Connie Terwilliger – ISDN Voice Talent

October 21, 2013

A Crisis of Confidence and Tree Trimming

Filed under: Business, Musings — Tags: , , , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 8:56 pm

The past 6 months or so have been great on many fronts. Business and personal. I had a great summer. The weather was wonderful and I became an Artlab groupie. Never ending concerts and art shows. There were parties and events and bike rides and sunsets at the beach.

And business was booming. I switched my invoicing to Freshbooks in May and have been watching the columns grow steadily. Until this month.

It has been a fairly dismal month so far compared to the last 5 months. I have some projects yet to be billed, so they don’t show up on the columns yet, and by the end of the month, it will look better, but still, looking at it now makes me wonder what the heck I am doing.

I’ve been making my living doing only voiceover work for more than 10 years – after many years working as a producer/writer and talent.

I do teach an introduction to voice acting class at San Diego City College, but I could pay my bills with my voiceover work. I am now also doing some administrative work for a professional association related to my career. Both of my “side” jobs directly affect my “real” job – one from a training point of view and the other from a marketing POV. And combined, they do certainly help make my lifestyle fairly stress free. But my ingrained free lance mentality knows not to count on anything.

So why do I think that I am a failure? After one month of not-so-hot receivables?

Because there are a LOT of talented people out there. People who are learning how to market. How to get themselves heard. How to make the right choices in an audition. How to land the jobs.

I was at a VO Peeps meeting in Orange County CA this past Saturday and the guest speaker was Celia Siegel (whom I met at FaffCon in San Antonio a few weeks ago). She is a superstar of branding voiceover talent. No question.

But on my way back down to San Diego, I started wondering if, at my age, and after all the things I have done since starting voiceover work in 1977 – is a branding exercise with someone like Celia the right thing for me to do?

Would fresh new branding and a plan of action have prevented this lull in work? Is that what I want? What do I want?

I want the chance to do national commercials. To shoot for that brass ring of reuse/residuals or class A network spots that will pay for that vacation home in Italy.

I know I can compete. At least I think I know I can compete. But that means getting on with an agent who actually gets those auditions. And it gets harder and harder to get picked up by a top agent.

I had a top agent in LA for a while – Andrea Romano. But too soon she left the agency and her replacement just couldn’t adjust to me being in San Diego. It was years ago, well before I had ISDN lines put in my house, but Andrea heard something in me. So did Don Pitts who had also wanted to talk to me about representation.

By the time I got ready to go after an LA agent again, it was a different world and, while technology was making it more practical to take on talent outside the market, the competition had increase exponentially. The chances of being picked up by a top agent to get a chance to audition for the national spots are practically nil.

Combine this fact with my own little nagging crisis of confidence happening. Am I really ready for prime time? Even if I am branded to the hilt – with the perfect logo – and the perfect plan – can I live up to my own hype?

I don’t know the answer. Time to practice what I preach perhaps. Know what I am good at and focus on that. Over the years I have done so many different types of voiceover work. TV Announcing, promo work, imaging, commercials, cartoons, narrations, training, voicemail, video games and more.

Today’s philosophy is to focus on the best of what you do. Brand that. Market that. Branch out later.

For someone who has been doing this for such long time, I guess you could think of it as a tree trimmer – lacing out an overgrown tree. Trimming off the smaller branches makes the tree taller and stronger – and ironically, the smaller branches come back stronger and thicker than they were before.

Does the same thing work in VO? Hmmm.

Maybe it is time to take a look at my branding and trim some excess branches – at least for right now.

September 9, 2012

We Want What We Cannot Have

Filed under: Musings, Technology — Tags: , , , — connieterwilliger @ 2:48 pm

Why is it that the faster technology advances the less it does what we want?

Oh, it does so much – and much much more – but the very fact that it does so much makes us want it to do more!

And some of stuff not doing what we want it to do is operator error. It does so much – how can anyone know the total scope of its capabilities…until you ask it to do something it simply can’t.

For example, my travel recording gear used to be a dbx mini-pre with my AKG 1000 mic and a Toshiba laptop. Worked great. Then I got a MicPortPro, which saved some weight and space.

But it didn’t work on my laptop, because I was using Adobe Audition 2 and it didn’t support USB mic connections. An upgrade to Audition 3 was needed to get the MicPortPro to work with the laptop. Fine, software upgrades are inevitable.

