Why voicemail should not be ignored.
People contacting me to work with them on their project sometimes make the initial connection by giving me a call. When I’m in a studio session with a client or away from my desk, my voicemail takes a message.
When a client (or prospect) calls you, how soon after do you return their call?
- Within a few hours
- The end of the day
- Sometime the following day
- When you get around to it
There are many talented people available for hire, so why provide an opportunity for a talent seeker to look elsewhere?
My response time and the effort I make to get back with potential clients is key in getting their business. If I wait too long, I can predict that my chances have been reduced. I don’t like that.
In my blog post, Eight Ideas to Help You Wade Through Inbox Muck, I explained steps to be less of a slave to your inbox. I mentioned that your clients should have multiple ways of contacting you, the most immediate being the phone.
I’ve come up with a method of working with phone calls that’s successful. It has been a learning process and I’m sure there is room for tweaking.
I’m surprised at the number of times when the person I called back was not expecting my call so soon. I know I’ve done the right thing when the person I’m calling back is surprised (and pleased) by the timeliness of my call.
Phone tag is not a legitimate sport.
- Leave a message indicating who you are, why you are calling, your call back number and e-mail address.
- Make sure to leave an exact time when you can be reached—a time when you know you will be available to take the call.
What Your Caller Receives
Set expectations with your voicemail. “I’m not available now, but will return your call by the end of today. If you prefer, please send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Pay Attention to Caller Details
When listening to a caller’s voicemail, take note of their name, business name, any details about their project and their call back instructions. Do not automatically grab their phone number from the caller ID history. Often they are calling from a trunk or office that supports multiple phones but displays only the main number for call ID purposes.
The Return Call – Attempt 1
I make it a point to call whoever has left a message soon. This doesn’t mean that I push other client responsibilities aside. It means that I’m aware of the call, I’ve made a note to return the call and decided the best time to do it. Don’t leave the person waiting.
The return call can be short. When you’re pressed for time, explain that you’d like to talk when they’ll have your full attention. Maybe later in the day, or during a time that you’ve set aside to do call backs. I schedule time for return and followup calls everyday. When I don’t have calls to make, the time is absorbed into another task.
If you return the call and you end up leaving voicemail, make sure to include a message with your callback number. Include a good time for them to contact you. Show them that you’re interested.
Let them know that you’ll call again, if you don’t hear from them, at a time that makes sense to call back. “If I don’t hear back from you, I’ll go ahead and give you another call at 10:00 AM tomorrow morning.”
The Return Call – Attempt 2
You’ve made your first try to contact the person who wants to work with you only to have left a message on their voicemail. They haven’t called you back either.
Make sure to call back at the time you mentioned in your message. If you didn’t leave a call back time, try to call them at approximately the same time they called you. Chances are they’re available.
When you get their voicemail again, leave a message indicating your interest in working with them and if you haven’t heard from them, you’ll call back the next day, in the morning. A good suggested time is 9:00 AM their time.
The Return Call – Attempt 3
This will be the third time you’ve tried to complete the connection with the person who’s interested in hiring you.
It’s been two days since their initial call and you’re starting to feel a bit frustrated. Don’t. During this call back, if you are left with another opportunity to leave voice mail, do what you’ve done in the previous attempts.
After the third try, wait until the following week, 5 business days, to try again. A number of things could be going on with the prospect and now you need to provide some breathing room.
Realistically, you know that the business moves so fast these days, that job is long gone. Probably so. But, maybe not. At least let the client know you are interested and follow up.
After all, there may be reasons why the gig got delayed. Also, focus on the positive. The caller did consider you for new work and you want to make sure they continue to do so.
The End Game
So, the following week, place two calls. One in the afternoon on one day. One in the morning on the second day.
Mondays are frantic for most people, so unless the caller requested that you return their call on Monday, I recommend waiting until Tuesday.
Then follow the second call on Thursday. Skip Wednesday and Friday. Some people typically work an abbreviated day on Friday.
