Blog Getting into the voiceover business

Getting Started in Voiceovers- Business Cards

Posted On: February 08, 2014

 "How can I get into voice-overs?"

  The series of blogs, continues, on what I've done to get started in the voice-over business; some of this info may help you get started in voice-overs, as well.  Last time I wrote about domain names and a website. In the coming weeks I'll talk about invoices, letterhead, email, equipment, software, recording environments, training, auditions and the process, I used, of 'getting out there' in the virtual environment.

Today I'll talk about business cards.

  Business cards, a good item to carry around. I use one of the popular companies for my cards. You can always hand 'em out at a moments notice and they're a lot easier to carry than a load of CD's (although...who uses CD's anymore? lol). Business cards should have all your contact info on it: Your business name, logo, phone number(s), email address, website address and a brief description of your services. 
  QR (Quick Response) codes are the thing now; with a smartphone you can scan the QR code and be directed to your site. Below is a copy of my cards with the QR code, on the front of the card. 



I have another batch of cards with the QR code on the back (below); you'll notice that wherever you look my business name is visible.

  After downloading the QR code reader onto your smartphone (it's free) you'll be able to scan that QR code without having to type the webpage address. I have 2 colors because the black card looked good on the computer screen; however, when you hold it in your hand it's difficult to read so I ordered the white cards which are easier to read.  Go ahead and download the QR app, on your smartphone, hold your phone to the screen and scan anyone of these QR codes- You'll be brought to


by Rich Brennan


Getting Started in Voiceovers- Equipment

Posted On: February 28, 2014

In the continuing series on 'Getting Started In Voiceovers', today I'll talk about equipment.

Research buying equipment as opposed to renting studio space; studio space is expensive and you're held hostage to the studios operating schedule.  You'll probably find some good deals on used equipment; when voice talents upgrade and buy new equipment they tend to sell their 'old' gear.  Here’s a list of the equipment I use:

WhisperRoom- MDL 4242S/SNV

22” ViewSonic touch screen monitor (VSD220)

Mic:  (2) EV RE 27n/d

Mixer:  Mackie 1402- VLZ Pro

Computer:  Dell Studio XPS9100 Desktop with a Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Pro Series PCI Sound card.

Digital editing program: Adobe Audition CC

Phone patch:  JK Audio autohybrid

An ever-growing library of royalty free music and sound effects from Sound Ideas.

  Keeping in mind...that you're main objective is to make YOUR VOICE sound the best it can.  In the voiceover business, you'll absolutely need 4 things: Computer, microphone, recording software and a place to record.  Of can't get an 'off the shelf' computer (from one of those popular retailers)'ll need a computer with a big hard drive...with an upgraded processor; and an upgraded sound card; or you can use an interface (it's the way to go, these days).  Do you prefer a MAC or a PC?  MAC's are more expensive than PC's; but again, it depends on what system you’re more comfortable with.  You can expect to pay from $1200 and up for a computer whether you get a laptop or a desktop.  External hard drives are a safe investment; I have 3- 1 for sound effects; 1 for music and 1 for all my backups.  I recently picked up the third one (4 terabytes) because I had a virus on my pc and was at risk of losing EVERYTHING I'd recorded; so now I keep everything I record on the 3rd external hard drive.  I've also been playing around with video, so I keep it on there, as well.

You'll need software to record your voice onto....and, of course, you'll have to learn how to set it up and how to record onto it. There’s a whole bunch of recording programs that voice talents use and depending upon your skill-level and what you’re looking to do, you should have no problem in finding something to get you started.  I use Adobe Audition CC because I can also produce material (meaning add music and sound effects to projects).

Garage Band is a popular program:

Audacity is another:

And Wavpad:

Then there’s always Pro Tools (considered the industry standard)  (in my opinion- Pro Tools has the biggest learning curve)

Most software will offer free downloads of their programs, but you’re limited to what you can do; some offer a 30 day trial period.



  You probably won‘t be spending a whole lot on a mic (for the first time).  A decent mic will run from a few hundred dollars all the way up to a few thousand; realizing, of course, that you NEVER, EVER, use the mic that came with your computer.  Lol.  The best I can tell you about mics is to go into a Sam Ash or a Guitar Center and have the guy show you all the different types of mics that a voice talent can can use for voiceovers.  Your voice has a natural ‘sound’ and depending upon which mic you use….will give your voice a different sound.  I know people who have a bunch of different mics that they use…each for a different purpose; 1 mic for audiobooks; another mic for commercials etc…

Portable gear.

