If you search the web, you’re likely to find diverse opinions regarding online platforms; some folks love ’em, others don’t. To a large extent, how you end up feeling about them will be dictated by your approach and your expectations.
Simply put, online platforms provide job opportunities for voice-actors and, because they’re online, the voice-actors who make use of these platforms can be anywhere in the world. You’ll find both newbies and seasoned pros as members.
Online platforms are also particularly useful for hard pressed and harassed casting directors who need to find precisely the right voice, language or accent they need for a specific job.
Even if you’re brand new, you can still find work.
Middlemen and other intermediaries who extend the supply chain without adding any real value to it—and often pay themselves handsome commission fees in the process—are eliminated.
But what exactly is a platform?
A platform is a business based on enabling value-creating interactions between external producers and consumers. It uses technology to connect people, organizations and resources in an interactive ecosystem, providing an open, and participative infrastructure. The prevalence of these platforms, in fact, have transformed the global economy.
There are many types of platforms, so here’s a short description for each of the main ones:
- Commission: When a buyer pays a seller (voice-actor), the platform facilitates the payment, and then charges a percentage (or a flat fee) for each transaction. The biggest benefit of this model is that sellers don’t have to pay anything before they receive value from the marketplace. This is very attractive to sellers, but it’s also very difficult to get into.
- Subscription: A membership fee is charged to access the benefits of the platform. The value this model has for sellers is the opportunity to find new customers and get exposure. Most of the time the platform is free for buyers, but requires a subscription from sellers. Some other platforms in this category (like LinkedIn) charge companies a subscription fee to access their talent pools.
- Lead fee: Buyers post projects/requests on the platform, and sellers pay in order to bid for them. You only pay when you are put in touch with a potential buyer.
Online platforms make it easier to locate:
Casting platforms: For buyers who seek the most suitable talent for a particular project, casting platforms let them drill down through numerous different options (based on their project needs), to find that one, perfect-sounding professional.
Booking platforms: Buyers browse through a pool of sellers and select the ones they prefer for their projects. In turn, sellers review project details and accept or reject those projects.
Several casting or booking platforms models use the commission based model, but also charge a subscription fee, thus getting revenue from both variables in the equation. Then there are also production platforms that take charge of the entire process from start to finish and deliver a fully completed project to their client.
Let’s take a closer look at casting platforms.
Not all voice-casting platforms suit every voice-actor. It’s important to read, share stories with colleagues, and even interact with the customer service team of each site in order to establish a clear sense of what you will be offered as well as what the advantages of platform are. It’s equally important to set realistic expectations for yourself.
Sure, there are many ways to land work – an agent(s), contacting agencies, marketing your web site. But voice casting sites make it super easy to cover a ton of ground fast. They shouldn’t be your only means, but they should definitely make up a huge part of it. http://voice123.com/jordanjones
Here are some pros and cons:
- Receive job opportunities from all around the world.
- They’re a great place for newbies to start out.
- They’re easy to register on and easy to use.
- Casting calls involve no commuting or additional expenses.
- There’s no obligation to audition.
- It’s possible to build long-term relationships and get repeat business from clients.
- Landing even a few low-paying projects when you first start out helps build self-confidence, while you do see a return on your initial investment.
- You deal directly with your clients.
- You’re your own boss and you manage your own time.
Online subscription platforms are a matchmaking service, it’s a tool you need to use cleverly. I get the chance to meet new clients all the time by booking an average of 2-3 jobs a day. It allows me to grow my business and to create client relationships that fulfill my professional life.
- Some casting platforms take a cut and the job may pay well below market value.
- Often, voice-actors don’t have the experience to negotiate job prices correctly and they end up setting a poor precedent with clients.
- The occasional non-payment situation crops up, which the platform cannot be held responsible for.
- Some voice-actors promise more than they’re capable of delivering and this leads to undercutting and over-competing in the industry.
- Some voice-actors rely solely on these platforms rather than using them as tools or as initial steps toward establishing their own small business.
