Connie Terwilliger – ISDN Voice Talent

June 18, 2013

Software – One of the Great Money Monsters

Filed under: Business, Marketing — Tags: , , , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 11:35 am

How much money have you spent on software that ends up gathering dust (anyone have a good computer reference?) because it just didn’t really work the way you wanted it to work? I can’t pinpoint the $ exactly (they told me there wouldn’t be any math in voiceovers), but I know that I have purchased lots of software that I stopped using in frustration.

As an aside, because I have always been an early adopter of technology, I have been asking software to do more than it was designed to do since about 1987. I spent hours on the phone with the developer of a piece of writing software working with him to make it possible to write a dual column script and keep the video and audio tracking together. When Word came along and with it the table function, all was right with the world, but it simply wasn’t possible back in the late 80’s.

But back to this abandoned software. Most of it has to do with bookkeeping, marketing and CRM. For example, for invoicing, I have gone back and forth between Quicken and QuickBooks a couple of times. It just so happens that there IS math in voiceovers, so it is important to have some sort of easy and streamlined method of keeping track of invoices and receipts. Makes things easier when tax time rolls around.

My brain shut down after a year or so using QuickBooks (which isn’t cheap) and I went back to Quicken Home & Business. Again, not cheap, but hey – shrugging my shoulders – these are business expenses. But two issues were bugging me about Quicken. The first was that some of my clients couldn’t see any data on the pdf invoices generated in Quicken. After 3 chat sessions with 4 people in India regarding this issue (with each one of them telling me that this wasn’t Quicken’s fault), plus an email response to an irritated Tweet I posted, it turns out that the PDF’s are being generated by an off-brand PDF maker with a license date 4 years earlier than the version of Quicken that I was using. So people with new Adobe reader upgrades were unable to see the content. The Quicken solution! Generate the Invoice in Quicken. Save it to my desktop. Open it again on my computer using the latest version of Adobe Reader and resave the file. It should now be readable. Uh-huh. Several more steps. Un-uh. Not acceptable.

The second issue was that if I deposited more than one check at a time, I couldn’t figure out how to allocate the funds to separate jobs. After a phone call to to Quicken support I discovered that Quicken can’t do this. Sigh. QuickBooks could do that, but – like I said – QuickBooks and I had a misunderstanding in the accounting department.

They did refund the support fee I paid, I’ll give them that much. So now I am trying Freshbooks and facing the fact that it really isn’t imperative that my bank account and my invoicing are connected.

Then there is the CRM. Outlook Business Contact Manager. (Buzzer sound) ACT! (Buzzer sound). Trying ZOHO right now.

Both of these are cloud based and have free versions to try out before deciding to purchase the upgraded software. Starting to love the cloud. Once I get these two things figured out, my next project will be Email Marketing.

So, now instead of the Great Money Monster, I am dealing with the Great Time-Suck Monster!

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June 12, 2013

With Trepidation I Present “In a World…”

Filed under: Announcements, Business, Musings — Tags: , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 6:11 pm

Just what we need, more exposure for the voice over business! So, I am somewhat hesitant to bring this up, but since most of the people who will chance across this post will already be in the business, or already interested in the business, I suppose it won’t do any harm.

From watching the trailer, this looks like a delightfully funny little film about life in the rarefied air of the Los Angeles voiceover market where there is a chance of someone actually hiring you (man or woman, but mostly man) to do a movie trailer.

Lake Bell wrote, produces and stars in the film, with some other familiar real-life voiceover “stars” in the Los Angeles market including Joe Cipriano and Marc Graue. In fact, now that I think about it, this might make a good pilot for a sitcom that takes place in a renowned recording studio in someplace like  – say Burbank – where the charismatic and desperately creative  studio owner – say whose name rhymes with brow… no, wait, scratch that, just what we need, MORE exposure for our business.

Most people know when they watch “So You Think You Can Dance” and “The Voice,” that only a few people can REALLY make it. But most people who see anything about the voiceover business think they can do it. So, no, I take it all back.

But since I did bring it up, here without any further ado – the official trailer for “In a World…”

June 10, 2013

Anonymity Means Never Having to Say You are Sorry for NOT Auditioning

Filed under: Auditioning — connieterwilliger @ 4:12 pm

There are lots of opinions on the Pay-2-Play websites. P2P sites are automated sites that, for a fee, send you audition opportunities. These sites are one of today’s auditioning paradigms – along with agents who send us auditions, potential clients finding our websites and sending us an audition and repeat clients asking for an audition for new projects.

