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Business of VO: How to Generate Passive Income

The Bosses talked about passive income in a previous episode, and its ability to be a life-changer for entrepreneurs and we caused some inadvertent paranoia for our voiceover listeners!  We told you all about why passive income is so great, but we didn’t address HOW to generate passive income. So today’s follow-up episode is all about the steps to go from idea to income!


Quick Concepts from Today’s Episode:

  1. Passive income can generate lots of additional money for voiceover actors, since there’s no end to the various ways you can put your talents to work.

  2. One listener wrote us and shared her RV rental side-hustle and how it helps her earn another salary annually.

  3. It starts with the creative moment – your great idea!

  4. You can think it’s great but you need confirmation. You need to research that the great idea applies to other people.

  5. Market research and development begins with friends, family, neighbors, social media communities, etc.

  6. Google your idea extensively, to confirm whether or not it already exists and how successful it is.

  7. A name for your product or service is just as important. So research that as well.

  8. A great name helps you capture the market and secure your future marketing efforts.

  9. You also want to avoid trademark or copyright infringement.

  10. Federal and state databases should be searched as well.

  11. The formation of an LLC or corporate entity may be premature but you should know what it entails.

  12. There are pros and cons to R&D as you will uncover both the positive and negative aspects of your new venture.

  13. Marketing, sales, storefront, distribution, it can be daunting. You may need to hire staff in order to invest properly in this new income stream.

  14. Investments of both time and money need to be made.

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Referenced in this Episode

Direct links to things we brought up ++

  1. Recorded on ipDTL

  2. Fit Small Business gives their ideas for passive income generation.

Full Episode Transcript

>> Today’s voiceover talent is more than just a pretty voice.

>> Pretty voice.

>> Pretty voice.

>> Pretty voice.

>> Today’s voiceover talent has to be a BOSS.

>> BOSS.

>> A BOSS.

>> A BOSS.

>> Join us each week for business owner strategies and success with your hosts Anne Ganguzza and Gabrielle Nistico, along with some of the strongest voices in our industry.

>> Rock your business.

>> Rock your business.

>> Rock your business.

>> Like a BOSS.

>> Like a BOSS.

>> Rock your business like a BOSS.

>> Rock your business like a BOSS.




Anne: Welcome, everybody, to the VO BOSS podcast. I’m your host, Anne Ganguzza, along with my VO BOSS bestie, Gabby Nistico. 

Gabby: Hello.

Anne: Hey Gabby!

[both laugh]

Gabby: So Anne, we caused a little bit of stir and a little bit of panic. [laughs]

Anne: Oh well, that’s always fun.

Gabby: So our recent episode on passive income apparently created some paranoia amongst our peers, and so – [laughs]

Anne: In a good way, I hope.

Gabby: Yeah, I think so, I think so. I think people just got really wrapped up in, you know, thinking about what they should do. We have an email email from one listener who told us about her passive income –

Anne: Yes.

Gabby: – efforts.

Anne: Melissa has a great passive income, where she rents her RV, which is pretty darn awesome, and it makes it kind of like a B&B for her. So she gets some passive income coming in while she gets to be able to, you know, travel [laughs] on that income and also record VO wherever she goes.

Gabby: That’s genius. And I know for you, that’s definitely on your bucket list o’ things. She said she made like, what, $35,000.

Anne: Oh yeah, something like that last year. That’s a substantial piece of income there.

Gabby: That’s a salary.

Anne: Yeah, that’s awesome.

Gabby: That is a salary renting something you already own.

Anne: Absolutely. You know, Gabby, when we were talking about passive income, I guess probably we should go over maybe some steps that can help people to go from, you know, idea to income.

Gabby: Yeah. That’s what’s critical because I think we started the conversation, and we got people really thinking about passive income and what it can do for them, but we didn’t really get into the how. [laughs]

Anne: So let’s do that.

Gabby: So first off you got to have the great idea, that creative moment, right, the lightbulb goes off. “Ahhhh,” you’re like “oh my God.”

Anne: Ahhh.

Gabby: Right, I can make money with this. This is going to be amazing.

Anne: Ah.

Gabby: But then what? 