I got a little tablet recently, not really intending to use it to record, but it wouldn’t if I wanted to because it is a droid and the mini-USB port doesn’t work that way – yet.

And I saw this cute little mic that plugs into the headphone jack on a smart phone and records pretty decent sound (audition quality), but only if you have an iPhone can you do anything with it. Again, droid isn’t supporting that stuff – yet.

Despite these droid failings, I am not ready to get an i-Anything. If I need to record while traveling, I have a system that works well. Can’t pack it in my purse, but if I could, I’d be tempted to never stop working.

An extended vacation is something I would also like to have. Taking two weeks off (in a row) is the extent of my time away from my “job” since – well. I’ve never taken more than two weeks off – ever.

But, that is something I imagine I could have – if I really wanted – or needed it. (Don’t say it…)

Now, if I could hook up a mic to that little Xoom and pack it away in my purse – then I could take a long “vacation” and – oh , wait, then it wouldn’t be a vacation.

Well, I just need to wait a couple of months and the next generation of hardware, firmware and software will be waiting for me to upgrade and without a doubt, within two days, I will want it to do something that it just can’t do – yet.

August 12, 2012

No complaints…

Filed under: Musings — Tags: , , , — connieterwilliger @ 2:38 pm

I am not complaining.

Sure it’s hot. But we haven’ t had the heat that the rest of the country has had this summer. And sure it gets even hotter when I have to turn off the little AC in my studio to actually do some work.

Sure there has been a small plane buzzing over my general neighborhood for the past month or so that interferes with my recording when it is in the Western most part of its loop or grid (it varies from day to day). Since it is a “special” little plane, no one can tell me how long it will be doing whatever it is doing.

Sure my recording tower is acting wonky – and Audition and W2W refuse to work with the Gina card or the onboard sound card – but WILL work with my MicPortPro, so until I can find the right tech to troubleshoot, I am still able to record.

Sure ACT! doesn’t export data as expected and I’ll need to find another database program to keep track of the people who provide discounts to MCA-I members so that it can be easily shared with the Benefits Committee.

Sure we don’t currently HAVE a Benefits Committee, but one can hope!

Sure there is one long time client who is very late paying on his latest project, but I just deposited a big check from another long time client that pays the mortgage for the next couple of months.

Sure I am late for dinner because I am writing this blog. Oh, wait, I’m late for dinner at a friend’s place with a POOL!

See ya!

May 13, 2012

Forum Decorum

Filed under: Announcements, Business, Communication, Marketing, Musings — Tags: , , , — connieterwilliger @ 9:20 am

I belong to a slew of groups on LinkedIn – including a large number of voiceover related groups. Why is it that there seems to be a plethora of unprofessional comments. Social media has been around for years now and it amazes me how people don’t seem to understand that what they post is there for the world to see (when a group is an open group).

I felt compelled to comment today on one of them after a couple of people actually started slamming a legitimate producer for not posting his undying thanks to the group. His post was 6 MONTHS ago and people are still posting comments with links to their demos. And now some are complaining that he hasn’t posted to say thank you!?

It is an International Group with members from all over the world, and perhaps members with little time on social media or little time in the voiceover business, so – as a long time full-time voice talent – with a background as a producer – and an early adopter of technology and social media – may I offer a bit of advice? Thanks…

First of all. When someone posts looking for talent, it is fairly easy to click on their profile link and do some due diligence to see if they are “real” company. Check out their website. Is it professional? Can you check out who some of their clients are?

Then, reply privately! There is no need for two or more pages of voice talent shouting “pick me, pick me!” Really, take a look at any thread where someone has posted that they are looking for talent. It screams desperation.

And understand that producer seek talent in a lot of places. This particular producer posted to a group that specifically includes people that say they do eLearning work, so it was logical that he would post a request for people who do eLearning, but he probably was looking in other places as well. Even if this was the only group he posted to, a lot of people DID contact him privately, so he may not come back here…until the next time he needs talent.

But, if you look at the original post – it was 6 months ago! My goodness! Why are people still posting to the thread? And worse yet, castigating him? Why would he ever come back?

There are groups where introducing yourself when you join is encouraged. If you are joining a group where voiceover is not the main focus – then, certainly introduce yourself to the group and provide links to your demos.

