A voiceover business confession

I have a confession.

Or, really, it’s a reality check. A little bit of [over]sharing to do.

We all make assumptions and guesses about people we know online, and I don’t know what assumptions you’ve made about me, but I’ll just assume all your assumptions are good. 😉

I don’t earn a full-time living from voice acting.

Last week I did (thank you, audiobook!), and there have been a few other weeks that I did. There was one really great month at the beginning of this year – before the pandemic!

I am a professional, full time, freelance voiceover artist. I work regularly and have a bunch of lovely clients. I haven’t yet got to the point where it’s paying all my bills. That’s okay. It will, one day.

And I just felt like a few other voice actors might need to hear that. In case your mother is on the phone, asking “so when am I gonna hear you on TV anyway?” and “maybe you should stick to your day job!”

My mother did actually tell me to keep my day job.

She meant well.

 

 

Have you read the stats about how long it takes most freelancers to start turning a good profit from their craft? (pssst – it’s usually at least 3 years.) Have you read about how many small businesses go under within the first few years? (Hint: most of them.)

I’ve been running this voice acting business for just about two years now, and only left my part-time library job in March, thanks to the pandemic. I’d be one of the big exceptions to the rule if I was already raking in the voiceover moolah on the regular.

What I AM doing – and what I hope you’re doing too, in your freelancing / entrepreneurial / sole trader / family business – is:

  • Practicing. This includes formal practice sessions with peers with training programs, but also just mucking around playing with my craft. “Doing voices”, I think they call it. Yeah, I talk to the TV a lot.
  • Learning. Learning voice acting, voice care, accents, business skills, marketing techniques, networking strategies, accounting, and more.
  • Marketing. This is what I do most of. Cold calling, emailing, researching companies I’d like to work with, promoting myself on social media, helping my partner with my website, creating demos, creating video and other content. So much to do! No wonder people hire marketing professionals!
  • Auditioning. There are so many places to find auditions and so many different kinds of projects to try! I could probably spend all day doing this if I wasn’t also doing those other things.
  • Networking. Kind of like marketing, but a little friendlier. And don’t underestimate the power of networking with others in your same position. Oh my goodness, I get SO much encouragement and help, not to mention actual work opportunities, from other voice actors. It’s LOVELY.
  • No doubt I’m going to hit Publish on this blog post and then remember loads of other things I do for my business…

Okay, so I guess if you’re a totally different type of business, you may not be doing auditions. But you probably send proposals for work in some fashion, and that all takes time, and is all valuable work. Don’t let your mum tell you otherwise!

Also, another minor note – we’re going through A PANDEMIC.

I’m pretty darn proud of myself for the huge progress I have made towards my voiceover goals in 2020, and I’m proud of you, too. Doesn’t matter if I don’t know you and you’re older than me and find that extremely awkward, I’m proud of you anyway.

Stay tuned for my big announcement of a voice role in a movie for a major animation studio… One day!

Please comment and tell me exactly how awkward I a… I mean, tell me all the fabulous, amazing, progressive, goal-hitting stuff you’re doing in YOUR business. Voiceover or not voiceover.

Images by @shanti and @wanaktek via Twenty20

 

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8 comments… add one
  • Joshua Alexander Aug 20, 2020 @ 2:19

    No awkwardness here! Keep those fine fabulous blogs a’comin, Sumara. I’M PROUD OF YOU *AND* I’M OLDER THAN YOU! 🙂

    • Sumara Meers Aug 20, 2020 @ 9:38

      haha, thanks Josh!

  • Reece Aug 20, 2020 @ 9:34

    I always enjoy reading your posts.

    • Sumara Meers Aug 20, 2020 @ 9:39

      Yay! I enjoy you enjoying them. 🙂

  • Stevie T Turner Aug 25, 2020 @ 18:52

    Very encouraging Sumara!

    My plan was to start a VO career in about ten years (when I’ll be more or less retired) and had a vision of spending a couple of hours per day (before dawn) in my mobile studio in my rented villa in Spain, Portugal, or anywhere warmer than UK between November and February, to help supplement my pension and to keep me actually doing something fun and exciting rather than just sitting by a pool every day

    The pandemic inspired me to bring this idea forward by ten years (although I’m not retired and still in UK) and started to put the building blocks in place for a career in VO

    I invested in the best mic I could afford (or justify to Mrs T!) an Apogee Mic – FYI, a Kaotica Eyeball, and an iPad, and set up a basic but very effective home recording studio in a spare room using duvets, pillows and stacks of cuddly toys (to brighten it up a bit)

    I then started practicing, practicing and more practicing and watched hundreds of Voice Over coaching videos on YouTube

    I set up a website with some demos, a YouTube channel, a Facebook page, a LinkedIn account, and a Twitter account

    I set up profiles on Fiverr, Upwork, Freelancer and on the pay to play site Mandy.com

    So far I’ve done two radio adverts and an audio book (all low paid but fun to do – and a start!) but I know, like any new start up, it’s going to take time to build up a reputation, for employers to get to find you, get to know you, get to like you, and then start to book you

    From my experience (and, I too, am a bit older than you and someone who may be described as either a ‘serial entrepreneur’ or alternatively ‘ serial failure’ :-D) building a business can take time, and you just have to persevere with it. I believe if it’s something you REALLY want to do, then your day will come

    I wish you, and all the other VO’s (and other entrepreneurs) reading your blog, every success with whatever it is you seek to achieve, most importantly though, really enjoy the journey to get there

    Peace and Love from Liverpool….Stevie T

    • Sumara Meers Aug 25, 2020 @ 19:54

      Hi Stevie! So great to meet you. Thank you for reading and commenting. 😊
      How fabulous that you’ve taken this whole 2020 thing as an opportunity to create a new segment of your career.
      I like “serial failure”… I was just talking to someone on social media today about the importance of failure… about deciding to love and embrace my failures. So let’s keep failing! 😁
      May I ask how you found my blog? I’m not sure if I recognise you from social media. Thanks so much for your support and I wish you an abundance of fabulousness for your career too!

  • Jon Gardner Oct 4, 2020 @ 1:57

    Sumara, I enjoyed this post, mostly because I am in the same situation. I am getting some gigs and working on getting better all the time. I have been most grateful to have met many interesting, kind and fun people throughout. Now I get to add you to the list!

    • Sumara Meers Oct 4, 2020 @ 12:48

      Hello Jon! It’s great to meet you, too. 🙂 I agree with you that one of the wonderful things about voiceover is all the beautiful people we meet in the industry!

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting. 🙂

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