How Social Media Got Me Off Of Death Row

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression”

This quote rings true whether your initial contact with someone is in person, on the telephone, or, as I found out…online.

In 2008, after years of dabbling in and desiring to pursue my passion for voiceover, I decided I would give it the time and attention necessary to really make a go of it as a business. I researched, studied, attended workshops, bought equipment, set up my studio, recorded my demo, and built a website.

About this same time, the explosion of Social Media was starting to reach those, like me, who had heard of it, but didn’t really understand it. I was so engrossed with continuing to make sure the ‘voice’ part of my voiceover business was as good as it could possibly be, I neglected to spend the time learning just what my involvement with social media could do in helping my voice business. That was until I received a sarcastic email from a friend, asking me what I was going to order for my last meal, since I was now on death row.

Obviously I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about, so when I inquired, he told me to “Google myself”. Being the kind of friend he was, I thought he was again being sarcastic, so I told him to go !@#$% himself too. What he really wanted me to do was type my name into a Google search and see the results. So I did, and to my astonishment, here were the first two results on the page:

Holy Green Mile!! I was floored. This wasn’t exactly the fantastic first impression I was hoping for when it came to potential clients searching for me on the world’s most used search engine. To make it even worse, I had to scroll to page 3 to even find the link to my website. I knew I had to do something so I wouldn’t be sitting in every potential client’s subconscious as ‘that guy on death row’.

I performed another Google search to try and find ways to move my link, first to page 1, then past Inmate 223626. The term ‘Search Engine Optimization’ and ‘SEO’ kept coming up. After reading a few articles about SEO, my head was spinning with so much technical lingo and information that went right over my head.

However, the one thing I did take away from those articles was that the more your name is used, mentioned, referenced, clicked on, sited, and seen, the more chance you have of  moving from page 3 to page 1. Enter Social Media!

Since then, I have read a number of articles (I suggest the series by Anne Ganguzza, How To Increase Your SEO As A VO Talent) and continue to try to learn more and more about SEO, but what I have learned from my own trial and error is…the more you’re ‘out there’ on the ‘world wide web’ the more spiders you have crawling all over you. And if you want to rank high on Google, that’s what you want.

Since that initial search in 2009, I have continued to increase my Social Media presence. I started this blog that I consistently use to provide VO info. You’ll find me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Soundcloud, Audioboo, Google+, etc. I not only post my own content and relevant information, I reply, respond, comment, and share other great information that other voice artists and friends post. I try to have an active presence, without being obnoxious or going overboard.

Has it helped? Here’s what I see now, on page 1, when I ‘Google myself’:

The page continues with links to my other social media profiles. Thus, I believe my social media presence has moved me to the top of the page, and off of death row.

Now, I realize there are many who consider Social Media a huge time suck and pain in the a*s. And there is no question that it can be. But, with the proper knowledge and usage, it can be a very valuable tool in attracting business and providing you with a reputation as a leader in your chosen profession. Which can also help generate.…more business?

There are right ways and wrong ways to use Social Media. You must choose your own path in creating and cultivating a Social Media Footprint. For a very informative and helpful article on this topic, read, 10 Ways To Enhance Your Online VO Footprint, by Dave Courvoisier.

I would love to hear about your success with Social Media and how it has affected your business. If you have no desire to use social media, don’t understand it, and don’t consider it important, I’d still like to hear your perspective as well. However, if this is how you feel, odds are you haven’t read this far anyway. But I still wish you the best of luck getting your career off of death row.

Social Media Comments


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  • Herb Merriweather

    …talk about mistaken identity!! I think I can work with ‘VO’ Derek easier than ‘Death Row’ Derek. Great post about the importance (and power) of social media

  • Jodi Krangle

    First off, great article, Derek – as per usual. :) That’s pretty amusing about the death row inmate – but it’s good that you’re now more popular than he is! Social media is much more of a help for your search engine standings these days than it ever used to be – and Google+ will start to factor into that more for the Google search engine as the days pass. The integration of social media and search engines is already WELL underway. When I was in Internet Marketing as my full time gig, it was long before Google+ and almost before social media became really popular. But as with anything on the Internet, if you make yourself an expert in a particular subject, the search engine standings are likely to follow. If there’s one thing that *hasn’t* changed since those early days (and I started with the SEO back in 1995!) is – Content is King. :)

    Lastly, and thanks for the mention, Rick :) – if you’re interested, my SEO articles are here:
    and they do mention social media (though mostly in passing as one of the techniques you can use). The real experts in this area are Dave Courvoisier, Terry Daniel and Trish Basanyi. Those three certainly rock the social media! :)

  • Derek Chappell

    Thanks for the heads up Mark. Now I’ll have to figure out how to increase my status in other countries. I don’t like the new ‘filters’ telling me what it is they think I’m looking for. I want what I want when I search for it. Thanks for being my first ever comment from Japan.

  • Derek Chappell

    I’m just the Luke Skywalker to your Yoda :)

  • Derek Chappell

    I agree Ralph. Sometimes the SEO and Googles all make you feel like a number and a statistic. I do appreciate our connection through our social media outlets and can’t wait to shoot hoops.

  • Derek Chappell

    Death row or gay Australian porn star. Hmmm, equally difficult first impressions.

  • http://www.letsnarrate/ Mark

    Except your results have been adjusted by the “filter bubble”. :-(
    You are the second, third and fourth results in my Google search from Japan. The inmate follows at 5, 6 and 7.

  • Courvo

    Social Media!…a total waste of time!!! I send my cassette tapes by mail, and hope for the best from prospective clients!

    (kidding of course). Derek…I had forgotten about that blog I wrote with the ten tips from April of last year…it’s actually pretty good!…I should dust it off, update it, and send it out again!

    I appreciate your mention, Derek!…you’ve got the record for the fastest learning curve in VO-land!

    Dave Courvoisier

  • Rick Lance

    Good God… I don’t think I ever want to be that famous… or infamous… or a dead man walking!
    Talk about your motivation, Derek! Everyone should Google their own name or business name once in a while. And I’m told to do it from different computers/location as well. You mentioned Anne Ganguzza… I’ve read some of her articles on SEO. Also Jodi Krangle really has a handle on social media as well and has written some articles.

    My SEO standing has improved a lot over the past 2 years as well. My biggest competition is the Rick Lance in Alabama, the executive director of the Alabama State Board of Missions. Not easily confused with me. There’s an Elvis impersonator out there and another Rick Lance that’s into hot rodding your engine! Other than that, I dominate most of the Google pages. Well, except for the gay porn star in Australia that pops up once in a while.

    Yes, good SEO is a must these days if you’re going to be in the VO industry. I’ve been found simply by following the Google trail.

    Good luck and good Googling!