Two roads diverged in a yellow wood. And it is very difficult to travel both. Many people in the voice over industry start their careers while working another job. The end goal is to work your way to a situation where you make enough money from your voice over business to allow you the same standard of living as your “day job” provided. Navigating these two paths together can be difficult, extremely hard work and very frustrating.
Let’s face it. Many people choose to try their hand at this career as it is something they love doing. The benefits of working a job you love outweigh many of the downsides of freelance life such as the inconsistency of income, lack of benefits and being personally responsible for supporting your family. As the industry has changed and becomes more saturated, the question many ask is “when is the right time to take the leap of faith?” Boy, I wish I had the answer to that.
It may come as a surprise, but I am going through this myself. I am midway into the 5th year of my 5-year plan. Fitting a voiceover career into every free hour I have outside of my 9-5. And I am fortunate. I am a mid-level manager who has some flexibility in my schedule for last minute surprise sessions. Covid has also allowed me to work from home which makes things even easier. For that I am grateful although, all told, I probably work a combined 70-hour week some weeks.
And my 5-year plan? Well, each year I set out goals that were necessary steps to get me where I wanted to be. Each goal was then broken down into necessary actions that were required to reach those goals. These varied from get professional coaching, acting classes, improve my studio space, increase my marketing etc., etc. The most important part of the plan is that I need to be earning within 80% of current salary and have 50% of my annual salary saved before I can make the transition to full time at the end of this year.
Chicken or the egg? And that final last push is by far the most difficult. At present, my voiceover business revenue is at 50% of my annual salary and have 10% saved. The biggest struggle is to make the next step, I need much more time to dedicate to my business. I can’t do that without giving up my day job. It’s a catch 22 situation. Frustrating? Yes. Yet I am extremely fortunate that I am on the cusp of this monumental decision. And it may have to be a leap of faith. Goals should not be set in stone. You should be able to manipulate them based on the prevailing circumstances.
The fear is real though. For more than 30 years I have been the bread winner for my family. The reliable source of income that has allowed us a standard of living that I never thought possible when I was younger. A victim of my own success. That weighs heavy on my decision. Do I take the chance to follow my dreams even though the uncertainty will weigh heavy on not only me but my family? Or do I extend my 5-year plan another year, hoping that the additional time will get me financially to where I need to be? So, I may be telling this with a sigh, somewhere ages and ages hence. My two roads diverged in a wood, did I take the one less travelled by and did it make all the difference?