Tracy Lindley is a natural born entrepreneur. Her drive and business sense have always been paramount to her personality — ever since her first entrepreneurial pursuit of selling cookies door-to-door as a child. Her determination has brought her a world of success as a voiceover actor.
“I think that I teach people how to build their business in what I call the cracks of life. That’s kind of been my mantra: don’t wait for this opening in your life because it’s never gonna come. Work with what you have right now and go build, go create your own dreams,” she says.
In college, she had an internship at a local cable company thinking she wanted to be a sales executive. Tracy quickly realized that sales was not her path — but while she was there, a producer asked her to read some copy to air for the cable station. She loved it, and had a natural sense of timing — she’s always loved to read.
“I think high functioning literacy skills are super important in this industry. If you asked a room full of voice actors if they were big readers, I bet you’d have a majority of people answering yes,” she explains.
She worked as a claims adjuster for her first job, but she was still reading for the cable station. After becoming a stay-at-home mom, she had to take a step back because she didn’t have the time to keep going into the studio to read. The producer said — ‘you know, you could do this from home.’ That’s all it took for her to start researching a career in voiceover. That was back in 2014 — and this year marks her 10th VO anniversary!
Tracy discusses her journey to success, how she keeps accountable, and where her business sense comes from in the following Q&A.
Well, Celia actually plays a big role in that story. I was two years into my business at a conference in 2016 — and still feeling a bit of imposter syndrome. It was a peer led conference, and the way it worked was that on the first day, anyone with presentation ideas would write them down, and whichever topics got the most votes, those people would present. At the time, that was great for me because I would have never considered myself a presenter or a speaker. But because people voted for my idea, I had to do it. Celia came to my session where I gave people my method for how I was getting business on LinkedIn, and afterward we decided to trade hours where she gave me branding and industry advice and I helped her with Linkedin. I heard from a lot of people at the conference, including Celia, that the information I shared was super valuable, and that there was a real need for it.
That one opportunity really launched me. It helped me to see that what I offer has value – people want it, people need it, and it helps others in their business. After the conference, I had a lot of people contact me, asking me if I would do evaluations on their LinkedIn profile. After a while, the demand became too much for me to keep up with, so I decided to create a pre-recorded course that people could access in their own time. I put it up online and it started selling like crazy. It launched in 2017, and I’ve been selling it ever since — LinkedIn’s platform is constantly changing, so I have to frequently update it. It is very helpful for inspiring and educating voice talent to grab a hold of their business instead of just sort of waiting for the auditions, waiting for the opportunities. My course teaches people to go out and get those opportunities for themselves so they know that they have more control over their business, and they can feel empowered through the direct marketing techniques that I teach.
Building success and continuing growth requires a lot of business savviness — how do you manage the business side of your career while continuing to refine your craft creatively?
I think that question really plays into what sort of personality you have. So for me, I’m an Enneagram Seven. We are the ‘entertaining optimists’, so we love people. We just can’t live life without people around us.
This business can be very lonely. For me, I get a lot of creative juices flowing when I attend a conference. I love to meet people in-person, and every time I have a conversation with another VO colleague, I get some spark, some idea, and something is churning in my brain from interacting with that person. Or, I follow someone new on Instagram, and by watching their content, I get ideas. By having conversations daily, I think of things to post on LinkedIn or other platforms. I get a lot of great ideas just from seeing what other people are doing and then making it my own. So to foster creativity, connection is key.
With such a broad scope of work, are there particular projects or clients that stand out as a highlight or point of pride?
A big accomplishment that I enjoyed working on was in 2020, I was the premier voice of Amazon Pharmacy. I was actually chosen for that based on a relationship with someone from LinkedIn. We’ve worked together since then. In 2023 I trained a section of his Amazon team on how to do voiceover more efficiently. I taught them how to create a better acoustic environment, different techniques on reading copy in a more natural way, how to avoid mouth noise — things that we know as voice talent, but not everybody knows. So, that was really, really cool, not only being the voice of Amazon Pharmacy but then coming back and doing that training session with the producer that I’m still in touch with and connected with.
I think it’s really cool that I have clients like Hewlett Packard, KPMG, Kaiser Permanente, and others that I have directly made contact with on LinkedIn and gotten my own business that way. That’s something I’m definitely proud of.
Another huge moment for me actually came through the VO Château, it was a 5-figure campaign that I booked shortly after signing with you — so that was a big moment for sure.
What are some things that motivate you? How do you keep accountable as an entrepreneur?
I’m someone that believes in the value of accountability partners. At that first conference I mentioned that I attended back at the start of my business, I met people who became my accountability partners then that are still my partners now. I definitely think it’s important to have somebody that is there for you on a weekly basis.
One thing about accountability partners is that it’s great if you can get in with someone that is further ahead in the journey than you, and then maybe have another person that’s sort of more on your level. There’s nothing wrong with having more than one accountability partner if they serve different needs for you. It has to be give and take, it can’t be just one-sided, and it has to be someone that you can trust. Some people don’t feel comfortable discussing finances, but I think it’s an important aspect of accountability. I think you have to be very vulnerable and that’s why it’s important to choose who your accountability person is wisely.
What do you find to be your biggest challenge in the industry? What is your favorite thing about it?
I’ll start with the most rewarding: I love the flexibility. I love being able to be home with my family. I set my own schedule. I really love being able to be 100% voice talent during the day, and then 100% mom after school. Those conversations that happen between three and five o’clock are some of the most important in my kids’ lives. I love not having to compromise what I really want out of my life — I get to have it all. I have a very strong relationship with my husband, and we’ve been married almost 20 years. I just really feel like I have the full life that I always wanted. And I get to do what I love every day. So it doesn’t feel like work anyway.
One of the challenges, but also one of the rewards, is that the harder and more innovatively you work, the more money that you can make. So the challenge is, if you choose not to put the hours in, not to put the innovation into what you’re doing, or not to hone your craft, you’re not going to get anywhere. It really depends on you. People who are not very self-motivated, they’re not gonna make it. You have to push yourself and work very hard. I think that’s why I’ve gotten somewhere – I grew up in a home where my father was an entrepreneur and you know, I was selling cookies door to door as a kid, and I used to rake leaves for people. I was always going around the neighborhood trying to sell to somebody. That’s really paid off. Working for yourself is so rewarding.
I’d say the biggest challenge is maybe not feeling as motivated on some days, but I think to overcome that, that’s when you call up a friend, or you join an online meetup, or go to a webinar where you’re with other people and can get yourself motivated out of the rut. This can be a lonely industry, so to get out of a low period, it helps to connect in those ways.
Favorite things about team CSM?
I love that I’m not alone in marketing myself — someone else is cheering for me both behind the scenes and on social media. The other reason why I joined up with CSM was to pursue more work in the political arena. It was kind of a new area for me, so that’s another thing I love about Celia’s team is that she really excels in the area of politics and that’s where I wanted to branch out and move forward in.
What’s in your booth: Things Tracy Lindley can’t record without
I don’t have too much extra stuff in my booth, because I don’t like a lot of clutter! Just a couple of basics:
- My studio cat, Berserk. She sits beside me at my desk and keeps me company all day and she has this adorable purr that is so calming.
- A clicker for my mistakes. I need this because I don’t use the “punch and roll” method when I record. I use the clicker to spike the waveform, which makes for easy editing afterward.