My voiceover journey started 363 days ago
TL;DR - here’s the summary if you don’t want to read it all
Happy New Year to you! Especially do I wish you health and sanity. I hope you enjoyed the Christmas days and you the days around NYE.
I took my last (7th) sabbatical of 2018, one week of freeing myself up from daily obligations (except for the day job). Luckily, the sabbatical happened to be at the same time as Christmas which is why I actually had some hours off on the 24th and 25th. It felt great. Simply not being in front of the computer and doing stuff but instead being with family and playing games were fun :)
What else happened?
A new stolenvoice tv format, a new daily show, a monthly revenue goal in 2019, a new computer, an accountability partner, meditation, and my trips for the first half of 2019. I’ll be growing up in 2019 as a voiceover artist, that’s for sure!
The takeaway in this episode is about the love of doing it or the lack of it as I just recently experienced in my day job. Read the takeaway further below.
In today’s show:
- Context of the last seven days
- Most important things (MIT) of the last seven days
- Links mentioned in the video
- My reward for your attention
- Photo library
Documentation: My last two weeks as a voice actor
New simpler format
Fresh out of the 7th sabbatical (24.12. to 31.12.), I’m simplifying stolenvoice tv and introducing a new format. It’s simpler because I’m no longer talking about the stuff I have worked on. This is just something that was repetitive and let’s be honest also boring. So, that’s gone.
But the new thing is the revival of how I started in the first place: Documenting my journey as a voiceover artist („behind the scenes“) while also sharing industry insights and general lessons to take away for you.
I quit stolenvoiceIGTV
My former weekly format on Instagram TV (named stolenvoiceIGTV) has come to end on December 31, 2018.
Why did I stop stolenvoiceIGTV?
I’ve published four seasons of stolenvoiceIGTV and in this past sabbatical I realized it’s time for a change.
Starting this week, I’ll merge stolenvoice tv and stolenvoiceIGTV to become one show, broadcasted once a week, ideally every Friday on Instagram TV (IGTV).
There are many reasons for this change:
- I’ve created enough excitement for myself to dive deeper into voiceover more that I don’t need the daily show anymore.
- I’ve demonstrated that I can show up daily and I’m confident that I could continue the daily format for a while. So, the daily challenge is no longer sparking my drive - if that makes sense in English.
- I want to use more time for creations behind the camera and do less marketing (creating awareness) which the daily show essentially was. I also want to be able to try other things to see if I enjoy doing them, like making music.
The new name is just „stolenvoice tv“. I will upload it exclusively to IGTV. So that means no more daily show and no more uploads to Vimeo and YouTube mainly because of time. The only daily format I started this past week my little „One Minute Stoic“.
What else happened in the last two weeks?
Film and meeting. At the end of my sabbatical week, I also had the chance to meet Lucinda and her husband Bill in Berlin on short notice. It was fun and a good excuse to leave the house and not work :) Lucinda recommended to watch the film „In a world…“, a quirky film about the voiceover industry using the famous Don LaFontaine phrase. It was fun to see the big names like Joe Cipriano and Mark Graue.
No celebration. On Monday, 31.12.2018, I used the time to work because my sabbatical was officially over. So it was a regular Monday. The fact that other people used the day or the night to celebrate didn’t bother me too much. I finished the month with a great 6k revenue but it was also a lot of working hours (240hrs) involved.
Morning routine ok. My morning routine was going pretty ok in the sabbatical week. Except for Thursday I was walking outside every day.
2. MIT incl. a little 2018 recap
The last 2018 week’s focus was to make progress with the commercial demo reel, the wedding video (bro+wife), and spend time on music-making. None of that happened because Christmas happened instead and I spent many hours for the day job. I should have known better and I decided that I will be doing the video later, it just takes so much time. But I don’t want to dedicate this amount of time when there’s so much else I want to do, like actually making money with VO.
2018 recap. 2018 was a year of trying out and experimenting, intentionally. In 2019, I want to get real („more real“).
- This follows my cycle of having one year (2018) of planting seeds and the following year (2019) to harvest. Harvesting usually means more money.
- In 2018, I planned to make 25k, and I made 30k (well technically 37k because of my December revenue but accurately the Dec revenue does count for 2019 which is ok).
- In 2019, I’m planning to make 100k revenue in total (including my day job activity).
