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Auditions: Voice123 vs. ...
Jennifer Vaughn Compares '09 Results
By Jennifer Vaughn
Voice Actor
What does it REALLY take to get jobs through Voice123 and, currently the two largest pay-to-play voice-over marketplace web sites?
I recently finished up my numbers for 2009 with my manager - the what's working and what's not measure we do each year - and discovered a trend that may have an impact on how many perceive these sites.
What follows is a glimpse at my experience with these two web sites in 2009. And I believe that both voice-over veterans and new talent will learn from it.
Veterans: If you are not tracking every single marketing effort, you are losing money.
Tracking and the practice of measuring all efforts annually will assist you in improving upon and rooting out efforts that are not working or are not worth your time.
See below how I've tracked to get my ROI.
Newbies: If you pay the fee for these sites, you should use them and audition like mad.
It will give you experience, but not necessarily the job.
Or choose not to pay for a membership and instead, use their free membership status until you are ready to push hard and audition daily and flawlessly with great quality audio.
Otherwise, you will simply waste your time and money.
Before reading on and thinking it's easy to score jobs through these sites, please keep in mind that I:
  • have been in this industry close to 20 years; 
  • have produced voice-overs consistently from my own studio for 12 years, thus I really "know" my equipment and how to use it for different types of projects;
  • am skilled and versatile in not just one category of voice work, but all of them;
  • have a strong work ethic and make sacrifices - a huge element of success in landing jobs through these sites; and
  • have an ability to drive sales through writing and verbiage of my proposals, with a pretty good understanding of all industries to know what the client wants, their demographics and services.
I also track all of my marketing efforts. Here are the 2009 stats for just two of those efforts: auditions and bookings from Voice123 and from January 2 through December 30, 2009.
Voice123: Auditioned exactly 221 times, which resulted in 14 closed projects for the year, resulting in $8,550 gross income for 2009. Two were union jobs, and three required ISDN. Auditioned exactly 480 times, which resulted in 17 closed projects for the year, resulting in $10,405 gross income for 2009. All were non-union jobs.
If you look at this from a logical perspective, I have wasted more than TWICE the amount of my time and energy on auditions for, with no "real" equal gain.
Even though the monetary amount is higher, in reality, I'm losing money from my auditioning efforts there. So this tells me I have to choose more wisely in what I audition for on in 2010.
I think this is the reason Voice123 put together their Smartcast algorithm, and from that standpoint, it makes some sense - even though I'm not a fan of it since I like to make those decisions for myself.
Here are some other statistics regarding the two sites:
Heard My Demos: Only two prospects contacted me after hearing my demos on Voice123 to cast me for a job from my stock demos, compared to one with to hire me for a job without audition.
Personal Audition Requests: Only six prospects contacted me through the system to personally invite me to audition for a project posted on Voice123, compared to eight through - to which I pay a premium to give me a bit more exposure.
So that was a bit of a disappoint. But I have to point out that it's not fair to say yet, since I only upgraded my account four months ago and can't run a full 12-month report on that until next year.
Total Number of Auditions: 701 - an average of four to six auditions per day! That's free work to try to get paid work. And keep in mind there are never any guarantees of GETTING the work.
All totalled, the combined work from these two web sites brought only $18,955 of income - for auditioning an hour per day, and then doing the actual voice work to obtain that income. 
Out of that sum, consider what it cost me to be on these two sites:
Voice123: $295 $1,000 for my Platinum membership.
So subtract $1,295 from the gross, which leaves $17,660.
I'd be in serious trouble if I relied on only these two web sites for my income.
This should effectively tell you that these sites should only be a small portion of your marketing efforts.
And if you plan to use these sites, expect to work hard to get the jobs!
Doing this "on the side" - meaning if you have a full-time job at something else - you are not going to be able to put in the time, energy and proposal work that I do to audition.
Let's also point out that these two sites are only two small marketing efforts on my part, out of the 34 that I employ, pay for, and continuously work. Yes, 34 marketing efforts going on simultaneously!
Even though my 2009 income from these web sites is a miniscule portion of my total income, it makes sense to continue using them IF my time and dollar-spent equation works on the ROI (Return on Investment).
And I do calculate my ROI in time and dollars spent.
My closed projects with Voice123 and amount to just a tad over 2% of my overall voice-over income annually.
So is it worth it? Yes, if you like to WORK HARD.
In my calculations, it is enough income to keep them in my overall marketing mix.
But do not make the mistake of putting all your eggs in one basket, or depend on work from just one site or method.
Do not make one, or even three, entities the one answer to your success. Or success just won't happen.

