Tag Archive for virtual assistant

Intake Form Question

Hey guys! I’m working on an intake form for new clients, and I was looking for some opinions. What do you think of what I have below? Is it easy to understand and sensible? I’d love to hear any comments or suggestions on what I’ve written, or if you think I could add anything more to help clarify things for both parties involved. Please feel free to leave comments, or to email me at [email protected]

 

Hello! Thank you for your interest in scheduling a project with me. Below are a few questions I need you to answer for us to begin. Please deliver to me raw mono .wav files if possible.

 

  1. Project Length? Hours/minutes if possible, or word count if not.
  2. Your project is
    1. Editing
    2. Proofing
    3. Editing/Proofing
    4. Editing/Proofing/Mastering to ACX Specs
    5. Clerical Work
    6. Other
  1.  You need it by ________Date. Time Zone?
  2.  File delivery format?
  3. For clerical work or any other type of non editing/proofing work, please explain in detail everything you’re looking for for the project, the date you would like it turned around by, and if the project you have in mind is ongoing work.   

 

For audiobook editing/mastering/proofing:

 

I will edit through your book, noting pickups in either a) highlighted notes in the script or b) an excel spreadsheet with columns denoting the specific elements of the error. When removing breaths and mouth noise, I will remove the loudest and most bothersome, prioritizing noises in the silence. I won’t remove all mouth noise, or all breaths. Breaths will be removed for a) flow b) noise c) gasping. Mastering consists of manipulating the file until it reaches ACX specs. Please send me raw mono wav files.

 

For short form editing/proofing:

Please let me know clearly any file specs, file naming conventions, and breath/mouth noise removal needed for the particular project. Please also let me know what format to return the completed files in, and if it needs to be separated into smaller slides.

 

For proofing:

I will deliver notes either in a highlighted script, or in an excel spreadsheet with columns denoting the specific elements of the error. I will listen for script deviation, noises, or general mispronunciations and character voice mistakes. For character names or unusual genre names, I will listen for pronunciation consistency, and let you know of any changes. Please let me know if there are any other specific elements you would like me to keep an ear out for.

 

For Clerical Work:
If you don’t know exactly what you need, please call me and we can line up your specific needs and requirements for your project.

Outsourcing Survey Responses

Quite a while ago, I took a survey of voice talent to ask them about outsourcing. It occurred to me that I had a lot of theories about why people did or didn’t hire out, and that it would do me a lot of good to ask, instead of just wonder! So I went to SurveyMonkey and created a free survey. (It’s a great site if you ever want to ask a whole bunch of people something.)

It’s taken me quite a while to get to my write up, but I wanted to share my experiences with you! In this post, I’m going to discuss my first couple questions and their answers.

Question 1- Are you interested in Outsourcing?

The first thing that surprised me was the sheer number of people-78% of respondents-that wanted to use outsourcing. Over the years, I’d run into enough people that told me they wanted to handle everything themselves that I expected that number to be much lower. To be sure, there were those folks, but only 8%. Another 8% said that they were not interested in outsourcing at all, and 16% said they’d have to know more about it first. (Understandable.)

Question 2-If you don’t outsource currently, what is holding you back?

A third of respondents already outsourced. 41% said money was their biggest worry-which I do understand, although I think it’s important to evaluate that question based on your future business goals. 7% said time held them back-it is hard to find the time sometimes. 19.5% told me they had a hard time letting go. Believe it or not, I do understand. When I’ve used outsourcing myself, it’s a struggle to allow someone else to handle parts of your business. Very much a trust act. 15% loved the idea of outsourcing, but they didn’t know what they needed, and the last 11% of folks said that their jobs didn’t really require it. I’ve talked to a lot of people who do mostly short form work who’ve told me that.


I loved getting in touch with my client base, and digging into how they saw me and people like me. It was an awesome eye opener to learn that there were a lot more people out there who were interested in outsourcing in the first place than I thought there were. I tried hard to give people a lot of answers to each question, so that I could pick up as many nuances as possible. I want to connect with and understand voice talent and the voice industry to the fullest extent I can, and to hopefully learn how I can better serve them along the way!

 

How to Outsource?

