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Measuring ROI For Your Time:
It Tracks What Brings You Jobs

By Dave Courvoisier
Voice Actor & TV News Anchor

In the overbearing ocean of American acronyms, none has its place closer to the heart of a capitalist than ROI - Return On Investment.

Make no mistake, it’s an economic term in origin. In fact, here’s the formula for the Arithmetic ROI (also known as Rate of Return):


There, now don’t you feel better?  So ... get out there, and go get ‘em tiger!


Those stat-crazy Wall Street folks certainly need to pay attention to the numbers. But us freelance peons are more interested in the less-regimented definition of ROI - the one that tells us whether the time we’re spending doing this or that is worth the effort for our voice over business. 

Here again, though, the default of doing your best at measuring and quantifying is of utmost importance. For example:
  • Any smart voice talent should chart the hours she/he spends on social media per month vs. the directly attributable deposits into the checking account.
  • When auditioning, keep track of the number you’ve sent vs. the ones that resulted in work.
  • A freelancer with a blog or a website should be checking the trends, the visitors, the views, the clicks, the SEO.
  • When you send out a newsletter or launch a survey, come back around and check the "opens,” the "views,” the rejected, and the unsubscribed.
  • Traveling to VOICE 2012? Surely many of you have examined the available funds, done some math, searched your business plan, and either made your reservations or sent your regrets.

However, there are also grey areas - soft ROI's.

So far, I have not seen the equation that tells me whether the hours I’ve spent blogging since 2007 have translated to dollars in my bank account.  How do you measure that?

Or the analytics that would reveal the time I spend each month on conference calls for the SaVoa Advisory Board - where’s the phantom formula for that?

When I mentor an up-and-coming talent, or help a friend troubleshoot a funny buzz in his audio chain - are there metrics for that?


Sometimes you have to go beyond the numbers, or even find a substitute when no numbers are available.

If you look up from your monitor after wearily perusing the latest listings on V123, and you can’t face ONE. MORE. POSTING.  Maybe it’s time to try something else. 

What’s your Soft ROI on that?


Does common sense tell you that cold calling does not fit with your basic personality? Soft ROI to the rescue.

Your agent hasn’t sent you a commercial script in months, but ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange) is needing your services on at least two audiobooks. 

Hmmm, my Soft ROI is talking!

I hate that Soft ROI is not quantifiable. I wish I could put a gauge on matters of the heart. But you’ll know.  You’ll know.


Dave Courvoisier ("pronounced just like the fine cognac, only no relation”) is an Emmy Award-winning broadcaster, writer, producer, voice actor, and the main weeknight news anchor on KLAS-TV, Channel 8, the Las Vegas CBS affiliate. He's become the voice over industry's social media tech guru, and writes Voice Acting in Vegas, a daily blog of adventures and observations in a style that’s true to his friendly Midwestern farm roots.

TV bio: KLAS-TV bio link

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Comments (4)
Ken Budka
4/2/2012 at 2:37 PM
Thanks Dave - your insight on this topic is helpful and a great reminder to at least attempt to measure our marketing efforts and time spent doing everything except recording and editing.

The beauty of stats is (as Paul mentioned) that which is measured can be improved. I know when I'm avoiding looking at my stats it's generally because I don't like what I'm seeing. On the other hand, it's incredibly easy to improve your game in small increments. I delivered 10 auditions last week, how about 12 this week? Doesn't seem like much yet a 20% increase across the board will result in more work, better relationships, etc.

My rule of thumb is to focus my greatest efforts in the areas that deliver the greatest rewards (new clients & paying customers) and then the softer ROI areas, necessary, fun, but not necessarily paying your mortgage.

Thanks again Dave - so glad to know you and know you're out there...


Ed Helvey
3/7/2012 at 1:09 PM
So true, Dave! So true! The math can take us all over the place.

When professional speaker friends would tell me they earned $2500, $5000, $10,000 or whatever for a speech or a seminar program, I'd suggest they analyze that a little better. First of all, the higher the fee, the harder it typically was to land the gig. But, had they calculated how many hours they had invested in marketing (advertising, follow-up, social media, glad handing, networking, etc.) plus the time closing the deal and then the preparation for the specific speech or seminar that had to be customized for the client? Additionally, had they counted the time invested in the travel time and time displaced from their family and day to day life to deliver the 45 minute speech or half day seminar?

When the rubber actually meets the road, they may have been paid $5,000, but 90% or maybe even more of that was actually the cost of getting and preparing for the gig and only 10% or maybe less was for the actual performance of the speech/seminar. I equate those "other expenses in time and financial outlay when necessary) to the same soft ROI you are describing and I wonder if that simple equation is anywhere near the same for Voice Actors?

Great information, as always, Dave. Thanks!

Roy Wells
3/6/2012 at 8:00 AM
Good analysis, Dave. I enjoyed the article immensely.
Paul Strikwerda
3/6/2012 at 7:54 AM
You can't manage what you don't measure. It's as simple as that.

Unfortunately, many freelancers base their business decisions on educated guesses (well, that's my educated guess).

In discussions about rates and online casting sites, it always amazes me that very few have thought about their ROI, and if they do, they they use fuzzy math.

Some claim that landing one good job would simply pay for the annual subscription to a P2P. Really?

What about all those hours spent auditioning to get that job in the first place? How about deducting some expenses? How about learning the difference between net and gross profit?

Dave, thanks for reminding us that professionals run a business and not a non-profit!

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