When a sudden change in circumstances forced me to shift from being a stay-at-home mom of three to contributing financially to my high-needs family, I never thought I’d eventually be making more than I ever had before as a freelance voiceover artist.
With two of my children on the autism spectrum and my husband steadily losing his sight to a degenerative eye condition, the reality of the situation loomed heavily.
It felt like I’d entered a different world. I hadn’t worked a steady job in nearly ten years and my skill set was kind of limited and a little rusty. To be honest, I walked around in a kind of daze for weeks as I struggled to process this change. We didn’t live close to family and had limited support. I didn’t know how it would all work.
For the first several years I worked a few different part-time jobs that challenged me in many ways. However, it soon became clear that this traditional style of working outside the home didn’t work for my family’s situation. I needed more flexibility.
I needed the freedom to focus on their needs and make an income.
My husband began working at a radio station. Then I was also hired to work there after the boss heard me do a guest spot. He told me I had a voice for radio. I began as features editor with two regular spots per day even though I had no prior training, and soon branched out into voicing commercials. I loved it!
As happens with many radio stations, this one eventually folded. But a colleague who became my mentor encouraged me to try freelancing in the voiceover world. I had no idea this was even a thing until faced with the reality that something I loved was coming to an end.
I still had another part-time job but I started freelancing on the side and kept plugging away to develop that business. My mentor was so helpful and encouraging during this time. The more I learned, the better I became at honing my craft and finding my place.
When my part-time job ended, I saw the opportunity to really focus on this business I had started. By then, I was making enough as a freelancer to replace the income I had been making outside the home.
My family was very happy to have me home, and the flexibility eased my stress about not being there when something came up unexpectedly, which it did often.
As my kids got older, they needed less of my time, and I saw this as another opportunity to ramp up my freelancing. I started networking like crazy and began to find clients among the thousands of contacts I made.
Within two years, my income doubled. I didn’t have to leave my family to fend for themselves in order to achieve it! I could organize my work around their needs, making time for things like doctor appointments and school meetings.
Four years ago I built a studio! Up to that point I’d been sharing a very small office with my husband who tried to accommodate me as much as possible. But the reality was, I needed my own space. When our oldest moved out, the studio went in, which really helped me move my business to the next level.
Working and earning
Most of my work falls into the eLearning category, which means I narrate content for anyone designing learning material. It took time to realize this was my niche, but it’s a natural fit as I’ve taught informally for many years. Plus, I like helping people understand how something works or how they can learn to do a skill.
I’ve narrated entire courses for pharmacists, explained basic math and science to elementary school kids, and enlightened computer tech geeks on how the latest software program fits into their current setup. Every day there’s something new for me to share and, in the process, I also learn some pretty interesting things!
My income continues to grow every year as I build relationships with those I call clients. Many of them end up as friends because that’s how I roll. Because of what I earn, I’ve been able to pay for special schooling for my ASD kids, complete major upgrades and repairs on my home, and pay for the very special trip to Rome a few years ago as my husband and I celebrated 25 years of wedded bliss. It has also allowed me to upgrade various aspects of my business, which includes coaching and attending conferences (pre-Covid).
This job I have is a gift.
It has stretched me in so many ways. I’ve had to learn things that are not easy for me to do. I’ve grown as a person, and the income I now make is triple what I was earning when I had to leave everyone to go work outside the home. It’s a win-win.
I am so grateful that I have exactly the kind of job needed to help take care of my family. And on those days when I feel out of my depth, I remember that and keep on keeping on.
Tracy is wife of one and mother of three, living in Peterborough, Ontario, where she spends time talking to herself daily in the padded room also called her studio. She enjoys gardening, canoeing, music, reading, and writing, and one day dreams of spending a month roaming about England. She has been a freelance voiceover artist for more than 12 years and would love to be the voice of “How It’s Made” one day.