Connie Terwilliger – ISDN Voice Talent

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.

May 19, 2012

Down Time: Duties or Dilly Dallying?

Filed under: Business, Musings — Tags: , , , — connieterwilliger @ 6:47 pm

I don’t know about you, but I don’t spend hours and hours in my booth, unless I am recording an audio book. Most of the time I am NOT in my booth. When you do mostly spots or short corporate pieces or eLearning, your time in the booth is probably a lot less than the time you spend catching up on Facebook.

But what should we be doing with the time we are not recording? My thoughts on that have changed over the years. And god help the person who has to unravel the mess I am leaving behind because of this change in attitude.

I used to be a lot more organized than I am now. You would think that with advances in software to make our lives easier, that I would have things a lot more together than I do. I have Outlook and Act and Quicken Home and Business (just abandoned QuickBooks after a few years of confusion).

But I am SO far behind in cleaning out my Outlook folders and adding people to my Contacts and then to Act. And now with Quicken Home and Business, I need to do a slightly different process for invoicing that isn’t quite as intuitive as QuickBooks, but at least I don’t keep getting error messages because I try to fix something. Quicken is like your check register – very forgiving. QuickBooks is for bean counters. I am an Artist, not a Bean Counter.

My priorities have shifted over the years. Since taking responsibility for my mom as she fights the desperately horrible disease called Dementia, my personal time has infringed on my work time. And guess what! Worlds did not collide. I did not lose my house. The bills are paid.

Part of this is due to years of being in the business and being reliable. Years of being at the ready. Years of nose to the grindstone. And perhaps that is the lesson I needed to learn. That at some point, all the legwork you do will carry you over when you want (or need) to do something else instead of work. You can’t abandon your networking and marketing of course, but after establishing yourself, you should be able to take some time to do something fun, or maybe not so fun, when necessary.

I still spend far too much time at my computer. But I LIKE the computer. I like to read and type. I just spent far too long looking at cool animal pictures following a link from Facebook – and do NOT send me a link to Wimp – I will be lost for hours.

So, what do I do when I am not recording? Well, most of the time I am not dilly dallying.

  1. Social Networking has risen to a top priority (or addiction – I’m not completely sure!)
  2. Watering my plants and tending the garden
  3. Playing with the cats
  4. Taking a walk and getting away from the computer
  5. Getting back to the computer to work for a professional association
  6. Checking in on my mom in her Memory Care Community
  7. Volunteering
  8. Doing some art
  9. Invoicing (hmm, that seems to be a bit low on the list doesn’t it? I should move that up.)
  10. Going through my old email folders and trying to get people in the proper database and then actually touch base
  11. Reconnecting with friends

Oh gosh, the part about getting more exercise and getting a kayak – that should be on there too. I’ve never had TIME for toys. Now that I do, I need to train myself to actually get them and use them!

If you are just getting started in this business – I offer you my deepest condolences. With the way the world has changed, you are probably facing a double whammy: fewer clients to start with – who want to pay less and less money for what you do. This is NOT just a voiceover thing. It is pervasive in every industry.

So if you ARE just starting out, find your niche. Know what you do best. Dig for the people who want to buy what you have to sell. Don’t sell out to the lowest bidder.

Oh, excuse me – gotta run. I’m late for an Art Opening!

June 8, 2010

CAN * DO * WILL (Never I Can’t, I Don’t, I Won’t)

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 10:08 am

One of the best things about VOICE 2010 was finally connecting face-to-face with people who I have know for years in the virtual world. One of those was Tim Underwood from

I have been listed on Tim’s roster of talent for years now and was thrilled to see that he would be speaking at VOICE 2010. His topic was “How to be a Go-To Talent.”

His packet of handouts was very funny and included space to take notes and do some doodling (in case we got bored – which we didn’t of course).

A few of the top things I took away from his session – besides a lovely photo taken after the session with Tim and two other of his “go-to” talent – Charlie Glaize and Amy Taylor):

  • Always have a Can, Do, Will attitude. Skip the excuses!
  • Be ready to say Yes! And then get what you need to serve your client (ftp, more storage space, download the DocX converter, add stealth fans to your computer, get a better mic, etc.)
  • Make sure your signature block has all pertinent information so people don’t have to search
  • Sell the benefits of working with you
  • Don’t make a big deal about problems. For example, don’t mention the helicopter, simply stop for a second and say you need a sip of water. By the time you are done, the helo will be gone.