Then watch the other introductions as they come in – and send PRIVATE responses to those people who may (or are) seeking the kinds of skills you possess.

The more professional, helpful, respectful and funny you are in the posts you do make to public forums, the more people will think of you as a professional and someone they would like to do business with.

May 10, 2012

Another of my favorite MediaPost Pubs: Out to Launch

Filed under: Communication, Musings — Tags: , , , — connieterwilliger @ 12:51 pm

Want to see some of the most interesting, clever, stylish or funny of the new ads (mostly video, but some print too) being produced around the world? They are even including a random iPhone app of the week (what about my droid app of the week?).

Sign up to get Out to Launch – another of the multitude of enewsletters published by MediaPost.

This week they are showcasing spots for Orbitz which are pretty funny, Tetley Tea from an Australian firm, and Jagermeister’s first ad in the US. Just wish my internet connection was faster! Takes a while to download and play them.

March 6, 2012

In Between Sessions

Filed under: Business, Marketing, Musings — Tags: , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 10:09 am

I wish I could say that I was so busy that I had back to back sessions every day and had to squeeze in the bookkeeping, marketing and plant watering. Well, I’m busy enough that I make a living doing this voiceover stuff without the back-to-back sessions. And even if I don’t have projects stacked up waiting, I still have a hard time getting all the other stuff done. But there is simply no way I can actually organize a day with any strict rules on when I am going to do anything.

The day started out like a typical Tuesday. Walk down to the coffee shop for my 7-8 AM solve the world’s problems group, but the phone rang and I had to race back home to get the car to drive out to my mom’s Assisted Living Community to call off the Paramedics. You would think after 7 months of seeing what a cold damp morning does to my mom’s hip pain, they would be able to figure out that she needs a pain pill, not a trip to the ER. By the time I got there, she was calm and on her way to breakfast.

So, morning email check and related paperwork was delayed for a while. So, what am I doing posting to the blog? Well, because I can. My time management theory is much like the chaos theory.

Through this seemingly crazy unorganized world I live in, I seem to end up getting things done. So, if I feel like posting to the blog, I might as well!

Getting back to my typical Tuesday. I have a session coming up at 11:30 today – a repeat client – a nice little project for a museum. We’ll do phone patch on this one and I just printed out the script to see if there are any surprises. But before that, I updated my class blog, did a little MCA-I work, read my email and got the notice that my first title on Audible has just been approved by the author, approved a couple of Facebook tags on some photos from a toga party this weekend, replied to a couple of emails and thought about watering my plants.

Next up, write some checks (personal and business) and get a couple of invoices out for February before we get too far into March. Oh, and then there is the tax appointment later today. I should probably do a once over on that stuff too.

So, I guess in a way, I am grateful that I don’t have back-to-back sessions. When would I have time to get everything done?

February 27, 2012

What Do Voiceover Folk Say?

Filed under: Musings — Tags: , , — connieterwilliger @ 5:13 pm

The flood of S*%t People Say videos isn’t stopping apparently. Just saw one posted to Facebook by my good buddy Trish, the Dish.

This one was done by a bunch of Australian talent who work in studios. Pretty funny stuff. But considering that so many of us work primarily out of our own studios these days – the bits about the color of the cable or asking for a different set of “cans” – just wouldn’t happen.

But I have so many memories of working in the different studios around town. Some with cans that squeezed your head. Some with cans that fell off because they were so loose.

Watch the body language of the “mushroom” bit. I so wanted to hear what she came up with.

And I do that warm up in the shower! Well, not exactly that warm up, but something goofy.

RMK Management Pty Ltd is a leading supplier of creative services within Australia. Managing Voices, Actors,Child Talent and now Crew through

January 22, 2012

Back to School!

Filed under: Business, Teaching — Tags: , — connieterwilliger @ 9:34 am

While I work as a voice talent full-time – and have been this time around for the past dozen years or so – I do manage to carve out enough time in the Spring and Fall to teach one class at San Diego City College.

The reason I say “this time around” – is that I started out making a full-time living doing announcing and voiceover work, while also working in my spare time as a producer/writer. I actually gave up my free-lance voiceover work for several years while I worked full-time in a video and film department where I wore lots of hats. Eventually, I chose to stop producing and put the writing on the back burner as well, moving back into voicework full-time. I actually consider those years as “post” post-graduate school for my voiceover work.

