Archive | April, 2012

P2P: Voice123, part 3 in a series

30 Apr

If you are non-union voiceover talent looking for work online, you are likely familiar with the P2P (“pay to play”) space. Being somewhat new to the VO industry, I have decided to try several sites for one month each before committing to one or the other (or several) for the long haul. In my previous post, I wrote about my experience on Elance.com. What follows is what I experienced during 30 days on Voice123.com.

Popularity

Voice123 was recommended to me by my voice coach, and was the site that seemed to be the first choice of voice talent with whom I casually chatted. My voice coach offered his students one month free on the Voice123 site, so of course, there seemed nothing to lose. As part of their affiliate program, voice coaches receive $30 for every student who signs up for a paid subscription for Voice123. (I have no problem with that.)

The normal price of membership for voiceover talent on Voice123 is $295/year. Clients list their ads for free.

How Voice123 is Different

As I mentioned in my previous P2P post about finding work on Elance, signing up and creating one’s profile for voiceover gigs online is a fairly standard procedure on each of these sites: head shot, demos, text descriptions, check boxes, contact info, done! Then, I waited.

Unlike other VO and freelance sites, Voice123 does not let users peruse and audition for just any job listing. Voiceover talent must be invited to audition for specific gigs, either directly by a client, or by the site’s automated casting system. While it is *possible* for a client to:

1) Scroll through and listen to the thousands of other actors on the site (“about 4,100” as of April 2012);

2) Identify YOU as the voice they have been looking for; and then

3) Contact you directly to submit an audition,

…The chance of this happening is statistically tiny. During my 30 day trial, I was never contacted by a potential client directly, and I only sent auditions for which I received invitations from Voice123.

Automatic Casting

Voice123’s automated casting system (“SmartCast”) is presented as a benefit to both voiceover talent and clients. Invitations to submit an audition are automatically sent only to a limited number of talent who are identified as being matched to a particular job, thus saving the client from listening to hundreds of unsuitable auditions. The talent’s time and effort is “saved” by preventing auditions for jobs which Voice123’s system deems an undesirable match.

The automatic casting system on Voice1­­23 ­not only limits audition invites based on relevancy of profile criteria (gender, voice characteristics, etc.) and number of auditions requested by the client, but considers a whole other host of variables. The considerations of the SmartCast algorithm can be found here [http://thevoiceoverguide.com/chapter-6-voice123/voice123-works/] on Steven Lowell’s blog about Voice123.

This did not greatly affect how I used my 30 day trail. I tried to make my profile accurate and audition for appropriate jobs for my voice, which I would do on any P2P site. However, I certainly did notice Voice123’s warning about over-auditioning every time I was ready to submit an audition. This warning is expressed in more concise terms on the Voice123 FAQ page here  [http://support.voice123.com/article/Answers_From_Community_Manager_for_Most_Common_FAQs.html]. It states: “This means that due to the amount you have auditioned, you may at times go without being invited for a day or even as long as a week.”

The amount that equals “too much” auditioning is not defined (on the FAQ, nor by direct request), and is likely absorbed into the SmartCast algorithm with a lot of other variables. I was only able to determine what this meant for *my* Voice123 profile by trial and error.

I found that every time I auditioned, it seemed to stall the arrival of more invites. Any time I ignored invites, it made the number and frequency of the next batch of invites increase. I confirmed with other VO talents via LinkedIn voiceover groups that this was a common experience. In fact, it is a common complaint about Voice123, as voiceover artists feel the SmartCast system “punishes” members for auditioning for the very jobs to which the system matches and invites them.

Job Fees

I did indeed receive invitations to audition on Voice123, and I did receive invitations to audition for work that seemed appropriate to the information I put in my profile. In that sense, the automatic casting system worked.

One oddity was that I set up my Voice123 filter to *not* send me “low budget” jobs, but often saw very low paying gigs mixed in with my invites. I discussed this with Voice123 staff, who told me that the “low budget” label was something chosen or opted-into by the client. So, if a client didn’t think offering $500 for a 50,000 word audiobook was “low budget,” the job could make its way into your mailbox if you requested jobs that pay a minimum of $500.

