Carrie Olsen
Voice actor and coach

Why this voice actor started an email list

Like most actors voice actor Carrie Olsen relies on multiple streams of income for stability. For her, building an engaged email list was the key to helping her build longevity into her creative business.

For the last few years Carrie Olsen has been making a full-time living as a voice actor, working with clients like Disney and Universal Pictures, and as an online course creator and voiceover coach. “On paper,” she says, “it looks like I’ve been doing pretty well. But as a creator, every day it’s like ‘Am I going to make another sale?’” 

She feels odd saying that now, knowing it’s time to own her success, acknowledge that she’s been living off her creativity for years. “I mean,” she laughs, “they let us buy a house. So at least we fooled the bank into thinking we’re stable.”

She’s proud of where she is, but also knows being a professional creator will always mean learning how to manage uncertainty and leap into the next unknown. 

Her entire life now was once an unknown: she never imagined she’d be making a living in front of a microphone.

Carrie was so shy and quiet growing up that some people thought she couldn’t talk. After her first elementary school on-stage performance she was mortified, vowing, “I will never perform again.” 

But as an adult, she set up a microphone on her coffee table and sat down on her living room floor to make a podcast about a television show she loved: Downton Abbey

I was alone in my living room and I could imagine no one was listening to me. And for a while I was pretty sure no one would. 

But people did listen and even comment, and it didn’t scare her away. She felt comfortable in front of a microphone when talking about something she loved. 

But the podcast was just for fun; her career then was in Human Resources and E-Learning. It was 2010, and she loved online education technology and the access it created. 

She loved her job too, but when she found out she was pregnant, she realized she really wanted to work from home once her daughter was born.

She approached her employer with the idea, but in 2010 remote work wasn’t common. Her employer said maybe they’d let her work from home one day a week, but no more than that.

She was crushed, but she was committed to working from home. So she looked for other career options that might let her do just that.

One morning on her drive to work she heard a podcast host interviewing Alyson Steel about her career as a voice actor. Carrie remembers a lightbulb going off. 

I was like, “Wait, she does what? And she does it from home? And she has two kids?” There was something about it that I was like, “I have to learn more about this.”

Like many creators, it only took one spark (and one podcast episode) to change the direction of her life. 

“I figured if I could forget about it then maybe the feeling will pass.”

Next Carrie reached out to Alyson Steel and signed up for her coaching program. Although, she didn’t do that right away. 

You know that feeling when you know you need to do something, but you're nervous because, if you move forward with it, then you have to hold yourself responsible? I sat on it for a few days, because I figured if I could forget about it then maybe the feeling will pass.

But the spark didn’t go away. 

When she finally did sign up for coaching with Alyson Steel, the spark ignited. Within four months, learning and following everything Alyson taught her – not skipping any steps – Carrie was getting enough voiceover gigs to quit her job. 

Carrie loved doing voiceover and was thrilled to be home with her new daughter. And she knew the worst thing that could happen after quitting her job was to have to get another job. It seemed worth the risk. 

As people started inquiring about how she developed her business so quickly, Carrie created an ebook about her voiceover journey so far.

She created a landing page for people to sign up and get the ebook, and gave that landing page link to blogger friends who shared it, helping her grow her first email list. 

She then dedicated herself to studying everything she could about landing pages and webinar funnels and launched her first voiceover course, an extension of her ebook.

She decided to host a sales webinar from the travel trailer she, her husband, and her now one-year-old daughter, Amelie, were traveling the country in. She’d been responsible for developing and running webinars in her corporate job, but this was the first one she created for herself.

She did four webinars from her trailer for that first launch and made $18,000.

It’s perfectly normal for most first course launches to fail, and many creator success stories involve iterating from first launch flops. So I ask Carrie how did she manage to avoid that?

“I thought I could be behind the scenes.”

Carrie credits her successful first launch to a few things:

1- Starting an email list early: 

I had an email list already. My guess is the reason why some people fail in their first launch is they don't already have a list. They don't already have an audience they're nurturing that wants something from them.

My ebook, my blog about voiceover, and my email list all came first, a year before the course launch, so there was an audience already waiting.

2- Following every step of Amy Porterfield’s webinar course: 

I used Amy Porterfield's model, from her very first “Webinars that Convert” course. And I did everything she said to do. Because there are things she’ll teach and say, “You're going to want to skip this. Don't.” And I was like, “Amy, you know better than I do.” So I didn't rush or skip over any of the process.

But selling the course was only the first step. Carrie thought people who bought her course would be more interested in her content than her. But she learned quickly that wasn’t the case: 

I didn't think it would change my everyday life. I thought I could be behind the scenes.

But I remember when someone would post like, “Our fearless leader, Carrie.” And I was like, “Wait, what?” And they're reaching out to me for things. And then I was like, “Oh gosh, I think I just made myself a coach.” 

Carrie, still an introvert, had to warm up to coaching initially. But once she saw her students flourish, she fell in love with the process. She’s now even a sought-after speaker at voiceover conferences. But just like the Downton Abbey podcast, she gets her energy to perform from engaging with things she truly loves and seeing the impact it has on others. When that happens, her fears fade away.

The course and coaching income helped bring even more stability to her professional creator career as a voice actor. Most professional creators have multiple streams of income; I ask Carrie how she manages courses and coaching along with a successful voice acting career; how does she ensure one doesn’t snuff out the other, or that she doesn’t burn out?

“What do I want?”

For Carrie, it all comes down to one question she asks every year during her annual review:

What do I want? 

Being a professional creator often means building a career out of something you love, building the job you want – but…it’s still a job, and what we want can change over time. And often does.

Carrie keeps that principle at the center of her decision making, never letting momentum or even success in one area blind her from continuing to do what made her a successful creator in the first place: moving toward what sparks her. 

