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Interview

Is Fiverr Good For Voice-Over Talent? Five Voices Speak Out


By Al Black | 10th May 2021

There is no denying Fiverr's massive growth as a source of voice-over talent but is it a good deal for the talent themselves?

If you're asking yourself the question - is Fiverr good for voice-over talents? Please read on. First, a quick disclaimer. We're not writing this article to argue either for or against Fiverr as a source for voice-over work. Fiverr serves a market need and is here to stay. So whether you use the platform to find paid work or not is a personal choice each voice talent will make on their terms.

At Voquent, we're passionately dedicated to the industry. We frequently hear from voice actors who have found great success on Fiverr and from others who have concerns about the broader implications of its structure and dominance.  Whilst at Voquent, we undertake voice-over work, we do not view Fiverr as our competitor. In contrast to Fiverr, we offer a managed casting and production service, and we serve clients who don’t have the time, resources or means to coordinate and procure multiple voice talents directly.

With this article, we're only interested in providing quality information to benefit the broader voice acting community. Whether you are a Fiverr advocate or a critic, it’s important that you do not view this post as either endorsement or opposition. We ask you to please keep that in mind as you consider the thoughts and comments from these five (it HAD to be five, right!) professional voices. 

Chuck, Daniel and Heather have all had success on Fiverr. Beau wasn't impressed with his experience, and Chris has some criticism which some of you may share, and we felt it important to offer a counter-view to the positive experiences.  A big thank you to them for taking the time to contribute their valuable insight here so you can make your mind up about using Fiverr for voice-over work.

 

When did you start using Fiverr to get voice-over work, and how long did it take you to land your first gig?

Beau: I believe I first signed up for a Fiverr profile around 2015. The second time I gave the platform a try was a couple of years ago in 2019. 

Daniel:  I registered my Fiverr account in March 2018. My first order came on April 28, 2018. It was a sponsor tagline announcement for a YouTube channel.

Chuck: My very first orders were late in 2017. I had been a buyer on the site for years before that and first started to set up a profile and demos in 2014, I think. But I never really did anything with them. By the end of 2017, I heard about others finding success on the platform, and I thought maybe I should dip my toes in the water. I had no clue what I was doing. So I truthfully just tried to guess my way around for a very long time. 

Heather: I started with Fiverr Pro in October of 2020. It took about three weeks to get my first job, and it was a promo for a small theatre's rock opera—super fun!

Chris: I've never used Fiverr and don't plan to.

 

Chris, what are your primary concerns with using Fiverr?

Chris: I can't imagine why anyone would want to align themselves with something that will telegraph either cheap or amateur, thus tagging themselves and their 'brand' with these attributes.  99% of my "competition" on Fiverr will be selling voice-over services for the price of a hamburger or maybe a #6 combo. Those hiring do so based on price and not quality. Most seem unaware of what a professional benchmark or standard even is.

My years of experience in the business and investment into my skills and my pro home recording studio are incompatible with charging $20-$40 —or whatever— for a TV commercial. Even those who might read this comment and think, "Oh, this dinosaur doesn't get it at all, I charge $125 with the add ons!". Which is still far below what the work is worth (based upon both SAG-AFTRA rates and surveys like the GVAA Rate Guide). Just because there is a new or disruptive way to do something does not mean it is better. And the anecdotal "But it works for me! It's none of your business how I do my business!" is also invalid. These are side-hustles, paid hobbies, not legitimate businesses if they harm others in the meantime, and that is what is happening.

 

Beau, why do you think Fiverr didn't work for you?

Beau: I found the user experience to be very lacklustre, clunky, and disorganized. Additionally, as I previously mentioned, many users on these platforms will provide work for next to nothing simply because they have a USB mic. Voice acting is so much more than a cheap microphone and the ability to speak. Quality costs (you get what you pay for), and I had difficulty accepting the number of folks on the platform undercutting that concept after spending significant time and money with professional trainers to assure that I could deliver for clients.

 

Have you tried Upwork?

Daniel: I spent an equal amount of effort trying to build success on UpWork, but Fiverr and UpWork are very different. Clients on UpWork seek the lowest priced kind of deal, whilst clients on Fiverr seem to know what they want and be willing to pay to get it. My clients rarely need to negotiate the price. Many of them are big international agencies, end clients and high-end production companies.

Beau: Upwork has been the complete opposite for me, providing me access to countless opportunities from international clientele. Like I did on Fiverr, I took the time to create a thorough profile and began searching for/applying for projects. The ball started rolling very quickly. Job postings come from quality sources that paid well for the work, something I couldn't find on Fiverr. Many sell voice-over services for next to nothing, which severely discounts/undercuts those who have put in the time and effort to obtaining professional training, acquiring and setting up high-quality equipment, etc.).

 

How many gigs on average do you book on Fiverr?

