Creating your own work life? Work-in-progress

Who doesn’t dream of ding dong ditching the wicked boss at the office or early morning work alarms? I know I did. But fear is a powerful little demon monkey that hangs on your back. The idea of working from home full time seemed like a dream of a dream. It wasn’t until an online voice casting agency sent out a mass recruiting email for a remote customer service agent that I just so happened to receive because I am a voiceover artist, and answered because I was desperate to ditch a challenging boss. This overseas company took a chance on me when I didn’t know any of the services they used to manage their business, calls or tickets. But I knew technology and customer service, and I had freedom of low financial pressure to learn.

I’m in one of those small towns you hear songs about on the radio. Lost in Middle America. Lima, Ohio. What I had no idea is this small town was the perfect place to get lost in the remote economy and find my way into things I genuinely felt a passion doing. Things I wouldn’t have had the time to explore if I were buried under the weight of high rent for small spaces. Killing my entrepreneurial spirit, and human spirit in general, for the safety of a 9-5 that would pay the bills just another month. If I could go back to the miserable girl sitting in a radio station for pennies because she thought she had to, I’d tell her a few things.

Take the chance on a small town. Small towns are where it’s at to build a business or work a remote job. Not everyone can see that because they are looking at the things they are ‘missing’ or don’t have easy-drop-in-your-lap access too. But here is where your best chance at remote work or working from home would be successful. Why? The cost of most mortgages around here are in the $400 for a 1500 square foot house and up range. This meant I could afford to take the chance of starting a voiceover business which I had technically already started but was only doing part time. I didn’t need to move where there more 9-5 choices, I needed to move my butt and look at what I had access to and actually market what I was doing to other cities, remotely. I had set a ceiling for myself where there was none because I was used to bosses setting ceilings of how much I could make. But here…here one big job would pay the mortgage for the month and let me focus on another job that covers my utilities. THEN my time could be spent marketing, designing continuing education for myself and community involvement which is where my heart had been but my corporate boss hearts never had been. I could spend my time increasing my quality of life because I’m 15 minutes from most things in town, minutes from family, and have access and freedom to create most events I’m missing in the area. Focusing on what some city out there might offer or could drop opportunities in my lap had slowed me from recognizing I already HAD a business right here. The boom of the remote economy meant I could sell my services anywhere. It meant I could develop services and sell them anywhere. Reduced cost of living location was simply smart overhead at this point.

Underbid the competition. When someone is weighing the possibilities of which employee or contractor they are going to hire, like it or not, cost is a factor. As a business, they are working to reduce their bottom line and get the most bang for their buck because it’s smart. Just like it’s smart for you to underbid the contractors trying to land the job or client that you want. Your cost of living is much lower than bigger city contractors or employees who might bid/interview on your line of remote work…and depending on the industry it’s possible to undercut them and still negotiate a decently higher rate than you could get in your current physical location. Let me break this down what I mean. Google tells me the average rate for a secretary in San Diego is $18. Here it’s $10. Don’t be upset for us. The wages are proportionate most of the time to the cost of living. We sit on ⅓ to ¼ the living expenses some of our clients sit on. Except that here I can pitch my virtual assistant abilities to someone there for $15. I need to work 72 hours for the month to pay my house bills. Let that sink in. Larger cities are used to inflated rates for locationally close services, giving you a leg up as you are sitting on 1/3 the cost of living price in your area and still offering them an incredible savings for the same ability. It’s a win/win.

