Connie Terwilliger – ISDN Voice Talent

September 30, 2009

Evolve or Die…

Filed under: Business, Marketing, Teaching, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 2:18 pm

Yes – it’s true – we must evolve or we will go out of business. I’ve used that phrase before (Evolve or Die) when discussing the changes that the performer’s unions need to make in order to survive, but it is also the premise of today’s Voice Over Today electronic newsletter published by Edge Studio. 

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They highlighted four areas that will cause you to lose clients. This is a message every voice talent (beginner or pro) should think about. Most of the folks I know do think about these Four Points, but it never hurts to have a reminder. So see below for the article – written by Edge Studio. 



Story: A while ago, one of our clients hired a student we had just trained to narrate a large series of videos.  They loved his voice. Recently we hired him back to narrate another large project. This time, he no longer sounded good.  He lost a good client. I asked if he’d been practicing.  He said no. 

There are 3 reasons why CONTINUED TRAINING IS SO IMPORTANT:  You can fall into bad habits (no one tells you why you lose auditions!) Other voice talent will get better than you (watch out!)   Clients always need new styles (new styles for podcasts, self-guided tours,…) solution: At minimum, work with a coach every other month to ensure you maintain. Preferably, work with a coach every month to become better and offer more clients more styles! Remember: your vocal delivery is your livelihood! 


Story: A voice talent sent me an audition recording.  Their voice was PERFECT.  But their home studio quality wasn’t.  The client did not like them.  (Note that some clients CANNOT DIFFERENTIATE between poor home studio recording and poor vocal performance.) After telling the talent this, she replied, “But this used to be fine.”  Yes, 5 years ago, her quality was considered good for a home studio.  Today, however, clients are used to better quality.

Here are a few other examples of not keeping up with technology: Talent ask if they can fed-ex a CD to me.  “Huh?”  Why can’t they FTP it to me?  Or oftentimes we hear slight noises in recordings. Why?  I guarantee the talent will lose some work.  Fall behind in technology, and your clients may leave you behind. Here are technology items to stay current with:   equipment (editing on old software is slower, so you charge more, and bid too high)  editing software / file type knowledge (unfamiliar with the new file extensions for flash?  this scares clients)   delivery methods (still have “fed-ex” on your rate card?  you look outdated)

Solution: Hire someone to visit your studio once every 6 months for a tune-up.  Have them update your software, show you new editing features, check sound quality, and set you up for new file types.


Story: At a recent voice over event, I was re-acquainted with a lot of old-timers who told me, “I’m not getting the amount of work I used to get!”  Funny, I thought   they hadn’t marketed to me in years and subsequently I had forgotten about them and how talented they are.  Trust me: there is a reason why major retailers (Honda, Sears, McDonalds,…) continue to promote themselves.  If they don’t, competitors will eventually take over.  IT’S THE SAME THING IN VOICE OVER. Many old-times got all their work from a few clients and/or agents. But things change.  Sometimes suddenly.  Are you prepared?  Or do you rely on a few select clients (who could suddenly go out of business), and meanwhile you’re not prepared to market?

Here are marketing to stay current with:   marketing frequency (do you think single marketing efforts are still enough?)   marketing types (do you think business cards are still all you need?) marketing messages (still trying to be a jack of all trades?) marketing quality (perforated edged, matrix printed business cards don’t work today) 

Solution: hire someone who knows voice over marketing to review your business plan (do you even have one?  if you want to grow, you should have one).  take a workshop at edge or even at a local college.

**Professionalism: ARE YOU BUSINESS-LIKE?

Story: One of our clients got VERY upset with a voice talent who we hired recently.  So upset, they chose to replace him with another talent!  Obviously we won’t hire that talent anymore. But the weird thing is that the voice talent didn’t even realize what they did wrong!

Face it: our little industry has grown up.  It’s now a big, professional industry   complete with its set of do’s and don’t’s. And sure, as with anything, as time goes by, there are more and more changes.  So for those of you who are beginning your voice over career, you MUST LOOK PROFESSIONAL from the start.  And for those of you already immersed in the industry, you MUST CONTINUE looking professional.  If you don’t, you chance losing clients.  

You MUST always stay on top of:   appearing professional (the jargon, the sequence of events,…)   dealing with corporate types: knowing when to ask which questions   the general in’s and out’s of the industry   the ever-changing politics of the industry (unions, agents,….)

Solution: Study the industry.  Speak with folks who are in it. Read books.  DO WHAT YOU CAN to come across business-like. This makes a BIG difference in the amount of work you get. (Or consider Edge Studio’s “Talk & Pro 101 Seminar)


That’s it in a nutshell – and tracks closely something else I drone on about – it takes much more than Talent to make it in this business these days!

You need a combination of Talent, Technological Skills, Marketing Skills and Business Skills.

September 25, 2009

Amateurs vs Professionals

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , — connieterwilliger @ 11:15 am

The Internet voiceover community is ablaze with controversy these days. Perhaps it is the business climate fanning the flames, but there has been a lot of talk about professionals versus amateurs. Who should be allowed to play in the sand box? Should there be separate sand boxes?

