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Voice Coaches Radio #424 – Ellen, on Building a Voice Acting Business with FIVERR

Voice Coaches Radio. Everything voiceover. And welcome to this week's edition of Voice Coaches Radio. I am Josh, he is Sam. We are de lighted to have you joining us here this week. Sam, how we doing? Josh, I am Super excited. I'm, I'm very good. I'm glad to hear your excitement. Um, I'm excited as well. We have a special guest with us, which is why I'm excited.

Which is why you should be excited. It's not just you and I. No, and, and, and mercifully so, and mercifully so. Uh, so, uh, so Sam, tell us about, uh, tell us about our special guests. Well, today we have in the studio with us, we have Ellen Krebs. Ellen is a local voice actor and it's super exciting. Ellen has a lot to say on the subject and some very unique.

Perspective to add to the mix the this category that we've been talking about long term. So Ellen welcome to the show Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to be here. Thanks for joining us Yeah, so before we get into the meat and potatoes the heart of what we want to talk about today So, you were doing voiceover before you came to Voice Coaches.

Yeah, so, um, I started about eight years ago, um, just doing it freelance and I worked through a site called Fiverr. com, that's Fiverr with two R's, and, uh, that's what I've been doing for eight years, but I haven't done kind of the more traditional route of what Voice Coaches trains people to do, of, you know, marketing to local markets and such, so, uh, yeah, that's why I kind of came in to get this experience here.

Super exciting. How did you How did you just jump into it? Because that is a very unique story. Not a lot of people go the route that you went. How did you do it? Yeah, I mean, someone just said, Hey, you've got a good voice. I think you'd really be marketable. Why don't you check out this website? So I went on and set up a profile and I don't know how.

I was very lucky to really have it pick up really quickly. And, uh, throughout the years I've altered what they call your gig on Fiverr. Um, I've changed it so that it's very lucrative and lets me make an income. And, uh, yeah. It's just been a very lucky success story, basically. Was this person a voice actor themselves?

No, just a friend. Just a friend? Just a friend who voice. You should really look at this. Yeah. Someone who was a lot more tech savvy than me and knew the internet more. So I had never even heard of fiber. com and they said, you know, I'm going to suggest this microphone and I got a little home studio set up just in my walk in closet so that all the clothes would help bring the sound in and it took off from there.

It's me and my little microphone and my laptop. You had no tech experience before that, no microphone experience. Absolutely none. That is awesome. How difficult was that to learn? How difficult did you find that? Yeah, it was kind of learning on the job. Uh, I, I listen back now to the first little demo I put together and I, I cringe.

It's so bad. There's lots of, you know, lots of really weird pops and clicks and things that I've since. figured out how to avoid or to edit out. Um, so it definitely was a learning experience, but, um, I just kind of figured it out on my own. What types of jobs do you do on, on, on Fiverr? The types of jobs that, that you kind of got started doing?

Because I know they're usually, they're usually smaller in scale, but, you know, what, what, what types of things have you found that, uh, that you've been able to get? It's really all over the place. Uh, lots of voicemails. So, you know, you've reached this company. Uh, and then tons of, learning, uh, because you get orders from all over the world.

So a lot of my clients are from India and China and they're trying to teach people English. So, uh, lots of word lists in there. Uh, randomly you'll get really fun gigs, like video games. Those are very seldom, but my favorites, um, to get to do character work. Are you saying voicemails aren't fun to do? Well, you know, depends on the script.

Some are more, better written than others. Well, what's more exciting than a word list? That sounds, that does sound exciting. Yes, yes, word lists are great. Um, and a lot of white board animation videos as well, you know, um, to promote some new product on a lot of things that are used for Kickstarter or YouTube.

Very nice. Very nice. How, so what I'm so curious about too with all of this, you really got into the tech of it. And we have a lot of people who are going through our program who are a little bit older and are very intimidated by the tech aspect. And it's really, it's really, um, a difficult thing for them to manage, to get their head around.

And how. How did you do it? You, your friend just gave you a recommendation and you just followed the recipe? Basically, yeah. So, uh, I record on Audacity and I edit on Adobe Audition and, uh, just kind of played with the settings, you know, just spent some time figuring out the best levels and, you know, mastering and normalizing to what levels make sense and I kind of just Googled it and got a basic idea of what I should do and went from there.

YouTube University. Yeah. Yeah. It's the best school in the world. It's ridiculous. I've actually had people during classes be like, well, can't I find out this stuff on YouTube? And I'm like, not really, but you can find it a lot. I found out how to fix my dishwasher on YouTube. That's what I'll say. I'll say it's a good, it's a good tool.