The benefit of a casting site is that you control your audition process-the more you know about your strengths, the better you can design your profile or sell yourself to a possible client. The downside is that the labor market is huge and you have no one promoting you or singling you out. So first-get some great demo materials. Second-research the site, and see who is getting work and how they get it. Third-once you sign up, identify how you’re going to work the system of that site in a way that works for you. Then, as you start doing demos and hopefully get some feedback, repeat steps 1,2 and 3-hopefully dialing down on what works and pays off for you. On an anecdotal level, when I first signed up for voice123, it took me almost a year before I did steps 2 and 3, but it paid off almost immediately once I did. But part of that is because voice123’s system works well for me.
No matter what platform you choose to use, keep in mind that:
While some may feel like they’re a scam or unfair to have to “pay-to-play”, my experience has been that there’s money to be made if you have talent and capability, but you will definitely need to persevere. A majority of the complaints that I’ve heard come from people who I don’t believe have auditioned enough or jumped into a career for which they’re not properly prepared.
- Regardless of your voiceover experience offline, keep in mind that the online environment you’ll be working in is substantially different.
- Being aware of the demands and obstacles in advance will make your ability to manage your voiceover career easier.
- Once you have your demos ready, register with one or more of these platforms and complete the profile describing your greatest assets and abilities — in order to increase your rate of return on your auditions so you can learn about the online industry.
- Perseverance is a virtue! To a very large extent, as far as the online voiceover industry is concerned, you make your own luck—remember we’ve said this before? Don’t get discouraged. You’ll always come across more sob-stories than success-stories. Read the sob-stories carefully and ensure you don’t make the same mistakes. See what you can learn from the success-stories and apply what you have learned to securing your own success. Don’t forget: it’s always much easier to fail than it is to succeed.
Always audition…it is like training for the olympics; it’s how you keep growing as a voice-actor. I get most of my work through the online subscription platform I use—whether it’s from auditioning or private invitations. People reach out to me because the see my profile and like what they hear.
If you’re going to make use of an online subscription marketplace, make sure it works to your full advantage by linking your profile to your personal website (we mentioned how you can go about building your own website in Section 3 – Computer skills). While you’ll be promoting the website as well, you’ll be getting double the exposure online. Numerous voice-actors have already completed that extra step by doing the following for themselves. So should you. In other words:
Some casting platforms let me have face-to-face relationship with the people giving a voice to my product. (Client)
- Exchange links by pasting an HTML badge into your personal website, linking you back to another website to help increase your search engine results. Bloggers do this frequently.
- Add HTML code with your voiceover demo to your personal website, linking you back to the original website it’s being hosted on. In doing so, your demo and your website achieve more online exposure, while potential clients are able to hear your demo in two places.
- Before you think we’re suddenly speaking a foreign language, embedding objects into websites is quite common. If you go to any YouTube page, for example, you’ll see examples of how each video offers HTML code to be embedded into other pages. If you don’t know what HTML is exactly or have no idea how to paste it into a website, you can pass it on to the creator of your website.
- When filling out your short voice description, and voiceover profile text sections, it is important to remember SEO (Search Engine Optimization), and using relevant search keywords for the voiceover industry, i.e., common words potential clients use to find voice-actors. Copying and pasting words from a thesaurus is not effective because your profile has to make sense, be easy to read, as well as comprehensive. Simply ‘being found’ is not everything; when you are found by a potential client, you want to be hired, and confusing someone with irrelevant words or phrases can do more harm than good.
It´s important to keep in mind that each platform has its own peculiarities:
- Some have developed algorithms to distribute invitations among users.
- Some require the talent to quote their own rates.
- Some use an escrow system and automatically keep a percentage when the customer is paid.
- Some require an annual payment in order to access casting calls.
- Some are free for the talents but charge the client.
- Some simply function as a tool or gateway between voice-actor and client.
- Some include service management and it´s not possible to initiate a relationship with the client.
Online casting sites are very relevant in this industry. Some talent do not hold them in regard, others swear by them. Your goal should be putting your voice and brand in front of as many people as you can possible be in front of. Voice casting sites are a growing opportunity, and while there may be different views, they provide a great way to get your name in front of people. Many sites also offer great tools and tips. They offer you auditions and the ability to get in front of the right people. This will help you hone your craft and help you get the feedback you may need. Online casting sites can be a powerful tool in your arsenal if used and managed correctly.
Here’s a list of the main casting platforms out there. They are listed in alphabetical order:
You have to work hard to get paid. Just because you sign up doesn’t mean you’ll book work.