Chuck: Recently, it's been in the range of 65-70 per month. Last year, I seemed to be booking more orders but charging less. So the income is roughly the same except for a couple of standout months that were especially strong last fall, where I did over 100 per month.

Heather: It depends, maybe 4-5?

Daniel: The first year or so orders were sporadic. But since then both the number of orders and the revenue for each order have constantly increased. Today I receive about 150-200 orders/year, for which I am thrilled and thankful.


Chuck, that's a lot of jobs! How do you differentiate yourself from other Fiverr voices?

Chuck: I try to have a consistently professional image. So my gig thumbnails and demo videos have a clean and sharp look. I always use the same headshot and font. I have the same intro and outro logo animation on all my demo videos. I hand-write my gig descriptions for each gig, putting some personality into them rather than the copy-and-paste approach.

 

Heather, what is the key to your success on Fiverr? 

Heather: For me, it's customer service. I get all kinds of people asking about my services -some of them are below my rates, but I always remember to be helpful and kind. Even though I'm a freelancer, I represent Fiverr and must give excellent customer service.

 

What about you, Chuck?

Chuck: I think a lot of it boils down to experience and work ethic. I've been doing VO for decades, so there's not a lot that I haven't seen before. I always give more than is expected for every order: more takes and a superior final product. I have an excellent critical ear for editing, so that helps. And my background experience as both an audio engineer and video editor allows me an advantage in that area, I believe.

Finally, of course, there is my voice. I have a wide range of styles/tones available to me. I'm very grateful that so many people seem to love the sound of my voice, and I get hired for many different read styles, from movie and game trailers to soft inspirational tones, to character voices, to more straight reads.

 

What advice would you offer to others interested in using Fiverr or Upwork?

Daniel: Spare no expense on the wow-effect.

  • Try to create a stunning video that shows the client exactly what they can expect. Try to make the video content and audio look and sound as good as possible. Consistently deliver the same quality you present in the video.
  • Create a variated audio sample pack of your voice in different styles, without any music or other background audio. From those selected samples, also make an audio trailer sample to go with the package. Again, consistently deliver the same quality as presented in your examples.
  • Be good-humoured about re-takes and pick-ups. Never make the client feel that they're disturbing you. If an additional cost is needed, explain this in a kind and polite manner and ask the client if the fee is manageable for them. If not, try always to be kind and adjust within reasonable limits.
  • Market your Fiverr profile on social media platforms (FB, Instagram or/and Google). Post your Fiverr video on FB and boost the post with a link to your Fiverr gig. Link to your Fiverr gig on your website. Be persistent and never give up!

Beau: Knowing your worth as a voice actor is essential. Taking on a large project that underpays you for your time and talent is detrimental to not only you but the voice-over industry as a whole. Take the time to set up a complete profile that highlights your abilities, defines your rates as a VA, and provides additional information about your background and what you bring to the table for your clients. Most importantly, be patient. I've been using Upwork for about three years now. Early on, the lack of work (or even quality work) was discouraging. However, perseverance paid off, and I have significantly grown my business using the platform, developing an extensive list of recurring international clientele. 

 

What would you say are the biggest hurdles that new Fiverr users face?

Heather: I would say it's sticking to your guns as far as your rates, try not to get discouraged if things get a little slow, and communicate with your buyers. Different countries have different ideas about what a "pro" voice-over is!

Chuck: Visibility, credibility and competition. There are 20K gigs in the VO space on the platform now. How does one stand out? That's where I think most people feel. They (especially those with prior VO career experience) come in with a sense of entitlement: "I'm just gonna hang out my shingle and wait for massive success." And, when it doesn't happen, they either get bitter and leave and badmouth the platform to others, or they hang around and languish long-term. In terms of credibility, I hear many weak demos and read a lot of abysmal gig summaries. Some folks may have talent, but many don't seriously consider what it takes to look and sound professional. There are many poor-quality gig thumbnails with audio levels all over the place. There are thousands of other VOs on the platform. In the search results, in whichever area you land, 47 others try to use their thumbnails and video demos to scream for attention. Fiverr, to me, is like the Serengeti Plain—kill or be killed. I have a family to provide for, and I take the business of winning against the competition very seriously. Some people tend to get too cute and don't think analytically about trying to catch the eye of someone scrolling down the page. Your title, price, thumbnail and demo video are critical there. If you can't engage them with those, you won't catch them at all.

