What We Must Talk About In 2021

A few years ago, I decided to join yet another social media platform.

Instagram.

It filled me with reservation and trepidation. Here’s what was going through my mind:

1. Do I really want to spend more of my valuable time posting and responding to wisecrack quotes and grumpy cat pictures?

2. Would what I have to say be interesting enough to make a positive difference? I already have a Facebook presence and a blog. Enough already!

3. Social media has become a set of self-indulgent platforms for fakers, where blatant lies appear to be just as important as undeniable truths. Experts get as much exposure as idiots, and no one has time to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Fast forward a few years, and look at me now. Almost a thousand Insta-posts, over three thousand followers (@nethervoice), and the numbers are growing by the day.

I don’t know why, but companies I’ve never even heard of are now reaching out to me, to see if I’m interested in becoming their “influencer” or “brand ambassador.”

They will pay me if I mention them, link to them, or hold up a product in a picture.

I could be making money in my PJ’s!

Yeah, forget that. I don’t want to be in anyone’s pocket.

MY THREE CRITICAL KEYS

When it comes to my social media presence, three things are vitally important to me:

Credibility, sincerity, and integrity.

My entire reputation is based on those three pillars.

Credibility comes from the latin word “credo,” which means “I believe.” One of the reasons people seem to appreciate what I have to say, is because they trust me.

Trust is not something that can be bought. It is hard earned over a long period of time.

Even though I am known for being opinionated, my opinions are never based on rumors or on things that can’t be fact-checked. I always do my homework. Now, based on the same facts, different people may come to different conclusions, but that’s what makes life so darn interesting.

OUTSPOKEN AND EARNEST

In my eyes, a sincere person is an honest person who walks his or her talk. I’m not one of those people telling others to wear a mask, while taking mine off when I think no one is watching.

When I tell my readers to value their worth and bill the client accordingly, it would be hypocritical for me to charge a low fee to win a bid on a Pay to Play.

When I review a new product on my blog, and the maker decides to give it to me for free, I will still give my honest assessment. I’ll say it again:

My voice is for hire, but my opinion is not for sale.

You know me: I speak my mind, even if it is unpopular, and even if it could hurt my career. Isn’t that one of the reasons why you’re still reading my ramblings?

Being sincere also means opening up to you as a person, and not only as a professional. That’s why this blog isn’t only about voice overs. It’s about people and the imperfections that make them beautiful and vulnerable.

Between you and me, I merely use the prism of voice overs to talk about things that are much more important than being locked up in a vocal booth to make a few bucks.

MORALS AND ETHICS

Integrity is often explained as “uncompromising adherence to strong moral and ethical principles and values.” Both credibility and sincerity are part of being a person of integrity.

Yes, in some areas I am relentlessly uncompromising. However, many of my critics mistakenly believe that I’m writing this blog to convince my fans and followers of my truth. Nothing could be further from… the truth.

The truth is: it’s not my intention to change anyone’s mind. I do not possess that superpower. I do want to give my followers reasons to change their own minds, or to strengthen beliefs they already have.

By the way, I don’t like the word followers in the context of social media. People aren’t sheep, although they sometimes display sheepish behavior.

Of course I hope you’ll subscribe to my blog and follow me on Facebook and Instagram, but I don’t expect you to agree with everything I do or say. That would be scary and rather redundant.

Back to integrity.

FRESH PERSPECTIVE

Ethical principles and values are deeply personal. They go back to our unique upbringing and life experience. Our morals and convictions are often shaped by significant emotional events. Those events can be empowering and positive, or terribly traumatic.

What I’m hoping to do on social media and in this blog, is to offer people a fresh and different perspective based on my European upbringing and life experience. Here’s a quick example.

As someone who spent part of his life as a broadcast journalist trying to separate propaganda from facts, I realized early on that the truth is constantly under attack. We all know what happens if you keep on repeating a lie over and over again.

You end up with people who believe there’s no pandemic, vaccines are dangerous, the election was rigged, and Trump has a heart.

I publicly use this blog to expose some of the untruths in our line of work, one of them being that anyone can become a voice over.

Now, I know that because you’re reading this blog you don’t believe that, but as we speak, impressionable newbies affected by COVID are being targeted by certain unethical companies, trying to sell them a dead end dream. We need to warn these hopefuls. 

LOOKING AHEAD

I wholeheartedly hope that in 2021 we can not only discuss which microphone works best for VO, what to do with mouth noise, how to land an agent, or which computer is better in the studio, Mac or PC.

I hope we will find time to talk about how we can bring credibility, sincerity, and integrity to our profession.

If you’re up for that, you know where to find me!

One last thing before I go.

You may have noticed that this website is losing some of its functionality. The WordPress theme I’ve been using is no longer supported, comments are sometimes disabled, and your messages don’t always reach me.

The good news is that the brilliant folks at voiceactorwebsites are busy building a new blog-centered site as we speak, to be launched next year.

Thank you for all your support and kind comments in 2020. You’ve made a dark year a lot lighter!

Merry Christmas, and a healthy 2021!

Paul Strikwerda ©nethervoice

About the author

Paul Strikwerda

is a Dutch-English voice-over pro, coach, and writer. His blog is one of the most widely read and influential blogs in the industry. Paul is also the author of "Making Money In Your PJs, Freelancing for voice-overs and other solopreneurs."

by Paul Strikwerda in Articles, Career, Journalism & Media, Personal

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