A week later, if you haven’t heard from them (I know what you’re saying, “They don’t want to talk!!”) give it one last try on Wednesday. Middle of the week, in the morning. Leave one final message indicating that you’d like to discuss their voiceover needs and that you would like to help them out any way you can. “If the project is still open, please let me know how I can help. Don’t hesitate to call and let me know either way.”
Every call is a potential gig. Will they call back after the initial call? Probably not. And even when they say they will, it’s up to you to followup when they don’t.
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Goldilocks was a criminal. She busted into the Bear’s home and ransacked it. She ate their food, sat her keister in all their chairs, and sleep-tested all their beds to find one that was just right for her power nap. Goldie needed the rest so that she would have enough strength to take on the three little pigs. A wolf you say? Pfft! It was Goldie.
If Goldie had problems with staying on task, she would have spent most of her time stuffing her face and never moved on to the chairs, toothbrushes (more on those in a moment) and beds. There wouldn’t have been much of a story. We would have never found out what was “just right!” Or, was she the task master we think her to be? Perhaps she had an app on her iPhone that alerted her to move to the next evil dead while at the Bear’s house. I believe this to be the case.
Goldilocks was probably using 30/30 by Binary Hammer; a beautifully designed, easy to use time management app for iDevices. If I’m right, she created a list of what she needed to accomplish during her visit. Her list probably looked something like this…
- Verify the Bears have left home
- Break into Bear’s home
- Sample all porridge
- Brush teeth (she tried all three brushes and found the one that was, you got it, “just right.” This is not in the story but I’m sure it happened. Who doesn’t brush their teeth after eating pasty, gloppy porridge?)
- Sit in chairs
- Take power nap
- Steal as much as I can carry (Another task not mentioned in the story as we know it.)
- Leave for Three Little Pigs
She gave each list item a unique color and icon for fast visual recognition and a timer. When the duration hit its end point, an alert sounded for her to go to the next task. 30/30 also provided the total amount of time needed to complete all items on her list. Unfortunately, she underestimated the amount of time needed to nap before the Bears arrived back home and failed to wake in time. Tough break.
Since I like to feel organized and occasionally get stuck on one task for way too long, I was inspired by Goldie to get my tasks together and organized so I could breeze through my day with newfound efficiency. 30/30 easily helps me out with time management needs. I wanted something simple to use that even a fairy tale character could figure out. I tried out more than I can count, from simple timers to multi-field schedule alerts. Some offered too little while others were too much. Then I found one that was just right. If Goldilocks had this little app, and I’m almost positive she did, she could have set it to be awakened to leave at just the right time instead of getting busted for greedy nap time.
According to the 30/30 website, the original idea behind the app was based on the method of working on a single task, without distractions, for 30-minutes. At the end of 30-minutes, you move to another next task -maybe take a break.
The 30/30 developers understood that it wasn’t realistic to work only 30-minutes on a single task and then take a break for a balanced work day. The app is designed with easy adjustments in mind and each task can be considerably longer than 30-minutes.
My Voiceover Day is the name of my 30/30 list and it’s divided like this:
- Check e-mail
- Business Tasks
- Warmup and Practice
Each item on my list is given a duration. I have defaults for each one and can easily change the order and values. It’s flexible and that’s a good thing.
In the top, left corner of the screen, 30/30 displays the total amount of time for all items in the list. Once the timer for the list item begins, it displays the time when all list items are due to complete.
When I have a heavy day of projects, I can increase the duration for the project item. Do I need more time at lunch for an extra helping of goodness? Yes, so I’ll increase my allotted time for a 2-hour feast. Should I want to move my marketing and business time to after lunch, it’s a simple drag and drop to rearrange my list.
Goldie used 30/30 for evildoing and was prompted to move from her porridge binge on to destroying Baby Bear’s chair, and then to the bedroom to rumple everyone’s sheets and steal some shut eye. Good for her! I use it for moving my business day along to make sure the important stuff gets my attention. How will you use 30/30?
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Is there a bookshelf in your studio? Does it hold dogeared or sticky-noted books you find useful from day-to-day? Do you have room for more? Is your iPad or other tablet device loaded with your goto business references? With gigabytes of space, imagine the almost endless possibilities.
