Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The best made investment

for a voiceover business.

Fresh out of high school, I decided to enroll in a small but growing local community college. I had no idea what I wanted to do or what I wanted to learn. I was just a kid enthralled with broadcasting and being on the radio. But everyone said I needed to go to college. So, I enrolled in the business/accounting program figuring I would need a good knowledge of business to make it in the world. My heart and head weren't into it so I dropped out after a year and a half. I would eventually go back to college and complete my education later in life. Accounting 101 was the single most important course I would enroll in, that first year of college.

It was clear early on that I was not cut out to be an accountant. But, getting that basic understanding of accounting and bookkeeping principles was an important learning experience, one that I would keep coming back to for the rest of my life. I didn't even realize how important it was at the time.

So when it came time to put together a blog entry this week I was having a bit of a writer's block. So, I decided to load up the tax prep software that I had purchased to see if I could get a start on the filing of this year's income taxes. I keep great records and the process went along very quickly. I was done and ready to file the return in no time.

Having a system to keep track of your business is essential. Computer software makes the record keeping easy. But, if you don't have the basic understanding of what you are doing, you can easily be overwhelmed by the task. So, today I give you my recommend list, very unscientific, of things I think everyone should do to keep track of your voiceover finances.

1. Get organized and have a system – This can be as simple as eight or ten manila folders in a box. If you keep things electronically, then a folder on your computer with sub folders. Mark or name the folder with obvious titles such as: advertising/marketing, communication expenses, internet services, office expenses, vehicle expenses, utilities, professional fees, and miscellaneous. Do this even if you also have an accounting system on your computer. You'll need these folders to easily retrieve a document later, especially at tax time. This brings to mind tip #2

IRS- Schedule C snapshot
2. Use the same account names as your taxing authority - If you are in the US, set up your system of expense accounts to reflect those used on the schedules designed by the Internal Revenue Service or to reflect those used by the tax revenue entity you report to. You'll be very glad you did at tax time.

3. Take an adult education or on line course in basic bookkeeping. There are many of these available on You Tube for free. Take the time to learn, despite the fact you may be using Quick Books, Quicken, ZoHo Books, or other computer based system. If you have a basic understanding of double entry bookkeeping and the principles of debit and credit, your year end obligations to the government will be less daunting. Knowing that I have kept good records during the year, I simply print off a standard report called an Income Statement and transfer the amounts to the tax form. Voila! I'm done.

4. Ask your tax adviser - If you don't want to take the time to learn about bookkeeping, then meet with your tax adviser at the beginning of the year. Ask him or her how he or she would like to have the information organized at the end of the year. Then, keep up that system throughout the year.

5. Keep good records - I am a firm believer that keeping good records of money coming in and money going out is critical. I am reminded of that old saying from back in the 60's. “Do you know where your kids are?” Translated that would be: “Do you know where your money is?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

All work and no play

 makes Jack (Jerry) a dull boy 

The title of this blog is an old English proverb we've all heard. And it's true, especially in the voiceover world. It is my belief that even if we are booking work every day, we all need diversions to keep life interesting and to keep us fresh.

The past couple of months I have found myself in the studio doing several long form projects. Previously, I always focused on shorter recordings, brief explainer videos, commercials and children's stories, obviously brief.

When the opportunity presented itself to get involved in reading some longer screenplays for a film producer I jumped at the chance and the money was excellent. These projects, always due with a short turn-around, required me to be in the studio for many hours at a time, several days in a row. I was not conditioned for this. It was then I realized how valuable and healthy it is to have diversions and other interests. I was already doing something that I took for granted as to its overall value.

Back in 1969, when in the US Air Force I was assigned to a one-year tour of duty in Thailand, during the Vietnam War. As a Radio and TV Production Specialist I was deployed to The American Forces Radio and TV station at Takhli, north of Bangkok. It was there that I grabbed the opportunity to buy, at significant discount, my first 35mm camera. The air base had a hobby photo lab where I learned also to process my own film and make prints. Times have changed and I rarely make prints now opting for digital display. But, photography has since been of great interest to me.

So, between these long form voiceover projects, I make sure I get out with the camera. I find it very healthy, gets me out of the studio, and is quite refreshing at the same time. Nature and the great outdoors is what I like best. So the adrenalin always builds when I see an exciting shot and then when I realized that I captured the image digitally, I feel the excitement and am eager to share my outing with others. So, I usually post some of my best shots on the social media sites. Here are some of my recent

Snowy Owl

Juvenile bald eagle



Admiral Butterfly


Red Tailed Hawk

Sunrise at Silver Lake

Old Abandoned Home

 Photography is my healthy diversion. What's yours?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

I never fail to plan

Because, I never plan to fail.

I'm a simple guy with moderate goals. Each year as I end one year and begin another I have always tried to focus on something that will grow my business and yet not break the bank. I am always reluctant to label myself a conservative because of the negative political connotations. In business that's my downfall. I am very conservative when it comes to spending money. Yes, I know the old saying: “You have to spend money to make money.” I understand that. But at the same time I have a hard time executing that philosophy. I tend not to spend it until I have it. That's why my business grows at a steady but moderate rate. Each year, I write into my business plan one or two major changes and or projects that I will launch to help my business attract more customers. In my case, that would be more businesses and individuals seeking the services of a professional voiceover for their projects. Last year the major enhancements were a complete re-branding of who I am and what I do, along with the web site and marketing materials to support that branding. My new web site was launched in March with a new logo and brand - “Warm Tone, Natural Finish.” 
The branding was chosen after consulting several voice experts who listened to my audio demos and described what they heard. The new branding has worked well and was just the image I needed to attract new business. It doesn't over promise or mislead. It simply describes the kind of voiceover I can consistently deliver. The second major addition this past year was the a new audio player that gives the voice seeker flexibility when listening to my voiceover demos. With the help of Bob Merkel at VoiceZam I was able to integrate this new audioplayer into the new web site. The player gives me the ability to provide player links in marketing emails and newsletters allowing me to track when the demos were played, who listened and for how long - tremendous marketing tools.
So, what's on tap for 2014? The first thing already underway is the protection of my brand. With help of Robert J. Sciglimpaglia Jr. author of Voice Over Legal, I have begun the process of registering “Warm Tone, Natural Finish” as my registered trade or service mark. In addition, I begin the new year with a studio enhancement that allows me to do live voice over session work with production houses anywhere there's an Internet connection. The technical term or name is ipDTL. To put it simply, using simple Internet technology and the backbone of Google and its browser Chrome, I can be in my studio and connected “live” to another studio in a far away city to record high quality voiceovers, a process that once was restricted to only those that could afford to install very expensive equipment and costly telephone lines called ISDN. By the way, those ISDN circuits are rapidly being phased out by the telephone companies because they are just too costly to maintain. Now, I need to promote those new features.

I have a plan. What about you? What are you planning to enhance your business in 2014?