28-year-old, Sarah Hughes, went from earning the minimum wage to almost £8,000 overnight, thanks to writing and performing TV jingles.
Sarah was working as a cinema usherette on the basic rate when she came up with the idea to put her musical knowledge to good use. Advertising her talents on the freelance marketplace Fiverr six years ago has completely changed her life. She is now celebrating her windfall by buying her first property with her husband, Gareth.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, the trained musician, who has a degree in creative sound from Newport University in South Wales, said: “Not many jingle artists can play, sing and produce an entire jingle themselves.
“Because of my degree, that’s something that’s second nature to me now and I think that’s why I’ve done so well.”
Working for just three to four hours a day, four days a week, every jingle Sarah makes takes roughly 30 minutes, not including revisions.
For that, she charges an impressive £200 – up to £100 more if she writes the lyrics herself – bringing in as much as £7,700 a month, which if it remains consistent could mean earning £92,400 a year.
“I remember picking it up for the first time and feeling an instant connection with the strings,” she said of first picking up a guitar at the age of 12.
“For the next three years if I wasn’t playing the guitar, I was writing songs to play on it.”
Taking music at GCSE and A Level, she then took a creative sound degree at university and formed Toy Pop, a student band with an emphasis on using toy instruments, including the kazoo, maracas and a melodica.
“With toy instruments I found my niche,” she said. “I set up a band with some fellow classmates as part of my practical study and we’d play the instruments over a pre-recorded backing track we’d made.
“Then we’d start improvising or singing stuff we’d written ourselves. I guess, looking back, that was the starting point of my jingle career.”
Graduating in 2012, she moved back to her hometown of Bridgnorth, Shropshire, but after eight months of struggling to find a job, she started working at her local cinema.
“After years of being told an academic career in music would land me nowhere, I suddenly found myself, as predicted, going nowhere,” she confessed.
Her life changed when she found Fiverr, an online digital marketplace that allows businesses and digital freelancers to connect across the globe.
“I knew there was quite a demand for cutesy, light-hearted instrumental pieces, so I started off by advertising 30 second instrumentals with toy instruments for £4 a pop,” she explained.
After saving £120 in her first month, Sarah used the funds to purchase a microphone that she could hook-up to her computer, enabling her to add vocals to her services.
Equipped with new technical gear she began charging £20 for a fully packaged jingle, with the requests soon coming in thick and fast.
“You’d be surprised how many people out there are looking for a jingle,” she said.
“It’s not just toy companies and children’s adverts. In fact, my biggest source of income for the first few months were podcasts and YouTube channels.”
As Sarah’s portfolio grew, so did her Fiverr ratings, with her becoming a top trade seller in May 2013.
“After spending my entire education studying music, I couldn’t bring myself to apply for a bog-standard graduate scheme after leaving university,” she said.
“Everyone loves to tell arts students that their degrees will get them nowhere and I’m so glad that now I’ve managed to prove them wrong.
“I might not have imagined myself singing jingles for a living while I was locked up in my room playing guitar all those years ago, but I’m doing something I love day in day out and I couldn’t be happier!”
Along with commercial jingles, Sarah’s services include professional voiceovers, personalised ringtones and bespoke love songs.
“Everyone is looking for an alternative to a bunch of roses or some fancy chocolates when it comes to special occasions, such as Valentine’s day,” she explained.
“Hitting the £3,000 a month mark was a big deal for me,” she said.
“I finally felt like I was making a proper salary from the work I was doing after nearly five years establishing myself as an artist.”
Two years later, she was making up to £7,700 a month, working for just 15 to 20 hours a week.