During time in the studio, I find myself reaching for one or another from my collection. I use them for both inspiration and to run my business. While I understand the convenience of the Internet and it’s connection to all things informational (If it’s on the Interweb it must be true, right?) I depend on the access I have to my physical and digital bookshelves.
Even if your is answer no, read on because you might find something that interests you in the following recommendations. You’ll also find a selection of books that other voiceover talents and freelancers have shared with me, that according to them, are excellent resources.
For creative types just starting out or people who have been in business on their own for a while and need some practical tax guidance, June Walker, Tax Adviser to the Self-Employed, has your needs covered with her two books.
The “Confident Indie” is easy to understand, fun to read, and very accessible for the non-financial freelancer. Chapter coverage includes initial stages of setting up your business, expenses, record keeping and taxes.
The companion title, “The Confident Indie Keeps Good Records” is a deep dive into understanding the methods for keeping financial records and why detailed records are important come tax time.
Both books are available in either hard copy or digital form. Currently, June is offering a great deal when the books are purchased together.
When looking for legal advice for your voiceover business, I recommend starting with Attorney, Actor, and Voice Actor Robert Sciglimpaglia’s “Voice Over LEGAL.” You’ll learn about insurance, unions, copyrights and more. The included sample talent/client contract that Robert wrote is worth the price of the book alone. Since Robert is a Voice Actor, his writing is geared specifically toward the voiceover business.
“Voice Over Legal” is available in multiple digital formats plus paperback.
If you are looking for a goto book on just about everything in the voiceover business, “Voice Acting for Dummies” is a solid contender. In this book, authors David and Stephanie Ciccarelli, founders of Voices.com, combined their years of experience and observations about voiceover. With over 300 pages, it’s loaded with detail and coverage includes creating characters, building a home recording studio, auditioning for voiceover jobs and several other areas in its compendium of 23 chapters.
Digital and hard copy formats are available.
by Harlan Hogan
Have you ever been curious about what the voiceover business was like before it got all fancy with the Internet and home studios? If you are a voice actor or have an interest in how the business has evolved, this is one book that you must read.
Harlan Hogan takes you on a journey from the early days of being a voice actor, where auditions were done in person with other talent, to his predictions of where voice acting may be heading in the future. Each chapter in “VO: Tales and Techniques of a Voice-over Actor” features a narrative from Harlan’s rich voiceover background and useful information and techniques about the voiceover biz.
You’ll be saying, “Wow!” to yourself the entire time you’re reading it and you won’t want to put it down until you’ve hit the last page. It’s a very cool read!
“VO: Tales and Techniques of a Voice-over Actor” is available in digital and hard copy formats.
“Power Talking – 50 Ways to say What You Mean and get What You Want” (out of print)
Any book with the word “talking” in its title is certain to be an eye catcher for voice talent. I picked this title up when it was first published in 1991 and I continue to refer to it today. George R. Walther does an amazing job of writing about positive talking. There are several ways something can be said. The way which has positive impact typically provides the most power and will be better received. The book contains many examples and solutions that can be used in real life.
While “Power Talking” is out of print, its replacement was released in 2010. “What You Say Is What You Get : How to Master Power Talking, the Language of Success” is available in digital and hard copy formats.
by Dr. Seuss
You may be saying, “JC, your melon has spit its last seed. What is this book doing in your list of recommended reads?” This is a great book to practice diction, breath control, rhythm and timing. Are you interested in character voices? Create a voice for each character in the book. If you have kids, they’ll love it! Dr. Seuss wrote to capture the imagination with Sam I Am encouraging readers that green eggs and ham are best eaten anytime, anywhere with anything.
As with the other books listed, “Green Eggs and Ham” is available in both digital and hard copy.
These are seven from my library and I’m always looking for more. What books have you found useful in your career as a voice actor?
Recommendations from other voice talents and freelancers
“The Voiceover Handbook: Practical Advice for Aspiring and Established Voiceover Artists” (out of print)
by Gary Churcher and Paul Bridge
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Do you dislike asking for stuff? Do you get all wigged out and feel it’s self-serving to ask for something you need or to a lesser extent, want? Would you rather receive that thing you want without asking? You are not alone.
