Earlier this week, I re-tweeted a great comment from casting director Dana Bowling:
Since several people asked me about my journaling process, I thought this post with a few ideas might help you start or further your own.
This Date In My History is an ongoing series of blog posts taken directly from my private journal entries and are intended to help others along their path. I usually use an entry that is at least 10 years old. However, today is the 4th anniversary of a significant change for me. Perhaps after reading it, you’ll want to make the same change.
I received a Joyfully Jobless newsletter from Barbara Winter today. I just signed up for her newsletter recently although I’ve known about her for years.
Today’s was titled “The Company You Keep”. She wrote that John Tesh had received a letter from a 15-year-old boy who wanted to know how to make it in the music business. Tesh
said his best advice to was to listen to great music every day and study what other musicians do.
She also gave the example of Simon Cowell, who said that in his early days,
he was a sponge soaking up the advice of those around him who were more experienced.
I’m surprised to discover that everyone isn’t an enthusiastic student of success…Would-be writer is not an active reader. Would-be entrepreneurs have never had a conversation with someone who is successfully self-employed about how they got started…
So where do you want to succeed? Study those who have done what you want to do. Absorb the lessons of success, not failure.
With that in mind, I realize I need and want to be an active audiobook listener. I think the last one I heard was in Hawaii last year [a year before this writing].
I downloaded Anne Frank Remembered narrated by the audiobook master herself, Barbara Rosenblat…I’ll be listening to the phrasing and pauses as much or more than the accent.
I will listen to an audiobook every day on my day job. It’s another good way to prepare for the audiobook success and constant work that is coming to me. I’m also thinking it would be great to listen to a book while swimming. I’ll have to give it a try.
1) To quote the fabulous and wise Barbara Winter one more time: Be a keen observer. Identify with excellence at every turn. It will make a huge difference in your ultimate results.
2) If you want to narrate books, you need to listen to books. If you’re an author who is considering making an audiobook from your text, you need to listen to books.
For the past 4 years, I have listened to an audiobook every day. I have listened to an average of 20 books in each of those years. Since audiobooks are a multitasker’s dream come true, you can listen while doing some other activity. This thread on Goodreads will give you some ideas of how to include audiobooks in your schedule.
3) I do listen to books while swimming, and I highly recommend the Waterfi waterproof Shuffle for that purpose. Since I don’t swim every day, I’ve found that it helps if I already know the story. Gone With the Wind accompanied me in the pool last summer, and I’m determined to finish it this summer! 🙂
Long before the word “smartphone” was coined, I had several iterations of PDAs, and I remember my to-do list application on each one was always ultra important to me. My need to keep track of all my actions and ideas didn’t end there. In looking back through my journals to find entries for my blog series This Date In My History, I realize how often I wrote a to-do list.
These to-dos were all related to some aspect of my voiceover business.
Oh, I had to-do lists on my day job, too. However, someone else usually set the priority of the projects on those to-do lists. As a network and email administrator, I often would be working on a project that would get sidelined by a user support call. I rarely wrote about those actions in my journals. I knew they would always be waiting for me the next day. Creative ideas that held the possibility of moving us forward couldn’t be implemented without committee meetings, testing, and managerial approval. They became a project.
Actions for my voice-over business could be individual tasks or pieces that form a major project. I’ve always had great ideas that I wanted to implement, as well as time-sensitive actions to take, like auditions, sessions, software updates, invoicing, correspondence…. You see how easy it is to get in list mode?
The problem with these to-do lists is that they quickly became unwieldy. I began to have paralysis by analysis. I would have so many things that I COULD DO competing with things I SHOULD DO that I would find it difficult to pick something to start on.
I tried labeling each action as A, B, or C in priority, with the As being the things that must be done and the Cs being the ideas I wanted to capture and do sometime. I found that I usually didn’t need to write the As because they tended to be in the time-sensitive, mission-critical category of things to do. It was hard to assign something as a B. The Cs ended up being things I never got to. My journals are littered with fantastic ideas that I didn’t pursue.
As an example, my 2006 journal starts with a collage I made about creating a podcast. The word podcast was added to the dictionary in 2005, and I intended to be one of the frontrunners in creating a show. I started by writing lists (yes, list mode again!) of topic ideas because I didn’t want to start a podcast and then run out of steam after 3 episodes.
For what it’s worth, I had the same sort of worry before starting this blog. I decided I wouldn’t put pressure on myself to post on any schedule or only on certain topics. What freedom to just write something when I have something to say!