Being able to record on-the-go is booming right now; and the gear needed is getting smaller.  You can record your voice on Smart Phones; however, you can’t edit on them (not yet,  Laptops are popular and you can get the same quality as being in the studio; you’ll still need a good mic and a place to record.

...and finally, where are you going to record?

  Do you own a home or rent an apt?  Is there a lot of outside noise?  Do you have kids running around?  Pets?  Is your phone always ringing?  These can all affect how and where you can record.  When I first got started, I set up a little space in my basment, it worked well; until the boiler kicked had to wait for it to cycle and shut down before I could continue with the voicoever project.  Some people use a closet (with the clothes hanging in it).  I saw a picture of this one guy who sets up a couple of high-back chairs and throws some blankets over  Some people have a booth (either from a manufacturer, or they construct their own)…some convert a whole room,  which is expensive and somewhat permanent. Again, your situation is different, so it’s difficult to point you in ‘any’ direction.  The room is important and it has to be DEAD (meaning- NO ECHO).  Oddly enough, a room ‘lives’.  Walk into an empty room with no carpeting….big echo, right?  Add carpet and some furniture…and the echo is reduced, but there’s still some echo there, you may not hear it, but the MIC will; and then you’ll hear it on the play back.  Youtube has a lot of videos on sound proofing a room.

by Rich Brennan


Getting Into Voiceovers- Training

Posted On: March 11, 2014

In the continuing blogs about getting started in voiceovers, today I'll talk about training.

  As with any other profession, training plays a big part in your job as a voice talent. Sure…anyone can ‘read out loud’, but can you tell the difference between someone reading out loud and someone telling a story?  It’s amazing how different it sounds.  A professional voiceover recording is someone telling you a story, with that person being an expert at what you're hearing; because it sounds natural, unrehearsed and it doesn’t sound like their reading, right?  Well…they ARE reading; and they’re probably not an expert in what they’re telling you; in most cases, they probably don’t have the slightest idea what they’re talking about, even though it sounds like they do.  Translating the written word into a voiceover recording is not easy; you have to control your breathing, know where the inflections are, how to sound emotional, natural, authoritative…etc.  There are some great books, training programs, workshops and coaches out there that can help you get going (usually for a fee); all ya gotta do is go out…and do it.  They're not that hard to find.

   To get you started, do a search for some practice scripts or you can pick an advertisement in the newspaper (any advertisement) and TELL a story about the ad; just tell about it, don’t ‘read it’…tell the story.  Tell it in a few different ways:

        Tell it in a non-chalant way…(matter of fact), like in a conversation.

        Say (in an excited way) how it’s the greatest thing in the world; and how you'd be so much better with it.

        Explain it to a person has no idea what you’re talking about.

        Be sarcastic about the ad

        Ponder if this product would benefit you.

   Use hand gestures (you can hear those); smile, you can hear that, too.  Record it if you’re able.  You can use your phone; or, in one of those rare instances- record it on your computer using the mic that came with the computer.  I know I said (in an earlier blog) about not using the mic that came with your computer; but this is for training purposes.  If you do have a professional recording setup (or access to one), use that. This way you’ll be able to save your recordings for comparison.  When you’re done- play it back and listen to what it sounds like.  If you know someone in the business, ask if they’ll critique it for you. 

  While you’re watching tv…LISTEN to the commercials (instead of changing the channel), the same goes with radio.  Do you like documentaries?  LISTEN to the narrator.  Have training seminars at work?  LISTEN to the narrator.  How do they ‘sound’?  They all sound like an expert in what you're hearing, right?  You can sound like that, too; it just takes a little work on your part.

  If you’re looking to do narrations or audiobooks, pick up a book or a magazine article  and ‘tell the story’.  Audiobooks are tougher because you have to be the narrator and the characters.  The narrator voice could be all you…natural sounding, while the character voice has to sound different from the narrators voice and the other characters; sometimes of the opposite gender.  Search out and sample some audiobooks and you’ll hear what I’m talking about.

  For short voice recordings (up to 2:00, or so), you may want to memorize the script; some like to scan it over a few times before recording.  It depends on what works best for you.  For long-form narrations, reading a book (before recording it) might not fit into the time constraints.  Perhaps reading the chapter first, then recording it, might work; again, it depends on what you’re comfortable with.

 Good Practices:

When you’re recording have a bottle of water handy, the mouth tends to dry up pretty fast with all that air going back and forth. 

