ceo-series-fees

A Message from our CEO: Upcoming Changes to Fees

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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.com 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:

  1. It needs to help us grow our marketplace platform by attracting more, higher value clients, generating more opportunities for talent to earn an income;
  2. 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;
  3. 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.com experience.

With these criteria and challenges in front of us, we’ve decided to:

  1. 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;
  2. 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;
  3. 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:

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.com. 

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.

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Comments

  • Andrea Collins
    September 8, 2020, 8:47 pm

    Can you show me what a client sees as the fee breakdown of our bid?
    Does it say:
    $300 (this price includes 20% platform fee)
    or does it just say $300 with no explanation of what the talent takes home?

    Reply
    • Oliver Skinner
      September 10, 2020, 3:14 pm

      Hi Andrea,

      Thanks for your question.

      Once this change is implemented, the Responses page will continue to appear the same for clients. When a client is checking out after hiring talent or adding an additional payment, they will see the talent’s quote amount, inclusive of the Platform Fee. This means that the only party seeing the 20% platform fee upon checkout, for simplicity’s sake, will be the talent. If you would like to discuss how your quote is broken down with the client directly, then you may do so via Messages.

      Reply
  • Jon Lobb
    September 9, 2020, 12:58 pm

    As a talent, of course I don’t love this change. But I do love Voices and understand you need to stay competitive with other platforms in the eyes of buyers.

    Reply
    • Oliver Skinner
      September 10, 2020, 3:14 pm

      Hi Jon,

      Thanks for your feedback. We appreciate your understanding of our desire to keep up with overarching industry standards, eliminate confusion, and continue to attract new and valuable clients in order to offer the best possible experience to our users.

      Reply
  • Robert Sato
    September 10, 2020, 3:24 am

    Not fond of my pay being deducted by 20%. Because if the client starts at $100 -249, then if I’m taking the low end I will end up with only $80 in pocket thus your $100 minimum start is negated and I lose the 20%.
    Because if the client really only wants to pay $100, so by me quoting $120 to make up the difference the client is more likely to pass on my quote because it’s too high.
    Not cool in my opinion.
    The old way worked fine and was not confusing in the least. i really wish I could have been at the zoom meeting as I would have voiced my objection to this as I am now.

    Reply
    • Oliver Skinner
      September 10, 2020, 3:16 pm

      Hi Robert,

      Thank you for your feedback. We understand your concern.

      Talent have always had the ability to submit quotes inside or outside of the client’s budget. When you are responding to a job, if you feel that the value of your services exceed the client’s budget range, then you are still able to submit a quote above that budget. We have quantitative and qualitative data that shows that clients are willing to pay beyond their budget if the audition and the performance warrants it. When responding to a job, it’s important that you not only consider the client’s budget, but also your own value – if there is misalignment, then you have the ability to ignore the job or submit a quote that better aligns with what you feel your services are worth.

      If you would like to discuss how your quote is broken down with the client directly, then you may also do so via Messages.

      Reply
  • Robert Sato
    September 10, 2020, 4:04 am

    also when is this supposed to go into effect?

    Reply
    • Oliver Skinner
      September 10, 2020, 3:16 pm

      Hi Robert,

      The fee changes will go into effect by the end of September or early October. We will notify customers via email when the changes are in effect.

      Reply
  • Sean Tarr
    September 10, 2020, 9:01 am

    Does the fact that talent will have to cover the 20% platform fee affect the cost of yearly membership?
    I would think it would lower the cost seeing as we’re now paying the platform fee on every job

    Reply
    • Oliver Skinner
      September 10, 2020, 3:17 pm

      Hi Sean,

      Thanks for your question. Unlike other platforms, our Platform Fee is entirely success-based. This means that the Platform Fee is only charged when you find work and get paid. As a result, we have a shared interest in your success and are therefore motivated to develop a platform and build tools that help you get hired, as opposed to focusing exclusively on selling memberships. Our memberships are also feature-based, meaning that they are designed to unlock features that enhance your experience on the platform and increase your potential for earnings.

      At this time we have no plans to adjust our membership fees. We feel that the value we deliver with our memberships hasn’t changed as a result of the changes to our Platform Fee. If you would like to discuss your membership with a member of our team, please email us at support@voices.com.

      Reply
  • Earl Thomas
    September 10, 2020, 3:06 pm

    Do not like being charged the platform fee. Will that mean i MAKE LESS ON EVERY JOB? Or will more clients like it & more jobs come in. One AM there were only 4 in my Q.

    Reply
    • Oliver Skinner
      September 11, 2020, 11:36 am

      Hi Earl,

      Thank you for your feedback.

      We’ve received feedback from both clients and talent that highlights confusion surrounding who is paying the Platform Fee. This confusion has deterred clients from wanting to post or follow through with jobs on our platform. By deducting a 20% fee from the talent quote, we hope to make Voices.com an even more compelling and competitive option for clients in search of voice talent. We are confident that this change will translate to more jobs being posted on our platform, which means more earnings for our talent.