Back to the class. It is a basic introduction to voiceover. If you are interested in what goes on there, you could sign up for the class blog with assignments and links to interesting articles and podcasts of interest to people wanting to learn more about the business.

While, of course, I get paid to teach the class, the main reason I rearrange my schedule is that when I teach the class, I am actually taking the class myself! Every semester, in the process of revealing the mysteries of what it is to be a voiceover professional, I learn something new.

(Geez, there are a lot of “I’s” in that last paragraph.)

But, it is true, if you spend time thinking about what it is you are doing – analyzing – verbalizing – you will get better at it. Plus, I get to “perform” in front of a captive audience twice a week.

First class is tomorrow at 9:35 AM. The class is full with a waiting list, so the first day will be busy with paperwork. But we will manage to get some actual “work” done to, because this semester will start off a bit different from most in that I will be out of town the entire following week doing a live announce gig.

So I have this Monday and Wednesday to get the class “introduced” to the biz and then give them a big listening and doing assignment that will throw them into the deep end of the business.

It will be so much fun to see what they come up with when the class picks back up in February.

January 4, 2012

What will the future bring for video?

Filed under: Business, Marketing — Tags: , , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 12:01 pm

Humans frequently predict the future. It helps us plan for a rainy day. We think it helps us know what should we look out for that will ensure we keep moving forward toward our ultimate goals – whatever they may be.

It is very interesting to look back at predictions to see what the soothsayers said and what actually happened. This reading is sobering, amusing, thought provoking and sometimes just plain silly.

I found a website with 20 predictions that we are still waiting for – like the flying car and weather control.

And to me an even more interesting website with 100 predictions from 1900 – including that there will be no C, X or Q in our everyday language.

So what is next for video – or more specifically video commerce? Justin Foster just posted a piece on MediaPost. He is co-founder and Vice President of Market Development for video commerce solutions provider Liveclicker. He is also the founder of the Video Commerce Consortium, a trade group devoted to advancing the use of video in e-commerce.

He thinks that videos will continue to get shorter – as attention spans dwindle. I think he is probably right about that. And video will become more interactive – he moves it from “‘nice to have’ to ‘must have.'” And with so many Apple products in the market, HTML5 is going to be the darling – until something else comes along.

These are just a few of his predictions. Read the whole article:

As for what is next in general here at 42nd Street Productions. 2012 has started out bright and sunny – literally and figuratively. It is a glorious day here in San Diego and I just got back from a session at a studio where we did a phone patch with the client on the East Coast. No rainy day yet. But knowing what the trends are will help me continue to prepare for the inevitable.

November 23, 2011

Are you still doing voiceover work?

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , — connieterwilliger @ 4:34 pm

As a long time voiceover talent, I get email from past clients on a regular basis asking me if I am still doing voiceover work. I assure them that I am and their relief is followed by a script.

It begs the question though…how many times do clients return to someone and find that they are no longer in business? As technology and services change and it becomes easier for people to hang out their shingle proclaiming their voiceover prowess, it strikes me that many people who get hired today for a project (and may even do a decent job on that project) may not be able to sustain voiceover as a viable business and simply not be around when the client needs an update.

Their equipment may still be hooked up, but their new day job, the one they had to take to put food on the table and pay the mortgage is a traditional 9-5’er (or more) and doesn’t leave a lot of time to do VO work. Or time passes without doing or thinking about VO and skills (performance and technological) suffer. Their website hasn’t been updated for a couple of years and the links aren’t working anymore – or the phone number changed.

All of these things happen, so it is nice to be able to tell someone, “Yes, I still do voiceover work.”

Voiceover work has been part of my day job for most of the past 34 years. For the past dozen or so, my full-time job. That means I WILL still be doing voiceover work when a old client needs something. Oh, I imagine the day will come when I hang up the mic, or start to be extremely picky about my clients, but that day is still far down the road.

Of course there are other clients who I haven’t worked with in years who will simply send me a script and a deadline. No questions about still being in business. That happened this weekend. An International client – who I last worked for in early 2007 – contacted me about a project that needed to be done before Thanksgiving. It has been completed and invoiced.

So, if anyone asks me what I am thankful for this Thanksgiving, I will tell them my clients, new and repeat, who keep me in business, so that I can be there when they need me, whenever that might be.

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