Although I gave myself this permission to write when the muse spoke, I found that the muse would often speak to me at a time when I couldn’t do anything about it. What did I do? You guessed it — added the idea to my to-do list. Even today, I add ideas for blog posts to an Evernote notebook. Unfortunately, like my podcast idea, many of them go in the folder and are forgotten.
The podcast idea was actually a recurring one, so let’s fast forward to 2011 when I attended Faffcon2 in Atlanta. Five years had passed since I first had the idea about creating a podcast, yet I was no closer to creating one. I was completely thrilled when someone suggested we collaborate on a series that could have endless, easy-to-create episodes. This idea could be IT!
After we parted company at Faffcon, we had several calls to firm up the plan. I immediately bought some new equipment that I would need to accomplish my part. Due to other demands like my day job, some time passed before I could test the equipment. By the summer of 2011, my collaborator and I both had our plates overflowing with other, more pressing things. The idea that so completely captivated me when I heard it eventually fizzled out to nothing, and I’ve since sold that piece of equipment.
Eight years have passed since I first decided to create a podcast, yet I still haven’t done it.
Which brings me to my first tip…
I’ve always heard the old saying “the early bird gets the worm.” It was proven to me when I used to sell a lot of my Barry Manilow collectibles on eBay. I noticed that the first seller who posted a unique item was usually the one to get the most money for it. Nike’s slogan of Just Do It is based on the premise that ideas love speed.
I recently listened to a program from Dr. Joe Vitale in which he explained the reasons why ideas love speed:
1) The idea comes with passion and excitement. That energy is available to use only if you act THEN. Use that energy to help propel you to get it done. When I look at the podcast collaboration idea in 2011, I see the truth of this statement. The further away we got from the original idea, the less inclined we were to implement it.
2) The Divine gave you this idea as a gift. You are honoring the idea to take action. Doing so comes with a blessing. He even said, as I observed with my eBay listings, the first one to act on an idea is usually the one to profit from it the most.
3) The Divine gives the idea to more than 1 person at a time, knowing that most of them won’t act on it. How many times have you had and ignored an idea, only to later see it implemented by and making money for someone else?
4) The more you act on and honor ideas, the more ideas you get.
Take-away straight from Dr. Vitale:
Act on the next idea that comes to you. Write it down and take action on it.
I’ve read Dr. Wayne Dyer’s books and watched and listened to his programs. One quote that he often repeated was from Rumi:
The morning breeze has secrets
Don’t go back to sleep
I started writing this post around 5AM on a winter morning where it’s 30 degrees outside. Believe me, I really wanted to stay in my warm bed and go back to sleep, but I kept thinking about this post. If I’m going to think about it, I might as well get up and write it, especially since I’m guaranteed to have no interruptions.
And now it’s done before sunrise! Anything else I do today is just a bonus! 🙂
When I wrote the article 5 pieces of e-mail marketing advice, I was referring to those times when you send a personal message rather than a general newsletter to your voiceover clients and prospects.
As you might expect, an e-mail newsletter has its own considerations. Since newsletters can be a great way to unobtrusively remind people that I am a voice talent, I have just started publishing a monthly newsletter. I want to share 3 things I learned in this process in case you want to create one, too.
1. Automated software is a must.
Lately, I’ve been hearing radio ads from ConstantContact — yes, RADIO ads about email marketing! I’ve also been seeing banner ads for multiple email solutions on numerous other sites. Email marketing systems have obviously become a big business since people continue to have success in using email as part of their marketing plan.
You could send mail to your list using your own database and email client like Outlook. Another, more popular approach is to upload your database to an on-line service. Since on-line email services are so prevalent and offer an array of built-in features including templates and tracked statistics, it makes a lot of sense to use one if your finances can accommodate it. You can try the systems at no cost for a limited time or number of users in order to decide the best one for you.
Here’s some research that may help you decide which one to use.
Earlier in the year, I saw a question in a LinkedIn group in which the participants were asked for pros and cons about email marketing systems. An assistant started compiling the results for me and got through 254 of the hundreds of responses. I had no idea so many email systems exist! If you’re interested, here’s the full list from those 254 comments.
Of the 84 companies found in those first 254 responses, the top 5 companies, representing 73% of the total votes in my list, were:
ConstantContact 41 votes
iContact 23 votes
MailChimp 22 votes
AWeber 18 votes
MyEmma 11 votes
Aside from this list, you can do a Google search and quickly find a chart like this one that compares numerous features across multiple systems.
