Darren Roebuck – Voice Actor & Solopreneur

Janine: Welcome to the thriving solopreneur and this is Janine Bollon and you caught Darren and I goofing off, which is normal for us as we’re getting ready to record. And what we are doing today is what I love about the thriving solar printer is being able to chat with people who like yourself are busy working on their business, and it’s usually just them or where they might be themselves and a team of people that support them. But for the most part, you know, it is me and myself and I that is running the business. So thanks for being with us today, Darren.


Darren: Oh, it is my pleasure to be here Janine as always.


Janine: So what is really fun. What we were talking about before we got on was this, that challenge of number one, trying to find your direction, because when you first start with the big idea, whatever the big idea is for your business, you almost never really start making money at it right off the bat. Did you find that to be the case? Yeah. Tell us a little bit about your big idea that you were going for?


Darren: Big idea after leaving my, my previous career, which, you know, my quote, real job I really thought I was going to reinvent myself as a media producer and I started studying and doing all of that stuff to be a media producer. And then just as it so happened, sometimes the road turned and voice acting opportunities came up. So I thought fine. I will try that and it all happened rather organically. I already had a recording studio in my house from being a musician and I had been on a pirate radio show for a while. So I had some mic time, but really none of it was me intentionally trying to be a voice actor. But then a friend said, ‘Hey, you could make money on this website’. So I thought, all right. And I think that’s one of the biggest things for Solopreneurs is don’t be afraid to change course because sometimes it might, your dream job might be behind that curtain. So I made that switch and thought, why not? And I set upa profile on this one website and immediately started getting work. Now, granted, it was pretty low level. It wasn’t paying well but it got me a lot of practice. Then a couple of years after that I was struggling, absolutely wondering, what am I doing here? And were all these choices, good ones. And I don’t know, I’m questioning everything about my existence.


Janine: Yeah that self-doubt that kicks in at 3:00 AM. 3:00 AM is that magic time, man!


Darren: Yeah, basically like all waking hours for me. And then very randomly, once again, my mum sent me a clipping out of the LA times, which mentioned these other websites that paid pro-rates. And I thought, Oh it was, it was definitely a leap of faith because I had to sign up for subscriptions to these. And it certainly cost me a bit of money. But I thought, you know what, now is the time. I mean, if I am going to make it, I got to do what it takes to make it. So I got on these sites. I started auditioning and auditioning and auditioning, and I just said to myself, this is the job I want. I am going to work it like, it is my job. And I went to work every day for as long as I could stand it. You know, it was like they say about solopreneurs, you know, you can work whatever 14 hours a day. If you want.


Janine: Funny, you are going to be putting in time. You are going to work harder for your business and you’ve ever worked for anybody else. And, and yet at the same time, we can also say out at the other side of our mouth, that we have more freedom than we have ever had in our entire life. Do you want to talk a little bit about that because we were talking about that earlier?

Darren: Yeah. You know, It all sort of goes into this finish what I was saying there, you know, it was that getting involved with this other thing and just taking that turn, ended up putting me on my path and yeah, you do have to put in more time. However, the thing is is that once I really stepped into that role and decided that I am just going to commit to this, like, it is my job. It did not feel like work. I was putting in the effort when it was mine. It did not feel like it did when I was going to the other job and work in chasing somebody else’s dream. I was chasing my own dreams. So it was not a job. It was my life. And that was one of the biggest differences for me. It was, I like putting in the time and you know, I worked six days a week now and I like it. Granted I can take off in the middle of the day and do stuff if I want to, or, you know, if I need to block out a week just because I feel like it or go on vacation or something, that is easy enough to organize. But yeah, you know, that it is that figuring out what it is and sticking with it is probably the biggest thing at the beginning.

Janine: Correct. And that was one of the things I wanted you to kind of me a little bit more about a lot of solopreneurs will come to me and say, yeah, and I know I suffer from shiny object syndrome. So I don’t know who that was. That first came out with that, but that was not something that was talked about six years ago. So obviously something happened that Janine’s missed the pop culture reference boat on that one. But I just, I just said, well, just because you have shiny object syndrome, that just means a lot of things make you happy to do them. So just remember though that you are here to move your business forward. So you want it to be a media producer. That was, that was going to be your thing. You ended up getting into voiceover, but now with 2020 glasses looking behind us, you know, we can see where maybe all that stuff that you’ve learned about being a media producer puts you in the right mindset to promote yourself as a voiceover person. So how did that transition help with you? Yeah.