Things to avoid:

Avoid eating a big meal prior to recording.  Having a full stomach going into a recording session may leave you feeling winded.  For you to speak your diaphragm needs room to move, if you have a full stomach the diaphragm doesn’t have that room and it leaves you feeling a little out of breath when you record.  It also has an effect on the pitch of your voice.  If you have a meal-break in the middle of a session- eat light.

Don't hold a script in your hand; if the paper is rustled the mic will pic it up; it'll also prevent you from using your hands- as a gesture.  Use a stationary object, like a sheetmusic stand.

Carbonated beverages- nothing worse than being halfway through a script and you belch one out; not very professional either.

Dairy products:  They tend to leave a film in your mouth.

Citrus juices:  Have a tendency of constricting the muscles in your mouth; if anything dilute it with water.

Or you can...

 Just use water


by Rich Brennan


Getting Started in Voiceovers- E-mail

Posted On: February 26, 2014

Remember this:


E-Mail signature:

  Sometimes I need another voice for a project and have to reach out to other voice talents to audition, for the client to choose from.  When I get the submissions I'm boggled by the lack of contact info in the email: Often, it's just a "thank you for the audition" with the persons name (sometimes, there's just a first-name), with no other contact info listed.  How are potential clients supposed to know who you are, if you don't leave any contact info in your email?
  Set up an email signature (including your mobile devices); it'll be attached to every email you send out. Attaching a logo, on the otherhand, may be something you might want to pass on; some mail servers don't allow jpg, bmp, gif or other pictures and your email might not get delivered. I have 3 signatures formatted; Outlook, my cell phone and for Yahoo. Here's my signature

Rich Brennan
JustMyVoice Production
516-702-6507 (cell)
Facebook: JustMyVoice Production
Twitter @JustMyVoiceProd

After it’s all done and over with, what you’re left with is: JustMyVoice.

by Rich Brennan


Getting Started in Voiceovers- Invoice

Posted On: February 12, 2014

"How can I get into voiceovers?"

  This is a continuing series of blogs on what I've done to get started in the voiceover business; some of this info may help you get started in voiceovers, as well.  Last time I wrote about business cards; In the coming weeks I'll talk about letterhead, email, equipment, software, recording environments, training, auditions and the process, I used, of 'getting out there' in the virtual (voicoever) environment.

Today, I'll talk about the all important invoice.

  An invoice is an important part of doing business; it's a financial record of the work you've done and the rates/fees that are associated with that work. Your invoice should look professional and should carry all of your contact info, including your logo. There are lots of free templates out there that can be customized for your purposes, do a web search for 'invoice templates'.  If you're running current programs it would be a good idea to use current templates; for example, if you're using Word 2003 and download a Word 2010 template you might have a problem using that template.  I use Microsoft Excel 2010- specifically because I know, and like, the program and know how to set up the formulas so that all I have to do is enter the figures: Excel calculates the totals automatically.  Your invoice should carry the same appearance as your logo, website and business card- remember, it's all about familiarity.

  Below is a copy of my invoice; I just took an excel template and used my logos and contact info, and changed the colors.


  Your invoice should have a description of the work you've done, for example: Lets say ABC Lumber wants you to record 2- :30 radio commercials for an upcoming sale (on sheetrock) and are having the local radio station air them.  You'll notice that I list how the fee was agreed upon:  "As per email agreement".  Sometimes I use:  "As per telephone agreement" meaning that the quote I gave, during a telephone conversation, was how the fee was agreed upon.  I also follow-up with an email re-affirming the quote given over the phone and then printing out the reply.  REMEMBER....COPIES OF EVERYTHING.  

Add the contact info for ABC Lumber, the date and the contact person. Some businesses use purchase or work orders so you can apply those, as well (that's for their record keeping).

Qty- 2

- Sheetrock sale (this weekend)- :30 radio commercial (voiced and produced). MP3 delivered via email.
- Sheetrock sale (today)- :30 radio commercial (voiced and produced). MP3 delivered via email.

Unit Price- for each spot.

Total- would be the total for both spots.

It should list how payments are made (check, money order, Paypal...etc) and include transaction numbers, check numbers etc. I added my paypal account and tax ID number...I'm amazed that, even after submitting my invoice, I'm still asked for that info (paypal and/or tax ID) later on. lol.

At the slogan, logo and a Thank you.

After the client has made payment, some may want an additional invoice showing a zero balance ($0.00); either their overly detail oriented or it's for their accountant.

