Back in February of this year, I finally said, “To heck with it.” (I actually said something else to that effect, but it wasn’t G-rated, and this is a G-rated blog). I’d had enough with only tip-toeing around my lifelong dream of being a voice actor; I wanted to go after it full-time.
So I quit my full-time job. I quit a secure paycheck. I quit predictability and dove into my booth and only surfaced for air in between auditions for more coffee (and occasional Frasier binges, because come on, girl’s gotta have a break).
It was, hands down, the scariest thing I have ever done. Ever. In my life. I’d always “played by the rules.” I’d always followed the book to the letter. Corporate jobs. Corporate ladder. Corporate lingo.
I hated it. Me, the loudest, most overly-dramatic person in a 50-mile radius, quietly sitting in an office for the rest of my life? Me, the person who memorized entire I Love Lucy episodes by age five having to pretend that I was the Adultiest Adult in the Adult Corporation?
Me? In a suit? I was not into it.
Unless it was one of these suits:
But I’d put off really going after what I wanted because I was terrified. What if I failed? What if I crashed and burned? What if I wound up in a Dickensian poor house, begging for alms outside of Scrooge’s stately manner, with only a pair of fingerless gloves and a wicked Cockney accent to my name?
(Wouldn’t mind the last one, actually).
But here’s the thing: I didn’t fail. I’m doing it.
Holy crap, it’s happening. This thing I have wanted since birth is actually, honestly, really happening. I am a full-time voice actor. Pinch me. (Please don’t—I bruise easily.)
Let me be very clear: I did it because a) I couldn’t stand not doing it anymore, and b) I had (and have) an amazing support system, both in my family and in my TVAS family.
Let be very clear on another front: I was ready to do it. Emotionally, psychologically, spiritually. I was ready to make that move. That’s key—it has to be the right time. I’d been a voice actor part-time for about a year and a half, but I knew when it was time to make the move to full-time.
In the months since, here’s what I’ve learned as a newly-minted full-time voice actor:
1. Consistency is KEY.
When you own a business, you are on your own. That is awesome! Yay! That is also terrifying! Yikes! Because you are only accountable to you.
For me, that means sticking to a routine as much as I possibly can. As in, “Get in at least fifteen auditions a day; more, if possible.” As in, “Do those auditions before 2 pm if you can, because you know you crash at 3 pm.” As in, “Pick certain times to complete certain tasks and stick to them.”
Do I always follow these rules? Oh, heck, no. I try. I’m good about it most of the time. But sometimes, I slip. We’re human. Life happens.
But you get out of voiceover what you put into it. Be consistent with your auditions. Be consistent with your marketing efforts. Be consistent with how quickly you answer emails, how quickly you follow-up with clients, how quickly you send off invoices, how diligently you track your income and expenses. Be. Consistent.
2. Have a Plan
Flying solo with your own business can feel a lot like you’re in freefall. One way to manage that anxiety is to have a plan—a business plan, a marketing plan, a “How I Am Going to Get Things Done Each Day” plan. Your plan will look different from mine, and that’s okay! In my case, I knew things would be tight financially for a bit while I was getting things up and running—so I saved up money to help me make the move. I didn’t spend as much money on coffee, or on fun dinners, or on a replica of Harry Potter’s house robes (I don’t need them, I don’t need them, I don’t need them, I don’t need–).
I planned how many times I’d audition each day. I planned how much I needed to set aside in savings for taxes. I planned how many production houses I reached out to each week.
And I adjusted these plans as necessary! Which brings me to my next point…
3. Be Flexible
Life changes! Things flip upside down. Priorities shift as you learn and grow. Your business plan, marketing plan, and voice over plans might change as you go along your VO journey. And that’s okay! That’s awesome, actually, because being able to adapt to changes—both in business and in life—is very groovy, indeed.
An example: When I started out, I thought, “Okay. I’m going to get up at five every morning and not go to bed until midnight. I’m going to hit the auditions and the marketing so hard that those producers won’t know what hit them.”
Guess what happened.
If you guessed, “Casey was immediately exhausted and burned out,” congratulations! You’ve won!
That wasn’t realistic for me. It is for some people. Seriously! But I ain’t one of ‘em. So, I adjusted my approach. I opened myself up to the possibility that some days, I wouldn’t do as many auditions as other days—I would be flexible and turn to marketing instead, or take care of administrative tasks. I listened to myself.
And you know what?
I actually started booking more after that.
Which brings me to my next point…(See how that keeps happening? Making my English degree WORK.)
4. Be Kind to Yourself
Listen to yourself, love yourself and be kind to yourself. We’re all going to have bad days. Some days, I’ve felt like a boss behind that mic; other days, I feel more like a particularly blob-ish slug. It’s normal. I’ve learned to take a step away from the booth if my inner critic is impeding my reads; conversely, I’ve learned to head into the booth when I just can’t look at another spreadsheet.
When you run a VO business, it can be very easy to work seven days a week, nonstop. That’s because I love what I do! I can’t get enough of it. But it’s also important to take a breather sometimes, so I make sure to leave a few hours for myself every day. It’s all about balance.
5. Reach Out to Your VO Community
TVAS has built an incredibly supportive family of VO pros and students. Use that network! Sometimes, it’s hard for me to ask for help, or to admit when I’m struggling; my inner critic tells me that asking for help means I failed.
Spoiler alert: It so does not mean I failed. It means I’m human. And everybody needs help and support and encouragement! No man is an island, right? I rely on my coaches and colleagues for advice, support, and laughter. (And that really sweet stash of snacks we keep in the studio.)
Part of reaching out means continuing my VO education. I still take ongoing classes and other workshops. That’s one of the many reasons why I love this craft—you never, ever stop learning!
So, whether you’re brand-new to the world of VO or setting off on that full-time VO trail, TVAS has got your back. I wouldn’t be doing what I love without TVAS. It’s a wild ride, but I’ve got a rock-solid community cheering me on. And so do you!
….Now all I need are those Dumb and Dumber suits.