focusing on vocal variety, phrasing and generally just learning to let go a bit more. I have taken a voice acting class, individual coaching and I'm also reading a variety of books on voice acting to help give me the competitive edge in the industry."

Since graduating from the Such A Voice program in November of 2010, Mike has booked quite a few jobs. The first job he landed was recording a book for a colleague of his, Bev Flaxington. The title of the book is "Understanding OtherPeople: The Five Secrets to Human Behavior." Mike was nice enough to offer a discount to Such A Voice students or followers by clicking the title above to place your order! Although Mike wasn't paid for this job, it helped him practice recording, editing and completing all of the post-production for an audiobook. A blind buyer called to say it was the best audiobook read he'd ever heard. On top of all of that, it ended up leading to paying jobs! Concurrently with working on the audiobook, he was cast to read a book trailer for an internet promotion of the book. "I booked the job by cold calling the president of Trailer to the Stars (which does trailers for TV, movies and books). They had email solicited Beverly to do a trailer on her book, which she forwarded to me. I called the president and asked if she kept a file of VO demos, which she did. I sent over my demo and a few hours later I got a call from her letting me know that she loved my voice and had a script for me!"

Mike was most impressed with the fact that he received a complete education about all things voiceover related while working with Such A Voice. He encourages aspiring voiceover artists to remember the 3 legs of the stool to success "#1-VO practice and submitting auditions. Remember, you cannot win if you do not play. I recommend becoming a premium member of at least one of the voiceover sites (Mike's personal preference is Voices.com). Even if I don't get the gig, it's still great practice to record a script, completing the editing and submitting the audition. #2-Marketing and selling. Cold calling creative directors at production companies and advertisers has worked well for me. I make sure I always follow up. Of course I also advise using all social media avenues and have personally found prospects through social media. I launched a podcast for the business, which is gaining subscribers and lets me showcase my voice work. #3-Technical knowledge. This one is pretty self-explanatory. Have your equipment, learn how to use it and be efficient in doing so." Mike goes on to add another leg to the stool of success "#4-Always be learning. Look for books, classes and additional training. One last thing, don't think you're going to be a huge success overnight simply because someone said you have a fantastic voice. Constant learning and improvement, as well as learning how to be a voice actor is the critical component to your success."

Cheers to you, Mike. We can't wait to hear what you book next!

Written by:
Bethany Baker
Such A Voice Marketing Director

Meet Our Staff: Charlie Nardozzi

Once a month, Such A Voice will be highlighting a member of our staff to give you a little insight into who they & what they do here at Such A Voice to help you get to know the people behind-the-scenes!
Meet Charlie Nardozzi. Charlie was raised in Connecticut, but moved to the gorgeous Green Mountain State of Vermont in 1977 to attend school. "Vermont is such a beautiful state and I love the fact that they have such great community and cultural values. Other than the three year period when I was in the Peace Corps, I've never left".
Charlie is one of the people that goes into local communities to teach people the basic information about the voiceover industry that are interested in possibly having a career in voiceovers. He also gets the opportunity to evaluate their talent and give his advice on whether or not they are ready to pursue voiceovers as a career. His favorite part about teaching these classes is seeing the enthusiasm people have to learn more about the voiceover industry. "I get very excited about voiceovers since it's such a fun industry to be a part of and I think it rubs off on my students. It's easy to be so passionate when you love what you do!"
He is very well known in the Vermont voiceover scene. He has worked with companies such as the National Gardening Association, Gardener's Supply Company, Vermont Public Radio and other various local radio stations. He loves that his schedule can be flexible with voiceovers. "I have the freedom to do voiceovers when I want, where I want. You can't say that about many jobs out there!"
We were excited to sit down with Charlie!
What are a few of your passions? I'm lucky that I live in such a wonderful state that compliments my choice of hobbies so well. I enjoy yoga, meditation and anything outdoors (gardening, biking, swimming, hiking). I really enjoy biking around Middlebury, which is a wonderful small town with a great downtown area. Three of my favorite local hiking spots are Snake Mountain, Mt. Abraham and the Adirondack High Peaks. I love the peace and quiet of being outdoors in the sun and weather.
Where is your favorite vacation spot? I've visited California many, many times and I will never get sick of their gorgeous weather and the assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables available year round. I love the Big Sur area. Hiking along the coastal range and walking the beach are both very peaceful activities. Also, my stepson lives in San Francisco and it's fun visiting him there.
What is one food you absolutely love? I'm a vegetarian and I'd have to say that Indian food is by far my favorite cuisine. I love to make my own Indian food at home. My favorite recipes include Aloo Gobi (cauliflower and potatoes), various Dals and Mataar Paneer (vegetables and Indian cheese).
What/Who is on your playlist right now? Grace Potter and Sara Bareilles are two of my favorite artists right now. My wife and I both fell in love with Sara's down-to-earth personality while watching the first season of "The Sing-Off".
Do you have any advice for aspiring voiceover artists? Start slow, take your time, make sure you practice and never give up!
Written by: Bethany Baker Such A Voice Marketing Director

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Cardiovascular Fitness and your VO Career!


Year after year, the number one New Years Resolution people make is to get in shape or lose weight. If you are one of these people, I'm here to provide another reason for you to get in shape (or stay in shape) to keep you motivated!

All of us in the voiceover industry can agree that breath control is very important when working on a job. Breath control can make or break auditions and makes all the difference in the flow of a script. You work so hard on all the other aspects of your career, it's easy to forget how much of an impact physical fitness has on your voice!

Do you notice yourself editing out noisy or forced sounding breaths from your script reads? Those breaths actually introduce tension into your voice, which means that you are tense during a reading. Sometimes as voiceover artists we find ourselves trying to take short, quick breaths in fear of making the script sound choppy or uneven. The problem is that once you take one quick, short breath you then have to figure out how to make sure you have enough breath for the next sentence. Before you know it you take a deep breath mid-sentence (or rushing through a sentence before you run out of breath) and then you find yourself starting your recording all over again. Of course, all of this can be edited out in the end, but learning to control your breathing from the beginning will help you cut down on editing time and be more efficient submitting auditions, not to mention sound better overall. Having breathing issues is an even larger problem when booking jobs with a long script, or even audiobooks. Make sure that you take the necessary time and learn how to breathe well in the correct areas.

Working out is a great way to increase your lung capacity, which in turn helps you have more control over your breathing. Exercise is a good idea in general for a healthy lifestyle, not just for your voiceover career. Getting your heart pumping is great for many reasons since exercise increases endorphins, which helps to increase energy levels. Physical fitness also helps boost your immune system, which means that you're less likely to contract illnesses than those who lead a sedentary lifestyle. The fewer sick days you have to take, the more jobs you can book!

It seems obvious that cardiovascular exercises would be the most beneficial to a voiceover artist, as they focus on increasing your lung capacity (and therefore helping your voice the most). I personally think that if you can manage to work exercise into your daily routine at all it's a step in the right direction. If you are moving your body more than you were previously, it's building toward healthy patterns.

When it comes to what specific activities you should participate in, opinions vary greatly. Some people swear that swimming is the best exercise for voiceover artists (because it is invigorating as well as relaxing to your vocal chords and that they perform at their best soon after a swim session). Others say that taking yoga or meditation classes really helps them focus on their breathing patterns. I say that you should just focus on something you truly enjoy as exercise. The more you enjoy it, the more likely you are to stick with it and be motivated to keep up the good work!

Make sure that when you're exercising to keep a good breathing pattern and don't overexert the muscle groups around your head and shoulders. The last thing that you want is to tense the muscles in this area and have a hard time using your voice in certain ways. Sometimes if you pull a muscle in your neck it can make it painful to enunciate certain words you might need to for an audition.

Above all else, remember that your voice is your instrument and your money maker. You wouldn't expect a guitar player to walk out on stage with a broken string, you would expect them to keep their instrument in top working performance. Treat your voice the same way by giving it the best treatment and doing everything that you can to make it the best that it can be! 

 Written by:
Bethany Baker
Such A Voice Marketing Director

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Marketing Tip of the Month: Blog like a Pro

Blogging is a wonderful way to bulk up your image as a knowledgeable professional in your industry. Although I would say that blogging doesn't typically lead to booking new clients directly, it does so passively by creating an online presence showing that you are a reputable player in the industry. Potential clients see that you aren't just someone that has thrown together a website, they see that you are actively involved and well versed in the field. Clients then feel more comfortable that they are getting the quality service they need and want.

Step 1: Generating Content

Before you even begin writing, compose an outline. Having an outline will help you stay organized and will also help with the fluidity of your article to ensure that you won't miss an important point that you want to cover.

Don't forget that we're living in a fast paced society! You really have to fight to get -and keep- a person's attention. The first way to do this is by writing a mind-blowing headline. After all, most people won't even click on your article to read it if it doesn't catch their interest with the headline! Focus on writing a headline that will please search engines and readers alike by incorporating focused keywords in each of your blog posts.

"Mac or PC?", "THIS JUST IN!", "Best VO Software JUST RELEASED!" These are just a few ideas of topics that are most likely get people talking. Controversial opinions, breaking news and new technology tools are all great things to blog about. Use these "hot" words, ideas and phrases to illicit more of a response from people reading your blog. Another simple way to get people to comment and engage on your blog is to ask a question at the end of an article. That encourages people to continue the conversation by commenting and interacting with one another.

Make your blog visually pleasing. By taking a little time to format your blog, you are increasing the chance that someone will stay and read the entire post. Make sure that you have a clean design and take full advantage of formatting helpers such as bullet points, images and hyperlinking to outside sources or websites.

Remember that variety is the spice of life! Cover a variety of topics and vary the lengths and styles in your own writing. You could vary the styles by including interviews, Q&A style articles, bullet-pointed lists and a rating system (i.e. "Top 10 Microphones") to shake things up.

Creating a resource list is one of the great ways to attract readers and keep them coming back for more. If you can create a resource list relevant to the industry (Top 10 places to get free music, 10 social media sites every voiceover artist should be on, etc.), your readers will likely bookmark this article and keep coming back to use it for reference. If you see that you have traffic coming back to reference your post years after, you can always choose to add and expand on it. Make sure you announce on your blog by posting that it has been updated, for those people that maybe haven't read it yet, or haven't referred back to it since they originally read it.

Another popular format is a product review. Not everyone can afford to purchase 5 microphones to give each a full review, but you could download a few different free editing programs and review the ups and downs of each of them and give your final rating system based on what you found! To encourage feedback from your readers, ask them if they've ever used any of these programs and which one is their favorite.

You don't always have to be the first person to cover a topic. This is a very typical cause of writer's block…people think they have to write about something that nobody has written out before. You could spend hours upon hours trying to come up with a topic that nobody has ever written about. Instead of trying to come up with a completely new idea, just write about a topic that interests you or something you have a lot of knowledge about. Even though somebody else has written about it in the past, you are the only one that can provide your perspective on the subject using your unique writing style.

Are you getting burnt out by being the only contributor to your blog and feeling like it's just becoming your personal sounding board? Get another opinion (and "voice") by setting up guest bloggers to contribute to your blog. This is a great way to get a burst of fresh air to your blog now and again. You may even be able to team up with other voiceover artists and do a blog link exchange in which you provide them with a few blog articles you've written and they'll provide you with a few in return. Typically you link back to their blog for credit and they'll do the same for you. It's a wonderful way to get new content AND help expand your reader base.

Finally, before you hit "Publish", take the time to proofread! I can say that this is one point in writing that I've personally had a hard time breaking. I used to just send off each article to another set of eyes to proofread before taking a highly critical eye and reading the finished article myself. Trust me, though. Taking the time to read what you've written and see if YOU enjoy reading it will make all the difference. If you don't enjoy it, why would anyone else enjoy it? Make sure it reads well and makes sense from beginning to end. If you have someone else that you trust and can count on, it never hurts to have a second set of eyes quickly read what you've written to make sure it reads well to them as well.



STEP 2: Getting (and keeping) readers

When you first begin blogging, it's very important that you post blogs on a regular basis to start attracting readers to your site. I suggest trying to post a blog article every day if you can. The articles don't have to be very long (no more than 500 words, really), but they should contain nuggets of useful information to show your readers why they should be following your blog.

Don't have any followers on your blog yet? Make your blog content easy to find for people that are already looking for it! How many times have you been looking for something very specific online and you've had to search through 10 sites before you've found what you were looking for? A lot of times people just give up after the first few sites didn't contain the information they were seeking out. Make sure your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is top notch for your blog to ensure that your readers or potential readers can easily find your blog when it's relevant to what they want and need. Not well versed in SEO? There are quite a few resources out there for free that can teach you the basics, they're just a Google search away!

Don't just be a blog writer, be a blog reader (and commenter) as well. Take the time to seek out other blogs that are relevant to you and comment on articles that you enjoy or have an opinion on. Since you normally have to submit your information when you comment on a blog, make sure you are logged in to your account that you use for blogging. Therefore, everyone reading the comments on that blog (as well as the author) will then be able to link back to your blog!

Make it easy for readers to post comments on your blog. It's pretty simple, the easier you make it for readers to post comments, the more comments you'll receive. If you force someone to create a new account for each different blog hosting site, type in a captcha code and register an email address, it's going to be too much work for the reader to give you something that you WANT from them. Make it easy by letting them log in either with their choice of email address or even using Facebook.

Utilize buttons so readers can easily share your blog. Most blog hosting sites have tools that help you give your readers the ability to share your blog articles via social media sites. Make sure you activate this feature (how it's handled varies from site to site). Readers are more likely to share your blog with their friends and followers if you make it easy for them!

There are many things that you can do to help build the quality, content and interaction on your blog. The tips above are a great way to start. A quick search online will lead you to a sea of information about blogging. Each site has a varying degree of expertise, so it all depends on how much time you want to spend on your blog. Many people out there blog as their career. Obviously you are blogging to help promote your career, so you don't want to spend your entire day working on your blog.

Remember, just like every other marketing strategy, building up your blog will take time. Stick with it and write about topics you enjoy and you'll begin to start seeing the results!

The best piece of advice I ever received regarding writing was "When you have writer's block, don't spend too much time thinking about it…just start writing". Sounds so simple, but it has helped me work through so many cases of writer's block! What is the best professional advice you ever received?

Written by:
Bethany Baker
Such A Voice Marketing Director

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Manage Your Time Better!

Take a moment and think about your typical workday, think about the tasks that you do on a daily basis. If someone were to stop and ask you right now how much time it took you to do each task, would you have a good grasp at it? Do you ever feel like there just aren't enough hours in the day for what you have to accomplish? Do you find that you're completing tasks JUST before they are due and stressing out that you may miss deadlines? In my past days of management, I noticed that many people pride themselves on how busy they appear to be. When somebody tries to offer them solutions or ways to try to manage their time better, they tend to brush them off. Sometimes people will even get downright defensive or insulted. It's almost as if they think that the busier they appear, the more important they are. They may feel threatened that if they don't seem busy all the time that their job would be on the line. Or they may be insulted because they think that you're implying that they're not working hard enough or fast enough (definitely not the case). If any of these examples apply to you, I'm here to change your theory and give you more peace of mind at the end of the day. If this does not apply to you, then still continue to read and get great tips on how to manage your time better.

I will be the first to admit that many years ago I fell into that first category of people. I would rush around all day long, unwilling to ask for help, ending my day in a stressed frenzy claiming that I simply had too much to do and not enough time in the day to do it. Now, let me clarify, I really BELIEVED that I had too much to do and not enough time in the day to do it. I never thought that I was doing anything wrong or that there was anything I could do to change that. The day came when I had finally had enough. I stepped back and analyzed my day, the approach I was taking to the tasks I was completing and the order in which I was completing them. I asked coworkers for an unbiased opinion as to how I was going about things. Asked them for any suggested shortcuts that they used on any programs, processes or procedures that we both used in our daily tasks. I took all of this information and restructured, reorganized and refocused with a clearer vision. I realized that if I made a few adjustments to my day, it might just give me some breathing room. Best. Decision. EVER! Now I jump on the opportunity to meet with someone that says they can help me better manage my time. I will no longer be the person so unwilling to seek out advice from someone else. Let's face it, if you can shave even 15 minutes off of your workload, it's still worth it! After all, you're "so busy you can't even breathe until the work day is over"…so 15 minutes would be fantastic, am I right?!

Are you sitting here right now rolling your eyes and thinking that you're so impossibly busy that you can't take time out of your day to revamp your functional system that you have worked out? I thought maybe you might be…just keep reading. I recommend for you to start keeping a journal, spreadsheet or other document and record your day. I'm sure you've heard of food journals, or dream journals. This will be your work journal. Start out by listing your goals for the day to keep yourself on task. As the day progresses, try to note how much time you spent on each goal and add in anything else you spent time on during the day. I would recommend trying to break things out into 15 minute increments so it doesn't get TOO specific (you don't need to notate that you took a break to get a glass of water).

Sidebar: Those of you that follow our blog posts regularly know about my list obsession. You can read more about writing an effective to-do list (the list of threes) in our blog article here.

Take things into consideration that take time away from your goals (personal social networking, playing games, reading articles online, chatting with friends, etc.). Now start practicing restraint with those procrastination tactics. On the other hand, some of the things that take time away from your goals are things that are unavoidable (sleeping, eating, driving to and from appointments). You can still try to plan your day out even better to make the most of that unavoidable time. For instance, if you find yourself in the waiting room of your physician's office (and, like many people today, you have a smart phone), take a few minutes to check your business social media sites or answer a few business emails.

Beware of the stealthy productivity killers! Do you sometimes take your laptop into a family area to work comfortably from your couch? Do you then think "Oh, I'll just turn on the TV for background noise"? Do you then realize that hours have gone by and you've been watching a marathon of some show that you would normally never watch if the TV wasn't on merely for "background noise"? The same can be said for streaming music onto your computer. You turn it on for background noise and before you know it you're downloading new music, setting up a playlist or searching out the history of a particular artist. Now, I'm not saying that you should work in complete silence, just make sure that you're staying focused on your work and not searching out lyrics for a song you just heard!

Take advantage of your computer's multitasking abilities! I've walked by many-a-desk in my time to see people staring at their computer screen and tapping their fingers as a large file saves or as their email loads and wondered "why?!". Your computer is a powerful machine, so don't sit there and stare at it as it works, continue working. Update your to-do list as that large file saves. Update your business social media sites as your email loads for the day. Take the time during a computer reboots to get your work station organized or make an important phone call.

Once you use these tips and analyze your workday, I hope that you'll be able to free up time! Changes begin small, so even if you manage to free up 10 or 20 minutes in your day, it's still a step in the right direction. Don't stop looking for ways to free up even more time by multi-tasking or restructuring your day. If you're constantly looking for ways to manage your time better, you'll always be working toward the most productive workday you could have!

Now that you've freed up a bit of time, don't make the mistake to then turn around, take that free time and pile on loads of additional work. That will just bring you right back to where you started. The whole point of managing your time is to be able to handle your workload with less stress. Don't end up overextending yourself back to the point where you were originally.

When all else fails, if you just keep struggling to manage your time, I would sincerely consider hiring a professional consultant. Now, of course, this all depends on your budget. I firmly believe that having a professional unbiased opinion about your workflow is a great way to analyze your workday. Don't fall back into the routine of being defensive about how busy you are. After all, you're the ONLY one that's suffering in that equation! A professional will typically monitor your work day for a few days, sitting by as you work and have an open conversation about your daily tasks, the time you spend on them, what your priorities are in your day and what tasks you always find that you aren't making time for when the day is over. They will take notes and then analyze areas where you could save time by either implementing different programs or procedures to help. I've worked with about two or three different time management consultants and I've found that they are definitely worth the money to have a little peace of mind at the end of the day!

What methods have you used to manage your time in the past? What has been your most effective time-management method to date? Have you ever hired a consultant to help you prioritize your workday? We'd love to hear your stories and experiences!

Written by:
Bethany Baker
Such A Voice Marketing Director