It's good. It runs better now than it did before. I mean, it runs, which it didn't before. So I'll take it. I'll take it. So with Fiverr, how often do you work? Yeah, so it was actually interesting a few months ago, after being on it for 8 years, my mother actually recommended, she said, you should really calculate your time, figure out what you're making hourly, make sure that your rates are something that's That makes sense for how much time you're putting into it.

And so I calculated, I usually work between 20 to 30 hours a week through Fiverr. But it varies. And luckily, the beginning of this year, I don't know what happened, but sales have spiked. So I'm probably doing a bit more than that. So it's actually great because it's to the point where I have another job, but I'm going to be leaving that next year to just Fiverr work because it's enough of an income to support me.

So that's amazing. Yeah. Um, hopefully being able to commit more time to it because that's obviously the challenge of if you're doing it part time, you've got another job. It's any freelance challenge you have of finding the time to make sure you get that order done, uh, because there's timelines you have to hit and sometimes you wake up in the morning and there's a 300 job you got to get done, you know, in a certain amount of time.

So you gotta. Be flexible with your schedule. What's the turnaround time on a job like that? Well, what's really great is that you get to set your own schedule. So for me, I usually typically have a three day delivery time on any order that's below a thousand words. And then if it's more than that, it starts adding on days.

But people can pay extra if they want to rush it to get it within 24 hours. So that's kind of nice. You can piecemeal your gig so that it works for you to get extra. Um, you know, extras for certain things, like if people want it timed in 30 seconds, I ask them to pay extra because you have to spend time making sure your pace is, you know, set at a very specific pace.

Uh, and you can also change things. So if I'm really busy, if I get, you know, bombarded with lots of gigs, I'll change my delivery time to be four or five days to just give me a little bit more flexibility, you know, what's great. And, you know, we don't talk to too much about something specific like that, but you basically, you know, have spearheaded your own, your own business.

And that's what we, we tell people when they, when they step out of here, there is small business and all those things come into play. And, you know, for you in, in the more. traditional voice acting type of, uh, type of marketing, but you're going to be in good shape for that. And, and, and I, I think that's, you know, that, that's huge being able to kind of have that, you know, in your back pocket, have that kind of experience, a wealth of experience coming out.

Absolutely. Yeah, it really is. You're just your own business. And it gets interesting with taxes. You have to pay those quarterly taxes. Oh, you have to pay taxes? Oh yeah. Yeah. Um, but it's, yeah, it's, it's really wonderful. And you're your own boss really as well, which is nice. How did you learn the rule. How did you, did you just, was that trial and error?

Was that something that has evolved? How did you get to that point? Yeah, I kind of just thought if I ordered something, what would I expect, you know, to get it in? Um, and I kind of, I also looked through, there's so many voiceover people on Fiverr, so I just compared mine to what other people are offering.

And when I started off my My strategy, if you will, was to offer more than everybody else. So I offered more words per 5 because everything is, your basic gig is 5. And then over time as I built my success and a lot of repeat clients, I brought that down and down and down. I'm actually at the point where I'm going to bring it down a little bit more.

Um, and so the three days just felt. to me pretty average of what people were offering. So some people are, some gigs are everything is one day delivery. I don't know how they do that because there's no way I would be able to do everything in one day, but it just depends on what you want to offer. That's super cool.

So it goes back to your point of like you built a business and you actually did business analysis of other businesses and looked at what they were doing and positioned yourself near them or next to them or position themselves under them. That's awesome. That's awesome. Yeah. Sorry, we're having people don't know we had a little, a little technical issue starting this out.

So we're, we're, we're making it, we're making it, we're making it work. But yeah, no, that's, that's good. You got to keep it up. Everybody can't hear myself, which is so weird for me. I wish, I wish I had that. I wish I had my dad said the same thing. So, you know, So you, you, you did take the program, you know, and you, you went through the program, you got your demo, you know, how do you want to, obviously you're going to continue doing what you're doing and then should it's working out, but how are you going to kind of also spend time, you know, with more traditional marketing stat, you know, with the more quote unquote traditional type of, you know, voice acting type work.

Yeah. So that's really what I've been wanting to get into and just for the sake of time and opportunity haven't had a chance to. So I was really glad to find this here at Voice Coaches because it gave me an idea of where to start sending my demo out to because I just have never tried that before. I lived in Chicago and I had an agent, but I gave her my demo and nothing ever happened with it.

