Tag Archive for rerun

Outsourcing Checklist – Rerun

Hello again! So when people come to me with a project, I’ve developed a list of questions I ask to help make sure that I can fulfill their expectations I thought it might be useful to know what can help an outsourcer serve you better.

For audio related outsourcing.

  1. When do you need this project done? (Date, time, timezone.)
  2. How long is the project? (For me at least, I’d rather know the length of the audio than the word count. I can convert, but it’s easier for me to think in terms of hours recorded than number of words.)
  3. Project specs: What kind of files do you need back? (file type, kbps, khz.) If it’s e-learning, do you need the files split and named? Do the breaths need to be taken out? Are there retakes to be removed?
  4. Don’t Assume: Everyone has different terms for audio/recording related things based on their background. Someone from radio and someone who was an ad executive may not call things the same words, be sure you understand what you’re asking for and hearing.
  5. Don’t Assume 2: Just because you always do something with your audio-that it’s automatic-don’t assume other people do the same thing. If you want your outsourcer to know what you need, tell them everything. Better to go over too much information than not enough and have everyone involved be unhappy.
  6. Don’t Assume 3: If you’d really like the files 4 days before the due date, don’t assume you’ll get them by then. Be as specific as possible about things that you’re looking for so that you can be sure you get what you want as well as delivering the way you’d prefer to.
  7. For proofing projects, it’s a good idea to share as much as you know about the client’s preferred audio state. Some publishers want everything word perfect, some aren’t quite as strict. It’s important to know exactly how fine toothed your comb needs to be. Plus things like-does the person need to worry about every little click? Or is the smaller stuff okay and just the big noises need to be notated?

For clerical projects:

  1. Start with the $: It’s a good idea to have a budget for this kind of work before you get started. A lot of research type projects could go on for very many hours indeed, and you don’t want to get a nasty bill surprise you’re nor prepared for.
  2. Find your limits: When it comes to research, it’s important to know as much information about what you’re looking for as possible. It makes the job far simpler for the person. If you want to find creative director’s emails, that’s a great place to start, but try to think of some other limits. If you don’t have a geographic preference (your local area, for example), try a simple numeric limit. You want 50 names. Or you want as many as can be found within your budget’s number of hours.
  3. Be specific: I know this sounds obvious, but I can’t tell you the number of people who’ve come to me with a really vague idea for a project that I end up not being able to help in their current state. The more information you can give me to work with, the easier it will be for me (or anyone else) to fulfill your expectations.
  4. Know what you want: This dovetails with the previous point, but if you want to grow your business, or find more clients, or post more on social media, know as much as you can about how you want to go about it. Social media, for example, strongly benefits from a cohesive message, and it’s a good idea to know what you want yours to be before you sign on to create a campaign with someone like me. I can help you be more organized, but It’s far easier if you’re at a certain level of cohesive thoughts
  5. Turn around: The turn around for non audio projects generally is a little more flexible, but it’s a good idea to have a timeline in mind for something like this.

The Memes are Lying to You – Rerun

There is a common cultural trend nowadays, to ignore the ‘haters’ in life. I’ve seen a thousand colorful pictures with trite sayings explaining how only your dreams matter, how everyone who tells you no is trying to drag you down, and to not allow those people ‘power over you.’. Of course it’s very true that there are always people who are negative for no reason, who do harm and intend to do nothing less. But the ‘ignore the haters’ trend can very easily be taken too far.

In the voiceover industry, there have been tectonic shifts over the past 20 years or so. What was once an industry exclusively conducted in professional studios has now morphed into an army of at home talent who buy some equipment, hang some blankets, and record some stuff. There are those who regard this trend with somewhat of a jaundiced eye, seeing raving packs of lowballers and people who are diluting the market. Others may view things more charitably, seeing it as an opportunity to expand the market, and allow more flexibility in terms of how the work is done.

Where these two trends intersect is in the way that some voice talent ferociously defend how they do things. Whether it’s low rates, or artistic choices in audiobook prep, these people will fight to the death that their choices are just as valid as the anyone else’s and no one can deny them the right to do whatever they like.

