Starting a Voice Over career can be expensive and usually takes a few years to establish. Often new voice actors need to supplement their income. Some supporting jobs may be too demanding or distracting and not leave you with enough time or energy to nurture your burgeoning VO career. The right side hustles can enrich your VO career as well as help pay the bills.
Establishing A Voice Over Business Takes Time and Money
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “it takes money to make money”. This is absolutely true in voice over. It used to be that voice over auditions and work happened mainly in studios – either at agents/managers offices or recording studios. That model is diminishing. Now establishing a voice over business involves having a home studio with good technology (mics, interfaces, DAWs, computers, etc) as well as continually working with coaches and directors to get good enough at home records to book work. It requires investing in marketing, which also often involves systems and education in effective marketing practices. To do it right, you need to be prepared to devote substantial time and money.
What to Consider In a Companion Job to Your Voice Over Career
When looking to supplement your initial income from voice over work, make strategic choices about how you’ll spend your time. Let’s break down what you should consider in a companion job to your main voice over career.
First, do what is easy for you to:
1.Make as much money with as little time investment as possible
2.Won’t burn you out so you still have time/energy/love to spend enough hours daily to push your VO career along
3.If possible find something that relates to the field of voice acting so you can transfer those skills into your VO biz
20 Voiceover Related Jobs And How They Can Help Enrich Your Career
Let’s talk about point C for a minute. Looking for a part-time or flexible-time job that is enjoyable enough is a smart plan. So why not look for work in a voice over related area to find it. This can pay dividends not only in income, but in contacts, exposure to the “other side of the mic”, skill building in marketing, engineering, money management, etc. I put together a short list of voice over related jobs and how they can help you in more ways than financially.
Businesses to consider:
- Working for a casting director/agency (provides contacts & insight into vo & acting – learn what’s booking, how casting decisions are made)
- Working for an agent/manager (provides contacts & a sidedoor into vo & acting – learn what attracts representation, what jobs are casting, what reads are booking)
- Working in an ad agency (provides contacts & a sidedoor into vo & acting – learn how commercials are created, unpacking content and the perspective of the vo buyer)
- Working for a video production company (provides contacts & a sidedoor into vo & acting – develop skills you may be able to use when you’re full-time VO)
- Working for a dubbing house (provides contacts & a sidedoor into vo & acting – learn about dubbing, gain an inside track on how to do it well)
- Working for an animation house (provides contacts & a sidedoor into vo & acting – learn the timeline for how animated projects are put together, what goes into character creation)
- Working for a gaming production company (contacts & a sidedoor into vo & acting – learn the ins and outs of a game’s production and creation and what casting is looking for in a voice over)
- Working in a radio or TV station (broadcasting is great for building skills, gaining contacts and increasing followers in social media)
- Working in a theatre box office (provides contacts & money management – gives you exposure to live acting – watch & learn, to directors, and the entertainment community)
- If you work in the food service industry, working in a comedy club, dinner theatre, cabaret (can sometimes provide contacts – gives you exposure to actors and comedians, watch & learn what works, improve your comedic improv skills)
Other Freelancing Positions to consider:
- Assistant for a more established voice actor (provides contacts & insight into vo business management & acting – learn what a successful vo biz looks like)
- Social media manager (provides contacts & skills building – learn how to create effective social media campaigns)
- Copywriter (provides contacts & writing skills – many different voice over related businesses need good copy for websites, email campaigns, social media, etc.)
- Blog writer (skills & research & writing skills – learn what engages readers and improve your facility/relationship with a voice actor’s paints: words)
- Production assistant (onset experience & contacts – learn effective project management skills)
- Martial arts instructor (think mocap here – many games and movies need good instructors, choreographers)
- Any kind of movement instruction (any type of regular movement gives more energy to put into your art – so if you can make money helping others find energy as well, win/win)
- Teacher (teaching is performance – keeping 30 adolescents engaged and focused is harder than it looks – this gig totally improves your performance skills)
- Marketing (directly transferable to your VO biz – helping others market increases your skills and gives you insight into what works and what doesn’t)
- Tour guide (presenting a “script” every day as a tour guide can give you great practice in your conversational delivery performance skills)
Side Hustle Burnout: How to Avoid Feeling Overwhelmed
Once you have your side hustle (or two, or three) in addition to your regular voice over work, you may start to feel a bit of what I’ll call Side Hustle Burnout. Perhaps your side hustle will start to be much more work than your desired voice over focus. Maybe your freelance job as a writer means many more hours for a lower fee in order to make up the income deficit but there are more opportunities to write than narrate. What should you do when you start to feel overwhelmed?
Make it purposeful. Go back and revisit your “why”. Are you doing the extra work to earn what you need to pay for a booth at home? Does your family need you to be bringing in income even when voice over work is slower? Remind yourself of why you’re doing what you’re doing in the first place.
Have an exit strategy. If full time voice over that covers all your bills and provides a comfortable living is your goal, then remind yourself that the side hustle(s) aren’t permanent. Make an action plan with the steps you come up with that you’re willing to commit to to make leaving the side job possible and set a date for ending it.
Consider a different industry (for the side hustle). Some people say choosing an unrelated field can decrease burnout because it allows you to focus elsewhere, explore new options, expand your tribe, indulge other interests. This is a fantastic article with a bunch of great ideas for jobs outside of voice over that may make burn out less of a risk.