Working with clients every day provides several opportunities to ask for something. With a new client it might be billing, contact and delivery preferences. It could also be a request for a mailing address, a copy of the finished piece; and a testimonial.
Getting a mailing address is simple and should be one of the primary pieces of information you request from your new client.
The request for a copy of the completed production should be made in the agreement you have between yourself and the client. (You do have a written agreement, right?)
Asking for a testimonial is probably the most uncomfortable request to make at first. Perhaps typical thinking is that when a client likes what they receive, a testimonial will follow, unsolicited, right? That seldom happens. It’s similar to when I read a blog that I like. If I have time and feel UN-rushed, I’ll leave a comment. When time is not a luxury, I tell myself that I’ll go back later and leave a comment. As with automatic, unsolicited testimonials, that seldom happens.
Here are three examples that will help you get the information you need, the copy of the finished product you want and the praise you’d love to receive.
When I’m in the client setup phase, I send an e-mail that details what I need for the project confirmation I’ll be sending for review and approval. I write the info request in such a way that one thing needs to be satisfied before another step can be completed. (Give me the information I need and I’ll write a project confirmation that will lock in the session time.) The words I use are along these lines:
I’ll write a project confirmation that outlines the process, billing, delivery and associated followup processes. All I need are a few pieces of information from you. Once I receive the info, I’ll send the Project Confirmation for your review and approval and lock in your session time.
Then I add what information I need.
Final Production Copy
Asking for a copy of the produced video, spot, narration or whatever, should be straight forward. Most producers understand the importance of receiving a copy of the finished production. A collection of these will probably be great building blocks for your next demo. I call this out in my Project Confirmation and then remind them one-week after delivery of my voiceover.
Thanks again, for hiring me to do the <name of project> voice-over. I would like to consider using the work I’ve done for you on an upcoming demo reel. Would it be possible to get a digital copy of the finished video? A link to a file that I can download might be the easiest. If you prefer, feel free to send me a CD or DVD copy.
If you choose to send a copy, my mailing address is:
<Your physical mailing address here>
I really appreciate you taking time for me and I look forward to receiving a copy.
If you don’t hear back from them after a week, you may have to reach out to them again. Be persistent and if it’s a piece of work that you know is amazing and clearly needs to be part of your next demo, call your client with your request. There is a fine line between being persistent and annoying and that is something you’ll need to be sensitive about.
Words of Praise
Asking for a testimonial from a client may feel a bit weird. Don’t let it bug you. When you get along well with a client and the project came together nicely, you owe it to yourself to get validation. I know it sounds very self-serving and that’s because it is. Testimonials are useful to share with prospective clients, post on your website, and even use in your signature. They are valuable.
Could you help me out with a small favor? I’m in the process of collecting material for my next website update and I wanted to ask if you would consider writing a testimonial for me.
It can be as short as a sentence or a whole paragraph about your opinion of working with me or what I’ve created for your client. What would be especially helpful is to mention the benefits of working with me. But really, anything at all you’d like to say. I would love to be able to put a quote from you on my website.
If you’d like to see some great examples of what other clients have written, check out the testimonial section on my website at <your website>.
To keep the process simple, you can type your testimonial into the body of an e-mail and send it my way. Then, I’ll copy and paste it into a document and send to my web designer when the time comes.
Thanks so much, and please let me know if there’s any way I can return a similar favor.
Send this one as soon after delivery of your voiceover as possible. Clients will be the happiest about your work right after delivery, that’s why I suggest not waiting any longer than a few days. When you’re met with silence, contact them again.
These tips should come in handy the next time you’re anxious about asking for something. I hope they work for you.
Are there questions you feel uncomfortable asking your clients? Do have any situations where you asked and the response was negative?
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While I have a computer and mobile devices full of apps of every type, my browser provides access to countless web-based applications. Every once in a while I need a tool to help me with a specific task and I don’t necessarily want to install software that will sit practically unused on my hard drive. I already have more software than I use on my computer hard drive and mobile devices, that’s probably fodder for a different post.
