Connie Terwilliger – ISDN Voice Talent

November 15, 2015

Yes, we have no bananas…

Filed under: Business, Communication, Negotiating — Tags: , , — connieterwilliger @ 8:00 am

Bananas“Yes, We Have No Bananas”  (the Louis Prima version here in this link) says…

He just “yes”es you to death, and as he takes your dough He tells you
“Yes, we have no bananas
We have-a no bananas today
We’ve string beans, and onions
Cabashes, and scallions,
And all sorts of fruit and say
We have an old fashioned tomato
A Long Island potato But yes, we have no bananas
We have no bananas today”

How does this apply to our business? Bananas = Time.

While I don’t have empirical evidence of this, most voiceover people can usually balance all the projects that show up on their “doorstep” and meet client deadlines. Particularly if you are doing self-directed short form work.

However, there are times when you are actually too busy to take on another project on any given day or week. In most cases, the client can wait for you to work it in. And work it in you will, even if it means staying up late, getting up early or working on the weekend.

But not all the time. Sometimes a job comes in that is just too big to meet a deadline. It happens if you are doing audio books where the finished product could be a dozen hours. It happens in eLearning when the client needs the entire math text for grades K through 5 recorded. It happens in large telephony/IVR jobs where you need to deliver 5000 files on a certain date.

What you don’t want to do is agree to do a job and then not have time to make sure that it meets the quality standards that you have established for yourself. The client is expecting no less.

So, how do you say – Yes, we have no bananas?”

Just be honest with yourself and with your client.

“I am very sorry, but I just can’t meet that deadline. I have several other projects that need to be finished before I can start on yours. Is this a hard and fast due date? Can you take partial delivery?”

If they can’t wait for the project until you have time to make sure that it is up your usual error-free work, then you may have to turn the job down. Better to tell them about your schedule issue and let them make the decision. Most of the time something can be worked out. If not, then it is good to have a handful of people that you could refer.

Our agents used to handle this kind of issue. If you were unavailable, they offered up the next choice. But the nature of our business has changed – especially for those of us who live outside the major production cities and do most of our work in our home studios self-directed. The details of scheduling are in our hands. We are the ones who negotiate and allocate our time.

Most of the time I can work in that extra job that comes in at the last minute and maintain the high quality product I have become known for. If I feel I can’t, then I’ll be honest about my time and see if we can find a way to make it work.

At the moment, I actually have lots of bananas. Lovely little Ice Cream bananas. Two huge bunches of them. And they will all come ripe at once. So I will require assistance to consume them.

 

August 27, 2015

What Does it Cost for a Voiceover?

Filed under: Business, Negotiating — Tags: , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 3:34 pm

HouseSeveral times a month I will get an email from a potential new client or an old client asking me how much would it cost to record – say 2 minutes of audio. That’s all. No additional details.

Intellectually I think we all know that this is akin to asking how much does it cost to paint a house. There are so many particulars involved that it isn’t possible to answer that question without asking a few questions in return. The more information you can provide in the initial email, the better, especially if you have a deadline that requires a quick response.

In the case of the house, you need to know how big it is. How many levels. How many windows. What kind of surface. How much prep needs to be done. What kind of paint. What kind of budget does the homeowner have. Where is the house located.

The same kind of thing happens with figuring out what the fee is going to be for a voiceover. Union or non-union the questions that need to be answered are pretty much the same.

So, here is a list of things to consider including in that initial email or phone call:

