Connie Terwilliger – ISDN Voice Talent

February 4, 2013

Pro Bono or No Pro Bono or “Huh? What are you thinking?”

Filed under: Auditioning, Business, Musings — Tags: , , — connieterwilliger @ 3:15 pm

“Pro bono: done for free, done without compensation, for the public good”

I occasionally am asked by companies if I can provide voice tracks for little or no money. In most of these cases, the company is a not-for-profit and I can weigh the value of the public good against the value of my current bank account. OK, that’s a little flippant. At this point in my career I can afford to donate some of my time to a good cause. But even when I was just starting out, if the right cause came along, I would make the time for it.

However, it is important to remember that not-for-profit does not translate directly to not-for-money. Every group has a budget of some sort, or it will cease to be a group at some point.

I walk a tightrope on this issue, because in addition to my definitely for-profit voiceover business, I am the Executive Director of a not-for-profit 501c3 group that doesn’t have a lot of money. But, since this is a group of business people, they understand that asking people to do something for nothing only works if 1) the person is committed to the values and goals of the group, or 2) if the person is looking to showcase their abilities to the group in the hopes of more “paid” work down the line (and this works best if the person you are working for the final decision maker).

I willingly provide discounted or free services to a few select companies. In the case of for-profit companies asking me to provide services at a reduced rate, I have been known to accept some trade in addition to some dollars (if the product is something that I can use). I have even provided my voice free to regular clients when the mood strikes. Frankly, I do not get requests to provide my services for free all that often.

But asking me to provide my voice for free to an “unknown to me,” but established for-profit company for their marketing material in exchange for being considered for a future job (along with some number of other people)  is simply such an outrageous request that I am still shaking my head in wonderment.

Likely, someone will do the work for free for this company – and perhaps that someone will be afforded the opportunity to compete for the other project – and perhaps they will even get the project. Fine. If I gave away everything I recorded for the chance of money down the line, I would be in debt up to my eyeballs – and that isn’t any way to run a business.

To quote Groucho Marx in Horse Feathers

“Wagstaff: Where were we? Oh yes. How much am I paying you fellows?

Professor Two: Five thousand a year. But we’ve never been paid.

Wagstaff: Well, in that case, I’ll raise you to eight thousand. And a bonus. Bring your dog around and I’ll give him a bonus too.”


January 19, 2010

Gosh I Love Schick’s Schtick

Filed under: Negotiating — Tags: , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 3:57 pm

Todd Schick may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but he really is sharp and I recently ran across his “rate” page on his website. He also recorded the content of the page so you can hear what he sounds like.

Check it out! Interesting, irreverant, controversial. That’s Todd.

July 14, 2009

Was there a lesson to be learned?

Filed under: Negotiating — Tags: , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 5:06 pm

Negotiating rates is the hardest part of my job. I much prefer to have an agent involved in this process, but more and more of my work comes directly to me from my website from places outside the range of my various agents. So more and more, I find that I am providing quotes. Add in the auditions from the P2P sites and a LOT of time is spent figuring out rates.

I have a set rate card for most projects now that I use as a starting point, but there is always something that makes the rate card difficult to apply. The nature of the material may require additional dollars (or not). Or the turn around time is short necessitating a rush charge (or not). The project may be for a really good cause that warrents a discounted rate (or not). The project may actually be more than one project, but will be done at the same time which could indicate a reduced rate for the extra projects (or not). There are so many variables.

Additionally, there are other factors affecting the negotiating process.

  1. The economy is making it hard to know which of my clients are able to maintain the established rates and which will want to negotiate something lower.
  2. Many clients refuse to work through agents – thinking (perhaps rightly so) that they will get a better deal going directly to me.
  3. Clients who are working as the intermediary between me and the end client. This can cause a communication breakdown

I had a communication breakdown over the weekend with a returning client (well, a new person working for a company I have worked for before). The script was pretty straightforward corporate communications and we agreed upon my standard rate for that kind of work. From the beginning though, the arrangement was slightly more than the usual routine. They expected two completely different styles of reads.

Normally, at the beginning of the job, a style is determined and you may end up doing two “takes” of that style to give them something to edit, but two completely different styles of delivery is unusual. But, given that the project was for a returning client with potential for more work, this was a high profile end client, only a few pages long, and for a good cause – I agreed to provide the two different reads.

We agreed on the rate late in the week and then at the end of the week, I received additional scripts for two separate intros and outros for podcasts related to the project. Because they were separate projects, I sent an email back with a discounted rate (because I could record everything during one session) for the additional work.

The end client was very upset with the additional charge – and instructed my client to cancel the project. As long as I have been in the business, this is the first time I have had this happen. I called my client and asked that he pass along my willingness to include the podcast intro/outros in the original quote and would have the tracks to him today – so there was no need to go looking for a new talent or arrange for someone in-house to record. He told me he would speak with them – so far no news.

Was there a lesson to be learned here? Well, perhaps to try to glean whether there was a budget issue to begin with? If the client was only interested in spending half of my fee in the first place, but was convinced that my professionalism was worth the extra dollars, that would probably have been good information to know. Perhaps encourage a phone call or an email before sending something off to and end client if the middle client expects blow back?

I’d hate to lose a client over a misunderstanding that could have been avoided. We are all learning how to communicate again.

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