For those using Voice123, you'll find it interesting that about 80% of the leads I actually auditioned for were rated either "Considering" or "Very Likely."
I only use this measure to figure out that 20% of the auditions were a waste of my valuable time. This makes me more apt to be choosier of what I actually audition for, as my time is part of my overall ROI measure on a marketing effort.
It would be nice if would allow some kind of feedback score per audition, too, since it helps us determine what to do with our time. That really isn't their job to do this. But it's noteworthy when you do as many auditions as me daily.
If you're a voice-over newbie or debating whether to spend money on a marketplace web site into which you'd put so much work, ask yourself:
1.  Do I have time to record an audition and write a personalized and specific proposal at least 18 times a month or more?
2.  Do I really think I'm going to pull in the amount of money an expert in voice-over does from these sites?
3.  Do I really know which projects are worth auditioning for - or do I even know which jobs are suitable for my voice type, skill level and tonal range?
4.  Do I really know how to price my services so I don't embarrass myself or the voice-over community?
5.  Do I know what I'm talking about when laying out my services in a proposal?
6.  Am I really going to track my efforts for a full year to see what is actually working for me?
Most newbies - and sadly, a lot of voice talent who have been working in the industry for a few years - don't know the answer to these questions; which in effect leads to much of their time wasted with no dollars coming into their pockets.
Your 2010 goals:
  • Push your boundaries to practice, practice.
  • Audition MANY times.
  • Know who you are as a talent.
  • Use many marketing options, and
  • Track your efforts!
Jennifer Vaughn has been a full-time voice talent since the early 1990s, entering the field through radio and concert promotions. Most well known for national and international radio and TV imaging and branding, she also voices many industrials, military and medical e-learning projects, and children's audiobooks. With home studios in Florida and Colorado, plus interests in other businesses, she asks, "Who says you have to stick to one thing? I'd get on board! Gotta be a mover and a shaker."
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Comments (44)
1/14/2018 at 8:47 PM
I found Jennifer's article very informative and honest, and forwarded this to my son, who told me about voices123 and his excitement about possible future prospects. I sent it not to deter him, but to make him realize nothing is easy, and that if this is something he REALLY wants to pursue, he needs to plan on putting in the work! She sounds like she has a very good game plan!
5/30/2017 at 2:55 PM
Thanks for this info Jennifer. It is really informative. I am curious about when you say "laying out my services in a proposal." Do you mean, "the recording, editing, and/or any other services that you may provide, like writing?
Janice Bates
12/6/2016 at 5:25 PM
This article is so informative.Thank you for sharing.
7/31/2016 at 11:25 AM
This article is timeless ...