Darren: Well, for starters, shiny object syndrome, I actually like self-identified as a trout or a raccoon or something at that period of time because every shiny thing I chased and it actually came down to, with talking to a friend who was more established in business than I was, who had set an act notice sort of seeing this like at cocktail parties where people would say, so what do you do? And I’d rattle off six things and you’d just sort of see them like not compute. And I realized that you have to pick, even if you do more than one thing. And I think you should do more than one thing, you know, diversifying your income streams is super important. Especially these days when you don’t know how the world’s going to shift and when it shifts, it seems to go pretty quickly. But you want to be able to just have that quick knee jerk, confident reaction that says, hi, I am on and fill in your blank. Not for being able to do it for yourself, but be able to do it for those people. And you’re giving them what they can talk to other people about you about. So when I say hi, I’m a voice actor, you know, I sure I get the same general questions that come back, but I know that they’re going to say, Oh, did you meet Darren? I was like, yeah, he is a voice actor. And they are not like he just said, I rattled off all these things and I don’t remember what any of them are now what does he do? So branding yourself as one thing is important. When I slipped into it, really, it was just, this is a thing that’s marketable. It’s a thing I can do. It’s a thing that if I get good at it will definitely pay the bills. And more than that was, I loved it. I just loved it. And if you do not like for a career like this, if you do not love it, it is madness. You will hate it. You know, there’s, there is no middle ground. There’s no liking it and getting by. It is like, you really have to have your, have your full body and soul invested in.

Janine: It is binary. It is like, I tell people, if you are a solopreneur, you have to be pretty binary. You have to either love it or hate it. And that’s how you have to operate. If you try to do grades, like you said, you will confuse people.

Darren: And be really honest with yourself and know that, you know, no matter whether or not you love it, there’s going to be a ton of hard work that goes along with it because there’s aspects of the job that everybody hates may not be the same thing, but it’s like, you know, there’s always something for most voice actors, since we are tend to be creative people, we hate marketing, you know, but still you got to do it or you do not survive and you’ve got to find ways to make it fun. But that’s also the cool thing is you don’t have to go battle against a board directors or partners or anything else about how to do it. You can take your, all your own chances because why not? It is just you.


Janine: That is the thing that is freedom and that lifestyle. So I always encourage people. If you want to go into business for yourself, make sure you establish the lifestyle you want burst, like have a crystal clear vision on what is the life that you want. Do you only want to work eight hours a week or, or eight hours a day? Or do you want to work 14 hours a day for four days a week? I mean, I’ve talked to solopreneurs that they will put in 36 straight hours, really hard press doing projects, getting stuff done so that they can make it to the surf in California. Right. You know? And so it is like, you build a life for yourself and it’s truly possible, but at some point, the rubber’s going to have to have to hit the road and you are going to have to put in the work for that. So for you with your work, you are like, okay, the voice acting that is great. This is what I do. But you also, I cannot remember the number, but you told me earlier, how many hours a day you spend just going after the next job, you know, auditioning, how many hours a day do you audition?

Darren: I spend about, depending on the day I spend about four hours on the mine because that is about all my voice can take after about four hours. I start to sound funny.


Janine: And talking about a good, funny.

Darren: Yeah, not like cartoon character funny. It is like not sounding like Darren funny. And then the other four is spent doing marketing efforts, whether it’s direct reaches, reach outs or a social media or working on my website or something like that. It’s basically I work from 10 to eight every day with two hours for exercise in the middle.


Janine: Exactly. And so that makes for a long day, without even having to commute. And I think about, yeah.

Speaker 3: But my commute is about four steps.

Janine: Down into the basement. Right. So yeah, that is one of the things that I like to share with people is early on, you know, solopreneurs were extremely rare. That is not the case anymore, not with telecommuting and all the things that have happened in our society. As people get prepared to go into business for themselves, as they continue to work, maybe they are telecommuting job. And then they want to build something on the side. What is some advice that you would give someone who is just starting out as a solopreneur? Like I wish somebody had told me, do you have two or three points you want to share?




I do Of course we have already covered the, you got to love it. One that’s, that’s probably the most important and you got to be really honest with yourself about that. Another thing you got to be honest with yourself about is doing all of the work that it takes to run your whole business. You have to wear like six hats and that’s no matter what business you’re in, it’s the same six hats. And you got to devote time for all of them. So time management right off the bat is is really important. And then the other thing, and this was the thing that it’s one of my mantras, it’s probably the most important thing I’ve done for myself was just remind myself that the only way to fail is to quit. And as long as I do not quit, I will succeed.

Janine: Right. And I totally agree with that. I would tell my students and friends of mine , I feel like you can quit all you want, but don’t give up, you know, but we all have that because there has been times I have just thrown stuff down and go, I quit and I stopped off and my kids are like, yeah, she’ll calm down and I will go outside. I will go for a run around the block, come back and go, okay Once more with feeling.


Darren: Yes, exactly. Resetting is important. Being in touch with who you are and how you feel and what you need to do for self-care is super important. And that’s actually, probably another thing is you got to make time for yourself and your self-care. I actually prioritize things like exercise and eating well and that stuff before my job, that’s more important. because if I’m not healthy and, and feeling and being my best, then I cannot do my best work. And there is, you are wasting your time. If you are trying to put in those long all-nighters and just surviving on coffee or something just go get a good night’s sleep. It’s better for you. And there is nothing that you cannot finish tomorrow, but, but finish it tomorrow and in the long-term do not give up.

