**(Update-See Bottom of Post for Update Regarding My Experience With Each Through Covid.)**
I often see questions or threads regarding the validity of two online booking website, “GigMasters” and “GigSalad”. I’ve belonged to both for several years as a speaker and clean comedian and here is my honest experience and advice on investing in either.
The Difference I Found Between the 2 Sites:
-Easy platform to use
-Most often much lower paying gigs compared to GigMasters
-Most gigs are direct inquiries so you are not competing against other people to be booked
-Easy to target certain areas of the country
-I met REALLY nice people who booked me through this platform that have become dear friends. Not sure why this site draws really personable people, but it does.
-You can contact the person making the inquiry before sending a bid. I ALWAYS contact them first to find out more about the event, budget, audience, etc. I really appreciate this feature.
-Higher paying gigs. Often professional companies hiring through here.
-A lot of Gig requests come in due to their auto adding feature. I’ve booked several gigs from that.
-Have to bid against 5 or 10 other people without knowing who they are or what they charge. Rarely get direct inquiries.
-Can pay for a “featured” profile to bring more traffic. I have done that during peak hiring season.
Why I Invested in the Sites Originally:
-Although I have been performing for years as an actor (I have a degree in theatre), I stumbled into stand up and these two sites are how I started my career. I took every gig that came my way to learn the “ropes” and get paid while doing it. It forced me to learn the business side of performing very quickly and taught me a lot about events, professionalism, what my niche was, and what people need from you in order to book you. It was my fast track way of becoming a professional.
-If you google my name, Stacy Pederson, the sites make me look important and gives me clout.
-They gave me backlinks to my website
-As a speaker and clean comedian, was an easy way to get gigs without me having to self promote and sell myself, which I am utterly TERRIBLE at.
-By researching who else was on the site, I learned who my peers were which allowed me to make great, very dear to my heart, connections.
Things I Learned from the Gigs I Booked:
-Most people booking off of these sites honestly don’t know the ins and outs of putting on events. They’re not jerks-they just don’t know. You have to be VERY specific about your needs when it comes to sound, audience set up, sound checks, staging, etc. because most are not professional meeting/conference/wedding/or party planners. They don’t think about noise levels, audience size, or the flow of events. You are often walking into a difficult situation when it comes to how the event has been set up physically and flow wise. You have to be quick on your feet to make adjustments and flexible in working with them to get things in order before a show. Another words, you NEVER know what you are walking in to. This can get old after a while, but it also makes you wiser and more professional at what you do.
-I hate outdoor events. Hate them. Sound is terrible. Audience is too far away and distracted. You can’t control the environment or the elements. They suck and I have to REALLY be talked into it-Like R-E-A-L-L-Y talked into it to even considering it.
-I’m not right for everyone. I turn down, or refer out, approximately 95% of the gig requests that come my way now. I know what my niche is, the type of audience I am right for, and what I’m willing and not willing to be paid. It took A LOT of learning and doing every bad gig (boy do I have stories) to get to this point.
Should You Invest in These Sites:
It depends. I’ll say right off the bat, if you are strictly a speaker I don’t think it’s worth it. If you scroll through other speakers’ profiles on the sites, you’ll see most don’t make decent money off of their bookings.
You Should Invest in the Sites IF:
-You can also invest in professional photos. If not-wait. Spend the money on the photos first, THEN spend the $ on the sites.
-You can invest in a website. You need additional social proof when you are trying to outbid others.
-You are able and willing to respond NO LATER than 12 hours to each gig request. If you really want to book, you need to be able to respond as soon as possible. During peak season, it can be annoying because your phone is going off all the time with text alerts that you NEED TO RESPOND TO. (Yes, that can be exciting, BUT if you’re busy doing another gig or just life it can be a challenge keeping up.)
-You need to be able to follow through with paperwork. If follow through is not your strong point-than I’m sorry to be blunt-but you’re going to have a tough road making money at whatever it is you’re doing. You need to be able to getcontracts, promotional material, W-9’s, etc., in a timely manner from when a person requests it. I sometime struggle with the details (ok a lot of times) but I DO IT ANYWAY. I’ve learned I can’t book too many gigs in a short time because I don’t keep up well with all the paperwork and communication. I get confused over who needs what, and details slip through the cracks if I overbook myself. (I can’t WAIT until I am able to hire an assistant. I’ll be able to take more gigs, be less stressed, and focus more on my presentations and communication that counts.)
-You need to be honest and utilize their contract system and pay them their fee. It’s for your benefit in the long run.
