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    The Worst Number in Your Business

    Aug/29/2013 | Posted by John Melley

    Hey There. It's been a while. I've been working hard onlots of voice over projects, my podcast (The Voice Over Marketing Podcast) and various odd and sundry notions, but I've had this story in my head for a while and Dan is in my studio loading some audio. So I have a few minutes.

    Here's the Story

    Everyday - to and from work I pass by a grocery store on the corner of a major intersection. It has a nice big parking lot in front of it. Lot's of folks from the neighborhood (lot's of 2 and 3 family homes, apartments) - solid working class folks live there and shop there. People know each other by name.

    In the corner of this parking lot - right by the intersection was a guy who had a cargo truck - it looked like it was from the 1970's by the look of it. Anyway, it was a white truck and on the sides of it he had hand painted the words "ROSES! $12.99 / doz!"

    He also had flowers in hanging flower pots and he sold wild flower bouquets, etc. He basically had a mobile flower shop. He'd be there early in the morning and close up after rush hour in the evening. If you drove by at say, 9:00 in the evening he wasn't there. But he'd be back there in the morning. It looked like a real family operation and he's been there for years.

    What Happened?

    Well, the grocery store turned over. The smaller chain closed up and a larger supermarket chain took over the space.

    It's one of those supermarkets that also sell flowers. So guess what happened to the Rose Truck? It's not there anymore. In fact, the supermarket used the space where he parked his truck to put up a big sign for the grocery store. Almost like they wanted to drive home the point that the truck won't be coming back.

    I must admit, I never bought flowers from the guy, but I'm kinda bummed to see that he's gone. I wonder what he's doing. What arrangements he made to find a new location. IF he found a new location...

    Which leads me to the reason why the Title of this post is: "The Worst Number In Your Business."

    One.

    He had one location. One means of doing business. By the looks of his history of being in the same spot everyday for years he didn't have a back up plan/location.

    I'm not saying you need to have more than one location, but if your location is dependent on the good graces of someone else, or in a set of circumstances that can change in a snap - then yeah, I'd have a backup location.

    It's why you back up your data. Have another mic in case your favorite decides it wants to take a nap... for good.

    It's why you want to have more than one vendor or supplier for your business... and more than one major client that keeps you so busy you "don't have time to market your business."

    "One" of anything is bad. I've been burned by this multiple times, but I've gotten into the habit of trying to remember to have an alternate in things. Sometimes I mess this up, but it's important to be aware of it.

    I really hope the "Rose Truck Guy" is doing well. I hope he found a new place to do business. I have no idea where he might be, because he didn't get the chance to promote a new location - which is a topic for another time.

    Can you think of things in your business that you only have "One" of? Please share them so we can get your ideas. It might make us stop and think "Gee, I missed that 'one'!" (Pun intended)

    Have a great day.

    John

    Seasonal Marketing

    May/07/2013 | Posted by John Melley

    Really quick post here today.

    I went to Starbucks and as I'm standing in line I notice a rack of Starbucks Gift Cards.

    Their designs had:

    • "2013 Graduate!" Congratulations Grad!
    • Mother's Day And a few others.
    The point here is they have been able to give the person giving the gift card a "Customized" gift that does 2 things.
    1. The person receiving the Graduation Gift Card sees  that it's specifically for their graduation - and it has more impact than a generic gift card.
    2. It speaks to the conversation in the customer's mind. The person in line sees the cards for Mother's Day and Graduation and is reminded "Oh, I need to get a gift for so and so's graduation" and they pick it up and buy it.

    Really smart on Starbucks' part.

    There are events going on all year. How can you apply events that people are thinking about into your marketing that triggers a response "Oh, I should get that for so and so."?

    More Marketing Info Here:

    I invite you to listen and subscribe to my Voice Over Marketing Podcast, THE podcast dedicated to teaching in-depth and advanced marketing strategies for people in the voice over and audio production professions.

