Student Success Story
Rachael Doolen's Journey: From Horticulture to successful Voice Artist!
Welcome to our latest blog post, where we're excited to introduce you to the incredible Rachael Doolen, a talented voice artist who embarked on a journey from the world of horticulture (and stay-at-home mom) to becoming a successful voice over professional with 30 audiobooks completed to date! In this engaging Q&A session, Rachael shares her story, motivations, and experiences that have led her to excel in the world of voice overs.
**Q: Rachael, let's begin by getting to know you. Could you share a bit about your background before entering the world of voice overs?
A: With a Bachelor's Degree in Horticulture from Kansas State University, I spent my earlier years managing flower shops and garden centers, and I also worked in the furniture industry. However, life took a turn, and in 2017, my family and I relocated to Michigan. With no support system at hand, I became a stay-at-home mom.
**Q: What motivated you to enroll in the Work from Home doing Voice Overs course?
A: I was looking for a job that I could do from home, that was flexible so I could work around my family’s schedules. One of my many jobs at the garden center I worked at was as a training manager. I helped build up the training program and did some voice over work in order to create that training. I really enjoyed that aspect of my job. So, when I came across an ad for voice over classes in my township's recreation pamphlet, I started researching online how to get started in voice over. I came across your website and I took the free class first to see if it was actually something I thought I could do. I was so excited after listening to the free class that I signed up for the full course!
**Q: How did you discover the Work from Home doing Voice Overs online course?
A: I just started searching online and your class was one of the first ones that came up. I think it probably had to do with the fact that I was looking for "work from home" and "voice over." The name says it all!
**Q: What were your initial expectations about the course, and did it meet or exceed those expectations?
A: I really appreciated the way the course was set up. I liked that I could take my time going through each of the videos at my own pace. I like that you had us set up our equipment first, so that we could use it in order to learn how to use Audacity. I like the fact that I can go back now and rewatch the videos. As I run into new things I want to do, or a new editing challenge, I go back to the videos and can typically find the answer to my question. I think it is very valuable to go back, because I realize that I overlooked some feature that can speed up my editing now that I am very familiar with the software and not just starting out. I do recommend that anyone who takes the course also takes the Advanced Editing Course - that has saved me so much time in editing! I also appreciate you taught us where to get work. I would say that it exceeded my expectations!
**Q: How long ago did you complete the course?
A: I completed the course sometime in early November 2022, but I did not start auditioning or attempt to get work until the end of December 2022.
**Q: How much time do you spend working as a voice artist?
A: This is my full-time job (but typically shorter than full-time hours). I usually spend about 10% of my day auditioning and trying to drum up new business and the other 90% of my day completing the projects I have in my queue.
**Q: Could you describe your work routine as a voice artist?
A: I get up around 4:30/5:00 and I start working on marketing/auditioning around 7:30 am. Then I work on whatever book I am working on that day. With no interruptions, I am usually done with my work by noon. However, I also have family obligations, so very few days have no interruptions and I work around my family’s schedules. I love having that flexibility!
**Q: What types of voice over work have you completed so far?
A: Mostly audiobooks
**Q: What’s your favorite type of voice over work?
A: That is a hard question to answer - I did one commercial and I really liked the short form and that the job was done quickly. However, at this point I would have to say audiobooks. (Since that is what I have been doing). I was an avid audio book listener before getting into voice over - which was another reason that I was interested in the line of work. I still listen to audiobooks every day when I am not recording.
**Q: What do you love most about being a voice artist?
A: I love the work! It is so rewarding when an author tells me that I brought their book to life. I also really love being my own boss and managing my own schedule. I like the flexibility that I have to make time for my family.
**Q: What advice would you offer to those considering a career in voice overs?
A: Make sure that you have good, clean audio! Don't be too disappointed by rejection - it is not personal - people are looking for all kinds of voices. Audition, audition, audition - it seems to me that voice over is a numbers game. If you put yourself out there, you will get work and the more you audition, the more practice you get, the better you will get at your craft.
**Q: Lastly, could you describe your recording space? Where do you record and how did you treat the space?
A: I just built my 3rd recording studio. The first one was very simple, I used hard foam and built a structure with three sides and a top and put it on a desk, with a room screen behind me. All my surfaces were treated with acoustic panels.
My second one I built after recording my 3 or 4th book. I made the walls out of 2" thick foam and completely coated the inside with acoustic panels. I used the same structure and desk in that room. But unfortunately, it was on the top floor of my house and I could hear lots of noises - planes, mowers, the kids stomping around. However, I recorded over 25 books in that space, so it definitely worked for some time.
To make things easier and more efficient, I decided to build something a bit more soundproof. I now have a room in my basement with 5/8" thick drywall on both sides of a wood frame, in the middle is sound dampening insulation along with mass loaded vinyl. I have treated the entire space with acoustic tiles and a very thick carpet and pad. I still use the original structure on a desk. I am so much more efficient with my recordings now because I don't have to worry about all of the noises that were affecting me before. There are still a few - but recording early in the morning seems to be the best plan for me! As far as my equipment, I read off of a Surface Pro and I use a large screen for my editing software. I have all my cords running through a small hole in the wall to my laptop, which is actually outside of the studio to eliminate the noise of the laptop.
Links to Rachael’s website and projects:
At this time, Rachael has 30 audiobooks on Audible! See them all here: Rachael’s audiobooks on Audible
Thanks, Rachael, for taking the time to share your background, knowledge and successes with us. We with you much continued success!
Rachael Doolen's journey from horticulture to voice over success is an inspiring testament to the endless possibilities that can unfold when you follow your passions. We hope her story encourages and motivates you as you consider your own path in the world of voice overs.