Connie Terwilliger – ISDN Voice Talent

May 25, 2012

Have you checked off the To Do List on your FaffCon 4 (or should I say 3?) Post Card?

Filed under: Business, Musings — Tags: , , , — connieterwilliger @ 5:33 pm

OK, so a few months before FaffCon 4 in Ventura, the post card I filled out in Hershey arrived in the post. It was a complete surprise and I was a bit anxious when I flipped it over. For there on the other side was the list of things I wanted to do – without fail! I’m pretty sure I blogged about this unexpected stress the last time the card came. Well, not really stress stress – hyperbole – sorry.

I’m still not up to a passing grade yet, if you simply are checking off the 5 items on the list. I’m not nearly as upset with myself that I haven’t finished the items from FaffCon 3 as I was over not finishing the list of items from FaffCon 2. If Ventura was your first venture into FaffCon, you will soon understand what I am talking about.

The items on the list are still relevant and I would say item 1 out of 5 is complete, or nearly complete and when that is done, item 3 will be done as well. And items 4 and 5 have shown some pretty good progress. One involves investing some dollars and while I have the dollars to spend, the economy and the trends in our business make me a bit more reluctant to spend money…unless, of course, I can see a clear return. So item 2 is in limbo for the time being.

Yes, I am being a bit cryptic, because it is my list! And if this was an Intranet of just FaffCon’rs, I would be a bit more forthright about them, but since all of these nuggets or ideas were born at FaffCon 3, I’ll keep it in the family.

A lot of other priorities popped up immediately after getting back from Ventura. And I hope to be pleasantly surprised this time when my card from FaffCon 4 arrives with it’s call to come to Charlotte NC in October (12-14, 2012) for FaffCon 5.

There must be some things on there that I have started or finished. Trouble is, right now, I couldn’t tell you even one item on that list.

May 21, 2012

Why Can’t People “Hear” Themselves?

Today it is easier and easier to get feedback on what you are doing. Why don’t people listen? Or perhaps, why – when given good feedback – why don’t people take action to improve what they are doing? Do they simply not hear themselves?

So many people these days have been told by endless “voiceover” coaches that they can make it – all they need is determination – and their signature on the bottom of that check paying for more classes. They stop listening to themselves and never develop their self-evaluation skills.

Most of the forums for voiceover people include critique areas where people can post demos for comments. I’m referring to demos from newbies, not updated demos from people who are making actual money doing voiceovers. You can get honest, yet sometimes highly conflicting advice. And if you follow the subsequent comments to a thread, this advice is often rejected by the person seeking the advice.

For a fee of $7 per month, you can join VoiceRegistry and do their Weekend Workouts, where actual working top agents and casting people will listen to your submissions and provide individual feedback – which everyone who submits can see as well. Scary thought isn’t it!

But what a great way to develop, not only a thick skin, which you need in this business, but a keen ear on what works and what doesn’t. What the agents/casting people are liking at a certain moment in time. While some of the comments are probably kept pretty tepid (the agent really wants to scream because the submission was so far off the mark, but instead says something “kind”), there is enough information for you to read between the lines and sort the best from the worst. Your own ears should be able to pick this up without their comments, but sometimes you can hone in on why they think one read was superior. And this is valuable information.

The other weekly competition is over at Edge Studio. This one is free and probably because it is free and they are pretty high profile, their contest submissions run in the neighborhood of 200 per weekend. I have been listening to a few of the “winning” entries over the past few weeks and reading the commentary on why submissions didn’t win. Two weeks ago, they decided to record a teleconference discussing a dozen or so of the submissions and why NO ONE was selected to win that week’s competition.

That phone call was filled with people – a few of whom simply didn’t listen to instructions on how to mute their phones. That was distracting for everyone. And another example of people simply not hearing what has been said to them. The meat of the discussion showcased once again how this business is part subjective and part objective. People’s comments were wide ranging and often directly opposite thoughts. While I wouldn’t recommend that David do calls like this on a regular basis, it did inspire me to enter the contest the next week to see if I could make it to the Top Three.