Daniel: One big hurdle is that it takes a lot of time and effort into making a good video presentation. It's easy to think that you want to test the platform first before investing in making good presentation material. But appearance is everything on Fiverr! Expect to grow slowly. Competition is fierce, and more and more people have discovered that Fiverr is an excellent source of income and that serious high-end clients are using Fiverr regularly. When I started in March 2018, there were about 5-10 Swedish VOs on Fiverr. Now there are between 50-100. a search for "English voice-over" will generate more than 22,000 results today. In March 2018, there were around 8,000 English VOs on Fiverr. Too many give up too quickly. So again, persistence is key to success. Another hurdle is that every person new on Fiverr is a Newbie, whether you've been in the business for 5 or 25 years. So expect to go back to your infant days and start over again. The only way to reach success on Fiverr is to prove yourself and your services to Fiverre's buyers. So start low on prices while still offering superior quality to get some orders and collect positive 5-star reviews. That way, your gig will generate more interest among potential clients.

 

Have you had any negative experiences, or is there anything people should watch out for? 

Heather: I haven't, personally.

Chuck: My only genuinely negative experience happened when I received a warning about giving out personal contact info. One of my clients on the platform was trying to refer me to someone who didn't use Fiverr, and I casually offered contact info when asked. The TOS folks gave me a warning, and it became clear that were I to do so again, I could be banned from the platform. I have two friends who were banned for similar infractions. So that set me on pins and needles for a time!

 

How does (or would) a negative review on Fiverr affect you?

Daniel: Negative reviews are very detrimental. Fortunately, Fiverr has set up routines to protect sellers from being forced into doing low paid work (or, in rare cases, unserious work) under the threat of getting a bad review if they don't comply. I've discussed this with Fiverr several times and come up with some suggestions that they implemented in their system. One of these features is the ability to block a buyer if one has a negative working experience. It is also possible to report buyers if they are not acting seriously.

Chuck: I would hope to learn from it. Either how to better communicate or to better anticipate needs. In terms of harming my visibility ranking, I think it would be a drop in the ocean unless it's some terrible offence. I don't live in any fear of that.

Heather: Yes, the reviews are critical. I try to make sure my buyers are 100% happy.

Beau: Again, I can speak to this as an Upwork user. The platforms are similar in some of these aspects. I have fortunately never received a negative review. I pride myself on providing exceptional work on time. Communication is essential to me from both sides of the project. Taking feedback and constructive criticism is a crucial and vital element of the process for me.

 

To what level does getting a new Fiverr gig still excite you (if at all)?

Heather: I love it! I love having work waiting for me!

Daniel: I generally don't get excited about a gig on Fiverr or through any other way. The exact moment I get an order, I immediately start to think about making this client happy by conveying the message the right way to reach the audience.

Chuck: I'm just incredibly grateful that people still gravitate toward my voice after all these years in the field, and I seem to be able to blow them away pretty consistently, as reflected in my reviews. I get more excitement reading the reviews than when I receive the initial order. I have found Fiverr buyers to be incredibly kind. I've completed roughly 2,100 orders as of this writing, with only about 5 of those where I netted less than five stars. So many of the reviews express incredible levels of gratitude. Just the opportunity to serve people and make their endeavours more successful. I often help make them look like heroes to their bosses or clients, which is very satisfying.

Beau: I can't speak to this from the Fiverr perspective, but there's no better feeling than someone contacting you about working with them because they loved what they heard on your demos. At this point, the process has shifted from me seeking out clients to clients seeking me for voice-over work, which is such a humbling experience. It reaffirms my decision to pursue this career and is a huge confidence boost every time I am sent a contract to provide voice work for both new clients and existing clients.

 

If you could generate the same level of work you get on Fiverr through methods or means, what would you prefer that to be? E.g. your website? Multiple platforms? One single another platform?

Heather: Well, I would prefer it to come directly to me. LOL, I would like to keep that 20% service. fee. ;)

Daniel: Apart from Voquent? :) Seriously, in my opinion, Fiverr is the perfect way to build long-lasting relationships with serious clients. I particularly like that the client has to pay upfront and that after a gig is approved, a seller gets his money after two weeks (or one week if you're a Top Rated seller). So the logistics are so smooth and straightforward. I know one other voice agency that's using internal payout systems as well. But I think that Fiverr has found the perfect recipe.

Chuck: I want to find more success on other platforms, but I'm also very pleased with where I am on Fiverr. Not having to audition saves a great deal of time. In my experience, if your demos are good, most people don't need to hear custom samples up-front (though I have no problem providing them if they ask). I encourage folks to place an order first, and the majority do. I guess I feel game to tackle almost anything, so there are rarely surprises where I feel overwhelmed or turn the work away. I get some orders directly from my website, and that's fine. But, just being completely honest, I hate talking about money (price quotes) and seeing that I get paid after the fact. The platforms on which I work solve both of those problems for me, so I don't mind that they take their cut.

Beau: I will happily take voice-over work from wherever it comes. It's been interesting to see the multiple avenues from which I receive work requests. I have gotten jobs from Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn over the years. A lot of this is due to self-promotion, which is just part of the process. I like to post positive reviews/feedback on social media channels like those previously mentioned because you never know who might see those and reach out. Taking some time to promote your accomplishments and your services can take you to new levels.