For several years I signed up on the platforms that are spoken here.
Over time I have been faced with situations ... good and sad.
Consider: In Voice123 have a free subscription, because I'm also good at math and also equate the ROI. In the same.
I've done dozens of castings in voices123, some of them resulted in success, others, the customer did not even bother to open the recording with the custom demo that insisted on have. From what I read in several places, several colleagues go through the same.
In all castings did not bring any results. The Last forced to a custom demo "live" by a German studio (complicated, the Germans are not easy to please)
Note that I have multiple microphones, adaptable to all scenarios. I have a pre of UNIVERSAL AUDIO, Monster and Mogami cables, and a digital converter top of the range TASCAM, plus a secluded cabin for voiceover!
We try first (source connect) with the microphone CAD E100S. they say that the microphone has a big self noise (lol)
I switched to a microphone MXL model HO VO1 ... had a muffled sound.
I hesitated between Brauner or Oktava, and I opted for the Oktava 105. They loved the sound, but said they had little gain. In my monitor I was at between 0 db and +1 (lol).
Result, I did not realize it was tactic to lower price, or if it was to kill time.
For voice seekers of I always now propose the same:
They want a personalized demo? Yes, I do, I charge a small fee, which then discount on the final price, if the project is awarded me.
I am a native Portuguese VoiceOver Talent; several times nominated and already awarded, and do not like to spend equipment or electricity for time waisters !
The place where in my case would be and will be investing in the future is called Voice123. This platform has more luck with its customers.
Josh Rachlis
4/6/2016 at 11:22 PM
Good post! I should probably sit down and calculate whether all the auditions I've done on are worth the money I've made. And now I'm wondering if I should sign up for voice123 too. Argh. The stress.
Meg Langford
12/10/2014 at 2:22 PM
Jennifer--not to be a poop or a pill, but did you ever figure out the 64,000 answer for the losers and quakers (as opposed to movers and shakers)--which is, what did you end up making per hour. I just ask because I am an old hand at forensics speaking and audiobooks, looking to transit a bit and work with p2p sites. So lovely to read a blog by someone who can write! God Bless
Adam Trujillo
4/11/2014 at 12:27 PM
I thank you very much for this article. I am an amateur voice actor who is still new to the industry and intend to work hard to become professional. I have been using voice123 for some time now and have put forth many auditions. The auditions have provided their feedback and suprisongly enough, I have been rated high, but have not made any money so far. I audition for many projects, but at this point I believe that with the time, money, and effort that I have put into this site, ,y purpose would have much better been served with a greater amount of networking, purchasing beter equipment for my studio, and finding more practical ways in which to build my experience. Your article has given me much insight and I intend to gain much more experience and training before I am ready to call myself a full fledged voice actor.
David Coil
1/26/2013 at 12:31 AM
Looks like I'm late to the party but I love this article!

This article is over a year old and I've been on v123 for only 4 months. And if someone like JV is offering this kind of advice. I'm going to retool my marketing efforts and go back to what I do best - good ole' fashioned networking.

Which works.

I can get work on my own much more readily than using these sites. And it's been a great experience and great practice (and quite often very humbling) - but this experience isn't really putting money in my bank account. I am downgrading my account and I will continue to practice on my own using the scripts they send me. I'd be better off taking my $300 and putting it toward a good voice coach.

Thank you so very very much.

David Coil

P.S. In case voice123 is reading this. No hard feelings. You customer service is quite honestly very good (excellent, actually)! And I like your site. But unfortunately I'm looking to make a little money along the way. And it's just not working for me right now.
1/17/2012 at 12:06 AM
Thanks so much Jennifer for your insight and confirmation that Voice123 is better. While I've not enjoyed your level of success with the two services, Voice123 has been far superior with regard to direct auditions and feedback. I've had more offers in 14 months with, but propotionally more success with Voice123 in only two months. schmoozes more and may be the better seller, but I feel they're somewhat greedy and gloss over reality. They charge talent, then have the nerve to almost always take 10% (also credit card transaction fees drive me crazy everywhere. Just charge what you need without the surprise). I'm turned off by their hard, yet genteel selling tactics.

Also the rude poster from 1/20/2010 cannot be a serious contender. He seems more concerned with instant riches and doesn't understand that successful people would not scoff at modest opportunities that allow them to constantly maintain their performance through prolific auditioning and recording. The extra practice turns into commercial gold as it helps secure those more lucrative gigs!

