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VOICE OVER CAREER
The Successful SOLOpreneur Is A Myth.
TEAMWORK Lifts Your Voice Over Career

By Lynn Norris
Voice Actor & Co-Founder, VA for VO

Being a voice over talent is a strange business. It isn't only about how great you sound or whether you move us with your acting prowess (though, sure, you need those things). 

What brings success is almost always the un-sexy stuff. To sustain a career as a voice actor, you have to be a smart small business owner. 

I am fully aware this isn't news - there are many blogs and posts and respected teachers out there telling anyone who will listen that success isn't all about what you and the voice everyone has told you is wonderful can do behind the mic.

But allow me to hammer the point home. If you've decided to be a voice actor, you've decided to be a small business - whether you wanted to be or not. Not only do you have to be the talent, but you are also responsible for the marketing, billing, HR, PR, and IT departments to name a few. Pick a business hat and you have to wear it!

That's why so many of us proudly call ourselves SOLOpreneurs - wearing our isolation and hard work like a badge of honor. But if we're honest... the successful SOLOpreneur is a myth. 

HOW DO YOU SPELL SUCCESS?

No one is an island. And the smartest and most successful "SOLO" preneurs aren't solo at all - their success is spelled T-E-A-M.

To perfect their performances, they employ coaches, participate in workout groups, or attend workshops and conferences. To find leads and opportunities, they pay for memberships on casting sites, are on agency and management rosters for representation, and hire lead generators to help with their direct marketing. They're often part of accountability groups that help reduce the burden and burnout of running a business in isolation from a padded room.

Many employ others to contribute work to their business, either as a virtual assistant or on a project-by-project basis. A fair number of them have spouses. 

In other words, they outsource. And it's likely you're already doing it too, even if you didn't realize it.

THINKING LIKE A CEO

Thinking like the CEO of a small business doesn't require waiting for long-term success. You don't need to be a six-figure earner to start being strategic with your time and your money. It only takes a simple mindset shift. 

First, stop thinking of outsourcing as an expense. While yes, for tax purposes, it may be a write-off, to borrow from Dr. Carol Dweck, you need to frame your outlook from a growth mindset.

Sure, outsourcing spends one resource - MONEY - but pays you back in another equally valuable resource - TIME. And this investment, if done strategically, can have a very high ROI because it often leads to more MONEY.

Start thinking of outsourcing as a strategic investment to grow your business faster and at scale.

Many hands make light work. Especially if those hands are doing your audio editing, or creating your social media campaigns, finding leads, writing emails, helping you correspond with your students, writing fresh SEO copy for your website, helping you organize your digital files, reminding you to invoice, helping you manage your CRM and keep track of clients, or accomplishing one-off tasks from your forever-growing SHOULD-DO list (that never gets done).
 
EXAMINE YOUR BUSINESS NEEDS

So now that you're on board with a new mindset, where do you start? 

It's often easy for VO business owners to recognize that they're overwhelmed and need help, but deciding what that help should be can be more difficult. 

Here's where I suggest you start: Put some non-negotiable time in your calendar, then sit down, examine your business needs, and make a list of all the things that "should" be done for your business to grow.

Order these items by financial impact. For instance:
  • Will updating your P2P profiles make you more searchable and therefore more bookable?
  • Have you made social media marketing more of a goal and need help keeping up with the posting? 
  • Are you a busy audiobook narrator who could really use the help prepping all the books so that you can sustain your recording calendar? 
  • Do you do long-form narration and need help with the editing, QC and file splitting of hours worth of e-learning?
Start with high-return tasks.

OUTSOURCING STRATEGIES FOR ANY BUDGET

"But what if I don't have a lot of extra cash laying around?" 

Outsourcing doesn't always have to mean hiring a personal assistant or full-time teams of employees. Here are six strategies for outsourcing on any budget.

1. Trade Time For Time 

Do you have skills you can trade to someone else for their skills? Make sure the trade is "fair" - value your hours and time together and agree on an equitable rate for the work each of you are doing.

2. ...Or Work Together

Do you both need leads and emails? Sometimes working together can keep you accountable and motivated. You can even share the leads or decide to craft emails for each other (it can be easier to write sales copy when it's not about yourself).

3. Think in Project Terms

Make a list of all the tasks you "should" be doing that you know you will never get to (we all have them). 
  • Need those P2P profiles re-done? 
  • Need to organize your YouTube channel into something you can use for marketing? 
  • How about re-organizing your client archive and moving it to a backup server or drive?
  • Maybe you need help improving your booth space to improve your audio quality?
Order tasks by what you think will make the biggest financial impact quickest. Then start at the top of the list and outsource each project. 

Added bonus: the tasks that bring you money the quickest also mean you can outsource more tasks.

4. Combine Tasks

If you need leads, then you probably need emails sent to those leads. Consider hiring someone who will do both, so that you don't end up with a backlog of leads you're not corresponding with. 

5. Set Results-Based Budgets 

If money is tight, you can still outsource. Think in terms of results when setting budgets. Instead of paying per hour, perhaps pay per batch of leads and email campaigns. Or pay a fixed amount to get your V123 profile updated with the latest tags, etc. 

6. Think QUALITY Over QUANTITY

One great lead that actually makes hiring decisions is worth exponentially more than 100 who don't. One great social media campaign that inspires engagement is worth more than a bunch of posts that don't elevate your brand.

Outsourcing isn't only about getting more done, it's about getting more done WELL.

When money isn't so tight and you have more to invest, go back to that list of tasks ordered by their financial impact and decide where you could use some additional help. Can you outsource more than one task? To more than one person?

ALWAYS BE EVALUATING

Having a team member isn't an excuse to sit back and do nothing. Growth takes work. 

The time of being "talent only" is gone - there are too many VOs, and AI is going to take out the low hanging fruit. 

So always be evaluating what is working and what isn't. Trends are going to change, and so will what you need at any given time during your business's lifetime. Don't be afraid to switch up what you're outsourcing, pause it, or double down.

While the "Solo" in successful SOLOpreneur is a myth, the success doesn't have to be. 

There is no prize at the finish line for working harder instead of smarter, and you absolutely don't have to do this alone. Outsourcing is the secret sauce. Grow your business successfully by strategically employing help. 

You can thank me later for the ROI.
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ABOUT LYNN
Lynn Norris is a full-time voice actor and the co-founder of VA for VO along with Miranda Ellis and Brigid Reale. VA for VO is the ultimate outsourcing resource, connecting busy VO entrepreneurs with VAs (voice over adjacent resource providers) who can help them in their business. Both VO and VA memberships come with Education, Connection and Community.

VA for VO: www.vaforvo.com
Lynn Norris web: www.voicedbylynn.com


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