If being a full time voice actor is your goal, you should take a second to understand what that means.
I hesitate to generalize because there’s a lot of variation in the VO world. Where you live, what kind of work you do and who you do it for can mean vast differences in lifestyle and income potential. Still, there are some universal truths.
The brass ring of achieving full-time status looks a lot like spending all your time at home wondering if shorts or sweatpants are the better choice that day. What to have for lunch will always be obvious because you’ll have the inside of your fridge memorized since you’ll open the door a dozen times each day. You’ll also shoulder every responsibility: production, tech support, relationship building, bookkeeping, tax prep, everything. Hook up with the right clients and there will be no vacations unless you want to miss work. No matter your status in the business, as soon as you book a flight, they’ll need you for something. The idea of the golden handcuffs is real. There are VO people who can not leave their house during daylight hours for fear of missing work.
Sometimes you won’t feel like talking and it’ll seem like a job, like the one you might have given up to pursue VO. Sometimes you’ll read script after script, send them off into oblivion and hear crickets. Sometimes you’ll do this for weeks, or months. You’ll check email obsessively. I used to page myself (back when there were pagers) to make sure the thing was still working. Sometimes you’ll hear something you auditioned for on TV, voiced by a third-rate celebrity. They hired that guy or girl from that show and you’ll think, “They sound just like me.”
And then you’ll land something with people who appreciate you and hire you over and over and the work, the grind, will be fun again, and you’ll realize how lucky you are to have a job that lets you become intimately familiar with all the creaks and groans in your house while you make money to talk out loud. The positives even out the negatives.
It could be the best job ever, but it doesn’t have to be the last job you ever have, or the only job you have.
You can be a successful VO and still hang on to a second source of income. In fact, most VO people do multiple things for money, with multiple income streams. Diversification is a good thing.
The pressure for a full-timer to consistently book can be extreme. Do you want that for yourself? Because there are down times, you know. It’s easy to think that full-timers are boiling over with work they don’t have time to do but it’s just not always true. In lean times booking a job becomes “important”. Greater importance can lead to taking your eye off the ball. You start trying new approaches, looking for new tips or tricks which may or may not work for you, potentially leading to zero bookings. As time passes, your gap gets larger.
Part-timers don’t have to worry about this. Nothing wrong with adding a few bucks to your account balance. Start a college fund. Order takeout an extra couple times a month. Pay off a car. VO can do all those things for you.
Being a full time VO talent is not a pipe dream, it just takes a ton of work and education, and it comes with a fair amount of responsibility and stress. If you want it, go for it, but understand the commitment it requires and do what you can to control the pressure you place on yourself.
Image credit: Rawpixel.com