Work smarter not harder. We shouldn’t just be looking at moving for a job that pays incredibly well, but maybe we should also willing to relocate to create our dream job. Financially, a smaller town with lower cost of living is an incredibly efficient financial choice for a business – especially if you have a family. But isn’t that the American Dream? By definition that American Dream (thanks to Google dictionary) ‘is the ideal that every US citizen should have an equal opportunity to achieve success and prosperity through hard work, determination, and initiative.’ To create the life that you want. But that doesn’t mean that it comes with easy choices. It doesn’t mean that you get something just because you want it. The American dream didn’t come easy to those leaving family behind to come here. It still takes hard work even now with the ability to grab onto a remote job, and it still takes some really hard choices. Maybe even relocating for a few years to achieve financial stability or create something incredible. Make those choices. Stop working so hard because you are told this is the way it has to be by someone who isn’t affected by your happiness, but only affected by the inconvenience of your unhappiness. Work smarter. And you’ll have a better chance of making your dream a reality. Maybe even in your pajamas from home. But that’s an entirely different set of problems. #struggleisreal

Don’t look at what you don’t have as a negative. Create it and charge for it. This might be my favorite piece of advice I’d give old Ambyr. We listen to it everyday. People who complain they don’t have anything to do in their area. People who wish they had some place to go dancing. A certain kind of food chain nearby. A certain kind of service. A certain artist playing in their town. Whine whine whine. But no action. How easy it is to sit at home and demand what we don’t take action over. Now to be honest this piece of advice hit me by accident. I was asked to fill a need for a female voice because there was only one other option in our area at that time. So I did what I was asked for two years without asking questions. Until I realized I wanted to learn how to do it from home and offer it to other markets with the same problem of limited access. So I sought out mentors from other cities and one incredible one right here that worked at the TV Station that had started me on this path. Joined every Facebook group that talked about starting this business, what equipment they were buying, who they admired and followed and where they were selling their voices online. Through trial and error, I began to follow the paths of the artists I admired the most in the industry. Then I had a family that wanted to get away on vacation while I was figuring this all out and needed someone to stay alone at their house and watch their dog who couldn’t travel anymore due to age. 67 pet sitting clients later, I have a full blown business offering pet sitting. If I had been smart, I would have looked at what we didn’t have in our beautifully small town and created these businesses earlier, because it’s an incubator for niche market creations and services that can be marketed to larger markets. Being a small area where I am one of two female voice artists and a studio that I built in my house, means I had time to learn my craft before launching it out to bigger markets online. I could afford to make my mistakes here and perfect my process. I got to see how meeting that local need worked, and iron out the kinks of designing a solution for markets just like our smaller community. And then I realized I had a package I could easily pitch to other communities our size with these same needs. From my home. That’s more valuable than some schooling available today if I’m really honest. Mentors all over the USA became my teachers. Small markets became my classroom. Slack became my office watercooler talk for clients all over the world.

If I could go back, I would have told that girl to take the leap. That risking finding a remote client was better than trying to find the grace to handle a boss that didn’t share a vision of what being employed by someone could mean. That it was more than cheap labor. That it was more than following a static set of rules. But that it’s a meeting of the minds to create solutions, engage communities and impact the people around you as you market what you’re passionate about not just what you’re selling. I’d tell her there are so many people in the world who need what she’s offering. Who don’t just put up with her entrepreneurial spirit…but won’t hire someone without it. That she doesn’t have to choose between community and work anymore. She doesn’t have to choose between her health and work. That remote clients and employers are on the hunt right now for someone just like her and don’t care if she works from bed that day.

She just has to say yes to change. Yes to adding new skill sets. Yes to a new kind of office.

Are you wondering right now what you’d go back and tell your younger self…or maybe thinking it’s time to have a talk right now?

-Take a look at the top cities in your state for low cost of living. Realize that not all stats will be in numbers alone.
-Do your homework. Maybe getting outside into the suburbs would lower your cost of living enough to give you the courage to go after your first remote client or business. But maybe you have to have a tough conversation with your family or yourself about the next 5 years and where it’s going to lead you.
-Spread yourself a little thin and market what it is you want to do on the side. Do it part time. See if you still love it. See if it doesn’t make you wish you could do it full time. And if it does…
-Make the move. Don’t sit on the decision and complain about your job. Change the balances until you’re doing what you love full time and what you have to do only part time.