    My goal is to help you make more money by showing you ways to leverage your time, charge more for your talents and allow you to spend more time doing the things you want to do in your life. We interview some of the best and brightest people in Voice Over and Marketing.

    A new episode comes out about every couple of weeks.

    Just click here.

    I hope you enjoy it.

     

    Just In Case You Ever Come to Boston

    Apr/24/2013 | Posted by John Melley

    Hi-

    This post is pretty much for my own savage amusement. I've seen this piece (appearing below) previously, but I thought it would be fun to share with you.

    There's a lot of material about Boston floating around online given the events of last week. With respect for those who were killed and wounded, we're also trying to remember "Who we are" as a community.

    We, like pretty much every other city, have a number of quirky, fun, confusing and interesting traditions and cultural aspects that make Boston and the surrounding area "Home."

    With that in mind, I offer the following:

    Just In Case You Ever Come to Boston

    (Author Unknown, but whoever wrote this is clever.)

    The geographical center of Boston is in Roxbury. Due North of the center we find the South End. This is not to be confused with South Boston which lies directly East from the South End.

    North of the South End is East Boston and Southwest of East Boston is the North End.

    There is no school on School Street, no court on Court Street, no dock on Dock Square, and no water on Water Street.

    Back Bay Boston streets are in alphabetical awddah:

    Arlington, Berkeley, Clarendon, Dartmouth, etc. So are South Boston streets: A, B, C, D, etc.

    If the streets are named after trees (e.g. Walnut, Chestnut, Cedar) you are on Beacon Hill. If they are named after poets, you are in Wellesley.

    Massachusetts Avenue is Mass Ave. Commonwealth Avenue is Comm Ave.

    South Boston is Southie. The South End is the South End. East Boston is Eastie. The North End is East of the former West End.

    The West End and Scully Square are no more; a guy named Rappaport got rid of them one night. Roxbury is the Burree. Jamaica Plain is J.P.

    There are two state houses, two city halls, two courthouses, and two Hancock buildings (one is very old; one is relatively new).

    The colored lights on top the old Hancock tells the weatha:

    "Solid blue, clear view." "Flashing blue, clouds due." "Solid red, rain ahead." "Flashing red, snow instead." (except in summer, flashing red means the Red Sox game was rained out!)

    Most people live here all their life and still do not know what the hell is going on with this one: Route 128 South is I-95 South and it is also I-93 North.

    The underground train is not a subway. It is the T, and it does not run all night. (Fah Chrysakes, this ain't Noo Yawk).

    Order the “Cold Tea” in China Town after 2:00 AM you will get a kettle full of beer.

    Bostonians: think that it is their God-given right to cut off someone in traffic.

    Bostonians: think that there are only 25 letters in the alphabet no Rs, except in “idear” and “Pizzer” (pizza).

    Bostonians: think that three straight days of 90+ temperatures is a heat wave.

    Bostonians: refer to six inches of snow as a “dusting.”

    Bostonians: always bang a left as soon as the light turns green, and oncoming traffic always expects it.

    Bostonians: believe that using your turn signal is a sign of weakness.

    Bostonians: think that 63 degree ocean water is warm.

    Bostonians: think Rhode Island accents are annoying.

    The bridge connecting Boston and Cambridge via Massachusetts Avenue is commonly known as the Harvard Bridge.

    When it was built, the state offered to name the bridge for the Cambridge school that could present the best claim for the honor.

    Harvard submitted an essay detailing its contributions to education in America, concluding that it deserved the honor of having a bridge leading into Cambridge named for the institution.

    MIT did a structural analysis of the bridge and found it so full of defects that they agreed that it should be named for Harvard. This is all true!

    Do not pahk your cah in Hahvid Yahd. They will tow it to Meffa (Medford) or Summahville (Somerville).

    Do not sleep on The Common. (Boston common)

    Do not wear orange in Southie on St. Patrick's day.