But there’s a few points I think those folks are missing:

  1. It isn’t personal.

    No one is attacking you. Seriously. It may seem like people are lining up to take potshots at you, but I promise you, I have met hundreds of voice talent in my 5 years doing this, and the vast majority of them are really nice people. In most industries, the kind of advice and real world experience that you can draw upon FOR FREE would cost you a great deal of money. People want to help. What they are sharing are things that already work, because most of the folks who are sharing often in those groups are working professionals. No, you don’t have to robotically follow their advice, but it can really pay off to carefully consider their thoughts and experience, because this is about more than your choices, this is about your business in a whole. Do you really want to dismiss this, and lose out on the chance to reach your goals faster?

  1.   This is real world advice.

When you ignore or dismiss advice from working pros, you’re not ignoring words from people who are rich and famous and have no connection to the regular working stiff. Each and every one of those people have worked their way from beginner to pro by tenaciously pursuing excellence and craft, and learning every step of the journey. Yes, there is bad advice out there–vet your advice! If someone is well regarded, knowledgeable, and experienced, you can find out pretty quickly with a few questions and some quick searches. If someone is promising you the world when you do this or that thing, or if you pay them lots of money? Yeah, that you can ignore. But when someone who is living and working where you want to be with your career gives you advice? Step outside of yourself, quiet your ego, and listen.

  1. Ignore your ego.

As I’ve said above, there are plenty of people online and in the real world who are negative just for the sake of being so. But, the majority of opinion and action isn’t something to shrug off for ‘your way’. What experience and background do you have to substantiate your opinion? Where is your expertise? I’m not saying these things to dismiss you-again, as above, this isn’t personal. However, if you can look at the bigger picture, if you can step outside of yourself, and truly become humble and learn, you can find success much more quickly and thoroughly than you will driving yourself very quickly in the wrong direction.

  1. What ARE your goals?

Fundamentally, the higher end voice hirers DO have standards. There are specific things that you will need to approach those people, and it isn’t negotiable. Do you want to do voiceover as a sideline? A few extra dollars here and there? Then keep doing what you’re doing. Keep ignoring those ‘haters’. But if you want more, if you want success, then ignoring those who came before is going to get you nowhere. It’s not that you have to do the same thing, creativity and innovation are certainly both valid and valuable, but defending your views against all comers, accusing and finger pointing, and not accepting the validity of someone else’s ideas at any cost? You’re going to have a hard time creating that career.

  1. Beware of ripples.

We are a connected community. Although you may not see the voiceover hirers in the Facebook groups, there are some there. And more importantly, if you are known as a jerk in the community, people aren’t going to forget, and your reputation will suffer. Perhaps you don’t worry about what other voice talent might think of you. Well, that’s valid, except for one magic word. Referrals. I know quite a few talent who refer work to others, and who seek out people of particular voice niches. (Accents, bilingual talents, etc) who are reliable to use as names for their clients. And you never know who will hear or see something. Things on the internet don’t go away, and something you said weeks, months, or years ago, can easily come back to haunt you.
In conclusion, there is more. There is more than you, there is more than your opinion, more than the current state of your business, more than the obvious and immediate consequences for your actions. Thought, consideration, and reason can lead you away from some serious roadblocks you can create for yourself.

No One Size Fits All Solution – Rerun

One of the biggest lessons that I’ve learned is that most voice talent love the idea of outsourcing some of their work, but many people aren’t sure how to get from their idea to their goal. When they reach out to me, they are very enthusiastic, and also often rather uncertain. They’re looking for answers, but not sure exactly what the task is. I always feel bad when I get these calls, because I wish I had a one-size-fits all easy solution or system on how to create a project from people’s ideas. 

But here’s the thing–even if I did have a system, chances are, it probably wouldn’t work for you. Why? Because every life is different. Every business is different. I wouldn’t offer the same kind of organizational advice to a single mom with young kids as I would to a mom who has older children and a spouse, even though they have some obvious common points. The shape of Single Mom’s life is going to be different, the needs of her children will be different than Married Mom’s would. Also, Married Mom has the potential of asking for spousal help. Though both have to deal with kid interruptions, Single Mom has likely more, and probably a different level of need than Married Mom.  People learn differently, process information in their own way, so it’s pretty difficult to come up with a single plan for everyone.

I’ve done many research or organizational projects for folks, and I’m always happy to do more. But there is one absolutely vital task you ought to complete BEFORE you seek outside help.

What is it?

Know what you want, as completely as possible.