-You need to be good at what you do. I didn’t say great, but you need to be decent. Solid. Prepared. Professional.
-You need to be nice. You also need to be flexible. You need to be good under pressure. You need to have a “How can I help THEM have the best event possible even if it’s an inconvenience to my comfort” mindset.
-You need to be willing to learn. I spent A LOT of time investing, not just learning about my craft, but learning about the business. How to bid and win, what people want and need, how to dress, present yourself professionally, keep tabs on your equipment and even how to travel inexpensively and efficiently. I’m always learning, reading, researching, and rehearsing. Daily. It’s annoying sometimes…but this is business.
-You’ll eventually need video.
If you have or are willing to do the above things, I say, “Yes” invest in the sites. The above things will set you up for success and your investment will more than pay off.
Will I Personally Continue Using the Sites:
Both my annual dues are coming up and, to be honest, I’m debating. I’m at a different place in my career where I’ve discovered being a humorist (funny speaker) is much more rewarding to me than just being funny. I want to entertain, but I also want to deliver meaning to the audience. Both sites don’t bode too well for booking those types of speaking events. I’ve also done so many hard gigs to learn the ropes that I’m not willing to take any and all gigs anymore. This past year I stopped taking most gigs that came through these sites, as I mentioned above, because of that. Both sites served me VERY well in the beginning and I’m FOREVER grateful for them. I’m just not sure they’re still worth the financial investment for me anymore in attracting the right type of clients for my new niche. I’d love people’s thoughts and opinions on this.
Covid 19, 2020/2021 Update on My Experience.
Let's just say neither was pleasant. 2020 was going to be my "best year ever". I had some really great events on the books. In three days time, March 2020, I lost all but two of them. The phone just kept ringing and my calendar just ket deleting.
Being in comedy, I wasn't super excited about pivoting to virtual right away. With my experience as an actress, I knew that the timing for live vs the timing for camera is very very different. It honestly took me several months, and zero income to get me to jump on board.
It's gone well since. My experience with acting and camera work REALLY helped my virtual presentations/performances. So much so, I started Boringtosoaringspeeches.com)
However, my experience with GigSalad and GigMasters was not pleasant. I was spoiled because I also have an account with ESpeakers.com.
Speakers was freaking amazing. I have a professional level account. (Not cheap.) I love it because of the amount of details I can put in regarding an event, from trip plans to what I wore, to bits I performed. Espeakers is double GigMasters price but they treated us like kings and queens.
They first implemented several months of ZERO charges. Then they implemented "virtual speaking certifications". You couldn't just say you could do virtual, you had to actually do a live test with them for it. They tested website speed, kicked you off Zoom and gave you 60 seconds to get back on, checked your lighting, sound, etc., then recorded a small clip for you to post of your presentation. If you passed, you were given a "virtual badge" for your profile then placed us in a Facebook group where we could learn from each other on how we were doing our virtual events.
This gave event planners peace of mind when hiring you because they knew your virtual capability was good.
THEN, the Espeakers pro level account is only paid once a year. They allowed us to break it into monthly amounts PLUS gave us a monthly discount for a year.
GigSalad did absolutely nothing. I no longer have a paid account - just the free version.
Around the end of July I got an email from GigMasters for a one on one call. This was the first time I've ever heard from them. I did. They gave me a discount if I re-upped my pro. I thought about it but didn't really want to. The pandemic had been going on a while and they offered no discounts or help for several months - at least to me personally. I even reached out to them on LinkedIn to say people were not happy with their lack of response to the pandemic. I never heard anything from them.
I finally chose to go ahead and re-up. I get leads. I'm just not super excited about the customer care as a company with GigMasters. I received such special, helpful, encouraging treatment from other companies I use in my business, such as Tripit, Espeakers, Clear, and National Speakers Association. They all went above and beyond.
I would say if you are just starting out, needing experience and reviews, GigSalad and GigMasters are great place to start. I just wouldn't rely on that as your sole place of leads for your business. If you have experience, have videos, reviews, and are able to charge more than a $500-$1,000+ per event, I would skip GigSalad.
Here is a GigMasters sign up link if you are interested. (It is an affiliate link): https://www.thebash.com/signup?referralCode=M94090
You can Subscribe to my YouTube Channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGaaeAPT9-y6y-A9J30qG2Q
(I'll be posting more speaker and business tips for entertainers wanting to break into the corporate market on youtube.)
AND here is FREE guide to help you look and feel better on camera if you have started offering a virtual option: https://www.boringtosoaringspeeches.com/pl/199750