Guest post from Carrie of CarrieOlsenVO.com
After I had my first baby in April of 2014, I had to go back to work after just three short months at home with her.
I liked my job, but I spent my commutes grieving over the lost time with my family. I tried not to think about everything I was missing out on, or feel guilty for spending more time in the office than I did with the people I loved most.
I wasn’t actively looking for a solution that would let me stay home with my baby… because I didn’t think it existed. My husband is an author, and his book sales weren’t bringing in enough to support us yet. I had to work.
The Podcast That Changed My Life
One day, on my way to work, I picked a new podcast to listen to for my drive. The episode was an interview of a woman who did something called voice acting — recording the voice parts for radio and TV commercials, e-learning, on-hold messages, and more.
I had never heard of it, but about halfway through the interview, something clicked. She gets paid to talk! And she can do it from home!! I knew I had to check this out.
I ended up buying some coaching lessons from her, and immediately went crazy trying to get my own voiceover business started. I submitted auditions after work and on the weekends. And after only a few weeks of auditioning, I got one of the most beautiful emails I had ever seen. I booked a job! My payday for that job was $450 — to read a two-minute script!
The third job I ever got was a national radio campaign for an international brand. I still can hardly believe it when I type that out, but that job generated over five figures for me and my family over the next few months, and I continue to do work for that client today.
Working From Home & Loving It
Only four months after hearing about voice over (VO) for the first time, I quit my job to pursue it full time. It has been a Godsend to me and my family. I get to make my own hours (for the most part), work from home, and do something creative and fun.
Of course it has its cons, as all work does, but still, it’s basically a dream job for me.
One of the reasons I love telling this story is because you don’t normally think of VO when you think about home-based businesses or freelancing. I love introducing it as a viable option for parents who want to make some extra money from home, professionals who want a creative outlet, or anyone who just isn’t feeling fulfilled in their work and wants a change.
How to Get Started Doing Voice Acting
Find a coach:
I recommend getting a voiceover coach and following their lead. I know it sounds crazy to hire someone to teach you how to talk, but I promise there’s a lot more to it than that!
Voice acting is, after all, acting. And there’s the whole business side as well, which my coach was so great at helping me navigate.
If you’re interested in some private voice over coaching, I recommend Alyson Steel. She’ll be able to help you discover what your “wheelhouse” is (soccer mom, girl next door, techy guy, etc). And she’ll also help you figure out the right time to make a demo, to reach out to agents, or whatever the next move in your VO career should be.
Get the right tools:
If you aren’t quite ready to invest in a coach, or you just want to get out there and see what happens, I recommend buying a good microphone, reading and listening up as much as you can, and joining Voices.com. If you’re interested in the premium membership, you can get $50 off by using promo code CARRIEOLSEN349 (not an affiliate link).
You can sign up without a demo, and if you have a good microphone and recording environment, you can start submitting auditions for around $40/month.
I also have a step-by-step guide to getting started in voiceover without a coach, available on my website. It includes microphone recommendations and other helpful resources — however, I know you’ll get further faster with a personal coach.
Listen to commercials, e-learning programs, audiobooks, or whatever you’re interested in voicing. I know, you’re supposed to change the station or fast-forward when commercials come on, but now that commercials actually help me make money instead of spend it, I change the station when music comes on so that I can study the commercials!
Reach out and market yourself:
Once your skills are competitive, make a website and a demo. Best practice is to have your demo professionally produced, but I recorded all of my demos from my home studio with direction from my coach. They were good enough to land me one of the biggest voiceover agents in the country.
Once you’ve got a good demo and website, start reaching out to your ideal clients. This can be local car dealerships, the local university, your neighbor’s lawn care business, or even companies who need on-hold messages. Voiceover is everywhere, and the more creative you are with your marketing, the better you’ll do — especially first starting out.
Voiceover is one of the best things to happen to me and my family. I get to be creative, and it’s really fun most of the time. But it’s still a really competitive business. I know that I need to keep my skills up to stay competitive.
I know I am blessed to be working in this industry that I love, that allows me to work from home and spend time with my family. And I am absolutely floored that it all happened in a matter of four months.
I no longer stress about all the missed time with my daughter, and even though I work hard auditioning and marketing to make sure I get enough work, the jobs have been consistent enough to support my family for a full year now.
Carrie Olsen is the wife of Derek and mama of Amelie. She is a lifelong learner and believes opportunities to make positive changes are everywhere. She blogs about her voiceover journey and business at CarrieOlsenVO.com and DerekAndCarrie.com. You may download her guide to getting started as a voice actor here.