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Mike Paul
Contributor III


Joined: 05 Oct 2021
Posts: 93
Location: Sacramento

PostPosted: Thu Jun 15, 2023 8:24 am    Post subject: Website update Reply with quote

I just reorganized my website with the right people in mind (agents, production companies, instead of search engines and all of that "optimization" baloney) and thought I'd share my thoughts, because... why not, maybe it can help. Of course, I'm always looking for feedback. Check it out: speakingofmike.com or search google for male conversational voice actor.

So the goals here are, in order, (1) to get agents what they want: a way to hear and contact me fast. (2) Showcase my work to production companies and agents, (3) all of which leads to the inevitable: getting the visitor to contact me.

Front page: focuses on agents by putting the demo first, then giving them a teaser about who I am/what I bring to the mix, and making it easy to reach me with all my contact info, along with a nice fat Book Now button. All above the fold. Below the fold, a solid testimonial, then comes the least important stuff: studio info and contact info again. It's fast and clean. Work is on a separate page. Keeping all those videos off the main page helps the main page load faster.

On the Work page, all videos are uploaded to my YouTube account to maintain a consistent look and, more importantly, to make sure things don't suddenly get pulled out from under me. Every so often we shake things up: we suggest they check out my rates, a little further down we suggest they book a commercial/explainer/narration/etc. Alongside those buttons, we instill confidence with short testimonials where we can. Some videos are large, some small depending on what types of work I want to highlight. Considering the Rule of 3, each section showcases three different shades/styles of me where possible. (e.g. relaxed, upbeat, then energized) Variety is the goal. Below those videos are a few notable brands, some testimonials, and a simple contact form.

Then we have the Rates page. It doesn't list my rates, though--it's actually a quote request form, but I find Rates to be a shorter, more approachable word with less commitment. While the form on this page seems long, it provides everything I need to turn around a fast rate quote. Testimonials on the right sidebar instill confidence as they go down the form.

As a portfolio website, everything here is all about me--but the design of the thing is really all about them: helping agents and production companies--the people who help keep my lights on--find me, hear me, trust me, and contact me.

What am I missing? Does it strike a balance of serving agents and production companies? What could be improved? Rip it to shreds. Smile
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todd ellis
A Zillion


Joined: 02 Jan 2007
Posts: 10466
Location: little egypt

PostPosted: Thu Jun 15, 2023 8:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hear you? Check
Contact you? Check

Nothing left to do but profit.
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Bob Bergen
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Joined: 22 Apr 2008
Posts: 935

PostPosted: Thu Jun 15, 2023 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The best part of your site is the page of clips. Too many include a list of clients or client logos. Buyers and agents have caught on to this. A logo means nothing. You could have a McD's logo, but might have done their automated phones. Or, you might have done a national commercial. So, good for you for including the clips!

I am not a fan of a site that tells the visitor how brilliant you are or how versatile you are. "Finding truth in every script," etc. All good actors do this. Let your work tell the listener how brilliant you are. Telling writers and agents you know what they want, etc., it's just a bit pretentious and presumptuous. Not your fault! Many are using this kind of text on their websites. I know too many agents and buyers who want to throw up in their mouths when they read this, and often they even pass on listening to the demos. And I know you are trying to stand out as excellent, but I really think this backfires. EVERYONE is doing this now, and, again, it makes those whom you want to work with roll their eyes.

That said, if this is how you want to go or what you think sells you best, go for it.
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Bruce
Boardmeister


Joined: 06 Jun 2005
Posts: 7915
Location: Portland, OR

PostPosted: Thu Jun 15, 2023 6:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good advice. If you want to buy a cake for a special occasion, words don’t matter nearly as much as tasting samples.


B
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I'm not a Zoo, but over the years I've played one on radio/TV. .
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Mike Paul
Contributor III


Joined: 05 Oct 2021
Posts: 93
Location: Sacramento

PostPosted: Thu Jun 15, 2023 7:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Love it, thanks for the constructive feedback, Bob!