I've done pretty well outside the pay sites through agents, advertising executives, and a great relationship with a popular producer. I also continue to enjoy using Voice123 to maintain a full time VO presence-- recording five or six days a week.
Linda Dukes-Campbell
12/20/2011 at 10:51 PM
As a newbie to this end of the business, I found your information really helpful. I am a little better than a year away from being able to do this full-time. Thanks for the info!
Meliss Sargent
2/21/2011 at 11:51 PM
Great article. Loved Jennifer's direct and no-nonsense approach to the business.
1/11/2011 at 1:45 PM
Working on these sites requires strategy and a good understanding of how they work. WE have a lot of experience in helping talent maximize their potential with Voices and Voice123. Feel free to contact me to learn more.
Scott Larson
7/23/2010 at 3:51 PM
An Awesome article Jennifer, thanks for:
A.Taking the time out of your super busy schedule to write it and
B. Giving crucial information to ALL levels of Voice Over professionals. I will use this information that you so generously provided to help further my own career ambitions.
Kind Regards
Scott Larson/KUDL-KGEX Kansas City
SalChris Productions Kansas City
L Sterling Cook
2/24/2010 at 3:49 PM
If I would have known what I know now (having read your article), I wouldn't have signed up for a premium membership with Voice123. In addition to the two P2P sites you've mentioned, I also would not recommend newbies to sign up for the SAV Master Class. In my opinion, it's not worth the $3,800. I have not seen a ROI, but will take what I have learned here, from you, and from my own experiences, and move on for a successful 2010.
1/25/2010 at 3:36 PM
Excellent material. I've been keeping stats on V123 & and my results are similiar in respect to yours. Only I auditioned over part of a year and got a worse ROI. Thanks for letting me know I'm not alone in wondering if these site are worth it.
Gerald Shales
1/20/2010 at 7:38 PM
My question is this: you make 850G per year and you're wasting all that time for 16 grand? Doesn't add up. If your yearly salary is that much, take that extra time and volunteer at a soup kitchen. I call BS on 850G.
Mary Catherine Jones
1/11/2010 at 9:35 PM
Thank you Jennifer - this is one of the best articles I've read about these to pay-to-players. I'll keep your suggestions in mind in this new year!
Rick Brown
1/10/2010 at 7:21 PM
Wow, incredible insight! As someone who is looking to get back into the VO industry after a bit of a lay off, I've been strongly considering joining one of these P2Ps.

I don't think anything here has changed my mind, however, I think it really drives home the point that these sites should be considered ONLY ONE TOOL AMONG MANY.

Many would-be entrepreneurs thought ... still believe ... that social media was/is the answer to their riches, but spending every waking moment on Twitter is leading not to riches, but to disillusionment. Social media is only one tool among many for marketing, just as the P2Ps are only one tool among many for marketing your VO services. Building a 3-legged table takes more than just one tool.

BTW, the answer to your riches is no secret ... it's right between you ears! Be great!
Cheers - Rick
Kitzie Stern
1/9/2010 at 1:01 AM
Jennifer makes some great points. V123 provided me with a lot of auditions and the opportunity to build a client list back when I started full-time VO work about 10 years ago. I still have some of those clients. But lately when work is slow & I audition with PTP sites for practice I haven't gotten one job (and if I do auditions I submit them fast, so that's not it). It finally got so frustrating that I've now left both of them.

I don't know what the answer is for someone wanting to break in to VO today. It's a serious profession, and I think Jennifer is spot on with her assessment of the business. We have to be up-to-date with our marketing & our demos and track what works & what doesn't. If we don't respect our time & our business, no one else will.
James Clamp
1/8/2010 at 9:39 AM
Great article, Jennifer - thank you for your openness and time to share this information. I note that you are not based in New York, Chicago or LA, and from your statistics seem to be doing fine in the VO world. This should encourage all those who don't live in the "major" markets. Here's to a fabulous 2010,
The Voice of Brian
1/7/2010 at 8:55 PM
Good grief, if this isn't one of the single best articles I have ever read in the voiceover business. I could sense the passion, focus and determination of Ms. Vaughn to paint a picture that many have failed to do themselves – I know, because I'm one of them!
1/7/2010 at 8:31 PM
You are my hero! Just the type of info I've often wondered about. If you EVER teach a business/marketing workshop, I will sooooo be there. Thank you for sharing your information.
1/7/2010 at 8:16 PM
Great article Jennifer, however I closed my membership a month ago as I landed only one small job in a year.

I am not an amateur by any means. I've been voicing for a number of years and have trained and continue to train with the best in the business. I auditioned my face off and have a state-of-the-art studio with a very clean sound. I simply found it was not worth my money or valuable time invested. I'd rather audition in an actual studio against 20-30 talents, not hundreds or more online. I know other male VO talent in the industry getting no luck online, and without a doubt my female friends land far more jobs than male voice talents online.