  • Detail the length of the piece. A word count is great for longer types of scripts. Don’t talk pages, because a page could be different depending on the font, the margins, the paper, etc.
  • Do you want the talent to use their own studio self-directed – or a phone patch? Or do you want them to be hooked up via ISDN, Source-Connect, ipDTL? Do you want the talent to go to an outside studio? Your office?
  • Indicate the use, the shelf-life and eyeballs (or ears). This is helps the talent figure out the potential audience.
    • If something is only going to be seen once in front of a small group, then perhaps the fee could be scaled back a bit…unless the project is something so high level that it has great significance and a huge production budget. The end budget for the production could help figure out a fair rate for the talent.
    • Is it marketing or training?
    • Will the project end up forever on YouTube?
    • Will there be other potential uses for the project? For example, will pieces of it be used in advertising? If so, what kind and how much? You may not be able to answer this question, but it should at least be in the back of your mind if it is a possibility.
    • If it is a radio or TV spot, is it generic with the potential of unlimited use? Or is it something very specific that will quickly become outdated and fade from sight.
    • New ways of estimating eyeballs are evolving and it is good to consider that shelf-life may be surpassed by the number of views as “pre-roll” advertising matures.
  • Is the script being translated from a foreign language by a staff member, or by a skilled translation company used to writing for a native American speaking audience. If not, then some script doctoring might be needed. Some talent can provide this service and work it into the fee.
  • If you have a draft of the script, it would be wonderful to include that if permissible. Seeing the actual content can answer a lot of questions – or at least provide fodder for specific questions.
  • What is the turn around time required? Faster may mean more $ depending on the project.
  • Does the voice have to match any timing that has already been established? This takes more time in the studio, so it is something that may show up in the quote.
  • Do you want any editing done on the voice track. For example cutting the session into some or many separate files with unique file names. Some talent is used to creating many separate files, but this information should be provided or discussed at the quote stage.
  • Any special requirements or unusual expectations should be described. Government projects usually have lots of acronyms. Let the talent know that if your script includes alphabet soup that you will provide pronunciation guides. This also applies to anything with paragraph numbers that need to be articulated. You know how to say Section 6-EX-W.203, Paragraph xii A402. But the talent probably doesn’t! Do we say “dot” or “point?”

These are just a few things to think about as you approach a voice talent or an agent to give you a quote for your project. Your project may only need to answer a few of these questions. But the more information you know and can provide in that initial contact, the better.

Oh – one more thing to include! If you have a budget in mind, please pass that information along. A range is fine – just something so that the talent can quickly look at your expectations and the parameters of the project in order to quickly and succinctly respond to your query.

July 11, 2015

There is no math in Voiceover…Ha!

Filed under: Business, Negotiating — connieterwilliger @ 4:58 pm

At many a gathering either virtually or face-to-face, voice talent has been known to utter this phrase – “There is no math in voiceover.” It has various meanings for each of us, but usually means that we are grateful that we don’t have to tackle calculus or quantum physics in order to do our jobs.

MathI wanted to be a bio major in college (loved my high school bio classes), but kept flunking chemistry. And one semester I withdrew from calculus before the teacher had to give me the inevitable “F.” OK, so I really didn’t study very hard in school and there may have been some drinking involved (Iowa was an 18 state at the time), but my brain just didn’t want to remember formulas and add and subtract large numbers – much less fractions.

This goes back to early high school (the first of the 3 high schools I attended – military kid) where the teacher sat us by grade. Yes, the A students, B students – etc. – down to the D and F students. I sort of matched my seating position in Home Room where we were sat alphabetically. As a T, I was always near the end of the line – in front of Voorhees, but after Sims.

But I did get moved up to the A row once a year when we were doing Geometry. This wasn’t math to me, it was art – shapes, angles, designs. The biggest thrill for me was that during that unit, I got to sit near the man-boy of my dreams during math class – Bill Sims – who always sat in the A section. I was able to sit near him during Home Room – the alphabet thing – but not in math. My remembery is a bit fuzzy on how this worked in other classes, but I do remember Home Room and Math.

I have always had a knack for percentages and averages. But the detailed stuff? The balancing the checkbook stuff? Adding up complex numbers. Formulas. These have always been difficult for me. I don’t think I’m dyslexic, but numbers do get reversed. I’m probably just not really paying attention.

So, my plan to become a research biologist and discover the cure for cancer fell by the wayside and I ended up majoring in Art in college. The art degree opened the doors to a job in a TV station as a graphic artist, then floor director/camera op – on to graduate school in radio and TV.

Most of my life, I have worn many hats, some of which did require using some math. A producer needs to work up budgets for example. But script writing and talent work usually doesn’t. At least not complex math – and for that I am very grateful.

But, as a free lance voice talent, I am here to tell you that there IS math in voiceover.

It may not be complicated math, but for some reason, there are times when I amaze even myself with my lack of math skills.

