Connie Terwilliger – ISDN Voice Talent

July 11, 2014

I Love My SEO – and My Production Partners

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 6:58 pm

OK, I’ve been on the Internet with a website since before Al Gore had anything to do with his infamous statement about moving forward initiatives to blah, blah, blah – invent the internet. See the Snopes info here >>>

This is a good thing. A real good thing.

I don’t have to buy key words. I come up in searches. A lot. Just a fact of having a web presence since 1996.

Lately it seems that people have been doing searches for voice talent in San Diego. Which makes my website come up even higher on the search results because of the addition of the city. This has led to more VO projects, but also much more than voiceover work.

As I have mentioned before, my background is as a producer/writer/on and off-camera talent since – well, since a long time ago. I stopped producing a couple of years into the turn of the century and the writing a couple years after that as my voiceover work took over.

Some of those people searching “voice talent San Diego” really need more than just a voice for their projects. How do I know that? From the way they approached me. From the information they provide. From the website links they send. You learn to analyze this information and use critical thinking. Sometimes a script is just a script. Sometimes it is more.

And when they get to me, they get more than a voice talent.

They get an award-winning producer and scriptwriter. Someone with social media savvy. A sense of humor. Someone who stays up with the trends. Someone who can  tell them that they need more than a voiceover talent to really tell their story to their audience. But also someone with enough experience in the business to be able to tell when someone actually wants some guidance on their whole production, or when to keep my mouth shut and just read it the way it was “writ.”

There is nothing more satisfying than working with someone to find the “right” way to tell their story. To be part of the whole process.

As “talent,” I love it when I get a great script from a creative production company or ad agency, where I know that time has been spent with the client to understand their needs. Written by a scriptwriter who understands that writing for the eye and for the ear are two different animals.

As a writer and producer, when a script arrives that needs help I have to walk that tightrope of performing the script as it was sent to me, or opening the door and showing my producer/writer hat. Sometimes it is an easy choice. The script was translated by a non-native English speaker for example. Newly hatched voice talent might have a harder time expressing the need for script doctoring to their clients, but we are part of the team and in some cases we need to make sure that the dollars they are spending are not wasted.

Sure, there will be times when it is best to keep your mouth closed and read it the way it was written. I frequently remind newbies that just because you recorded something and someone paid you to do it, doesn’t mean that it should go on your demo.

At some point though, you develop the skills to look at a project and determine if it would be good to broach the subject. It’s not that hard, but if you don’t have ANY background in production or scriptwriting, it might be a good thing to take a couple of classes or watch some award winning corporate pieces. The more you know about effective video storytelling the better job you will do…even if it is only recording the VO.

As successful voice talent is more likely to feel comfortable speaking up when the time is right – and become a vital part of your production team.

Today’s working voice talent have a lot to offer. Just do a search and read their bios, listen to their demos. Add them to the production team.

July 9, 2014

Time for a Kick Start

Filed under: Auditioning, Musings — Tags: , , — connieterwilliger @ 6:45 pm

I am a working voice talent. I make my living doing this. And as with most voice talent outside the major markets I find that I rely more and more on my own abilities to self-direct. Especially at the audition phase.

As someone who has been doing this a long time, I have lots of repeat clients, referrals and direct leads from my website – most of which don’t ask for an audition because they know me, or they simply like what they hear on my demos and don’t ask for an audition.

But, oh those auditions…

It is true that the booking to audition ratio is getting worse. More agents receive the same copy – which means many more people end up auditioning for the same spot – where in the past one or two agents would submit just a few of their talent.  This is ancient history. And if you are on any of the Pay-2-Play sites, you will find that in some cases the producer asks for 100 auditions.

Today your auditions have to stand out with at least three things to help land you the job. They have to be Quick. They have to be Different. And they have to be Right.

Quick – in delivery, because of the sheer numbers of auditions being submitted. At some point the producer will hear something that catches their ear and stop listening. So, the quicker you get the audition in the better.

