Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Voices.com presents the State of the Voice over Industry paper

David Ciccarelli of Voices.com alerted me this morning of the availability of his newest version of his annual State of the Industry paper. It’s a good overview, with some interesting highlights. While it makes some sweeping predictions about several different industries without much supporting evidence, I think the paper is pretty accurate and I commend David for writing this up in a way that isn’t just a marketing device for Voices.com.


Is your Voice over business a corn maze?

I meant to write this post a month ago, but I didn’t know exactly how to formulate my thoughts. But since it’s still fall, then it still applies. Because fall is the time of the year for corn mazes. Why in the world anyone would pay money to get lost is beyond me. And that’s when I realized the same idea could be applied to your business.

Are your customers paying you to get lost? If so, then they won’t come back again. Or they won’t hire you in the first place.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. This year, when we got to the corn maze, we paid our money, went in and got supremely lost. We absolutely could not find our way out. So we backtracked to the beginning to get out. This wasn’t much fun for us, so we went to the place where we paid our money and asked if they had a map. She said no. Did we go back in? Heck no! We also didn’t get our money back and we felt a little disappointed by the experience. 

So what does this have to do with your business? You may be inadvertently throwing up barriers for your customers, much like a corn maze blocks people from progressing to the end. And if you’re throwing them up before they become your customers, they may go elsewhere.

I had a client recently hire me and they were fairly new to using VO. So once we agreed on the rate and such, she said “OK, so how do we do this?” There’s never a reason the client should ask that. If they are, then I’m not doing my job. I’ve not given them all the facts they need to know if it’s something they want. I’ve not given them a map to my corn maze.

Here’s an example: What is the first thing clients want to know? How much it’s going to cost. And yet, we rarely post our rates on our websites. Sure, we have all kinds of reasons for not doing so, and most of them are kind of silly. Worried about a competitor undercutting you? Don’t be, unless your business model is to be the discount VO. if that’s the case, then someone will always be priced lower. Another reason for not posting rates is so that the client has to tell you their budget so you can base your rate accordingly. It becomes a game of who mentions price first. If you have fixed rates, all of that doesn’t matter. Your rate is your rate and these games become yet another corn maze barrier.

Remove the barriers to entry! Do not give your client a reason to go elsewhere!

While I’m guilty of not posting my rates, that’s something I’m working on changing. I expect my rate request tool to be working and live in a few weeks. My rates will be available on my website.

Some other corn maze barriers:

  • Delivery method and timeframe: Are you sure your potential clients know what FTP is?
  • Pickups: Do you offer unlimited pickups? how do you charge for script edits?
  • Editing: is that included in your studio rate? Do you charge extra? Will your client get dry voice, mistakes and all?
  • payment terms: Are you net 30, net 15? Paypal and check?

If you think the client doesn’t need to know all of this until they hire you, you may be wrong, especially clients who may not be that experienced. If the client has all the information in front of them to make an educated decision, then they’re more likely to choose that talent.

While part of the fun of a corn maze is the satisfaction you get from finding your way out, your clients won’t get the same sense of satisfaction if they have to figure your business out.

Agree or disagree? Discuss!


Website down

My website has been down for 3 days. And no, I’m none too happy about it. I can’t refer clients to it and I can’t generate any new search engine traffic. Heck, I had a potential client email me to send her my demos because my site was down. How embarrassing! I wonder how many other clients had the same experience as her, but didn’t have the interest in emailing me for my demos. How much business did I lose in the past 3 days?

Today I get a note from my ISP explainging the outtage. It goes on an on about technical things I don’t care one wink about and seems to pass the blame to some other company. I only care about getting my site up and running, not why it isn’t running or who’s to blame. Not to mention, it gives no word on financial remuneration to keep me as a loyal customer. In other words, it’s great that you’re sorry, but why the heck should I stay with you instead of switching over to GoDaddy? Oh, and I noticed that your website hasn’t been down. Isn’t that convenient?

So what can we learn from this? As service oriented people, we always need to be thinking and talking in terms of the customer’s interest. This is one of the principles of the Dale Carnegie program (w00t to fellow alums!). Do you have a problem in your signal chain causing noise? Bummer, but your client doesn’t care. Late delivery? Client doesn’t care that your dog ate 3 boxes of Junior mints and you had to rush him to the vet.