Beginning a project you work with the client to determine a rate. This can be fairly simple to mind-numbingly complex depending on the type of project. You want to make sure that you are accounting for several things as you find a mutually agreeable fee. Numbers have to be crunched carefully to make sure you find that sweet spot.

Your time, your expertise, the usage, the life-span, the speed of delivery. The number of projects being done at one time. The potential length of time for continued work on the project. Are you figuring the rate by words, finished minute, amount of finish work?

And while it is not technically math, you have to create, send, track and account for money owed. Software is helpful, but it never does exactly what you want it to do, so you have to remember the workarounds you found to make it work for you.

And then, there are the occasional scripts that come across your eyeballs that are ALL MATH!!! Do I remember the actual words for all those symbols so that I can work my way through the 4th grade fractions class. A few came to mind, but work flow slowed as time was spent researching the terms. I discovered that in math, I am NOT smarter than a 4th grader. (Actually, I knew that in the 4th grade.)

But most of the time, there is not a LOT of math in voiceover – and for that I am grateful.

June 22, 2015

Usage has Value

Filed under: Business, Communication, Musings, Negotiating — connieterwilliger @ 4:20 pm

One of the lessons free lancers – independent contractors – need to learn in this Internet age is to negotiate a fair price for their work. We see it day after day – people wanting the free lancer to work – well, to work not necessarily for free, but close to it. And in fact, in some cases – people DO expect it for free. It is happening in all creative areas.

Connie_40s_Party_2014

Oh, for the good old days…

You wouldn’t ask the plumber to cut rates by half or more. The dry cleaner. The tailor. The electrician. But on the creative side of things – the graphic artist, the writer, or the voice talent – it seems like a “name that tune” experience nearly every day.

Part of it is educating the people doing the hiring. But the people doing the work need a bit of education as well in order to arrive at a rate that is fair for everyone.

This is tough, because there are no set rates other than union rates – and those don’t cover every new genre of voiceover work. Nor does the union understand how the majority of voiceover people work these days – in their own studios, on their own time, with their own tools. Some union contracts have value, but a lot are simply hangovers from days gone by. Some rates are too high – and others are too low. And some areas of voiceover are simply not even addressed.

And the scale rates also don’t take into consideration the additional money the producer pays for payroll taxes (the talent is working as an employee), disability, social security and health and retirement benefits. So if you are using union contracts as a guide, be sure to add the extra %!

Nor do the scale union rates consider that the talent will be using their own studio, which under the old model was extra. Then, add to the confusion that the new producers (outside the major markets) might not know any differently. The idea that they would hire a voice talent and then hire a studio to engineer and edit may simply not even occur to them.

And most of the work being done today is non-union. There are “suggested” non-union rates, but these are all over the map. And none of these union or non-union rates are applicable across all projects.

One key area for each side of this coin to think about is “usage.” What is the product designed to do? And where will the end product show up and for how long? Creatives – be prepared to ask. Producers – be prepared to tell.

What is the product designed to do?

Let’s stick to the voiceover side of things for the example. Is the script in front of me going to train in-house people on a process or change the way they think about a process? Or is the end product promoting a product/service to a potential client? Both have value.

Both the producer and the talent need to be aware of the potential for profit for the person paying the bills. While you may not be able to predict profit, you at least must be aware of the potential. This is a starting point for negotiations. If you don’t consider it at all, then there is no room to haggle. Not that I am encouraging a lot of haggling!

Where will the end product show up and for how long? 

How will the final product be used? Is is going to be shown only on a company website with plans to upgrade it each quarter? Or is the script generic and the clients wants all rights in perpetuity throughout the known universe (yes, read the fine print!).

I call it shelf-life and eyeballs/ears. And it is part of any response to the emails that come in saying “How much?” Using those words can break the ice a little when tiptoeing around the dollars.

Usage has Value!

What we do as voice talent is of value to our clients. It will help them communicate to someone to achieve a certain result. That result could be sales. It could be happy productive workers. We all need to aware of what these results could be. Will it keep visitors at a plant safe? Will it cut production costs? Will the project be seen by millions of people over the course of a 10-year lifetime? Will it be seen once by a 12-person board of directors – who control a 6 billion dollar company? Or will it be shown to the board of a small non-profit. Will it help sell thousands of low-dollar product, or hundreds of high-dollar packages?