Anne: [laughs] Everybody has great ideas. How many people [laughs] How many friends, you know – “if only I had invented that,” right? We always have those conversations. “I can’t believe they came out with that – I can’t believe they’re making money on that. I had that idea. How many years ago, and damn it, you know, it was my idea.”

Gabby: That’s so much the problem, we’re all guilty of that. We all have that moment of like “damn it, why didn’t I think of that?” Or “why did I sit on that for so long?” 

Anne: I think it’s super important in the beginning once you have a great idea is to make sure that that great idea might also apply to other people who think it’s a great idea, meaning, do you have a market the product? You can come up with the great idea, but if you don’t have a market for it, then you know, you sit there with your great idea and great product, and nobody will buy it.

Gabby: Yeah, market research is absolutely a critical and huge piece to this. You got to have confirmation. So how do you start to market research? Well, I say use what’s at your disposal, right? 

Anne: Gangoogle.

Gabby: And use the market around you, friends, family, coworkers, colleagues, right, tap in to them. Talk to them. Ask, because that’s the only way you’re going to know.

Anne: We have such amazing information at our fingertips that you can research to see if that idea exists out there, if there’s a product like that, and also if you have contacts in social media, reach out to them, take a poll. “Would you buy this,” or you know, I know a lot of people are possessive if they have an idea, but a lot of times, you don’t really get a feel for what your market is like without necessarily reaching out to maybe also more than your family and friends.

Gabby: Yeah, you’re right, because family and friends – 

Anne: Of course they’ll buy it. They’re going to support you. 

Gabby: Well, I feel like with family and friends, you’re always going to have the handful of people that’re like “of course, that’s amazing, that’s so awesome you can do that,” and then you’re gonna have the naysayers. There’s going to be that small group that’s like “hmmm. Why are you doing that? What are you thinking?” And you’re like, damn it. And so they can really negatively affect you if you let them. 

Anne: I think there’s ways to inquire outside of your family and friends, in other circles. I think there’s ways to inquire and do research to find out iIf there is a market for the product or service that you’re thinking about. 

Gabby: The NextDoor app is really great because it’s like a community-based social media. So if it’s something localized or it’s about your immediate geography, that’s a great place to throw it out and see what kind of responses you get from people.

Anne: Oh yeah, I love my NextDoor app. It’s got everything. You can sell, you can buy, you can gossip about your neighbors. [laughs]

Gabby: Obviously there’s Google.

Anne: Anne Gangoogle it.

Gabby: Yup. Get on the freaking web. I mean, come on, guys. It’s so fundamental, but I’m still amazed by the number of people that don’t.

Anne: Yeah. Absolutely.

Gabby: That weirds me out. What you mean you didn’t go and like thoroughly, deeply research this on the web? Hello? 

Anne: That research should include some thoughts or some research about a name, right, a name for a product or service because that of course starts the foundation for a brand, and I think that that is super important because, as Gabby and I mentioned a few episodes ago, we’ve got some other passive income ideas. We’re doing our due diligence and doing research. And so part of that research is actually finding out if there is something that has a similar name to what we’ve decided to call our product, and that is very important because you want to capture the market, you want to create something that’s easy for people to remember, easy for people to look for, and a name for your product is everything.

Gabby: And you don’t want to accidentally or unintentionally infringe on someone else’s copyright or trademark, or get yourself into a legal situation. So we get on the phone with Rob Sciglimpaglia, we go “hey, here’s our new brainchild. What do you think and can you engage in the research?” And he will do a deeper legal search that gets into both the federal databases and the state databases.

Anne: Well, and that’s actually something that you can also do yourself. You can search the federal trademark database. And so while we’re talking about a name, sometimes you might think, “well, does it really have a name? I’m just offering a service.” I think giving it some sort of name for your product or for your company to make sure that that name is available and not of course being used by someone else, and you can search those databases publicly, the federal database you can. It’s pretty simple.

Gabby: Some of the state ones as well, yeah, depending on the state and who handles the business affairs and the licensure of businesses and corporations, you can search those databases too.

Anne: Now Gabby, what are your thoughts on actually forming a company, like should it be – here comes the question when everybody sets up their voiceover business, do we form an LLC, do we form an S-corp, do we form a DBA? What do we do? Is that a necessary thing while we’re in the research of this passive income? 

