Success leaves clues.
Yesterday, I analyzed Barry Manilow as a brand to offer clues to voice talent about marketing your personal brand to your clients. He has defined his core product, offers consistent results, and embraces constant improvement.
Today, I realized I forgot the last and most defining C in the branding process. As you can hear toward the end of this clip (1:07), Barry Manilow has a secret weapon that has made him a legend in the music industry and which savvy voiceover folks will want to adopt.
Barry Manilow performs with his back-up singers (Keely Vasquez, foreground)
at Paris Las Vegas, 3/21/10
The 4th C of Branding — Create Your Own Stuff
Every day, I see questions on various voice-over boards like:
- How do I get an agent? (I wrote a little about agents on my advice page for my site.)
- Should I join one of the voiceover casting — commonly referred to as pay-to-play (P2P) — sites, and if so, which one is better? (If you’re interested, my answer to that question is here.)
- Who actually wins all these auditions? (You do have more on your marketing plan than waiting for auditions, don’t you? If you need help in creating a marketing plan, check out this post. Also, this post contains 25+ marketing and publicity ideas to attract clients to you. You’ll find other marketing articles in the archives.)
To me, the approaches above cause you to give away your power. I’m not saying you shouldn’t do them as part of your marketing mix. However, you’ll have far greater power to move your voiceover career in the direction you want it to go by casting yourself in your own projects.
Our friends who act on camera or in the theatre will write a play or show for the web, create the set, design costumes, get their friends to act with them, star in the show, direct it, and publicize their effort — all WITHOUT pay. Either we professional voiceover people aren’t creating our own stuff, or we’re not publicizing it too well.
I also think many people resist investing time in such projects when they aren’t being paid. Our society tends to attach monetary value to everything, which can make us feel that it’s not worth doing something simply for the pleasure of doing it. Creating our own work allows us to develop skills and make us more competitive for those paying jobs. You might consider your own project to be a specialized form of practice. In addition, we can use our own projects in our publicity efforts. If you keep working at it, who knows? Someone may even pay you someday for your creation.
What to Create?
I think the question could be answered by looking at what you like and the category of voice work that you want to obtain. Below are some ideas that may inspire you.
Promos? How about creating your own video with your voice as the promo? If you can’t create a video, perhaps you could work with the public access cable channel to develop one. You could post the finished product on your site and others like YouTube.
Audiobooks? How about recording short stories and books for the blind, reading at your library, or recording for LibriVox?
Commercials? How about writing your own copy and setting it to music?
Video games? How about voicing some projects on one of the fan sites?
Podcasts? How about turning an organization’s newsletter into a podcast or Internet radio show?
Narrations? How about narrating feature stories from magazines? You could scan pictures or buy stock images and add them to PowerPoint or a video to create a finished presentation. As another idea, you could create audio or video podcasts based on scripts that you write.
I cannot express to you the power and importance of creating your own work in building your personal brand and attaining the level of success you want in voiceover. But — don’t take my word for it.
For years, actor/producer/director Bob Fraser has been advising actors to cast themselves and create their own work.
Author/producer/casting director Bonnie Gillespie is such a strong advocate of self-produced work that she includes someone’s self-produced work each week in her popular column The Actor’s Voice.
And now, you’ve heard it directly from Barry Manilow.
Success does leave clues, and 3 famous and highly successful people have all left the same one. Now that you have it, what are you going to do about it? I’d love to get your comments and see examples of your creations on this blog!