While results and sales figures can’t possibly be known before the project is produced, we should all evaluate the potential as we negotiate.

Our joint job is to recognize that there is a new business paradigm created by the internet. Some of us have been in business since before the Internet became ubiquitous. We see the changes and struggle to figure out how to stay in business as rates plummet. For those who know nothing of a time before the Internet, they must try to understand that lowering the rate of pay for the creative people who create and produce their messages to a level where they can’t stay in business will result in everyone losing.

One way to help this along is to use an agent. Yes, consider using a middleman…the person the Internet has basically cut out of the equation. An agent will know to ask these questions. Agents are used to discussing rates. Creatives are not as a whole. It has become a very stressful part of a talent’s job – and actually can create barriers to creativity.

In the end, there will be compromise of course. But always, when negotiating directly with the talent, or using an agent, there has to be awareness of the value of the work that is being done.

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?

Performance
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!)

Technology
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.

Software
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.

Marketing
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.

Business
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…

 

November 22, 2013

Give it away, give it away now

Filed under: Business, Negotiating — Tags: , — connieterwilliger @ 10:05 am

The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Give It Away” has a couple of lyrics that make me think about the way I live my life and do business. I’m pretty lucky to be doing what I am doing and make a living at it. Still looking to spend more time on the dancin’ part of it, and better do that soon before my agility runs out.

“Lucky me swimmin’ in my ability. Dancin’ down on life with agility.”

At least I am interpreting these lyrics in this way. Not being the type of person who plans, but someone who has a bit of common sense and intuition, I ended up being able to carve out a living doing something that I enjoy. In fact, enjoy to the point where I don’t really consider it work. This gets to be an issue when I don’t take the time to dance.

Later on in the song, we come to this line…

“I can’t tell if I’m a Kingpin or a pauper.”

And there are days when I think I am flush – and other days when I wonder about when the next job is going to come in. But Kingpin or pauper, someone some time is going to ask us to do something for free, or for much less than our normal rate.

And every time this happens I don’t know what to say. When do we give something away? USA Today had an article recently by Rhonda Abrams, that has some thoughtful strategies on how to limit these business freebies and how to determine which to tackle.

Strategies: How to limit your business freebies

Giving things away isn’t really a bad thing and in fact, should be part of our overall business strategy. Although when I say the words “business strategy,” I start to wonder about my motivations. I have struggled with the idea that I need to be more altruistic in my giving, and not worry about how it might benefit my business.

But we DO get asked to work for free or for less than our rate, so we need to be able to respond to these requests in a thoughtful way. Especially when the request is coming from a “friend.”

In this article, she discusses some common questions and some possible responses. Questions such as:

“I can’t pay you, but you’ll get great exposure.”

“I don’t have budget for this project.”

“We’re a start-up and don’t have any money.”

“I’ll trade you.”

“We’re friends.”

“There are lots of other people who will do it for free.”

Check it out! This is one article I will be bookmarking.

And please excuse me now, I am going into the booth to do a little freebie – recording the pre-show announcement for a local community theater.

September 19, 2013

I’ll Gladly Pay You Someday for a Voiceover Job Today

Filed under: Business, Musings, Negotiating — Tags: , , , — connieterwilliger @ 3:10 pm

Why is it that creative businesses (mostly independent freelancers) find themselves on the short end of the stick when it comes to getting paid in a timely manner? My voiceover friend Paul Strikwerda discussed this phenomenon today in his Nethervoice blog – http://www.nethervoice.com/2013/09/18/when-a-client-owes-you/

Why is it that the sub-contractors have to wait for their money until the prime contractor gets paid. This is not the way it is supposed to work. Paul postulates as to why we find ourselves in this position of being the tail on the dog when it comes to getting paid.

When I was an active video producer, I mostly worked in-house or for a large production company and didn’t have problems with getting paid for what I did, or paying the people that worked for me. There was a much larger machine chugging along with enough accounts receivable to cover the costs of the jobs. I just didn’t ever think about it. I worked. I got paid.

But when I became a freelance producer of corporate video, I quickly learned that I needed to have a lot of reserves in my bank account in order to make sure I had enough money to pay my sub-contractors in a timely manner.