There's alot more that can be incorporated into your invoice; like itemization, campaign runs, weekly or monthly invoices, conversion rates (international money transactions) and the dreaded 'T'-word (taxes).  Those are all things that you can use...once you get the ball rolling.

There you have it; the invoice.

by Rich Brennan


Getting Started in Voiceovers- The legalities

Posted On: January 04, 2014

So you wanna get into voiceovers?
  Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to have the greatest voice in the world to work in voiceovers, sure it helps; but it's not necessary. In fact, some of the best known voices, out there, have some kind of speech affliction (lisp, stutter..etc). To be a successful voice talent all you need to do is make the story believable; make it sound like you're an expert in what you’re talking about, even if you haven’t the slightest idea in what it is you're saying: Just tell the story.
  There’s an array of categories available in the voiceover realm; narrations, audiobooks, commercials, on-hold messages, childrens material, medical material and so on. Can you do characters? What about production, do you have any interest in that? Production is the addition of music and/or sound effects to your voice recording for a finished project

First the legalities: 

  • Do you have a name for your business?  After all, you’re looking to start a voiceover business and you’ll need a name for that business.  Write down a few ideas then research your choices and make sure that no one else is using the same name, even if it’s just 1 or 2 letters off (especially if you plan on using your name). Having a similar sounding name, with someone else, could easily prevent you from getting voice work.  Once you’ve got a name picked:
  • Apply for a federal tax ID number (  Probably the most important part of the process.  Your tax ID number is just like your SSN (Social Security Number) only it’s for your business.  When dealing with clients they’ll ask for your tax ID, if you don’t have one they’ll ask for your SSN; and with the way things are these days, people are leery about giving out their SSN (for fear of identity theft). If you choose not to supply your SSN…your chances of working won’t be successful.
  • Register with the state.  Getting your business registered is important, it tells the state that this is the name you’ll be operating under and would prevent anyone else from trying to register that name for themselves.  How will you register?  ‘Sole-Proprietor’ might be good to get you started; then there’s ‘Doing Business As’ (DBA)?  Maybe incorporation is a way to go.  Check with your accountant to see what’s best for you:  Yeah…lol.  You’ll need one of those, too (an accountant).
  • Check with your financial institution (bank, credit union…etc). While not a necessity, at first, check with your bank about opening up a business account (checking/savings/business loans).  Find out what their requirements are; if they have fees or require minimum balances.  Sure, you can use your personal bank account but when the hundreds of millions of dollars start rolling in you might want to consider a business account.  Paypal is a good idea, too or any other form of electronic payent; open up a Paypal account under your business name; you can link it to your bank account so you can transfer money from Paypal to your bank account- electronically.  There’s no minimum balance required, on Paypal, but they do charge a percentage for most transactions- which is tax deductible.  Down the road- you may want to look into accepting a credit card as a form of payment.  And finally:
  • KEEP A RECORD OF EVERYTHING.  I can’t emphasize this enough- COPY EVERYTHING. Applications, bills, receipts, certificates, agreements…EVERYTHING; and not just electronic copies...physical copies, as well. PRINT IT!

  It’s important to get the ‘legalities’ taken care of because it establishes your intent on operating as a business and it creates a footprint that can be easily defended should the need arise.  Any money that you spend to accumulate equipment and any other ‘business related’ expenses can be listed as a deduction on your taxes (including any classes or seminars you attend).  Do you plan to work out of your house?  Your mortgage/rent, internet; telephone bills and a portion of your utilities can also be deducted.  Let your insurance company know that you’ll be operating a business out of your house; this way, if there’s a unfortunate circumstance- you’ll be covered.  If you’re going to rent space- then all of those expenses are tax deductible, as well.

by Rich Brennan


Getting Started in Voiceovers- Pay To Play Sites

Posted On: May 12, 2014

Let's continue the series of blogs on 'Getting Started In Voiceovers'.  Today I'll talk about the 'Pay to Play' sites.

This is, often, a big topic of discussion within the voiceover community, Voice123, VOPlanet, Bodalgo, The Voice Realm, Elance, VoiceJockeys...etc...are all referred to as 'Pay to Play' sites (often referred to as P2P).  Many argue that, these sites, are nothing more than 'sweat shops' for the voiceover community; often, because of the rates (or budgets) that are associated with the postings for voice recordings that are well below the 'standard' for recorded material.