Sounds simple? It isn’t. Let me give you an example. Let’s say you want to get in touch with ad agencies, to open up a new area of business for yourself. You come to me, and you say that, and I ask exactly how much you want to spend, because I could do that full time for a month, and not be done. Then I start asking questions, do you want to look nationally, or regionally? Do you want smaller or larger agencies? I’m happy to ask all these questions to help you define what you’re looking for, but hopefully you can see my point that what you want requires some refining and digging down to actually find it.

Perhaps a more specific example. You want to, say, be more organized. Organized in what? Your daily routine? Your invoicing? How you record? If it’s your daily routine, the only real way to do it is to tailor it to the facts of your life. If you’re like one of the moms in the examples above, it might be helpful to think of your work in terms of 15 or 30 minute periods. What can you get done in that amount of time? If you’re a single person, obviously you have a different dynamic. It’s more likely that you can work for longer periods of time, yet it’s important that you have time for your non-work life also.

The idea is that in order to know what you want and need, you have to break the problem down, to ask a lot of questions in order to specifically identify where the next steps are, and what the best steps are for you in your particular career.
So if you want to take those further steps in life and career, do some hard thinking first, and you’ll find yourself farther down the path than you might realize! It’s so much easier to take the steps you need to when you know exactly what those steps are!

Blogger Profile: Bob Souer – Rerun

bob_souer_professional_story_tellerThis series came to mind before the new year, and I knew one of the first people I wanted to feature was my father–and not just because he’s my Dad! I can’t count the number of people over the years who have mentioned Dad’s blog and how much they’ve enjoyed it, learned from it, and valued his words. They usually start out by telling me how awesome my Dad is, and then mention the blog, but still… 🙂

Dad has been blogging since May of 2005. He doesn’t post on a regular schedule, but I know that his readers find him worth the wait. His posts cover a pretty wide range of topics, but one of the first things he told me when he and I were discussing blogging, online content, and how you should present yourself was that he made a point of featuring other people whenever possible. Not only does it generate goodwill, and make you look good, there is also a lot of cool stuff going on out there that people should know about! In that vein, Dad also keeps a pretty lengthy blogroll of everyone he’s ever been able to find who blogs about voice over in some fashion.

In short, I would venture that my Dad is one of the mainstays of the voice over blogging world, and someone that is always interesting and valuable to read.

Pronounceology Interview – Rerun

Hey guys! Adam Verner, a very fine audiobook narrator and a fellow Faffer has come up with a great tool for narrators called Pronounceology. As soon as I saw him post about it, I knew I had to get the lowdown on such a great idea and how he came up with it! Here’s all the details about this site, which will make your future research way easier!
1. Pronounceology! What is it? (And where did you come up with the name?)
In a nutshell, Pronounceology is a tool that hooks into the backend of major online dictionaries and pronunciation resources like Merriam Webster, Oxford, and ForVO to provide bulk pronunciations and definitions.  It also acts as a kind of “home base” for research on the web, allowing you to save reports or words you’re looking into, the source URL for pronunciation, phonetic spellings, and any research notes.  I’m hoping it will be kind of like a Swiss Army Knife for research, with as many import and export options as possible.  Right now you can import a spreadsheet or CSV with page numbers, simply paste in a list of words, or import notes from iAnnotate (it’ll pull out just your highlighted terms).  Other PDF sources can be supported in the future if they’re popular enough or in demand.  Other dictionaries can be added down the line, as long as they have an API (Application Program Interface), which is a way for programs to access databases.  Those will form the core functionality of the tool, since that’s the way to search for a whole list of terms at one time.  There are also prebuilt search links for you to go find an obscure pronunciation.  For example, a lot of proper names and places aren’t in standard dictionary databases, so I’ve included links to a search in YouGlish.com or YouTube interviews.  If you’re looking for how to pronounce Richard Cytowic’s last name, for example, clicking a link will take you to a YouTube search for “Richard Cytowic interview.”
The other cool component will be exporting just the phonetics you need back to you source PDF or manuscript.  I know all narrators work differently, and my hope is that the tool is flexible enough to cover many different types of workflows. I’ve always kept my research in a spreadsheet as it’s easy for a proof listener to follow along, but that’s meant I’ve had to cut and paste by hand every set of phonetics back into the appropriate page of the PDF for seamless narrating. Pronounceology will do that for me, though I may want or need to go back through the script to adjust the placing of the text.
As far as the name goes, “ology” means “the study of,” and I often find narrating challenging titles is almost like a study of pronunciation.  Other times, it’s like a Sherlock Holmesian tracking down of elusive vocabulary!
2. Where did you get the idea to create Pronounceology
Basically, I’m a total dork.  But really, I love words, automation, and optimization.  If there’s any way for me to save keystrokes and time and get back to what my true passion is – narrating books – I go for it.  I’m always writing macros on my computer to automate invoicing or perform repetitive tasks.  I’ve longed for something like this to exist for years, and finally decided I should just build it!  There are plenty of great resources out there for pronunciation, but as far as I could tell, no tool that allows you to import in bulk, or multiple terms at a time.  For some titles I would be spending hours and hours tracking down pronunciations, and not every publisher pays you for that time or helps you with it.
3. Are you running the back end yourself? 
No, I’m working with a great developer, formerly with HP.  After interviewing many, many different freelance programmers and full development firms I finally found a great fit, someone who “gets it,” and brings his own ideas to the table.  As of now we’re running in Node.js and totally boosting the runtime environment with a flux capacitor.
4. From what you’ve posted, I see that it’s primarily intended for audiobook narrators, but have you ever thought about elearning pronunciation?
Oh yes indeed!  I’m starting with the audio book industry since that’s my full time job and the community I know the best, but this tool could be useful for literally anyone that needs pronunciations.  eLearning, other voice over, and most importantly, the ESL and language learners market are next on the list.  I’m even hoping to partner with schools or universities to provide “enterprise” accounts for any students learning English.
5. Do you have a place where people can check back or sign up for updates about the site? 
I’m so glad you asked!  Check out the teaser video on Pronounceology.com and sign up for the email list to be notified of updates.  I’ll be releasing more videos with more details in the months to come, and I hope to launch later this year.  You can also contact me at [email protected] with questions or feature requests!  In addition, I’ll be at APAC (audio book conference) in New York City this week and can do live demonstrations if anyone is interested (assuming the pesky WiFi cooperates!).