When I started my outsourcing series, I knew I wanted to touch on the mechanics of how and why things could work. The classic ‘5 W’ questions appealed to me, because of both the structure, and also the fact that it was a simple way to cover everything I wanted to say.

Karen Commins and I met several years ago at Faffcon 2 in Atlanta Georgia. I remember being impressed with her interesting and very positive take on things, and since then have been continually impressed by the amount of useful, clever information that she collates and creates for the audiobook world. (Go read her blog, you’ll see what I mean.) Karen sent me a message when she saw one of my series entries and suggested, as she learned in Journalism school, to add a 6th question, ‘How’. How to Outsource? You can read her side of the equation in a blog post here. 

So, how do you outsource? As I’ve covered in other entries, it’s important to know what you’re looking for when you approach an outsourcing person. For me, the more information and solid ideas someone has about what they need, the simpler my job becomes. File names, formats, timelines, what do I need to look for in my proofing?

I also want to stress that I’d rather receive an email, and have to say no I can’t work on that than have someone assume I’m too busy and not send the email at all. I can often recommend another editor, or someone else who can possibly help you. (And I rarely say no anyway!) You can also see what projects I’m currently working on at my public google work calendar here.

There’s also rarely a project too strange or unusual for me. There are some things I can’t do (like graphic design) but I’m always willing to try anything within my skillset, or that can be explained to me. Unusual projects always teach me something new, or provide a welcome break in routine. And as above, if I don’t do it, I probably know someone who does. You can see a list of the services I offer here, or if there’s something you don’t see, shoot me an email at [email protected] and I’d love to talk about it with you.

Overall, I think the most important thing to remember is there are very few limits on what you can and can’t do with outsourcing. Yes, it does cost money, but with proper preparation and forethought, you can leverage the (tax deductible) expense as another tool to shape your business, and your future success.

Where to Outsource?

Hello again! Here’s my last installment in my ‘5 W’ questions series on outsourcing, and it ties in to some of the earlier questions. Where in this case, I’m using to refer to whether you want to work with someone virtual or on site. Many talent I know prefer to work with someone they can meet with face to face, and check in with on a regular basis. It suits their business practices, and I think probably allows them a greater sense of security to be able to see the folks they work with. It also seems as though the people who prefer face to face work are the ones who need an assistant full time or on a daily basis.

I started out working face to face with one voice talent, my Dad, but since work pretty much always with people in a virtual fashion. With technology, I can talk as much as a client wants, and as face to face as a video connection will allow. I live in Southwest Pennsylvania, so there’s not too many talent nearby who might need me.

Which one should you pick? Ask yourself what you’re the most comfortable with, and what kind of help you’re looking for. There are advantages to meeting with someone you can see in person, but it may be harder to find someone who is good at whatever you’re looking for close by. There is a great deal of marketing and social media stuff that doesn’t apply to voiceover, or applies with a few caveats or skews. And although you can train people how to edit, good editing is something that takes time to master. You have to train your senses to pick up sounds that most people don’t or can’t hear. (Anyone else hate hearing mouth noise in commercials?) Clerical work needs would be easier to find in person, but again it depends on what you’re looking for.

Thankfully the more time passes, the more options there are to connect with voiceover specialty outsource providers. I can say I’ve seen quite a few more folks of my persuasion on social media in the going on 6 years I’ve been doing this!

When to Outsource?

Hey guys! I’m sorry it’s been so long since I’ve been able to touch base here on my blog. A whole bunch of life and work things made it hard for me to write. But I’m back to write more about this important topic.

So if you’ve been reading along with me, you’ve probably picked up on the fact that I’m using the classic ‘5 W’ questions as a theme. I’ve taken them a little out of order, but I think they really fit the motif of the questions people often ask about the topic. The next question I’ve decided to tackle is when?

Many people that I’ve talked to, or read the opinions of, say that they’ll outsource when they’re ‘making enough money’, or they ‘have as much work as Bob Souer‘. (Seriously, people have said that to me, and I find it hilarious that my dad is being used as a metric.) But I think this idea, although understandable, is not always the best choice. Although I would never tell anyone to deprive themselves of needed funds, in this business as in any, you have to spend money to make money. The reality is that work like editing, proofing, or clerical work takes a great deal of time, and takes you away from the mic. Many people could edit your audio or proof it, but to paraphrase my Dad, ‘you’re the only source of your voice.’

