A Message from our CEO: Upcoming Changes to Fees
This post is accompanied by a Q&A post that addresses questions we’ve received about the upcoming changes. Please visit the Q&A post here for more information and guidance.
A Business Built on Shared Success
At Voices, our vision has always been the belief that the human voice informs, entertains and inspires. We exist to make the world a more positive and accessible place through the power of the human voice. We realize that vision everytime we successfully connect our talent with clients.
We call it a business based on shared success, and it happens when:
- Clients find and hire talent, bringing their creative visions to life;
- Talent are hired, earning an income through the creative application of their performance, and;
- We facilitate the entire exchange of services and payment, thus earning a platform fee.
Through this platform fee and our client and talent memberships, we are able to continually reinvest in the marketplace, bringing a better experience, more opportunities, and greater overall value to you.
Fees on Online Marketplaces
This formula of shared success, fees and memberships is common amongst online marketplaces, like Upwork, Airbnb, and Fiverr. The marketplaces I just mentioned operate slightly differently than Voices in that they charge the platform fee to sellers (talent), not to buyers hiring creative talent.
On a marketplace like Upwork, ‘buyers’ (referred to on Voices as clients) can post a job or indicate their need for free while being charged a payment processing fee, and ‘sellers’ (referred to as talent) can sell their services and are charged a listing or membership fee, as well as a fee for using the platform (in our case, the platform fee).
Historically, we’ve gone against this common approach and have charged our platform fee to our clients. However, after consulting with marketplace experts, reviewing best practices, and speaking with many of our customers, we realized that our approach has, and continues to cause a number of challenges. In short, we can no longer continue to go against the grain any longer and need to change our approach. Before I outline exactly how we plan to change our approach, it’s important to identify and explain the challenges that have led us to this decision.
Challenge One: Client and Talent Confusion Around Fees
Through numerous interviews and regular feedback, we’ve realized that despite our best efforts, both clients and talent believe they are paying the platform fee. This confusion has created a lose-lose situation for clients, talent, and us:
- When submitting their quote as part of a response to a job, a talent sees the platform fee calculation and assumes it is coming directly out of their earnings, negatively impacting their perception and quote approach.
- After reviewing responses to their job, clients are surprised to see the platform fee added on top of the talent’s quote, raising the cost of working with the selected talent and sometimes causing them to abandon the job before hiring.
- Some clients who have experience hiring talent on other marketplace platforms feel that our platform fee is higher than similar fees charged by our competitors (for example, Upwork charges only a 3% service fee to buyers), sometimes causing clients to take their jobs elsewhere and reducing the number of opportunities for talent to earn income.
Challenge Two: Misalignment Between Client Budgets and Talent Quotes
Clients often come to Voices with a fixed budget in mind. In other words, when they price a job with a fixed budget, their expectation is that they’ll be able to hire and work with talent at a cost no greater than the budget they’ve indicated. Unfortunately, in situations where talent submit a quote that is close or equal to the posted job budget, the platform fee charged to the client at the time of checkout pushes the client’s cost to hire the talent outside of their budget range. Clients have expressed frustration with this poor checkout experience, and in situations where they hire a talent despite going over budget, they are unlikely to come back and post another job in the future.
A similar scenario occurs when clients add additional payments on existing jobs. Clients will discuss and agree on the cost of additional work with the talent via messages, however, they’ll see a higher cost when they go to check out and add the additional payment to the job. Clients will either begrudgingly proceed, or, go back to the talent to negotiate, which is not only a frustrating experience for both parties, but often leads to decreased earnings for the talent as they have to reduce their quote.
In both cases, clients are frustrated by having to pay more than expected and talent either earn less, or see fewer opportunities in the future as those clients take future jobs elsewhere.
Overcoming these Challenges
When it came to determining the best way to overcome these challenges, we set out with several guiding principles, understanding that any solution must meet the following criteria:
- It needs to help us grow our marketplace platform by attracting more, higher value clients, generating more opportunities for talent to earn an income;
- It needs to give talent more control over their earnings and improve their auditioning experience, providing them with a clear understanding of what they are quoting and charging the client, and what they themselves will take home, and;
- It needs to be consistent with what clients and talent experience on other marketplace platforms to ensure we aren’t actively pushing opportunities towards our competitors, ensuring the continued improvement and value of the Voices experience.
With these criteria and challenges in front of us, we’ve decided to:
- Move the 20% platform fee from clients to talent, applying it to talent quotes when submitting a response and charging it when a talent is successfully hired;
- Redesign the auditioning and quoting experience to give talent more control over their earnings on every job they audition for and every additional payment they receive, and;
- Introduce a 3% processing fee charged to clients when making purchases (i.e. hiring talent or making an additional payment) to help us facilitate their job and cover the inbound and outbound costs associated with disbursing payment to talent through SurePayTM.
Seeing what’s Changing
Talent will see these changes when they go to submit or edit a response and are met with the redesigned Response Form:
Talent will now be able to clearly see their earnings (‘Your Earnings’), the Platform Fee, and their quote to the client (‘Your Quote’). They’ll also have the ability to change either field, and see the impact reflected in the other fields.
On the Agreements page, talent will see their earnings clearly displayed:
This update was based on feedback from a recent talent survey we conducted in which 88% of respondents preferred to easily see the ‘money-in-their-pocket’ amount on this page.
On the Payment Detail page, we provide a detailed and transparent breakdown of the payment, showing the quoted amount to the client, the Platform Fee, and the talent earnings:
Finally, we’ll also be introducing an Additional Payment Calculator to our Messages pages, to ensure you understand how your quote and request for additional payment will impact your earnings:
As always, we cover PayPal fees. It’s important that talent ensure their payment preferences are up to date so they can receive their earnings in a timely manner every Friday for work completed the previous week.
Working to Improve the Talent Experience
In addition to providing talent with better control over their earnings, we are pursuing other ways to improve the talent experience on our marketplace:
- better educating clients on how to fairly price jobs with an updated talent rate sheet and future updates to the job posting form;
- better clarity around the value talent get with each of our memberships through an updated Talent Memberships page, and;
- an upcoming program and feature called Voices Verified that will roll out exclusively for Platinum talent at first.
Finally, since the start of this year we’ve introduced a number of features designed exclusively for our talent, including:
- refreshed job list and job detail pages;
- enhanced talent statistics;
- an improved profile management experience;
- the ability to indicate and be found by live directed session methods;
- displaying compliments on talent profiles;
- better revision policies and templates, and;
- the ability to receive additional payments on existing jobs.
We hope these improvements, as well as future ones, show our commitment to ensuring talent continue to be successful on our platform. We know that when our talent are successful, our clients are successful, and ultimately, we are successful. It’s this shared success that drives everything we do at Voices.
Need More Information?
We know that with change, there comes questions and discomfort. That’s why we hosted two live webinars with talent to walk them through these changes. You can watch a recording of the first session below:
We’ve also put together this Q&A post that we think will cover most of your questions. Additionally, in our most recent Voices Experience podcast, I discuss these changes and how talent can navigate their quoting strategy as a result. Of course, if you have additional questions, please contact our Support Team at any time via our support page.
As always, we appreciate your participation and engagement in the marketplace and welcome your feedback to create an even better online experience. In doing so, we’ll also live out the vision of a more accessible and positive world through the power of the human voice.