Hello, Ladies and Gentleman, and welcome to Voiced By Webb. My name is Emanuel Webb, and I’m a freelance voice-over talent. This is a podcast where I share my thoughts and opinions, whether about the voice-over industry, or my improvements and lessons as a voice-over talent and all-around person.
One of the hardest parts of a voice actor’s journey is getting started. How do you go about doing voice over work? Where can you find those jobs? The typical routes for voice over work are directly marketing to production companies, gig websites like Fiverr and Upwork, getting a talent agent to send auditions your way, or auditioning on voice over casting sites like Voices.com, Voice123, etc.
Today, I want to talk about Casting sites, often times called “pay-to-play” sites. With these websites, you set up an account (some for free, while others require a paid membership, hence the term “pay to play”) and you audition for openings to different projects and genres. Out of all of the methods that I mentioned to get voice over work, this is probably the easiest to get started with. But like with most things that are easy, they come with some pros and cons. Let’s break down the good before we get to the bad:
One of the best benefits of joining a casting site is that there is no experience required. If you’re just starting out, this is one of the best ways to get your feet wet in the voice over industry. Every day, you have an opportunity to audition as many times as you are physically capable of doing. This helps you get the reps in and shows your progress with how much you’ve been practicing on your voice.
As a newbie, you get to see current trends in the voice over industry. You get a better understanding of what kind of voice and content the market is looking for. For example, I got started auditioning right before Covid started hitting the news. Suddenly, a BUNCH of auditions and openings came up for medical explainer videos, health insurance videos, safety videos, etc. And usually a few times a year, during local and national elections, a WHOLE lot of political ads require someone to narrate. What the people or what the client wants usually changes like the seasons, so this is definitely one way to stay ahead of those wants and needs.
One of the more daunting tasks when it comes to voice over work is putting yourself out there for direct marketing by cold calling or cold emailing potential clients. Or waiting for your talent agent to find an audition to send your way. With pay-to-play sites, you save time and energy by auditioning directly on opportunities the website already found for you.
Now that we mentioned some of the best parts of casting sites, let’s talk about the worst:
The phrase “pay to play” came up so much this episode because it comes up a lot when you try to set up an account. Most of these sites allow you to set up a “free” account, but you get more benefits and opportunities with a paid membership or subscription. This alone can be a big deterrent for those starting off who may feel like they’re spending WAY more than they could potentially be earning.
On the topic of spending, when it comes to rates that you get paid, usually the person sending you the work gets a commission out of it. With talent agents, it could be a small 5-20% fee (so if you had a job for $200, for example, the talent agent would get anywhere from $10 to $40. With some casting platforms, YOU can be the one getting the smaller cut of the deal that they make with the clients you’re recording for. A few of the major platforms got a lot of criticism a few years back for how unethical a few of their practices can be (or were).
Some of those practices, besides taking a larger cut, could be outright underpaying voice talent. A new voice actor may not realize that the job they’re putting hours into for $10 could actually pay them hundreds of dollars if they didn’t have a better understanding of their worth or the industry-standard rates for certain jobs. Sometimes, this isn’t always the fault of the Pay to Play sites. Some clients can be sneaky with how much work they’re asking you to do with how much pay they’re willing to give for it. What they say is a small voice over for a company video could actually be an advertisement that you see on the internet. Paying attention to the rate and what’s known as the “usage rights” can go a long way toward not being exploited.
And the last negative with casting platforms that I’ll discuss today is the high levels of competition. Don’t get me wrong: competition is typically a good thing. You have to understand what the standard is and see how you measure or raise it. But with most casting sites, any high paying audition is full of entries from people that see dollar signs over a good fit. Some are professionals with good equipment, experience, and great technique. Other entrants are just starting out or refuse to invest in their craft. Some ask for a high rate that matches the quality or time they’re willing to put into the project. Others are willing to ask for a super cheap rate to get work immediately. This can flood the inbox of the potential client, who has to sift through all the mess to find what they’re looking for. And sometimes, you can get lost in it if you’re not quick enough or don’t do anything to set yourself apart from the crowd.
So those are just a few of the pros and cons of working on Casting sites. Hopefully, this didn’t scare you off from putting yourself out there and grabbing the best opportunities you can find in voice over. Personally, I find that it’s best to diversify how you market yourself. Not only should you be on these sites (most companies go there first when they have a project unless they have a personal connection with voice over talent), but you should also look into marketing yourself, by cold calling, cold emailing, being on social media and having a personal voice over website.
Speaking of which: You can follow me on Twitter at Webb859, on Instagram at webb.859, on LinkedIn using emanuelwebbvo, or visit my website at http://www.voicedbywebb.com. Once again, this is Emanuel Webb. Thanks for your time. Peace.