Connie Terwilliger – ISDN Voice Talent

November 22, 2013

Give it away, give it away now

Filed under: Business, Negotiating — Tags: , — connieterwilliger @ 10:05 am

The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Give It Away” has a couple of lyrics that make me think about the way I live my life and do business. I’m pretty lucky to be doing what I am doing and make a living at it. Still looking to spend more time on the dancin’ part of it, and better do that soon before my agility runs out.

“Lucky me swimmin’ in my ability. Dancin’ down on life with agility.”

At least I am interpreting these lyrics in this way. Not being the type of person who plans, but someone who has a bit of common sense and intuition, I ended up being able to carve out a living doing something that I enjoy. In fact, enjoy to the point where I don’t really consider it work. This gets to be an issue when I don’t take the time to dance.

Later on in the song, we come to this line…

“I can’t tell if I’m a Kingpin or a pauper.”

And there are days when I think I am flush – and other days when I wonder about when the next job is going to come in. But Kingpin or pauper, someone some time is going to ask us to do something for free, or for much less than our normal rate.

And every time this happens I don’t know what to say. When do we give something away? USA Today had an article recently by Rhonda Abrams, that has some thoughtful strategies on how to limit these business freebies and how to determine which to tackle.

Strategies: How to limit your business freebies

Giving things away isn’t really a bad thing and in fact, should be part of our overall business strategy. Although when I say the words “business strategy,” I start to wonder about my motivations. I have struggled with the idea that I need to be more altruistic in my giving, and not worry about how it might benefit my business.

But we DO get asked to work for free or for less than our rate, so we need to be able to respond to these requests in a thoughtful way. Especially when the request is coming from a “friend.”

In this article, she discusses some common questions and some possible responses. Questions such as:

“I can’t pay you, but you’ll get great exposure.”

“I don’t have budget for this project.”

“We’re a start-up and don’t have any money.”

“I’ll trade you.”

“We’re friends.”

“There are lots of other people who will do it for free.”

Check it out! This is one article I will be bookmarking.

And please excuse me now, I am going into the booth to do a little freebie – recording the pre-show announcement for a local community theater.

September 19, 2013

I’ll Gladly Pay You Someday for a Voiceover Job Today

Filed under: Business, Musings, Negotiating — Tags: , , , — connieterwilliger @ 3:10 pm

Why is it that creative businesses (mostly independent freelancers) find themselves on the short end of the stick when it comes to getting paid in a timely manner? My voiceover friend Paul Strikwerda discussed this phenomenon today in his Nethervoice blog – http://www.nethervoice.com/2013/09/18/when-a-client-owes-you/

Why is it that the sub-contractors have to wait for their money until the prime contractor gets paid. This is not the way it is supposed to work. Paul postulates as to why we find ourselves in this position of being the tail on the dog when it comes to getting paid.

When I was an active video producer, I mostly worked in-house or for a large production company and didn’t have problems with getting paid for what I did, or paying the people that worked for me. There was a much larger machine chugging along with enough accounts receivable to cover the costs of the jobs. I just didn’t ever think about it. I worked. I got paid.

But when I became a freelance producer of corporate video, I quickly learned that I needed to have a lot of reserves in my bank account in order to make sure I had enough money to pay my sub-contractors in a timely manner.

It never, never, never occurred to me to delay payment to a sub-contractor until I got paid. I knew that I had to have enough reserves to be able to pay the people I hired even if I didn’t get timely payment from the person that hired me. I quickly learned that I didn’t like being the bank, and stopped freelance producing.

But as I developed my own personal freelance voiceover business, I soon found myself in the position of being the person waiting to get paid, because the person that hired me had not been paid yet.

This is really no way to run a business. Some of my agents even operate this way. Was it always this way? Is it just with the creative, freelance businesses? Is it because what we do isn’t life and death. You can get treated in an emergency room without paying for the service immediately. But if payment isn’t made in a timely manner, the screws will start to turn.

As a small one-person shot, our leverage is pretty weak. Read Paul’s blog to get his take on why freelancers are “Easy Targets.

Learning to trust your gut and how to use the word “no” are important skills for the independent business person. We don’t know when the next job will be coming. We need to be sure that we are not waiting for it in desperation. Desperation frequently leads to bad business decisions.

I suppose I am one of the lucky ones. My business is – at the moment – ahead of the curve. If someone delays payment (for whatever reason), I am not at risk of losing my house. And there HAS been a bit more delay in payment in the past year or so. Some of which is due to poor invoicing on my part. Some is due to hard economic times. Some is due to internal movements in large companies. Some is due to people waiting to get paid before they pay me.

