Thursday, July 31, 2014

Latest Short Story

See, even while struggling to make my way on Fiverr and studying programming and music theory and taking care of all those other things in my life, I'm still writing. The latest release is a cute little story about a guy who is having a bad day with doors.

This one is available now on Kindle for a buck (click the image above). It will be free for a few days in the near future, along with some of my other short stories, but to find out when you'll have to follow me on Twitter. Or check in on the Amazon page day after day. It's easier to follow me, really, and I won't flood your feed with Tweets because I'm too busy writing.

After I've finished a few more of these short stories, I plan to offer them in an anthology, so that anyone interested in reading them all can save a little money.

I'm working on some videos and a book right now, plus a song or three, so I don't know when the next story will some. Probably it will just tap me on the shoulder and say "You have to write me now."

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Couple More Lessons About Fiverr

With a little more experience doing voiceover on Fiverr, I can add a little advice:

7. Don’t rely on the rating system to get your gig seen. Fiverr has recently switched to a five-star rating system instead of the usual thumbs-up or thumbs-down system. People who give you four stars think they are giving you a really good rating, but the less-than-perfect rating can knock you out of the first search page unless your gig is unusual enough to be included with a small number of search results.

8. Give yourself enough lead time. Fiverr orders come in out of the blue. They’re not scheduled like most freelance work. So make sure your standard lead time gives you plenty of time to fit a quick job into your schedule (and maybe, if your lucky, get some other jobs to gang it up with), and if you offer fast turnaround, make sure it’s not a big strain to make it happen. See number five in my earlier post (and, as it turns out, $20 is the most you can charge for fast delivery). Though I used to offer a three-day turnaround and one-day service for only $5, I now promise a five-day lead time with two-day service for $20. Since I made that change, I still get orders, but no one has ordered the faster delivery, and that’s fine with me.

So far, I’m still staying with Fiverr. It’s not making me a lot of money overall, but when a job comes in, with my microphone already set up, it’s a reasonable to good hourly rate. And sometimes the work is even fun.

And besides, I am building up a portfolio.

Friday, July 18, 2014


It's been quiet here on the blog, and on SoundCloud, and Twitter, and YouTube, for the last couple of weeks. Mostly because it hasn't been quiet here at home. I've been working hard running up to six shows on the stage in Pittsfield, NH, and I'm only halfway through. And I'm taking two online courses simultaneously.

And, of course, this being summer, there are activities with kids and construction projects on the house. So, no quiet time for me.

And I have continued creating, behind the scenes. I'm writing a short story. I'm working on a song I thought was finished until my sense of structure tapped me on the back of the head and said "you need a second bridge before the last verse." Sigh.

I've been very lax about editing video, but I do have footage to edit, for my channel and for my family's channels.

So there will be some activity online from me soon. But certainly not until after my next three shows.

Friday, July 4, 2014


In the midst of doing a play and trying to keep on on writing, I'm doing something that might seem to be a complete distraction: taking a programming course.

The course, Creative Programming for Digital Media & Mobile Apps, is offered by the University of London, through Coursera. It's about using the MIT programming environment called Processing to manipulate images, animations, and sounds on desktop and mobile devices. Now, at least that sounds closer to my usual specialties.

And closer than you think, because way back when, even before I was one of the gurus of interactive media for Philips, I was a programmer. I haven't done much to keep up, and something I find that confusing, but I also find that the new programming environments allow me to work with imagery and audio in ways I could never have imagined when I worked at Philips, with a lot less coding.

If I can get up to speed. That's what this course is about for me, a free (though not easy) way to see how well I can adapt to new programming tools, and maybe use them to supplement my art. Or even create new forms of it.

Which is, of course, exactly what I've been doing all along: trying to apply my old-guy skills to a quickly-changing technological landscape.

Can I do it? I don't know. But I'm going to try.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Lessons About Fiverr

Here are some things I'm learning about Fiverr, the hard way:

1. Make sure you're good at whatever you're offering, and that your video shows it. I seem to have done OK on this as soon as I put up my first voiceover gig, which has gotten a lot of positive response.

2. Make sure you're comfortable with what you're doing. I have recently pulled my video gig because I was being asked to lend my face to things that I didn't agree with; one customer, without asking first, asked me to say that I was a woman. Sorry, no.

3. Don't accept offers to do anything outside the scope of the gig. If, for example, you do voiceover, don't offer to put music behind it. If you're good at this and want to do it, offer it as a separate gig, if you can do it reasonably for $4 net, or as a gig extra, making sure you charge enough. Extras tend to get out of hand.

4. Get all the information you can before you start the gig. And if the buyer doesn't give you what you need, do exactly what he or she gave you, no more and no less. You can't produce high-quality output with low-quality input, and it's the buyer's responsibility to tell you what you're expected to deliver.

5. Charge a fortune for fast delivery. Really. $20, $30, or even $40 is not out of line. It's doubtful that you make your living from Fiverr alone, which means you have a life. Setting that life aside in order to deliver an order that, after fees have been paid, might net you $12 is not worth the stress. If someone needs it that fast, they will pay extra or go elsewhere. Either way, you win.

6. Realize that all the precautions you're taking won't protect you against unthinking or abusive customers. And, unfortunately, Fiverr is more buyer-friendly than seller-friendly, as far as I can see. There is no way to prevent a demonstrably abusive buyer from buying from you, and canceling an order, even if it is because the buyer asked for something quite unreasonable—or totally ridiculous—can count against your overall ratings, increasing the pressure to deliver orders even when it is not in your best interests to do so.

I'm sure I'll be adding to this list as time goes on, and the only reason I've posted it now is that I've just had a buyer who expected a lot for the money, and gave very little information up front. I've already had to re-do a substantial amount of work, and I'm not happy about that.

So, after a break, I think I am doing some editing to my gig. But probably not today; I have a rehearsal tonight and I need to study my lines.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Love/Hate Relationship With a Mic

Today I did my first voiceover recording session with my MXL microphone. I had forgotten how wide the frequency response of this mic is, how transparent the sound, how clean.

I had also forgotten how damn sensitive it is. I had to close windows and shut off fans all over the house, and I still had to filter out the low hum from my old computer (a sound which my new computer doesn't make, damn it—although I blame that on Tascam, who stopped supporting my old audio interface for new operating systems), and even a little bit of noise from my monitor.

It's amazing how noisy a home studio can be, in ways you just don't hear unless you play it back through headphones. Refrigerators on another floor, breezes from outside (I hope it doesn't rain tomorrow for my next recording session), road noise. Ceiling fans! Good grief, I had to shut off the ceiling fans on the floor below because the vibration comes right up through the floor, through the mic stand, and even through the shock mount, and winds up on the audio track.

What I wouldn't give for a nice sound-proof booth. Maybe one day.

But for now, at least the death of my H2 hasn't put me out of the voiceover and song recording business.

Video shooting, though, is going to be quite another matter. That, I have to work on.