Connie Terwilliger – ISDN Voice Talent

January 27, 2011

When Software Burps

Filed under: Business, Recording, Technology — connieterwilliger @ 10:32 am

Workflow is a time sensitive thing. We have delivery dates for the work we do and part of our job is to anticipate potential time-sucking issues that may impact a timely delivery.

I am getting pretty good at balancing my daily forays into Social Media, but we all have other areas that need attention.

  • Family (my increased time with my mom needs to be figured into the equation)
  • Exercise (oh, brother, this is high on my list of things I don’t get around to – do my weekly tap classes count?)
  • Home and Garden (my yard is a MESS – my counters are getting mightly cluttered – and there is a leak in the big bathroom that needs to be attended to – not to mention I am stripping an old door for a remodel project)
  • Volunteering (my work with MCA-I has increased recently due to some major changes in the association requiring more time as webmaster, singing in the church choir is fun and challenging – and there is a play I’d like to audition for next month)
  • Personal Business (refinancing too a huge toll on my time this fall)
  • Marketing (just started up my quarterly enewsletter again after more than a year in hiatus)
  • Bookkeeping
  • General attention to email (how is it possible that there are still 200 emails in my In Box with all the sorting and filing I did this morning?)
  • Actual Work

These are all things that we can generally anticipate. The things we can’t plan for are the little burps when your software (and/or hardware) doesn’t work the way it should.

Suddenly your delivery schedule looms when you can’t get your software to do what it is supposed to do. Is it the software? Is it your computer? Is it a networking thing? With each question comes more questions – more time spent – more time passing as the deadlines grow closer.

Somehow it manages to work itself out in most cases – especially if you have a backup plan – which is something that probably  needs to be on that first list of things to do!

I have multiple recording options if one fails, and have rarely, if ever actually missed a deadline, but it sure does put a kink in the workflow when something isn’t working the way you expected it to work.

January 19, 2011

How to pay the mortgage doing VO

Filed under: Business, Marketing — Tags: — connieterwilliger @ 3:38 pm

A discussion about what a professional VO talent should/could/would make popped up on the Yahoo Voiceover Message Board in the past 24 hours.

A few $$ figures were tossed out and a quick posting fenzy ensued. Whatever that bottom line is for you, the reality of today’s cost of living means that you need a certain level of income to support a spouse and family. 

So whatever that is to you – and it will differ from person to person and place to place – it will not come from any one source. Your Marketing Plan needs to be one of the first things you develop as you dip your toe into the business. And that plan will include lots of different avenues for landing good jobs that pay well. (Rinse and repeat.)

Jennifer Vaughn posted a response to this thread that summed it up nicely and she has given me permission to repost it here. So, how do you make $2K per week (or more) in the VO business?

You put 10 plus years at least into your business…..make contacts that make a difference… with companies who need vo on a regular basis…..give them something others don’t……be dependable….work hard…..sign as many clients as you can on contracts…..and work union for residuals.  If you spend your time on these marketplaces, you’ll more than likely get what I call “one offs”.  A lot of these clients who may need a vo once a year or just once in their life times. The other school of thought is……..the buyer has so many to choose from on those (online) marketplaces, why build a relationship with you?  This is one of the reasons you have to be extremely selective on who you work with through those particular avenues.  You don’t want those buyers who waste your time, you want serious buyers who know the business already and who have the work.  This is a building process.  If you do it right, upper six figures does happen but not without a “HELL” of a lotta work. 

I was at VO before the internet and before digital, so I had this already built before everyone with a computer and a voice got into it.  But I didn’t rest on “those” laurels….I’m still working hard to sustain the level of success I’ve had and continue to have by being relentless. VO is not something you do for one or even a few years and get “success”, at least by my definition.

Hard truth is…

  • If you don’t have the talent
  • the business and all encompassing “vo industry” skills
  • a great amount of money to spend on marketing and labor to get your voice out there
  • a constructive attitude
  • and a more than fanatic work ethic (where WORK comes first everytime)

…don’t expect the success I’m talking about.  

Real success is never immediate.  It really does take time and many more assets most are not willing to put out there to get a good return.  It also takes quite an amount of risk.  This is one of the hard truths you have to take into consideration which seem not to be talked about.  Big risks often come with big rewards, but if you fail, can you swallow it?  (Do you have a family,  or bills to pay, for example?) Most cannot.

I find people, especially within the past few years and not only in this industry, seem to think they can “make the big bucks or even somewhat of a living”  by either sitting on their laurels if they’ve already made it, or, think this kind of money comes easy by just “doing” one thing or by being at the right place at the right time. 