So, what to do about it? That is the question. One thing about a union contract is that this is not going to be an issue. The producer has signed a contract agreeing to pay you no matter what happens to their accounts receivable.

At this point in my own business, I simply need to make sure I discuss the payment terms ahead of time. Ask the hard question – are you waiting to be paid before you pay me? And if the answer is yes – be prepared to say “no.” Be prepared to ask for money up front. Be prepared to ask for money before final files are delivered. Be prepared! Do I do this? Most of the time I do not do this. But most of my clients are repeat clients and referrals from trusted clients and respected friends.

So, anyone up for a hamburger? I’ll gladly pay you on Tuesday after I get paid for that job I did 3 months ago.

(PS – are you seeing ads on this blog? If so, does it bug you? Let me know! connie@voiceover-talent.com)

 

June 12, 2013

With Trepidation I Present “In a World…”

Filed under: Announcements, Business, Musings — Tags: , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 6:11 pm

Just what we need, more exposure for the voice over business! So, I am somewhat hesitant to bring this up, but since most of the people who will chance across this post will already be in the business, or already interested in the business, I suppose it won’t do any harm.

From watching the trailer, this looks like a delightfully funny little film about life in the rarefied air of the Los Angeles voiceover market where there is a chance of someone actually hiring you (man or woman, but mostly man) to do a movie trailer.

Lake Bell wrote, produces and stars in the film, with some other familiar real-life voiceover “stars” in the Los Angeles market including Joe Cipriano and Marc Graue. In fact, now that I think about it, this might make a good pilot for a sitcom that takes place in a renowned recording studio in someplace like  – say Burbank – where the charismatic and desperately creative  studio owner – say whose name rhymes with brow… no, wait, scratch that, just what we need, MORE exposure for our business.

Most people know when they watch “So You Think You Can Dance” and “The Voice,” that only a few people can REALLY make it. But most people who see anything about the voiceover business think they can do it. So, no, I take it all back.

But since I did bring it up, here without any further ado – the official trailer for “In a World…”

December 15, 2012

Advice for Producers is Also Good Advice for Talent

Filed under: Auditioning — Tags: , , , — connieterwilliger @ 9:56 am

Just ran across this blog post by Marc Scott cross-posted on Voice123. It is aimed at the people seeking voice talent, however it is good advice for both the seeker and the seekee! In fact, as a user of the online casting sites myself, I have a similar set of guidelines as I decide which projects to audition for.

One of the biggies for me is a poorly written script. As a long time award-winning scriptwriter and corporate producer before jumping into voiceover full-time, I wrote many many scripts for other talent to read. A well-written script is ALWAYS easier for the talent to deliver. If you are new to the art of writing a script for someone to verbalize, put your words to the test. Record yourself reading the material aloud before you send it off for auditions. If you have a hard time getting the words out, try to figure out why? Are the sentences too long? Is the script simply a transcription of a white paper? There is a big difference between writing for the eye and writing for the ear. So, when I am deciding what projects to audition for, if I find that a script just doesn’t roll off the tongue easily in a logical and interesting way, then I am likely to pass on the audition. Other factors will come into play of course, but a good script will help you get good auditions from better actors.

“Why Am I Not Receiving Quality Auditions for My Project – Part 1″ Part 2 is on his blog as well.

I’m just listing his points here – jump over to his blog to get the details.

  1. Poor Direction

  2. Unclear Budget

  3. Poorly Written Script

  4. Conflicting Information

  5. The Kitchen Sink

  6. Must Read Entire Script

  7. Unrealistic Budget

  8. Unrealistic Timeline

  9. No Pronunciation Guideline

  10. No Script

 

July 25, 2012

Does This Mic Make Me Sound Fat?

Filed under: Recording, Technology — Tags: , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 9:48 am

There is no one size fits all when it comes to microphones. No one price range that will guarantee that a mic will sound wonderful with your voice. It all “depends.” It depends on your own particular physical characteristics. It depends on the room that you are recording in.

But it is always SUCH a huge topic of discussion with passionate opinions on what mics are BEST. It gets as bad as the PC vs. MAC debate.

But it is still interesting to listen to the differences (or lack thereof) between the various mics and their price points – and that is why I am forwarding these links.

Poke around on the net and you can probably find more mic shootouts. I am pretty sure there was another comprehensive blind shootout, but I must not be using the right key words. If you know of others, please post a comment and the link.

http://www.vocalimpactmedia.com/SoundStorage.html

http://transom.org/?p=7517

http://recordinghacks.com/2011/02/26/vo-shootout-u87-l36b-cm87-at4047mp/

July 23, 2012

Cats: Total Disregard for your Studio

Filed under: Musings — Tags: , — connieterwilliger @ 9:17 am

I have a love/hate relationship with my cats.