A tool can be anything from a blog post with how-to-steps for getting a task done to an actual application that was created to run in a browser. There are eight tools I have bookmarked for easy access when the need arises. These have potential of being helpful to any type of freelancer and are listed here in no particular order.
What are voice talent and other freelancers if not entrepreneurs? We take on the challenge and risk associated with making our businesses unique, profitable and successful. Entrepreneur.com is a solid source of information about new business, the direction existing business is taking and articles on marketing, money and growing a business. Look to this site for inspiration.
Sure, YouTube has a bizillion cat videos but it also has a wealth of videos on just about anything for your voiceover business. When I first set up QuickBooks and started taking payments through PayPal, I didn’t have a clue on how to process them. A quick search on YouTube revealed Setting Up PayPal in QB. I decided it was a keeper and have shared this how-to vid with other freelancers.
This is an amazing portal to state-based information. I use 50States.com for quick access to economic details to help me focus my marketing approach. Finding what industries are dominant in a given state provides access to key, potential clients. WARNING: If you are a fact junky, 50 States.com will derail your typical day of business if not used in moderation.
While I use QuickBooks for my business, I rely on Mint.com for my overall picture of business and personal accounts. After configuring it with my banking information it gives me a running total of where my money goes for an instant budget check. Have I exceeded my budget for Kapaws Iskreme? Well, yes I have and Mint alerts me with a notification. No more ice cream for the rest of the month.
This file sharing tool was called YouSendIt until the first part of July 2013. It still functions the same. With Hightail.com you upload files to a folder and send an invitation to a collaborator (your client) so they can download your creation. There’s a free version available and a few options to pay. If you don’t have your own server for delivery of your files, Hightail.com is an alternative to consider
Several of my clients are based in other countries and it’s important for me to know when those clients are awake. TimeAndDate.com is my goto source for finding time zone information. The site also has access to time calculators and timers, calendars and environmental details. It’s like the Swiss Army Knife of everything time.
There is a community vibe attached to being a freelancer. I often have questions that aren’t voiceover specific, but more freelance general. My website of choice for such information is FreelanceFolder.com. Its team of writers do an amazing job of covering topical and relevant subjects. This site is perfect for anybody working on their own.
A producer contacted me to narrate an e-learning module for one of his clients. There were over a hundred slides and each slide had a significant amount of text. How much text? Hard to say. To solve the word counting issues, Microsoft’s Office website has posted a solution, Counting the Number of Words in a PowerPoint Presentation. I have only needed this once so far but will be ready the next time a project like this comes along.
What are the best web-based tools that you’ve come across? Do you like using these types of tools?
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I recently attended an amazing voiceover workshop in Seattle taught by Pat Fraley. During a conversation with the other voice talents, I was asked, “What would be your ultimate gig?” It took me a slice of a second to reply, “Narrate a documentary on one of ‘The’ TV channels.” What do I mean by a ‘The’ channel? Well, that’s any one of the cable channels that starts with ‘The.’ The Discovery Channel. The Science Channel. The History Channel. The Food Channel. There are several more but these are the ones that come to mind for most folks. I’ve set this goal as one that I’m working toward and it drives me to improve my skills, business and creativity, as a voice talent.
I Think it’s important in any line of work that professionals continue to learn and keep perspectives fresh. While maintaining your clients satisfaction by fulfilling their expectations is probably on the top of your list, the same clients may be amazed by your services or deliverables if you exceeded their expectations. Do the unexpected to add value, either directly or indirectly. Because you are learning or coming up with new ideas about your business, those bits of extra value will be easy to apply.
10 Ideas to get you started (but there are many more!)
- Complete the project early
- Followup to find out if there is anything else they need
- Invoice Promptly
- Make Social Networking Connections
- Don’t be afraid to use the phone to communicate with your clients
- Go beyond your borders
- Read a book or take a class about freelance or small business marketing
- Write a monthly client newsletter and highlight (with permission) a few of your clients
- Take acting classes or get involved with community theater
- Take time for yourself. You’ll be surprised what a little away time can do for you.
