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INCOME
Need Extra Income To Enrich Your Voice
Over Career? 20 'Side Hustle' Ideas ..
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By Kim Handysides
Voice Actor & Coach

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.

Yet the right side hustles can enrich your VO career as well as help pay the bills.

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 in the offices of agents/managers 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

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. not burn you out, so you still have time/energy/love to spend enough hours daily to push your VO career along, and
  3. relate to the field of voice acting, so you can transfer those skills into your VO biz
Let's talk about point 3 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.

Following are 20 VO-related and freelance jobs to consider - and how they can help you in more ways than financially. 

10 VO-RELATED BUSINESSES TO CONSIDER

  1. Working for a casting director/agency: provides contacts & insight into VO and acting – learn what's booking, how casting decisions are made
  2. Working for an agent/manager: provides contacts and a side door into VO & acting – learn what attracts representation, what jobs are casting, what reads are booking
  3. Working in an ad agency: provides contacts and a side door into VO and acting – learn how commercials are created, unpacking content and the perspective of the vo buyer
  4. Working for a video production company: provides contacts and a side door into VO and acting – develop skills you may be able to use when you're full-time VO
  5. Working for a dubbing house: provides contacts and a side door into VO and acting – learn about dubbing, gain an inside track on how to do it well
  6. Working for an animation house: provides contacts and a sideddoor into VO and acting – learn the timeline for how animated projects are put together, what goes into character creation
  7. Working for a gaming production company: provides contacts and a side door into VO and acting – learn the ins and outs of a game's production and creation and what casting is looking for in a voice over
  8. Working in a radio or TV station: broadcasting is great for building skills, gaining contacts and increasing followers in social media
  9. Working in a theatre box office: provides contacts and money management – gives you exposure to live acting – watch and learn, to directors, and the entertainment community
  10. In the food service industry, working in a comedy club, dinner theatre or cabaret:  can sometimes provide contacts, giving you exposure to actors and comedians. Watch and learn what works, improve your comedic improv skills

10 MORE FREELANCE IDEAS ...

  1. Assistant for a more established voice actor: provides contacts and insight into VO business management and acting – learn what a successful VO biz looks like
  2. Social media manager: provides contacts and skills building – learn how to create effective social media campaigns
  3. Copywriter: provides contacts and writing skills – many different voice over related businesses need good copy for websites, email campaigns, social media, etc.)
  4. Blog writer: gives you skills, research and writing skills – learn what engages readers and improve your facility/relationship with a voice actor's career.
  5. Production assistant: for on-set experience and contacts – learn effective project management skills
  6. Martial arts instructor: think mocap (motion capture) here – many games and movies need good instructors, choreographers
  7. 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
  8. Teacher: teaching is performance – keeping 30 adolescents engaged and focused is harder than it looks – this gig totally improves your performance skills
  9. Marketing: directly transferable to your VO biz – helping others market increases your skills and gives you insight into what works and what doesn't
  10. Tour guide: presenting a "script" every day as a tour guide can give you great practice in your conversational delivery performance skills.
HOW TO AVOID BURNOUT - 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. For instance,

  • 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.
So, 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 you reach a point where full-time voice over covers all your bills and provides a comfortable living - and that is your goal - remind yourself that the side hustle(s) aren't permanent.

Make an action plan with steps you're willing to commit to, to make leaving the side job possible - and set a date for ending it.

Another way to avoid burnout is to consider a different industry altogether for 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.
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ABOUT KIM
Kim Handysides is a top voice-over artist in commercials, eLearning and narration. With a background in theatre and film and a thorough grounding in radio and television, she was a 2018 Voice Arts Awards nominee, and "loves sharing advice, tips and experience with anyone who asks."
She also loves dogs, mountains, beaches and story.

Email: KimHandysides@gmail.com
Web: www.KimHandysides.com


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Comments (3)
Peter Hopkins
2/20/2020 at 10:03 AM
I work part time as a school bus driver, with 2, 2 hour split shifts in the morning and afternoon. I do my auditions and work in the 5 hours between my morning and afternoon run.

Those jobs you’ve mentioned would definitely segue more into VO; however, depending on where we live and our qualifications, those jobs might be more difficult or impossible to get. School bus driving is a part time job you can get anywhere, and there is always a shortage of drivers. The companies will usually provide the training to upgrade you’re drivers license as well

My two cents worth.
Kim Handysides
2/15/2020 at 12:02 PM
Hi Jacob,

Thanks so much for your comment! All my suggestions have come form people I actually know who've transitioned into VO from working on some side hustle. The animation company gal who also works in VO was involved in casting and also worked as a production assistant. She eventually got regular gigs in animation herself.

I know a couple of VO talents who rose within the ranks of gaming. One happened to be a graphic designer who was voicing her vision of a character for a Ubisoft game and the game director liked it so much, he included her in the casting and she got the gig. Now she does both. Another gaming guy who became a VO was a writer for the craft - another I know was an actor who from a martial arts background and was hired as a fight coach for mo-cap - he ran lines as he worked and the voice director on hand invited him into the game as a character. Now he works regularly.

The idea is to assess your skiils, talents, interests, background and see what you can apply that might help with contacts/opportunities/crossover from one (side hustle) to the other (voice gigs).

Does this answer the question?
Jacob
2/14/2020 at 9:54 AM
Thank you so much for this article Kim, very helpful!

What sort of positions would we be looking at for the more VO related companies? For example, I dont have any experience with animating or video game production besides from the VO side of things so what positions should I be looking at for a animation studio, video production studio, or video game production studio or any of the others?

Thanks!
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