I brought this issue to my peers on LinkedIn. Many suggested that only auditioning for high-paying jobs would result in getting more (or only) high-paying auditions invites. This is also supported by the information provided by Voice123. I tried this approach, but did not see these results during my 30 day trial; perhaps this would have been the case long-term. I would certainly keep this in mind if I were to become a paying member.

The Feeding Frenzy

According to the Voice123 FAQ, limiting the number of auditions and who is invited to audition for each job is supposed to help the client find an appropriate talent more easily.  According to Steven Lowell’s blog, it’s also supposed to “protect professional voice talent from having to deal with the dreaded ‘early bird gets the worm’ syndrome…” I did not find this to be the case. In fact, I found the opposite to be true.

During my 30 day trial, most invitations I received were for clients seeking 50-75 auditions, with the full range being 20 to 100 auditions desired for a single job. Steven Lowell confirmed these numbers: “What many forget is how Voice123 works from the voice seeker side. No one selects 50. It’s the default.”

[Just because one leaves a default setting in place does not logically conclude that action to mean one did not make a choice. I’m pretty sure I remember “no decision” being very much a “decision” in my business school decision node charts. I think many philosophers and Windows users would have my back on this. But I digress.]

It was obvious to me during my trial run that Voice123 does not send invitations to only 20 voiceover artists when there are 20 auditions desired. A typical experience was this: I receive an invitation to audition for a rather low-paying job, only to find that it is closed within the hour because the 70 auditions sought had already been received. This seemed to happen quite often, and got me wondering just how many people I was competing against to get my audition submitted to a Voice123 client. Just how many artists are sent invitations for each job? I have no idea, and did not get an answer to this question.

When resources are scarce, consumers will place a higher value on them and whip themselves into a frenzy to acquire them, and that’s what happens on Voice123. If 50 (75? 200?) voiceover artists receive an email inviting them to audition for a commercial that is only accepting 30 auditions, how will those people respond? Will they be especially selective and thoughtful about their decision to audition, as Voice123 advises? Will they spend extra time to practice and perfect their delivery of the material? Or, will they spit out their breakfast mid-chew, run half-undressed into their home studio, and scurry to email an audition before everyone else?

I’m certainly not saying that auditions submitted on Voice123 are a collection of hurried, lousy cow poop, or that it is impossible to do great voiceover work off-the-cuff and under the gun. I am simply suggesting that for a site to push so hard for its members to be especially thoughtful about which jobs they audition for, the environment created by the Voice123 model does not support or encourage that kind of thoughtful behavior.

Another example: A post on LinkedIn complains about Voice123 audition invitations being sent between midnight and 5am. If there were no pressure to respond to an invitation right at the moment of receipt, I don’t think this would be an issue! You can read the post and Voice123’s response here [http://www.linkedin.com/groups/I-am-wondering-why-so-2236955.S.110809317?qid=75ff6eea-7ebb-4fee-9add-e68902dccee8&trk=group_most_recent_rich-0-b-ttl&goback=%2Egmr_2236955.] The feeding frenzy environment, combined with the limited audition invitations, are the two biggest gripes voiceover artists seem to have with Voice123.

Back to my own experience. The Voice123 feeding frenzy environment limited the jobs I auditioned for…perhaps as much as SmartCast. If I saw or received an invitation to audition at 10am and knew I would not be able to record until noon, I usually ignored it, because I knew the feeding frenzy would get to it first. This probably led to my auditioning for Voice123 jobs I was only 90% or even 85% interested in, because I felt I had missed the 100% matches while wasting valuable time participating in unimportant, time-suck activities–like taking a shower or chewing my food before swallowing.

Audition Feedback

When you submit an audition on Voice123, you receive notification when it is listened to by the client, who also has the option to indicate if they are likely to hire you or not. This isn’t “feedback” on your performance, per say, as the client is not telling you anything about the quality of your audition. However, it is very helpful to look at your auditions in aggregate to see what kinds of jobs you are more or less likely to be hired for. For someone new to VO work, it can help you find your niche or opportunities for improvement. This is also common on other P2P VO sites.

