I recently received my copy of Voice Acting for Dummies, written by Stephanie and David Ciccarelli from Voices.com , and I have to say it’s a very concise and informative book for aspiring voice over actors. It also offers valuable information for those who have been in the voice over field for a long time, like me, and are adjusting to the many changes in the industry that have occurred in the last 10 years. In my case that includes setting up a home recording studio, and working with people online outside of the Los Angeles market. I’ve chosen to focus this post on setting up a voice over website, because that’s something that I’ve not only learned to do, but have started an outside business doing it.
In the last 4-5 years I’ve learned to be a WordPress whiz. I wouldn’t go so far as to call me a geek. I don’t write code. However, with WordPress, you don’t have to. My site was built using WordPress.
WordPress is a CMS. (Content Management System) You can login online and post articles or make changes to your website, and don’t have to be dependent on a webmaster every time you want to dot an “i.”
What people don’t realize when they use a blogging platform like WordPress, is that each time you write an article (post), it drives traffic to your website. A blog is different from a static site that essentially just sits there waiting for someone to visit it. Not only can WordPress help you drive traffic, but you can also create your own additional income streams and celebrity visibility. I not only make a nice income setting up WordPress sites for other people, but I also make what is called affiliate income from links or ads that I’ve inserted into my posts and pages.
If you’re going to run a business for yourself, and voice acting is a business, then both Voice Acting for Dummies and myself recommend that you use a self hosted WordPress site. I don’t recommend that you set up your main site on Blogger, Tumblr, or WordPress.com. What you want to use is WordPress.org.
The first thing you need to do is acquire an excellent domain name. That will be your address on the web. If you’re a voice actor and can obtain your “stage name” as your domain address, that’s probably the best choice because YOU are your brand. I use a different name professionally than in real life, because I was once married and tacked on an additional name. My maiden name is Rebecca Forstadt and that’s what I use for my acting work in Los Angeles. Thus, rebeccaforstadt.com. If you can’t use your stage name because it’s already taken, try to keep some semblance of your name and maybe add a word or two such as www.suesmithvoiceactor.com Some voice actors like Derek Chappell use keyword phrases as their domain name. His is http://www.thevoiceofyourbusiness.com. However, if you hover over the address bar, you will see that he has inserted into his “SEO – Search Engine Optimization” Derek Chappell Voiceover Blog. This will come up in Google search which is smart.
You can purchase a domain name at Godaddy.com.
You will also need a good hosting service. I use Bluehost and I love it because the interface is easy to navigate and the customer service is exceptional. If you set up an account on Bluehost, (feel free to use my link because I will make a few bucks if you do – emphasis on few) you get one domain for free and can host an unlimited number of domains. This is helpful for adding additional sites. For instance, I just launched a site called http://www.audiosbyrebecca.com for recordings of items I created myself and am selling on CDBaby, Amazon and ITunes. (Remember I talked about adding additional income streams?)
Note: If you get your domain name at GoDaddy I don’t recommend using them for hostingl. Their interface is more complicated and the sites have a tendency to be slower loading. Godaddy domains are very reasonably priced, however. All you need to do is to change your domain nameservers to your hosting account. Bluehost would be NS1.BLUEHOST.COM and NS2.BLUEHOST.com (as of this writing). Then you would need to create an ADD ON Domain in your hosting account.
Are you getting dizzy with all this tech speak. Just remember I was a kid when Kimba the White Lion was on the air. If I can learn it, so can you.
Once you get your hosting account you can often upload WordPress in just a couple clicks by using a script inside of your hosting account. Go to C-Panel and look for Software . In Bluehost you would either click on Simple Scripts or WordPress. If you need help, just call and they will walk you through it.
Voice Acting for Dummies recommends that you:
- Highlight, and promote your abilities so clients know what you can do.
- Check for spelling and grammar errors
- Tell customers what you can do for them – What services can you provide?
On WordPress you can easily create pages and posts. Posts are articles you would write about either your career, life, a favorite topic or voiceover in general. Each post has its own url address on the web and every time you write something, Google and other search engines get pinged and indexed. This attracts people to your site. Pages are static. They are for important information about you. They would include, About, Contact, Resume, etc.
An important thing to know about search engine optimization is that Google is getting smart and is not as interested in sites that “stuff” keywords. In fact you can get penalized for doing that. The important thing is to write good content and create engagement with your readers. You should also have a Google Plus Profile and establish Google authorship. That means you need to create a Google Plus account (if you have gmail or YouTube you have a Google account – just click on You+ at the top of the page) and link a page on your site to the about section of Google Plus such as http://www.mysite.com/about in the Contributor section of Google Plus. Then connect your blog to it. You can either use a WordPress plugin called Authorsure, or some WordPress themes let you do it inside the theme. I use themes from the Genesis Framework called StudioPress that makes establishing authorship easy. They are premium themes and worth every penny because they have clean code and are easy to style. You install the Genesis theme Framework by going inside your WordPress dashboard and looking for themes. Upload Genesis. Don’t activate. Then upload a child theme of your choice and activate that. You can go into your StudioPress support link and get instructions on how to format your child theme. The child theme I use on this site is called Metro.
Another great theme company I like is Woothemes. I use their Canvas theme on some sites. It’s very easy to style but a little more complicated to upgrade. StudioPress has auto updates. Woothemes has an amazing shopping cart plugin called WooCommerce that can be used on both Woothemes and StudioPress sites.
If you go to your WordPress dashboard and look at Appearance – widgets you can add social media buttons, Facebook Like box, recent posts, etc.
Voice Acting for Dummies goes into more depth on setting up social media, using online audition platforms, audition skills, recording tips and much more. The great thing about the Dummie Book format is that it’s modular, so you can skip to chapters that are relevant to you without having to sit down and read the entire book if you don’t need to. I found it loaded with information that I could use, as a voice over veteran and it’s a perfect guide book for newbies. If you’re interested in becoming a voiceactor or need some advice on specifics, make sure to get your copy today by clicking here.