    The Sox = the Red Sox.

    The Cs = the Celtics.

    The Bs = the Bruins.

    The Pats = The Patriots.

    How to pronounce these Massachusetts cities correctly:

    Worcester:  Wuhsta or Wistah.

    Gloucester:  Glawsta.

    Leicester:  Lesta.

    Woburn:  Woobun.

    Dedham:  Dead-um.

    Revere:  Re-vee-ah.

    Quincy:  Quinzee.

    Tewksbury:  Tooks-ber-ry.

    Leominster:  Lemon-sta.

    Peabody:  Pee-ba-dee.

    Waltham:  Walth-ham.

    Chatham:  Chad-dum.

    Samoset:  Sam-oh-set or Sum-aw-set, but nevah Summerset!

    Massachusetts Facts:

    Frappes are made with ice cream - milkshakes are not.

    If it is carbonated and flavored, it is tonic. Tonic means soda. When we want club soda we ask for club soda. When we want tonic water we ask for tonic water.

    Pop is another name for Dad.

    The smallest beer is a pint.

    Scrod is whatever they tell you it is, usually fish. If you paid more than $7 per pound, you got scrod.

    It is not a water fountain... It is a bubblah.

    It is not a trash can... It is a barrel. It is not a hero, or a grinder... It is a sub. It is not a shopping caht... It is a carriage. It is not a purse... It is a pockabook.

    They are not franks... They are haht dahgs. Franks are money used in Switzahland.

    Police do not drive patrol units or black and whites... They drive a crewza. If you take the bus, you’re on the Looza Crooza.

    It is not a rubber band... It is an elastic. It is not a traffic circle or round about... It is a rotary.

    "Going to the Islands" means going to Martha's Vineyard or Nantucket.

    Vocal Tension - Why Your Treadmill or Elliptical Trainer May Be Part of the Problem

    Apr/22/2013 | Posted by John Melley

    Ok, this is a little different than the typical posts I put here, but it is relevant to our vocal performance.

    Some of you may know I have been on an amazing journey in an attempt to become more fit and healthy. One of the most amazing things I have learned through my work with my trainer is how important our nervous system is. That may seem like a completely obvious statement that needs no explanation, but please… let me explain.

    Our brain is amazing.

    Its number one job is to keep us alive. Its number 2 job is to move us around. In many cases it moves us around in order to fulfill objective number one (Get food, move out of harm’s way, etc.)

    In order to protect us, one of the things our brain is really good at is pattern recognition. All of our senses; sight, sound, smell, taste and touch all send signals to our brain with various pieces of information. The brain assembles those pieces and recognizes patterns and adapts our movements accordingly. Depending on the pattern, the brain determines whether or not everything is Hunky Dory, or whether it should start to take steps to protect itself.

    The Startle Reflex

    These protection steps are collectively called the “Startle Reflex.” It’s hard wired in our brain. We all pretty much physically respond to threat the same way. Among other things the head tips down to protect the eyes and throat. The jaw clenches to harden against a blow to the head. The shoulders come up and forward to give more of a base of support to the neck and more protection to the heart and lungs. The arms come up to block anything coming toward your torso. Your rib muscles tighten. Your pelvis tilts and you bend forward to protect your vital organs. Adrenaline and other hormones and chemicals kick in to get you ready to move out of harm’s way.

    Here’s the thing. The startle reflex can be at varying levels of intensity. You don’t need to have a rock flying toward your head to initiate the startle reflex. Driving your car in bumper to bumper traffic, the phone ringing unexpectedly and a 1000 other things can create a low level startle reflex.

    How does all this have anything to do with treadmills and vocal tension?

    When your senses compile information and the information doesn’t match up with the brain’s expected pattern it’s called a “Sensory Mismatch” and that triggers an appropriate level of the startle reflex. Remember I said it happens at varying levels of intensity.

    I’ll pull this together for you by asking a question.

    What happens when you walk/run down the hall, or along the street?