Voice123 also lets you see when an audition has not been listened to at all. Like most P2P sites, there are a variety of clients with a variety of needs looking for voice talent. Some need a voice right away and listen to auditions as they come in, closing the job if they find “The One” before the deadline. Others are in less of a rush, and will take their time before listening to auditions—days, weeks, or even a month may go by before your audition is heard.

And some auditions will never be heard. Inevitably, this will be your best and favorite audition, the one you felt you NAILED, the one you really, really thought you would get. This MP3 will sit in a black hole, never to be heard from again. I hate when this happens. This is not unique to Voice123, of course. It’s just the downside of knowing if your audition was listened to or not when you don’t get hired.

Financial Stakes

Voice123 is unlike other P2P sites in that it does not manage the relationship between the talent and the client, nor does it take a percentage of the project fee. Voice123 matches talent and client, but leaves them to work out their own terms and agreements, including payment. This can be a great financial advantage for talent who do not want to have an additional fee deducted from their payment for a completed job, and for those VO artists who are savvy enough to define their own terms, draft their own contracts, and know if a potential client is / is not trustworthy. Unfortunately, this model decreases Voice123’s interest in the success or completion of any jobs listed on their website. As long as talent continue to pay annual subscription fees, Voice123 is in the black, even if very few jobs are ever completed.

[Hypothetically, if Voice123 were a P2P site whose job listings were 90% fake, they would still be profitable and no one would be the wiser. The10% real jobs would make users believe that the other 90% were also real. It would be the equivalent of running a dating website with a large number of fake profiles to boost paid memberships: Lots of pretty ladies appear on the dating site, but only one out of every 10 or 100 responds to your winks, pokes, and other virtual double-entendres. The *one* response you get is what keeps you paying for your membership. I am not accusing Voice123 of hosting fake listings. I’m simply stating that, as a business model, they could easily do this and still remain profitable, especially if the recipients of the 10% real jobs were especially vocal on blogs, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.]

Other P2P sites, in contrast, get a percentage of the voiceover project fee in some form or another, and are at least marginally involved with the payment process. These sites don’t get paid if the voiceover artist doesn’t get paid, which means it is in their interest to make sure projects go to completion and all parties are happy.

Booking Rates

These are the most recent stats that Steven Lowell provided about the booking rate of Voice123 members, which are also in the previous post:

“We do surveys with talent every month. As it stands now: 10-13% of premium subscribers are able to use Voice123 only for their voiceover work. SmartCast is a software for helping people build relationships. About 35% of people who pay cannot book at least one voice over job in a month. 50% book about 2 – 3 jobs a month. 65% book at least 1 a month.”

My biggest take-away from that statement?

35% of paid subscribers do not book at least one voiceover job per month on Voice123.

[Hold on to your hat, this may be better than other P2P sites. In the LinkedIn group “Working Voice Actor Group,” a survey that asks, “For those of you who utilize the various auditioning websites, (P2P’s) how many jobs have you landed in the past 30 days?” As of April 29th, 48% of the responses were “zero”. See for yourself here: http://www.linkedin.com/groups/those-you-who-utilize-various-137057.S.110265884?qid=26223a63-726e-4220-b0de-48d3944f6769&trk=group_most_recent_rich-0-b-ttl&goback=%2Egmr_137057]

Perhaps most paid members on Voice123 book one job every other month? Maybe that one job pays five figures instead of three or four? That level of detail was not offered, but I would love to know, wouldn’t you? After all, one of the reasons I am doing this P2P comparison study is to determine the potential value of each site’s membership fees.

Nevertheless, here’s some quick math with the data I was given. I like math.

4,100 paid members x 35% = 1,435 paid members who do not book at least 1 job/month on Voice123

1,435 x $295 annual membership fee =$423,325 in gross annual revenue for Voice123 from members with less than one job booked per month

No judgment. These are just numbers.