I won't renew on any of the sites based on the above, but will pursue my career old school by cold calls, demos, mail outs, etc. But kudos to those of you who make these sites work for you
Karl von Loewe
1/7/2010 at 7:46 PM
Jennifer, that was an excellent description of how one can work with the pay-to-play sites and expect to make money. I am new to this business and subscribed to two months ago. I have kept track of the number of auditions I have sent in, and the number that have selected talent and the number that have not. It is a bit disheartening to see Christmas-themed jobs that on January 7 have still not chosen a talent - maybe next Christmas? ;-) However, I value the experience of preparing two or three auditions a day in my studio.

I've noticed that with the minimum of $100, you can see how jobs are valued by the talent. It seems that jobs $250-500 can get 200+ or so auditions, those over $500 as many as 300 or so. Yet, jobs for $100-250 seem to get fewer than 200. My impression is that probably 80% of the jobs offer less than $250. That's an interesting skewing of the numbers and deserves some examination (which I won't do here), but seems to be "cherry-picking."

After reading your analysis I don't feel so bad as far as my own numbers are concerned. It's clear that there is money to be made in this market segment, and while I might not be pursuing all the avenues that you do, it's clear that pay-to-play (or any other marketing endeavor) is not something that one should focus on to the exclusion of others.

I would like to add that breaking even is not making money. Unless one is making at least five times the investment, the marketing endeavor is not worth it. If after one year I am not seeing the appropriate 5x return, I definitely would remove p-t-p from my arsenal.

Thanks again, Karl
Jon Robbins
1/7/2010 at 7:34 PM
Thanks for your insight Jennifer - a wonderful article!
Craig Crumpton
1/7/2010 at 5:45 PM
Great article, Jennifer. Thanks so much for taking the time and being so thorough in your evaluation.

Question: Do you actually have an ISDN studio or do you have to record elsewhere for jobs requiring ISDN?

Jennifer wrote: "It would be nice if would allow some kind of feedback score per audition, too, since it helps us determine what to do with our time."

For auditions, that will never happen. I do a lot of on-camera auditions and it's extremely rare that I ever get feedback for auditions even after making callbacks. I don't expect that to ever happen with VO auditions. It requires time on the part of the client and once they find and book the talent they want, they could care less about anyone else who auditioned.

For *finished jobs* (as Johnny George said) it would be nice, but that seems unlikely.
Philip Banks
1/7/2010 at 5:16 PM
Brilliantly presented information and I hope it encourages people to look at how they run their businesses and not dwell too much on how you run yours.
Best wishes for 2010, Philip Banks
1/7/2010 at 4:21 PM
If 17k is 2% of your income, I just have one question: ARE YOU SINGLE? My goodness, woman!

1/7/2010 at 2:14 PM
Great article, Jennifer! Maybe you can follow it up by sharing a few of your other marketing tactics.
Jennifer Vaughn
1/7/2010 at 2:05 PM
Here is the issue that both Peter & Paul (where's Mary?) had brought up ... The goal is definitely NOT to make $100 per hour, nor to figure it the way they did, as they don't have all the information.

Think about this: Just as I look at real estate investments or the stock market on when to buy and sell, in between the troughs and crests, I look at my VO business the very same way.

Sure, your goal is to hit the high points, but that really isn't realistic for the most part. You're more apt to hit on the averages between high and low, as you can't really predict the market's spike or low point, much the same way you won't know exactly how you can predict how much you'll make - average per hour - when you really start bringing in the big bucks.

The law of averages works in any business and helps to offer you a gross income well over a typical voice talent's earnings that is consistent. This is why many businesses offer an array of products and services rather than just one, and they are all at different price points.

Now, that $100/hour you figure I bring in from just the two sites I mentioned in the article is not really $100, because it's being averaged across the day's income and then the week's income. The next hour I bring $1,200, and the following hour $700, the following hour maybe $300, and then one hour may not bring in a dime in new business.

On a day or week of averages, that $100 helps, say, if one hour I don't bring in any new business cash flow. It's simply added to the day's gross or week's gross. The exposure generated from auditions, the favorite status they may add on their dashboard even if I don't get the job, makes up for that low income hour, and I put that into my marketing and promotional column of cost, rather than income.

It's a more constructive way to look at it. There have been one or two in which I don't get that job the first time, but they come back and remember my performance for another job. Plus, let us not forget that repeat business is just as valuable, and you better believe I make those clients repeat customers. That's a goal using these sites.

