I have been doing some voice-over work on ODesk and very much enjoying using this platform. I've recorded a good-sounding demo with four different tracks, which I send to potential clients.
However, many clients seem to ask for me to record additional (usually short) samples without pay as a part of the interview process, even for relatively small projects.
Is this something I should be expecting? It seems a bit unfair to me that I ought to spend my time recording specific things when I may or may not even get the project, and I've already sent them a nice demo. (And frankly, with what some of them are asking, they could do their entire project based on interviews alone and never actually hire anyone at all!)
Would it be wrong of me to ask for a nominal fee for short samples during the interview process? What do you guys think is the best way to handle this?
LOL. If you already have posted demo audio clips and they ask for samples, it sounds like they just want free work.
I mean, if you give them exactly what they need as part of the "interview" process, why would they need to pay you anything?
You COULD always comply with their request by providing them a sample recorded in the same style that they would need, with a roughly equivalent length, but with absolutely different words and sentences than they specifically request.
"Would it be wrong of me to ask for a nominal fee for short samples during the interview process?"
No, not wrong at all. It is wrong of them to not offer up front to pay for you to make samples.
If it was me I wouldn't criticize them in any way or let on that I think their request is inappropriate. I would just stick to my policy. Let them know that you are a professional and that the clients YOU work for routinely pay for even the tiniest sample of your voice, because YOU are a top-level voice over professional, and not some low-level newbie flunkie.
I say NO, you absolutely shouldn't have to do any free custom recordings (no matter how short). Since you already have a demo, I think it is very unfair of any potential client to ask you to record additional audio without pay, as that takes up time, energy, and use of equipment.
Explain to them (nicely) that it takes up your resources to record audio, and ask if they would mind paying a small fee if they want a sample, customized recording. If they do mind, then the only thing you can do is link to your demo and hopefully that will satisfy them.
How have you been responding to these requests so far?
Thank you so much Isabelle, that's very helpful!
The person I am working with now has good reviews on ODesk, so I sent her a message saying I'd be happy to do it for a small fee. Hopefully she'll be okay with that!
I sent one free recording the first day I signed up and never got any response, but that's all I've done so far so not so bad! Today I sent messages to two potential clients saying I'd be happy to do it for a small fee - I guess we shall see what they end up saying!
I think you guys are definitely right - I just don't want to be offending people or shooting myself in the foot, as I'm still pretty new here and only have like two reviews...
Let me point something out. You are new on oDesk. You are NOT new to theater and you are NOT new at doing voice work.
Potential clients on oDesk should consider themselves fortunate that you have decided to bring your talent to this platform.
It may take you some time to find your footing and figure out what works best with different clients, but even if you don't tell clients these things outright, keep them in the back of my mind.
I'm glad you haven't sent any more free recordings. I don't know much about audio production, but I know that it's not a fast and easy process, so you should definitely charge for any additional/custom audio.
Yes, and Preston's right - no need to be harsh in your replies to clients (I'm not saying you are, sounds like you've been doing it right). But be firm, because "it sounds like they just want free work"!
Don't worry, a sensible person will come along, listen to your demo, give you a chance and hire you. Then it will get better.
I remember I did a free test/sample article for my first interview on oDesk. I don't know what I was thinking, but needless to say I never heard back from the client!
Isabelle, Darrin, and Preston, thank you all so much for your feedback! This is what I suspected, but it's definitely good to hear it from others on here!
I've told clients I'm happy to send them additional samples of things I've already done, if I think they might be a closer fit than what's on my demo (and there are videos of me speaking on my profile too if they're interested) but I think you guys are right that we shouldn't be doing free work.
I really appreciate all the help, thank you!! =]
I'd just flag their ad for requesting free work and move on. At best they should be asking all candidates to do the same "test" (i.e., they put exactly what small part needs to be done in the ad itself). Anyone expecting to farm out separate bits and pieces during the "interview" process should be booted off oDesk.
Thanks for reaching out, and for bringing up such a good topic of conversation. At oDesk, we always advise our clients to compare the skills of their candidates by having them perform a test job. However, this should always be a paid project. If a client is asking you for free work, please politely respond to them in the Message Center and let them know that you would be happy to take on a small test job in exchange for payment. It is against oDesk’s policies to ask for free work. If the client disagrees, then you can alert us by flagging their account.
Beautiful. Thank you for pointing out that this isn't just good business and fair play, this is also oDesk policy.
But ultimately there is no magical way for oDesk to enforce this.
There is one REAL way for this policy to be enforced... which will make oDesk a better place for everybody, clients and contractors alike.
Who makes sure that clients pay for work they receive, and don't ask us to work for free?
If we, as contractors, are united in being polite but firm in our explanation of OUR personal policy (which is the same as oDesk's policy)... about being VERY WILLING to provide sample work (for pay), then this will work.
But if clients can easily get their projects completed by collecting 5 free "samples" from the other (less professional) contractors, then the system is not as strong as it should be.