So, um, you know, it's just nice to have something, uh, I know a demo that was professionally done in a studio as, you know, I think my original demo sounded fine, but it It's at home in my own equipment, so it's just nice to have professionals put it together and get an outside ear on what they thought was a really good demo and start getting that out there.

So that's kind of my goal for the summer, fall is to use all the information I've gathered from you all. And. Start putting it into place. And I did want to ask, I mean, obviously you came into the program with a ton of experience, more than I would say with most, did you still find the program, you know, the educational part of it, not just the demo recording part, but did you find the program itself still beneficial?

Did it, you know, were there still things that were, you know, things maybe you didn't know? That have improved what you've been able to do on, on your own. Yeah, definitely. I mean, working with Sam was wonderful. Yes, for the vlog. for the vlog. Boom, mic drop. Flattery will get you everywhere. But, um, really, I mean, just, just the experience.

experience of being in an actual studio was really interesting because it's so different than recording at home. And at home, I probably have some really bad habits that I've tried to even out since doing the course. Uh, and yeah, just getting some techniques on how to approach some text because with Fiverr, I very much, I, I cold read almost everything because just with the volume of work and with the price that I'm at.

It, you know, doesn't make sense to look over it for a really, really long time and, you know, work on it. You would not get much money out of it. So, uh, being able to get some techniques of how to just immediately jump in there and, and think, okay, who am I talking to? And, uh, what's, what's my goal here? You know, just better ways to adjust the script there.

Have you found success with the classical marketing approach that we talk about in the program around locally? Um, I have not had time, unfortunately. It's been, um, I've been really bogged down with work and then I'm doing a show right now. So, um, I haven't had a chance to put it out there. I got my demo, I was very happy, but I haven't had a chance to do anything with it yet.

I thought you did, because I saw something with a local studio around here that you did when we were talking before. Oh, right, right, right. So I thought that came from, uh, you just telling somebody or I was curious if that came that route. Um, that actually came from the Capital District audition email. Um, I sent them my old demo and, you know, kind of already have that in place.

Got it. Got it. Got it. Got it. That's awesome. So with cold reading, what is like the one thing that helps you approach a script now that makes it easier for you to take up a script entirely cold? Well, I think, uh, one thing that you suggested that I really love is, you know, really figuring out who you're talking to, because I would say my number one, uh, request on Fiverr is people to say, we want it casual, which is my least favorite word because people have different senses of what casual means.

Um, but, uh, you said, you know, imagine who you're talking to be very specific, you know, not just, But specifically what friend and sometimes on my computer, I'll have like a little picture off to the side of me and my husband and sometimes I'll look over and I'm like, Hey, I'm going to talk to you. So that's really helped.

It helps me kind of loosen things up and make it sound more conversational. This is something we should add to the whole podcast. program is tell people to bring in photos. Josh, I think this is a great, actually. Hey, who's your favorite person in the world? Bring that photo with you. We're gonna put that photo in the booth.

That's awesome. I love that. We're gonna give them headshots of you, Sam and you're talking to this guy right here. This is the only person you're allowed to talk to talking to that guy all the time. Sorry, he's great. You're gonna love him. Learn to love him. Um, that's awesome. That's really, really cool to hear.

And you've added like there's so much that you've done with what I love about your story. is that you did it on your own and I feel like what I hear in that and what other people can take from this is that you are empowered to learn this yourself too and then keep learning and you came through the program after you already had a handle on it.

And it wasn't impossible. A lot of people are really intimidated by the tech front. A lot of people are really scared by, I don't know about microphones, I don't know about this, but you did it with knowing very little and you had some help. You had a friend who was like, hey, buy this microphone, get this thing, do this, and you then figured out how to normalize, you figured out how to do some post production, sound design, I heard the old demo, you knew all these things.

That's super cool. Anyone can do that. It takes, how long do you think that took you? Not long at all. Really, I mean, it was kind of just a formula that I stick to. I mean, once in a blue moon, I'll get a very special request. Like, someone wanted to do a subliminal, uh, voiceover. Subliminal? What does that even mean?

Yeah, I had never heard of it. But, again, just Googling it. It's basically a track you record and then you set it at a certain level and put music over it so that you basically can't hear the voice, but it's supposed to, I guess. That's the best voice acting job ever. Is it supposed to help you sleep? I guess.

I think, yeah, the idea is that you listen to it and, you know, the. Somehow your brain picks up the very quiet audio. Just, just out of curiosity, what were the subliminal messages? They were all affirmations of, you know, like, Today is going to be a good day, kind of, you know, stuff like that. You're saying that, but we can't hear you say that.