Thanks for the reminders Tim!

February 18, 2010

Time Flies: Balancing Personal and Job Time

Filed under: Musings — Tags: , , — connieterwilliger @ 11:34 am

What happened to February!? OK, it is a short month, but really, I look up at the calendar and shake my head in disbelief that it is nearly the end of the month already. There are things on my To Do list hanging around from last December that I swore I would complete by the end of January! (Well, the mosaic garden table was supposed to be finished by the end of LAST January – that project is waaay behind.)

Balancing personal and business life is getting to be quite a challenge. On the one hand I am lucky to have a job that lets me jump up and put out fires. On the other hand, I sometimes wish that I had a job that kept me confined for 8 hours so that I didn’t have to jump up and put out fires.

I’d like to chalk up the passing of deadlines to my work load taking priority, but the personal time blocks in my Outlook Calendar are overwhelming my job time blocks.

Again it’s that ying and yang thing. On the one hand, this is good in that I am getting to know my mother for the first time in my life. And on the other hand, I frequently have to move my job schedule in order to make the time to do this.

January 16, 2010

Critical Business Practices

Filed under: Business — Tags: , — connieterwilliger @ 12:53 pm

Edge Studio sent out a great email the other day with 10 important business practices. I haev to admit, I KNOW about all 10 of these things, but find that one or more get bumped down the To Do list depending on work and play load. This is the complete email I received.

You might consider getting on their email list – you will be notified of their free tele-seminars and get other good free information such as this.  Was looking for a link where you could sign up for the email, but couldn’t easily find it – so here is the web address:

It’s very easy to become complacent once you have clients coming in. You forget what it took to get there. You’re up to speed, even accelerating, so you stop working your gears.  BUT EVENTUALLY you start losing ground to competitors.
There’s an old saying among our ad agency clients: Just because the train is rolling, don’t disconnect the engine.
Suppose you narrate an educational video for a particular client every week. But then suddenly they stop calling you. What happened? The client went with one of your competitors, because they offered to deliver the recording to the client using the latest technology.  Unfortunately, you never mentioned to your clients that you provide this technology, so they assumed you couldn’t.
Test the waters. Feel the air. Know where you are. Learn where your competitors are. And stay in the lead.
Consider a big, profitable hamburger chain — even with millions of customers coming in every day, they’re still testing new products, trying to make things better, working to improve pricing, methods, variety, quality, presentation, decor, service, signage, advertising, even make their logo better.
As a small business owner, you should do the same.
Work the gears continually. Once you get set in your ways, a new generation of voice talent will be grabbing at your clients. 
As a small business owner, it is too easy to change course in a minute.
Suppose you suddenly think of a new slogan, “Words That Speak Out!”  Overnight, you begin a major promotion, you add the slogan to your emails.  You put it on your website.  Great. You turned on a dime. BUT YOU DID all of this without testing.
You didn’t think your new slogan through. It turns out, now people are mistaking you for a copywriter, a poet, calligrapher, sign maker, ad agency, or marketing company. Worse, now you have to correct those mistaken impressions.
The big folks find it worthwhile to spend millions of dollars for testing. Shouldn’t you spend at least a few days of thought and asking around?
Big companies assess everything they do. And by the time they run focus groups, market tests, statistical analyses, etc., even a small change can take 6 months to implement.  The stakes are too high for them to risk everything on an untested whim. 
But you can do this in a day or two!
Where your income and image are concerned, how high are the stakes to you? 
Think it through.
You never find out why some customers keep hiring you, and why some stop!
Over the years, Edge Studio has cast more than 16,000 voice jobs, and of those, the number of people who have asked me how they did, I can count on my hands.
Take, for example, the plumber I recently hired. At the end of the job, he asked “How’d I do?” and gave me reason to think he would use that information to improve his performance and grow his business. That guy definitely gained my respect.
Run a survey, but do it correctly: The right way is to determine what kind of information you want, then design the survey to generate that kind of data.
For example, don’t ask “Did you like my service?” Rather than embarrass themselves by telling you truly, people will just ignore the survey or give a useless polite answer — and then won’t hire you again. Instead, ask a specific question such as, “What is the one thing I could do differently that you would appreciate?” 
A set of testimonials goes a very, very long way: It builds your prospects’ confidence. Testimonials say things that may be awkward to say about yourself. And when your prospective client is still in the tire-kicking stage, testimonials speak on your behalf without costing anyone extra time.
Use testimonials on your website, in your mailings, wherever space affords. And even if you don’t have a website or some other way to use testimonials now, eventually you will. Then you’ll be glad you thought ahead.
As powerful as a testimonial is, a reference is even stronger. Just reserve them for prospects who are otherwise “ready to buy,” so the people giving you references won’t be overburdened. Whenever possible, forewarn your reference as to who will be contacting them and why, including any particular area of concern.
It’s the easiest and fastest way to get the most work with virtually no marketing effort. Do it at the time of invoicing, assuming the job went well. 
Be courteous, be prompt, send a thank-you after your session, dress appropriately, do everything that signals you’re a pro.
When asked what you do, don’t say, “I’m a voice-over artist,” because most people don’t know what that means, and the few that do will probably think it means commercials. Instead say, “I help businesses sound better, by providing them with wonderful sound tracks for their voice mail and training videos so they sound more professional.” Tailor this “elevator pitch” precisely to your special strengths. 
Always keep in mind what a potential client has to go through prior to hiring you. They have to research you and your competitors. They need reason to trust you. And they need to see value in the services you provide. They’ll probably want to speak with others who have used you.
To you, the prospect may seem overly cautious, but they have good reason for doing so. And if they haven’t done enough homework, covering these bases with them may produce a stronger relationship in the end. 
Like most small businesses, the vast majority of voice over talent overlook this. They focus only on their voice, and forget to focus also on their business.
Make it official. The couple hours it takes to write a simple business plan will make a big difference in obtaining the kind of work you want, the money you want, even the lifestyle you want. For example, do you prefer to work form home, or to work from audition houses? Designing your business helps design your life.
Revisit your business plan every 3 months, read it and revise as necessary, even if things are going great.