Logos are now gone, I agree on the premise and it's not the first time I've heard that. Sometimes it takes a few raps before the message sinks in.

How's this for the start of an improved bio:

Quote:
You've heard Mike on PBS stations nationwide as the announcer of the new PBS Kids 24/7 television network promo. Mike's voiced dozens of TV and radio spots for clients like Upside and Metro by T-Mobile, including a 6-month campaign for Broadstripe, and a year-long campaign for WOW!. He's narrated short films for TAZO and Otterbox, and he puts butts in seats as the current voice of Fresno Pacific University in California. Off the screen, Mike's voice guides kids to better brushing with BriteBrush (Game Brush and Baby Shark editions) and he’s also done some top-secret work for a couple technology giants. In his spare time, Mike also volunteers for AIRS-LA where he reads articles for the blind and print impaired.

Not too pretentious, I hope, but also not a lot of personality yet either... more "Just the facts, ma'am." with a splash of personality.
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Mike Paul
https://speakingofmike.com
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todd ellis
A Zillion


Joined: 02 Jan 2007
Posts: 10466
Location: little egypt

PostPosted: Fri Jun 16, 2023 7:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Telling writers and agents you know what they want, etc., it's just a bit pretentious and presumptuous.


Agreed.

"I'm super awesome, blah-blah ..."

As someone who casts for small non-union gigs, I pretty-much ignore everything but the demos & the contact information. I honestly don't care what you've done before - I just care what you can do for me.

My main caution is - be able to deliver the sound & quality reflected in your demos. If your demo production sounds awesome and your home studio sounds like you recorded in a tuna can inside a boxcar, you're dead to me.
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Bob Bergen
CM


Joined: 22 Apr 2008
Posts: 935

PostPosted: Fri Jun 16, 2023 7:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Like your adjustments, Mike! What you have, your body of work, etc., is impressive enough! It just didn't need the, "I'm all things voiceover, and you should SEE my gorgeous uvula" rah-rah. You are quite good! My advice is to hit some of the larger agents who have promo departments. Your PBSKids credit is great leverage and you should build on that in the world of promos! It would be really helpful to have a top agent selling you in the world of promos. Now, they might make you take down your rate info, but only because they will then be negotiating on your behalf. This all comes with a conversation upon signing with an agent. You would share with them your past rates on various jobs. Yours might be lower or even higher than what they have in mind. This is a relationship, a collaboration. I myself never negotiate my own jobs. That doesn't mean buyers don't often contact me directly. But I refer them to my agent. Personally I think you are that good. You need to take that risk of shopping good representation and taking your career up a notch. It's a scary move, but a necessary one if your goal is to play with the big boys.
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Philip Banks
Je Ne Sais Quoi


Joined: 20 Jun 2005
Posts: 11046
Location: Portgordon, Scotland

PostPosted: Fri Jun 16, 2023 7:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Works very well!

They'll either like you or they won't and that's the same for all of us.

Well done!
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Mike Paul
Contributor III


Joined: 05 Oct 2021
Posts: 93
Location: Sacramento

PostPosted: Sun Jun 18, 2023 2:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks all around to everyone for the open, honest feedback.

Bob: Other than the PBS Kids spot providing leverage, what is it about promo + me that seems like a good idea to you? The frequency of work? The fun of
it? My goal is to play in the big leagues, and I'm interested in learning more about why that stuck out to you, vs. commercials where the bulk of my body of work is. Thanks again for your thoughts, very much appreciated. I know next to nothing about promo (once took a workshop with Jodi G. but it was part of a "Triple Threat" with her, Mary Lynn and Jeff H.), so there's always something new to learn!
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Mike Paul
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Bob Bergen
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Joined: 22 Apr 2008
Posts: 935

PostPosted: Sun Jun 18, 2023 3:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, it sounds like you have an ongoing promo gig with PBSKids, if I’m not mistaken. Promo is a hard nut to crack. You cracked it. Actors need to take an opportunity and run with it. This is your opportunity. The window is only open as long as the opportunity. People are always asking how to market their vo career. You market future jobs with current jobs.

