Connie Terwilliger – ISDN Voice Talent

May 23, 2015

Curiosity Creates Opportunity

Filed under: Auditioning, Business, Musings — Tags: , — connieterwilliger @ 4:55 pm

Ding Tut sleeping on pile of papersI was thinking about the phrase “curiosity killed the cat” today as one of my cats climbed up on a pile of empty cardboard boxes that were piled high on a work table to see what was going on and everything came down in a huge, yet rather quiet crash – except for the startled yelp of the cat as he was propelled into the air.

Most of us know what curiosity killed the cat “means.” Poking around can have dire consequences. But I was curious as to it’s origin, so I did some Googling and found this info on Wikipedia. It started out as “care killed the cat.”

Ben Johnson, an English playwright in 1598 used something like it one of his plays – followed by Shakespeare in 1599. It evolved into the more familiar “curiosity killed the cat in the later half of the 1800’s. O’Henry used it in a short story back in 1909.

This is the short definition from the Know Your Phrase site: “Used as a warning for anyone who is acting excessively curious, as their prying behavior may lead them to harm or even death.”

Then they used it in a sentence and it got me to thinking about what I do as a voice actor. “My boss warned me that curiosity killed the cat after I kept pestering him to tell me why he fired his last employee.”

Does this little adage apply to what I do? Not at all frankly.

Much of my day is spent auditioning for possible work. I spend some time doing actual work. A lot of time is spent finding opportunities to work – or opportunities to audition for work. And time is spent in billing and counting the stacks of money that arrive at my door. OK, not a lot of time is spent doing that last thing.

But my point is that I have to be curious. I need to be up on the latest trends in voice styles and deliveries. Not that I am trying to copy someone’s sound, but if I hear something truly aurally delicious I listen and analyze what they are doing with the words, the syllables, the pauses, the pacing, the attitude, the mic proximity, and on and on.

Each commercial, web video, overhead announcement, or anything where a voice talent has been paid to read a script is worth my time to listen and learn. To learn how to better make that connection between the words on the page and the person listening.

So, my curiosity about what makes something great creates opportunities for me to do a better read the next time I am in the booth – either auditioning for a job, or doing a job. The more I connect with and communicate the meaning of the words, the more opportunity I have to connect with the decision maker and get them to hire me for the job. It helps me produce work that keeps my regular clients coming back with more work.

So, bring on that pile of boxes and let me poke around exploring. There just may be something special buried in there!

May 17, 2015

Marketing. It’s part of the job.

Filed under: Business, Marketing — Tags: , — connieterwilliger @ 12:22 pm

Most small businesses struggle with balancing time. How much time you spend working vs. how much time you spend seeking the work. There is no magic formula, but you have to be aware of the fact that no matter how talented you are, if no one knows about it, you won’t have a business very long.

That means marketing what you have to sell to the people who want to buy it. global plug

Putting up a website and just hoping people find you is simply not going to happen. My business is global and as each day passes and more and more people buy domain names and throw up websites, it becomes harder and harder to get the right eyes on you and what you offer. Even if you throw a lot of money into SEO, there are larger companies out there using the same key words who will nearly always rank higher in the searches.

So basic marketing skills become even more important.

  • Networking is part of marketing.
    • Virtual – get out and meet people who may have use of your service, or be able to refer you to someone who does. People like doing business with people they like! Join a group, attend conferences, or simply do things and get to know the people around you.
    • Cyberspace – do the same kind of thing online. Join groups. Contribute something valuable (or funny) to the conversation. Let people get to know you and your sparkling personality.Cold calling – the very thought sends chills down the spines of some people, but if you do a little research on a company before deciding to call, you can start developing new relationships with little to no pain.
  • Cultivation – you need to nurture the relationships you have or are developing. There are various ways to do this and you need to find what works best for you. Having a good easy to use CRM system is helpful. There are a lot out there with various prices and features. This is where having your own peer support group is helpful – for recommendations.
    • Newsletters – I started to send out Quarterly newsletters again after a few years hiatus. Mail Chimp is working well for me at the moment, but others like Constant Contact. Here is a link to the latest newsletter. (Click here to sign up to get it!)
    • Personal emails – include something personal in your personal emails! Do you know if your client is married? Kids? A favorite sport or team or pet?
    • Post cards – it might be worth it to send out a batch of post cards. Kind of depends on your total “look.”
    • Occasional calls – check in with favorite clients by phone once in a while.
  • Referrals – this point is referring to people referring you to do a job. I want my clients to think of me if someone asks them for a voice for a project. But it can work the other way as well, I do get the occasional request to recommend male voices, or people who speak Spanish or French. You need to be very careful who you refer to whom. A mismatch could end up with a bad feeling – for you!
  • Repeat Business – this is the best way of course to keep a business going. So how do you get clients to come back again and again?
    • Provide a quality product
    • At a fair price
    • In a timely manner
    • And be fun to work with
  • Stay in touch (Refer back to Item 3 on this list “Cultivation”)

Some of this will cost some green and need to be built into your budget. We can’t do everything for free. That’s part of the reality of being a business. There is a lot of truth to the old adage, “You have to spend money to make money.” However, many of us spend too much for too little in return, but that could be the subject of another post!

Spend a little time to find the right balance of work and finding work that works for you! If you have other ways to make and keep your connections, please add a comment!

May 16, 2015

Doing it for a live audience

Filed under: Musings — connieterwilliger @ 7:57 pm

After a two-year absence from the stage, I was cast in a show at one of my favorite theaters here in San Diego. Scripps Ranch Theatre. I played Rose, the aging neighbor in a Brooklyn apartment near Sunset Park (also the name of the show).

Marley Sims, one of the writers was able to come to the Preview and Opening Night. She hadn’t seen the show in 10 years since it premiered in Los Angeles and seemed to be pleased with our interpretation. And for me as an actor, it was fun to have her in the audience.

It wasn’t a huge part, so I was able to enjoy the process without the stress of being in every scene. A perfect way to get back on the boards.

That meant a lot of time backstage with the three other actors with minor roles and the stage manager. The interaction has changed a bit. I spent a lot of time drawing dark lines in my crows feet and nasal folds in order to age myself about 20 years, but there was time to spend with our scripts and running lines. But a lot of time was occupied with YouTube, Facebook, Words with Friends and Solitaire. (Navigating around the power cords was a challenge at times!)

But no one missed a cue and at the end of the run, there was the usual post-play blues. “What am I going to do now!”

I started getting back to the gym, picked up my marketing a bit, re-worked my website and thought about picking up the blog again.

As an actor, I just love the feeling of having an audience reacting – even the anticipation of a reaction is motivation.  As a voice actor, having a producer – an “audience” – on the line means fewer mistakes and general a more inspired delivery. Even better? Those rare occasions when I get to go to a local studio and see the producer and engineer face-to-face.

I am keeping my eyes open for the next audition. Got the bug again! This time though I’m looking for a role for a women closer to my own age so I don’t have to spend so much time at the makeup mirror drawing lines on my lines.

Sunset Park

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