There are four of them. Not quite the crazy lady with all the cats, but please – someone stop me before I get to that point.

All different personalities…

Lista – the little girl. Skinny and skittish. But sit down and she is right there on your lap with her sharp sharp little claws kneading your tummy.

Louie – chubby tuxedo cat. OK, fat. And when he sits around the house, he sits AROUND the house. (rim shot)

Monroe – orange tabby – AKA Mean-roe – still dealing with his sexuality – finding love in all the wrong places – usually with a random article of clothing.

Ding Tut – the new boy – sort of the color of a Dreamsicle – a stocky, adorable, lover – a head butting, paws around your neck nuzzler.

However, leave them alone and destruction ensues. It always amazes me how they can be so peaceful – sleeping – usually on a pile of papers. And then as they wake up  – the papers and anything next to them end up scattered on the floor.

But because they chortle and purr – and their fur is soft and soothing – I put up with them and their total lack of concern for my stuff. Here is Ding Tut sleeping on a pile of papers – and the end result.

Ding Tut sleeping on pile of papers                  Cat damage

 

July 15, 2012

Memorize? Who Me? I’m a Voiceover Talent…

Filed under: Musings, Techniques — Tags: , , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 12:50 pm

One of the things that separates a voiceover actor from a theater or film actor is memorization. In VO, we don’t have to memorize. While both are “acting,” the techniques are different. And one of the reasons why not all good stage or film actors can make the transition to VO. And vice versa.

I love the fact that I don’t have to memorize. It goes in my eyeballs, rolls around in my brain for a little while, out my mouth and then it is gone. Sometimes I can’t even tell you what I did yesterday!

When I was doing on-camera work as a spokesperson, I used teleprompter or ear-prompter, so I wasn’t memorizing either.

But a dozen or so years ago, I auditioned for a live “radio show” that was going to be done on stage. After the run, I had been bitten by the “acting” bug. It was wonderful to actually feel the the audience. As a voice talent, I do so much of my work alone in my studio with no one listening. You don’t hear people laugh, clap, hoot, or cough – or hearing aides squeal. The closest you come in VO is being in a studio or ISDN session. There at least you get response and interaction.

So, after the run of the “radio play,” I auditioned for a show that consisted of several short plays. I was cast in two of them and suddenly had to memorize!

And so I did. And that play led to another and another and another. Right now I am in the last two weeks of rehearsal before “Vanished” opens here in San Diego.

My techniques for memorizing have advanced over the years as I incorporated some of my voiceover tools to help. I record my scenes reading all the parts. Then I silence all my parts and save the scenes as separate files. I save all of the files on a CD or in my phone and listen and talk back as I go about my daily tasks. As I learn the lines, I test myself by listening only to the tracks without my lines. If I hesitate, then I can go back to the tracks with my lines and remind myself of what the playwright actually wrote.

So, as we go into the last two weeks of rehearsal, I only have a couple of little spots where the right words are not flowing, but I know where they are.

And the ability to memorize can be incorporated into my voiceover business. There are times when just a little bit of memorizing can help you get off the page and bring a little bit more you to the project.

 

May 19, 2012

Down Time: Duties or Dilly Dallying?

Filed under: Business, Musings — Tags: , , , — connieterwilliger @ 6:47 pm

I don’t know about you, but I don’t spend hours and hours in my booth, unless I am recording an audio book. Most of the time I am NOT in my booth. When you do mostly spots or short corporate pieces or eLearning, your time in the booth is probably a lot less than the time you spend catching up on Facebook.

But what should we be doing with the time we are not recording? My thoughts on that have changed over the years. And god help the person who has to unravel the mess I am leaving behind because of this change in attitude.

I used to be a lot more organized than I am now. You would think that with advances in software to make our lives easier, that I would have things a lot more together than I do. I have Outlook and Act and Quicken Home and Business (just abandoned QuickBooks after a few years of confusion).

But I am SO far behind in cleaning out my Outlook folders and adding people to my Contacts and then to Act. And now with Quicken Home and Business, I need to do a slightly different process for invoicing that isn’t quite as intuitive as QuickBooks, but at least I don’t keep getting error messages because I try to fix something. Quicken is like your check register – very forgiving. QuickBooks is for bean counters. I am an Artist, not a Bean Counter.

My priorities have shifted over the years. Since taking responsibility for my mom as she fights the desperately horrible disease called Dementia, my personal time has infringed on my work time. And guess what! Worlds did not collide. I did not lose my house. The bills are paid.