If you don’t have to wait, don’t. As I said above, if it’s bread, don’t take it out of your mouth, but if it means making a smaller margin for a while, or a minor loss, it can be worth it in the long run. In business, it’s important to think about not just where you are, but also where you want to be. Specificity is important in this, more than just a generic ‘someday’. Outsourcing something you don’t have to be doing can give you time for research, marketing, calling contacts, doing household things you need to, or literally anything else that can help your business or personal life.

I’m a big believer in the principle that we’re only bound by the rules and walls we make for ourselves. Obviously there are some circumstances that are not negotiable, but in many cases we limit ourselves by saying ‘I can’t.’ If you say that, you won’t, and you may very well miss opportunities you could take by risking a little, pushing a little harder, or going beyond what you thought you could do.

In closing, when should you outsource? As soon as you possibly can, your future business self will thank you.

It’s Been a Year

Polar Bear Poking Credit Dailmail UKA few days ago, I was given the Facebook notification that my last blog post has been posted a year ago. That caught me by surprise, to say the least. I feel like both I’ve been stopped a lot longer, and a lot shorter periods of time. So I thought I’d poke my head in here and tell you all what I’ve been up to! I’ve been writing–I want to start a newsletter, so that I can still regularly write to people, but there’s not the pressure of a weekly blog. I know that I often have things to say, but my creative well tends to run dry if I feel like I’ve exhausted a topic.

I’m also wanting to do more with the idea of organization, time management, and goal setting. I’ve often had VO’s come to me and look for plans or tactics to help get themselves more together, and I figure-if people keep asking for it, why not right? I know as well as all of your how hard it can be to maintain and set a schedule and stay organized in our world. Not to mention, people’s circumstances differ so much, there really isn’t a ‘one size fits all plan’. Plus, I know that it’s something that can do a lot of genuine good in people’s lives. That has always been one of the huge benefits to my work, and one of the reason I keep doing what I’m doing–I get to make people’s lives better and easier! Anyways, I’ll be around with more news on that soon.

And lastly, I of course have been editing, proofing, and virtual assisting all over the place. This year I was able to  go to the annual audiobook conference, APAC in May in Chicago, and I had a great time, as well as learning a lot about the upper echelons of that very interesting and individual segment of our industry. I met lots of famous folks, and was greeted as ‘the famous Karen Souer’ which was not only very flattering, but also completely hilarious. Next month (ack! so soon?) I’ll be heading to Minnesota for the 8th edition of the voiceover unconference, Faffcon, and I am working on a session idea for that fine space.

So I’m still here, learning, growing, and working my tail off like usual. As always, I’d love to hear from anyone–feel free to email me at [email protected] If you’ve read this far, thanks so much for staying with me, and I am proud and grateful to continue to serve the voiceover industry, for the past 5 years!

Telling People What I Do

Confused-woman16One of the biggest struggles I have had in creating my business is explaining to people what exactly I can do for them. Since I came up with the idea for this without a lot of thought ahead of time–boy have I learned a lot!–when I first started to get asked what I could do I gave a lot of vague, fractured explanations, and got a lot of confused looks. I do a lot of editing, but the whole ‘virtual assistant’ idea isn’t unique to me, but isn’t very common. Most people who use someone to help with their clerical work use someone local, a friend/spouse/kid, or something of that nature.The reason for this, I think is the need for a trust bond. It’s harder to trust someone you don’t know. And getting a diffused explanation doesn’t help either. I think this probably cost me some work at first.

I’ve tried to help in the past by writing a ‘diary‘ of sorts where I would detail different jobs I did and try to help give people ideas. This was kind of an intermediate step for me-I followed it with simplifying and clarifying the language on my services page. But now, when people ask me I have a shorter and simpler explanation, and I find that it helps me connect with people better.

What does this have to do with voiceover? If there’s one thing I hear and read constantly, it’s to learn what you can do, and do it well. Many talent try to be a ‘jack of all trades’ when first starting out, and it can mean that you don’t have a polished sound in any arena. It’s awesome to branch out, but have some strong areas to start from first. It sure helped me when I did.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers