You, You’re Voice Acting Business and the Web
Chris Wagner
www.chriswagneronline.com

Part I

You’ve got the talent, now how do they find you?  In the distant past a person who started a business normally put up some kind of sign (or shingle) hanging above his door.  The shingles were normally small, very to the point, such as a tooth for a dentist or a horse shoe for a blacksmith.  Well, that kind of ‘hanging your shingle’ had gone by the wayside as the primary means of advertising as societies became more mature and advertising became more rich and far reaching.

Now fast forward to the information age (if that's what we are still calling it!)… Web sites are now the shingle that businesses are hanging out for their customers to see, locally as well as across the globe.  What a powerful tool a web site can be for your voice acting business!  It’s a place that’s always open and available to display your work, provide information on your skills, and allow people to hear your latest demos.

With all that great capability there are still some very huge limitations.  Not in the technology, but in the implementation of a web site.  C’mon, admit it, we have all seen websites from companies or individuals that are just plain bad.  The problem with web sites is very similar to what has been happening in the voice acting world.  Equipment and software has come down in price and increased in availability, allowing anyone with a reasonable amount of investment to become a voice actor.  Well, not really. They can audition and record and send files, but what’s the quality of the audio and delivery? That is the same issue we see with most web sites.  Just because you purchase a program to create the web site doesn’t mean you would be able to make an interesting and effective web site… that doesn’t mean you can’t either.

Your web site should be focused, simple, and of course very easy to use.  There are a number of ways to get a web site created, or reworked for those of you who may already have a site up and running.  In this series I will be covering what you should be considering; the design of your site, hosting the site, what features are really important and which ones aren’t, what kind of information should be on the site, and things you can do to get your site some traffic from the search engines.

Creating an effective web site for your voice acting business can be more difficult than creating a great demo… but it can pay off very big if done properly.

Take a big breath, here is  your very first step in setting up your web site!

“What’s in a name?  That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet.”  William Shakespeare had it down when it comes to flowers, but for web sites it is a completely different matter.

On the web a URL (Universal Resource Locator) is the name of your web site. Choosing a name that is catchy and easy to remember can be tough these days.  In the beginning URLs were easy to come by as there weren’t that many people using the web.  Today with the explosion of the web you  may find it hard to get that name that makes the marketing part of your heart sing.

This URL or address is also referred to as your Domain.  And if you work things out right you can be the ruler of your own web Domain!

Your domain name not only is the URL to your web site, it also will be part of your email address as well. That’s cool to be able to use your email address as a bit of advertising when you send a message to someone, keeps things top of mind!

Here’s the fun part, almost like picking out a name for your child… there is a lot of pressure when doing this.  I mean you want to give your site a name that makes sense and is easy to remember, reflects you in some way if possible.  The shorter the name, the better.  Let’s see why.

An address of http://www.youreallyneedmetobeyourvoiceactingtalent.com just about says it all.  It actually says too much.  What a pain to type that into a browser, let alone remember it and spell it correctly!  Remember when I said it is also a part of your email address?  Imagine trying to tell someone over the phone your email address;  [email protected]  OUCH!

Sure you will most likely be able to get that web name for your site, but why would you?  Try for the short and simple route.  Your name is always a best bet, such as; http://www.pennyabshire.com  Sometimes you can’t get your name because someone has beaten you to it.  The only thing you can do in that situation is to (a) ask the person if you can have the name and bribe them heavily (b) create a name that’s almost the same.  For myself someone already has http://www.chriswagner.com, so I had to go the ‘almost the same’ route.  http://www.chriswagneronline.com.

Once you figure out what name you would like to have, you need to look for a company that would help you sign up for it and get some server space to host your site.  That’s how we’ll start off the next installment.

Will Chris give away all of his closely held secrets for web site excellence?  Does he really know what he is talking about?  Will the Joker, the Riddler and Penguin ever stop wearing those campy costumes?  Tune in next month for the answers, same bat time, same bat channel!

Chris is one of those rare individuals who understands both the creative and technical sides of this business.  He has been in the Voice Acting business since 1987, also works for Sun Microsystems, Inc. as a Knowledge Engineer, and is a primary voice talent for Sun’s educational and marketing departments. Chris, originally from San Diego, now resides in Denver, Colorado with his wife, two sons and their dogs. If you need excellent web design services, Chris can do the job for you. He is currently working as one of our web designers for The Commercial Clinic. You can contact Chris at http://www.chriswagneronline.com

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