Different – because many auditions will have a similar feel. People will read a piece of copy at the same pace with the same inflections, stopping in the same places. Now, the bigger the project, the less this happens, because the quality of the talent is just – well, better.

Right – this is one of those intangibles in some respects (and is actually related to being Different I suppose), because you may be giving a fine performance that stands out, but you simply are not the voice in the producer’s head this time around.

So, how do you deliver an audition that grabs the producer by the ears in a timely manner?

This is actually on my mind quite a lot these days, because I have noticed a trend in what I am booking off auditions.

The stuff I do every day for my repeat clients, referrals and direct leads is the bread and butter of our industry these days – the corporate pieces, websites, eLearning, marketing, company communications. (My last blog post highlighted a couple of these pieces.) I have worked for some of these clients for more than 10 years – a few for much longer than that. A few are new clients who heard my demos and made the leap. I don’t have to audition for those jobs.

The irony here is that in looking at my auditions this year, when I have to audition for the type of work I do all the time, I am not booking the jobs.

What I do book off auditions are dialog roles for radio spots or eLearning projects. Wives, teachers, moms, grandmothers. Some funny. Some caring. But always a real person delivering realistic dialog. Not crazy characters, but ordinary people with a point of view.

But these are not major market spots that will pull in the “pay off the mortgage” dollars. They are fun. They are almost always ISDN which means actual people on the line having fun with you. But they are almost always regional spots with a limited shelf-life.

The eLearning dialog is also lower on the pay scale because the roles are usually small.

So, time for a tune up – a kick start. Time to trust one of the most trusted coaches in the industry to help me figure out how to find my voice for the endless opportunities in corporate narration and the once in a while high dollar commercials that come my way – and Quickly produce a read that is Different and rings Right to the person making the decision on who to hire for the job.

July 7, 2014

June Came and June Went…

What the heck just happened? The month of June just sort of disappeared in a vortex of VO work. Which is a good thing, but makes it hard to find the time to compose something interesting, relevant or amusing as a blog post.

And that is the goal of keeping a blog – at least as I understand it.

My class blog is easier to keep up to date, but can become a tad boring and even repetitive for people who are not active students in the class. If there was a way to filter OUT the homework assignments, and only keep the interesting videos and articles that would be different, but I haven’t figured out a way to do that yet.

One of the things I talk to my introduction to voice acting students is that just because you are hired to record something for someone, you don’t have to put it on your demo. Especially when you are first starting out in the biz and your first client is a hard sell local radio spot written by the sales exec on the back of napkin during lunch. It is hard NOT to crow about the fact that someone paid you to do something that you have been wanting to do for a long time, but at a certain point, you have to start using your common sense about what to promote.

As a performer, there are many times when the take you thought was the best was not the take that ended up on the project. Shrug it off and if you really don’t like the take that made the cut – then you don’t have to put it on your demo, or showcase it on your website.

Promote the heck out of projects that have it all – great script, great visuals and music, and that great VO – if you can get copies. Periodically I do a search on YouTube for finished versions of projects that I have recorded. Marketing pieces will almost always end up on YouTube. eLearning or small audience proprietary informational pieces will not. Other projects come with NDAs, so even if you did get a copy, you couldn’t talk about it.

So, to finish this blog post with something interesting, relevant or amusing…hmmmm…I know, how about a small collection of videos that may live forever on YouTube. (I hope. I suppose I need to download them for safekeeping.)

Let’s start with a joke. “A Swede, a Canadian and a South African walk into a bar…”

OK, that wasn’t really a joke. Maybe something interesting then…about soybeans…

Now, relevant…well, I guess the soybean video could cover both interesting and relevant…how about this cartoon then. It is from a few years back, but still feels relevant to me…

Now, I just found out that a documentary I did a narration for won a Silver Reel at the Nevada Film Festival in 2011. That one is not on YouTube, so no clip to see!

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