- And just for the record: In 2017, my plan was to make 50k and I made 44k. All those years before I only made fairly insignificant numbers, e.g. 14.5k in 2016, 6.2k in 2015, and so on, you can see all real business revenue numbers since 2017 at naii.io/numbers/.
Demo Reel. After a off-time in terms of working on my demo reel, I continued working on it and I’m now even getting feedback from Tanya Rich :)
Focus struggle. My focus struggle is still present and has no plans to go away, it seems. So, the struggle is real and somehow I need that struggle, it feels. However, in order to tame this focus struggle or „disease“, I defined three things I want to spend my working time on. It should help be less „all over the place“ and more concentrated. These 3 things are:
- Day job - 3hrs/day (Mon-Fri)
- Voiceover (commercial reel, auditions, client work) - 7hrs/day (Mon-Fri)
- studiolist.io, music-making and other nerdy stuff during my leisure time incl. food and social time - 6hrs/day (Mon-Sun)
And sleep, of course, 8hrs/day (Mon-Sun).
Working on studiolist.io while traveling and meeting friends. From Feb to Mar I’ll be working and traveling through Morocco, Portugal (Lisboa), Spain (Barcelona) and France (Toulouse). I did all the bookings (flights and bus) this week. It was only 295 € in total which is super affordable.
New computer. The Mac mini arrived today (Thursday), one day early. In addition to my MacBook Pro, the mini will serve as my editing computer and backup server (because the mini is attached to my 48 TB RAID hard-drive system). Finally, I have a second computer that I can outsource tasks to. It also means that I can start using my MacBook Pro almost exclusively for my recording work in the studio booth (wardrobe) :)
Started a new show called „One Minute Stoic“. Ok, before you exhale loudly (because of yet another new thing from me) let me explain. I need philosophy in my life. No matter how much revenue pressure I have, there needs to be time (always!) to reflect on things. I want sit in my room in tranquility thinking (and/or writing) and contemplating about life. In order to make that experience not only in solitude, I decided to take every lesson (that I’m reading every day in my English and German „Daily Stoic“ book) and rewrite it in my words so that I can voice-record it after and publish it on Insta - in English and German. WATCH IT HERE ON INSTAGRAM!
The idea of this show (and the following execution) is the result of my (almost) daily meditation and more than a year of exposure to Stoicism. I feel I can talk about it now because I indoctrinated it into my life to a degree.
Because I allowed myself (and my mind) to calm down during a meditation session I discovered the idea for this show. And only about 2 hours after the idea, the first episode was produced and published :) That’s how I like to do things: Get the idea. Execute the idea immediately. Though I must say that I had the idea for a „Stoic“ show before but not in that format and not on Instagram as the distribution channel.
I figured that the day can be sliced into six pieces of pizza, 4 hours each.
I decided I have four main areas to work on (day job, VO/acting, music-making new, and studiolist)
I decided I’ll use working on studiolist as an excuse to travel more next year. Besides VO and biz events (Feb: Miami, Mar: Atlanta, May: London) I’ll check Morocco (again), Portugal, Spain and France where I’ll be collecting recording studios in various cities. I’ll also add studios in Berlin, Germany. This will allow me to get in contact with people in the music/sound-making industry while I’ll be adding their studio to studiolist.
I stopped looking for an apartment and will keep my rented room. I can then use my monthly funds to travel more instead.
Accountability and new partner
I found an accountability partner. The first virtual stand-up happened it and it was awesome. I need accountability for these things:
a) Life, sanity & health:
- Regular workout/sports
- Regular social time
b) Work, biz & growth:
- Work more concentrated on fewer things with more discipline: Weekdays are for voiceover and day job, the weekends are for leisure, relaxation and side projects
- Make a consistent income through the day job so that I can save money for a potential drop-out of my day job in between January and June 2020 (maybe). Initially, I was aiming for 4k per month (48k annual net income) but then I was reminded (through a call with my client) that I have to make money with voiceover and other clients. Otherwise there would be the problem with bogus self-employment. Because of that my goal is now to make 2k a month regularly. This allows me to pay the bills while living cheaply and puts me in the position to make 400 euros with voiceover each month (at least). The calculation is: To avoid a danger of bogus self-employment one client must not give you more than 5/6 of the total revenue. I make 2k with the day job (5/6) and I make 0.4k with voiceover (1/6). Together, that’s 2.4k net revenue per month.
- Work fewer hours. Around 20 hrs day job (Mon-Sun) and around 30 hrs voiceover (Mon-Fri)
c) Regular voiceover (actual mic time). The daily Stoic show is helping me accomplish that!