    Answer: You move forward.

    When you walk or run forward, your eyes see things come toward you and move past you in your peripheral vision. Your skin feels the air moving past you. Your ears pick up the sound of that moving air and other sounds coming from different directions.

    The brain says: “Legs and arms are moving. Eyes are seeing things move past. Air pressure is changing depending on speed. Sounds are appropriate to the patterns I’m expecting.” With all that and about a million other inputs the brain determines everything is Ducky.

    What happens on a treadmill or elliptical trainer?

    Brain says:

    “Ok, my legs and arms are moving. I feel changing air pressure on my arms and legs, but… wait… nothing on my torso and face. Hmmm.

    Sounds aren’t changing as I expect them to. No air is rushing past my ears…. Huh….

    Hey wait a minute… nothing is moving past me either. The TV is on and it’s on a wall a lot farther away and higher up than the one in my living room.  It’s not coming closer to me like I expect it to, even though my legs are moving in a direction toward it! Jeesh!

    By the way, I’m used to a sitting position when I watch TV. Why are my legs moving? (Same thing with the book I may be reading… I’m usually sitting, or lying down before I go to sleep when I read. Should I be getting ready to rest instead of this walking/running thing?)

    This is NOT what I’m used to. What is going on? Sensory Mismatch! NOT a pattern I recognize. I’d better prepare. Initiate low-level startle reflex!”

    You might ask, “Well if I train on a treadmill or elliptical everyday then it will start to recognize the pattern, right?”

    Yes it will. It will also associate that pattern with the startle reflex. Every time you do it, you will reinforce the aggregation of those senses and your brain’s reactions to them.

    It will also be in conflict with the patterns you create/reinforce when you spend most of your time walking around normally, when things do go according to the expected pattern.

    Options?

    This low level startle reflex can accumulate over time and create vocal and other tension. I’m not saying “Don’t use a treadmill or elliptical.”

    But I am saying that what I’ve described above IS happening and it will create tension in your voice and body overall, albeit a subtle amount. Now that you’re aware of it, you may want to consider walking/running outside or on an indoor track to reduce this tension. Natural motion, like natural food, is better for you.

    And Now for Something Completely Different

    On another note, I invite you to listen and subscribe to my Voice Over Marketing Podcast, THE podcast dedicated to teaching in-depth and advanced marketing strategies for people in the voice over and audio production professions.

    My goal is to help you make more money by showing you ways to leverage your time, charge more for your talents and allow you to spend more time doing the things you want to do in your life. We interview some of the best and brightest people in Voice Over and Marketing.

    A new episode comes out about every couple of weeks.

    Just click here.

    I hope you enjoy it.

    Update from Boston

    Apr/16/2013 | Posted by John Melley

    Dear Friends,

    Yesterday I was planning to write something about marketing, voice over... something about growing your businesses. However, the events of the last couple of days here in Boston have left us all, to say the least, a little side-tracked.

     

    My wife Ann and I have received so many emails, messages, texts, etc. asking how we are, are we safe? So many to respond to.

     

    I thought this forum would be the best way to update you. I wanted to take a moment to thank you for checking in and thinking of us. Yes, thankfully Ann and I, and our families are fine.

     

    I usually wear my "Flag Shirt" on patriotic holidays - Patriot's Day, 4th of July, etc. I forgot to wear it yesterday, but I'm wearing it today. It just seems more appropriate and candidly, it let's me express myself and feel like I'm "doing" something.

    Yesterday was Patriot's Day here in Massachusetts. It's a state holiday to commemorate the Battles of Lexington & Concord that started the Revolution. The Boston Marathon is always run on Patriot's Day. There's always a home game for the Boston Red Sox too. It's a fun day here in town with families getting out and spending time together and it's when the weather starts to get nice.

    I guess you could say Boston wakes up from winter on Patriot's Day.