Voice123’s business model is certainly interesting to consider, but I’m more interested in my own potential profitability using Voice123 to find voiceover work.

So, How Did I Do on Voice123?

Again with the numbers! Here are my approximate stats for 30 days on Voice123.

Auditions invited to: 47

As previously stated, the invitations I received seemed to match my profile. On the other hand, the many auditions I was *not* invited to (which Voice123 tells you about in your notification email) seemed to be even more suited to my profile and routinely paid more than what I was being invited to audition for, as previously mentioned.

The quality of these jobs were generally good or very good, with a few “Huh?!?” gigs thrown in here and there. “Huh?!?” could mean copy written by people not literate in English, a product or job so ridiculous I would never want my voice associated with it, or listings that just made me wonder if I was being Punk’d. However, these were few and far between, nowhere near the number of crazy listings to be found on Elance, which I described in my previous post as the Wild West.

Auditions submitted: 11

In the interest of full disclosure, let’s say at least two of these were long shots that I went for because I felt like I had missed out on auditioning for “better” jobs that filled their quota for auditions amazingly fast (as previously mentioned). If you’re wondering, 11 auditions out of 47 invitations to audition is a submission rate of 23.4% for one month.

Auditions listened to: 9

From what I recall, only one or two of my auditions were listened to with a few days of submission (I wasn’t taking notes when I started, sorry for the guesstimating). I was surprised to look back at my stats while writing this article a month later to see that so many (81.8%) had eventually been listened to. Like all P2P sites, Voice123 has not control over clients listening to all, or any, auditions,

Auditions marked with “feedback”: 3

One “maybe,” one “not likely,” and one “finalist.” The “not likely” audition was ranked a pathetic 15th out of 42, and the “maybe” audition was also ranked 15th out of 40. The latter had poorly written copy that I thought I could make work (I was wrong); on the former, I was surprised to receive such a low ranking. This is nothing to be proud of, but I’m just telling it like it is! (Don’t worry, I have much better stats on other P2P sites, I don’t suck!)

In both cases, I wish I could know more about my rating: Bid too high? Too serious or silly in the delivery?  I’ll never know, of course. This is true of most P2P sites, though Elance does allow clients to decline proposals based on pricing, so talent have the option to rebid at a lower rate if they wish.

The “finalist” was the one gig I booked on Voice123. The job was to narrate an animated video explaining a new iPad app, which is slowly becoming my niche. Once we discussed the client’s needs (file format, turnaround time, etc.), I suggested terms that we all agreed to, including number of revisions (if needed), rights to the recording, payment benchmarks and procedures, and their commitment to getting me the final product for inclusion in my portfolio.

The project went very smoothly and was lots of fun, with only one edit needed after my first take. As of this writing, the video is still in post-production, but will be added to my website and portfolio once complete. I also received a great recommendation from the client that I’ve added to my website and various P2P profiles. Success!

I have no idea what happened to the other 10 projects I auditioned for. Regardless of what any audition is rated, Voice123 does not track and cannot tell members if the project was put on hold, completed, etc.  On other P2P sites—the ones that get paid when projects are done– this information is front and center. You can see if someone else is chosen for a job you auditioned for, if nobody was selected, and/or if the job hasn’t been completed (yet). On some sites, you can even see who got the job if not you, and then do some recon work by looking at that person’s profile to figure out why they landed the gig over you.

Now What?

VO professionals with much more experience than me who were kind enough to share their thoughts seem to be in consensus about Voice123: They like it, they try to play the automated system to their advantage, but it is not a sole source of work for anyone I heard from. The quality of clients and jobs is high, but the limitations of SmartCast are frustrating for many. Some voiceover artists feel they do not need an automated system telling them what jobs they are best suited for; Others do not like feeling they are discouraged from auditioning as much or as often as they would like.