Gabby: No, no, I think that’s a little bit premature. That’s the item I say sit on that for a moment. Know what it’s going to entail, once you get the facts and you know what it’s gonna be. Just kind of set it aside. To me this is where we enter into what is known as R&D, research and development. This by the way is where a lot of entrepreneurs completely derail. [laughs] Research and development is where everyone goes off the tracks, and they go, this is too much work.

Anne: Actually I was thinking the execution of it as well. That’s where they derail, because they’re not necessarily sure – well, they’ve got the idea, maybe they think, do they buy a domain name? There’s a thought.

Gabby: Here’s why I say that. Research and development can start a very nasty cycle. It can either get you really, really pumped because you start to see the potential for this new business venture, and you really start to see where it has legs, or it can make you super, super paranoid because you start to see all the things that could possibly go wrong.

Anne: Oh God. Well you know, I’m glad that you brought that up, Gabby, because as you know, I have a vocal throat spray product.

Gabby: I do know that.

Anne: And yeah. And so there were many times people said to me, “wow, you should really market that and put it in stores.” And so my little product that I sell on the web and have a label for then entailed, I have to go into the labeling of this and regulations and – 

Gabby: FDA.

Anne: And FDA, do I need to have FDA approval? And of course there are all of the regulations if I were selling it as a health cure, there’s absolutely things that I cannot say about that. I can only, you know, offer it as a product that can help. It cannot cure. I cannot make any claims. And also in terms of getting it into stores, there was a substantial investment in terms of how was it going to get made and manufactured and how was it going to get bottled and put on the shelves? 

Gabby: Yep.

Anne: So it actually was, the next step for me if I wanted to do that, was going to be a large investment. And I decided at the time that for now I was gonna keep it small, and I was gonna keep it just something that I could handle coming out of my, the home, and not necessarily go into mass production of that because that was requiring a whole lot of other things.

Gabby: Oh yeah, mass production of any ingestible product or a product that people put on them like skin, whatever, it becomes a whole different thing. I’ve met over the years a number of people who have a food product that’s really great, and people say, “hey why don’t you do this or do that?” They go, just to get the proper calorie information –

Anne: And the licensing.

Gabby: – the nutrition facts costs so much money, and it has to go off to a lab, and you have to pay for it, it gets really intense.

Anne: And licensing a kitchen, if that’s the case. So there are a lot of things involved. I think that’s where people tend to run into, like, roadblocks. And so there are levels to this passive income, levels to your business that, you know, of course you need to be able to research these. In any design that you’re coming up with, there’s – the first level which I think is going through the research and development, finding out what’s needed to actually produce a prototype first, and then get it out there. How are you going to get that product out there, how are you going to sell it, is a whole other, it’s a whole other ball of wax. There’s the marketing of that product, as well as are you gonna offer it on a website? Are you going to have an e-commerce storefront? With that comes, “now I have a website, how do I sell something on it? And then what do I do about taxes?” 

Gabby: If it’s a product, are you gonna sell it wholesale, retail, how? There are so many pieces to this, and one that I prompt solopreneurs to really look at is manpower. It’s hours, right? It’s how is this gonna happen, because if you are the true definition of a solopreneur, this may be the moment where you say, “you know what? I need to hire somebody and I need to bring in some help because the only way I’m gonna be able to invest enough time in this to see it do what I need it to is to make an investment in it.

Anne: These are the people that start Starbucks, that kind of thing. They have an idea, they have a product, and they actually see the product through to the end, and they make those investments, and I think those investments are the scariest thing for people because it’s like “oh man, I’m going to put all of my money into this and what if it fails?” Which is whyI think  digital products or services that could be offered online or digitally are super popular these days in terms of passive income.

Gabby: That’s true, but there’s something really important that you just said, “all my money.” No, no. Who does that? No, no, no, no, no. This is VO BOSS, not wing and a prayer. We don’t do that! You don’t “all your money.” No. This is part of why you do such extensive research. It’s figuring out a budget, how much can I afford to put into the company, what percentage of my earnings am I willing to take from elsewhere to again see this item to fruition? This is not about taking your life savings and dumping it in to one idea and then what? Praying to the gods of business that it works? No.