     

    Yesterday was a difficult day here at the radio station. We all just sort of stopped and cut over to our news station and we simulcast their coverage for the rest of the day.

    We had several staff members who ran the marathon. This isn't unusual. Most folks here in Boston know at least someone running in the marathon.

    We also had staff doing station appearances - handing out T-Shirts, etc. All are safe. We had other TV staff who were feet away when the blasts went off. Thankfully all of them are safe as well. Many assisted the injured and continued coverage throughout the night.

    Today, we're learning more; the names of the people killed and learning about who we know who knew them. Things are starting to sink in a bit and I can tell you we are sad, confused, but there is also a sense of unity among all of us and courtesy toward others. You can just feel it.

    There's also a palpable feeling of disgust and anger that someone would do this to "Us" on our special day. Frankly, we're all a little pissed off right now and that's understandable.

    Our local police and fire and other first responders have done heroic work. The outpouring of concern from our many friends across the United States and Canada is felt and deeply appreciated. We know you are with us and it means a lot.

    I ask you to please keep your thoughts and prayers with the families who have lost loved ones and those who have been wounded.

     

    Until next time,

     

    Peace.

     

    Typos Can Kill Your Web Traffic

    Mar/28/2013 | Posted by John Melley

    In This Post I discuss how typos can reduce your web traffic and how you can proactively solve the problem for VERY Short Money.

    Take a close look at the picture to the right. It's my web traffic from various sources for a particular page I generated last week.

    It's tough to see but pay Particular attention to the bars at the far left of the bar chart. They're also the tallest - meaning that's what most people entered when they searched for that page.

    Notice anything? It's tough to make out so I'll tell you. The top entry page was "www.JohnMelly.com."

    You might be thinking... "Yeah. So what?"

    What a Difference a "Letter" Makes

    Well... I spell my last name "M-e-l-l-E-y," not "M-e-l-l-y." My official Web address is www.JohnMelley.com.

    Several years ago some really clever person (I forget who he was) asked me if there were any common misspellings of my name.

    Yup. People frequently drop the "E" that goes between the 2 "L's" and the "Y".

    "Register for that domain too and have it redirected to your site, so when they misspell your name it won't matter. They'll still get to you."

    Thank You Mr. Super Clever Person Who I Can't Remember.

    This is just one page for one week that I have this data for.

    This happens all the time. For this particular page, for this particular week it's 45 unique visitors with 60 page views that I would likely have missed if I hadn't registered that domain.

    Who knows how many I would have lost over the years?

    Little Hinges Swing Big Doors

    If you have a domain that is "your name.com" and people frequently mess up the spelling of your name, then register the misspelled version of your name as well.

    For less than $10 bucks a year it's a small investment to capture more web traffic and keep the people who are LOOKING FOR YOU from getting frustrated and clicking elsewhere.

    You work hard to get traffic to your site. Don't let a typo diminish your efforts!

    Do you have any web traffic capturing tips? I'd love to hear them. Please share!

    Money From Thin Air

    Mar/27/2013 | Posted by John Melley

    In this blog post I discuss how Staples generated $15 out of thin air by selling me a card that assures repeat business and more importantly, Customer Loyalty.

    I end it with a question: How can you do the same in YOUR business?

    This morning I stopped into Staples to buy some DVD-ROMs. At the check out the cashier asked me if I buy a lot of toner and ink at Staples to which I replied "Yes."

    (Marketing Tactic Alert - She set up the sale very well by asking me a question I would most likely respond with a "Yes" to.)

    She then presented a "Savings Pass" that would guarantee 10% savings on all ink and toner purchases between now through May of 2014. All it would cost is $15.

    I did some quick calculating in my head and figured I would recoup that $15 investment pretty quickly, so I bought it. Then I congratulated her and said "Nice Up-sell."

    She smiled and said "Thanks." Though I didn't ask her, I'll bet Staples pays her a percentage of each one she sells - which would be a smart thing to do.