It never, never, never occurred to me to delay payment to a sub-contractor until I got paid. I knew that I had to have enough reserves to be able to pay the people I hired even if I didn’t get timely payment from the person that hired me. I quickly learned that I didn’t like being the bank, and stopped freelance producing.

But as I developed my own personal freelance voiceover business, I soon found myself in the position of being the person waiting to get paid, because the person that hired me had not been paid yet.

This is really no way to run a business. Some of my agents even operate this way. Was it always this way? Is it just with the creative, freelance businesses? Is it because what we do isn’t life and death. You can get treated in an emergency room without paying for the service immediately. But if payment isn’t made in a timely manner, the screws will start to turn.

As a small one-person shot, our leverage is pretty weak. Read Paul’s blog to get his take on why freelancers are “Easy Targets.

Learning to trust your gut and how to use the word “no” are important skills for the independent business person. We don’t know when the next job will be coming. We need to be sure that we are not waiting for it in desperation. Desperation frequently leads to bad business decisions.

I suppose I am one of the lucky ones. My business is – at the moment – ahead of the curve. If someone delays payment (for whatever reason), I am not at risk of losing my house. And there HAS been a bit more delay in payment in the past year or so. Some of which is due to poor invoicing on my part. Some is due to hard economic times. Some is due to internal movements in large companies. Some is due to people waiting to get paid before they pay me.

So, what to do about it? That is the question. One thing about a union contract is that this is not going to be an issue. The producer has signed a contract agreeing to pay you no matter what happens to their accounts receivable.

At this point in my own business, I simply need to make sure I discuss the payment terms ahead of time. Ask the hard question – are you waiting to be paid before you pay me? And if the answer is yes – be prepared to say “no.” Be prepared to ask for money up front. Be prepared to ask for money before final files are delivered. Be prepared! Do I do this? Most of the time I do not do this. But most of my clients are repeat clients and referrals from trusted clients and respected friends.

So, anyone up for a hamburger? I’ll gladly pay you on Tuesday after I get paid for that job I did 3 months ago.

(PS – are you seeing ads on this blog? If so, does it bug you? Let me know! connie@voiceover-talent.com)

 

August 21, 2012

The Value of a Voiceover

Filed under: Business, Marketing, Musings, Negotiating — Tags: , — connieterwilliger @ 11:17 am

Just what does it take to be successful as a voice talent in 2012? Treat it like a business. (This of course, assumes that you have some talent to start with.)

The Internet has changed what we do in many significant ways. It has 1) increased the number of people offering their services as voice talent (whether they should be or not), 2) cut out the middle man in casting (the people who know the value of voiceover), and because of a lack of truly understanding that this is a business like any other business it has 3) driven rates down down down.

Many people just getting started fail to see the big picture. Sure, the come on for so many of the endless voiceover classes screams “make $300 an hour,” but … can you live on one hour every few months?

One recent discussion centered on whether $25 per hour was a “good rate.”

Hey, if you are doing something 8 hours a day, 7 days a week, 50 weeks a year with a 2-week vacation and paid holidays, then $25 an hour will pay the mortgage and put food on the table – depending on where you live, it could buy you a bass boat too. But the reality of the voiceover business is that you will not be recording 8 hours a day, 7 days a week, etc., etc.

If you are a working voiceover professional, you are more likely actually voicing (and possibly editing) for an hour or two a day, but that $25 you will make for that hour must also cover the initial rate negotiation, the subsequent invoicing, the  maintenance of your equipment, that new software, the marketing plan and execution, etc., etc., etc. (There are a lot of etcetera’s in this business!)

There will be weeks where you will voice many more hours and simply not have time to do the bookkeeping and then there will be the weeks where you will not voice a single project and spend hours troubleshooting a corrupted driver issue, sorting through your email folders and catching up on marketing (or the laundry). This is not a job for people who must have a steady pay check. It is your own business.

And as it becomes easier and cheaper to acquire opportunities and tools, there is an ever increasing group of people who have simply skipped over the business part and fail to see that what they do actually has value.

May 7, 2012

Spread the word! Think about usage!

