It’s no secret how I feel about casting sites. If you’re going to use them, they should be ONE tool in your toolbox. Not the WHOLE toolbox. If you really want to build a sustainable business, you’ve got to do your own marketing and build your own client base.
To succeed in online casting, you need to understand how it works. Nobody understands this world better than J Michael Collins! At least a couple times a week I’ll get asked about how to use SmartCast on Voice123. Part of me thinks it’s one of life’s great mysteries… you know, like the Caramilk Secret! However, if anyone can help us better understand the feature, J Michael is that individual. I’m so happy he agreed to share some of his wisdom with us!
Since Voice123 first arrived on the scene about a decade ago, their proprietary casting algorithm, known as SmartCast, has perplexed and bedeviled the voice talent community.
SmartCast was designed with the intent of avoiding the cattle call phenomenon that befell most other online casting sites, requiring talent to use their auditions wisely in order to achieve maximum benefit from the site.
While the details of the algorithm have evolved over the years, one fundamental principle remains: SmartCast is meant to discourage you from auditioning too much, so that jobs aren’t saturated with unqualified auditions, and so that each talent has the opportunity to book work through Voice123.
What does “too much” mean? Voice123 representatives have repeatedly stated that talent should audition no more than a handful of times per day. In extreme cases, SmartCast has dramatically reduced the flow of auditions to talent who were doing as few as 3-4 auditions per day. Most talent report being able to submit 4-6 daily without running into trouble. Exceed that number, and the system is likely to reduce your access to opportunities.
You can also track the feature in “My Stats” that shows the percentage of auditions you have submitted compared to similar talent. If this number rises over 200%, you are likely to see fewer auditions from SmartCast.
SmartCast does take other factors into account, such as the feedback you receive from buyers on your auditions, (the star rating,) and your bidding practice, however these are negligible. At VO Atlanta 2016, Voice123’s chief stated that audition ratings account for 2% of the algorithm. In other words, it is all about quantity. Do too many, and you’ll be shut down.
There are two workarounds if you find SmartCast too limiting. Voice123 offers a Platinum membership level for $4,950/year, payable in three installments, which turns off SmartCast and allows you to audition as much as you like. It also gives your priority in searches done through the site.
If that’s too rich for your blood, you can always open multiple Premium accounts in order to have more opportunities. This is not an exact science, but some talent have reported success, and it is not against Voice123 policy.
Bottom Line? Use SmartCast wisely for best results. Even if you limit yourself to 4 auditions per day, that’s 20 per week. Top talent book 7-10% of the time, quality everyday full-time pros book 3-5% of the time, and talented newcomers book maybe 1%. If you fall into one of these categories, you’ll book some work over time. It may not be much in terms of quantity, but as we all know the real money from online casting is made by building relationships and generating repeat business, so even booking a few clients per month should lead to sustainable income in the long run.
J Michael Collins
With over twenty years as a professional voiceover artist, J Michael Collins has worked with some of the biggest companies, brands, sports leagues, and organizations on the planet. In addition to his work in the classic, agency-based world of VO, J. Michael has established himself as the leading authority and top-grossing talent in the online marketplace, and has become recognized as an industry leading talent coach and demo producer as well.
J. Michael was the winner of the 2016 VoiceArts Awards for Outstanding Radio Commercial-Best Voiceover, Outstanding Political Announcement-Best Voiceover, and was the producer of 2016’s Outstanding Narration Demo.
For coaching and demo services visit jmcvoiceover.com