Much of the work we do does not happen behind the microphone. As independent voice talent, we market our skills; make connections with prospective clients; negotiate terms, conditions and rates with new clients and maintain professional relationships with existing partners. And, we give life to words; engineer our own sessions; edit files so what we record can be used immediately; and stay on top of all that technology, which lets us work from the comfort of our home studio. There is so much to our business.
Working toward your big goal or ultimate client and keeping your business fresh can be done simultaneously. Each supports the other as you travel your voice talent path. The new business skills you learn and develop today will help you engage with your clients at a higher, more valuable level. Your desire to attain your goal, will feed your passion to be better than you were yesterday. Larger opportunities will make themselves available and build your confidence upon successful completion. By the time you connect with the thing for which you’re striving, you’ll be ready to take it on with ease.
I encourage you to identify ways to make your business more than what it is today. Move forward so that tomorrow you’ll be prepared to fulfill your expectations.
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I like to be organized. It’s part of my being. Sometimes, I find myself getting caught up in the details of organizing and lose focus of the actual goal. It’s like a football team where the quarterback does an excellent job calling the play and getting the line set but never passes the ball to the receiver. Make sense? Or, how about this one. Imagine getting all the ingredients together to bake a delicious German Chocolate cake. You spent time preparing the pans, preheating the oven and precisely measuring all the ingredients. But, sadly you don’t mix and bake the cake.
Since I know I have this problem getting caught up in the minutiae of things, I look for ways to keep myself focused and moving forward. One of the tools that keeps me on track is a Customer (or Client) Relationship Manager (CRM) application I use. If you’re not familiar with this type of software, it’s used to keep all the most meaningful information about clients in one easy to access location.
When CRM works, it makes dealing with my clients a dream. The beauty of it is that I can retrieve the details of projects, phone conversations, and e-mail and know when I was last in contact with a particular client. I can create tasks and connect them to specific clients. I create categories for clients I need to follow up with and prospects I need to create introductions to. I also use it for sending my monthly e-mail campaign. It makes the task of working with clients so much easier.
Recently, the developers of my CRM application apparently stopped supporting it. There hasn’t been an update since last October. The developer’s support wiki and customer centric forum have been shut down “for maintenance” since April 2012. With recent Mac operating system upgrades, the CRM is starting to fail. It sporadically forgets updates I’ve made to client contact information. Contacts wonder from category to category and eventually end up stopping outside of all categories. I can no longer export contacts to a mailing list, the ability to send perfectly formed e-mails from the CRM works only when the moon is full, or so it seems. My CRM is now what I consider dog-doo.
So, I’m in the market for a replacement. I’m sure there are a number of options and I’m going to test drive them until I find the one CRM that will make my life tracking clients and their information a breeze. I need it soon. By tomorrow. Well, maybe not that soon. But soon!
I’ve started a list of contenders for the one that will replace my CRM. It’s the beginning of organizing my quest for a new and better client herder. I’m a Mac guy so my choices seem to be significantly less than for PCs. Maybe PC folks need more organizing than Mac boys and girls? I digress. I’m bitter. I just want my CRM to work! I’ll let you know what I find. And if you’ve got a Mac CRM (or a better way to manage clients) you couldn’t possibly function without, tell me.
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You may or may not be a professional voice person but you are somebody who enjoys learning about the biz, right? Otherwise you wouldn’t be reading a blog about voiceovers. Now that I have that out of the way, I would like to direct your attention the information below. You’ll find details about VoiceWorld Toronto Conference.
This will be a key opportunity for you to meet like minded people, hear from experts that have been doing the voiceover craft for decades and enjoy the beautiful city of Toronto.
Date: Saturday May 4th, 2013
Time: 8:00 am – 5:30pm
Location: Toronto Hilton Hotel
Prepare to be educated, equipped and empowered
- Audition like a pro — understand the do’s and don’ts of auditioning in person and online.
- Learn the ins and outs of the voice acting business, and what it takes to be a successful voice-over talent.