    What Happened Here?

    Well, Staples wound up with $15 in revenue they probably wouldn't have had from me. They increased the transaction size from $20 to $35. They also sold me money at a discount. I'll save 10% on future purchases and my savings won't really start until I've recouped the $15.

    Like I said, I'll do that, so it was worth it to me.

    Loyalty for Sale

    Here's the other thing. They "Sold me loyalty." By making me pay something to access the savings they made me put some "skin in the game." Now I'm more likely to return to Staples to buy my ink and toner, because I want the savings and I want the money back. I at least want to break even. The 10% savings I get won't really hurt Staples too much either.

    It also means I'll be walking through the door more regularly and probably buying items other than just ink and toner.

    If I don't then hey, they got $15 of my money for free so it's a win for them.

    But it's also a win for me. I basically have 14 months to recoup a relatively small investment with savings that will add up over time. I win too, so that's a great arrangement.

    Here's a Secret

    One way people/businesses get rich is by getting paid before doing the work. This is a brilliant way of getting money up front.

    How Does This Apply To You?

    Your first instinct might be to say: "John, I'm a voice over talent. I'm not in retail so this won't work for me."

    Yes it will. You just need to think about it creatively. I've got a couple of ideas already for my business. Rest assured I'll be thinking of other ways I can use it too.

    What Ideas Do You Have?

    Can you think if ways you can apply this concept in your VO business? I'd love to hear from you. This is a great opportunity to think outside the box. Let's hear them!

    How to Time Block

    Mar/12/2013 | Posted by John Melley

    Ever have a day where you get to about 3:00 PM and realize you haven't accomplished anywhere near what you had planned to?

    In this post I reveal a powerful tip to help you get more done during the day.

    We've all had days where we wonder where the time went. One trick to getting more done during the day is to use Time Blocking during your day.

    The power behind Time Blocking is that you set a start and (more importantly) an END time for your task(s).

    So let's say you have an editing project that needs to get finished, a voice session, some follow up calls, paperwork, emails to send, meet with a client.

    Be Realistic

    Block out the start and end for each task, being realistic about what time it will take to get each task accomplished. This is key.

    To Do lists can leave you frustrated in that you look at it and feel like you didn't get everything on it crossed off.

    Time blocking will help you with your workload and help you make decisions on what you take on.

    Here's an example: (Your results may vary)

    6:00 AM Wake Up

    6:15 - 7:00 AM Prepare breakfast

    7:00 - 7:20 Shower/Prep for Day

    7:20 - 7:30 Get dressed

    7:35 - 8:00 Travel to Studio

    8:00 - 8:10 Set up

    8:10 - 8:40 Editing

    8:40 - 8:50 - Break

    8:50 - 9:20 Editing

    9:20 - 9:30 Break

    9:30 - 10:00 Editing

    10:00 - 10:10 Break

    10:10 - 10:30 Review script for recording session

    10:30 - 11:15 Recording Session

    11:15 - 11:30 - Break

    11:30 - 12:00PM email

    Rest of day can be blocked out from there.

    A Couple of Key Points:

    Two things you may have noticed in this schedule:

    • I set up breaks every half hour. You may recall from a previous post "The Mighty Egg Timer" that you set the timer for 30 minutes and work solid - no distractions. You'll be amazed how much you can accomplish in 30 minutes with no distractions.
    • I take a break. Get up and walk around. You need to do this and you'll be more productive during those 30 minute work periods.
    • When I say "No distractions" I mean NO distractions. Phone to Voicemail, email, twitter, facebook, internet off.
    • Notice I put email in the middle of the day.

    Work on YOUR Agenda:

    The key to accomplishing more is working on YOUR agenda and task list. When you start your day looking at email you start responding to other people's requests. You're working on THEIR agenda - not yours.

    Very little is so Earth Shattering in email that it can't wait until noon to get back to people. I've found that most questions/requests typically resolve themselves by the time I get to look at the email thread of messages and I've saved myself the time of sorting through the "Half-assed" communication that takes place in most email.