This goes hand in hand with Tanya Rich’s VO advice on Instagram:
Practice, read and record every day.
I started meditation again using Headspace.
I revamped my studio with more acoustic foam and fixed blankets (see photo library below) and I tidied up my room which was very important for my well-being.
I finished stolenvoiceIGTV season 4.
I produced and published stolenvoice tv 28 which felt like a beast and hard to get done, almost like my struggle now with episode 29. Maybe I should reconsider doing this weekly show at all.
What was remarkable?
The time-off in my sabbatical was awesome. Only because of the liberation from my daily actions and self-inflicted obligations was I able to see what matters to me and what does not.
I HAVE TO MAKE MONEY WITH VOICEOVER. I had a call with my „day job client“ this week. It went well but it also revealed the duty I’m having for 2019: make money with voiceover. Since I didn’t make any € in 2018 with voiceover (and only a 160 € with my still running cleaning business), the topic of „bogus self-employment“ came up again. I hope the officials won’t cause any problems for my client and myself in the business year 2018. I’ll see. The conclusion is: I HAVE TO MAKE MONEY WITH VOICEOVER IN 2019 or my „day job“ could also be in danger since my client won’t tolerate the „bogus self-employment“ sword of Damocles above him.
The one conclusion for me is to reduce the number of working hours for the day job so that there’s a smaller amount of money I HAVE TO make with voiceover. Initially, I wanted to make 4k each month but with that new „consciousness“ that would a RIP. So, I now defined 2k as my revenue goal to be achieved with my day job.
Two „tricks“ to make money as voiceover artist
Since I’ve been struggling to make money with VO, there are two approaches that I hope will work to make money:
I define myself as broke with 400 € in debt (every month). It’s 400 € because with my day job I’ll be making 2k each month. Together it’s 2.4k monthly net revenue. So, 400 € is 1/6 of it. This is the minimum amount I need to make because due to German laws I’m not allowed to make more than 5/6 of my annual revenue with only one client.
I approach clients directly so I don’t have to wait for my finished demo reel and can start making money already.
I hope these approaches will help me focus.
Time to grow up as VO!
2018 was playing, 2019 is when I’ll be leaving the sandbox to „grow up“. In 2018, I was acting in a ridiculous way mostly standing in my own way and thinking too much. I want to be more straightforward and take more action in 2019, wasting less time (on thinking) and walking my talk.
Whenever I’m feeling caught up, I want to remind myself of these wise words by Sean McCabe:
Writing is essential (for me). One night I was sitting at my desk writing parts of this update since 0.22am until 1.35am. I enjoy and the writer inside me is happy I do :) Also, the tranquility of the night is unsurpassable and almost perfect for writing these kinds of diary-like entries.
Calm & happy. Apart from that business stress factors, I’m feeling calm, centered and in sync :)
I know I’m spending a brutal a mount of time to review the past days and weeks but I’m still not rushing it. I’m taking my time to make sure I included everything I want to include. This is the documentation of my current life after all, so I want to give it the time it deserves („all the time in the world“ ^^).
4. Takeaway: Do it with love and devotion
As part of my day job, I was commissioned to find a great infographics designer. Equipped with a briefing and a CSV file that contains all data, I explored the sites that came to my mind to find a designer: my existing network, Behance, Dribbble, Twago, Upwork, 99designs. Except for Dribbble I used all platforms. I interacted with designers and it went well most of the time. I tried to make clear that the designer has all the freedom he/she wants so that the outcome can blow us away.
Then I got the first results and I was baffled. I explicitly wanted the designer to solve our problem and create something stunning that would knock us off our feet. What I saw was something far from outstanding and even amateurish.
What happened? You don’t have to be a designer (although I was for about eight years) to see that they didn’t care about the project. They just threw something at my face and called it a day. If you don’t care then you can’t love and devote yourself to the project.
The same goes for voiceover. If you don’t show love for the project of the client you’re working with, then they’ll find another VO pro who does. With currently half a million (500.000) voiceover professionals those 200 mio. companies worldwide have a wide choice.
5. Links or things mentioned in the video that have a website
6. Handsome random
my reward for your attention
7. Photo library
Amazon cardboard where I’ll put my computer, mouse and keyboard on
More acoustic foam all around the inner workings of the wardrobe making it look more like an actual recording environment
brand + service by naii.io