For 5 years I was the voice of Disney Channel. I knew nothing about promos either when I got that gig. I learned on the job. I must have had some instinct for the genre, as I got the gig after 6 or so callbacks, as well as competing against every top promo actor in LA.

Once I got the gig, I sought advice from the top promo people in the business how to use this gig to my advantage. I wanted to know how, from a business standpoint I could build upon this opportunity. Every promo guy I talked to gave me the same advice. “Wine and dine!” Meaning, take everyone at Disney Channel, from the day to day writer/producers to the execs to dinner. Just like all business people do. Voice actors rarely go the distance this way. How many sign with a regional agent and never meet them? Every regional agent I have ever signed with, I took a business trip to meet them over dinner. Wanna be ahead of the herd? Do more than the herd.

You’ve got momentum in promo. Now, grow your promo business. Make a killer promo demo that represents other networks and genres you are right for. Ask your PBS producers if you can use them as a referral to a top agent. Very few have promo departments, and you need one with that kind of clout. And if PBS is an ongoing gig, you bring value to agents. Referrals are THE best way to get an agent interested. And if one signs you, give them commission on PBS. This is a good faith gesture. And it will give them incentive to work harder on your behalf.

If you want to play with the big boys, you need to take risks. You need to put on your big boy pants and play like the big boys. You need specific goals, and you need to act on current achievements.
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Mike Paul
Contributor III


Joined: 05 Oct 2021
Posts: 93
Location: Sacramento

PostPosted: Sun Jun 18, 2023 4:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wish I could say I had an ongoing PBS gig but to set the record straight: it was a one time announcement. Its purpose was to announce that the time slot of PBS kids just became an entire Netwerk called PBS Kids 24/7.

Nevertheless, thanks a lot for that advice. I'm sure a lot of people could use it too. i've only ever met in person one regional agent and that is due to their proximity to me (2Hour Drive) and they asked for the meeting. I do see the value in taking the time and expense for a business trip. (Zig when everyone else is zagging right?)

Although I don't have an ongoing thing with PBS, it does provide credibility considering the situation: a recognizable brand launching a new TV Network. So, there's that. Smile
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Mike Paul
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Bob Bergen
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Joined: 22 Apr 2008
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 18, 2023 5:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So to me this infers more of an ongoing gig, not a one time gig. “ You've heard Mike on PBS stations nationwide as the announcer of the new PBS Kids 24/7 television network promo.”

This is why wording on a website is so important. It’s also why I hate the word “client” in today’s vo actor’s vocabulary. Client used to infer an ongoing or contracted gig. It held weight. Today, anyone who hires a voice actor is called a client by the actor. Agents and buyers have caught on and hold no weight to that word client anymore. I’ve done work for Disney and Warner Bros. for decades, but they are no more my clients than is Spielberg a client of Tom Hanks. No Broadway actor calls their producer a client. But today’s vo generation thinks of themselves more like they are in the service industry than actors.

Now, that said you can still use your PBS buyers as referrals to top agents. But you need to act on this when you get the gig. Not sure how long ago this was, but my guess is not too long to make good use of the credit and relationship.

As for regional agents, everyone should take the time to meet them. In the cover letter to an agent, just say, “I’ll be in your city next month on business and would love to meet with you.” When the agent asks when you will be there, you just tell them you can work your trip around them. This meeting gives you a chance to sell yourself, your goals, your relationships, etc. I never understood why more don’t think to do this.
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Mike Paul
Contributor III


Joined: 05 Oct 2021
Posts: 93
Location: Sacramento

PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2023 10:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gotcha, and thanks for your perspective, Bob. certainly not trying to mislead anyone, so I appreciate that feedback. I've adjusted my bio and removed all mention of "client" on both the main page and the Work page, except for my very first client, myNoise, which is indeed a client since the gentleman who owns it bought VO directly from me, and I do ongoing work for him now and then.