Anne: I don’t know if I should make a comparison, but if you’re gonna go to Vegas, you’re gonna put some money in a slot machine, what I like to do is I go with a certain set amount that I’ve decided that I can invest, right? I can invest so much money into the slot machine, and then I’m done. Right? Will I get a return on my investment – well, it’s ‘cause I’m gonna go to Vegas in a few weeks, so I’m thinking about that.

Gabby: Only you would call a slot machine an investment. You’re – I love you. I just love you.

Anne: Then I’ll say “do I want to invest in that slot machine or maybe the spa service? Hmm.” [laughs]

Gabby: I can see you now. “Jerry, Jerry, should I invest another $100 in the slot machine, Jerry, what do you think?”

Anne: “Jerry, you feeling lucky, because – [laughs]

Gabby: That’s amazing. That’s amazing. But no, you’re absolutely right. You go with a number. That’s the number. That’s it. Now it’s not to say that we aren’t a little bit flexible, you may exceed it, but certainly you don’t want to put yourself into financial ruin over an idea.

Anne: Absolutely.

Gabby: That’s not smart. Ok. So then what? Now we’ve got through this development. 

Anne: So research, product name, we’ve researched it, perhaps if we’re really confident in our idea, we can trademark that, right, we can go as far as doing that. We can trademark it.

Gabby: We secure the brand, right?

Anne: Secure the brand.

Gabby: Secure the brand. This means the trademark, the copyright, this is where the company license comes into play, the URL, the phone number, whatever’s necessary to have the presence.

Anne: And website. Does it surprise you? You need a website, because unless of course you’ve got a place, you have a connection, someone that you know is going to take on this product and sell it for you, if you want to sell globally, or you want to sell to a larger audience, then online is the name of the game, and a website is most surely a necessity there.

Gabby: Globally? At this point, if you want to sell down the block, you need a website. It really doesn’t matter. This is where we get into the phase of if you build it, they will come.

[both laugh]

Gabby: There is absolutely a big portion of this endeavor now where you have to say, ok, I have to have something to show for it that’s not simply an idea. So like Anne in the case of your throat spray line, you had to create it.

Anne: I did.

Gabby: You had to have prototypes. You had to have a certain amount of stock.

Anne: Which I let people try and I gave to. They were my test market.

Gabby: Samples, samples! Everybody loves samples.

Anne: Absolutely. I said “does it work for you as well as it works for me?” “Yes, it does.” Everybody that I gave it to was like, “oh my God, this is amazing.” 

Gabby: Do you know how many rings I’ve made? Do you know, do you know how many rings –

Anne: Yes, because I have half of them. I have half of them in my possession and on my fingers right now.

Gabby: Cases. I have literally, I have cases upon cases of jewelry that I have – and fortunately, look, they don’t take up a large footprint, right? They’re pretty small in terms of having to have a stock. But whatever it is, if you’re gonna jar your own pasta sauce, you have to have a supply and you have to be willing to let people try it for free.

Anne: And bosses, next year when you see us, we will have some wonderful new things, perhaps, that you’ll get to sample.

Gabby: Not perhaps. There’s no question.

Anne: I was trying to be, I was trying to make it – 

Gabby: You’re trying to be coy. I’m not coy. We have fun crap, and it’s coming your way. 

[both laugh]

Anne: We have fun crap, and it’s coming your way. 

Gabby: You’re gonna love it! That’s what’s happening.

Anne: It’s awesome, oh my God. It’s so awesome. So I’m actually excited. So BOSSes are trekking out to conferences and also on their own next year. We want to see you.

Gabby: Here’s the thing, right? Us engaging in that process and having samples and having things to give away to people, that’s very similar, right? You might have to go to a trade show. You might have to go to an event, a farmers market. It could even be something very small and local.

Anne: Absolutely.

Gabby: But you got to get the product out there. And if it’s a service like the RV rental, you have to get it in places where people are actively looking. It has to be accessible.

Anne: Melissa actually has a YouTube video, documenting how they set up their RV rental business. 

Gabby: Oh that’s genius!

Anne: That’s really smart because I’m sure everybody else that wants to know, I want to rent my RV, but guess what? That also is out there on YouTube, and there are a ton of people that have their eyes on that that want to be renting that RV. It’s really twofold for her. 

