Connie Terwilliger – ISDN Voice Talent

November 23, 2011

Are you still doing voiceover work?

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , — connieterwilliger @ 4:34 pm

As a long time voiceover talent, I get email from past clients on a regular basis asking me if I am still doing voiceover work. I assure them that I am and their relief is followed by a script.

It begs the question though…how many times do clients return to someone and find that they are no longer in business? As technology and services change and it becomes easier for people to hang out their shingle proclaiming their voiceover prowess, it strikes me that many people who get hired today for a project (and may even do a decent job on that project) may not be able to sustain voiceover as a viable business and simply not be around when the client needs an update.

Their equipment may still be hooked up, but their new day job, the one they had to take to put food on the table and pay the mortgage is a traditional 9-5’er (or more) and doesn’t leave a lot of time to do VO work. Or time passes without doing or thinking about VO and skills (performance and technological) suffer. Their website hasn’t been updated for a couple of years and the links aren’t working anymore – or the phone number changed.

All of these things happen, so it is nice to be able to tell someone, “Yes, I still do voiceover work.”

Voiceover work has been part of my day job for most of the past 34 years. For the past dozen or so, my full-time job. That means I WILL still be doing voiceover work when a old client needs something. Oh, I imagine the day will come when I hang up the mic, or start to be extremely picky about my clients, but that day is still far down the road.

Of course there are other clients who I haven’t worked with in years who will simply send me a script and a deadline. No questions about still being in business. That happened this weekend. An International client – who I last worked for in early 2007 – contacted me about a project that needed to be done before Thanksgiving. It has been completed and invoiced.

So, if anyone asks me what I am thankful for this Thanksgiving, I will tell them my clients, new and repeat, who keep me in business, so that I can be there when they need me, whenever that might be.

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9 Comments »

  1. The average lifespan of a voiceover “career” seems to be about a year. Every year old names drop off the radar and new ones appear, just to be replaced again the next year.

    It seems to take about that long for The Blue Snowball Coalition of new talent to realize that they jumped into this without knowing what they heck they were doing and then they are on to the next get-rich-quick scheme. Sad really. I imagine there are a lot of old USB mics collecting dust out there…

    If only they would have done research, trained and worked on the craft instead of marketing themselves the first week they could have saved themselves the trouble.

    On the other hand, the same dedicated souls who have been in the game since forever are always around and always will be. What the hell else are we going to do? Sales? Walmart greeting?

    Comment by Erik Sheppard — November 23, 2011 @ 5:01 pm

    • Erik, I would love if you could go leave a similar comment at my current blog on getting into voiceovers? I’m at http://www.catsmith.net/blog

      And Connie, thanks for the great entry. Hope to continue to read blogs from you. I just subscribed.

      Comment by Cat Smith — December 5, 2011 @ 9:44 pm

  2. Connie,

    Funny you should post this because I was actually composing something very similar and got interrupted a few times, so I thought I’d leave it perhaps for Black Friday. Much better than going shopping.

    I get the same sort of thing too, someone I haven’t spoken to or worked with for several years will pop up and contact me with the “So, are you still doing v.o.” or occasionally the “Do you still cast” or “Do you still direct talent”, etc. I would say that most of these people get e-mails from me a few times a year, plus other marketing messages, which makes clear I do the above and more.

    I guess that a few years back, voice-over might have been a rather transient thing. In fact, of the 400 or so people who came into the profession when I did, I’m guessing less than 20 are around in any capacity and perhaps less than half doing any major amount of v.o.

    What I’ve noticed in the “V.O. 2.0” world (the term I coined to differentiate v.o. in the current internet era) is that nobody ever leaves voice over. In a recent post I considered that there were probably a billion or more pages on the internet regarding voice over, and perhaps 5 million on organ transplants. Everybody with a mouth it would seem has come onto the internet and found the myriad free sites they can peek, poke, prod and get listed in for free. In a great zeal, each of these future voice talent sign up to 50 or 60 of them or so. Some may even buy a cheap USB microphone and others may actually make it past page 19 of Auberger’s book. But the point is that they are still out there, skills or not. They clog the marketplace and are virtual landmines. And regardless of whether or not they are keeping up their skills (or even ever bothered to develop them) they stand ready, eager and willing to accept the odd job or referral that might come their way.

