Connie Terwilliger – ISDN Voice Talent

January 31, 2010

A dongle gone wrong

Filed under: Musings, Technology — Tags: , , — connieterwilliger @ 7:53 pm

I decided to beat the price hike and install Source Connect today. This meant a trip to Guitar Center out in La Mesa to buy an iLok dongle to start the process. That in itself was a trip. I usually buy all my audio gear and supplies at Pro Sound and Music, just down the hill from where I live. It is a well lived-in store run by an insanely intelligent guy named Mike Krewitsky. Shane helps me find what I need. It is laid back and quiet.

Guitar Center is not. But they knew what I wanted and pointed me toward the Pro Audio part of the store. After the clerk pulled an iLok off the wall, I asked about a replacement cable for my dbx mini-pre and was immediately told that the mini-plug to the mic input was so 2009 and tried to upsell me to an M-box. My system works fine, so I resisted his wiles.

The iLok though didn’t work fine. I now have to wait for someone from iLok to get back to me and figure out why it thinks someone else owns it before I can finish downloading the Source Connect Trial License to the little dongle.

So, instead of fussing about with Source Connect, I was able to meet an old college chum who was in town for the golf tourney for an hour or so.

January 30, 2010

Read the Manual

Filed under: Business, Recording, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 9:08 am

My inclination – when faced with a new piece of software (or pretty much anything) – is to install it and start using it. Read the manual? Not me. There are menus and a help button! (In the case of my cell phone, there is 611.)

Manuals usually have pages and pages of information that I already know and to find the bit of information I don’t know would require formulating a question that the Table of Contents understands.

However, in the case of Word 2 Wav, the manual is simple and short. Had I read the manual, I would have been able to save myself even MORE time this past year. Thank goodness Herve reads the forums.

W2W is a wonderful piece of software that I use at the beginning of my recording process for long form narration and IVR files. Although it is not a finishing program (I use Adobe Audition and Vox Studio for that), it sure saves time in several ways.

Before W2W, I developed a complicated workaround for Vox Studio that included converting a multi-column Excel spreadsheet to a comma delimited txt file, sending it to my Mac, using Text Wrangler to convert it to the format that Vox Studio uses (which separated the first field of information from the rest of the fields), then back to my recording computer, where I added two lines of text to the top and bottom of the file – and then FINALLY record.

After lamenting this time sucking process on a forum, Herve pointed out that W2W does ALL of this in one step (and doesn’t require the addition of the two lines of text).

This is very clearly explained in the manual – and (if I had been a bit more observant), clearly intuitive in the import area of the Setup screen.

Bottom line – there are wonderful tools out there for us to use as we work to meet our client’s needs and improve our ROI.

January 28, 2010

Virtual Talent Agency or P2P (Pay to Play)?

Filed under: Auditioning, Business, Technology — Tags: , , , — connieterwilliger @ 6:43 pm

With automated online casting now moving past walking and starting to run (it is about 5 years old now?), there is still a lot of controversy about the concept.

Without a doubt some sort of online casting will be with us as long as we have the Internet, but how will these sites evolve? That is the question some voice talent are bantering about in a couple of forums as a result of a post that Cairo based voice talent Mahmoud Taji added to his Voiceover Emporium site.

http://www.voiceemporium.com/archives/01/tajis-frankenstein-monster/

Read the discussions, follow the links. Educate yourself. See if you can come up with the ideal online automated casting entity.

January 26, 2010

Eggs

Filed under: Business, Marketing, Musings — Tags: , , , — connieterwilliger @ 2:47 pm

You’ve heard the saying – don’t put all your eggs in one basket. I’ve been thinking about that the past day or so.

I am currently in Orange County at the beautiful Pelican Hill resort doing a live backstage announce gig for a biotech company. This is the 4th year in a row that I have been asked to be the voice of the company for this particular sales meeting. It is a fun job. The people are nice. The food and accomodations are always more than good. And the pay is quite good as well. But each year, I try to not think about the next year. Because next year may not come.

Early in my voiceover career – or perhaps I should call it my free lance career, because I was doing other things besides voiceover at that time (producing and writing and some on-camera spokesperson) – I had a very large regional client for whom I recorded 4 radio and 4 TV spots every month. They went out of business suddenly and – boom, I lost half my income in one fell swoop.

This taught me a big lesson and to this day I not only try to provide excellent service my regular clients, but I am always looking for new relationships to develop. You just never know what will happen. Budgets get cut. Companies go out of business. Decision makers decide to go another direction.

If you know that you are good at what you do, you won’t take this personally. But you must be prepared for these changes.

January 24, 2010

VO Explained in 5 Minutes

Filed under: Teaching — Tags: , , — connieterwilliger @ 10:29 am

This isn’t new, but I ran across the clip on the Working Voice Actor group on LinkedIn this morning.