Now, the amount of auditioning and proposal writing is where you are figuring I'm losing money, but in reality that's marketing and promotion and that is not a hard cost, but a soft, labor cost.

If you don't count what I am associating as my marketing and promotion cost to get a job award, I'm making about $629 per hour from the jobs awarded outlined in just two of the examples I mentioned. This is the real reason I keep them in the mix - the averages/exposure rule I apply to my model.

You have to figure averages or you don't consistently bring in the dough on a positive cash flow basis. Cash flow is A number one first, get the dough in the door. Then very carefully watch your out-flows.

And Mike ... note that I sent auditions on certain jobs most of their database would NOT receive, because I am listed as Union and ISDN is in my studio. So I may get those jobs where 123 may not send those to people not listed in those two categories. And that's just to name two of the biggies.

There are key words also in your profile where their little spider works, too. Uniqueness of what you offer in your profile plays into getting more qualified leads and the excercising of self restraint on auditioning for opportunites that really aren't the core of what you provide.

For example, I delete all telephony jobs that require a custom audition, all jobs where the buyer looks like they don't know what they are doing, and delete anything under $150.
John Taylor
1/7/2010 at 1:51 PM
Thanks Jennifer, for your candor and excellent article!
Joseph Andrade
1/7/2010 at 1:16 PM
Hi Jennifer,
I too wanted to chime in and thank you for such insightful information. I'm sure it took a lot of time and effort to put this together.

I was a paid member of both sites until about 6 months ago, when I chose over Voice123. Yes, we have all heard ad nauseum that Voice123 should not penalize you for auditioning too much. However, that was not the reason that I chose not to renew my paid membership. As Jennifer so astutely points out, you have to monitor the all-important ROI. The bottom line was that I was just not getting the return on my investment on that particular site. I may revisit joining in the future, but I have done very well with, and with my other marketing efforts.

Thanks again, Jennifer. I try to track everything I do, though admittedly not as well as you. Something to definitely work on in 2010!
Grace Angela Henry
1/7/2010 at 1:15 PM
This is a remarkably valuable article. For one thing, it’s written from a business perspective with the nitty gritty facts and figures. I’m amazed at how many artists have only the passion for their craft without the business perspective. They know how much money they need a year to clear their bills, but that’s about it. They work like crazy without knowing where their efforts will be the most profitable in the long run.
Diversifying their income streams is auditioning willy nilly wherever they can without any consideration other than, “If I get this work, it’s money in the plus column.”

I think Jennifer’s “What To Consider” section is particularly useful as a reminder to the experienced and a foundation for the newbie, with P2P just one example. Thanks, Jennifer.
William G. Fender
1/7/2010 at 12:39 PM
First, let me thank you for the insight into the practical mechanics of your craft. Usually, I just enjoy and analyze the finished product in VO work. I'm understanding and appreciating, a little more, the total work that's gone into a talented and trained voice.

Finally, I like your writing. It's engaging and to the point. I learned something today. Many thanks,
1/7/2010 at 11:30 AM
Raj Mannanen
1/7/2010 at 11:13 AM
Pay-to-Play is a joke. Jennifer put in a ton -- TON -- of work, worth (if taken at face value) much much more than the $18K she took in from it. As someone else mentioned, these sites make their money from memberships -- as many as possible. They are not at all interested in you getting work. Why would they be? It's like an agent who makes their clients pay for representation. What incentive do they then have to find you any work? None.

If you want to spend all your time trying to be in the top 25 audition responders just to win a $50 gig and hear your voice on some nobody's web site, more power to you. I'll stick with the traditional gigs that have kept me out of an office cubicle and living rather nicely for 20+ years.

And a (admittedly harsh) note to the leagues of wannabes out there: A $300 microphone and an internet connection do NOT make you a voice actor. Please stop trying to turn our profession into the "Work from Home!" joke that it's becoming.

Sorry for the bitterness, folks, but the advent of the pay-to-plays is turning our profession into Quantity over Quality.
Johnny George
1/7/2010 at 11:11 AM
Great perspective Jennifer. I too have run a ROI each year on after trying V123 my first year when they debuted.