    This one tip - email at noon - has been one of the KEY productivity techniques that I have used over the last few years that has helped me manage my time more effectively.

    If you try nothing else, try this one for a week and notice the difference!

    What time management tips and strategies do you employ? I'd love to hear them. I'm always looking for good ideas.

    Establishing Voice Over Rates For Beginners

    Feb/26/2013 | Posted by John Melley

    It seems the subject of “Rates” is a hot one, particularly for people new to Voice Over.

    After my article on Are Your Low Voice Over Rates Your Own Fault? I received several questions/comments.

    Here’s one from a new voice talent. My thoughts on his questions follow:

    Dear John,

    I'm new to voiceover work and thus do not have a lot of context to what a job should cost. I know how much I would like to make, but I also know that if I ask too much I may lose the job and at this point gaining clients and experience seems to be the priority.

    At the same time I'm working on a presentation narration project that has turned out to be much more work than I expected and I am hesitant to go back to the client and ask for more money.

    I'm sure that with time I will learn to better gauge how much work a project will take, and thus bid more appropriately.

    Love to hear your thoughts on tips for those of us new to this line of work.

    Thanks for the great article.

    Sincerely,

    Tim

    Hi Tim,

    Yes, it's a "chicken/egg" question on rates for new voice over talent. Most talent look at what they should charge for voice over rates from a clean slate – like they should start really low.

    You need to ask yourself a few questions

    Here’s a question. Did you ever start a new job where you were doing the job for the first time, but someone thought you were capable of learning it so they hired you? Did you work for free, or did they pay you? Most folks get paid. Yes, it might be lower to start and it could increase with experience, but you got paid something.

    Same thing goes for Voice Over.

    You need to ask yourself a few other questions. Answering them honestly can help you determine your comfort level with your rates.

    I have found that most discomfort about what people should charge comes from being unsure of something; be it experience, level of comfort with the material (do you know anything about the subject matter you're recording) or attitudes about money, etc.

    So ask yourself:

    • Do you have enough VO Training to deliver a good performance of the material you're being asked to record?
    • Can you deliver it to them as promised?
    • Why did the client pick you? (This is key. Did you audition and were you selected from a group of auditions? Was it your style and do you have the "sound they're looking for"? Or were you selected because you gave them the best bid?)
    • Was a budget discussed prior to recording?
    • Was there a negotiation on rates beforehand?

    If you can confidently answer "Yes" to those questions, then charge something you're comfortable with knowing you're new, but don't plan on staying there too long. You can get trapped.

    This can become a problem especially if the same client comes back to you for another project and they expect a similar rate. It's only natural for them to do so. You'll need to up your rate or else you'll end up resenting the work. (Kinda what I'm hearing in your narration project.)

    As for Going Back and Asking For More $

    I'd stick with what you quoted for them on the narration project and do it for what you agreed to, but at the same time, I don't see a problem with saying something after they've approved your work and give you a compliment on it.

    I'd say something like: "Thanks. I enjoyed the project and learned a lot from doing it. I must say it took quite a bit more than I expected. I'm new to voice over and editing so I'm learning what different projects take in terms of time. I'd love to be considered for other projects, but I'll have to be more realistic in the amount of time it takes when I quote you a figure. I hope you can understand that."

    Pricing can be a great positioning tool.

    Higher prices impress people. "Gee they must be really good." Here's the caveat. You've gotta be able to back it up. If you charge a higher fee and you deliver a so-so performance, you're cooked - and rightfully so.

    And Now For Something Completely Different...

    Finally, to put a completely different spin on this: If you've had any work experience you're probably knowledgeable about something. You bring that knowledge and experience with you. Don't discount that.

