Recent Posts



    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."


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.

    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 ""

    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

    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" 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!

    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.



    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!


    2 Ways To Stay Focused - Free Time Tracking Template

    Feb/15/2013 | Posted by John Melley

    In this post I cover 2 unique ways and a FREE Resource to help you stay focused while working.

    Ok, so today I must admit I struggled with maintaining my focus while in the studio. I had a number of distractions. We had a band come in and perform, The Dunwells (Killer band by the way. Check 'em out at and they brought in lunch.

    Then there was the herding of various people to voice scripts, the rush before a 3 day weekend and yaddah, yaddah....

    Ever have one of those days where hours seem to go by and toward the end of the day you look at the pile of work and it has grown?

    Yeah - today's been one of those days.

    Here are 2 techniques I use when trying to regain focus and/or crank through a lot of material.

    • The Mighty Egg Timer
    • Time Tracking
    First the Egg Timer (There's mine in the upper right)

    While I don't recommend you use it while recording, there are plenty of other activities where you can use it to enhance productivity, like editing, writing, checking email, research, time on social media, even phone calls.

    How do you use it? Set the timer for a period of time. I like to set it for 30 minutes. Some people like 20 minutes, others 40 minutes. I find 30 minutes works best for me.

    So I set it for 30 minutes and I GO. I write, edit, load spots, check email - whatever and I go at it for 30 minutes non-stop. When the bell goes off I stop.

    I take a 5 to 10 minute break and then I set it again for another 30 minutes and I go at it again. I kinda play "Beat The Clock" with myself and I do this consistently throughout the work day.

    I get an AMAZING amount accomplished.

    Here's The Trick

    The trick is that you can't do something else while you're working on a project during that 30 minute time block.

    For example, if you've set the timer for 30 minutes of editing - then spend the 30 minutes editing. Don't have the email open and when the little bubble pops up saying you've got a new message you stop and go check your email. NOOOOO!

    Shut off the email for the 30 minutes and focus on the editing.

    Set the timer again and use that block to check email.

    Multi-Tasking is... in a word... uh... bullshit. Many people might think they can check email and edit at the same time, but what they're really doing is stopping to check email. Then they go back to editing. That slows things down dramatically.

    Substitute any other 2 activities like texting and driving and you get the same result. Neither activity gets "done" very well and sometimes with tragic consequences.

    Next Item...

    Time Tracking - and FREE Resource

    Take a sheet of paper or create a spreadsheet with the day broken up into 15 minute segments down the left column.

    If you'd like a free PDF of my tracking sheet template that I use, just click here.

    Then in each 15 minute segment you write down what you did during those 15 minutes.

    You Have To Be BRUTALLY Honest

    To get the full benefit of this exercise you have to be BRUTALLY honest with yourself. If you find yourself hesitating to write down what you actually did during that block of time, that alone should tell you something.

    Two things will happen. You will get more accomplished in a shorter amount of time and you will start to see how much time you really spend on non-productive activities.

    Do this for a full week (2 weeks are even better) and you'll start to notice patterns of activity. You might even start to notice certain times of day are more or less productive than others. That helps you adjust your activities to best suit the most productive times of day for you.

    To Make It Work You Need To Be Discipline

    Yes, it may be tedious to do this and it will take some self discipline, but it will be well worth the effort.

    I find I need to do this exercise every few months to help me get refocused. It's a very powerful tool. If you haven't downloaded the template yet, take a moment and click here to do so.

    What Do You Do?

    These are a couple of my ideas. What do you do to maintain focus? I'd love to hear your thoughts and learn any tips you may have.

    What's The Worst Number In Your Business?

    Feb/01/2013 | Posted by John Melley

    One of my marketing mentors, Dan S. Kennedy says “The worst number in any business is One.” What does he mean by that? Well...

    • one major customer/client,
    •  one source or vendor for a product or service,
    • one piece of vital equipment, etc.
    If something happens to "It," you’re left scrambling for a solution or replacement.

    I learned this lesson myself. My AudioMERCIAL™ product. We replicate the program on CD with artwork, a nifty case, MP3 files, the works.

    I have a CD duplication company in the U.S. that is terrific.

    The problem came when my clients in Canada needed to get them shipped from the U.S. into Canada and deal with Customs Charges, etc. The shipping costs shot up. Unforeseen problem. That happens.

    So, I’m left scrambling to find a CD duplication company in Canada—which was a surprisingly difficult thing to do, by the way.

