There comes a time when every artist finds themselves on a career path that doesn't lead to something sustainable.
If you're working paycheck to paycheck or dumping endless hours into a job with a glass ceiling, you have to alter your mindset and follow your passions wherever they may lead in order to make progress toward the career you want.
Caroline Cole, a top freelancer in the Fiverr community, found an approach that has allowed her to pursue her dreams while building a future that she can be proud of.
We sat down with Caroline to learn more about her creative goals and how Fiverr has brought her success—check it out!
First of all, thank you for bringing your knowledge and experience to the Fiverr community. For those who don’t know you, can you give us a little background on why and how you made the leap into freelancing?
Hi there everyone! Absolutely. My name is Caroline Cole and I’m a storyteller. I work professionally as a voice over artist, copywriter, yoga instructor and coach. I made the leap into freelancing about five years ago out of the theatre arts and education space, although I still work with students occasionally because arts education is a huge passion of mine.
I majored in theatre and English literature at a liberal arts college for my undergrad degree and was working to piece together a career that still felt creative and wasn’t “selling out” for a corporate job. While I was making ends meet (barely) I definitely didn’t feel like I was building anything sustainable until I started to view myself as more of a business owner than a freelance artist.
As a freelancer, it’s essential to handle business in the most professional way. What tips and suggestions do you have for new freelancers?
Absolutely – there’s a fine line to walk as a creative entrepreneur between valuing your own artistic contributions and serving the client. You should always always ALWAYS be professional (respond to messages within 24-hours, set clear expectations up front, do your best work every time, etc.) and at the same time feel confident enough to price yourself fairly and see yourself as a creative partner with the client.
You don’t work FOR them, you work WITH them. I think this distinction in mindset is crucial.
The most challenging part as a freelancer is to keep positive during the normal ups and downs one might experience. What is your experience in regard and what would you suggest to best cope with this kind of situation?
Ups and downs are definitely part of the gig. A way I work through this personally is I indulge myself in a bit of what I’ll call “artistic ADD”. I like to have several balls in the air that I’m juggling all at once, so if things slow down in the voice over department for a few weeks I’ll use it as an opportunity to rest my voice and work extra hours on a copywriting project for a client.
Or maybe I’ll use the downtime to spruce up my website, automated emails, or contracts and other templates. I’ll go for a hike and take pictures for social media, take myself on an artists’ date to buy a new embroidery pattern, or indulge in my favorite flavor of macaron (it’s salted caramel) and a fancy lavender latte.
I believe that living and working as a professional artist is a HUGE blessing and that downtime is part of the gig, it’s part of the gift.
You have a choice in how you handle it: either freak out about downtime and worry you’ll never get another client (boo) or use it to the advantage of your business and artistry (yay).
Today you are a successful voice-over actor and copywriter on Fiverr. How did you turn your voice over actor skills into an online sale machine? What are some hidden traps one should be aware of before kick-starting a voice over acting career?
Getting into voice over was me pulling at the thread of a childhood dream of being a cartoon character. I have always loved doing silly voices (I’ve played a lot of fun characters onstage and taught a lot of theatre!) and had an inkling that there was a career out there where I could do this more often and actually get paid. So I started with a simple internet search to find a local class where I could learn more.
Luckily, since I’m in Dallas, I was able to find a class that gave me some of the basics of voice acting but honestly I’ve had to learn a lot on my own. Plus, the class I invested in was just that, a huge investment. Almost $800! I had a well-paid “day job” at the time and a partner with a good job as well so we could make that investment together, but I know my journey into voice acting is atypical.
That’s one of the main reasons I created my courses at Caroline Cole Stories, to make this kind of career jumpstart affordable and accessible to a wider audience. I get asked to coffee to “pick my brain” on how I built my voice over career ALL THE TIME and started realizing there were a lot of people who needed a clear path to a career that’s creative, fun, and lucrative.
As for copywriting, it arose naturally as a combination of several of skills. I’ve always been a strong academic writer (although copywriting is SO different so I had to unlearn a few things here!) and felt confident in my writing skills, plus I used to teach English abroad as a second language so I have a firm grasp on what’s difficult for non-English speakers to put into words when trying to create blog posts/ad copy/newsletters in English.
When I started having lots of voice over clients who needed additional editing help or help writing their projects I realized that need and expanded naturally to serve that audience. Now I work in both fields pretty equally.
Lots of creative entrepreneurs have difficulty expressing their ideas clearly via a website, blog posts, newsletters, what-have-you so it’s been a real joy to not only help bring their vision to life by helping with the writing portion, but also start teaching others how to do this too through my courses.
The biggest skill to sharpen (besides your actual voice over or copywriting skills) is communication with clients. Being clear about what you can or can’t do up front, hammering out a timeline and double-checking scripts ahead of time are what will get you repeat clients instead of mediocre reviews.
Which, on Fiverr, is especially key. But good communication is about more than just getting work and drawing a paycheck, it’s about keeping our humanity up front in this new age of business.
When I can converse with anyone around the world in a matter of seconds, it can be easy to forget that they’re just as human as I am. They have hang-ups, miscommunications, maybe a language barrier, and a boss breathing down their neck for this deadline. Staying polite, gracious, and kind throughout all client communication across time zones and language barriers is another MUST when working via Fiverr or any internet-based freelance platform.
Product differentiation is a very important element to make your service more attractive and help increase revenue. How do you differentiate yourself from your competitors? What is your added value that makes your services unique?
Being a one-stop-shop for voice over acting and copywriting is a bit of a unique niche, and definitely makes it easier on a client when I can do both for them. With a background as an actor, educator, and playwright, I stand uniquely positioned to not only help tell your story through written and spoken words, but also guide others to pursue their dreams whole-heartedly as well.
It’s a wonderful juggling act that I enjoy so much – I get to write and tell stories for a living (which always keeps me learning about new topics because I work for such a wide variety of clients) PLUS I’m able to pay it forward and help others find freedom in freelancing too. Another thing that I think makes me unique (although there are a growing number of creative entrepreneurs who agree with me on this point) is that I don’t see anyone else as competition.
I firmly believe there is enough work out there for all of us to thrive and build these lives simultaneously. Abundance is key – there’s room for us all.
Let's speak about productivity. What’s your strategy to maximize productivity without compromising quality?
I HIRE HELP! I can’t run this business alone and think bringing along people to help you (in exchange for a fair wage) is part of the joy of being a business owner. As much as I love getting paid to work as a creative entrepreneur, I enjoy paying others to work with me and running a business that supports not just me but other artists as well.
I work regularly with an awesome assistant who helps run my social media and reply to inquiries as well as a excellent audio editor who makes sure my audio book and longer narrations are top quality and amazing. I also have a friend who’s a videographer that I bring in whenever I have additional projects and try to hire my other friends when and wherever possible.
Which brings me to another one of my favorite topics – community. I couldn’t do this at all without the wonderful artistic community I have here in Dallas. Wherever you are, whatever you do – get some awesome humans around you to help keep you going when times get tough.
Even as a freelancer, you can surround yourself with a community of talented creatives on Fiverr.
As Cole explained, there's enough work out there for everyone to thrive and build the life they want at the same time. With Fiverr, you get a sense of creative freedom and entrepreneurship that aligns with your goals instead of disrupts them. Not to mention, you have a global network of clients to work with and other artists to help fuel your success.
Follow Cole's lead and start building the career you want, not the one you settle for.