The client cares about himself and we need to understand that. We need to offer exceptional service for mistakes and other things that may delay the customer from achieving their goals, even if the fault is not our own. No one can avoid problems or mistakes that affect others, but we need to know how to handle them to keep our customers happy.

Dear Mr. Kafer,

The web server that your site is hosted on has been offline due to some hardware failures in the RAID setup.

RAID stands for “Redundant Array of Independent Disks” and is a technology that employs the simultaneous use of two or more hard disk drives to achieve greater levels of reliability and performance.

Your website is stored across the RAID system twice over different hard drives, if one of the hard drives fails your web site will continue to run. The failed hard drive is replaced and the data that was on the drive copied again from the other drives within the RAID, this is known as rebuilding the RAID, and normally happens seamlessly without any effect to the web hosting server or your website. This is a daily task performed in our data centers and is standard for large data storage systems such as used in the web hosting environment.

In this instance, we replaced the failed drive with a new drive and the RAID started to rebuild. While this was happening the rebuild process failed, corrupting all the data within the RAID set. This should not happen and we have open tickets with the RAID manufacturer to understand what went wrong in this case and to ensure that they can prevent this for the future.

Our system administrators do not rely on the RAID system as our only source of backup. We run a rolling backup of the live system to external backup servers to ensure that in a case like this we have a restore solution.

After the RAID corruption occurred, our engineers analyzed the situation and found that the only solution left to us was to recover the data from our backup systems. At this point the RAID was reinitialized ready to receive data, this process itself takes several hours to perform.

Currently we are copying and restoring the data from our backup systems to the web hosting server that your site runs from. The restore process takes time and is expected to finish early tomorrow morning. When the data is restored to the server we will then turn on the services that deliver your website to the Internet. A small amount of data loss may occur if you uploaded new files to your web space between the time that the backup was made and the failure occurred.

Since the system problems began we have had a dedicated team of administrators working around the clock to monitor the copy of data from our backups and to ensure that all settings are restored so that your website will run again.

We apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for your patience. We will update you again as soon as there is additional information available.

Sincerely
1&1 Internet Inc.


Free Star Wars Audiobook or E-book

Thanks to Dave Christi for pointing me to this: Del Ray and Random House Audio are publishing the final book in the Star Wars “Legacy of the Force” series. To celebrate, they’re offering a free download of the first book, Betrayal, in various ebook formats or audiobook.

You can download it in ebook formats or a free audiobook narrated by Marc Thompson of Yu-gi-oh, Daria, T.M.N.T. fame.

Audiobooks are great. Free audiobooks are even better!

UPDATE: Looks like this offer has expired.


Balancing a 9-5 with your VO career

If you’re like me, you have the joy (sarcasm) of balancing your day job with your ever-growing voice over career. As you get more gigs, this can be a challenging proposition. You want to give time to your VO since that’s what you love doing, but you owe it to your company to give them your best as well, since they’re currently paying the mortgage.

Freelance folder has some great tips on striking the right balance. The takeaway:

  • Get help from others
  • Calculate your total work and billable hours
  • Become an efficiency ninja
  • Take care of yourself
  • Write blog posts in advance
  • Keep your two jobs separated
  • Take mini vacations
  • Head over to Freelance Folder to read the rest!


    Off to a Cub Scout camp-in

    I’m outta here tonight with my son to the Pacific Science Center cub scout Camp-in. It’s one of those giant hands-on science museum with an IMAX and a laser show. The kids always have a great time and the dad’s suffer through hot pockets for dinner, cold cement floors to sleep on and a room full of 300 other dads snoring.

    The wife and daughter are having a girls night in with pizza and movies.

    Ah the things we do for our kids.


    For the first year, I didn’t watch

    I’m a huge movie buff. Not only did I graduate from Film school, I try to see the major front-runners for the Oscars every year. And I anxiously await the ceremony to see if my predictions for winners are correct. But this year was different. I didn’t watch. Why?

    For some reason, I just didn’t care about any of it. I didn’t see any of the best picture nominees nor the films of the other major categories.

    Maybe it was the bad taste in my mouth left over from the writer’s strike. Maybe it was the lack of films that interested me. Maybe shopping for a new phone took it out of me. I dunno. But given that the preliminary Nielsen ratings are showing that this was the worst viewership for any Academy Awards broadcast ever, apprently I’m not the only one.

    Did you watch? If not, why not?


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