    I even heard someone telling a story the other day about how they were approached and asked if they could do a voice over and they just said yes, then went online and researched it; piece of cake.

    So then what I would say to to you Connie, is if that’s voice over, then what you do is a completely different breed that deserves some other name and designation. Something that is more befitting someone who has made the kind of commitment to their craft and profession that you have. Connie, I don’t have the word. It seems most of the ones that could be used have all been appropriated, diluted and bastardized. Nope, voice actor, voice artist, nor even voiceoverist, don’t seem to work. They’re just not quite good enough

    Comment by J.S. Gilbert — November 23, 2011 @ 5:02 pm

  3. Erik – first of all, I am so pleased that you read my blog! And thanks for the insight on longevity. Sometimes I feel like a dinosaur, but then, I realize that I’m in a business that keeps me young and goofy.

    J.S. – if we did come up with a word, it would just be usurped. Case in point. The LinkedIn Working Voice Actor Group. How many of those 3000 plus people in the group make their living doing voiceover work? Lots of people make “some” money. And I guess you could say that you are “working.” But to live on what you make on the mic?

    Perhaps this is something that a group like SaVoa could provide. However, even if you are talented and have a nice clean studio, SaVoa doesn’t know if you will actually be able to create the business and then stay in business and keep the mic turned on.

    Comment by connieterwilliger — November 23, 2011 @ 5:24 pm

  4. I absolutely love “V.O. 2.0” JS. That’s perfect.

    The pay-to-plays and the coaches who lie through their teeth to kids with stars in their eyes about the realities of the business have created the glut today. This too shall pass. I predict a HUGE dropoff in the amount of people looking to drink the Kool Aid in the coming years. It will be good for the talent as well as the seekers.

    Comment by Erik Sheppard — November 23, 2011 @ 5:54 pm

  5. I can see the process though. Individuals who may never have considered voice over are laid off, downsized, become stay at home moms or dads, etc. At some point they either worked at a college radio station or maybe even a real one, albeit perhaps for 2 weeks or they simply are victims ofthe “Hey you have a nic voice, do you do voice over?” syndrome. They are exposed to the multitude of lies regarding the big sacks of money you can make doing v.o., they read articles in their local paper that highlight the second career as voice talent that the retired postal worker has and might even mention that he’s done the voice mail system for the local Hot Springs First Trust and Loan. The article conspicuously leaves out the fact that this fellow has been working at his v.o. for 2 years or so and this is the only job he got; oh and he did the 387 voice mail prompts for $50. Yeah it doesn’t mention that either.

    Nor does it mention that he owns his home outright, has an incredible pension and social security to take care of him, as well as income property and some other investments.

    I’ve talked to a bunch of producers out there who have pretty much agreed that they don’t need any new voice talent. What most producers need are better gigs, better clients and better budgets.

    Usurped is one way to look at it Connie. Yes, everytime I see someone post some more idiotic drivel and/or moronic advice in the Working Actors group, I want to tear out a few more hairs. Cream rises to the top and let’s just hope that there are still some fat cats that like drinking their cream, Connie.

    Comment by J.S. Gilbert — November 24, 2011 @ 10:19 am

  6. I really enjoy the Working Actor Group, but now that it is an open group, there are a lot of people who probably aren’t really making a living at it – which was probably the original intention for group membership.

    Comment by connieterwilliger — November 24, 2011 @ 10:46 am

  7. If we truly believe that quality will always win the day, there’s no reason to be afraid. What scares me most is the deterioration of standards and lack of professionalism. As Owen Young said: “It’s not the crook we fear in modern business; rather, it’s the honest guy who doesn’t know what he is doing.”

    Comment by Nethervoice — November 28, 2011 @ 4:22 am

  8. Someone with a great eye can make a masterpiece using an old camcorder. It’s different with voiceover.

    Is good enough, good enough? And who decides? Apparently both the end user and the not-ready-for-prime time talent. Both are apparently ready to settle for less than great. . The end user because of the cost – and the talent because they really don’t know any better. Of course, there are some very talented people willing to work for less than a living wage. Here’s to Erik and the drop off in the people selling themselves as voice talent because they finally see that they are not actually in business.

    Comment by connieterwilliger — November 28, 2011 @ 8:54 am


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