Connie Terwilliger – ISDN Voice Talent

October 21, 2013

A Crisis of Confidence and Tree Trimming

Filed under: Business, Musings — Tags: , , , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 8:56 pm

The past 6 months or so have been great on many fronts. Business and personal. I had a great summer. The weather was wonderful and I became an Artlab groupie. Never ending concerts and art shows. There were parties and events and bike rides and sunsets at the beach.

And business was booming. I switched my invoicing to Freshbooks in May and have been watching the columns grow steadily. Until this month.

It has been a fairly dismal month so far compared to the last 5 months. I have some projects yet to be billed, so they don’t show up on the columns yet, and by the end of the month, it will look better, but still, looking at it now makes me wonder what the heck I am doing.

I’ve been making my living doing only voiceover work for more than 10 years – after many years working as a producer/writer and talent.

I do teach an introduction to voice acting class at San Diego City College, but I could pay my bills with my voiceover work. I am now also doing some administrative work for a professional association related to my career. Both of my “side” jobs directly affect my “real” job – one from a training point of view and the other from a marketing POV. And combined, they do certainly help make my lifestyle fairly stress free. But my ingrained free lance mentality knows not to count on anything.

So why do I think that I am a failure? After one month of not-so-hot receivables?

Because there are a LOT of talented people out there. People who are learning how to market. How to get themselves heard. How to make the right choices in an audition. How to land the jobs.

I was at a VO Peeps meeting in Orange County CA this past Saturday and the guest speaker was Celia Siegel (whom I met at FaffCon in San Antonio a few weeks ago). She is a superstar of branding voiceover talent. No question.

But on my way back down to San Diego, I started wondering if, at my age, and after all the things I have done since starting voiceover work in 1977 – is a branding exercise with someone like Celia the right thing for me to do?

Would fresh new branding and a plan of action have prevented this lull in work? Is that what I want? What do I want?

I want the chance to do national commercials. To shoot for that brass ring of reuse/residuals or class A network spots that will pay for that vacation home in Italy.

I know I can compete. At least I think I know I can compete. But that means getting on with an agent who actually gets those auditions. And it gets harder and harder to get picked up by a top agent.

I had a top agent in LA for a while – Andrea Romano. But too soon she left the agency and her replacement just couldn’t adjust to me being in San Diego. It was years ago, well before I had ISDN lines put in my house, but Andrea heard something in me. So did Don Pitts who had also wanted to talk to me about representation.

By the time I got ready to go after an LA agent again, it was a different world and, while technology was making it more practical to take on talent outside the market, the competition had increase exponentially. The chances of being picked up by a top agent to get a chance to audition for the national spots are practically nil.

Combine this fact with my own little nagging crisis of confidence happening. Am I really ready for prime time? Even if I am branded to the hilt – with the perfect logo – and the perfect plan – can I live up to my own hype?

I don’t know the answer. Time to practice what I preach perhaps. Know what I am good at and focus on that. Over the years I have done so many different types of voiceover work. TV Announcing, promo work, imaging, commercials, cartoons, narrations, training, voicemail, video games and more.

Today’s philosophy is to focus on the best of what you do. Brand that. Market that. Branch out later.

For someone who has been doing this for such long time, I guess you could think of it as a tree trimmer – lacing out an overgrown tree. Trimming off the smaller branches makes the tree taller and stronger – and ironically, the smaller branches come back stronger and thicker than they were before.

Does the same thing work in VO? Hmmm.

Maybe it is time to take a look at my branding and trim some excess branches – at least for right now.



  1. Oh Connie… you’re preaching to MY choir. Although I do not have the history in VO that you do, I am NOT accustomed to anything but success in all my endeavours. Then, WHAM!….freelance VO comes into my life. Nothing there is steady or assured. All is dependent on my efforts, or LACK thereof. What a blessing! What a curse! I’ve hit a number of dry spells in the last several years. Every time I think I’ve got momentum… it runs out.

    All of your musings and misgivings are familiar to me (including Celia, who IS awesome!). But therein lies the allure for the competitor within. I’m not sure there is a sure-fire formula, but there must be an algorithm that comes closer to the success I yearn for.

    Thanks for the romp through your moment of insecurity. It makes me feel more human, too!

    Dave Courvoisier

    Comment by CourVO — October 22, 2013 @ 4:26 pm

  2. It is a crazy business! Each day we need to morph into what is right for the copy, but not lose ourselves in the process.

    Comment by connieterwilliger — October 22, 2013 @ 4:38 pm

  3. I so appreciate your honesty with the “crisis of confidence,” Connie! I hate that it happens to the best of us (and you are the best), but like Dave said, it’s almost reassuring to know that this isn’t just a newbie problem (so I thought). There seem to be conflicting ideas about broadening yourself to be more versatile and available vs. being laser-focused on something you know you’re good at and expanding that realm. Love the tree-trimming analogy — I might take a look at my little sapling and see what might help. :) Thanks!

    Comment by Laurel Thomas — October 23, 2013 @ 8:52 am

  4. I wonder what I would do if I was just starting out from square one. You have the eLearning focus because of your background. There are no more live booth announcers, which is how I got introduced to commercials. My masters degree in TV led to both the live announce job and to the corporate work. But today, I suppose I would really have to figure out just what I was good at!

    Comment by connieterwilliger — October 23, 2013 @ 9:11 am

  5. […] A Crisis Of Confidence And Tree Trimming Connie Terwilliger […]

    Pingback by 15 Top Voiceover Blog Posts This Week - October 27, 2013 | Derek Chappell's Voiceover Blog — October 27, 2013 @ 12:26 pm

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