Part of this is due to years of being in the business and being reliable. Years of being at the ready. Years of nose to the grindstone. And perhaps that is the lesson I needed to learn. That at some point, all the legwork you do will carry you over when you want (or need) to do something else instead of work. You can’t abandon your networking and marketing of course, but after establishing yourself, you should be able to take some time to do something fun, or maybe not so fun, when necessary.

I still spend far too much time at my computer. But I LIKE the computer. I like to read and type. I just spent far too long looking at cool animal pictures following a link from Facebook – and do NOT send me a link to Wimp – I will be lost for hours.

So, what do I do when I am not recording? Well, most of the time I am not dilly dallying.

  1. Social Networking has risen to a top priority (or addiction – I’m not completely sure!)
  2. Watering my plants and tending the garden
  3. Playing with the cats
  4. Taking a walk and getting away from the computer
  5. Getting back to the computer to work for a professional association
  6. Checking in on my mom in her Memory Care Community
  7. Volunteering
  8. Doing some art
  9. Invoicing (hmm, that seems to be a bit low on the list doesn’t it? I should move that up.)
  10. Going through my old email folders and trying to get people in the proper database and then actually touch base
  11. Reconnecting with friends

Oh gosh, the part about getting more exercise and getting a kayak – that should be on there too. I’ve never had TIME for toys. Now that I do, I need to train myself to actually get them and use them!

If you are just getting started in this business – I offer you my deepest condolences. With the way the world has changed, you are probably facing a double whammy: fewer clients to start with – who want to pay less and less money for what you do. This is NOT just a voiceover thing. It is pervasive in every industry.

So if you ARE just starting out, find your niche. Know what you do best. Dig for the people who want to buy what you have to sell. Don’t sell out to the lowest bidder.

Oh, excuse me – gotta run. I’m late for an Art Opening!

May 17, 2012

Are You Hopping Mad about Auto Hop?

Filed under: Business, Musings, Technology — Tags: , , , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 4:05 pm

So the latest invention in the quest by people to skip the very thing that keeps their TV programs on the air is an ad eraser embedded in new digital video recorders sold by Dish Network. Just turn on Auto Hop and ads automatically vanish. TiVo on steroids.

Here’s an article in the New York Times that goes into more detail.

So, how do I feel about that – as a voice talent whose income includes payment for doing announcing for TV Commercials? In some ways, a lot like the chief executive of CBS who wonders how he will produce shows like “CSI” without the support of the advertisers running the commercials. Or maybe a bit like News Corporation who has decided not to run Dish’s DVR ads.

Everyone in the chain is trying to figure out how to snag the eyeballs (and dollars) of the consumers. Consumers who seem to be starting to turn away from paying for cable or satellite and are looking to the Internet. My niece watches TV shows on her laptop whenever and wherever she feels like it. When I do watch TV, it is still from my easy chair in the living room without a DVR, so I tend to see mostly reruns of Bones, Law & Order and NCIS.

I would miss commercials, not only because I get paid to record them, but also because for me they are a source of education and sometimes inspiration. Not that I am a TV junkie, but part of the whole TV watching experience is studying the spots. I realize that the vast majority of the TV watching public probably doesn’t really care for commercials (except during the Super Bowl), but maybe they haven’t really thought about how their TV shows are currently being funded.

The operative word in that last sentence? “Currently.” Everything changes. Eventually.

I wish I had a crystal ball. It would be nice to see what the new business model(s) might be. I’d like to be prepared for when the current one goes away, and with it part of my income.

April 7, 2012

Matching Your Delivery

Filed under: Musings, Techniques — Tags: , , — connieterwilliger @ 11:40 am

The other day I had three sessions in a row with repeat clients for whom my delivery is just slightly different. Pacing, placement, energy, warmth, etc. just a bit different for each project.

One client found me 3 or 4 years ago because they had lost track of the voice they had been using and wanted a voice match. Actually, they THOUGHT I was the same person and after I told them that I wasn’t, they asked me if I could match a sample they provided. I did and we have been doing updates every 5 months or so. This voice is in a slightly different place in my head than my usual signature sound.

Another project was 3 word changes and a new paragraph for a project originally completed about a year and a half ago. The read on this was soft and comforting.

And the third project that day was the 4th iteration of an eLearning project where I needed to match the other half-dozen projects for the same company in brisk tone and perkiness.

I keep everything in folders on my hard drive of course, just for times such as these. All it takes is a 2 or 3 second listen to what we did before and I slip right into that particular zone.

Most of us do this, of course. Really – it’s simply part of our jobs. Something we need to do to keep our customers happy. Remarkable only in the fact that it was three repeat clients with three different approaches.

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