I have mixed feelings about my experience on Voice123. As I mentioned, my number one question doing this research remains focused on the membership fee and the value of that membership to the VO talent. Is paying $295/year to be a member on Voice123 worth it? I don’t feel I answered that question in my 30 day trial.

Booking rates are only one variable in this equation. Knowing the average project fee for a Voice123 job would be helpful. Being able to drill down further (e.g., % of female VOs with my characteristics who book monthly jobs) would be pretty awesome to know, but alas, not likely to be revealed. That’s probably true of any P2P site.

I purposely began my trial with Voice123 before trolling the Internet for user reviews, blog comments, etc., because I did not want my experience to be clouded by the opinion of others beyond the early endorsements that encouraged me to give it a try. It was only once I perceived problems with Voice123 that I reached out to Voice123 staff and VO peers on LinkedIn and Twitter. If I had done this first, perhaps I would have only responded to higher-paying audition invitations to improve the types of job listings I received….but then wouldn’t I have auditioned more often, and then received less invitations? I just don’t see how to avoid this Catch 22 of the SmartCast system.

While there are many websites based on helping people make professional connections, I do have reservations about paying money for a site that does not offer anything more than that connection. Voice123 does not help manage jobs or make sure you get paid for voiceover work anymore than Twitter guarantees people will follow you and your two cents tweeted daily. The difference, of course, is that Twitter is free, and generates revenue from sources other than its membership base.

Monster.com is a free website for job hunting, because companies pay to place their job listings. TheLadders.com, in contrast, is a paid subscription service for those looking for executive positions that pay six figures. Job hunters pay a membership fee, but for a very specific, easy to define value: Positions that pay at least $100k. Voice123 charges members seeking voiceover work, but to what value? Are their listings any better than those on other P2P sites?

Logic and free market theory would have us believe there is indeed value to be had as a paid member on Voice123, otherwise, everyone would cancel their membership and put their money elsewhere. [I do wonder what the renewal and cancelation rates are for Voice123…?] On one hand, the market has spoken, and $295/year is what the market will bear. On the other hand, fear of scarcity can make humans behave irrationally when it comes to making economic decisions. Just how scarce are non-union voiceover jobs?

Knowing that only 65% of Voice123 members book monthly gigs, I wonder why a trial of one month is offered at all. Perhaps a trial of two or three months would have been more convincing. That would give the new user like myself more time to adjust to the SmartCast system (I’m sorry, but reading about it is not as effective a learning tool as being subject to it!), more time to book a gig, and then more likely to subscribe as a paying member.

Ha! Listen to me, giving Voice123 business advice. I have a feeling they are doing just fine without me.

🙂 Wendy

NEXT TIME: 30 days on Voices.com

References:

Elance.com website

LinkedIn.com website

Lowell, Steven. Submission for blog comment dated April 29, 2012

Voice123.com website

Voice123. Calls with staff during March 2012

Follow me on Twitter @AlgranatiW

Website & demos at http://www.wendyalgranati.com

Fact Finding: Voice123

29 Apr

Just finished the draft of my next article on P2P sites, which is Voice123. Prior to posting (which I plan to do Monday afternoon), I hope Voice123 responds to the email I just sent requesting they answer the questions below, so I can replace some of my hypothetical musings with facts straight from the horse’s mouth. Of course, I understand that some of this information may not be for sharing with the public. I’d like to know if that applies as well.

1. Do voice coaches receive a “kickback” when their students enroll as paying members? What is the rate or percent they receive?

2. How many voice actors are currently listed on Voice123? Male / Female?

3. How many auditions or what percent of invitations to submit that are responded to triggers SmartCast to label talent as “not selective enough”?

4. How many auditions or what percent of invitations to submit that are responded to triggers SmartCast to label talent as “not active enough”?

5. How many artists are invited to audition in relation to the # of auditions sought (multiple of # desired)? For example, if a client asks Voice123 to use SmartCast to find 50 auditions, how many subscribers receive an invitation?

6. Do you track jobs in any way after auditions have been sent? Does Voice123 have any data on how many jobs listed on their site are actually completed and paid for?