I entered. Twice. With two different anonymous user names and two different styles of delivery. Then, when the competition closed and all bazillion entries were posted for review, I listened to them all. And most of the entries were really so bad it’s – sad? frightening? scary?

Obviously many of the people who entered are wannabe’s and some newbies, but what I want to know is if they thought that what they submitted was good!? While bad audio can be forgiven to a degree for an audition – there are no-cost ways to reduce background noise.  But to leave the TV playing in the background while you are recording something for a contest? Huh? Read the reasons why people didn’t get selected for the Contest ending Friday, May 18th.

Of the 200 or so submissions, I jotted down 14 names, including my two – for a total of 16 – that I thought were worthy of consideration. All of the top three were on my short-list. But listing only the top three may not be enough for people to understand BOTH the subjective nature of this business and get enough information to be able to apply it to their own submissions.

I fessed up to David Goldberg in an email that I had submitted not one, but two entries in the contest that week. We chatted a bit about the process. Apparently, his staff goes through all the submissions and creates a short list that he then listens to, jots down some notes and then picks first, second and third place.

I suggested that it might be even more educational to identify all of the top picks. From there, he could, for the purposes of handing out the weekly prizes assign the winners. But with auditions, it is usually the overall tone and pace and quality that the producer selects, knowing that in the session they can get a take that addresses those little nuances, like hitting a word just a tad stronger or warming up on a phrase. I live for my ISDN sessions (or actual in the studio with live human beings) where I get to actually interact with the director and make them happy!

So, hearing the whole range of what made it to the selects would be a great teaching tool – for those who will listen.

Enough suspense?

I made it to the Top Three with my BonnieK entry. And he told me that my other entry was in the top selects as well. I would have been very very surprised if it had not been. I was sort of expecting to pick up two prizes, but there you go! Another example of the subjective nature of the biz! If you want to hear the other, do a search on the page for KayT.

May 19, 2012

Down Time: Duties or Dilly Dallying?

Filed under: Business, Musings — Tags: , , , — connieterwilliger @ 6:47 pm

I don’t know about you, but I don’t spend hours and hours in my booth, unless I am recording an audio book. Most of the time I am NOT in my booth. When you do mostly spots or short corporate pieces or eLearning, your time in the booth is probably a lot less than the time you spend catching up on Facebook.

But what should we be doing with the time we are not recording? My thoughts on that have changed over the years. And god help the person who has to unravel the mess I am leaving behind because of this change in attitude.

I used to be a lot more organized than I am now. You would think that with advances in software to make our lives easier, that I would have things a lot more together than I do. I have Outlook and Act and Quicken Home and Business (just abandoned QuickBooks after a few years of confusion).

But I am SO far behind in cleaning out my Outlook folders and adding people to my Contacts and then to Act. And now with Quicken Home and Business, I need to do a slightly different process for invoicing that isn’t quite as intuitive as QuickBooks, but at least I don’t keep getting error messages because I try to fix something. Quicken is like your check register – very forgiving. QuickBooks is for bean counters. I am an Artist, not a Bean Counter.

My priorities have shifted over the years. Since taking responsibility for my mom as she fights the desperately horrible disease called Dementia, my personal time has infringed on my work time. And guess what! Worlds did not collide. I did not lose my house. The bills are paid.

Part of this is due to years of being in the business and being reliable. Years of being at the ready. Years of nose to the grindstone. And perhaps that is the lesson I needed to learn. That at some point, all the legwork you do will carry you over when you want (or need) to do something else instead of work. You can’t abandon your networking and marketing of course, but after establishing yourself, you should be able to take some time to do something fun, or maybe not so fun, when necessary.

I still spend far too much time at my computer. But I LIKE the computer. I like to read and type. I just spent far too long looking at cool animal pictures following a link from Facebook – and do NOT send me a link to Wimp – I will be lost for hours.

So, what do I do when I am not recording? Well, most of the time I am not dilly dallying.