Filed under: Business, Marketing, Negotiating — connieterwilliger @ 12:28 pm

One of my favorite enewsletters comes from the plethora of enewsletters published each day by MediaPost. If I subscribed to them all, I would probably go mad.

This one is called Online Video Daily and today the top story was a VidBlog by Daisy Whitney titled:

Managing Online Video and TV Campaigns: Tips from Production to Talent Rights

The part of that headline that caught my eye and prompted me to click through was the “…to Talent Rights” part.

As we struggle each day to keep rates to a level where we can continue to make a living in this business, it is refreshing to see people advocating for payment for additional usage. Of course, the resource for the article is Extreme Reach, a group that specializes in all things related to delivering and managing video advertising and is used to using Union Talent.

Make sure you know whether a TV ad can run online. “Commercial talent and third-party rights are often restricted on specific ads. Some are not allowed to run on the Web. Some are for Web only. Most ads have rights expiration dates. When an ad runs where or when it is not allowed to, those terms are violated. As a result, agencies and brands can incur significant fines and additional unexpected costs,” Robert Haskitt, CMO of Extreme Reach said.

The advice offered by Extreme Reach may not be enforceable outside of a union contract, but the bottom line is something we should all remind ourselves and the people we are working with – usage counts.

December 9, 2011

Be Picky!

Filed under: Auditioning, Marketing, Musings, Negotiating — connieterwilliger @ 7:36 pm

I pay to play on Voice123. And as each month passes, I am more and more picky about the time I spend auditioning. And yet, I am still auditioning a bit more than all Voice123 Premium Subscribers that also speak English – North American.

I just counted up the auditions I’ve done in the past 6 months…63 auditions. I think I’ve had 2 bookings – could be more, I’d have to do a little database research. A lot of Finalist rankings, but the phone hasn’t rung yet with the gig – and maybe never will. Too soon to tell on some of them and relationships are bubbling I am sure.

Frankly I would be thrilled to have 10 auditions a month from my agents. I’m up to about 8 per month with one agent and the others? Not even close. Of course, I do get booked through agents without auditioning, which is the ideal situation. And for that I am grateful.

But times have changed, online casting is here to stay. You can’t un-ring this bell. But I think we need to do some analysis on our personal ROI when it comes to the P2P sites. For some it pencils out nicely, for others, their time may be better spent elsewhere.

The advice from Voice123 about being picky is really good advice. Our agents used to do this part of the process. They didn’t send all of us out for everything. Of course this led to the occasional call as to WHY we didn’t get sent out.

You would think that getting an audition in your email would be a good thing, but when it comes to the P2P sites, the first thing I did a while back – a long while back – was shut off the lead emails. I have done the same for Facebook. I have turned off the auto-notifications. I need to do that with LinkedIn, because I get lots of email when a thread is active.

I go to the V123 site when I have the time and scan the open leads. I will immediately delete a lead if the amount is under $300. Despite this rigorous “training of the algorithm” I still get $100 leads. Hope they work that out sometime, or at least allow the ability to simply not receive leads under a certain level. It’s not that I won’t work for less than $300, I do – depends on the project.

I then start looking at the highest dollar leads – or jobs that say Union Rates.

If the lead is for a middle-aged female with ISDN, that is my first priority. If there are too many different ages and both genders specified in the lead and the lead is for a single voice – I’ll delete those. If the lead is riddled with grammatical errors, or the copy is awkward – those get deleted. If the lead is for a national broadcast commercial and the rate is less than $300 – or $500, those get deleted.

If I think I am right for the project and the rate is in the ballpark, I’ll check out the client (as much as possible) and I’ll see how many people have already auditioned and if any of those have been opened. Too many people – delete. No more auditions opened after 6 for 6 hours – delete.

When I do decide to actually turn on the mic and record an audition, I have found myself more frequently ultimately deciding not to submit. Malaise? Insecurity? Good judgment? Not exactly sure, but in retrospect, it takes quite a bit of time to scan the leads, weigh the factors, record, edit, compose a response and then send the audition.

The time I spend on this might actually be put to better use. My contact database is filled with good and happy clients who have been neglected lately!

So, be picky my friends. Only you know what bell will ring in the best ROI for you.

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