School holidays, sick kids, expensive childcare and long commutes. All a logistical nightmare for a working parent. So, just for fun I thought I’d set out my 5 reasons why Voiceover is a better career choice for a working parent. Here goes…
Working from home
Ok, this assumes you have a home studio. But I think it’s the only sustainable way to work as a voice artist and be a working parent. Plus I can work in my pjs with no make up on – bliss!! But for me it’s about not having to commute. Childcare is expensive and wasting money on it just to travel to and from work really sucks. But working from home means that I’m actually WORKING while my child is in care. Sure there are days when I have to go into London for jobs, but most of my time is spent in my own broadcast quality studio. Having the home studio also means…
Sleep when the baby sleeps?! Nooo way. Work when the baby sleeps. If she sleeps! Depending on the sector of the voiceover industry you focus on, I’ve found it possible to do lots of work in the evenings, weekends and during my daughter’s day time naps (when she still did them!). I use childcare too of course, but freelance work means that emails need tending to and work comes in every day. You have to be good at planning and scheduling and find some creative solutions. But you can arrange your working week to suit you and your family. The other thing to remember is that certain voiceover work doesn’t take up much time but….
It pays really well!
Sure there are a lot of early set-up costs for the home studio, the P2P sites, making and marketing your reels etc. But once you’re up and running I think the rates of pay are great. So long as you know what you’re worth and charge appropriately. There’s a race to the bottom going on in our industry right now and I refuse to be part of it. I make sure I charge competitive but appropriate rates for my experience, skills and equipment. Each sector of the voiceover industry has a different charging structure and you may find, like I did, that you chose to focus on the sectors that require the least amount of studio time, but secure the highest fees. A tag line on a Commericial may take you 10 mins in the studio but pay your mortgage for months. An audio book may take you 3 days and pay your rent for a fortnight. When you factor childcare in, I know what I’d chose! But whatever work you do, you’ll find a…
Supportive Voiceover Community
Maybe it’s cos we spend so much time alone in dark little airless booths talking to ourselves, but voiceover folk are so friendly when they get together! There are community Facebook groups, training and networking organisations and annual events. I’ve met fabulous people that have provided support and advice all through my career. Lots of them are working parents too. And last, but certainly not least, working as a female voiceover artists is….
Super creative and stimulating
Every day is different. Am I voicing an E-Learning project on sustainability in the construction sector? Will it be radio commercials for dentists, theme parks or seasonal events? How about some audio drama or a corporate video? I love this industry. I love changing my voice, accent, tone, energy and style for every client. I’m kept on my toes every day and that’s just the voice work. I’ve also had to learn to be an audio engineer to record and produce my work. I’ve had to figure out how to design and build a broadcast quality audio booth. I’m the marketing and PR woman and the finance team as well. Running your own business is great. I have freedom, stimulation, more time with my family than most working parents and a decent income.
But…It’s not all roses!
Ok, so that’s the good stuff. But it aint all sunshine and roses. I’ve found it challenging too. As a freelance voiceover artist you’re self employed. That means it’s all on you. No maternity pay, no sick pay, no holiday pay. It’s your job to do the work, promote your business, find new clients etc. So, it can feel like you never have an ‘off’ day. Managing to keep on top of it all and not let family bleed into work and work bleed into family time is hard. I try so hard not to be on my phone all the time around my little girl, but sometimes I have to. It can be stressful and you feel like you’re not completely focusing on one thing or the other. It’s a discipline I’m still learning.
I’ve also encountered some snobbery and prejudice about being part time (particularly when my little one was a baby). There are some folk out there who think you can’t be a professional or dedicated if you have caring responsibilities. I know! Prats right? Having said that, I’m ashamed to say that I still sometimes choose to hide the fact that I have caring responsibilities. It’s easier to say “Sorry, I can’t make that session cos I’m in the studio on another job” instead of “Can we do it later/earlier cos I currently have a small baby attached to my breast!”.
The work can also be very last minute and hard to plan. Now, I know I’ve said above that you can make your own schedule, but there are some parts of the industry that function in a different way. I work in radio commercials and you often get a call in the morning to arrange a session for that day. Sometimes they need it fast. It doesn’t leave much time to arrange childcare! But it’s all about choices. Maybe focus on different parts of the industry when your kids are very young, or in the summer holidays when care is hard to find.
Anyhoo, enough of my ramblings. I hope you found this interesting. You may also want to read my blog about all the great resources for a working parents in the performance industries.
Thanks to Guy Harris for the amazing illustrations. He’s a VO too!