      We can’t guarantee with certainty how much this change will impact your earnings. However, when you are responding to a job, we encourage you to quote based on what you believe the value of your services to be worth. If you feel that the value of your services exceed the client’s budget range, then you are still able to submit a quote above that budget. If you would like to discuss how your quote is broken down with the client directly, then you may also do so via the Messages feature.

      Reply
  • Charlotte Ann
    September 10, 2020, 4:42 pm

    I watched the zoom meeting and appreciated all the info. However, the way it is now, budgets are stated as “talent budget.” The way this has been explained to me is that a project with a $100-249 budget, has that much for the talent fee, EXCLUSIVE of the 20% voices fee. (Hence the wording of “talent” budget.)

    However, with this new way of quoting, your budget ranges are staying basically the same, meaning that in this new way, my max take-home pay to stay in a clients stated budget of $100-249 would be just over $208, whereas currently, my max take-home to stay within the expected budget would be $249.

    This is quite the drop and that’s just at this budget range. Now, when I see a project with a budget of $1500-1749, my max take-home to stay within this range is $1458 – making the budget pretty moot from a talents perspective as my take-home doesn’t even fall within this range. The disparity only gets worse as the budgets rise.

    My solution for this is to raise the minimum rates for each category. $100 has been the base rate on voices for at least 10 years. Voices has received “raises” when they increased their fee from 10-20% and now as you’re adding on a 3% transaction fee for clients (you’ll take home the full 20% now rather than 17%). Perhaps it’s time for talent to get a “raise” as well? I think we’d all feel much better about these changes if each category was changed. For example, budget ranges of $150-299, $300-599, etc.

    If it seems important for you to be able to continue to say “projects as low as $100” then, simply increase the other categories. $100-299, $300-599, etc.

    Thank you for your consideration.

    Reply
    • Oliver Skinner
      September 11, 2020, 11:39 am

      Hi Charlotte,

      Thank you for reaching out with your feedback.

      We recently made data-driven increases to our talent rate sheet. In addition to that, we are currently looking into other ways to educate our clients to ensure that they are posting and pricing jobs fairly. For example, we are actively working on our job posting form to ensure clients are given helpful pricing recommendations based on the details of the job and their talent needs.

      When you are responding to a job, we encourage you to quote based on what you believe the value of your services are worth. Talent have always had the ability to submit quotes inside or outside of the talent’s budget, and we have quantitative and qualitative data that shows that clients are willing to pay beyond their budget if the audition and the performance warrants it. If you would like to discuss how your quote is broken down with the client directly, then you may also do so via Messages.

      I hope that helps clear things up a little.

      Reply
    • David Holmes
      September 15, 2020, 5:38 pm

      I agree wholeheartedly.

      Reply
    • Yasmine Jandali
      September 17, 2020, 5:29 pm

      Excellent point.. I agree completely..

      Reply
  • John Matthew
    September 11, 2020, 3:06 pm

    This really just changes the talent commission – what Voices calls a “platform fee” – from “+20” to “flat”, which means the commission comes out of my fee instead of the client paying it. So I’ll just adjust my bids upward accordingly. And the 3% charged to the client is an agency fee, which is pretty standard.

    I was never confused about the 20% commission being added on top of my fee, and what my net would be. What WAS confusing, was the “Project Management Fee”. I never really knew how much more the client was being charged for that, or how it effected my odds of being cast.

    The real issue here is because of over-competition, and the easy availability of talent online, prices are being driven down; so these new policies are just Voices adjusting to that reality – if they charge too much, clients will go elsewhere, so they’re effectively lowering their rates to the clients, and charging the talent the cost of doing so.

    Reply
    • Oliver Skinner
      September 14, 2020, 3:24 pm

      Hi John,

      Thanks for providing your feedback. We are confident that these changes make Voices.com an even more compelling and competitive option for clients, which, as you noted, translates to many more jobs being posted on our platform, which will in turn result in more earnings for our talent.

      The Project Management Fee actually varies based on a client’s needs for a given project. For example, some clients require a Project Manager to help locate the perfect translation and localization services for a voice over script. Others need help facilitating 100 voice actors for 100 recording sessions. It all depends on the project.

      Reply
  • SDM
    September 14, 2020, 9:35 am

    I believe the VDC fee shouldn’t be 20% if VDC is not doing anything i.e. the client is posting the job as “self-service”. Why not lower that fee for self-service to 10%? It would benefit everyone too.

    Also, since the talent is going to be paying the platform fee now, does that mean the talent membership fee will be removed? Why should the talent pay twice?

    This is not a win-win-win as you describe it.

    Reply
    • Oliver Skinner
      September 14, 2020, 3:27 pm

      Hi there,

      Thank you for your feedback.

      The 20% Platform Fee is not new to Voices. Prior to these updates, the 20% Platform Fee was charged to clients as an additional fee on top of the talent’s quote. Now, to reduce confusion surrounding who is being charged, in addition to keeping up with industry standards, the 20% Platform Fee is calculated and deducted from the talent quote, but not the talent earnings. By providing you with the tools and transparency to see the breakdown of your quote, we hope that you can quote based on what you feel your services are worth and how much you feel you should be earning for a particular job.