 

Remember, you can follow me on Twitter @AlgranatiW

View my website and listen to demos at http://www.wendyalgranati.com/

P2P: VO Work on Generic Freelancer Websites? part 2 in a series

24 Apr

I am relatively new to voice acting, and in the midst of conducting an experiment to compare some free and P2P voiceover websites. I will be reviewing several sites, giving each service 30 days to prove its worth. This blog entry is about generic freelance websites: freelance websites that do not specialize in a single field or industry (I’ll get to the VO-specific sites later in this series). What follows is my experience with Elance.com, a generic freelance website.

I have extensive experience hiring freelancers and independent contractors, so it was quite natural for me to begin my quest for non-union, non-agent voice acting jobs by way of a freelancer website. Freelancer websites connect clients looking to hire independent contractors and the freelancers looking for work—for a fee, of course. They may charge the client, the freelancer, or both. The charge may be a flat rate or a percentage of the total project fee. Some websites shepherd the work and payment processes, while others simply play matchmaker and leave the client and the contractor to work out the details.

There is no shortage of freelance websites, as a quick Google search will reveal. I chose Elance after hearing about it from my friends who were interested in starting a tween online zine and in need of writers. While I was aware of the VO-specific websites, and assumed they would lead to more prolific opportunities, I liked the idea of starting my voiceover career with a site that did not cost hundreds of dollars and require a year’s commitment.

I signed up for a free account with Elance and completed my profile, which is similar to most other websites: demo reels, head shot, descriptions about my voice/experience/etc. Before I completed my profile, I took a look at the other VO artists (there are many) on Elance to compare the kinds of information they provided to potential clients. It wasn’t much different than what one might post on a site such as Voices.com or Voice123.

I was given 15 Elance “credits” for use in applying for jobs. Almost all jobs require one credit in order to submit a proposal. Elance users receive 15 credits each month for free, but do have the option to purchase additional credits if desired. When submitting a proposal, users also have the option to “promote” their submission to the top of the list of applicants by using two credits instead of one.

I then began my search for voiceover work on Elance. As a free account holder (there are “premium” accounts to be had for a fee, of course), I was limited to searching for jobs in one category. This was just fine with me, since the majority of voiceover work is listed within one Elance category. Within each category, users have a lot of options for narrowing their search for work. In addition to a traditional keyword search, listings can be filtered and sorted by posting date, closing date, hourly rate, project fee, etc. As I reviewed voiceover listings, I added them to my “Watch List” (similar to eBay’s) and added comments for each listing. This was helpful in filtering the jobs requiring custom auditions from the jobs for which I could just send my demo reel with my proposal.

Once I selected the jobs I wanted to apply/audition for, I reviewed the descriptions again and submitted my proposals. Elance proposals include the usual cover letter-type text, an MP3 or two, and details about fees and turnaround time. Elance jobs are structured for two kinds of payment: hourly or flat fee. Sometimes jobs listed as paying hourly are really flat fees, because they dictated the number of hours and the hourly rate. In all cases, however, the contractor is free to proposal whatever amount they want.

Elance adds .0875% to the contractor’s bid fee (this is how they make money). For example, if a voiceover actor wants to get paid $250, the bid shown to the client in the proposal would be $271.88. Once everything is all said and done, if Elance sends the contractor a paper check instead of using Paypal, he or she will receive the $250. If payment is done through Paypal, the contractor will receive $250 minus Paypal’s fees.

Job listings on Elance resemble the Wild West, in that there is little consistency in pricing or quality. There is no shortage of people looking to pay bottom dollar, and no shortage of people looking to work for bottom dollar: It’s a buyer’s market on Elance. This can be a challenge (i.e., disappointment) to a professional voiceover actor living and working in the Western world, accustomed to a minimum hourly rate that is hard to come by on this website. While a user can propose any fee he or she wants with each bid, Elance does provide the low, high, and average fees of the proposals already submitted for the same project for comparison. This helps guide the contractor in proposing a competitive fee, or skipping the project altogether. I’ve certainly done both.