    What am I saying? If you're an expert in candy making, (or whatever background you come from) then consider doing VO projects in that arena. In that world, people won't question you and you can get the rates you want because you're already an expert and you're expanding your product offering. Then you leverage the voice jobs form those projects and build your rate base for other types of projects from there.

    I hope this helps!

    Do you have a Voice Over Business or Marketing question? I'd love to hear from you. Please feel free to ask. I'll try and answer it here. If I need to, I'll do some research and present what I find and we can both learn something!

    Thanks!

    The Problem With Competing On Price Alone

    Feb/18/2013 | Posted by John Melley

    I recently wrote a post: Are Your Low Voice Over Rates Your Own Fault? that generated a lot of comments here, several emails to me personally and also when it appeared on Voice Over Xtra.com.

    Several readers lamented that a lot of Voice Over has fallen into "Commodity" thinking. Since it generated so much interest and people wanted me to expand on this subject, I thought it required a follow up post.

    A lot of what I'm about to share may make people uncomfortable, but if we as an industry are going to have a chance at being compensated well for our talents, then we need to see our business in a larger context and as part of the overall economy.

    I'm probably about to kick over the beehive on this, but people want my opinion so here goes ...

    Here It Comes:

    Some of the Pay to Play sites, (some where it really is all about 'How low can you go') and other "talent" sites for various skills; have really done us all a disservice.

    But to be honest, it's part of a bigger problem affecting more than just those in creative endeavors. I believe it's one reason why the unemployment rate is still very high and why it will stay there for a long time until something changes.

    In my opinion, we're at a place in our country's history where a lot of people want their cake and eat it too. We want to be able to buy our products for next to nothing at Big Box Stores. And at the same time we want to have retirement plans and health care and a high standard of living.

    All nice things to have.

    A fair amount of those things are enforced through employer mandates which add to costs. (Yes, I'm dancing on the edge of politics, but it's reality.)

    Normally these costs are passed on to consumers. All businesses factor what its costs are in establishing prices for their products and services and to turn a profit, or they go out of business.

    The Model Is Not Sustainable:

    The problem is a lot of people don't want to pay the price for things that it takes to support the standard of living we all want. So to reduce costs, businesses get them made/performed elsewhere, or get people to agree to perform those services at "commodity" prices.

    At the same time, people HOWL when jobs are shipped overseas (necessary) to keep costs down so they can charge the prices people want to pay.

    I can say this from the firsthand experience of my family having owned a retail greeting card/social printing business for many years. (It's been closed for more than a decade now.) Try finding an independent Card store, or an independent Men's Clothing Store. They're rare.

    Bookstore? Music Store? These independent stores were the businesses that provided jobs that supported families, paid their mortgages, food bills and sent the kids to school. Now people are working 2 or 3 minimum wage jobs 7 days a week. That's what happens when price drives everything.

    Technology gave us a broad selection and choice, but what drove everyone initially was price. It worked. But I'd argue we lost something with it.

    It's an interesting dichotomy.

    We're All Guilty:

    How many of us have shopped at a low price retailer where "Low Prices" is the main marketing point? How many of us belong to a "Discount Club"?

    I'm not saying saving money isn't important, but it's almost an obsession with our culture. And that's why most people/businesses compete on price and that's not good. People forget there are factors besides price that people use to make their buying decisions. The recession has accelerated this.

    Low price providers and high price providers have all done well. The businesses left in the middle have been cleared out or have been the sector most affected.

    Entire businesses are created by aggregating talent pools and getting each of us to compete against each other - which is fine - but when we only compete on price and nothing else, that's where the problem starts.

    You Can Still Prosper:

    On the flip side, I've found through targeted marketing and some strategic planning you can still work with people who value your talents and will pay you what you would like to earn.

    It's about finding the right "WHO" to work with and positioning yourself in such a way as they see you as the expert and "go-to" person for the products and services you provide.
    But all of what I mentioned about targeting, etc. would be simpler if we weren't fighting a "mindset" of "cheaper is better."

    I welcome your thoughts.