      Our Platform Fee is also entirely success-based (meaning you are only charged when you find work and get paid), while our memberships are feature-based (meaning that they unlock features that enhance your experience on the platform and increase your potential for earnings).

      At this time we have no plans to adjust our membership fees. If you would like to discuss your membership with a member of our team, please email us at support@voices.com.

      Reply
  • Karen Vaughn
    September 14, 2020, 3:30 pm

    I benefited from the webinar. It was helpful to understand the producer/client’s point of view. Thank you, David.

    I can understand that it is difficult to verify a talent’s ID, but 100 paid Voices.com jobs seems extreme to me. At my current rate, it will take me 4 years to earn the VoiceVerified distinction. None the less, this knowledge prompted me to create a short YouTube Video of my character voices. But,[sigh], I can’t include that in my profile. Still, I’m not deterred!

    Reply
  • Mike Welt
    September 14, 2020, 7:36 pm

    I haven’t been confused at all, until now. I simply charged in the mid-range of the client’s proposed budget, and then the Voices platform fees were simply on of that. “Not my problem”, so-to-speak.

    Now, if I’m understanding correctly… I’ll have to mathmatically calculate “Okay, if I WANT to earn $300 on this job….I’d actually have to quote $360, based on 20% fee.” Is that even correct?

    I suppose, in the end…the client would still be paying $360 regardless…but I feel like placing this computational burden on the Talent is not welcomed.

    As other have stated, now to even get say $1,100 from a $1,000-$1,250 budget….I would actually have to do the math on my own and quote $1,320?

    Sorry, Voices. Not a fan. Still a member…but not looking forward to this implementation, at all.

    Reply
    • Oliver Skinner
      September 17, 2020, 11:55 am

      Hi Mike,

      Thank you for your feedback.

      Voices has instated a feature that will automatically calculate the Platform Fee in relation to Your Quote in the Job Response form. When a value is input into either of the ‘My Earnings’ or ‘Your Quote’ fields, the opposite field will be updated accordingly. If your preference is to solely focus on your earnings, then you can still simply input that value into the ‘My Earnings’ field like before, and your quote will automatically be adjusted in the Job Response form. There’s no need to do any of the math yourself.

      If you’d like to explore this update in further detail, I’d encourage you to check out this blog post featuring Platform Fee FAQs.

      Reply
  • Randy Latta
    September 17, 2020, 10:39 am

    I believe it is of a real concern that Talent now needs to boost their quotes by 20% just to stay even but Clients will just see an increase in quotes with no explanation…

    Reply
    • Oliver Skinner
      September 17, 2020, 1:19 pm

      Hi Randy,

      Thank you for your feedback. I understand your concerns.

      The updates to the way our Platform Fee is presented were born from a necessity to remain a competitive destination for clients who need to hire voice actors. To successfully achieve this, we had to mirror the experience that buyers have when they use other leading online marketplaces. For example, when you book a ride with Uber or rent a room on Airbnb, you (as the buyer) do not see how much the driver or homeowner (as the seller) is earning. By keeping up with industry standards, we hope that Voices continues to be a compelling option for clients, which will, in turn, attract more and more clients, and thus job postings, to our site.

      With that being said, you are welcome to discuss the breakdown of your quote with a client via our Messages feature. I’d also recommend you take a look at this blog post that answers many FAQs surrounding what the platform fees mean for our voice talent.

      Best,
      Oliver

      Reply
  • Christie Crossley
    September 17, 2020, 1:26 pm

    I don’t understand…. If agents typically charge talent 10-15%, what is to keep talent here where they now have to pay 20% per job plus a membership fee? I’m just confused why this percentage wasn’t factored in to reflect more accurately on the industry expectations for VOs also and not just for the clients.

    “Agents generally charge 10-15% commission. This may be a total sum of services and/or on each job you land. If they charge more than that, be sure to ask why their commission structure is higher than the norm and how their services differ from others to validate it.”

    Reply
    • Oliver Skinner
      September 17, 2020, 1:50 pm

      Hi Christie,

      That’s a really good question.

      The 20% Platform Fee actually isn’t new to Voices. Prior to these updates, this 20% fee was still being charged, but it appeared as a fee over and above a talent’s quote. After conducting a great deal of research and outreach to clients and talent alike, we learned that there was a lot mutual confusion surrounding who was being charged for the fee. In addition, we learned that many clients were abandoning jobs upon seeing what was perceived as an unexpected surcharge.

      Presenting the buyer with just one checkout total, inclusive of platform fees, is widespread industry practice for online marketplaces. We decided that aligning ourselves with the experience clients have using other online marketplaces was the best way to remain competitive and attract the best clients to our site. Talent now have the option of entering their quote in the My Earnings field, which will cause the Platform Fee to be automatically calculated so that their quote is adjusted accordingly.

      I’d encourage you to check out this blog post where we answer a number of FAQs surrounding this update.

      Reply