My average was close to yours too, so it solidified my running numbers of ROI with them. And I too agree with your assessment that it would be a positive move of to give talent some feedback on their auditions from clients. However, I've noticed that clients on these sites run in, get talent and leave. Getting a feedback rating on a finished job you've obtained, as requested, seems like pulling teeth to some unfortunately.

Thanks for taking the time to offer your insight. THAT was time well spent. JG
Mike Hudson
1/7/2010 at 9:06 AM
You auditioned on V123 221 times. During 2009 I auditioned 90 times and according to the stats, that is 9.09 percent higher than the average user. My understanding was that subscribers are penalized for auditioning more than the average. You're more than 100 percent higher than the average. How can this be?
Peter K. O'Connell
1/7/2010 at 8:52 AM
You're very welcome but none of it would have come about without Jennifer's initial, generous efforts on this post, so all credit to her. And she seems OK with your weeping. Best always,
Paul Strikwerda
1/7/2010 at 8:42 AM
How refreshing to find a fellow voice-over talent treating her craft as if it were a real business! Lord Kelvin, the 19th-century mathematical physicist said: “If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it.”

Jennifer, you've been in this business for nearly 20 years, and it seems to me that you know what you're doing. I have to agree with Peter: if your goal would be to 'only' make $100 per hour, there would hardly be any profit after deduction of the expenses you listed.

Let's not forget that membership fees to Pay-to-Plays and labor costs are a small part of the overall picture. The joy of being an independent contractor is that you have to pay for everything yourself: health-, dental-, life- disability-, unemployment- and business insurance; sick days, vacation days, holidays, retirement, advertising, bookkeeping, continued education, taxes .. the list is endless, and I didn't even mention our other bills: mortgage/rent, utilities, groceries, car payments, the cost of raising kids (need I go on?).

Freedom comes at a price, and there is a very good reason why - as Peter said - professionals would need to make at least 3 to 4 times more per hour, than what the average P2P voice-seeker is willing to fork over. and Voice123 make most of their money from memberships. For them, more members means more money. If the number of jobs offered would keep up with that, fine ... but we all know that times are tough and that the projects that are available, are auctioned off at bargain prices. Increased P2P membership is only good news to the investors and site owners. The talents, however, are paying the price.

So ... do the benefits of being listed on these sites outweigh the investment? You do the math and let me know!
John Florian
1/7/2010 at 8:18 AM
Thanks for setting up my auditioning biz plan for the year (sorry for the occasional weeping, though). Seriously, great perspective and advice!
Rachel Resnick
1/7/2010 at 5:17 AM
Thank you so much for your analysis and advice. The information you provide helps to underscore the reality that auditioning on marketplace sites should constitute a (small) percentage of a talent's marketing efforts. Also, it would probably benefit you to change your subscription to to a less expensive package, since you don't seem to be getting an acceptable ROI paying a premium.
Mike Cooper
1/7/2010 at 3:09 AM
Thanks for sharing this, Jennifer - and interesting to read your comments too, Peter.

I too am a member at both sites, and I too splurged for the Platinum membership in the last few months when it came up on special offer. My own approach with both, Voice123, and in fact a few others I'm registered with, is that they're a small part of my overall effort, and they’re what I turn my attention to when “traditional” jobs are thinner on the ground.

My own results with both sites over the last couple of years have seen me more than get my money back, but it’s important to remember the number of hours that go into providing “custom auditions” as part of your working week and offset that against the “success” of the money that comes in.

As a British voiceover artist based in the UK, my own approach also involves a big chunk of separating the wheat from the chaff before I even start. Because of the way most of these sites are set up (i.e. in North America) and because most of the “voice seekers” based in the U.S. aren’t clear about what they actually want (many seekers still specify “English – Any”, when what they really mean is “American English – Any”), there’s a bit more detective work that I need to do before I even decide to audition.

If the job states “English – Any” but it’s for a car dealership in Texas, or the script only has figures in dollars, for example, I’ll steer away from it – unless they’ve specified “English – British”. I also go straight for the delete button if the fee is $100 or lower – the investment in time to audition for such a job rarely pays off. More often than not I even pass up the audition opportunity if the budget is “to be defined” (hey, who doesn’t have an idea of their budget? And if you really want the talent to define it then it’s less of a beauty parade and more of a bidding war, IMHO).