January 5, 2010

Create Your Own “Luck”

Filed under: Business, Marketing — Tags: , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 4:18 pm

I just have to pass along the great story told by Janet Ault, in the latest edition of VoiceOverXtra! Janet is a voice-over professional based in Scottsdale, AZ. If you are not perusing the business sections of your local papers, or reading a Business Journal if you have one in your town, or subscribing to online enewsletters that promote new businesses, account executives moving from agency to agency, etc, then you are missing out on potential new business. 

Janet landed a new account by being pro-active – proving that you create your own luck by having the right tools and finding the opportunity to showcase them. What makes this story a bit more unique is that it happened so quickly. In about a week, she went from finding a “lead” to landing a rather lucrative spokesperson job.

Read the whole article here –

December 23, 2009

You Just Never Know…

Filed under: Auditioning, Business, Marketing — Tags: , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 10:04 am

After all that ruminating about doing so many auditions and lamenting that most people were not casting off our demos (see prior blog post –, I had a direct hit off one of the P2P sites that will result in an ISDN session this morning.

So, you just have to keep everything honed and at the ready…’cause you just never know the path someone will take to find and hire you. Keep your generic demos fresh!

It’s just one part of any good business plan. Scroll back a few posts to see some great responses from a couple of pros on some of the other business thoughts I’ve had over the past week or so.

September 30, 2009

Evolve or Die…

Filed under: Business, Marketing, Teaching, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 2:18 pm

Yes – it’s true – we must evolve or we will go out of business. I’ve used that phrase before (Evolve or Die) when discussing the changes that the performer’s unions need to make in order to survive, but it is also the premise of today’s Voice Over Today electronic newsletter published by Edge Studio. 

TO SUBSCRIBE: send a blank email to:

They highlighted four areas that will cause you to lose clients. This is a message every voice talent (beginner or pro) should think about. Most of the folks I know do think about these Four Points, but it never hurts to have a reminder. So see below for the article – written by Edge Studio. 



Story: A while ago, one of our clients hired a student we had just trained to narrate a large series of videos.  They loved his voice. Recently we hired him back to narrate another large project. This time, he no longer sounded good.  He lost a good client. I asked if he’d been practicing.  He said no. 

There are 3 reasons why CONTINUED TRAINING IS SO IMPORTANT:  You can fall into bad habits (no one tells you why you lose auditions!) Other voice talent will get better than you (watch out!)   Clients always need new styles (new styles for podcasts, self-guided tours,…) solution: At minimum, work with a coach every other month to ensure you maintain. Preferably, work with a coach every month to become better and offer more clients more styles! Remember: your vocal delivery is your livelihood! 