Janine: Yeah. Do not yeah, definitely. Definitely. So quit as many times as you want, but do not give up, you can put as much as you like, you know, but yeah, don’t, you dare give up because the world actually needs what you have to offer. And that’s one of the things that solopreneurs sometimes forget, but I’d like to go back to something that you mentioned and that’s time management, because a lot of lip service is given to time management and project management, and they’ve got all these, you have got an app for everything these days and you have software that everybody recommends and I found it didn’t work for me. Like none of it. I had to actually build my own. So I have my own view on time management, but I would love to hear what do you mean and what worked for you?

Darren: Well I have a few things to say about that. One is actually came organically out of voice acting. I read a narration on time boxing. And if you don’t know what that is, it’s basically where you just assign an amount of time for each individual task you have to do throughout the day or the week or whatever. And I just used the calendar on my phone and alerts from it. And so I blocked out a pro appropriate amounts of time. I also leave one gap, one section empty because it is hard to stick to exact times on things. And so it’s pretty much, everything always takes a little longer. So I leave that, that little flex zone there. So that I don’t get stressed out at the end of the day. It’s another thing to manage your stress. And then lately the thing I have been on is arranging my day kind of like a school schedule, but instead of hour long classes, they are two hours long. And so I put it in my vocal warmup time. I put in my audition time, my exercise my music practice time as well as all the marketing and website and stuff like that. And, and by breaking it up that way, it’s easy for me to trick myself into doing the stuff I don’t like to do, because I know that it’s not like all day I got to sit and market. It’s just like, it’s only a couple of hours. I can do anything for a couple of hours. I mean, have you ever sat in a dentist chair for two hours? You know, it is like it is not going to be that bad. So and then I know I have a reward coming because I have usually tried to put something fun at the end of the day. And no, get to know yourself so that when you, you know, what parts of the day you’re most creative, you know, what parts of the day where you may want to just be doing easy, busy work, something like that and arrange it so that you sort of organically, aren’t forcing yourself to do these things. You naturally will fall into the task.

Janine: I agree, because I know for me as an author and as somebody who does a lot of recording, like you are so fully mined educational videos, you know, it does not matter. It’s all creation, right? I know my best time is from 4:00 AM to 6:00 AM. That is the best time for me to do that. So that blocks always in violent, nobody gets to disturb me during that period of time, which the joke is with 14 majors in the house everybody’s asleep anyway, which is probably why I am so productive. But then there’s time where, you know, then I have to have breakfast and take a shower and, you know, exercise, all that fun stuff has to fall in there. And so my, my day is not at all traditional in any way, shape or form. And I know I start to kind of flag in my energy around 2: 30 to 3:00. And when that happens, that’s when I’m checking the email and I’m looking up answers to things. And like you said, so definitely know what you can do a night. Owl would not want my schedule. Right? My schedule is like right during the middle of their prime time REM sleep. Right? So going to bed at 2:00 AM getting up at eight. So definitely want to say that time boxing is what I kind of fell into by accident. I had not read that excellent book that you read, but I definitely fell into it on my own. So any last bits of advice you want to give to a solopreneur, just starting out.

Darren: Yeah. Go for it, do it, do it. It is like you have an idea and follow it. You know? I mean, who else is going to do it? You can do it, do it.

Janine: Yeah. I agree. Because just because you see other people doing it similarly, it doesn’t mean that you won’t have something that’s going to be so unique and there’s 8 billion people on this planet and there is a demographic that you need to serve. And I think sometimes the solopreneurs, we forget that because it’s me, myself and I and my office,

Darren: But you are bringing you to the table and that’s the coolest thing. You can bring everything cause people want to work with you. And it’s really just about finding those people. That’s one of the biggest things. So do not be afraid to knock on doors and, and you know, reach out and reach out and reach out. Don’t be worried about being annoying with sending the emails and asking for what you want because there is plenty of people out there that are going to answer that email and go, yeah, you’re cool. You’re exactly who I need.

Janine: And I love it when I hand somebody a business card or when I am talking to somebody and they go, where have you been? I’ve been looking for you and I was like ‘yes’ because I have been looking

Janine: For you for about three years is what I think as a solo performer. So, well, thank you so much. I appreciate you taking time out of your day to be on the podcast with us. And I wish you much luck as you move forward in your career.

Darren: Thanks. Thanks for having me on Janine. I really appreciate it.

Janine: And so, this is Janine Bolan with the thriving solopreneur. And if you have any other questions or services that you are not quite familiar with, or you are looking for as a solopreneur, please reach out and touch base with me at janinebolon.com because it is there that you will find wonderful people like Darren and others who have services, who have products that may help you make your life easier. And that is us for this thriving solopreneur.