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

Part 2

Finding that special place to have your web site call home… Sounds kind of strange, but having a great web site for your voice acting business can be quickly turned into a bad web site if; no one can see or access your site, the web site is soooo slow to load, or your site is redirected to some strange search page that has nothing to do with you.

Having a web site is more than just making the pages.  It also is about the hosting company you choose to bring your web site to the masses.  There are quite a few of them out there, from the Mom and Pop hosting shops to the big players such as Yahoo, Go Daddy, and others.  The costs of hosting your site will vary as well, from 4 dollars a month up to hundreds of dollars per month depending on what tools, space, and options you need from the hosting company to get your web site to work.

The following are some examples of the tools and space you might need for different types of web sties;

Web site, single page with audio demos:

A basic page such as this doesn’t need a large amount of storage space.  Most demos in mp3 format are at most 3 megabytes each.  If you have 4 or 5 demos that would be around 15 Megs of space required just for the audio.  HTML pages are usually rather small, mainly because they are text based, and whatever pictures you have for the site will not take a lot of space either. So for a site like this 100 Megs would be more than enough.

Web site, multiple pages, ability for clients to upload files and audio demos:

Taking the next step up with a more complex site, having multiple pages doesn’t really eat up too much space unless you are planning on having a huge and complex web site for your voice over business.  The only difference here would be the ability for clients to upload files to your web site.  This is convenient and more effective than having your client send you a video or audio clip via email.  Most email servers have a limit to the size of the attachments, such as 10 megabytes, this limit can be a real pain when trying to get or send large files.

To be able to get large files you should add an FTP service to your hosting package, FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol (pretty creative eh?) With most FTP services you can set up individual user names and passwords for your clients, or have a catch all with one common user name and password.  That is completely up to you to decide.  A nice feature of FTP is that you can also have a place for your clients to pick up large audio files without clogging up their email.

Suggested space for a web site like this would be at least 2 gigabytes (2,000 megabytes).  This allows for you to be able to leave files on the FTP service longer, and only remove them when you need to free up space. 

ULTRA WEB SITE, multiple pages, FTP service, Blog, Forms, Portal for clients, and demos: 

Well this kind of site needs a little bit more horse power and maintenance as well!   Building on the previous sites, you will want more space to handle all of the information you will generate via your own Blog, demos, client filled out forms and such.  You are also looking at most likely setting up a database to drive your client portal… makes my head spin just thinking about it.  10 gigs of space would be a good starting point here. 

You will also need things such as CGI scripting and PHP.  But most likely you will want to spend more of your time auditioning and marketing yourself rather than managing such a complex web site, and figuring out what CGI scripting and PHP are!

So now you kind of have an idea of what you should and shouldn’t be signing up for in a hosting service for your web site.  Most hosting services will allow you to start off with a simple package and upgrade as your needs require, keeps things simple and flexible.

Here is a neat feature; most of the larger hosting companies will have some kind of basic means to create your web site with their web based tools.  These tools normally use a basic set of templates and you just fill in the text, pictures and other items.  This method is simple, quick and effective especially if you don’t have much experience creating a web site.  The downside to this is that your web site will look like a lot of other web sites.  But once you get your web site off the ground and are ready to put your personal stamp on it you can contact a web designer to help you out, or just do it yourself.

What a great segue… Web designer or do it yourself:

If you have the time, and some money to plunk down for HTML design tools, and you don’t mind learning how… creating your own web design can be a fulfilling, exciting, frustrating, and a time draining experience!  A fairly easy software program to get you started is Microsoft’s Front Page.

Front Page is very similar in look and feel to Microsoft’s other office products.  If you know how to use Word, you should be able to pick up on how to use Front Page rather quickly.  Most hosting companies support the use of Front Page to easily publish your web site; no need to FTP the files, just click a button and Front Page takes care of it all.

Another software package is Dream Weaver, from Macromedia (now Adobe).  Dream Weaver is a professional package that allows you more control over how your web site looks and works.  It also is designed to work with flash and other powerful web tools.  Most hosting companies also support Dream Weaver, so putting the files on the web site is pretty simple.

Alternatively you could always get an HTML book and use Windows notepad to create your web site manually.  I don’t suggest this for the technically faint hearted, it just isn’t easy.

If none of this sounds like something you want to do, contact a Web Designer.  Web Designers have done all the hard work already; they’ve bought the software, taken the classes, and don’t mind sitting in front of their computers for hours and hours making your site look good and work great!

Just like anything else - hiring a plumber, interior decorator, or a voice coach - you need to feel comfortable with the person you hire, they will be bringing your web site to life.

Make sure you know all the costs up front.  Does the Web Designer also offer hosting?  What kind and quality of hosting?  Take a look at some of their other work.  Do they use templates or will they come up with a creative ‘from scratch’ web site for you?  Get some references… and I’ll say it again, look for someone with whom you feel comfortable.

In the next and final installment I’ll cover those things that you should have on your web site and those things that you definitely should not.  Also I will touch on how to leverage your site, and what you will need to do to get into the search engines.

What will Chris say next?  Why does he always curse his spellchecker? Tune in next month for the exciting conclusion… 

Chris Wagner has been in the Voice Acting business since 1987, he also works for Sun Microsystems, Inc. as a Knowledge Engineer, and a primary voice talent for Sun’s educational and marketing departments.  Chris is originally from San Diego and now resides in Denver, Colorado with his wife, two sons and their dogs. To contact Chris, see his banner ad above or go to www.websbychris.com.

Chris is the web designer for our MagicInet.com hosting service. MagicInet.com hosts websites for voice talent and specialty performers. An excellent example of a simple one-page voice talent site with demos is www.pennyabshire.com. If you are looking for a website host or designer. for The Commercial Clinic. You can contact Chris at http://www.chriswagneronline.com

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