    It took a bit of figuring it out dues to currency exchange rates, different tax laws, etc., but we got it solved.

    Take a look around you and your business. What do you only have “One” of? It’d be smart to work on finding and putting together a back up plan for the time when (not if) you’ll need it.

    I'd love your feedback and comments. Please feel free to share this post and blog with others!

    More next week. Enjoy your weekend!

    Have You Relaxed Today?

    Jan/30/2013 | Posted by John Melley

    This is something a little different.

    We spend a lot of time taking in information, searching for Voice Over work and running around. Sometimes it's important to stop, rest and catch our breath.

    Take 3 and a half minutes to stop and watch this beautiful video.

    It's particularly impressive when you enlarge it to full screen mode.



    Are Your Low Voice Over Rates Your Own Fault?

    Jan/23/2013 | Posted by John Melley

    This post may ruffle a few feathers, but let me start it off by asking a question.

    How many of us hesitate, or feel a slight lump in our throats when responding to the question: "So what are your rates"?

    C'mon... we've all felt it at one time or another.

    If you're a member of AFTRA like I am, rates are set for certain productions and you just say those are the contracted rates when people question you. (By the way those rates are minimums. You can ask for more.)

    If you're not in AFTRA you don't have that "crutch" and then there are freelance projects that fall outside collective bargaining and there are projects like script writing, production/editing and consulting that aren't even part of an agreement. So you're on your own.

    Like I said, we've all felt that hesitation about rates at one time or another, but WHY?

    Why do we feel at all self conscious about stating what we want to make in exchange for providing our gifts and talents that will help a client grow their business, sell a product or bring their project to life?

    I believe you shouldn't feel that way as long as you know you are providing your best service and performance to your client and you live up to your agreements.

    I think a lot of the hesitation comes from our background, our personal experiences with money, family, friends and societal/cultural attitudes and conceptions about money.

    Let me share a story I heard from Rabbi Daniel Lapin last spring at a conference. He was discussing societal attitudes about money and how the use of language can subtly influence us. Here was an example:

    How many of us have heard someone say they "Want to Give Back"? The concept of giving back is interesting. "Giving Back" implies that you've only been taking and that you're finally getting around to offering something in return.

    Rabbi Lapin asked us to hold up a $ Dollar bill and then asked us if we mugged somebody in order to get it. Granted, it was a bit of an exaggeration, but he made a good point.

    We provide a service that someone has agreed to pay us for. There has been a fair exchange, and if you treat your clients right you'll leave them feeling they got more than their money's worth.

    Please understand I'm not saying anything against donating and supporting organizations and causes that are important to you. That is a GOOD thing to do because it is something we CHOOSE to do with our money.

    What I'm trying to point out is the language we use matters. "Donating" and "Giving Back" may be the same side of the coin for some people, but I think there is a difference for the reasons I mentioned above.

    Pop Culture and news also have an impact. Business in general has been portrayed very negatively in the media over the last few years and our political leaders on BOTH sides have seized upon it for their own uses. Yes, there have been some scumbags taking advantage of people, and we ought to lock 'em up and throw away the key.

    But we all know most of us aren't "too big to fail." We want to put food on the table, pay the bills, take care of the kids, save for the future and yes, we have dreams of things we'd like to do, places we'd like to go, things we'd like to have. There's NOTHING wrong with that!

    But it all has an impact. It provides the backdrop for comments you hear from family and friends "Oh, well he/she owns their own business, they must be rich." Questions like "How much did that cost you"? "You charged HOW MUCH for WHAT"?

    We're on this Earth for a short time to LIVE! Money is simply a tool for us to do that. We all want to be rich. Want proof? People spend $ millions everyday on lottery tickets hoping to become rich.

    We  are working in a field that isn't run of the mill. We choose to work in Voice Over following  our dreams. We do it in addition to our other job(s) until we can do it full time. Most people won't do that. I had friends tell me to "Hang it up and come have a beer." I'm glad I have the career I have now instead of those beers I could have had then.

    Be vigilant about the thoughts, comments and perceptions the people around you have about money and how they might impact your mindset in building your business. Go for it.

    Do you have examples of people making comments about your rates? Do you hesitate when quoting an amount for a project? I'd love to hear your comments and feedback. Please share this post with a friend.


    Scan This With Your Mobile Device!

    Sep/01/2011 | Posted by John Melley