This is good general information for anyone searching for info on voice talent websites. A breakdown on voice talent websites and voiceover P2P (pay-to-play) sites; what to look out for, some basic tips, the difference between good and bad voice talent websites.
I’ve been watching voice talent websites evolve since the launch of Voice123 in 2003 and one thing is for sure – many, many people have “jumped on the bandwagon” trying to cash in on the thousands of people actively pursuing the voice acting field.
The sheer numbers of both voice actors and talent sites is staggering and growing everyday. To stand out from the crowd you must be professional (your talent, studio, how you conduct business, etc) and be prepared for a long battle to build up your client base.
Essentially, there’s four types of voice talent websites:
Membership-based (P2P) – “Instant Posting”
These sites take your money and set you up on the spot. Anytime you come across these sites, be prepared for little or no business right away, but (depending on advertising and search engine rankings) you should get a decent amount of leads. The only thing that happens fast with these sites is the charge to your credit card.
The bottom line is, Instant Posting sites don’t care whether you’re a roofer or working full-time at McDonald’s. They want your money, because the more members they get, the more money they make.
At time of publication, both Voices.com and Voice123 have two membership tiers – Cheap and Insanely Expensive. In the case of Voices.com you can spend $5,000 and purportedly get “all access” though some people say it’s no different than the $400 membership. Since there’s no accountablility or transparency, buyer beware.
As for V123, they charge $5,000 to audition all you want; they basically shut off Smartcast and let the talent have at it. At least you know what you’re paying for.
Membership-based – “Submit Demo for Approval”
These sites are run by people who know the VO business and want to control the content that is on their site – a smart way to do it.
Essentially, if all the voice talent on the site is above average, clients are more likely to return and everybody makes more money. The rosters are normally smaller, making it easier for clients to find what they want faster.
That being said, there are some sites out there that “say” they want you to submit your demo for approval, but take anyone in the end, using the method as a trick to make you whip out your credit card when they come back and say, “Congratulations! You’ve been accepted!”.
If the site is suspect, you’ll get exactly that. If they are legit, you’ll get a more personal e-mail and/or a phone call. You can contact the talent on the roster and check references on your own.
Have a look at the roster. If there’s more than say, 80 voices, beware.
Submit Demo sites should be tougher to get listed on, webmasters should be critical of your demo and ask about your studio gear (the good ones will ask you for a “dry voice” sample from your studio).
Also, it’s my experience that their rates are lower for (yearly) memberships – I’ve been posted on one site for many, many years…his fee? A $20.00 administration charge.
The only drawback to these sites is advertising and search engine rankings. These webmasters are more interested in building up a great, quality roster and client base than paying for advertising or getting the top spot on Google.
So, on the one hand, you’re in good company and what leads you get will be quality.
On the other hand, don’t expect the sheer number of leads that you’d get on “Instant Posting” sites who pay for search engine rankings and advertise on behalf of their voice talent membership.
Commission/Agency Voice Talent Sites
These are the toughest to get listed on, but are the best for numerous, quality leads. These site owners negotiate the rate for you and take a cut, or commission on what you get paid. In return they advertise their site and get you the best rate possible for your service.
Some sites are up front about their commissions, others are not.
For instance, you get listed on a site that has a small roster, but does a lot of advertising and gets great rankings on Google. Whenever you get a gig, the check comes from the website, not the client (as a matter of fact, you never communicate with the client).
These sites get the gig and offer you a rate: “Can you do it for 50 bucks?” The reality is, they’re charging the client $250.00 for the VO, using your talent to make money.
Some are more unscrupulous than others. Trust your instincts. It’s my experience that the more money they are taking from you, the lower the rate you’re getting…..and the more picky they are about your VO product and service.
The reason for that is, their client is paying a high price (unbeknownst to you) for your voice….and it better be perfect.
When I was getting started in 1998, I had one client who would bust my chops for retake after retake on a lousy $40.00 job – until I got wise. This guy was ripping off people left and right and after some investigation (checking with other talent) I found out he had a history of this behaviour.
“Dollar a Holler” Websites
Sadly, like any other industry, the voice talent business is not immune to bottom-feeders.
“Voice-overs from $5.95!” and “Choose your Voiceover Package, starting from $29.95…”
Voice Bunny (probably the worst of the bunch) have talent working for pennies a word, requiring talent to chain themselves to a computer to win a (bunny) “race” for the gig…..which ultimately pays next to nothing and the talent does all the work. This, is tantamount to VO slavery.
What can I say? Both the talent on these websites and those who run them have no integrity. The world can be an ugly place….and these would be the ugliest people in the voice over industry, in my opinion.
The bottom line….is the bottom line. If you start selling your cookies for two cents to compete with the guy selling his cookies for two dollars, the only direction you can go is down.
Ergo, The Bottom Feeder.
As I have mentioned before here on the site, don’t expect any one posting to make you a pile of cash, but focus on the fact that many postings on many sites will better your odds at building a client base.