Check out Paul Strikwerda’s Double Dutch blog this week. He reposted it on LinkedIn as well, so be sure to follow the threads in both places. Very interesting. I love the way Paul writes in general, but this post included references to classical symphonies -a subject near to my heart because my brother is a world-class Horn Player with (according to Paul’s sources) the world’s 6th best orchestra.

September 11, 2009

What!? Friday!? Again!? Already!?

Filed under: Auditioning, Business — Tags: , , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 5:45 pm

OK, so it was a short week, but it came in with a bang and kept on going.

Some nice gigs with regular clients – even a couple through my local agent. Lots of auditions – through Voice123 (quite a flurry there), and various agents and other places I’m listed across the country. A direct contact through Voice123. An ISDN session scheduled for Monday with no audition – sweet!

And there was the fleeting potential of a gig with a new client who found me on the net. He was looking for a backstage live announcer for a large corporate meeting coming up in January of 2010. Love those jobs. Nothing like live to keep your brain active and your energy up. Three days – in town. Cool.

But, wait – the end of January? Hmm, I have been booked the past three years at the end of January on ANOTHER backstage live announce job. Was this the same company? Nope. So, I talked to my agent who has been handling the negotiations with the other company over the years and she went to work to find out 1) if their regular meeting was scheduled for the same three days and 2) if they were planning to hire me to be there.

There is good news and – well, I guess – good news! The regular client did in fact want to book me for their conference and my agent will (I am sure) be able to find someone to take my place for the new client.

September 7, 2009

An actual holiday!

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , — connieterwilliger @ 7:11 pm

No voiceover work this weekend! I have projects I can do – but no looming deadlines, so I was able to actually not record this weekend. No juicy auditions on any of the P2P sites, so seriously, I didn’t have to chill down the studio at all for 3 whole days.

Did I use the time wisely? Well, I guess that depends on your point of view. I took down the screens from the front windows. Hosed them down. Vacuumed and then scrubbed the window sills. Went to the gym a couple of times. Longs brisk walks. Laundry. And a daily trip over to a friend’s house to feed and play with her cat.

Picked about 50 pounds of figs and prepared them a couple of ways for a pool party. First I sliced the nice ripe ones in about 1/4 inch slices and drizzled them with Balsamic. Ah, yummy. Then I reserved a bag of slightly less ripe figs to cut in half and sprinkle with soy sauce for the grill. And finally, I just brought a large bag of fresh figs to hand out as party favors. While some people simply can’t abide fresh figs, the folks at this party loved them and they disappeared from the platters.

Hit Home Depot and bought a new BBQ – still plenty of time to cook outside and dine al fresco here in San Diego. I finished a book! Raced over to my mom’s after she called to tell me that the sprinklers had been on for more than an hour. My fault. I had set them for 10 hours instead of 10 minutes. 

So, I had a good weekend. But I get back to work tomorrow. Things get back to “normal” in the morning with my usual coffee group from 7 to 8 AM. Yeah, I know, that doesn’t sound like work, but I am, after all, a full-time professional voice talent. I have time for morning coffee, but I may work late in the evening to meet a client’s deadline.

September 4, 2009

To Do More Coaching?

As many of you know, in addition to being a full-time voiceover talent, I teach a Voice Acting Class at San Diego City College – one class in the Fall and one in the Spring – usually in the day from 9:30 to noon. Given my regular voice work, it has been getting harder and harder to carve out the time to actually get to the class.

This semester the class is in the evening and I am noticing a couple of things.

  • The students seem more attentive
  • Homework is complete and has been turned in on time
  • And I am able to make it to class without flying out the door at the last second (OK, I did that once this week.)

It is still early, but I am looking forward to the rest of the semester – and then seriously comparing it to the Spring class which will be in the daytime again.

But the main point of my post, is to wonder out loud about the increase in people asking me to do private coaching. I am not hanging out a VO Coach sign, and in fact, after my recent website redesign, I don’t think I even have the paragraph that talks about coaching (I’ll have to look for it). But somehow, the calls keep coming in.

Perhaps what started this increase in calls was VOICE 2007, where I was a featured speaker – 3 hours on Self-Evaluation. Then I did a couple of podcasts for Voiceover Experts. About year later I marketed my VOICE 2007 talk for a few weeks before coming to the conclusion that I really didn’t want to market myself as a coach. I wanted to do voiceover work (and have some time to play!).

When the call for presenters came out for VOICE 2010, I got the idea that I could do a shorter version of my VOICE 2007 presentation and let Jim and Penny know. They thought that was a great idea and the contract came in with all of the valuable considerations that a presenter would receive. After reading through the material, it sunk in that I really didn’t want to market myself as a coach, that I didn’t have a book to sell, or a seminar to fill.

But giving the presentation is such wonderful fun! We voiceover people these days spend so much time in a vacuum that the feedback from a live presentation is an energy boost. Talk about a catch 22. I want to do it, but I don’t want the phone to start ringing with people asking for private coaching. So, for the time being, it looks like I am a back up presenter if someone falls through.

Bottom-line for me. I enjoy teaching my class at City College – I learn so much each semester and get better at my real job – that of a voiceover talent.

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