Voiceover job listings on Elance also vary in quality and professionalism. Some listings have such minimal information (“I need someone to record my book as an audiobook!”), I don’t know how anyone submits a serious proposal, but it does happen. [Elance gives users the option to respond to a job listing without a project fee in order to request additional information, but I’ve never received a response from the hiring client when I’ve tried this.] Other listings are clearly posted by professionals or at least people who know what they are doing (“We need someone to record a 20,000 word audio book within 2 weeks, submit clean WAV files, and be available for pick-ups the following month. Payment will be 20% upfront, remaining 80% upon completion. Please record the sample script below and send an MP3, along with a demo reel or link to your demo online.”).

For the most part, I’ve found that voiceover listings on Elance are open from four to thirty days, which negates the need for the feeding frenzy seen on most P2P VO sites, where a hundred auditions are submitted within the first hour of a job being listed. And though I’m sure it happens occasionally, I have never seen a VO job close early on Elance (which is something I see often on VO-specific sites, hence the feeding frenzy). For whatever reason, clients hiring voiceover talent on Elance are in much less of hurry. Sometimes proposal are rejected before the closing date, but with a reason (there is a lengthy list of canned responses for clients to choose from, but they can also write their own reason for rejection of a proposal). For example, I’ve had two proposals rejected because my bid was too high. I lowered my bid for one job and resubmitted it without having to use another Elance credit. The other proposal I felt was fairly priced and opted not to resubmit.

Once you are awarded a job by an Elance client, the work and payment processes all happen on the Elance website. All work is uploaded to the Elance “workroom,” which is basically cloud storage for files and messages. [I’ve also chosen to communicate with clients directly via email instead of via Elance just for the ease-of-use of Gmail over Elance when on the go.] Milestones, and payments associated with each of those milestones, are set up and agreed to by both parties before work begins. The Elance system sends reminders when updates or invoices are due. My description here does not give the Elance system justice: It’s an excellent tool for those who are great at their craft, but perhaps have some room for improvement when it comes to managing the business aspect of their craft.

In summary, I found Elance to be a worthwhile website to include in my personal voiceover marketing plan. While the rates paid for voiceover jobs are generally lower than other websites, at fifteen free proposals per month you can make the numbers work in your favor. Also, there is little risk of getting stiffed by a client with Elance managing the process, as they do not get paid until you do (if that’s something you worry about). As always, when applying to voiceover jobs over any website, it’s up to the voiceover actor to decide which jobs make the most sense to audition for, and at what price he or she is willing to do them.

My personal big win on Elance was a small voiceover job for an advertising agency on another continent. Since doing the first job for them, I have done a second and have a third on-deck. They are great to work with, and I’ve established rates and terms with them for future work in order to keep the ball rolling. Not bad for a website for which I paid nothing.

Lastly, from the other side of the fence, Elance is a great place to find contractors who can help you market your voiceover career: website designers, avatar artists, marketing pros, audio editors, and more are all available and ready to work. I have hired several contractors for various projects on Elance, and have been very happy with the results.

🙂

Wendy

Remember, you can follow me on Twitter @AlgranatiW

View my website and listen to demos at http://www.wendyalgranati.com/

Feeding the Fire: Voiceover and Coffee

21 Apr

Voiceover acting, and acting in general, is a vocation you simply cannot “phone in.” You might be able to drag your tired self out of bed to drive your kids to school, answer phones, run a cash register, or even attend a boring five-year strategic planning meeting with your boss, but you cannot bring anything less than your A-Game to an audition and expect to find success. No matter how much you love what you do, sometimes you need that extra oomph to get you going, to get in the zone, to do a stellar job, and to land a gig.

I’ve found Twitter to be a great place for advice on the subject of staying physically and emotionally motivated while pursing work in the voiceover world. Lots of VO pros and newbies alike often tweet their thoughts about what keeps their VO mojo going. There are a lot of nuggets of wisdom out there. Let’s start with the easiest method: Coffee.

