Stay in the radio business long enough, and sooner or later you'll find yourself out of work. It's a rite of passage.
But that doesn't change the fact that in the moments immediately following your dismissal, you're prone to panic. I've been there more than
once twice: carrying a box full of office supplies and old backstage passes out to the car. You may not feel this way now, but one day you will wear this battle scar as a badge of honor.
You'll go home and work the phones immediately in the hopes of shaping the story before it gets out. I'm always reminded of this scene from Jerry Maguire:
Once the shock wears off and you've called all the people you need to call, it's time to come up with a gameplan. There's a good chance your future employer will look you up online, so it's time to take control of your digital presence. Here's what you need to do:
1. Set up a website.
You need a central place on the web where you can direct both fans and potential employers. Purchase a domain for your on-air name, preferably one that ends in “dot com.” If there are common misspellings of your name, purchase domains for those, too. Even if you are using a hosted service like Blogger or WordPress.com, purchase a domain name and redirect it to your site. You can do this at any domain registry site, like GoDaddy or 1and1.com.
There are plenty of inexpensive website building programs out there. My recommendation is that you set up a self-hosted WordPress site. This isn't hard to do, but if you're not technically inclined, you can easily hire somebody to create one for you. One of WordPress' big advantages is that once it's set up, you can update it yourself with a backend that's as intuitive as Microsoft Word. Plus, the platform is so popular that you can always find a WordPress developer for hire.
Your website doesn't need to be fancy. A headshot, a brief bio, an aircheck and links to your social media profiles is enough. If you've got a blog, you get bonus points, but make sure you update it regularly and that you've posted recently. An out-of-date blog looks bad.
2. Get a professional headshot.
Go to a photography studio and get some professional photos taken. You're going to need them: for your website, for your social media profiles, for your YouTube aircheck.
Don't cheap out on this. No, you can't have your friend take a photo of you standing in front of a white wall. Shell out the $100 and get it done at one of those mall stores.
3. Update your LinkedIn profile.
Many potential employers will take a look at your LinkedIn profile, so spend some quality time updating it. Make sure it's complete, listing all of your past employers, along with a full list of your skills. You can upload files to your LinkedIn profile, so post your aircheck here to make it easy for people to listen to. Make sure you have a good number of connections, but don't connect to people that you don't really have a professional relationship with. LinkedIn shows you how complete your profile is — the more, the better.
4. Post your aircheck to Soundcloud and YouTube.
No doubt, you've edited together a 3-minute aircheck demo before, but it may have been a while. If you don't have access to an audio workstation anymore, you can download free or inexpensive software like Audacity or Garageband to get the job done.
Forget about burning your aircheck to CD; nobody has time for that anymore. Instead, create a Soundcloud account and upload your aircheck. Soundcloud is ideal for short pieces of audio because it is free, its audio player can easily be embedded on a website, and it integrates very nicely with social networks like Facebook. When somebody asks you for your aircheck, email them a link to your Soundcloud demo, don't attach an Mp3 file; clicking is easier than downloading, especially if your email is received on a mobile device.
You may want to upload your aircheck to YouTube as well. Like Soundcloud files, YouTube videos are easy to embed on websites and share over social networks. The easiest way to make a YouTube video is to use a slideshow program like Powerpoint or Keynote. Create a single slide with your photo and name on it. Import your aircheck as audio. Then export the entire thing as a movie file and upload it to YouTube. Make sure you include a link to your website in the description of your video on YouTube.
5. Take control of your social media presence.
Hopefully you have been actively using social media throughout your career, but if not, now is the time to start. At the very least, you should have a Facebook page (not just a personal profile), a LinkedIn profile, and a Twitter account. Use a program like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to manage all of your social media profiles from one place. If you haven't been posting regularly, start. Aim for at least once per day.
Now is a good time to start participating in various online communities. Join discussions in some LinkedIn, Facebook, or Google+ groups. There are several that focus on the radio industry, including this Facebook group.
Bonus: Launch a podcast.
Want to keep your skills honed? Start podcasting. It's not likely to replace your income, but it can be a good way to stay involved. Plus, it's a great skill to put on a resumé. Start with our podcasting guide or join the Podcast Movement Facebook group. Better yet, book a trip to the Podcast Movement conference this summer. It's easy to teach yourself and the equipment is relatively inexpensive.
A version of this column first appeared on SethResler.com.
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