During a recent Meetup, the discussion of running a voiceover casting site came up
5 Things You Did Not Know
This is an inside look at something you never see talked about online.
5. The easy part is getting started. The hard part is maintaining momentum.
Maybe you can say that about any industry, but there are many web services these days that allow for people to feel like they are starting a web business. There is a great feeling when something is released online, but the real work comes in making sure you can keep that website running. Even if the website takes off and is a huge success, websites often operate like bars and restaurants in that a menu, look, feel, or ambiance must change before people get bored with what you are doing and move on.
Did you know that out of 56 million websites online, only 500,000 of them maintain real traffic? Currently in North America there are more than 300 websites that offer “casting services”. What sets each one apart from each other? Read on…
4. It is deceivingly hard work and very much a lifestyle.
When Realtime Casting posts a Union job, we know it means serious work to the voice actor. But not everyone looks at emails at the same time, things breakdown, and people live in different timezones. One of our favorite things about working here is working with people from around the world, so when they need assistance it is not uncommon to be answering emails or jumping back to work if a problem pops up. You can bet the spouses of website employees are extremely patient. There is something exciting about having to get out of bed at 2 AM because a voice talent cannot upload an audition.
There is something else: Containing excitement and remembering others are not working on the same schedule. When we spot that an important producer has registered with the website, and they may be just looking it over one night for fun, it becomes work to tell yourself, “Wait until morning.”
3. ALL producers care about “quality” before “speed”.
It seems the Internet has caused many to forget the old saying, “Haste makes waste.” People have not changed. We still get bothered when we ask for something and receive it fast with low quality. The benefit of speed is also negated, if the experience with hiring a person becomes extra work to find quality. This is not “speed of hiring”. It is adding extra work by trying to take a shortcut.
If you look online, you will often find producers saying that they were happy with getting something great and very fast. What really happened is that they connected with quality when they were in a time crunch, and therefore concluded that “speed” is connected to “quality”. Wrong. Quality is connected to experience and experienced people happen to be faster at what they do. Producers naturally do not think this deep, but when running a casting website you have to think deeper than what people say they want, which leads to my next point…
2. You have to measure what you are doing, which is not always easy if you are a voice actor
It is very easy to read online opinions and get a sense of what people do not want or like, or what they claim to not like. But the quickest way to fail as a business is to not measure if an emotion or idea means something should change. It’s not easy when someone demands change for a heartfelt reason, but you may fail many of your clients if you spend thousands of dollars on changing a website around a few opinion, and lose the majority of your business because of it.
Simply put: It is not easy to be a voice actor and a business. If you make business decisions for a large community of people needing work, with your heart instead of your head, you may not be thinking of others as much as you think.
1. Casting websites are a blue collar profession.
Grouping a website into something like Google, Ebay, Amazon, of Facebook, because it is a “website” leaves out so much. Voiceover casting websites are in abundance these days, but the concept is not new. Interesting however is that, just like before websites, a very low percentage of people can work full-time as voice actors. It is not easy. As a result, casting websites struggle to prove their relevance along side the voice actor because, “if they don’t look good, we don’t look good”, or in this case “sound good”. If voice talent do not get work, they stop using a website, and stop paying for it. It is a matter of proving worth year after year.
One may ask, “So why bother with a casting website, if the process is fairly simple anyway, and the money is not always there?”. The answer is that casting websites are offered very much like stores to sell what the owner(s) of the store believes in. If a person invests in that store, it is the store’s responsibility to provide a service in the form of new clients, voiceover work, and marketing. To invest in a website means investing in the people who run it to help voice talent get the best work. The people who do get “financial stability”, while working very hard at a voiceover career or website, are those who are first to try something that works well. This applies to owner and talent as well.
Next month, Realtime Casting will release a new version of its casting site that promises to involve unions, agents, producers, and voice talent, even more than it does now. The website will be a higher quality and faster than before. It will involve agents and producers in a new way. As we do this, we will work just as hard as those voice actors working hard to provide high quality and those who believe in a healthy voiceover industry.
Thanks so much for everyone who has supported us, and for the support provided by those who are warming up to the idea of working with agents and unions again!