So each year she looks at all her income streams – voiceover, courses, a membership, and coaching – and asks herself if they are still what she wants. Last year she even took a full break from launching courses after getting burnt out

She knew she was in burnout because, unlike other times when she felt resistance and knew she should push through, this time she knew if she pushed through she wouldn’t do a good job. That’s when she knew it was time to step away.

During her year off (where she still did voiceover work and kept her paid membership running), she reevaluated. 

I wanted a life and a business I could be proud of. I took time to reflect: “Is this how I want to show up in the world?” 

I wanted to make sure I was really helping people and that I was doing it in a way that I felt good about, something I could be proud to show my kids. 

After being “still for a year,” Carrie realized she missed what teaching brought to her life. “Things were better when I was moving, not just for me, but I could look through notes that people would send like, “You've helped so much. My life is different.” 

So when the year ended and it came time for her to again ask herself what she wanted, she was re-energized to jump back into the course side of her business again. Her husband was also able to quit his job to help with her business. She’s now grown her team to include an assistant and someone who manages the membership. “Without them,” she says, “I couldn’t do both.” Her team allows her to manage multiple streams of income along with a voice acting career.  

My business doesn't look the same way it did five years ago and I think it'll keep evolving. And knowing I can make it look however I want is where the real freedom and flexibility comes from, that we don’t have to always just keep doing what we’ve been doing.

“It can get isolating.”

Carrie switched her email list over to ConvertKit in 2021. 

“I'd been interested in it for a while. There had been changes with my other email service provider and it just wasn’t a good fit for my company anymore…it hadn't been a good fit for a long time.”

She needed a platform made for professional creators.

So I finally switched over and it's been great. It's good to feel like my type of creator company is represented. So many others are going more eCommerce and there were just so many things they were doing that didn't apply to me.

She tells me about her “fancy” segmentations and automations in ConvertKit, and the impact they make in her business, but at the end of the day she says the thing that has the most impact is just consistently communicating with her audience. 

And when it comes to growing that audience, one channel Carrie says has worked well is partnering with other people who consistently communicate with their audience.

From the very beginning partnerships have been really important for us.

Her husband’s friends in the personal finance blogging space shared Carrie’s ebook with their email lists whom they thought would benefit from learning about Carrie’s career in voice acting.  

Carrie also sent cold emails to potential partners, like ones who taught musicians who already have microphones, or writers who might want to know how to narrate their own books. 

But of course having a growing audience online doesn’t mean you don’t still feel lonely at times. Being a professional creator often means working alone, and Carrie has struggled with the loneliness that sometimes comes from working from home. 

It can get isolating. So I have a good friend who actually started voice acting after I did, and we meet each month in person.

She also looks forward to her virtual office hours as one of the highlights of her month.  

I had to grow into the whole coaching thing, but I love my community.” 

In her membership, she stays in her virtual office hour live sessions until every question is answered. 

“They usually go at least three hours. Sometimes longer. Some of the members have been in the membership for years, and we just get to see each other and have face time and hang out. It’s really energizing, and I love it.”

“This is my baby.

Today, Carrie defines success by being in alignment.

“I’ve learned how much I need to feel in alignment with what I'm doing.”

Her two daughters also started homeschooling, and often hang out in and around the voiceover booth she has in her basement. 

It was something she decided to invest in after getting frustrated when the sheets hanging on walls and in closets weren’t cutting it anymore, “because you still have to stop recording at the slightest sound: creaking stairs, a dog barking outside, someone mowing the lawn, rain, the refrigerator kicking on.

So after I'd been doing voiceover for long enough I was like, ‘I want to be able to record when I want to.’”

They ordered a second-hand booth originally from and built it themselves.

Since then it’s been in three different homes: “My poor husband has had to take it apart and haul it through three different moves, two times on the second floor, this time in a basement.”

Carrie shows me around the booth in the basement, and when she points to her microphone, a Neumann U 87, she says, “This is my baby.” 

She then shows me the interface she uses to control input and volume, and then her multiple headphones (she always has backups in case anything goes wrong).

Her printed scripts balance on a music stand. 

When she isn’t in the booth she’s usually got her laptop propped up on whatever surface is nearest to whatever her kids are doing. 

And that’s what works for Carrie. But as the creator economy has exploded, it can sometimes seem to come with its own spoken and unspoken rules and tactics, as if there is one “right” way to be a professional creator. And while a lot the advice can be helpful, Carrie advises: 

You really have to think about who you are, because there's a lot of noise and if you're a creator, you're probably getting the same ads on Facebook and Instagram about “follow these formulas, do these things.”

 And so there's a balance; you have to know who you are, know what your brand is. And if it doesn't fit into some formula you're seeing, you shouldn’t do it.

 It'll be much more life-giving if you're true to who you are as a person,  and I think you won’t only do better, but also enjoy it more.

Carrie also finds having a good accountability group of other creators helps her find the courage to keep going, especially as an introvert who also deals a lot with analysis paralysis.

It’s about getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, but also knowing who you are and how you want your business to show up in the world.

It’s helpful to have someone who can tell you like, “Okay, this is not compromising who you are to email your list. That's just sharing. That's just helping. You can't help if you don't put yourself out there.”

I work in a box, but I feel like voiceover has also gotten me out of my box. 

You can connect with Carrie on Instagram, subscribe to her email list, or learn more at 

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Isa Adney

Isa is an author and writer and has profiled incredible creators and artists, including Oscar, Grammy, Emmy, and Tony winners. When she’s not writing or interviewing creators, she’s probably walking her dog Stanley, working on her next book, or listening to the Hamilton soundtrack for the 300th time.

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