Gabby: Melissa, you bossy pants, I love it. I freaking love it. That’s such a brilliant way to then also say to someone who inquires, oh here, just check out my YouTube channel, check out this video that I made.

Anne: Absolutely.

Gabby: That’s epic. What do you think the timeframe is? How do you see this process from everything we have just talked about? I see it as at least a year.

Anne: Oh yeah. It’s not a short process. How many times are we thinking about our ideas? How much time do we spend thinking about ideas that we have not yet implemented? So much time.

Gabby: You mean making money isn’t just going, “hey, give me some?” [laughs]

Anne: No, but it would be lovely if it were.

Gabby: It would be lovely, but that’s the whole point. 

Anne: It’s not.

Gabby: We work for it. We work our butts off. And it is hard. I’ll never tell you it’s easy, but it’s rewarding especially when you go, I did that.

Anne: You see something come to fruition. I remember our good friend Cristina Milizia and the GVAA. When I met Cristina, she was in the baby stages of implementing the GVAA, and it was just a passion and a dream for her. It’s been, oh gosh, I want to say five years, something like that, that it’s now really, fully like come full circle, and she’s actually too busy now [laughs] with her own voiceover career, but she’s got somebody else running it which is really amazing, the amazing David Rosenthal of course. By the way, it’s a wonderful resource, guys, Global Voice Acting Academy.

Gabby: But look at where we are now. GVAA is damn near a household name in voiceover.

Anne: What did they do to help get that name out there? They created an amazing product, the GVAA rate guide, which brings people en masse – did I say that right? [laughs]

Gabby: We’re gonna go with it.

Anne: Which brings people to their website in droves.

Gabby: It’s possible. You have to be dedicated. You have to know that it’s gonna get hard. You have to know that there are gonna be plenty of opportunities to talk yourself out of it or to have other people talk you out of it, and that’s gonna test your commitment. And if you find yourself faltering or pulling back from it because your passion for it is not there, newsflash, don’t do it.

Anne: And I’m taking a risk, I know that this is a risk, it’s entirely possible this idea may not come through, so I’m OK with that.

Gabby: Right, can you live with that? 

Anne: Right. I think if you can live with that, you’re gonna be well on your way to actually getting something out there and produced in a marketable product.

Gabby: And if it does “fail,” it is only a failure if you view it as one.

Anne: Every failure is a learning experience.

Gabby: That’s it.

Anne: So for me, I’m like, “oh, I just investing in my education. Oh well, there you go. That’s awesome. Look at what I learned from this.”

Gabby: Precisely, and it frees you up to move on to the next big idea which will be a success.

Anne: I actually love my failures, because I learn so much. And now I feel more confident to just explore more things and try other things for passive income, and it just makes me braver and more confident and able to actually produce more passive income.

Gabby: You’re right.You’re right. Trying breeds more trying. Do it. Stop panicking. We weren’t trying to make you stressed out.

Anne: Not at all. Not at all. And yeah, keep that email and keep that communication with us coming. We want to hear what you guys have got going out there. 

Gabby: Let us know more about your passive income efforts? I’d love to get some kind of a link exchange going where people share. Melissa from earlier, you know, we’ll make sure there’s a link included in this episode, and so people can check out what she’s doing. Definitely, let us know about this stuff. 

Anne: And thanks so much for writing us, Melissa. I’d like to give a great big shout-out to our amazing sponsor, ipDTL. You too can connect with your bossties and find out more at

Gabby: I have had a lot of people recently tell me about the auditions and the different opportunities coming through with It is fair, efficient, honest, transparent, everything that we have been looking for in the voiceover industry. And the jobs are starting to come in, so make sure you check them out and get signed up.

Anne: OK guys, have a great week. Be productive, be passive but in a great way. [laughs]

Gabby: Yeah. Turn those ideas into income.

Anne: That’s right. And we’ll see you next week.

Gabby: Bye!

Anne: Bye!

Announcer: Join us next week for another edition of VO BOSS with your hosts Anne Ganguzza and Gabby Nistico. All rights reserved, Anne Ganguzza Voice Talent in association with Three Moon Media. Redistribution with permission. Coast-to-coast connectivity via ipDTL.