Right, you just hear a very calm music. So I'm just like, intuiting, I'm hearing the music, you're saying it, and I am Feeling the message underneath like the vibration. Yeah, I love it. Josh, we've got to record this. This is another thing. The most ridiculous thing. I'm gonna do this for you, Josh. I'm gonna do subliminal messages.

I'm gonna send it to you. You won't be able to understand, but it's gonna change your life. If I can listen to something that doesn't have your voice on it, I'll do it. It will do it. You're going to learn to love it. I will definitely, definitely do it. That is, that is bizarre. That really is star. But you know, you know, it's, it's a great thing.

And you mentioned, right, most of the programs nowadays that you'd use, whether it's audacity, whether it's audition, we use pro tools, they're really user friendly. There was a time where making your own home studio was extraordinarily expensive, extremely cumbersome and very, you know, there was so much with it.

It's, I'm not going to say it's easy, but it's, It's simpler. Yeah. A heck of a lot simpler. And, and it is, it's something that, that people can learn pretty quickly. When I started working here, I've never used Pro Tools before. I'd used recording programs, but not this one. And now it's, it's, it's old hat.

They're very, very simple. So people are intimidated by it and I get that, but they don't need to be. They've made it so, so you basically you need a mic, a computer and a program and a decent place to talk. Yeah. And that's, that's kind of the, the. The bare bones of it. Exactly. Yeah. I'd say the only challenge of a home studio is when your cat is like, hi, which happens all the time.

Pay attention to me. Pay attention to me. Yeah. Can I have a subliminal message from your cat? Yes. I just want your cat meowing in the background and I'll just, I'll go to sleep to that. Yeah. Sounds good. And then I'm going to wake up and be like, I want tuna. It's weird. And what I love about that whole story too, is that you, you just did it and then you learned on the fly.

You learned as you were doing it and you learned, you started. And then you kept growing from there, and that's something that everybody can do. Anyone can buy a microphone, buy I know for me too, I never worked with Pro Tools before I came to this studio, and now I love Pro Tools. I ge I geek out, I think it's so exciting, but I worked with Audacity for about ten years, and I think Audacity is a wonderful program.

It works in that gave me a leg up when I started on Pro Tools. So that's awesome, Ellen. Be like Ellen. I think that's the message here. Just do it. Get a cat, let your cat do subliminal messages and be like Ellen. There you go. And talk to your husband. That's a great, great tactic. I think that's an awesome idea.

Photos of a person that you're going to work with. Like that's, that's a wonderful strategy because it brings it to life. Yeah, it really does. You don't, you don't know what you're saying. It's cold, correct? And you could still. Yeah. And it's just like, all right, he, he obviously needs to know about this, you know, diet program that I'm reading about.

Hurtful. Hurtful. This is the last one I recorded. That's all I could think of. Oh, I love it. Can I ask for the subliminal messages? Did you imagine you were talking to your husband too? Um, I don't think I had that technique in place for the subliminal messages, but that's pretty good. But, you know, ultimately, I think we can say that the biggest thing about this, whether you're going, you know, the route that you went, or whether you're going the more quote unquote traditional route, though I don't know if there is such a thing anymore, but, you know, whether you're doing that, it's all about Just doing it.

Diving in. Go for it. That's what people don't do. People, you know, want to get into this and whether they take the program or don't, they don't do it. They just, just, just do it. Just start moving. Go some, do, do stuff. Just get out there. And that's, that's the, that's I think one of the biggest challenges. And Sam, we talk about it all the time.

We do. We, we, we. We're paralyzed. We paralyze ourselves with whatever it is, fear of failure, fear of whatever. Just do it. If you put your thing up on Fiverr and, you know, you went to get some jobs and you had a few of them but it didn't really work out, so what? Who cares? I mean, so at least you know. But you give yourself the opportunity to be successful and the opportunity, you know, to be able to do this and most people never do that.

Most people never do that. And it's really, you know, what you talk about in the program, too, of you, you have to be your, your own advocate and your, you know, your own company manager, basically, because so many people have asked me about Fiverr. And I would say maybe two of them have actually pursued going on.

Everyone's like, Oh, I should do it. I should do it. I should do it. But then they don't. Um, And the two people who did, they just didn't follow through, you know, like they didn't put the energy in and it takes a lot of energy to get started, but at least in my case, uh, it picked up really quickly and it's so easy and I just wake up in the morning and check my email and there's tons of orders I have to do in the next three days.

Yeah. And it's like, all right. Awesome. So, it's just all about having that initial commitment and following through. That's awesome. And there's no right road, is what we're kind of all saying, too. There's no absolute road. It's like, this worked for you. This is your avenue. It might not work for somebody else, but It could work if you're willing to invest what you invested, time, energy, learning, and now you've created a system that works for you.