2. Permission-based marketing is a BIG deal. A VERY BIG DEAL.
You’ve probably noticed that most emails from companies include a link to unsubscribe to mailings. That feature is mandated in the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003.
Beyond that law, though, people have extremely strong feelings about being added to mailings without their permission. In fact, adding someone to your mailing list without asking them first is quite the polarizing issue.
I can make this assertion after reading questions about creating mailing lists in multiple LinkedIn forums. Each time, the question elicited extremely passionate responses. I decided to create a LinkedIn poll in which I asked the question:
Of the 14 respondents, 9 voted NONE OF THE ABOVE, with ALL OF THE ABOVE being the choice of the other 5 participants.
The comments on the poll page linked above and in a similar question I asked in 2008 when I first considered a newsletter give you a good snapshot of opinions on both sides.
I decided to use iContact for my newsletter host, and I felt they went overboard on ensuring that you have permission to send the message to each contact. You have to click a checkbox in several places to validate that you have the reader’s permission.
Here’s what happened to me when I set up my contact list in the system:
3. Timing is [not] everything.
Voice talent live by the clock. Radio and tv ads need to be 15, 30, or 60 seconds. Agents need auditions at a certain time, and clients expect a fast-turnaround for recordings.
Email has its own timing. I’ve read that the best time to send your message is on a Tuesday morning. I planned for my first issue of Success Leaves Tracks to be distributed on Tuesday, 5 July.
The only problem was that I didn’t realize that I was going to hit the permission-based wall.
I thought I could add my database during the July 4th holiday weekend and have the newsletter appear in mailboxes when people returned to work on Tuesday. Nope. I needed their permission. I ended up sending out the “please confirm it’s okay to mail to you” messages on Friday, 1 July.
Let’s just say that I didn’t get quite the enthusiastic response I had hoped for!
In hindsight, I wouldn’t have sent my confirmation notices on any Friday, particularly one before a holiday weekend! I’m sure that many people deleted the message and moved on, which limits my potential to send them messages through iContact.
Even though my timing in setting up the database could have been better, I’m confident that the newsletter will find the right audience. After all, in the words of Buddha:
An idea that is developed and put into action
is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea.
If you’re planning to start or are already publishing a newsletter for your voiceover business, please leave a comment on the blog!
For years, I have wanted to produce a newsletter as a gentle way to keep in touch with clients and prospects. When I started writing this blog 5 years ago, I thought it might take the place of a newsletter. However, I see now that my voiceover business can benefit from both tools.
This blog focuses primarily on topics dealing with voiceover, audiobooks, and marketing. Many of the articles are prompted from specific questions that I receive about working as a voice talent. I also have started a discussion board on Facebook where people may wish to pose these kinds of questions.
Long-time subscribers of this blog probably know that I draw inspiration from reading lots of biographies. I often find myself repeating things I’ve read while in meaningful conversation with people who are looking to make positive changes in their lives. I didn’t want to change the focus of my blog, but I still wanted some way to share inspirational stories with others.
I wasn’t sure that a newsletter would fit the bill. Most marketers would probably say that the purpose of a newsletter is to keep readers informed about your product and services. To me, this viewpoint seems self-indulgent when marketing myself and my services as a voice talent. Just as I don’t fill my blog with entries about my voiceover projects, I don’t want to create a newsletter with that kind of content, either.
Instead, I want to offer something that people would want to read, something they would actually look forward to receiving each month, like they did when I sent postcards in the mail.
You see, I would would highlight a successful, famous person who had nothing to do with voiceover. I loved picking a person and doing some research about them. Then, I would write about their accomplishments and include some of their best quotations on the postcard. People actually called and emailed me to tell me they appreciated the mailing. I stopped the postcard mailings due to the ever-increasing printing and postage costs associated with mailing to a large database.
I don’t know why it took me so long, but the lightbulb finally went on — why not publish a monthly newsletter using the same general idea so that it serves as a virtual postcard?!
And so I am, starting with the inaugural issue of Success Leaves Tracks, to be published today.
In addition to a short biography, the newsletter will include a Success Track that may help you on your path to success. If it sounds interesting to you, I invite you to sign up for the mailing list from my Facebook page. If you don’t receive the July issue, you’ll be able to find it in the newsletter archives.
Now that I’ve told you about my newsletter, my next post will provide some info I learned that may be useful to you if you intend to include a newsletter in your marketing mix.