Blog Rerun: Your Client’s Ears

earWeek 4 and last of my blog reruns. I’ve finally settled in, and will be writing new and exciting words starting next week! Thanks everyone for their patience and I hope you’ve enjoyed these posts from the past.

You’re probably wondering why I’m writing about something like a part of your client’s anatomy. But your client’s ears are something important for you to keep in mind, and one that I’ve found recently my clients tend to misunderstand or not take into account all too often.

Most voice talent I know are perfectionists of one kind or another. They want everything to be ‘just so’ and are particular about how things get to be that way. I can understand this as I am the same way in many areas, but it’s also important to learn how to let go. It’s very easy to get caught up in the picky details of our work and to waste time and energy that could be more productively spent elsewhere worrying about things.

This particularly applies to editing work. I’ve heard moaned from many a talent, some new, some old in the game, that they obsess over every mouth click, every sibilant, every plosive, and want the audio to be at it’s best, shiniest, and cleanest before they send it on to their client. They spend hours slaving over a few minutes of waveform and give themselves both headaches and a case of being heartily sick of the sound of their own voice. This phenomena can be particularly deadly with long form narration.

But I have news for you. Remember that in order to do what you do, you’ve had to develop a set of professional equipment. Your recording space, your microphone, your software, website, and your voice training are all part of this. There’s a part of you you’re forgetting when you run through this list in your head, however.

Your ears.

Whether it’s conscious or not, you’ve trained your ears to a certain extent. You hear everything about your voice, the defects both perceived and actual, the noise, the fact that you shouldn’t have had that soda or latte before you turned on the mic, everything. Here’s the important thing to remember, though.

Most of the time, your client hears none of this.

There are exceptions, there are people who notice and want that sort of thing cleaned up, and if there’s something particularly noisy, of course it should be cleaned up. But the soft sounds, the little things, the medium sounds? You really can let them go by. Remember your client’s ears. Remember that they’re lacking that crucial piece of professional equipment before you spend more time worrying over the fact that you forgot your green apples this morning.

Blog Rerun: 5 Benefits to having Proofed Audio

No-Mistakes.gifWeek 2 of my Blog Reruns! I’ll be back soon guys, thank you for your patience.