Story: A voice talent sent me an audition recording.  Their voice was PERFECT.  But their home studio quality wasn’t.  The client did not like them.  (Note that some clients CANNOT DIFFERENTIATE between poor home studio recording and poor vocal performance.) After telling the talent this, she replied, “But this used to be fine.”  Yes, 5 years ago, her quality was considered good for a home studio.  Today, however, clients are used to better quality.

Here are a few other examples of not keeping up with technology: Talent ask if they can fed-ex a CD to me.  “Huh?”  Why can’t they FTP it to me?  Or oftentimes we hear slight noises in recordings. Why?  I guarantee the talent will lose some work.  Fall behind in technology, and your clients may leave you behind. Here are technology items to stay current with:   equipment (editing on old software is slower, so you charge more, and bid too high)  editing software / file type knowledge (unfamiliar with the new file extensions for flash?  this scares clients)   delivery methods (still have “fed-ex” on your rate card?  you look outdated)

Solution: Hire someone to visit your studio once every 6 months for a tune-up.  Have them update your software, show you new editing features, check sound quality, and set you up for new file types.


Story: At a recent voice over event, I was re-acquainted with a lot of old-timers who told me, “I’m not getting the amount of work I used to get!”  Funny, I thought   they hadn’t marketed to me in years and subsequently I had forgotten about them and how talented they are.  Trust me: there is a reason why major retailers (Honda, Sears, McDonalds,…) continue to promote themselves.  If they don’t, competitors will eventually take over.  IT’S THE SAME THING IN VOICE OVER. Many old-times got all their work from a few clients and/or agents. But things change.  Sometimes suddenly.  Are you prepared?  Or do you rely on a few select clients (who could suddenly go out of business), and meanwhile you’re not prepared to market?

Here are marketing to stay current with:   marketing frequency (do you think single marketing efforts are still enough?)   marketing types (do you think business cards are still all you need?) marketing messages (still trying to be a jack of all trades?) marketing quality (perforated edged, matrix printed business cards don’t work today) 

Solution: hire someone who knows voice over marketing to review your business plan (do you even have one?  if you want to grow, you should have one).  take a workshop at edge or even at a local college.

**Professionalism: ARE YOU BUSINESS-LIKE?

Story: One of our clients got VERY upset with a voice talent who we hired recently.  So upset, they chose to replace him with another talent!  Obviously we won’t hire that talent anymore. But the weird thing is that the voice talent didn’t even realize what they did wrong!

Face it: our little industry has grown up.  It’s now a big, professional industry   complete with its set of do’s and don’t’s. And sure, as with anything, as time goes by, there are more and more changes.  So for those of you who are beginning your voice over career, you MUST LOOK PROFESSIONAL from the start.  And for those of you already immersed in the industry, you MUST CONTINUE looking professional.  If you don’t, you chance losing clients.  

You MUST always stay on top of:   appearing professional (the jargon, the sequence of events,…)   dealing with corporate types: knowing when to ask which questions   the general in’s and out’s of the industry   the ever-changing politics of the industry (unions, agents,….)

Solution: Study the industry.  Speak with folks who are in it. Read books.  DO WHAT YOU CAN to come across business-like. This makes a BIG difference in the amount of work you get. (Or consider Edge Studio’s “Talk & Pro 101 Seminar)


That’s it in a nutshell – and tracks closely something else I drone on about – it takes much more than Talent to make it in this business these days!

You need a combination of Talent, Technological Skills, Marketing Skills and Business Skills.

July 31, 2009

End of the month paperwork

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 1:17 pm

I have time this month to work on my end of the month paperwork – making sure that I have converted open sales orders to invoices – sending the invoices – checking on overdue invoices – making sure my bank statements balance with my ledgers.

Having the time to actually do all this in one concerted effort, means that work slowed down a little bit for me this week. How convenient that it would be at a time when I actually could use the time.

Of course, I am working on other things as well, and I have noticed other voice talent doing the same thing. A lot more podcasts being produced, live video chats and classes being introduced around the country. Ed Victor’s come out with several video podcasts and he’s working on a new reality show for about the voiceover biz. People are training and marketing and bookkeeping and organizing – and some are going to the beach! It is summer after all…

It’s all part of doing business when business is slow(er than usual).

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