If you are not willing to put everything into your craft and then some, don’t expect those “high paying gigs”.  Also, “high paying gigs” is not the way to look at it.  Any business strategist will tell you there is safety in numbers…..that’s number of deals, clients, income, avenues of marketing…….not just the one or 4 high paying gigs you may get a month.  I learned quite a while ago, if you load up on only high paying gigs “which are few” and the clients who pay well which are few……..when you lose those clients it throws your whole business out of whack. 

Thanks for those words of wisdom Jennifer.

Now, back to work! I sent out a couple of targeted emails this morning to qualified leads and former clients and have to go into the booth to record a new job for a new client who does the big dollar projects. Well on my way to paying the mortgage for the next couple of months.

January 16, 2011

Thinking about taxes and paperwork

Filed under: Business — connieterwilliger @ 7:59 am

I know – I know. Why would I do that on a Sunday morning? There are lots of other things to do. But it’s money saving week on the Food Network which started me thinking about money inflow and outflow. And overnight I received a couple of email requests for W9’s so that people can send 1099’s for the voiceover services I provided last year.

A few years ago when I was producing and hiring sub-contractors, I had a few 1099’s to fill out, but since moving to voiceoverwork full-time, I have not had to do this paperwork. Well, according to a provision in the “Affordable Health Care Bill” that was passed last year, beginning in 2012, as a small business person, we will need to issue 1099s for all services and goods purchased from all vendors in excess of $600.

Do yourself a favor – use your credit or debit card to pay for goods – not cash or check. Apparently then, the credit card company will take care of it.

Perhaps the new legislature will start slicing and dicing that bill and by the time 2012 rolls around, this provision will be gone.

January 14, 2011

Learn to say NO! Or YES when it is the right thing to do.

Filed under: Business, Negotiating — Tags: , , — connieterwilliger @ 6:20 pm

You just never know whose eyes will fall upon what is freely posted to the online world. A random search of some odd word combination could pull up my blog and either enhance or destroy my image as a professional.

But sometimes you have to push the envelope. With my sense of decorum that sometimes borders on Pollyanna cast aside momentarily, I have to pass along this very clever, yet somewhat “blue” chart created by Jessica Hische.

She steps you through the Yes and No questions you should ask yourself when deciding whether or not to work for FREE. And don’t we all need to be reminded that our time is valuable!

There is also a “clean” version –

You start right in the middle with your four basic scenarios of who is doing the asking – a business, a charity or non-profit, your mom or your friend. Then branch out from there until you end up with a YES or a NO.

It’s not that we don’t already know this stuff, it’s just that we forget the logic when someone asks us to work for free. I do anyway. Here’s a taste…

Work for Free Chart

And thanks to my friend Zak Miller for finding this.

January 9, 2011

Cardio Needed for Conversation Muscles

Filed under: Communication, Musings — connieterwilliger @ 3:58 pm

Ah – the loneliness of the voiceover actor these days. Day after day – alone in our padded rooms with only the occasional directed session – we rarely get to converse with our clients – much less actually see them face-to-face. Skype does’t count. And, like anything, if you don’t use certain muscles, they atrophy.  Time for some cardio for my conversation muscles!

The VO team is usually a small one to begin with – so even if you do have a phone patch or ISDN session – you are still only talking to a small earful of people. Most of the time, it is my fingers doing the talking to the client, and my voice is reserved for the booth.

Last week, I learned that face-to-face interaction with clients and crew takes a lot more energy than I remember. After an all day on-camera shoot (OK, mostly all day) with a crew filled with old friends, followed by a day with a phone patch session, an ISDN session, a self-directed session AND an in someone else’s studio session – I was EXHAUSTED! 

The shoot part wasn’t particularly difficult, it was the people interaction part! Don’t misunderstand “difficult.”  The director, production manager, DP, LD, audio and make up person were all friends from another era in my life when I was doing much more on-camera and producing work. There were a few new people to meet too, both on the crew and the rest of the actors. But of those that I knew, it was like a college reunion.

Some of these people I have known for 20 years, but just never see much anymore as my work moved into voiceover work and into mostly out of market work from my home studio.

So catching up with them in and around takes, while still making sure we were all doing our jobs and listening to the director expended lots of energy.

Just resting my eyes…


The spots we shot start airing January 31st, for Cox – the one I did was for Digital Telephone. Initially they are set to run only in the San Diego area, but we did some generic lines, so who knows where they might end up.

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