- Get into business — explore ways to turn your voice acting talent into a business.
About VoiceWorld Toronto
VoiceWorld, the industry’s premier conference, being held in Toronto in 2013, is an immersive experience focused on engaging voice actors from across Canada and the United States. Connect with amazing, influential people who can change your life through courses in artistic development, business and technology preparing you for success in the exciting world of voice acting. A breath of fresh air, VoiceWorld sets out to invigorate and intensify your love for the art of voice acting as never before with an action plan for you to take your business to the next level.
VoiceWorld Toronto Speakers
- Pat Fraley – Man of Four Thousand Voices, CESD Talent Los Angeles
- Elley-Ray Hennessy – Award-winning actress, Director and Producer
- Deb Munro – International Voice-over Talent and Coach
- David Ciccarelli – Co-Founder and CEO of Voices.com
- David Goldberg – Owner of Edge Studio
- Dan Lenard – The Home Studio Master
- Sunday Muse – Voice-over Artist, Author and Coach
- Dave McRae – The Voice Mann
- Stephanie Ciccarelli – Author of Voice Acting for Dummies
- Wayne Young – Audio Producer and Mixing Engineer
Early Bird Special ends February 28th!
*Tickets are limited. Purchase your full conference pass by visiting, http://voiceworldtoronto2013.eventbrite.com/
There was a time when I thought the only software tool worth having was one that I installed to my computer’s hard drive. Using a tool through my browser seemed lame and I always believed that they would be slow and useless. Really, how many online calculators do I need to bookmark?
At some point, I made the decision that internet centric tools were not a bad thing. I have 67 bookmarks for various tools and services that I use monthly if not weekly. I don’t know when I made the transition; I didn’t feel a thing when it happened. In celebration of interweb tools, I’m sharing 5 that might be worthy enough for you to bookmark.
Write Once, Connect with Many
One of the easiest ways to stay in touch with your clients and prospective clients is with an e-mail blast. Write one newsletter and send it to many. There are several web-based tools and services that will help you out with this, many offer free delivery to a set number of recipients. I use MailChimp because of it’s hand-holding ease of use, reporting capabilities and clean mail list maintenance. Others to consider:
One to One Connection
When yon need to send a one-off e-mail to a client it’s possible that you’ll be stumped as to what to write. You know what you want to say, but don’t know how to say it. Taking a look at letter examples is one way to crush the writing block. For example, sending a thank you note to a client is a personal way to show your appreciation for being hired for the gig. Thank You Note Examples and Tips is a great site that lists many ways to say thank you. Check out these other sites for more types of business letters.
It’s Not Who You Know, But How Much Money They Owe
Keeping track of invoices and accounting is not fun. Compared to doing voice-overs its like shoving ear-buds up my nose. So, I turn to what I think is the best online accounting software, QuickBooks Online. Intuit has done a great job of creating a user interface that’s friendly and the setup process is a snap. Enter business details, add client information, configure your accounts and you’re ready to start billing. Other choices to consider:
How to Say It
When I receive a script or audiobook, the first thing I do is review it for unfamiliar words. If I find any, I have the option to follow up with the client (which is preferable), or investigate it on my own by using one or two online pronunciation guides. The first one I check is Forvo, a site with voiceover talent in mind. Type in a word, click go and most times the correct pronunciation is available to hear. You can even add to the Forvo database with your own spoken word nightmares. Other word sites to check include:
Be Social with Pictures
If you’re not social, you might as well be doing one-handed claps in the forest. Social networking is big and you should be part of it. You’re probably familiar with blogging, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter. However, it is Pinterest that’s currently getting major attention. With pictures, you pin or comment on your interests or the focus of your business. This makes a picture worth a thousand words more true than ever. Accounts are free and easy to setup.
- Pinterest – If you’ve got an account you can easily convert it to one for your business.
- Pingraphy – This tool allows you to upload “Pins”, schedule them to display when you want, check the traffic of your pins and who is following you.
- Quozio – Paste your favorite quote into this tool and it transforms it into a graphic, suitable for posting to Pinterest.
