Connie Terwilliger – ISDN Voice Talent

December 1, 2013

I Have 3 Lawn Mowers and 5 Mics

Filed under: Business, Marketing, Musings, Negotiating, Recording, Technology — connieterwilliger @ 12:54 pm

Scattered in the storage area behind the garage are three (yes, I said 3) lawn mowers. Two gas mowers and an electric mower. None of them work. Well, one can be coaxed into mowing, if you know the secret sequence of events that involves lots of starter fluid sprayed in the spark plug socket and the carburetor in just the right order. Only one person knows how to do that.

I should probably get rid of all three of them and get one that works right the first time you yank on the starter.

I have two weed whackers. One is gas powered and I don’t think that one works. The battery operated whacker works, but not for very long on a charge. That one I got on Craig’s List.

I had a couple of loppers to cut the branches off the fig tree every year in August when the figs have turned to mush and are dropping off the tree faster than they can be picked. Can’t find any of them at the moment. Did have some yard guys working on landscaping a couple months ago, so perhaps the loppers are off lopping somewhere else.

I don’t even want to admit how many hand pruners I had lying around the yard – rusting because I forget where I leave them. I can’t seem to find but one of them at the moment.  And my large slip-joint pliers have gone missing. But screwdrivers! I have a million of them. Of course, when you need the phillips head screwdriver, all you can find are flat head.

What does this have to do with the price of eggs? Or with voiceover work?

Wait – I’m thinking. I’m thinking.

Come to think of it, I also have a lot of mics – Two matching AKG 3000s, an AKG 1000, 2 matching ADK Hamburgs and an EV RE20. Not very expensive mics, but mics that I tried and liked. And then found something else I liked better that was still inside my $ threshold of pain. And just the other day, I was down at the audio store where I found most of my mics looking at yet another one because they are/were going out of business and had some good deals.

I guess it says something about how I approach my life and work. I’m curious to know how things work. I have a lot of interests. I make quick decisions – sometimes. (Sometimes I never make a decision.) I like to be in control. I’m a perfectionist, yet sometimes a random perfectionist. I am never nervous – when I am prepared. Scared silly – when I am not.

And I’m thrifty – sort of. When you end up with multiple “bargain” items that don’t necessarily function the way they were intended (or as they did at some point in time), thrifty turns into a waste of time and money. But when they do work, it means redundancy.

Back in 1996, I hand-coded my first website – before WYSIWYG interfaces were invented. I wanted to know how to do it. And the cost to have someone create a website was high because it was new, so I balked at forking over the cash and figured it out for myself. This was a good thing. I still retain basic html knowledge and can go in and fix balky WYSIWYG interfaces.

I am a frequent beta-tester of software and websites. The control and curiosity part of me surfaces here. This started back in the days of CP/MDOS and dot prompt computers that simply didn’t do what I wanted them to do. As a video scriptwriter at the time, I wanted to write two-column scripts and keep the left and right sides lined up. I sure knew what I wanted to do, but technology simply hadn’t caught up. And this desire hasn’t changed. We always want our toys to do more than they do. Actually, I think I have reached the limit on what I want my TV remote to do (and I’m getting close with the phone too!).

How does all this affect my work?

When it comes to the actual recording part of my job, my curiosity and perfectionism come into play. No matter the script, I can find something interesting to connect with. Even when reading endless lists of the names addresses and phone numbers of dentists, eye doctors and lawyers, I find a way to keep it fresh. Guessing how many more listings in AZ before it moves into CA. Trying to read the next prompt while I am finishing the current prompt without making a mistake.

And files don’t leave my computer without a thorough quality check – which results in minimum redos – but adds to the time I spend on each project. Depending on the project and how much of a perfectionist I am – could be a little, could be a lot. (Self-directing means second guessing. I make far fewer “mistakes” when I am in a directed session because I have an audience to “perform” to!)

Here is where my thrifty side shows its face. I spend a lot of time trying to find the least expensive solution. And because I am so connected on the internet, I have been able to find some truly great bargains over the years on technology that has improved my bottom line. Finding a used Musicam Prima through the precursor to the VO-BB for example. The upside to this is that I usually have backup when things get goofy.

Because of my interest in all things software or Internet related, I have been on the first wave as a Beta Tester. This has been helpful in getting software that actually helps streamline and improve my workflow. It has been helpful in reducing subscription costs to several casting websites.

My random perfectionism rears its head in this department. My marketing efforts in the past were much more organized and now – not so much. But it is always somewhere in the forefront of my mind. And far far away from sales – which is another subject entirely and not something I like to do.

A popular saying within my particular voiceover community is that “there is no math in voiceovers.” Well, that turns out not to be true. There is a lot of math. Quoting rates for example. Every project is different. There is no one size fits all here. So a standard rate card is difficult to establish. I have it on my list of things to do – at least something that is close. But no, every time someone comes to me directly, it takes time to come up with a rate. And everyone wants the quote figured in a different way, so even with a “rate” card, it has the ultimately be converted from cost per finished minute to cost per word to cost per project.

Keeping track of hours. Creating invoices. Depositing checks and or balancing the accounts. Taxes. Collections. All of this involves math.

Bottom Line

I muddle through. I have managed to cobble together a successful business – at times highly organized – other times – not so much. In going through the papers of first my aunt, then my father and now my mother, I see that I am not nearly as organized as I should be. But it seems to be working.

One of the lawn mowers made it’s way out to the alley last week and was adopted by an alley elf…so now I only have two lawn mowers. The electric mower is slowing being disassembled using one of my many many screwdrivers and the remaining pair of pliers and will be discretely disposed of in the trash over the next couple of weeks – leaving me with one mower – that works – sort of.

Perhaps I need to do a quick check of Craig’s List…



1 Comment »

  1. Thanks for this great blog, Connie. I certainly identified with it. Except I got rid of all the lawn mowers & hired a gardener. : – )

    Comment by beverlybremers — December 2, 2013 @ 12:33 pm

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