in theory, unscrupulous clients could try this tactic for all sorts of work, not just voice recording.
If they need 5 custom logos, they could get 1 each from 5 different contractors who provide free samples.
If they need 5 landing pages set up, they could get 1 each from 5 contractors.
A single article could be compiled from samples assigned to different writers, each assigned a different paragraph. (Dublin overview; Dublin top tourist sites; Dublin travel warnings; Dublin undiscovered must-see spot; etc.)
I think it's really DUMB for a client to try to pull this kind of stunt, asking for free samples in order to get finished free work. The client is just shooting himself in the foot with a practice that is likely to lead to a lower-quality final product. But there are a small number who try this, so it is good to be vigilant.
I agree Preston, and the transcription one ("please transcribe 4:00 to 7:00 for me as a test" is the classic.) But the OP was asking about voiceovers, hence my comment specific to that.
Depending on the content, it can be used-I mean ten different voice samples (even if it is just two sentences or even just two words each)- as testimonials (like different costumers) or in advertisement, or commercials-actually it is used quite often.With decent skills in audio-editing , you can get an awesome marketing product or commercial or endorsement. So yes definitely, I wouldn't provide free sample-just upload your own sample/s and link it to your portfolio.
Keep in mind that sometimes the idea isn't to piece together a lot of little bits. It's to pretend there is a larger body of work, but the "test" really is the whole of the job they want done.
Thank you very much for the help!
I'm quite frustrated, as I've talked to two seperate clients today who were clearly trying to cheat me! One of them refused to pay for a custom voice sample (and told me he had already hired someone else when I refused to pay) and then another one didn't want to talk on ODesk and was trying to have me sell things from my own account on ebay... sigh.
I flagged both of them. How discouraging.
Do people hear back at all about the status of the people they've flagged?
You won't hear anything from oDesk about a role you've flagged, but still flag them anyway.
Yes, unfortunately scammers like to prey on new freelancers. If there's anything unclear or if something sounds too good to be true, drop us a message in the forum. Chances are someone else has had the same experience.
It does get better. Keep applying.
I did try to write here (on a different thread) about one that I believe is a total scam (they were asking me to sell things on my own ebay account), and they have like 17 people interviewing, so I was concerned for them... but the community guidelines seem to set it up so that you can't actually post any identifying information about the job. I understand that we on oDesk don't want people slandering companies, but it seems a bit unfair to us that we can't warn other users about something that we've confirmed independently is a dangerous scam.
I agree with the others, definitely request payment if they'd like a sample. Your demos should be more than sufficient, particularly if they are of professional quality.
A lot of us have been where you are, and some clients do indeed take pieces of work from various freelancers, piece it together and then end up with a finished product without paying.
Some clients want something for nothing, while others might not even realize that requesting a free sample breaks the rule.
If you're firm, but still professional, most clients will understand.
I wish you the best with finding contracts.
I have been a professional voice actress for over 10 years and I still field requests for 'free' samples or custom auditions. Sometimes I provide them, sometimes I don't. The truth is that auditioning or providing samples takes time, and time is money. But you have to understand the difference between investing in yourself and your business, and devaluing yourself and your craft.
Because of my experience, a lot of the time, I will already have a recorded sample in my repertoire that might match a client's posted project, and I will provide that as a 'demo' (be careful with client NDAs/contracts and such before doing this), thereby freeing up my time to respond to more project requests or auditions. Unfortunately, a lot of VO work these days is actually won on custom auditions. That does NOT mean that every client on oDesk/Upwork is worthy of a free sample, however. Pay-to-play sites are different (Voices.com, Voice123, VoiceBunny, etc) because they are not only dedicated to VO talent/projects, but the clients PAY up front to hire talent and are usually well-versed in industry standards and requirements.
So here's how I handle different situations:
1. If the job seems "worth" it (i.e. the pay is great, the exposure is great or the client will likely hire me for additional, ongoing work - or all of the above - YAY!), then I will more than likely provide them with a custom sample. In that case - I ALWAYS embed an audible audio watermark, which prevents them from using the sample without paying me for it. If the client ever objects strongly to this, RUN—do not walk—AWAY from them and their project. This is, of course, assuming the watermark you've applied to your VO is done properly (you don't want it to interfere with them being able to hear your voice, just with copying it). If the client asks why you do this, you can explain that you are a professional and that it is considered standard in the voiceover industry. Some smaller clients or clients who do not employ VO talent much may question the use of audio watermarking, but the bigger clients out there have all seen and heard this. Of course, a lot of the bigger clients out there work with the same people over and over, so they don't get it as much anymore in auditions (it's a trust thing). However, they still sometimes visit the freelancer sites in order to find fresh talent, and may stumble across your profile.
The easiest way to create an audible watermark is to record a separate track (that you can use over and over again, and loop when necessary) of either a short tone or even you saying your full name over and over, spaced evenly apart (every half-second or so) for the length of the audio you're providing the client with. Lower the volume of your watermark, blend the two tracks together and voila—you have an audible watermark on your VO. Just be sure that if the client selects you for the project, you remove all traces of this watermark in the paid version of your work!
2. If I'm not sure about a client (they may be new to oDesk/Upwork or their projects aren't clearly outlined), then I will state that I have several demos available for their listening pleasure, and politely point out that I have a "one-hour minimum" charge for my studio time. I then offer them the option of paying the one-hour minimum for a custom sample, which I would then apply to their project total if they decided to hire me based on that sample (and the job was "worth it").
3. When the client asks for a sample that is very specific (e.g., the client's name is featured prominently in the sample script, or there is very distinct language, or the 'sample' is lengthy), then I will either flat-out say no, OR I will change every instance in the sample that makes it distinct, to something akin to gibberish (or something they couldn't reproduce or use). In the latter instance, I would only do that if there's a possibility that the client is just not very well versed when it comes to hiring VO talent—everybody has to start somewhere, right?
So, for example, if the client asked me to read "The ABC Company provides top-notch customer service, with a proven track record of satisfied ABCers" (assuming The ABC Company is the client's actual name), then I would record something like "The folks at XYZ Enterprises are in business and provide business because they want your business". It's not a pretty-sounding sentence, and no one in their right mind would use it for anything. BUT, if the client is legitimately looking to potentially hire you, they'll still be able to hear how you sound, in the context of what they are looking for. You can go one step further and apply an audible watermark to that, too, if you like. Just be sure to explain to the client WHY you chose to do that. Any legitimate client will understand your need to protect yourself and your work.
Basically, it boils down to protecting your business, which is you AND your voice. Clients who want to hire YOU and YOUR voice, will hire YOU. Clients who want to hire just "a voice" will take what they can get, when they can get it, for as little as they can get away with putting out. And those are the clients YOU don't want to work with. You've invested all kinds of time and money into perfecting, honing and fine-tuning both your voiceover skills and yourself as a business - don't take chances and get sloppy with the projects you accept or the clients you choose to work with. Protect your investment!