Blair Hardman explains everthing you need to know about voiceover – and one thing you don’t – in 5 minutes. It’s accurate and funny.

 

January 22, 2010

Lots of mu-law / u-law questions

Filed under: Business, Recording, Technology — Tags: , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 9:55 am

There has been an uptick in posts to various groups recently about a very standard telephony format called mu-law or u-law.

This is one of the most common telephony formats and there are several tools that can be used to convert to this format – PC and Mac.

If you are on a PC, then most of the audio recording software that professionals are using will do the job – I personally use Adobe Audition.

For Mac, Switch from NCH works well and is pretty easy.

If you are new to telephony – here are a couple of caveats:

  1. The sound files use a low sample and bit rate in order to play them back over the phone – they will NOT sound good to your ears when compared to a regular file
  2. Always capture at a regular sample and bit rate of at least 44.1 and 16 bit.
  3. Downsample to 8K
  4. Do NOT change the bit rate to 8 bit or your end result will have a LOT of hiss
  5. Use the conversion program to do the final compression to 8 bit

If you are going to be doing a LOT of telephony work, then invest in Vox Studio. It is not cheap, but it will save you so much time, it will pay for itself very quickly.

January 19, 2010

Gosh I Love Schick’s Schtick

Filed under: Negotiating — Tags: , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 3:57 pm

Todd Schick may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but he really is sharp and I recently ran across his “rate” page on his website. He also recorded the content of the page so you can hear what he sounds like.

Check it out! Interesting, irreverant, controversial. That’s Todd.

http://www.toddschick.com/VoiceoverRatesForVoiceTalentServices.htm#R1

January 16, 2010

Critical Business Practices

Filed under: Business — Tags: , — connieterwilliger @ 12:53 pm

Edge Studio sent out a great email the other day with 10 important business practices. I haev to admit, I KNOW about all 10 of these things, but find that one or more get bumped down the To Do list depending on work and play load. This is the complete email I received.

You might consider getting on their email list – you will be notified of their free tele-seminars and get other good free information such as this.  Was looking for a link where you could sign up for the email, but couldn’t easily find it – so here is the web address: http://www.edgestudio.com/careerbuilding.htm

1. DON’T BECOME COMPLACENT.
 
PROBLEM:  
It’s very easy to become complacent once you have clients coming in. You forget what it took to get there. You’re up to speed, even accelerating, so you stop working your gears.  BUT EVENTUALLY you start losing ground to competitors.
 
There’s an old saying among our ad agency clients: Just because the train is rolling, don’t disconnect the engine.
 
EXAMPLE:
Suppose you narrate an educational video for a particular client every week. But then suddenly they stop calling you. What happened? The client went with one of your competitors, because they offered to deliver the recording to the client using the latest technology.  Unfortunately, you never mentioned to your clients that you provide this technology, so they assumed you couldn’t.
 
SOLUTION:
Test the waters. Feel the air. Know where you are. Learn where your competitors are. And stay in the lead.
 
Consider a big, profitable hamburger chain — even with millions of customers coming in every day, they’re still testing new products, trying to make things better, working to improve pricing, methods, variety, quality, presentation, decor, service, signage, advertising, even make their logo better.
 
As a small business owner, you should do the same.
 
Work the gears continually. Once you get set in your ways, a new generation of voice talent will be grabbing at your clients. 
 
2. DON’T MAKE SNAP DECISIONS.
 
PROBLEM:
As a small business owner, it is too easy to change course in a minute.
 
EXAMPLE:
Suppose you suddenly think of a new slogan, “Words That Speak Out!”  Overnight, you begin a major promotion, you add the slogan to your emails.  You put it on your website.  Great. You turned on a dime. BUT YOU DID all of this without testing.
 
You didn’t think your new slogan through. It turns out, now people are mistaking you for a copywriter, a poet, calligrapher, sign maker, ad agency, or marketing company. Worse, now you have to correct those mistaken impressions.
 
SOLUTION:
The big folks find it worthwhile to spend millions of dollars for testing. Shouldn’t you spend at least a few days of thought and asking around?
 
Big companies assess everything they do. And by the time they run focus groups, market tests, statistical analyses, etc., even a small change can take 6 months to implement.  The stakes are too high for them to risk everything on an untested whim. 
 
But you can do this in a day or two!
 
Where your income and image are concerned, how high are the stakes to you? 
Think it through.
 
3. SEND OUT A SURVEY.  CORRECTLY.
 
PROBLEM:
You never find out why some customers keep hiring you, and why some stop!
 
Over the years, Edge Studio has cast more than 16,000 voice jobs, and of those, the number of people who have asked me how they did, I can count on my hands.
 