  1. Social Networking has risen to a top priority (or addiction – I’m not completely sure!)
  2. Watering my plants and tending the garden
  3. Playing with the cats
  4. Taking a walk and getting away from the computer
  5. Getting back to the computer to work for a professional association
  6. Checking in on my mom in her Memory Care Community
  7. Volunteering
  8. Doing some art
  9. Invoicing (hmm, that seems to be a bit low on the list doesn’t it? I should move that up.)
  10. Going through my old email folders and trying to get people in the proper database and then actually touch base
  11. Reconnecting with friends

Oh gosh, the part about getting more exercise and getting a kayak – that should be on there too. I’ve never had TIME for toys. Now that I do, I need to train myself to actually get them and use them!

If you are just getting started in this business – I offer you my deepest condolences. With the way the world has changed, you are probably facing a double whammy: fewer clients to start with – who want to pay less and less money for what you do. This is NOT just a voiceover thing. It is pervasive in every industry.

So if you ARE just starting out, find your niche. Know what you do best. Dig for the people who want to buy what you have to sell. Don’t sell out to the lowest bidder.

Oh, excuse me – gotta run. I’m late for an Art Opening!

May 17, 2012

Are You Hopping Mad about Auto Hop?

Filed under: Business, Musings, Technology — Tags: , , , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 4:05 pm

So the latest invention in the quest by people to skip the very thing that keeps their TV programs on the air is an ad eraser embedded in new digital video recorders sold by Dish Network. Just turn on Auto Hop and ads automatically vanish. TiVo on steroids.

Here’s an article in the New York Times that goes into more detail.

So, how do I feel about that – as a voice talent whose income includes payment for doing announcing for TV Commercials? In some ways, a lot like the chief executive of CBS who wonders how he will produce shows like “CSI” without the support of the advertisers running the commercials. Or maybe a bit like News Corporation who has decided not to run Dish’s DVR ads.

Everyone in the chain is trying to figure out how to snag the eyeballs (and dollars) of the consumers. Consumers who seem to be starting to turn away from paying for cable or satellite and are looking to the Internet. My niece watches TV shows on her laptop whenever and wherever she feels like it. When I do watch TV, it is still from my easy chair in the living room without a DVR, so I tend to see mostly reruns of Bones, Law & Order and NCIS.

I would miss commercials, not only because I get paid to record them, but also because for me they are a source of education and sometimes inspiration. Not that I am a TV junkie, but part of the whole TV watching experience is studying the spots. I realize that the vast majority of the TV watching public probably doesn’t really care for commercials (except during the Super Bowl), but maybe they haven’t really thought about how their TV shows are currently being funded.

The operative word in that last sentence? “Currently.” Everything changes. Eventually.

I wish I had a crystal ball. It would be nice to see what the new business model(s) might be. I’d like to be prepared for when the current one goes away, and with it part of my income.

May 13, 2012

Forum Decorum

Filed under: Announcements, Business, Communication, Marketing, Musings — Tags: , , , — connieterwilliger @ 9:20 am

I belong to a slew of groups on LinkedIn – including a large number of voiceover related groups. Why is it that there seems to be a plethora of unprofessional comments. Social media has been around for years now and it amazes me how people don’t seem to understand that what they post is there for the world to see (when a group is an open group).

I felt compelled to comment today on one of them after a couple of people actually started slamming a legitimate producer for not posting his undying thanks to the group. His post was 6 MONTHS ago and people are still posting comments with links to their demos. And now some are complaining that he hasn’t posted to say thank you!?

It is an International Group with members from all over the world, and perhaps members with little time on social media or little time in the voiceover business, so – as a long time full-time voice talent – with a background as a producer – and an early adopter of technology and social media – may I offer a bit of advice? Thanks…

First of all. When someone posts looking for talent, it is fairly easy to click on their profile link and do some due diligence to see if they are “real” company. Check out their website. Is it professional? Can you check out who some of their clients are?

Then, reply privately! There is no need for two or more pages of voice talent shouting “pick me, pick me!” Really, take a look at any thread where someone has posted that they are looking for talent. It screams desperation.

And understand that producer seek talent in a lot of places. This particular producer posted to a group that specifically includes people that say they do eLearning work, so it was logical that he would post a request for people who do eLearning, but he probably was looking in other places as well. Even if this was the only group he posted to, a lot of people DID contact him privately, so he may not come back here…until the next time he needs talent.

