Monday, January 30, 2012

Kiss My Budget!

Wait, WHAT?  Budget is not a curse word!  It’s a term that we should all become comfortable with using frequently.  All clients have budgets to work with and we should get used to getting them to talk about it.  Remember, this is not a hobby that we are doing for free – this is our business!  Since money is a necessity that all people in business have to deal with on a daily basis, it should not be an uncomfortable topic that we try to avoid when speaking with our clients. Based on responses that have been gathered from conversations held with other voice talents, we all get a little reluctant sometimes when it comes to asking a client about their budget and even more so when it comes time to discuss our rates with them!  How can this hurdle on the track towards closing a deal be effectively overcome?

First, when it comes to a project, you never want to over sell or under sell your client. The only way that this can be accomplished is if they have informed you of their budget beforehand.  This is why it is imperative that you always want to get them to the point of discussing their budget with you. Otherwise, you more than likely will not get the results that you are looking for. For example, if your client sends you a 10-page script and you immediately give them a rate off the top of your head,  you are taking a huge risk that could only be of benefit to the client.  How so?  They would either be joyful because you have made their selection process a lot easier by removing yourself from their list or because you just gave them the deal of a lifetime that would end up costing you more than what you’ll make from doing the job!

Just the other day, a client sent me a 3-page script for a narration.  Since I wanted to ensure that I gave her a fair and friendly rate, I politely asked her about the budget set for the voiceover.  To my surprise, it turned out that her budget was about $500 MORE than I was originally going to quote her. Of course, you don’t want to come back and say, “Sure that sounds about right!” However, you can certainly come close.

Unfortunately, it does not always work out this way.  Sometimes, the client’s budget is far lower than what you were going to quote them.  At that point, it is up to you whether or not you want to work within that budget.  Many blogs have been created (including some of my own) that have been focused on lowball rates. If you haven’t done so already, it is recommended for you to read over those articles and educate yourself on this so that you can be further prepared whenever these types of situations arise.   

We all need to work, but it is also important for us to try to set and maintain the standards for fair and reasonable rates in this industry. Therefore, please be careful when agreeing to do a 5-page script for only $50. 

“Budget” is not a dirty word. Get used to the word and implement it into your daily vocabulary! Our clients are comfortable with talking about money for their business, so we need to be just as comfortable (if not more) with talking about money for our own. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Is business a little slow right now?  Spending too much time on "Words with Friends?"  First quarter can be very slow, no matter what business you are in. The good news is there are steps you can take to make it easier to slide into the fast lane.  So, before you push the panic button and start looking on for jobs you don't really want, here are five steps that I put into action when business is a little slow.

1.  Pour a glass of Scotch and sulk.  I'm kidding!  Sign up for as many meetup groups as you can possibly handle and go to the events.  You will learn a ton, meet great people and you'll get new business!  There is usually one for every kind of business person and they are free.  There is only a fee, when you register for one of the events.  Definitely go to the events and bring lots of business cards!

2. Build a Facebook business page for your business.  This works as a secondary website and will not only help build traffic to your website, it's an outstanding way to network with others in your industry.

3. Join your local Chamber of Commerce!  These are all business owners you will be meeting with and some may hire you for a job or two.  It's an excellent way to network and also a tax deduction.  Search for your local chamber of commerce to locate a website and contact information.

4. Send out postcards!  Yes, this may sound like the "old school" way of marketing but snail mail is still effective.  This gives the client something tangible they can keep on file or put on their refrigerator.  E-mail marketing can be effective as well but sometimes e-mail gets lost in the shuffle or ends up in spam folders.  Plus, snail mail is a little less intrusive.  My last mail-out consisted of a post card and a refrigerator magnet business card!

5. Be active on Twitter!  Don't tweet stuff like, "Spring sale going on right now.  Everything is 40% off!"  Instead, tweet about how cool the stuff is that you're selling or how cool it is to have this product and what it can do for you. Engage in other people's conversations as well.  Don't just yap about your own stuff.  Twitter is one big party.  When you go to a party, you don't want to listen to the same person talk about themselves all night.  Chances are favorable that you will get annoyed and leave the party.  Instead, share what you have going on but also ask questions about their business!  Re-tweeting posts is also very effective because you are showing that you care and are willing to help.

There are times when you should embrace the slow lane because you'll have more time to work on marketing and other things going on in your life.  Sure, money can be tight but life is too short to hover in a corner in a state of stress, wondering where the next gig is going to come from.  The gas pedal is still within reach.  Get into the fast lane and step on it!  

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2012: No More Excuses

We all procrastinate.  It’s a part of life but there is always something we can do about it.  I have enjoyed a fruitful voiceover career.  I am looking forward to doing it for the rest of my life but ever since I spoke at Voice 2010 in Los Angeles, I have wanted to pursue public speaking on the side.  2012 is the year where I plan on being more aggressive with that dream.  No more excuses.  No more, “I’m just too busy to do it this year.”  You are NEVER too busy to start something you are passionate about. 

I get calls and emails from people all the time who are looking to get into voiceovers.  I love these inquiries because I learn something different from each person.  It’s exciting to learn what drives them or what made them pick up the phone or write the email in the first place.  It’s that first step that takes a lot of courage.  The ones who are determined and have a plan are the ones I love working with. 

We all need to work together to conquer our fears and start taking action.  This isn’t just a blog for voiceover artists.  It’s a message for those who have wanted to try photography, music, marketing or whatever!  Put your finger on the pulse of what makes you happy and go for it.  We’re not getting any younger!  A couple of fine clich├ęs there but it’s true!  Phrases like, “maybe next year or maybe when I have a little more free time” are killers!  When thoughts like this enter your mind, tell whoever is sitting or standing next to you to smack you.  Lol! 

The fact of the matter is that you will never begin as long as you allow circumstances to dictate your starting point.  You must begin at once. Take action and change your life.  You cannot succeed if you never start.  Learn what steps you need to take to make it happen.  You don’t need to launch at light speed.  Put together a plan of attack to reach your goals and begin the journey.

“Put one foot in front of the other and soon you’ll be walking out the door!”  Did I really just quote the Winter Warlock from “Santa Claus in Coming to Town?”  You bet I did!