EXAMPLE:
Take, for example, the plumber I recently hired. At the end of the job, he asked “How’d I do?” and gave me reason to think he would use that information to improve his performance and grow his business. That guy definitely gained my respect.
 
SOLUTION:
Run a survey, but do it correctly: The right way is to determine what kind of information you want, then design the survey to generate that kind of data.
 
For example, don’t ask “Did you like my service?” Rather than embarrass themselves by telling you truly, people will just ignore the survey or give a useless polite answer — and then won’t hire you again. Instead, ask a specific question such as, “What is the one thing I could do differently that you would appreciate?” 
 
4. ASK FOR TESTIMONIALS.
 
A set of testimonials goes a very, very long way: It builds your prospects’ confidence. Testimonials say things that may be awkward to say about yourself. And when your prospective client is still in the tire-kicking stage, testimonials speak on your behalf without costing anyone extra time.
 
Use testimonials on your website, in your mailings, wherever space affords. And even if you don’t have a website or some other way to use testimonials now, eventually you will. Then you’ll be glad you thought ahead.
 
5. ASK FOR A REFERENCE.
 
As powerful as a testimonial is, a reference is even stronger. Just reserve them for prospects who are otherwise “ready to buy,” so the people giving you references won’t be overburdened. Whenever possible, forewarn your reference as to who will be contacting them and why, including any particular area of concern.
 
6. ASK A CLIENT FOR A REFERRAL.
 
It’s the easiest and fastest way to get the most work with virtually no marketing effort. Do it at the time of invoicing, assuming the job went well. 
 
 7. BE PROFESSIONAL.
 
Be courteous, be prompt, send a thank-you after your session, dress appropriately, do everything that signals you’re a pro.
 
 8. SPEAK ABOUT YOURSELF CORRECTLY.
 
When asked what you do, don’t say, “I’m a voice-over artist,” because most people don’t know what that means, and the few that do will probably think it means commercials. Instead say, “I help businesses sound better, by providing them with wonderful sound tracks for their voice mail and training videos so they sound more professional.” Tailor this “elevator pitch” precisely to your special strengths. 
 
9. CONSIDER YOUR PROSPECT’S VIEW.
 
Always keep in mind what a potential client has to go through prior to hiring you. They have to research you and your competitors. They need reason to trust you. And they need to see value in the services you provide. They’ll probably want to speak with others who have used you.
 
To you, the prospect may seem overly cautious, but they have good reason for doing so. And if they haven’t done enough homework, covering these bases with them may produce a stronger relationship in the end. 
 
10. WRITE A BUSINESS PLAN.
 
Like most small businesses, the vast majority of voice over talent overlook this. They focus only on their voice, and forget to focus also on their business.
 
Make it official. The couple hours it takes to write a simple business plan will make a big difference in obtaining the kind of work you want, the money you want, even the lifestyle you want. For example, do you prefer to work form home, or to work from audition houses? Designing your business helps design your life.
 
Revisit your business plan every 3 months, read it and revise as necessary, even if things are going great.

January 15, 2010

Can’t get away from it – even in Paradise

Filed under: Auditioning — Tags: , , , — connieterwilliger @ 5:44 pm

Just got back from about a week in Hawaii (the Big Island). My first trip – most of it spent driving around the island stopping at every point of interest. Amazing place.

Went over there for a VO Workshop – Medical Mumbo – with Julie Williams. That was one day in Hilo in the middle of the trip. Decided not to drag my laptop studio with me. Just the BlackBerry for email that mostly informed me of all of the auditions I was missing, as well as the ability to post pics to Facebook. It also rang a couple of times with jobs that needed to be pushed back until I got home. Luckily I was able to push them. Most of the time, when you leave home, you lose money.

But because this was a VO workshop, I did have a chance to do one audition that I just didn’t want to let slide. The “studio” was temporary. The closet with someone holding up a reflecting blanket to block out the sound of the tiled bathroom in the background. So, speaking into a mic nestled in the pants and dresses, I did a couple of takes and sent it off to the agent.

January 5, 2010

Create Your Own “Luck”

Filed under: Business, Marketing — Tags: , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 4:18 pm

I just have to pass along the great story told by Janet Ault, in the latest edition of VoiceOverXtra! Janet is a voice-over professional based in Scottsdale, AZ. If you are not perusing the business sections of your local papers, or reading a Business Journal if you have one in your town, or subscribing to online enewsletters that promote new businesses, account executives moving from agency to agency, etc, then you are missing out on potential new business. 

Janet landed a new account by being pro-active – proving that you create your own luck by having the right tools and finding the opportunity to showcase them. What makes this story a bit more unique is that it happened so quickly. In about a week, she went from finding a “lead” to landing a rather lucrative spokesperson job.

Read the whole article here – http://www.voiceoverxtra.com/article.htm?id=5i15kwkt

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