Voiceover Hybrid?

by | Feb 23, 2016 | Ruminations | 9 comments

dividedIs VO all or none?

Can you be “kind of” a voice actor?

If you work in some other profession, but your heart, and your passion and your energy are in VO…are you a half-breed?…a hybrid?

Could someone raise the question of  legitimacy or dedication to the profession if you were not able to give-over your productivity to voice-overs full time?

Forgetting for a moment, the practical reality of why any crazy person would choose to lead a schizophrenic life like that (budget needs, spousal pressure, etc), couldn’t such a person still aspire to being characterized as a voice-actor?

Of course I ask these questions because this is me.  And of course I ask these questions ’cause after these many years toiling away in VO-land, I know of hundreds (thousands?) of others who live and work in this quandary. If  you have a family, is it fair for you to take the leap to full-time VO (and  all it’s risks), knowing it will put loved-ones in jeopardy?
It raises the question of whether there are two or more discernible voice over worlds: 1) The person who spends all their working hours fully engaged in the many endeavours that result in running a successful voice over business as their main source of income. 2) The person who spends as many working hours as possible fully engaged in the many endeavours that result in running a successful voice over business…but it’s not their main source of income.

The schism raises even more questions about things like career risk, personal fortitude, self-esteem and motivation. Why would I NOT work full-time in voice-over so I COULD make it my main source of income?  No guts?  ‘Can’t handle the uncertainty?  Not ready for “the leap”? Are there those who admit they will never be full-time VO’s?…who use it as a supplement and can’t see it being their only work?…or are the  majority convinced that eventually, it’ll be their main profession? What about guys like Rob Sciglimpaglia and Derek Chappell — successful attorneys who are working pell-mell to achieve a full-time acting career?  I met an MD at amixer who had similar goals.

If that happens…when that happens for any of us “hybrids”… will we then feel ownership to the point of snobbery?…is that what full-time voice-actors feel?  No, I mean I wouldn’t hold it against a full-timer if they felt a certain pride in that.  YOU are the people who took the leap, who managed the risk, who balance your freelance checkbook masterfully, who wear eight creative and marketing hats successfully.

Actually, I’m thinking of writing a book about this.  Would there be interest?  A guide, of sorts, how NOT to go crazy pleasing two masters.  How to hold on to your dream, but still pay your bills.  A primer in living your passion but also accepting the mediocrity of falling short of your goals.  ‘Some lessons learned in managing two worlds and still hold on to your sanity.

Whadya think?




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  1. Marie Hoffman


    Writing a book about becoming a full time VO would be great but it needs to be geared towards those wishing to enter the industry. Those of us who are doing the “daily double grind” of working at another job and then devoting hours to voice over already understand the sacrifices needed.

    I coach with Sean Pratt (www.seanprattpresents.com) and he has a “test” to take on his website. In short, he asks people who say they want to be audiobook narrators to take this test (basically sit in a closet for 7 hours a day for 2 weeks reading out loud) and if you pass the test, move forward. He addresses the grind rather than the glory and, in my humble opinion, the stuff most folks don’t even think about.

    My $.02. Thanks for asking.

    Have a good one.

  2. Andrew Wehrlen

    I work full time and make a 6 figure salary which sounds good by living in Northern Va l, just across the river from DC, you would see its not all that! But I do this part time; audiobooks in particular and I do quite decently for part time. It’s not easy. My wife and teen kids support me and I have done doing this thing my wife calls a hobby. My plan is take is slow and easy and then go full time when I retire in 9 years. I’ll be in my mid 50’s and still quite young enough to build a nice career. We will see but I resist the urge to jump in knowing that for me that would be an unwise move.

  3. Todd Williams


    As a full-time career IT guy who has been working on VO skills for a few years and is in the middle of struggling to make both work, I would appreciate any help/wisdom you can offer from your many years of having duality of professions.

    I look forward to reading it.


  4. Linda Baker

    Great idea about the book. In this day and age there are many of us working 2 jobs. ..but it’s a good thing. I like the idea of still keeping my small promo biz as I pursue VO. I can do both with passion. If I did however, become the VO star I dream to be, I would go full time to my VO business.

  5. Lois Wolf

    I think you’d be just the right person to put into words the struggle of the dual life. I believe it would be a great asset to those considering entering the world of VO.

  6. Debbie Irwin

    Ask any working mom (that is, any mom who’s also working outside the home).
    She knows the pain of never feeling good enough in either arena.
    Lots has been written on the topic. 🙂

    At the end of the day, finding peace within yourself for the decisions you make (regardless of the tides of fashion), is what will provide happiness. If you look to the left and right and try to match what is good/right for someone else, your road forward will be rockier than the norm.

  7. Kay

    After working for 22+ years from home fulltime, at this season of my life, I don’t want a fulltime job. I’m a grandma now, and have been there, done that fulltime, no time in your life for anything else sort of schedule. I am in the process of starting two part time careers – one to bring in money to help pay for all my VO training, and then also my VO part time career. It is very difficult, unless you are inherently wealthy, to start a career in VO either full or part time without money coming in from somewhere else! So, yes, I think a book addressing the reality of having a part time VO business would be beneficial to many.

  8. Kyle Sauerhoefer

    I think that would be a great idea to write a book about this. I have noticed in my first year as a paid VO that most start out as a hybrid, unless they have a solid acting background. The only reason I am currently a full time VO is that I was laid off from my corporate job and decided chase the dream to take a chance down a new road.

    The facts are unless you are extremely lucky, and talented, it takes time to build up to a point of making this a decent living. Whether its building up the clients to finally take the leap full time, or building your acting and improv muscles to finally compete, or to figure out the technology and recording as another example.

    Plenty of good startup books on techniques, the business (thanks Dave!), and recording … but none go into detail about answering that question for yourself, and being prepared for the journey and survival through your first few years.

  9. Brenda

    I think this book is exactly what is needed for those of us who do have to co-exist in this way, so that we know that
    we are not alone in this and perhaps it would be a good road map to help us navigate the pitfalls and potholes and
    maybe even so dark holes along the way. I know I could use it, and would be sure to buy it. Thank you for this article, it was just what I need to hear today.


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