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Your Voice Over Website Stinks!
But Here's What To Do About It


By Paul Strikwerda

Voice Actor

Are you happy with your website? Does it represent who you are and what you do? Does it convert visitors into customers? How do you know?

Iíve had my website for a few years now, and to tell you the truth: I think itís just okay. And "just okayĒ doesnít cut it. Thatís why I am in the process of rebuilding it from the ground up.

It turns out that Iím not the only one. Whether youíre redesigning or starting from scratch, there are some important doís and doníts to keep in mind.

I will assume that you have your own domain name. If you don't own the name, you don't own the site.

First, letís talk about what makes a website work.

Number One: In times of microwave meals and high-speed Internet, people have become impatient. An effective website is easy to find, easy on the eyes, easy to navigate and it loads fast.

Number Two: A website is as effective as its landing page. If the window to your shop doesnít catch peopleís attention and isnít inviting, itís time for a make-over.

That was the good. Now itís time to look at the bad and the ugly.

MISTAKE #1:
Designing a site based on what you want to share instead of on what the client wants to know.

A winning website is not about you. Itís about your customers:
  • What are they looking for when theyíre searching the web?
  • What questions do they have that need to be answered?
  • What do they want to do once theyíve landed on your site?
  • What will scare them off?
  • What will keep them interested for longer than 10 seconds?
If you donít have the answer to these questions, chances are that youíre designing a site to please yourself, and youíll end up being your only customer. Itís an exercise in narcissism.

MISTAKE #2:
Not making a value proposition.

A value proposition answers the question: Why should your ideal prospect buy from you rather than any of your competitors?

If you canít explain why clients should hire YOU, youíre encouraging them to shop elsewhere. Itís vital to describe the benefits of hiring you from the viewpoint of your clients.

Remember: you are a solution to their problem and the pleasure to their pain.

MISTAKE #3:
Having static content.

Having a website is one thing, but  search engines have to learn to like it. Donít stuff your site with strategic keywords just to please Google. That is so yesterday.

Think of your visitors first. Give them a reason to spend time on your site and come back for more.

Web crawlers love fresh, relevant content that drives lots of traffic. Thereís a reason why my blog is an integral part of my site!

MISTAKE #4:
Having a site thatís not mobile responsive.

More and more people access online information on mobile devices. Ineffective sites are designed for computer screens and can be hard to navigate on smart phones and iPads.

If you decide to use a template to build your site, make sure that it automatically adapts to allow your visitors to view your content - whether from a desktop, laptop, smart phone or tablet.

MISTAKE #5:
Not establishing credibility and professionalism.

In order to hire you, the client has to have faith that you can handle the job. But how do you get someone who doesnít know you to trust you?

The way I see it, you have two options:
  • Toot your own horn really loud.
  • Let others do the tooting.
Nothing you say about yourself will be as credible as what others say about you. Thatís why I am a fan of incorporating short testimonials and logos of companies youíve worked for.

On one condition: Donít make things up. If you fake it, you wonít make it.

Everything you put out into the world is a reflection of your professionalism: your demos, your pictures and your website. First impressions matter. If your site looks unprofessional, you look unprofessional.

MISTAKE #6:
Too much text and uninterrupted paragraphs.

Do you know the difference between writing the next Great American Novel and a few webpages? Yes, you want to answer your clientís questions, but you must leave something to talk about.

Donít you want them to contact you? People donít read anymore. They scan.
  • Long pages and paragraphs scare your visitors away.
  • Bullet points get their attention
  • Winning websites have lots of blank space and eye-catching images
And please, check your spelling and grammar. Have someone else proofread your copy. Errorz uddermine youíre cridibility.

MISTAKE #7:
Make clients jump through hoops to get to important information.

Easy does it. Things like "Client list and testimonials upon requestĒ require busy visitors to do extra work. Not a good idea.

Are you still secretive about your rates? Isnít that one of the first things clients want to know? Donít make them fish for it.

Why donít you tell your client where youíre located? If that French director wants you to come to his Paris studio, shouldnít he know that you live near Montreal?

Visitors expect contact information at a prominent place.

By the way: a Gmail or Yahoo email address does not look very professional. Get a business email address, but use a spam-proof contact form on your site. An email address on a website is an open invitation to spammers.

Can clients download your demos or do they need to ask you to send them to you?

Weíre creatures of convenience. If you were a producer and you needed a demo NOW, what would you do? Would you go to talent A and take a few seconds to download it from her website, or write an email to talent B and ask for it?

MISTAKE #8:
Flash landing pages and automatic audio.

Flash animation slows down the loading time of your site and if forces people to watch something they might hate. What a way to greet your customers!

The same can be said about background music or an automated welcome message. I have a message on my landing page, but visitors have to click on it to hear it. People want to choose.

Another no-no is a Doorway Page. You know, the one with a button that says: ENTER. It might as well say LEAVE.

MISTAKE #9:
No call to action.

Do you leave your visitors all dressed up and nowhere to go? Thatís a big blunder.

You put all that effort into crafting a core message in a neat online package. For what purpose? What do you want your visitors to do ...
  • Download your demo?
  • Buy your audiobook?
  • Get in touch with you?
You tell me. Then you tell your visitors. I mean it!

MISTAKE #10:
You canít update the website yourself.

Thereís a testimonial youíd like to add. You have a great new demo that needs to go on your site. Your latest audiobook is on the shelves.

Do you want to wait a few weeks until your webmaster gets his act together? I have three words for you: DIY!

With a platform like WordPress, thereís no need to learn complicated codes anymore. Thereís a wealth of templates that can be easily customized to create a unique, clean look:
  • Updates install at the click of a button.
  • New plugins are developed every day.
A framework like Genesis is already search engine-optimized. It doesnít get any easier.

Iím not saying you must design your own website, but you should at least learn how to update your virtual store.

Thereís no reason why your online presence should have a sign saying: SITE UNSEEN!

So, what have you done to kick your website up a notch? What has proven to be most effective? What are your clients looking for?

ABOUT PAUL ...
 
Paul Strikwerda is a 25-year veteran of the voice over industry whose Nethervoice service features German and Dutch voice overs, translation and evaluation services. Born in Holland, he has worked for Dutch national and international radio, the BBC and American Public Radio. Although 90% of his work is in English, Strikwerda also records in Dutch, German and French. Clients include Novartis, Johnson & Johnson, and the Discovery Channel. He also publishes an informative and entertaining blog, Double Dutch.
 
Web: www.nethervoice.com
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Comments (4)
Jack
4/17/2012 at 7:39 AM
Pretty common sensical but couldn't find anything wrong with it.
Linda Naylor
4/17/2012 at 12:41 AM
Thank you
Ronn Garcia
4/16/2012 at 2:09 PM
Paul

Really great article and it gives me a lot to think about. I'm pretty new in the VO industry and I put my own website together using Go Daddy web design products. For me it was a real learning experience but because I wanted to have full control of my site in adding updates anytime on my own, I thought it was important for me to learn the whole web design process as challenging as it was. Is my website functional....yes, could it be better.......yes, though I do feel as I gain more experience in the industry, my site will get better as well. I read many of your articles and you always get me thinking so thanks again for sharing your knowledge.

Take care,

Ronn Garcia
Judy Fossum
4/16/2012 at 8:58 AM
Thank you, Paul,

I am just in the midst of getting things together and brainstorming for my website. This is great stuff and sound advice. Thank you.

Judy
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