We all have to edit audio, but do you proof your own work as well? It is easy to have your eyes skip over things when you’re tired or you’re too close to the material. In my English background, they always told us to get someone else to edit our papers or stories for many of these same reasons. So here are some benefits to having an outside audio proofer:

1. It lets you step back from the material and take a breather.
Particularly for those long projects, it’s easy to get so wrapped up in things that you almost get tired of your own recordings. Sending the audio off to someone else allows you to take a break from your material and come back to it fresh when it returns.

2. You look better to your client.
Who wouldn’t like this? Clients notice when they have less pickups to send you. People always notice when someone gives them less work, and less back and forth before getting a finished project

3. Allows you to concentrate on your performance.
This is more directly a benefit for live proofing (aka Content Direction), but both during and post proofing can benefit here. Not having to worry as much about slipups means that you can pay more attention to how you sound, which is of course an important part of what you do.

4. Makes the editing process faster
Not having to double check yourself against the script allows you to concentrate on all those things that need removal in the editing process, and not have to flip back and forth between the script and the audio. This will reduce your overall editing time and make your workflow more efficient.

5. Gives you the chance to move on to the next thing.
An entrepreneur has to wear a thousand different hats, and whether it’s your next recording, making dinner, or catching up on marketing efforts, there’s always something else waiting for you. Taking this task off your plate allows you to move on without a worry.

Blog Rerun: 10 Things you could be doing instead of editing

310115_181777665230709_1636826060_nHey guys! I’m moving in just a couple of weeks and am going to take a short break from new posts. I thought I would rerun some of my most popular past posts, and this week it’s my list of 10 things you could be doing instead of editing. Enjoy!

Everyone’s lives are busy these days, we all have more tasks to accomplish than there are hours in the day. Something important to consider is what is unessential on your to-do list. What could you not be doing to give yourself more flexibility for the ten thousand other things? So today I wrote about the task that nearly every talent has to do, and most of them don’t need to!

1. Having time for yourself: Whether this is watching some TV, or reading a book, or going out to a movie, it’s vitally important that every person, and particularly entrepreneurs to get some time to recharge your personal batteries, and rest your mind. You will find that your work goes better and more efficiently if you aren’t working all the time.

2. Spend time with your loved ones: Of course not everyone has someone living with them  or close by, but there are phonecalls, Skype, and even that ancient art of writing letters or cards. (I find that writing cards or letters to my older relatives is especially rewarding since I know they enjoy them so much.)

3. Voicing the next thing: Most of us have more than one project on the table at the same time, and sending work off to an editor allows you to move from one script to the next without having to stop and clean up your work.

4. Marketing: Finding ways to connect with new customers and to work on building your online presence is in some ways, another full time job. Marketing is changing, and figuring out how to reach people in this new world is something most of us could spend more time, or more effective time (but that’s another post.) doing.

5. Taking care of your equipment: And I’m not talking about your microphone! Your overall body health ties in with your vocal health, which makes you not only sound better, but have less of things like mouth noise. There are a million different things you can do to improve both in staying active and eating better.

6.  Innovating-Routine: Is there a routine that you could improve? A to-do list you should check some things off of? Find new ways to tackle your tasks and to overcome your obstacles. We all have things that we could do better or more effectively, and it’s easy to lose track of the need to change when you have project after project to work on.

7. Innovating-Business Plan: It never hurts to take a second look at how you are running the machine that keeps you fed, clothed, and housed. You may see a loose end that could be changed or another detail that could improve your reach and/or client base.

8. Goal Setting: Where do you want to be in a year? Five years? What is the big picture for your life? Do you want to get healthier? Buy a house? Move somewhere? What do you really want out of life? Life is short. Plan so you can use it well.

9. Plan a getaway: Anyone who is ‘plugged in’ these days, and freelancers in particular find it ferociously difficult to get away from the computer, the email, and the constant stream of work. (Or at least that’s the goal, right?) It’s important to take a step away from your usual location and a day or two to dust off the cobwebs and give yourself a real chance to refresh. This is separate from #1, as it entails going somewhere, even just overnight. I refer to this as ‘hitting the reset button in my brain’, and the busier I get, the more necessary to my continued productivity it is.

10.  Say thank you: We all have problems, frustrations, or difficulties that challenge us every day. But we’re doing something that not everyone gets to, working in an industry where your colleagues are friendly and generous, the work is many things but generally not boring, and there is something different every day. Thank your spouse, your friends, thank your clients, thank God or the Flying Spagetti Monster. Show the people around you that you’re grateful for their presence in your life, and you will reap far more benefits than you sow.

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