Wednesday, 11 February 2015

VO's on Fiverr won't survive..Its all in the math.

Greetings from a very frigid February morning in Montreal. Right now my Mic is off for a few days as I recover from a cold that my 4 year old couldn't resist giving Daddy (I would've of preferred a drawing or a popsicle stick craft from his school, but there you have it!).

So these few days off have given me the time to think over an issue that has raised the ire and concerns of many VO's from parts far and near.


Understandably it's been the favourite service to hate amongst many professionals including VO's. They drive down the value of the services they offer and only serve to discredit real professionals and again, its not only VO's, there is a large selection of services that people on Fiverr are paying their clients to do....wait, what was that? People on Fiverr are PAYING THEIR CLIENTS FOR WORK?

Mathematically, that's pretty much what it adds up to and those who are on Fiverr (unless they gave themselves lobotomies with a cordless drill), will soon realize that its financially unsustainable even if they do VO as part time thing.

Lets do some quick calculations to see how your 5$ payday divvies up in the greater scheme of things. by using a time line on a project I did recently.

My clients needed about a minutes worth of VO for a corporate video. Since I am a producer and engineer by trade they were able to send the protools sessions complete with the segment of video so I could sync up my script which was time sensitive to the elements on the film, edit, EQ and master.

There was several back and forth emails and conversations about how they wanted the read to sound, plus some required video editing on their end so that my VO would fit better and not have me sounding like Alvin from the Chipmunks.

All of this collaboration and tweaking here and there came out to about 4 hours in total. At the end the product was flawless, My client was happy, and their client was happy.

I invoiced an amount that was on par with industry standards which was fair to everyone. I'm not at a stage in my career where I can consider myself top shelf talent like Joe Cipriano or Marc Graue (people who I highly admire and respect), but I value the quality of my work enough to charge a rate that is fair.

Now lets consider the math first...

If I was to do that job for only 5 bucks per hour it would mean I'd be making 1.25/hr or 0.02$ a minute.... but wait it gets worse.

Now lets consider the amount of hours spent marketing myself, building my website, building my studio, auditioning, developing a marketing and sales strategy and actually carrying it out, that 1.25/hr gets driven down into the negative integers and my time would be better spent fishing around for loose change in my sofa.

We needn't concern ourselves with the bottom feeders of Fiverr and here's why....they won't be around  for very long before they realise its a complete waste of time, and as a result clients will soon pick up on that because they will have dropped off the map and figure their level of reliability is such that they can't depend on using their voices for long term projects.

Market yourself every day, make informed cold calls, send informed emails, audition, stay on the minds of your prospects, and for Pete's sake charge what you're worth!! (something people on Fiverr should ponder for a moment). As long as we band together as the professionals that we are, those on Fiverr will either have to follow suit or die on the vine.

Stay Warm and Happy Valentines day!


Friday, 30 January 2015

No Agent? What Me Worry?

Around ten years ago I worked in Radio, mostly as a producer and engineer but, every now and again did some on air work and occasionally lent my voice to some spots and PSA's. It was in those fleeting moments where I knew that this was what I was meant to do. The conviction was strong and never really left me.

However, the road to fulfilling our dreams is often full of detours. It's rarely paved smooth and now and again you have to stop for gas or wait for a tow truck. This was my case as I was deviated for 10 years with getting married, getting a mortgage (yay...) and raising a family. Now don't get me wrong I didn't regret leaving the radio biz, my amazing wife and 2 boys are the greatest gifts a man could ever want and if I had to do it again I wouldn't change a thing!

So last March my wife's business took off like a rocket and demanded a lot of her attention and so it was decided that I become Mr Mom... a bit of an adjustment to say the least but met the challenge head on and so far its been working out well.

Beyond getting the kids to and from school and all the other domestic tasks that are adjoined to the job description, fate came along and nudged me once more like two random meteoroids bumping into each other in the great cosmos.

March 2014 had me attend a class by veteran Broadcaster and Voice Actor David Tyler. The die was cast and decided to take my natural artistic abilities and business acumen and create my company SeanKovacsVoiceOvers |

Between March 2014 and today I went through every little painstaking detail into setting up my company. Since I am a sound engineer and producer by trade I even recorded and produced my own demos. The only thing I didn't have (and still don't) is an agent.

Before, during and after the Christmas holidays I contacted local agents only to be refused, told I was inexperienced, or simply ignored. At first I was frustrated by this because I know fellow VO's in my area who are as talented and experienced as I, and have representation.... whats the deal???

Not being one to be dissuaded by what other people think I decided that I need to be MY OWN AGENT, and market myself directly to video production houses, individual companies, and radio stations.

Well January is at a close (my first month of being officially in business, by the way..) and here's the result.

I am the voice in Montreal for Expedia Cruiseshipcenters, have lent my voice to companies such as Fonex Data Systems, WestJet....yeah thats right WestJet!, landed an on camera gig WITH LINES for a local media company who was filming a television pilot. Consequently, I was told by the director that I'll be retained for future projects as they were very satisfied with my performance and professionalism.

Its only January and my receivables are way higher than I anticipated, and it all comes down to moving the ball forward every day and relying on yourself. You drive the bus.

I still believe that having an agent is an important component of any VO's business model. The relationship between the two needs to be one of cooperation and reciprocity. If there any agents out there who want to take a chance on little 'ol me... well you know where to find me, I won't disappoint.

Just ask my clients.

Sean Kovacs