When Alice Everdeen started freelancing as a voice-over artist in March 2020, she worked under a laundry basket lined with a mattress topper.
The sound-blocking contraption did well enough: In its first full month on freelance services platform Fiverr, its side business brought in $3,500, Everdeen says. That’s what she earned every month in her full-time job as a content manager at a dietary supplement company in Austin, Texas, she adds.
“I would come home from work and work maybe four hours every night,” Everdeen, 31, told CNBC Make It. “I was able to work less and earn the same amount.”
Everdeen says ad agencies gravitate to her voice, which she describes as “warm” and “inviting”. Her next four months of freelance work continued to match the income from her full-time job – so she decided to quit and pursue voice-over work more fully in July 2020.
In her first month of full-time voiceover work, Everdeen booked 41 projects. As of July 2022, she has completed 181 and now earns up to $15,000 a month on the platform, according to documents reviewed by CNBC Make It.
She records for companies like Amazon, Southwest Airlines and OnlyFans — and only works three to five hours a day, she says. Last year, she earned over $102,000 in total income.
Her earnings largely went towards renovating a new office: a refurbished school bus that Everdeen and her boyfriend bought for $7,500 at a local auction to fulfill their dream of traveling the country.
From behind a desk inside a laundry basket
Everdeen’s first voice-over gig was unplanned. In 2018, she was working for an ad agency that wrote an ad script for a local Austin car dealership.. She read the announcement aloud to the owners, who decided they didn’t want to hire an actor for the official recording: they liked Everdeen’s voice.
She recorded 10 voiceovers for the advertising agency and drew on that experience when she joined Fiverr. The independent gig was only intended to help Everdeen earn some extra money while refurbishing the bus.
“I didn’t expect to make more than a few hundred dollars a month,” she says. But in April , I had a ‘holy s—‘ moment. I matched my net income.”
It took Everdeen a few months to become comfortable recording voice-overs full-time, she says. She was in direct competition with seasoned actors who portrayed popular cartoon characters, and as impostor syndrome set in, she sought out voice coaches who charged around $150 an hour to teach her the basics. of the voiceover.
Their advice actually caused Everdeen to lose business: After she started taking classes, she booked fewer projects and was told she looked “too robotic,” she says .
She returned to her natural conversational style and business picked up. With practice, confidence and efficiency have come: she says she can now record a 30-second spot in three minutes, compared to 20 minutes previously.
“I can take on a lot more work in the same amount of time,” says Everdeen.
In a school bus
Everdeen and her boyfriend have spent the past two and a half years renovating their 156-square-foot school bus — an $80,000 project largely funded by her voiceover earnings. Her boyfriend, a tradesman who specializes in water irrigation, was primarily responsible for building the interior of the bus.
She says they didn’t want to spend the rest of their lives behind desks and bought the bus because it was bigger than a van and easier to customize than a motorhome. “We feel like we’ve succeeded as adults by our standards,” Everdeen says. “We want to follow our dreams rather than what we are told to do.”
Renovations will be complete on September 5, Everdeen says, which means she will soon be able to work inside the bus in her pajamas from anywhere in the country. Fiverr does all of its advertising for her, so she doesn’t have to spend time finding clients or auditioning for gigs.
The compromise: the platform charges 20% on each order. Competing platforms like Upwork charge a lower percentage for projects priced over $500. Everdeen says she doesn’t mind the fees, which is an example of the many unexpected lessons she’s had to learn since taking on her new job.
“I went into this so blind – I didn’t realize I was becoming a business owner,” she says. “I wasn’t just the CEO, I was the head of marketing, I’m the head of HR.”