Quote:
Mike’s voice has been heard on PBS stations nationwide when he announced the arrival of the new PBS Kids 24/7 television network. Mike's voiced dozens of TV and radio spots for brands like Metro by T-Mobile, including a 6-month campaign for Broadstripe, and 12-month campaigns for both WOW! and Upside. He's narrated short films for TAZO and Otterbox, and he puts butts in seats as the current voice of Fresno Pacific University in California. Off the screen, Mike's voice guides kids to better brushing with BriteBrush (Game Brush and Baby Shark editions) and he’s also done some top-secret work for a couple technology giants. In his spare time, Mike also volunteers for AIRS-LA where he reads articles for the blind and print impaired.


I began my VO career in October 2015 and the PBS gig was booked in May 2016. Back then I had no idea about the importance of relationships and the maintenance they required... so I don't have any relationships there, honestly. It'd be more a "remember me?" kinda thing. For what it's worth, there was no intermediary on that gig other than the agency; PBS wrote the spot, they cast through an agency, and I was directed by the writer, who is still a Creative Director at PBS today. It seems obvious that I should connect with her on LinkedIn and see if I can't reintroduce myself and see what's new at PBS/PBS Kids.

Thanks for all this feedback, Bob, I really do appreciate this conversation. Given all that, it sounds like I can't leverage the PBS gig and that relationship like we originally discussed, but it's still got value, I agree, and I'll pursue this promo side of life if you think it still makes sense. I enjoy the challenge.
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Mike Paul
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Bob Bergen
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Joined: 22 Apr 2008
Posts: 935

PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2023 12:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not your fault, Mike. You got into this as a member of the e-generation. We are more than 20 years into this generation of vo. No one can know what they don't know. Distance, be it geographic or technological is the catalyst for today's vo world to not know or relate to nurturing relationships. There was a time when most of our sessions were in person with the buyers, ad producers, promo producers, etc., in the room with us. Or on ISDN. Actors would ask for their business cards. There was no social media. Just good old fashioned snail mailing for marketing. As well as keeping in touch via the phone. Eventually we all did this by way of email. At sessions we would also ask for a copy of our work. Most of the time, buyers would offer this to us and even beg that we put the spot on our demos. They wanted the free marketing. This got awkward at times as not every job is demo worthy.

Cut to today. Often a P2P company does not provide buyer info. Actors are either too shy or feel it is inappropriate to ask for buyer contact info at the session. Growth in business takes risk, and often that risk is the word no. You get no yes without risking a no. Actors who have 1, 5, 10 years of experience in vo and have not requested buyer contact info during a session have missed out on establishing a long term business relationship. It isn't too late to start. But the missed opportunity(s) is sad.

Now, the great news IS that you are in the e-generation. You do a spot for an ad exec? Today you can connect with them on LinkedIn. There you will find they are connected with hundreds of other ad execs. Connect with them as well, with a note that you just did a spot for that ad exec. Then, when your spot comes out you market a link of the spot to all of those other linkedin connections. And you do this with every gig, every time. You can do the same on every social media platform. I never use social media socially, so mine is only used for business.

Which leads me to the fact that this is called show "business" for a reason. If you want to advance your career, you need to have very specific goals. Specific goals need specific strategies. Agents do not develop new talent these days the way they did when I started out. You need to come to the table with something tangible TO represent, far beyond a great demo. That tangible element is a body of work and the relationships that come with that work. And it is those relationships who can/should refer you to top agents. If you can still reach out to those at PBSKids whom you worked for, do so!!!!! Hey, they might now be at TBS or Comedy Central, NickJr, etc. Today's job is an insurance policy for another. You pay your premium by way of marketing and connecting with those who hired you.

Now, you also do not have to compete at this level. Most do not. But if this is of interest to you, you need to be ahead of the herd, not amongst them.
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Mike Paul
Contributor III


Joined: 05 Oct 2021
Posts: 93
Location: Sacramento

PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2023 12:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well said, well heard, and I'm taking notes. See you at the top someday! Thanks for the friendly advice. Smile
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Mike Paul
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