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VO Sample "Watermark" Question


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Recently I had an interaction with a potential buyer (no order was made), who wanted me to read the text as a sample, to check our pronunciation of the specific names (that were not in English). I obliged the first time, and the buyer was very happy and they said their client wanted to hear more.

This made me uncomfortable, but I had some time, so I recorded it, but this time I chopped it up and exported it low quality rendering it pretty much unusable. They replied saying it was "too fast", and I replied saying that if they were to order, It would be the original speed. They insisted I did another, so i did, at the original pace, but added a watermark of "[my username] on Fiverr" because i didn't know what else to say. They replied saying that was unacceptable as they couldn't have "on Fiverr" on the sample.

I ended the interaction politely and professionally (and then blocked them), as I believe what they were asking for was more appropriate for when an order is in revision, rather than as a sample, but am curious, why saying "on Fiverr" may be an issue in the watermark of an audio sample.

What do you VO's use as a watermark for if someone asks for a sample? Just your name? Random words?

I've definitely learned from this, and would absolutely limit the number of samples to protect myself and my time in future pre-order interactions, but I'm curious as to how others may have handled it.

Thanks 🙂 

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I don't do VOs but from what I've read in the forum, a lot of the established sellers just refer the buyer to their published sample reel and portfolio. And if the buyer insisted for specific take for an order, they would do a custom smaller order. That way you still get paid for what you're doing. 

Although the route of watermarks for a free sample could work especially when you're starting out. I guess it would also be a matter of discerning if that buyer is a serious one and the sample take (with watermark) would be worth the time.

Tagging my talented VO friends as they would have better input hahaha @newsmike @fiveroptic1

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Thanks for the mention @theratypist

Well, bear in mind @gracefulvoice, that although I've done VO for a number of years, I've only been 'live' as a seller on 5r for 3 months, but here's my input...
I know that some VO sellers have a gig for samples (for a small charge), or don't do them full stop.

As an overview, my approach is pretty simple. Effectively, it's one sample, then it's put up or shut up! 

One is enough IMHO - not least for your 'free time' that you are giving them! 

Sometimes I decline, period, to do a sample - which depends on numerous factors, not least a gut feeling. For those, I have a standard template 'quick message' that I fire out telling the buyer that I don't do samples and everything they need to know is in the gig description. 

If I do decide to do a sample - I ask the buyer to send out the full script and I will select a random passage (of my choosing) - just a couple of lines. (I tag this on to the back end of any other session that I'm doing, then splice the audio file. So there's no special effort or rehearsal etc, because they're not paying yet!! )

As it happens, today I had a request for a sample with a couple of different accents and characterisations. I'll do this, as my gig does not show whether I can actually do it or not - and I fully understand the buyer wants to hear that I can - or not - before ordering!! 

To sum up - you're in control. Easy to say, but don't let buyers bully you and walk away if they start taking the p**s. In my book, that means 1 brief sample and no more. And that's even if you decide to do one at all. Hope that helps.  

EDITED: Oh and to your answer you query re watermarks etc, personally I don't use them.  I simply select a small section - couple of lines etc, that will give a good idea of what their project will sound like, but is effectively pretty useless to them in isolation. Importantly, if their script is so short that audio a 'sample' would effectively give them the whole file, then I decline and they'll have to order. Hope that helps.        


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26 minutes ago, fiveroptic1 said:

Effectively, it's one sample, then it's put up or shut up! 

I suggest taking this to a "no samples" policy for several reasons.

1. Sample requests are usually scammers trying to get a "sample" and then disappear.

2. Professionals can easily tell by your demo reel or portfolio what you can do. This is a sign of either inexperienced, nervous sellers, or scammers, all of which should be avoided.

3. No one says, have the chef send out a bite of each menu item, then I'll maybe order if I like.

Here is my quick response I use for any such requests:

Hi {username}, 

Thanks for contacting me. I would be happy to work with you, however, because of the volume of work we do, we unfortunately aren't able to provide custom samples.

You should easily find the delivery style you prefer by checking the samples on my YouTube channel:


Or my Fiverr portfolio:


Otherwise, you could pick a few lines of text from your script, and order a 50 word test gig, for which I can send you a custom offer at $40.





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Just to add, I think it also depends where you are in your 5r journey. You've been on 5r for a while@newsmike, so I think you can be more mercenary with your refusals. Which is of course a position that we'd all like to get to eventually. But for myself and other newbies like @gracefulvoice, who are still working our way up the 5r foodchain, I think we need to be a bit more pragmatic. But the overall advice for anyone who is new, still building (including myself) & reading this thread, still holds true - is to think carefully before offering any free samples and if you do, certainly be restrictive and never more than one. 

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8 minutes ago, fiveroptic1 said:

You've been on 5r for a while@newsmike, so I think you can be more mercenary with your refusals.

Actually, I have had the same basic policies in effect almost my entire journey.  I became an ass on revisions, cancellations and samples after I first got burned a couple times, and remembered that its human nature that if you give an inch, they will take a mile. That said, I always go the extra mile for my good, paying customers.  But the minute someone smells wrong, I do my best to lose them. 

Actually the best thing I ever did to get sales was increase my prices, which I did as soon as I got L1. I don't mean any offense to anyone, but I think the $5 is a psychological barrier that indicates low quality to many.  There have been studies for years that show most people will select the middle priced option on almost anything they buy, figuring they don't want the lowest quality, but probably don't need the most expensive either. 

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Wow! I didn't expect to have such a detailed response from so many people, thank you! Some really helpful points that I will incorporate into what I'm doing. I think when you're new, you don't know any better than to do the samples, but you're right, it's your time as a seller they are taking up. I might consider adding a 'sample' extra to my gig once I have moved up a level at least, and increased my prices.

Thank you ❤️ 

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1 hour ago, gracefulvoice said:

Wow! I didn't expect to have such a detailed response from so many people, thank you!

You're welcome. Despite the forum seemingly being overun by spammers, there are some, not many, but some on here who genuinely want to share their experiences and help. Best of luck. 😃 

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