Connie Terwilliger – ISDN Voice Talent

July 28, 2011

Thanks for the Thanks!

Filed under: Communication, Musings — Tags: — connieterwilliger @ 2:12 pm

Everyone likes a “thank you.” And sometimes we don’t take the time to pass along a sincere thank you to the people we interact with every day. Oh, we say “thanks” at the grocery store when we get our receipt. “Thanks” at the restaurant when someone refills our coffee cup or delivers the bill to the table. The sincerity of the “thanks” when someone hands us the bill for the meal is probably in question.

So it is nice to get a sincere thank you when none is really expected. I have toyed with the idea of sending out personal Thank You cards after sessions – and actually have some cards just for this purpose. Not many talent does this from what I can glean from various VO talent message boards. The trouble is, I am so busy just recording the jobs and creating the invoices that I simply forget!

And part of me wonders if the person opening the envelope will interpret the card as a sincere thank you – or simply as a marketing “trick.” Certainly the card has to be handwritten – or if not handwritten per se – using a service such as Send Out Cards – then with a truly unique reference to the specific project – something to indicate that it isn’t a mass mailing.

Now, I do like to receive a handwritten note, so perhaps the gesture will be taken as sincere. But the email thank you’s are great too! Just this week, I am basking in the glow of several really nice notes.

“Great job…thank you!”

“We appreciate you on SO many levels!”

“You just saved me. The next time I get to your neck of the woods… I’m buying the Starbucks.”

“Nice job. Love the voice and the read.”

“Thanks for knockin’ it out of the park again!”

“You Rock.”

“Wow that was fast! Thanks so much Connie!!!!”

And the thank you’s don’t even need to be written at all really. Case in point. I just finished an ISDN session with a client in Orange County and the first thing from the producer’s mouth was a thank you for the work I had done for them on the last project.

So – bottom line – a well-placed, sincere “thank you” is a wonderful thing. Now to just figure out what kind of “thank you” and the best way to deliver it when so much of what we do these days is through the electrons.

July 23, 2011

Today’s ROI Wasn’t About Money

Filed under: Business, Musings — Tags: , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 4:20 pm

Had a yard sale today at my mom’s house in preparation for her move to an Assisted Living Community. She is very excited actually and chatters non-stop about it to anyone who will listen. This is actually good news, of course. Two and a half years ago, this wasn’t even on the radar of options. Frankly, 5 months ago, this wasn’t something that she would consider.

But after a few months of a home share situation – with a house mate who helped her with medication reminders and getting dinners, she learned two things – that she needed help – and that she didn’t like sharing her house. All that strange food in the refrigerator! And just which bar of soap was hers!

So next week we do the final move of the heavy items to her new apartment in La Mesa California, just down the road from wonderful Lake Murray. The dog Max already has new friends at Oakdale Heights – Sparky lives directly across the hall and Ginger a few doors down. Not sure where Cody lives yet. I imagine I will eventually learn their owner’s names, but you know how it is with dog people – we always learn the dog’s names first.

Where was I? Oh, yes…yard sale. So, today I loaded up a market umbrella from my back yard and arrived at my mom’s around 6:30 AM. Hauled out three large bookshelves from the garage and loaded them with books and sheet music. Then put out clothes, Xmas items, glassware, knick knacks, linens, miscellaneous small pieces of furniture and settled in for the morning.

I really didn’t advertise much – just a listing in Craig’s List – and didn’t put up any signs on the street, so it was pretty much drive by’s and walk by’s by neighbors. Not sure what I expected in the way of sales, but we ended up clearing a meager $160. Which, after subtracting what was my stuff and what was mom’s, I think I wasn’t even close to making minimum wage.

But it wasn’t about money – it was about moving forward and getting even more comfortable with the decision. It is a big move for someone as independent as my mom has been her entire life. We had some wonderful chats with the neighbors about the move. Discussed music. Made new friends. Let the dogs do some sniffing.

We’ll be filling up the Cruiser with the small things and taking them out to Oakdale all this coming week, with the big move on Saturday. Then another period of adjustment as she gets settled in – which should time nicely with FaffCon in September.

It’s not always about money. It never has been. But sometimes we simply don’t remember that and push aside the other things in life that bring a nice return.

Here’s to my mom and her decision. May she find that balance she needs between independence and assistance. Now, please forgive me, but I need to run. There is one little job that I really should do yet today.


July 12, 2011

Tax Form for the Marginally Employed

Filed under: Business, Musings — Tags: , , — connieterwilliger @ 7:47 am

My voiceover friend Rowell Gormon just posted a link to an important tax document for the army of self-employed working out of their homes.

You must qualify of course. Do you spend at least 8 hours of daylight in your pajamas? Do your medical expenses include naps, toothbrushes, garlic dill pickles, elixirs, etc.? Do you Tweet? There’s a complex formula for that. Don’t Tweet? Sorry, you don’t qualify for that deduction. Oh and be sure to include your time wasting allowance – and your Hollywood Protection Act deduction (100% of the cost of blockbuster movies you didn’t really want to see).

