Hustle, if you must. Never hassle.

Voiceover hustle or voice acting hassle?Hustle hustle hustle!

Got a side hustle?

You gotta hustle to win!

Hustle hard!

You can’t be any kind of entrepreneur without hearing these kinds of phrases all the time. If you want a successful business, you must hustle.

In many business circles, including a lot of the voiceover community, hustling is seen as the ultimate tool or mindset for achieving one’s career ambitions.

But, wait a minute… here are some definitions of “hustle” (from Oxford Dictionaries):

  • Push roughly, jostle.
  • Obtain illicitly or by forceful action.
  • A fraud or swindle.
  • A state of great activity.

Commonly, “hustler” definitely refers to people utilising definitions two and three. But if I had to guess, I’d say that what most businesspeople mean when they say it positively is the fourth definition, with a hint of the first. Lots of activity, with a good measure of pushing and jostling to “get the job done”.

I gotta say… it’s a fine line.

Some entrepreneurs send me regular, not always relevant, messages on LinkedIn. Some small biz owners send emails multiple times a week. Some voice actors are constantly drawing attention to themselves in other people’s online spaces. Maybe they call it hustling.

I call it hassling.


  • Irritating inconvenience.
  • Deliberate harassment.

Now, I love me some etymology, and it doesn’t take long to discover that hassle actually derived from hustle, from the early 20th century. Which makes me think over-enthusiastic creatives and entrepreneurs have been hustling so hard it annoyed people for over a hundred years now.

Here’s the thing, my darlings: annoying, inconveniencing, or harassing anyone should not feature anywhere on one’s list of marketing tactics. Any one of those things is just going to give you a big fat NOPE from the people you want to work for.

Recently I came across a thread on Twitter that was almost painful to read through. A pretty high-tier US voice acting agent had tweeted that they were open to submissions from Gen Z people with demos and their own home studio. Those people were invited to email them. If you’re a voiceover online and you’ve seen this type of call-out before, you know what’s coming… the replies were full of hassle.

People saying:
– “well I’m not Gen Z but I can sound Gen Z so why can’t I apply?”
– “I don’t have a home studio but…”
– “I don’t have a proper demo but I have some samples…”
– “Oh man I wish I was Gen Z!”
– “Gosh why aren’t you looking for Millennials?”

I see this all the time on twitter. I have no doubt that a decent percentage of these people were hoping well, if I just tweet to this agent they might notice me, even if it’s not what they’re asking for, and if they notice me, they might just think I’m worth paying attention to, and if they pay attention, they might just think I’m really good and then they might just want to represent me! Hustle, baby, yeah!

Nope: hassle.

No one wants their time wasted by someone who either doesn’t read the clear instructions provided or doesn’t think they apply to them. And not many people want to work with that kind of person, either.

This is about respect. If we want potential clients, agents, or colleagues, to respect us, our business, our rates and – most important to me – our time, then we have a responsibility to first respect theirs.

If you really feel your voice acting ambitions require you to be pushing, jostling, hustling…. as opposed to what I would prefer to call just working hard and marketing consistently… please, hustle respectfully. Read the instructions for audition and demo submissions, consider personal and professional boundaries when contacting people, and take responsibility for what you put out into the world. Think to yourself; is this a good, productive use of my time and their time?

Am I adding value or just stoking my ego?

We’re creatives and performers, you guys. We already have big enough egos!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go hustle some children into the car because they’ve been hassling me for trips to town all week!

Images by @wanaktek , @RLTheis, @gigibunny

via Twenty20.

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11 comments… add one
  • Michael Apollo Lira Jun 10, 2021 @ 15:33

    Oh my goodness. I just finished writing an update involving that “H” word this evening and you have me completely reevaluating what I wrote, haha. This is a fantastic insight and distinction on just what it is that people are doing these days. This was the perfect counter balance to read. Thank you for a great update!

    • Sumara Meers Jun 10, 2021 @ 16:36

      Ha, isn’t it funny (or annoying!) when you write about something and someone else is talking about it too? Thanks Michael, I think I quite like being a counter-balance.

  • Joshua Alexander Jun 10, 2021 @ 16:15

    It’s a fine line to walk, ain’t it Sumara? I love what you do, and I appreciate your hustle…you’ve never been a hassle, or hostile, or even in a hostel to my knowledge! So keep up your hustle, it’s no hassle. You are fabulous.

    • Sumara Meers Jun 10, 2021 @ 16:39

      Ha! Nope, don’t think I’ve been in a hostel. Thanks Josh!

      • Shaun Brackett Jun 10, 2021 @ 22:41

        I really love the way you redifined how we use the word hustle…back to the…original definition LOL! It’s funny how we can all take things and twist them up over time. It’s also a great reminder not to hassle people with wanting to be able to fit into the boundaries they try to set. Instead of working so hard to fit into a box we don’t belong in we could just get back to our hust…I mean hard working dedication to our cause, and be a smart worker pushing “ourselves” to find the boxes we DO fit into. Thanks for your awesome post! 🙂

        • Sumara Meers Jun 11, 2021 @ 14:58

          I really love this perspective, Shaun. We can’t fit into other people’s boxes and we can’t expect others to fit into ours! We all just have to work on our own stuff!
          Thank you for your kind words!

  • Craig Williams Jun 11, 2021 @ 4:20

    Great read. It is a very fine line but I do everything I can to find out if the company I reach out uses voiceovers and then I make a personal connection with them. Even my cold outreach is based on being nice and friendly and not overly selling.
    Thanks for the great reminder!

    • Sumara Meers Jun 11, 2021 @ 11:20

      Absolutely, Craig – I always try to make my cold emails friendly and fun rather than salesy. Everyone knows that business people need to send out marketing emails, but there’s no reason they have to be boring or bothersome.

  • Reece George Jun 12, 2021 @ 14:41

    This one can go in your book.

    • Sumara Meers Jun 12, 2021 @ 14:56

      Good idea! ❤️

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