For any of you that are familiar with me and this blog, you know that I’m quite outspoken on the subject of voice over rates. I’m a full-time professional voice talent. This is how I earn my living (a very good living). In order to earn that good living, I’ve worked very hard at branding and marketing myself the right way.
I’m forthcoming with my rates for any and all clients. You’ll never find me underbidding for jobs on Pay 2 Play sites or freelance sites. In fact, 95% of my work comes from my own marketing efforts. Not from casting sites. I list myself on casting sites because it’s another place to post my demo. I even write for a casting site, because it gives me an avenue to educate.
A Little History Lesson On The Voice Realm
One casting site I’ve been a member of for quite some time is The Voice Realm (TVR). I’ve blogged for them a few times, and blogged about them a few times. I even booked one really great client that I’ve done probably close to 30 voice over jobs with via the site.
What I liked about TVR from the beginning was how they marketed themselves. They were a site for professionals. Only professionals. They were very selective of the talent they allowed to join. There was no bidding for jobs. Just set rates. And, for the most part, fair rates. In fact, they claimed the best rates of all the casting sites.
When they introduced their Quick Cast system and began offering $55 voice overs, I called them out on it. I wrote a blog post about the development, and interviewed them regarding it. I wanted to hear how they justified such a strategy when they claim to populate their site exclusively with professional voice actors.
Cheap Voice Overs – The Downfall
This past week I was notified by another talent that my name, picture and profile, was featured on the domain cheapvoicetalentonline.com. I was very upset, to say the least. In all my years of marketing myself, I have never once marketed myself as cheap! To find out someone else was made me sick to my stomach.
To find out it was TVR upset me even more.
I immediately reached out to TVR to find out what the heck was going on. I was insulted and offended that they’d use my name, profile and picture on such a domain, especially given their stance on professionalism!
The answers I received from them were entirely unacceptable to me.
The Voice Realm’s Defense
In the initial conversation there was a lot of deflecting. The individual I spoke with tried to point fingers at other Pay 2 Pay sites and how those sites market themselves. The individual refused to speak directly to my concern, which was, “This is not about other sites and what they’re doing. I’m talking about YOUR site and what YOU’RE doing!”
I made it abundantly clear that I was not ok with them promoting me as a cheap voice talent and I requested my profile be removed from the domain (cheapvoicetalentonline.com) immediately. This is the response I received:
“30-40% of our daily web traffic comes from that site. So that’s almost 400 visitors EVERY DAY… That makes absolutely no business sense for us.”
My response to this individual was, “Keep the domain, I don’t care. Just get my profile off it.” I was told, “That is not possible.” I was then invited to delete my profile and provided with a link to do so.
All voice talent listed with TVR can (and do) appear on this domain and it (according to TVR) cannot be stopped. I was also told that this information is in the Terms of Service for the site. By using the site you immediately agree to being included in such marketing practices.
The Voice Realm seeks professional voice talent for their database, only professionals. I was basically told they’d rather lose me as a member of their site then remove me from the marketing of this domain, and again, the individual provided me with a link to delete my account.
That’s exactly what I did.
A Statement From The Voice Realm
My Question: The Voice Realm has always marketed themselves as a site strictly for professionals. You claim to have stringent processes in place to ensure only professionals get listed on your site. You claim the highest rates of any other casting site. How do you respond to professional voice actors who are finding out they are being marketed by your site as “Cheap Voice Talent Online.”
The Voice Realm’s Response: The only people that see that domain are people who type the word ‘cheap’. It’s worth noting that other casting sites have this keyword active and their paid ads appear higher than our domain. So really if you’re on nearly any website that finds you jobs online then it’s going to be an issue for you on all the sites.
Many talent, including yourself, have benefited from the domain in question. We can see exactly where a client has come from and how they ended up hiring a talent through analytics. Had the client not used the word ‘cheap’ they would have not been directed to our site, and likely ended up at a site like Elance.
The fact is people search for thousands of keywords online related to voice overs. One of those keywords is ‘cheap’. If we owned expensivevoicetalent.com the rates would be exactly the same.
My Final Thoughts – I’m Not Cheap
The Voice Realm, in their statement, failed to address my concerns satisfactorily. In fact, I felt they failed to address them at all.
My purpose for my blog has always been to educate. I’m not going to to tell anyone how to run their business. I’m not going to tell anyone how to market themselves or their business. I will offer advice, encouragement, and lessons learned through my own experiences.
My sole concern with this issue is being marketed as cheap. I find it offensive and insulting. TVR either doesn’t understand this, or has no desire in admitting they’ve made an error in judgement.
For me to remain with the site, given my personal stance on the issue, would be hypocritical. I do not market myself as cheap, I will never market myself as cheap. I will not allow someone else to market me as cheap. I have too much respect for the voice over industry at large to endorse someone marketing “Cheap $55 voice overs and Cheap Voice Talent.”
For that reason I have deleted my account.
As a blogger, I feel a responsibility to all my readers, and especially those who are members of TVR, to present you with all the facts. I want to make sure you understand how your name, picture and profile are being marketed. Armed with all the facts, each of you can make a personal decision based on your own branding and marketing practices, whether or not you’ll continue to be associated with the site.
It’s my hope that this blog, and the conversations and debates that will result, might bring about a change that is mutually beneficial to both parties involved (the talent and TVR). That remains to be seen.
For Comment: How do you feel about this marketing tactic? Will it change your involvement with the site?