Many people hate the P2P’s. Many people like them. A few people love them. I am somewhat ambivalent, because most of my work comes from other sources, yet I get enough projects through them to justify the money and time spent. And of those two elements, the time element is the greater of the two. The less time it takes the better.

The Voice123 mantra of being picky picky picky is pretty much my only option given the time I have available to scan and determine which auditions might be right up my alley.

Most of my time is tied up with those other sources; agents, repeat clients and direct contacts. I am either recording projects or auditions, marketing, bookkeeping and (more and more) simply getting out and enjoying life.

So, one thing I DO like about Voice123’s SmartCast auditions, is that the end client really doesn’t know who is getting the auditions – unless they send out a personal invitation. This provides a layer of anonymity that allows me the freedom to ignore the auditions. I can’t do that if I am contacted directly.

I’m not talking about the auditions from my agents, or past clients who know me. Although, I do occasionally get auditions (or actual projects) from these sources that I don’t feel are right for me, or the rates are lower than usual. No, I’m primarily talking about people who happen across my website and approach me with projects that fall into one of a few categories:

  • badly written (either a bad translation or simply a script not written for the ear)
  • budgets far too low for the work
  • strange conditions that make you scratch your head in astonishment

While, the frequency of this kind of direct request is low, I HAVE to respond to the request. With Voice123, I can simply ignore the “opportunity.”

I find that I do that more and more on Voice123 during my 5 minute scans of new audition opportunities. Just today, I deleted (or ignored) any leads under $350 immediately and then looked at a couple that were in the $500 range. One was a 60 minute training piece filled with medical terms and overwritten to the point where anyone viewing this training would be asleep before the introduction was finished. I happily hit delete, $500 wasn’t enough for an hour of material to begin with – and the script would have been so un-fulfilling to read. I didn’t have to make any excuses when I declined the opportunity.

Of course, not every script is going to be an Emmy or Golden Reel winner. Not every budget is going to be top dollar. This is a fact of life.

When faced directly with a script that needs a lot of help to really be effective (or in the case of a mis-translated script) – or a budget that is well below expectations – it can become a time consuming effort to figure out what to do. You HAVE to respond because they contacted you directly. If it is a complete stranger, you have to follow whatever bread crumbs you have to do your due diligence to determine what kind of a response is needed. This takes time.

You have to take time to parse a badly translated script enough to ask for clarifications. This takes time. If it is a repeat client, you have to weigh the budget, the time, the script, the potential for future work, etc. when formulating your response. This all takes time.

So, the ability to anonymously say “no’ to an audition by simply deleting or ignoring the lead is really kind of a relief and certainly a time saver!

June 5, 2013

The Blush is Off the Rose…

Filed under: Musings — Tags: , , — connieterwilliger @ 5:41 pm

My love affair with Social Media seems to be waning. I don’t find myself hanging out on Facebook as much as I used to. And I only am on LinkedIn when something really interesting pops up in my daily digests. Or when I need to moderate something on the group I manage.

And while I want to get over to the VO-BB on a more regular basis, sometimes several days pass and I realize that I have not been over there to check on the latest person to get llama duty. Not much action on the Yahoo Voiceover Email list either these days, so maybe it isn’t just me.

(Ironically, I have bumped up my Tweets a bit. That seems to be easy to do these days when every article you read has a Retweet button handy.)

Perhaps the rest of my life is vying for my attention. The class I teach during the Spring and Fall semester is over for the summer, so you would think I would have more time. But business is going really well, which means more time in the studio and more time in bookkeeping. And then, it is getting pretty nice around here and it is easy to wander out into it, with only my smart phone alerting me to the action over on Facebook.

Maybe it is just that I’m getting older and don’t want to miss anything and something in the back of my head says get out and live!

What I don’t want to have happen is to lose momentum. Just how much visibility is enough so that people remember who you are and your “brilliant” contributions to the conversation? And what am I attempting to accomplish with this visibility?

Is it more business, or strengthening my personal relationships? Probably a little of both, but lately I have leaned more toward the personal relationships – with my family, with my friends (both local and remote), and yes, with business contacts.

Social Media has actually helped these relationships. I have known many of the people I do business with for years and years and Facebook lets us peek into each other’s real world. I love seeing their children grow up! The cool vacations they take. I hurt along with them when tragedy hits. The result is a deeper connection with all of these people.

So, maybe it isn’t that the blush is off the rose, so much as the honeymoon is over. Now we are settling in for the long strong commitment.

 

 

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