 

Chris & Beau: How do you think Fiverr could improve things for the voice-over community?

Chris: I doubt that there is anything that they or any other cut-rate service could do because, at this point, it'd be trying to make up for the damage they've already done to the industry. By removing all barriers to entry and "democratizing" voice-over (I prefer "commoditizing"), they and other sites have lowered so many bars that voice-over is no longer considered the specialized craft it once was and still deserves to be. Once the "anyone can do it" barn door was opened, the downward slide started, in quality as well as compensation. This is not a union vs non-union scenario, much as union people would like to make it so - there is plenty of non-union voice actors who make reasonable and respectable rates by knowing their value. What Fiverr and the influx of voice-over entrepreneurs/shysters have done is promised 'the dream' via whatever 'proven method' they espouse. This includes some formerly well-respected voice-over talent/coaches as well. But they skip over two crucial elements: the acting craft and the business foundation. It is simply "Make millions on the internet with your voice. Break into voice-over with my proven method. Take my course and get a demo in a weekend, then open your storefront on Fiverr & watch the cash come rolling in" And that's about it. One does not 'break into' voice-over.

Beau: It has been a couple of years since I've looked at the site/platform, so maybe some of these issues I had/have perhaps have been addressed. But I think a better vetting process for talents would be crucial. It's great that there's such a vast, open marketplace for voice actors to promote themselves and obtain work. However, I feel Fiverr's reputation would be held in much higher regard if clients knew they were getting the best bang for their buck (a mixture of quality at reasonable rates).  The user experience/interface, I feel, could also be significantly improved. Attempting to find work only to click on a job that is another talent promoting their services was incredibly frustrating to me as both a user and a voice actor. In all, establishing itself as the premier platform/marketplace for clients to find thoroughly-vetted, top-tier freelance talent would attract more of the same from both a client and talent perspective.

   

Chris, why do you believe offering gigs with all rights inclusive damaging to the industry?

Chris: This is one for the agencies and casting directors as much as it is for Fiverr. A voice-over recording has rights inherent in it that only convey to another party with the creator's permission (the talent). The Internet generation of voice talent has primarily not worked the legacy style of a union-only talent agency, physically go to a studio to record, etc. The mechanics of the trade are lost in the otherwise ease of Paypal & online casting and the rise of the 'digital branding agency' and the fall of the traditional 'advertising creative director'. Beyond the obvious and frequent abuse of these rights by taking a local radio spot and transforming it into a national TV spot. There is now also ambiguity around web usage, e.g. paid vs non-paid media and its relation to broadcast rates. A talent can leave tens of thousands on the table just by booking through an online casting site that has snuck an automatic transfer of rights into their TOC. Whilst this is patently unethical, it is also harmful to talents - these rights are all we have, particularly in the non-union world. Protecting these rights is crucial. Saying NO to situations like a release of all rights, usage in perpetuity, or one fee for multiple "cuts, lifts, edits, revisions, etc." is difficult for the individual talent. We need talent agents and casting directors to step up and help protect our interests by pushing back when auditions are circulated.

Lately, I've seen an increasing amount of capitulation by my agents, whom I love dearly, to the clients demanding these terms. We need them to be the first ones to say NO before auditions get to us so that we can better decide on the viability of an audition's terms. The client will only receive a voice-over at a fair rate for the amount of usage requested and the number of actual spots requested. We want to work WITH clients NOT against, but as equal partners at a fair rate for our work. Then, of course, there is a conflict of interest. It is a talent's business to know about conflicts and their ramifications so that voicing a campaign for one product does not put them out of the running for any other products in that category. Offering a buyout in perpetuity means you can never work for the brand's competitors that have your voice in their campaign for the length of time they run it. The fast path to the low-end VO business omits this and probably about every other crucial piece of information needed to run a good voice-over business. When the craft of voice-over is lowered in status to just another 'gig' on a 'platform', essentially becoming "McVoices", it hurts the industry as a whole.

 

Conclusion

And there we have it: five voices and five opinions about Fiverr voice-over work. Over the years, we’ve heard a wide variety of thoughts and opinions about Fiverr and other freelance platforms that offer a potential means to capitalize on their vast audience and traffic volumes. Here at Voquent, we’ve always supported voice-over communities worldwide to engage in active dialogue about all channels and routes to market. We hope you've found something useful to take away, and whether you are for or against the platform, please let us know your own experience by joining the conversation on Twitter.  


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Al Black

Al Black

Al has over twenty years of experience in audiovisual translations. A Voquent co-founder, he has produced tens of thousands of voice-overs and translations for education, advertising and entertainment projects.

About Author

Al Black

Al Black

Al has over twenty years of experience in audiovisual translations. A Voquent co-founder, he has produced tens of thousands of voice-overs and translations for education, advertising and entertainment projects.