Realize at the end of the day, you have to love what you do. Because the reality is that you’ll be rejected, put down, put in a box, and kicked around by life no matter what path you choose. But when you love what you do and can choose your own terms – what life does to you won’t determine what you do with life. You won’t let fear dictate your life – you’ll let love.

How to get started in…

People ask me all the time how to get started in VoiceOver. But then that inevitably crosses over into how to get started in AirBnb, Lyft, pet sitting, doggy walking…and all the different adventures I’m into that help create my work from home full time. And I finally realized…the process was the same throughout each one.

When I first got into VoiceOver, I was working at a TV station at a local station. I had gotten in as a temp, and had so much fun that I think it must have been catching because the station bought me out from the temp agency and I ended up being there two years. Incredibly people. But I imagine I was a difficult employee at times because I desperately wanted full time, which wasn’t something they could offer at the time…and I got bored easily because I couldn’t sit still. So I would actually get through my work fairly quickly since I was a tasker and go asking for anything additional to add to my plate. Anything to get up from my desk. And they were WONDERFUL about giving me a variety of things.

One day a sales person came back to my desk and said HEY! Can you read this script over here in the booth for me, push these buttons and save it in this folder when you’re done? I thought hell yeah! Anything to get up from the desk. And that’s what I did without even thinking about the process for most of the time I was there. But when I was offered full time with benefits at another place, I really had to look at what I enjoyed at the station and realized I didn’t want to stop voicing. And that meant I had to figure out how to do what I was doing there…and recreate it at home.

So I started looking up and following on social media the top ten people that were making a living selling their voice. I watched every video they posted, read every article, and researched the equipment and terms they used. I searched on FB every VoiceOver group that had more than 500 members and joined it…and did the same thing. I followed top posters, watched their videos, and more importantly I visited every site they talked about selling their voice on. This took months. Which was ok because I still needed to buy equipment. I was still voicing for the station and decided I needed some extra money that I could use to purchase equipment while I learned through watching. Total cost looked to be about 3k to insulate and purchase starter equipment down to the laptop.

I’m a very hands on person. Best way to learn, for me, is to do it. So NATURALLY I started sending out auditions since I could just record them at a local friends music studio. Most were no more than 30 seconds and I was in and out. I searched Facebook, Google, Craigslist, Twitter, and LinkedIn for auditions almost every other day for several months. If there was an audition, I sent a raw demo that I recorded in that moment.

I had a LOT of no’s…but I also began getting yes’s. The money from those I rolled right into my wishlist of equipment that I had formed from Sweetwater from the sweetheart of a senior salesman I went on a few dates with and helped me fine tune the list of what I had seen from the VO’s I was following on social media. And I purchased that equipment one piece at a time over the course of a year, all while watching and learning from the people and groups I was following.

When my studio was completed and built inside my house, I began auditioning every day. I would get up early, warm up my voice and do my searches until I found at least one audition to send a cold read to. I would follow up to previous ones I hadn’t heard from and then turn around and complete orders I had received within the hour when they contacted me back. But my real learning curve happened on one of the audition platforms for voices called VoiceBunny. I had seen the name more than several times in VO groups, and the talk wasn’t typically positive. But one thing they all agreed on…was that the process to actually get auditions was hard but that the work was plenty and the rates were low.