What I do see these sites as being useful for is exposure. Every site that I’m registered on, with audio available to listen to, and with links back to my main site, is a useful presence on the web. And that can’t be a bad thing. Is the number of direct approaches I get by having a premium subscription worth the extra over a freebie? That depends on how many of them lead to paying jobs, of course. And that I can’t answer until I’ve done my own calculations for the year…

Best of luck to everyone for a successful 2010! Mike
Peter K. O'Connell
1/6/2010 at 9:48 PM

This was extremely generous to offer up this insight into your experiences with these two pay-to-play services. Your analysis and advice should be well heeded.

The question that came to my mind regarded the true profit and loss of your experience auditioning for these services, comparing the time spent audition with the revenue amassed.

Note, there are only about a billion ways to analyze numbers, but I try and look at these things in the simplest way possible.

$19,000 is not chump change, though I am sure just a part of your income stream (I like your mention of diversification – something I’ve always ascribed to in business and investing). But when I considered the number of auditions versus the revenue made as outlined here, it reminded me to run the numbers as a consultant/McDonald's employee – as an hourly rate.

Maybe like you, I sometimes step back and analyze the management of my time to make sure I am making the best use of my resources. In doing that over the years, I have established (through math, science, astrology and a magic eight ball) an hourly rate for my service/time, much like a consultant. Whether I am doing something for a client or something for my business, the monetary value of the work I do needs to at least meet that minimum hourly figure. Is it always that neat and tidy … no, but with it I know my professional efforts are usually closer to that figure (if not exceeding it) than not.

For expository purposes to my point, let’s say we establish that John Florian’s hourly business services rate as a voice talent came out to $100/hour. That would mean that if a client booked John for any production work (voice, recording, mixing, scriptwriting, mopping, etc.), his base rate would be $100. If John was doing administrative or marketing work, the outcome of that work would show at some point a return equal to or exceeding that hourly fee - that’s John’s goal.

Say that in one year’s time John recorded 701 auditions on a pair of pay-to-play sites with great skill, fine equipment, gobs of experience and his God-given vocal flexibility. And say on average it take him 15 minutes to record an audition each time from the moment it pops on his screen to the time he writes his custom proposal off a template and hits send. That works out to be about 175 hours of his business time in a year just on pay-to-play auditions. Some folks may be able shave some time off or need to add some time, but 15 minutes is where we’ll leave it for now. Is that time well spent?

If John has a base rate of $100/hour, and he spends 175 hours auditioning, John needs to make $17,500 in revenues just to break even. $19,000 in revenues that John earned off those two sites in one year breaks down to $1,500 profit and that percentage depresses John a bit. If we add the fees John paid to be on the sites, his profit dips to $300 and John weeps quietly to himself, John may be heartened if one p2p job turns into a long term, much higher playing client … but that happens less frequently than is desired.

John knows he has to audition, that’s part of most voice talents’ existence – he didn’t write the rules, he’s just playing within them. But because he has an hourly rate, hopefully that helps him analyze more critically the quality of auditions he avails himself of.

Another example – I’m told sets a minimum that every job on their site must be priced at least $100.00. For experienced, professional voice talents, that minimum would be at least 3 to 4 times lower than what they would look for in a minimal voice over job. Certainly there are jobs on Voices and Voice 123 that pay significantly more than that.

However, going by what many others have told me at various industry confabs this year (I’m not a member at either pay-to-play site so I don’t know these figures as facts and am stating that here), the project fees on both sites seem to average between $200-300 for jobs that normally would garner a higher fees elsewhere (via professional agents, business to business, non-completive solicitations, etc).

Is it better to compete in a pay-to-play site? A more open market? Or should one participate somewhere in between? Each person has to make that decision based on their own professional and personal goals.

But to reiterate the point you made well, Jennifer, we voice talents must think about what we are doing, how we are going to do it and what we must achieve in our voice over businesses when individually considering availing ourselves of these pay to play services.

Mine is just another way to run the numbers and it ain’t perfect neither.

Best always, Peter

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