*Be sure to consult your tax preparer to get the latest form. This is the 2009 form, so I’m sure it has changed considerably over the past couple of years. The Obamamania deduction for inauguration expenses has probably been deleted – however, they may have added an ISA (Inauguration Savings Account) for those planning to attend the next one – for whoever is elected this time around.

July 11, 2011

Balancing Life and Work

Filed under: Business, Marketing, Musings — Tags: , — connieterwilliger @ 9:42 am

The past few years have been interesting to say the least. After getting my mom to move across country in order to be closer to me so that I could start to help her as her need to be helped increased – I started to see a dramatic increase in personal time in my calendar.

As a rabid type A – most of my time has been spent working. As a free lancer and the sole means of support for my critters and my house – most of my time was spent working or marketing or bookkeeping or networking or something else that required large amounts of time in my “cave.”

So, learning how to carve out the time for my mom was a challenge.

Combine that with the down turn in the economy and there was a bit of a dip in work – which in retrospect was perhaps a good thing – as it allowed me time to help my mom when needed.

The possible side effects of this internal struggle between work and personal time is that I may very well be seeing that I actually don’t need to spend as much time “working” as I thought! Entire weekends have gone by recently without stepping into my studio and miracle of miracles, the work continues to come in.

A thread on a VO forum recently has been discussing what people do to market their business. A few people doing this as their sole means of income don’t spend a lot of time “marketing.” They are able to use the “repeat business/referral” formula of marketing. They were feeling a bit guilty that they didn’t spend hours creating newsletters, researching new companies or opportunities, networking, etc.

In reality, they have established a reputation for being good and reliable and the business is coming to them. What little “marketing” being done ends up fairly passive, but still effective.

And there may be another side effect of learning to balance life and work – when you take the time to be involved with people and really connect, a side effect is that you connect better with the scripts you record, which shows in the end product and makes the client happy.

I guess the bottom line for me is to make sure I am doing the best job possible for my current clients so that they think of me the next time they need a female voice.

Oh, I still poke around the Internet looking for potential work partnerships, but getting out of my studio and into the world of people and real relationships is much more important.

July 7, 2011

Working Class Jill Meets Super Stars (sort of)

Filed under: Marketing, Musings — Tags: , , , — connieterwilliger @ 1:07 pm

As a working class voiceoverist* plying my trade, I rarely get to rub producers with top name talent. By that I mean, I don’t often get to work with producers who are in the habit of hiring big time celebrities. That doesn’t happen much in my neck of the woods.

But a couple of times in the past few months, I have had “new to me” producers (who have found me on the net using a search engine, or who have heard my audition through a P2P site) use my name in the same sentence with some very well known voiceover actors.

I heard from a producer who pulled me from around 20 auditions to voice his project. Well, at least the initial showing of his project. He also has a call into (insert name of very famous actor/voice guy with gravitas) to see if he is interested in the project. I’ll do what may end up as a “scratch” track for a festival showing. And if “well known actor” declines (or suggests that the current voice is simply wonderful and why would anyone want to change it <grin>), there will be additional usage fees.

And a few months ago, a Google search led a producer to me (and who has hired me a couple times now) who usually uses (insert name of very well known long time voiceover talent) to voice his projects.

Without the Internet, this would not have been possible. I don’t live in a major market and the chance of someone here in the hinterlands getting noticed by a producer with a champagne budget before the Internet was pretty remote.

I am happy to be able to call myself a full-time voice talent and pay my bills on my voiceover work. But I wonder sometimes how quickly (or if ever) I would be able to pay my mortgage on my voiceover earnings if I was just getting started in today’s environment where every one with a USB mic, free software and a computer is “getting into” the business.

Sure, the Internet opens some doors, but you need more than that to “make it” in the voiceover business.

Here is a short-list of needed items for your voiceover career shopping list. Everyone’s list is slightly different and will in some part depend on what part of the country/world in which you live.

  • a web presence that brings your website up in the search results (either you have many years of consistent presence or you have a  budget to pay for this placement)
  • a “producer’s ear” that lets you know when an audition is ready to send
  • enough technical understanding to be able to record, edit and send clean broadcast quality audio
  • the business savvy to be able to negotiate and invoice (something that we used to let our agents do – before the Internet – and something I still prefer to have an agent do)
  • some networking, marketing, or what could be considered “closing the deal” skills
  • and of course you need to have a modicum of talent.

The road to paying your bills with voiceover work – to making it a full-time career – has been changed forever.

It is not easy for people just entering this business to find the right combination of talent, technology, business and marketing to set them apart…

  • so that producers can find them.
  • so that producers will hire them.
  • so that producers will hire them again!
  • so that producers will recommend them to other producers

Pardon me now, while I turn off the AC and the fans and prepare to sweat my way through a couple of auditions. If I ever get to semi-celebrity status, I will invest in an AC system that doesn’t interfere with my recording sessions.

*Voiceoverist was coined by my international super star voiceover buddy Philip Banks

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