- Take your business Pinterest account to the next level with Pinfluencer, a tool for marketing and analytics.
New web-tools hit the net daily and I’m always surprised by the latest additions. What web based tools have you discovered that are indispensable in your voiceover or freelance business? Leave a comment below and tell me about your favorite finds.
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You’ve completed a project that should satisfy your customer’s needs. You worked hard to keep all of their directions and desires in mind while creating their voice-over or other freelance deliverable. After you send it to him, Mr. Crankypants promptly responds either with a call or e-mail to unload his unhappiness about what he received, and he is not nice about it! What to do?
Stay focused. Read or listen for clues why they are unhappy and above all else, smile. Don’t let Crankypants bring you down to his or her level. Be determined to remain positive during your interaction. If replying in e-mail, keep the tone of your message positive. When talking with them on the phone, keep a warm, honest smile in your voice. And if you’re dealing with your client in person, keep the corners of your mouth up in a genuine smile. Difficult? Yes, but so important to do.
2. Allow your client to do the talking and ask open ended questions to keep the conversation moving forward.
Everybody has an occasional bad day. Don’t stop Mr. Crankypants from opening up and expressing his feelings. It could be that he is unsure how to continue. Maybe a peer gave him super critical feedback and was strongly encouraged to unload on you. Maybe Mr. C. got a ticket on the way to work and your project was the first thing he saw when he sat down at his desk. When it’s your turn to speak, ask specifically what he doesn’t like. Collect as much information as possible.
3. Apologize to the client and validate their feelings.
One of the quickest ways to defuse a perturbed client is to apologize for what they perceive as the thing making them angry. Validate their beliefs. You don’t have to agree about the complaint, but let Crankypants. know that you understand his feelings, you hear what he is saying.
4. Continue to be neutral in tone.
Attempting to match Mr. Crankypants’ current, nasty disposition will not have a positive affect. Manage the situation so that emotions are filtered and information gathering continues. Using language that is positive or neutral rather than negative will a go a long way in getting to a resolution. Smile.
5. Look or listen for the main issue.
While Crankypants may be venomous in general about something he believes is not right, pay attention for the one thing that has him in tantrumonious knots. When you let him talk or respond freely, he will get around to expressing the exact issue. Take notes while talking to Mr. Crankypants on the phone and take a moment to sift through his words in e-mail.
6. Dial in your emotions.
When or if you find that dealing with Mr. Crankypants is becoming more than you can deal with, pause the interaction. Let Crankypants know that you’re looking into his issue and will need time to respond. This will likely give Crankypants time to chill and you time to gather your thoughts. Don’t become emotional because doing so will be the first step in loosing control of the situation. Remain emotionally intact.
7. Neutralize the offensive behavior.
While Mr. C. is making you crazy with stinky behavior, don’t let your building negativity show. Regardless of what your third-grade math teacher told you, two negatives do not make a positive in this situation. Continue to let Crankypants know that you understand why he is displeased.
8. Don’t take it personally.
As freelancers, we are very close to the work we create. We put a lot of time and creative effort into almost everything we deliver. When Mr. Crankypants is messing up your day with his indelicate attitude, try to remember it’s not about you but about the deliverable. That’s probably the hardest thing to accomplish out of this list of eight, but it’s important to compartmentalize your personality from your work. The attack is on your work, not you.
When you receive a scathing e-mail from a client who goes great lengths to define your skill or product as anything but valuable, the temptation may be to volley back a reply that is equally nasty. Go ahead and type out the response. That’s right. Create a new message and type away. Let that customer know you’re on to them. Make them feel diminished. Turn them to ashes with well placed inflammatory words and combustible phrases. Type until you can type no more. That’ll show ‘em! Now, the secret is that after you’re done typing, walk away and let the message simmer for ten-minutes or so.
When you come back to the message, find the key on your keyboard labeled Delete and press. The message goes to the trash along with your hurt, retaliatory feelings. You’ve gotten it off your chest and it’s time to take care of the customer with professionalism. Refer to the first step in this article and respond.