 “Disturbing news: coffee dehydrates the voice. Okay. But it engages my brain which my mouth needs to make words. Ugh! This is a dilemma!” @VOVillageRadio

No surprise that coffee is at the top of the list of motivators. We are a heavily caffeinated society here in the United States. In fact, you are probably drinking some coffee as you read this blog!

Coffee is a cheap and readily-available commodity that has grown into a daily ritual for most Americans. Already a global phenomenon, coffee got its lucky break into North America during Colonial times, when revolutionaries wanted an alternative to highly-taxed tea. No doubt that the Founder Fathers were hopped up on caffeine as they debated and eventually penned the Declaration of Independence, right?

Like all things in life, coffee has its pros and its cons, its fans and its haters. Recent research suggests that the benefits of drinking one or two cups of coffee each day may in fact be beneficial. For example, WebMD notes that coffee drinkers are less likely to have type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia, and have fewer cases of certain cancers, heart rhythm problems, and strokes. Coffee has also been used to help treat depression and severe cases of I-don’t-want-to-go-to-work-today-itis.

And now for the sad news: According to the Cleveland Clinic, the caffeine in coffee may cause increased stomach acid production and acid reflux, which can irritate the voice. This is bad news for voiceover actors who suffer acid reflux. After all, what good is it to have your mouth awake and ready to work, only for your vocal cords to sound lousy?

Luckily, I haven’t had this experience. I drink coffee, the caffeine kicks in, and then I’m awake and ready to rock n’roll… for a while. The problem I personally have with caffeine is the crash and burn that follows. Today, for example, I drink the equivalent of three cups of coffee, and then had a two hour phone call. Afterwards, I was physically exhausted. I crashed hard.  Fortunately, I was at home and had a couch nearby. When I awoke a few hours later, I was refreshed but ready for more caffeine, which is fueling my writing of this blog and will shortly fuel this evening’s recording session.

Maybe, if we all committed to going to bed on time and getting enough sleep, we wouldn’t need all that caffeine in the first place. We would all be well-rested, fine physical specimens with clear heads, focused minds, and crisp voices. And we would all have extra funds for voiceover classes or that new mic in no time by skipping the daily Starbucks trip.

Easier said than done.

🙂
Wendy

References:

Twitter

http://coffeeuniverse.com

http://www.webmd.com

http://www.sharecare.com/group/cleveland-clinic

 

Follow me on Twitter @AlgranatiW

View my website and listen to demos at http://www.wendyalgranati.com/

Pay to Play: Friend or Frenemy? part 1 in a series

18 Apr

When you’re a non-union voiceover talent and without an agent, online booking websites can be your best friend. You find open gigs online, record auditions at your home studio on your own time, and (hopefully) land a job! Then you work with the client remotely to agree on final terms (file format, project fee, turnaround time, and so on), finalize tracks, and arrange for payment. A win-win for all parties, and a job well done!

On the other hand, finding voiceover jobs online can be a serious frenemy. Online gigs often cause a feeding frenzy among VO talent, where literally hundreds of auditions are submitted for a single, low-paying spot within just a few hours of the job being posted. Many auditions are never listened or responded to, but sit in a black hole hosted by the P2P (“pay to play”) website. The majority of online gigs I’ve seen over the last eight months, depending on where exactly I saw them, are offered at far-below recommended rates for non-union talent.

Follow my blog as I conduct an experiment to compare some free and P2P voiceover websites. I will be reviewing several sites, giving each service 30 days to prove its worth. I’ll report back on what I did, what I saw, and what I learned.

Cheers!

Wendy

Follow me on Twitter @AlgranatiW

View my website and listen to demos at http://www.wendyalgranati.com/

Welcome to the blog of Wendy Algranati, Left Coast Voice Over Talent

17 Apr

Welcome to my new blog, launching soon!

I’ll be writing about breaking into the world of voice over acting. Stay tuned!

Follow me on Twitter @AlgranatiW

View my website and listen to demos at http://www.wendyalgranati.com/

%d bloggers like this: