And you thought this would be a political post…not at all. We describe this one lesson voice talent can learn from President Obama
The Lesson Voice Talent Can Learn
Having a website is a “must have” these days for a voice actor, whether they belong to a website like Realtime Casting, choose to build their own, or try to pay to have someone do it for them. Yet, what so many voice actors overlook in this process is the very same thing the President of the USA dealt with himself. It goes like this:
“It does not matter how important you are, how much experience you have, or who you represent within your own industry…IF your website stinks, THEN people will see it as a reflection of you and your quality of work.”
Without going into anything political, the fact remains that when President Obama tried to implement a healthcare plan online, and the website seriously bombed, people saw it as a reflection of the healthcare plan, as well as the website and some say his very ability to be a president. Many went as far to say the website was a reflection of how little he cared about his own plan.
Obviously, we do not know him, and never talked to him, but every voice actor deals with this same “website burden”. No one knows you, and even if they do, without the chance to really ever speak to you as they used the website, the users were left to make judgements. They were offered the chance to say, “This website does not work. The people who built it must not understand what I need or take it seriously.”
Sadly, for voice actors of great experience, they are often unaware of the life their websites take on their own after creation. No matter how great their voiceover demos are and no matter what they were used for, IF the website they are presented on stinks, THEN people will see that as a reflection of the voiceover demo or their talent. They may even think the website is fake.
Why does this happen?
There are a few reasons:
- Online consumers generally relate the professionalism of the website with the professionalism of the business owner. If the website is poorly constructed, we assume working online with them will be a high maintenance experience.
- In addition, there are such things as content aggregate websites that are cheaply made and do nothing more than display content for the purposes of spam from other websites. The websites are so poorly constructed, it is hard to believe they are an actual “online business”.
- There was no way to contact anyone related to the website. As online businesses grow, there is a greater demand for trust. Trust starts with knowing exactly who you are working with or being able to ask questions.
- Voice talent may create a website serving more as a monument for what they believe in, or their own creative beliefs without paying attention to web etiquette. But even if the website does generate interest there is no way to understand why the website exists, if it makes no sense to web users.
- The website is confusing and functions poorly, meaning the user experience of the website did not make sense to the majority of users. This is very much like owning a store, and then just throwing all the products into a pile while exclaiming, “I sell this. Buy it.”
Why Paying To Have It Done Is Not Always a Good Idea
How simple life would be if we could just pay people to build websites the best way for us. Then, we would not have to worry about being an online business because the “online” part was all paid. Right? Wrong. The requirement for websites now, and in the future, is that they represent and operate based on the human belief system of the owner combined with making compromises to work in an online environment. Due to its counter-intuitive culture, certain things online simply do not work and there is nothing no one can do to change this. Simply put, the voice talent should know what is being built for them and why.
To give you an example: Commission-based business models in the voiceover industry. You may think when you see the words “commission-based” it can be taken to mean “just like it was with agents”, and you may be sure that is what you want online, but have you done the math to see why commission-based websites in voiceovers online do NOT represent what the voice talent wants? (more pay/less cost)
If you are going to pay to have something done for you, make sure you know for yourself that the website truly websites the message you are trying to get across. You may send the wrong message and end up spending a fortune trying to fix your mistake, but if you had just gotten involved in the first place you could have avoided the extra cost. The main tip here: Don’t just pay someone to build a website for you. You have to know how websites work and be able to pick apart things you know wont work, much like you do when you edit audio.
The Dirty Little Secret About Websites No One Tells You
As convenient as they are for solving problems, people still consider using websites to be “work”. Yes, it is hard work, and if the website stinks it feels like work even more so than doing actual physical labor.
Why is this so when it takes no physical effort to click a mouse or touch a screen? Because confusing a person you are trying to work with is mentally exhausting.
If your website is confusing, you are making people tired by looking at it. Do not be fooled. Websites are hard work, both to operate and maintain, while sustaining momentum. Some may even call it a “lifestyle”, not a job.
Glass Houses and Stones
We are writing all this at an important time for Realtime Casting. We are working on a new website this year because we understand it is necessary. We like to think that we have the best voice actors in the industry using our website. They certainly are experienced and have worked in voiceovers before. Most of them have agents in top talent agencies and/or belong to unions.
At the same time, we know that in order to represent such high quality talent, the website must be functional and of high quality itself. If it does not, metaphorically speaking, we may look like we are serving Dom Perignon in a coffee mug. Something about that just does not make sense and the quality Champagne is lost in its presentation.
We are not throwing stones in glass houses. We learned a valuable lesson this year and wish to share it with you. 😀