That's so cool to wake up in the morning and be like, Hey, all right, I got five jobs today. Better get to work. Yeah. Sometimes it's great. Sometimes it's like, Oh, yeah. Oh, man. the joys and perils of running your own business. Yes. Yes. Yeah. So Ellen, what else you're doing a show right now in the capital region?

What's the show? Um, so I'm doing Shakespeare in Love at Capital Rep, which is, which is a really fun show. Who are you in it? Are you the main? No, I'm the, I'm the nurse, which is, uh, if you know the movie, it's, um, you know, The story mirrors Romeo and Juliet. So I'm basically the Romeo and Juliet nurse, but very silly, over the top character.

Awesome. Awesome. Well, nerds. Nerds. This is the guy with the NASA cup in the corner. Don't hate on my NASA mug. No, it's great. I love it. NASA mug is awesome. It's admiration. We were going to talk about, about deep space exploration. In one of our upcoming episodes, where are we? I don't remember. No, I'm going to do.

I can't wait. Yeah, we talked about butterflies last week, man. Who knows what's gonna happen here? Correction. You talked about fair point, but I loved it. I did. I learned even at burrow talked about butterflies last week and then I Reflected that and if David Attenborough says it, it's awesome. Well, Ellen, is there anything else you would like to impart to somebody else?

Starting out starting down the road to being a voice actor Is there any advice that you would give? Um, I guess just looking for the opportunities. I mean, I work on Fiverr. com, but I know there are tons of other sites out there, um, that I personally have not explored. I know other people have success on those sites.

Um, and so I guess just knowing that, you know, especially, for example, I used to live in Chicago. The only option is not just get your agent and send them your demo and hope and pray that they do something with it. You know, like you can You can do your own thing. You really can be your own person in this, in this industry and make it very successful and have a very lucrative career out of it.

Super cool. That's awesome. It really is. Uh, if, if anyone listening and has any questions around, well, we could reach out to you if, if anyone has any questions for about what you do or, or how you've done it. Um, cause I, I imagine that there are going to be a lot of people pretty interested in, uh, in this and, and maybe, you know, diving in and, and who knows, we may have a ton of people who are interested in, Two people do it, but, uh, you know what?

For those two people, maybe they'll get success out of it. Maybe, uh, maybe they will. So we'll definitely let you and, and, and when you do get a little more time and start, you know, continuing to pursue this, I imagine that we will probably be knocking at your door again. Yeah, that's great. We didn't scare you away last time.

Please come back on the podcast. We have butterflies to talk about. It's interesting guys. It's interesting. Nope. Yeah, it's interesting. All right. Yes. Don't judge me. Don't judge me. It's all right. It's all right. Um, so awesome. Well, thank you so, so much for coming in and spending some time in this insanity here.

Um, if people could see what's happening right now, it is a ridiculous scene. There are wires and cords, just all like we said, we had a little technical difficulty to start and there are just wires coming out of. Everywhere in here. We're all sitting in a little circle. Yep. Uh, Sam does not have a set of headphones because we couldn't get him to work.

Uh, he also doesn't have a music stand. So that's why the mic is coming in and out. So he's just sitting there, you know, with a, with a mic in his hand. And, uh, this is not exactly, uh, the most professional atmosphere in the world, but, uh, but thank you for joining this and being a part of this. We, we, we really do appreciate it.

It was super helpful. I know we're, we always like to go this way and then another way and zigzag back a whole different direction, but I think there's a lot of value that you can bring to the table for our audience. I think people will really appreciate it because you've done a lot. Yeah, I hope so.

Awesome. Awesome. Sam, anything more? No, I think it's great. Thank you so much. Awesome. Well, Ellen, thank you again so much for joining us. And like I said, we'll definitely still Be in touch and good luck with, uh, with continued success and, and with, uh, with new success and your new endeavors. And, uh, and I'm sure we will, we'll be in touch.

And like I said, if anyone has any questions for Ellen, please do not hesitate to let us know. Sam at voicecoaches. com. It's the best way to get in touch with us. That's Sam at voicecoaches. com and, uh, and we'll definitely pass those along. Awesome. All right, Ellen, thank you so much again. So for Ellen and Sam, I'm Josh, and until next time, so long everyone.

Visit voicecoaches. com for more voiceover news and information.

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Josh and Sam welcome special guest and voice actor Ellen, who has some advice on building career success and finding work through gig-based job matching website Fiverr.