Gig Economy Journals - A day in their shoes - Susie Coleman, Voice Over Artist

Gig Economy Journals - A day in their shoes - Susie Coleman, Voice Over Artist

What is 'gig economy' working really like and what are the opportunities and challenges for gig workers? This is part one in our series commissioned by the CIPD to study the lives of gig economy workers. It features Susie, a voice over artist. You can read the whole piece over on the CIPD website, but here's a snippet.

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I’m Susie Coleman

I work as a voiceover artist.

"I never officially had a voiceover agent. When I first started, I would go to studios and work for various local companies. A few years into it, a fellow actor who was doing voiceovers as well suggested I get set up at home. He mentioned these voice websites to me, and it all lifted off the ground from there. I'm not a very technical person, but my husband is and he taught me how to do very basic recording, editing, cutting out breaths and stuff.

My initial recording set-up was very modest, literally under the duvet. I progressed to having a portable sound booth in the corner of my daughter's room for a couple of years which worked well enough when nobody was around making any noise. About a year ago, I got a walk-in studio set up; I call it my recording Tardis."

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I call it my recording Tardis

"Sometimes I could have 12 or 15 auditions a day, but other days there could be none, though usually there're at least a few filtering through. I’ll have a quick glance at what the job is and if I'm free, the quicker I audition, the better. Sometimes I've auditioned quite late on though and still been lucky enough to land the job, if I just happened to fit the bill.

Once I’m in my studio, I'll record the audition and send it off. I don't really think any more of it after that, because I probably get one job out of every ten I audition for (at a guess).

I've been doing work for an HIV e-learning course, working directly for a company in America, and every so often they send me scripts which probably take me four to five hours to record over a couple of days. It can really vary — I can get a job and then have it done in 20 minutes. Or it can take me two days if it's a massive, long script.

There's maybe been one week in the last few months where I've had no work for the whole week. I really enjoyed it because I got to go to yoga a couple of times and went shopping. Sometimes it is stressful, though I am generally lucky enough to have regular work. So if I do have a quieter week I jump at the chance of going to yoga or out for lunch with a friend."

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"When I get confirmed for a job, I’ll get a message from an agent at Voices.com saying 'You've been chosen for this job — congratulations. This is the script'. I’ll usually speak with the agent on a chat tool, and they'll say 'Can you fit it into two minutes 30?' or, 'Can you read it really upbeat?' or, 'Can you be down?'. Sometimes clients want to Skype in and listen while I record, which happens a lot, though I prefer just recording on my own and sending it off.

Payment for jobs are held in escrow for however long until the client signs it off. Then Voices.com will release it, and I'll get paid through PayPal. But even when they've released the funds it takes 28 days to get the money. It is quite a long process. Very occasionally this will cause cash flow problems, but I try to keep on top of invoices being too overdue."

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"Before I moved to the studio space from being in the house, I got very stressed because I'd be cooking the kids tea, running up to do a quick edit on something, trying to get it out of the way for the evening. But it was unfair on them. So I feel much better now, even though the studio is two seconds walk from the house; it's fantastic.

A day off means a yoga class or meeting a friend for lunch or pottering around the lanes. But often it will be doing invoices. I had a lovely day off with Gary recently. It was sunny, I had no recording work, and we cycled down to the seafront and had lunch out then cycled back. We were only out for three hours but that was really lovely. It's important — with three kids, it's a busy life at home so you have to remember to work on your marriage and your relationships, remembering to spend time together.

But it's easier said than done. I know a lot of friends take their mobiles to bed. I've really tried to switch off and not do that. It’s difficult because work does come in in the evening. It does feel a bit like my world is ruled by technology, but then technology enables me to earn money, so it's a blessing. But every so often it's nice to switch off from it."

Check out the full photo essay.

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