But, if you look at the original post – it was 6 months ago! My goodness! Why are people still posting to the thread? And worse yet, castigating him? Why would he ever come back?

There are groups where introducing yourself when you join is encouraged. If you are joining a group where voiceover is not the main focus – then, certainly introduce yourself to the group and provide links to your demos.

Then watch the other introductions as they come in – and send PRIVATE responses to those people who may (or are) seeking the kinds of skills you possess.

The more professional, helpful, respectful and funny you are in the posts you do make to public forums, the more people will think of you as a professional and someone they would like to do business with.

May 10, 2012

Another of my favorite MediaPost Pubs: Out to Launch

Filed under: Communication, Musings — Tags: , , , — connieterwilliger @ 12:51 pm

Want to see some of the most interesting, clever, stylish or funny of the new ads (mostly video, but some print too) being produced around the world? They are even including a random iPhone app of the week (what about my droid app of the week?).

Sign up to get Out to Launch – another of the multitude of enewsletters published by MediaPost.

This week they are showcasing spots for Orbitz which are pretty funny, Tetley Tea from an Australian firm, and Jagermeister’s first ad in the US. Just wish my internet connection was faster! Takes a while to download and play them.

May 7, 2012

Spread the word! Think about usage!

Filed under: Business, Marketing, Negotiating — connieterwilliger @ 12:28 pm

One of my favorite enewsletters comes from the plethora of enewsletters published each day by MediaPost. If I subscribed to them all, I would probably go mad.

This one is called Online Video Daily and today the top story was a VidBlog by Daisy Whitney titled:

Managing Online Video and TV Campaigns: Tips from Production to Talent Rights

The part of that headline that caught my eye and prompted me to click through was the “…to Talent Rights” part.

As we struggle each day to keep rates to a level where we can continue to make a living in this business, it is refreshing to see people advocating for payment for additional usage. Of course, the resource for the article is Extreme Reach, a group that specializes in all things related to delivering and managing video advertising and is used to using Union Talent.

Make sure you know whether a TV ad can run online. “Commercial talent and third-party rights are often restricted on specific ads. Some are not allowed to run on the Web. Some are for Web only. Most ads have rights expiration dates. When an ad runs where or when it is not allowed to, those terms are violated. As a result, agencies and brands can incur significant fines and additional unexpected costs,” Robert Haskitt, CMO of Extreme Reach said.

The advice offered by Extreme Reach may not be enforceable outside of a union contract, but the bottom line is something we should all remind ourselves and the people we are working with – usage counts.

May 4, 2012

Too Busy to Blog?

Filed under: Marketing — connieterwilliger @ 2:02 pm

OK, so my last post was about how busy people can usually find time to do something else. But at some point, things have to take a back seat. And the past few weeks, the blog took the hit.

And not because I was so busy I couldn’t actually find the time to sit here and bash out a couple hundred words. No, it all comes down to balance.

At what point in our lives do we realize that it is not all about work? Some people learn this fairly early in life. In my case, I am starting to feel like I missed so many opportunities. My life has been consumed with keeping busy doing things that in some way improved my career.

Personal relationships suffered from neglect. My plants certainly suffered. The house was alternately clean – or not – depending on if there was extra in the budget to bring in the housekeeper – or if I ended up on a mad tear to do it myself.

Most people have hobbies. Or toys. A kayak, for example. After a trip to Alaska where I had the chance to kayak in Sitka Bay, I have wanted a kayak. That was in 2001. I don’t have that kayak yet. I probably won’t get a kayak, but I should at least get in a kayak again and paddle around to see if that should still be on my list. Just saw a Groupon for more than half off on a kayak trip. I should probably buy that.

Unplugging from the computer more often is probably one way to find a balance. But when your living depends on connecting with people who communicate electronically, it is difficult to do that too long or too often.

My droid (and BlackBerry before that) lets me stay connected and gives me the “idea” that I am getting away, but I’m not really. And in my role of mom to my mom, I need to check voice mail whenever my phone chirps – just to make sure there isn’t an emergency.

So, the blog took a back seat and may continue to do so unless I figure out a cool way to keep up with content like my friend Peter O’Connell.

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