That was where I wanted to be because I wasn’t a professional. High standards for pennies is where an entrepreneur lives in the beginning. That’s where I found I could hammer out my process on an insane high standard for low enough rates that I could make mistakes in learning that wouldn’t burn bridges. So for probably a year and a half I read rejection after rejection after rejection on my studio quality which gave me enough raw audio to use as sort of demo’s. The no’s I received on that platform came with at least a yes in every 10 I did which taught me several things:

-be quick in your turnaround. The faster artist gets the job

-the more your client has to listen to the better chances you have of being booked

-constantly look and listen to your studio. One clients no will be another clients yes

-constantly getting rejected will give you a thick skin and develop grace and humor which you desperately need if you’re going to run a business

-rejection doesn’t always mean something is wrong but that you may not be the right fit

-practice makes perfect

I was blessed enough to get a contract working on the back end of this same company. I got to see the algorithm that works behind the scenes of online casting sites and the number of hands that touch what is uploaded just to make sure the perfection is there for each and every client. I got to see what made for good and bad artists and what made for good and bad clients. I learned that sometimes as an artist you need to let clients go when you’ve outgrown them or they’ve outgrown you.

The only thing left to do with what I had worked toward was to look at designing my own continuing education. Look into voice coaching and decide if it was right for me. Look into a professional demo. Listening to podcasts. Understanding small business. All those things that are part of bettering myself as a business.

And no matter what it is that you are hoping to delve into…this process is really the same. Educate yourself. Find peers and mentors and watch who, what, and how they are talking. Get interested in those things and understand them. Get your equipment together. And jump in. Understand you’re a business and develop your customer service and business side. Get an accountant. Get social media together. Surround yourself with people who can help you.

Good luck <3

This is a breakup

I’m breaking up with you.

I’ve had it up to here with you, Guilt. You talk down to me. You make me feel like I don’t deserve to take care of myself. And you are mean. You aren’t just mean, you are cruel.

You don’t like the way I look no matter how hard I try. And when I try hard, I stand in the mirror and you tell me it’s not enough. Or worse, that I don’t deserve this time and it would be better to give this selfish time to someone else. Like I don’t deserve my own effort.

You tell me things about myself even my worst boyfriend didn’t have the balls to say out loud.

I’ve cared about some guys in my life. You keep telling me he wouldn’t have chosen someone else if I wasn’t fat, ugly or old. Then turn around and tell me I’ll let people down I care about if I say yes to fixing fat, old and ugly and say no to people i love.

You’re unreasonable. You’re illogical. You play mind games.

You talk me out of trips I still think about a year later.

I hide parts of myself because of you. Because you whisper every chance you get that I’ll be alone forever if I show anyone.

You keep me from food I wanted to try. It would NOT have added 5 pounds to my hips. Especially if you’d shut up when I get to the gym and stand in the mirror. I would have gladly worked it off.

I’m tired of trying to drown you out with what I do for other people. I want both. To love other people AND love myself.

This is your eviction notice. Starting Monday I’m going to expose you for the petty little game player you are.

Headed out for some #selfcare today,
Ambyr

Auditioning for the Voice

I feel blessed to have some surreal moments in my life …really because I’m surrounded by surreal amazing people. What’s that saying. You are the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with.

I took this plunge to do a three day unplugged event called Emmaus. I can’t explain a lot because, well, you’re not supposed to know what it is till you get there. But if you’re religious…this is something you’ll want to find the closest one to in your area and go.

But we got to the end of the third day with all these ladies I was blown away by and had to go home. Which made me sad. And as I’m sitting at home, I get a call. These ladies found out the Voice auditions were happening just a few days away in Chicago and said “We got you a hotel and gas to get there – do you want to register? Let’s go audition for The Voice!”

And I did. Cleared everything and just went. These women I had spent three days with pooled their resources to get three of us ladies there so that I could audition. The hotel was beautiful. These ladies were beautiful – Deanna and Jeni. My heart.

We have this local inventor right

Local guy got tired of wobbly headboards and actually invented this cool device that secures your headboard to the wall. You’d legit think something already existed…but it didn’t. This thing is genius. I use it in all my AirBnb’s. Easy installation…easy to move later. Just gotta have a wood headboard.

I’m dead!

I totally jumped into this video

Lyft stories

You’re not going to believe this Lyft ride

 

You’re never going to believe this Lyft ride story

Posted by Ambyr Rose on Thursday, December 27, 2018