Hey everyone! As you know, I'm a big fan of side hustling to pay off a little more debt or earn more money every month. Every time I see an interesting side hustle come across my inbox, I try to share it!
Since I started M$M, I've always been amazed by some of the stories that I see. So many people who never thought they could make significant income on the side eventually find their “thing” and thrive.
Even in the FB Side Hustle course, we have people with multiple clients (our top performer Kathrine has seven!!!) who never thought they could do it.
So today, I have a great story for you by Carrie Olson. She turned a small side hustle into an awesome career and has been crushing it ever since. Enjoy! ~M$M
I never thought about the people behind the voices of cartoon characters that I watched growing up. In fact, I don't think it ever even occurred to me that there were people who got paid to record those voices.
In the same way, if you would have asked me five years ago who said, “Toyota. Let’s go places” at the end of those Toyota commercials, I probably would have guessed that they got some Toyota employee with a nice voice to do it. I didn't know that voice-over, as a career, existed.
Cut to today. I spend a large part of my workday reading commercial, narration, and e-learning scripts out of the vocal booth in my bedroom. If you watch or listen to any type of streaming media, you've probably heard my voice before.
And if you work at Taco Bell, Disney World, AT&T, Hertz, or any of the other companies I've recorded training for, you may have heard me walking you through your benefits or safety procedures in your company's online training hub.
At the request of other voice-over hopefuls, I put together a free guide full of tips on how I did it, which I’ll tell you more about in a bit.
So, how did I get from not knowing that voice-over exists to working as a full-time voice actor? Well, it started as a side hustle.
In 2014, I gave birth to my first daughter, Amelie. At the time, I was working as an e-learning developer for an international company. I loved my job, but after staying home with my daughter for three months, I wasn't ready to go back to work full-time after maternity leave ended.
But we had to pay the bills, so I went back to work. But I'm not the type to accept a less than ideal situation without trying to improve it. So I started to brainstorm ways that I could stay home with my daughter, but still bring in a decent income.
Voice-over was nowhere on my radar. Until one day, on my commute to work, I queued up a podcast that I had never listened to before. The latest episode happened to be an interview with a successful, full-time voice actor named Alyson Steel.
I was only half paying attention until the interviewer asked Alyson what her typical day looks like.
She has two kids. She gets them off to school in the mornings, goes to yoga, checks her email for auditions and jobs, and then spends some time in her home studio recording. That sounded amazing to me.
At the end of the interview, Alyson mentioned that she offered voice-over coaching lessons to help people get started in voice-over. Without checking out any other coaches, I went to her website and bought a session with her.
Over the next few weeks, I basically only did three things: I went to work, I spent time with my husband and daughter, and I studied voice-over.
I quickly became obsessed with the industry, and my excitement only increased when I booked my first job!
I had been studying with Alyson for a few weeks, and I had joined an online casting site so I could start auditioning for jobs. After about 40 or so auditions, I booked a job! It was a 2-minute narration for a company in Denmark.
The job paid $450. I was elated! After that, the jobs started coming in regularly. A $150 job here, a $300 job there. But the job that got me thinking that this side hustle may eventually become a main hustle was the national radio campaign that earned me more than my day job over the next few months.
That gave my husband and I the gumption to put all of my eggs in the voice-over basket, and I quit my day job to pursue voice-over full time.
Now that I have been in the industry for a few years now, I can tell you that my path to becoming a full-time voice actor is not typical.
If I was to give you my best advice on how to build a profitable voice-over business today, it would probably sound quite a bit different than what I did to get started. Although one thing would definitely be the same: I would advise you to work with a good coach like I did.
Voice-over coaching seems like a dispensable part of the equation to most people because you already know how to talk, right? How much could a coach really help you?
A lot! Just take my word for it. A good voice-over coach will teach you principles (like picture your audience as you read) that will help take your reads from good to amazing (or from bad to pretty good, depending 😉).
After their first voice-over coaching session, most people say, “Wow, I had no idea there was so much to this!”
But before jumping into coaching, there are plenty of things you can do on your own to start building up your voice-over muscles. Start watching and listening to commercials instead of changing the station or fast-forwarding through them.
Start recording yourself reading commercials on whatever you have available to you, even if it's just the internal microphone on your smartphone.
Start talking to people in the industry and see what it's really like to do VO for a living. And start studying up on what it takes to build a successful voice-over business.
There is a lot of information on YouTube and the interwebs in general. Just watch out for claims that seem too good to be true.
Voice-over is not a get-rich-quick industry.
If you want to build a business that lasts, that you can eventually turn from a side hustle into a main hustle, expect to invest a decent amount into your endeavor.
Expect to sacrifice other things so that you can study, get coaching, and develop your business skills. And know that if you don't love the work, you're going to lose motivation really fast.
But if you love the idea of doing voice-overs for a living, and want to know if it's something that could potentially help you get out of a job that you don't love, I encourage you to take the next step.
If you're inspired enough to read an ebook on the topic, download my free guide to getting started in voice-over here.
Carrie Olsen is a voice actor, business coach, wife, and mother of two who has lent her voice to brands like Tiffany's, Taco Bell, Bank of America, REI and many others. During her time as an e-learning developer, she created and facilitated hundreds of online courses, tutorials, and webinars. She now enjoys using her knowledge of the industry to provide the voice-over component for her e-learning and commercial clients. She shares her voice-over passion and expertise in her online courses, blog, and podcast. When she's not in her voice-over booth, you can find her hiding out in a coffee shop in Kansas City with her husband and daughters.