The best way that I can describe the 'Pay to Play' site is:  An online talent agency, whereby, you pay a membership fee to be listed on their site and that membership buys you opportunites to audition for voiceover projects- it doesn't guarantee you'll get any work; although...some have better luck than others. There's no screening process to determine your experience level or qualification; they do have categories that voice talent can be placed in.  When you fill out your profile you'll check certain boxes that you feel best suited for; like...accents, dialects, languages, male/female as well as the category of work you'd be interested in...commercials, on-hold messages, narratives...etc.  Most of them do carry free memberships but the only way you can audition for a project is if you're personally invited; and that invite would be based on how your demo sounds.  If you're new to the business it's not a bad way to broaden your web presence, to get your demos posted and your info listed (until your own site is up and running). 

To audition for the P2P sites...You have to learn the "rip 'n read" process.  If you're not familiar with the term, it goes like this:  Back in the early days when radio and tv was LIVE, announcers and news people had to 'rip' the copy from the teletype and 'read' it on the air.  There was no time to rehearse what you were about to read- it had to be read, NOW.   This is basically the same with auditions, time is of the essence; because, your're competing for a job with 100 other people (more if the job is not gender specific).  You have to open the script, scan the first few lines, record them and send 'em out.  If you open an audition notice and see that 15 or 20 people have already submitted their auditions, you're wasting your time; because by the time you get your recording done and submitted that number could be up to 30 or more; and the chances of your audition being heard?  Well...they ain't good.  For me, that number is 20.  If I see 20 auditions submitted- DELETE.  Often, I'll get an audition notice- to see that 50, 60 or 70 people have already responded to it- DELETE.

What's your time worth? 

Think about this for a second: 

-You get an audition notice (via email) and you see what it's budgetted for (they average between $100-$500); you feel it's a job you could do well with (maybe you have experience on the subject), so you want to give a good read.

-You notice that 10 people have already replied to this audition.

-You see the script...practice it a few times...

-Record about 45-60 seconds of the script (maybe record a couple of takes); prep it and upload it.

-You write your proposal:  turnaround time, fee...etc.

-SENT.  How long did that take; a couple of minutes?  Maybe a little longer?

-So, you go back to notice that the number of responses is up to 50, or more.  So you say to yourself...WOW. 

-What are the chances that your audition will be heard?  SLIM.  However, if you do get your audition in relatively quick, it's likely that it WILL be heard.  In fact, some of the P2P sites have indicators saying that not only was your audition heard...but that it was LIKED; and that's a good thing, too. 

-That's why you need to be fast with these sites....because it doesn't matter WHO auditions...but HOW MANY audition; it doesn't even matter if those auditions are even worthy of being listened to; if you get your clean audition submitted faster than most, it's likely to be heard...and maybe LIKED...which might turn into a PAYING job.  You could've recorded a world-class audition but if 75 people submitted their audition ahead of you, it's not likely you'll get heard.

Let's take a look from the clients perspective:  If you submit for voiceovers and get 75 responses how many clips could you listen to before you start pulling your hair out?  Consider that when you want to submit your audition after 50, 60 or even 70 people have already submitted their audition.

Every once in awhile I'll see a job posting with a budget of over $ (yeah....they do pop up every now and then).  Those are fun to watch; because if you don't submit your audition within 30 seconds, you're wasting your time.  lol.  I laugh when I see 200+ responses to those jobs.  Talk about CRAZY! (for me) has proven better than the others (your results may vary); I maintain a free listing on Voice123; here's why.  I joined Voice123 a long time ago (I think it was the first P2P site) and I did alot of auditions.  Then they introduced their 'SmartCast' system, I was leery right from the start.  Their claim was that it's intended to 'keep the playing field even'.  It works like this:

Based upon the info in your profile you'll be grouped with other voice talent, with similar profile attributes.  When a voice seeker submits for a project, they'll indicate what catergories they're looking for:  male/female, type of voice, style of delivery...etc.  Over the course of a certain period of time if 1 (or more) voice talent(s) has more auditions than the others (in your grouping), their audition notices will be 'scaled back'; this is done in order for the others (in that group) to 'catch up'.  I had a problem with that; if I'm paying for a premium membership- why am I being limited to the number of auditions I can submit?  Granted...back then, I did alot of auditions.  So after alot of back 'n forth with them, I gave up my premium membership. has a similar system, although there are no restrictions to the number of auditions you can submit.  When a voice seeker posts for a voiceover you'll be given a compatibility percentage rating for that job.  When I get an audition notice it'll tell me how compatible I am with that job.  Anything below 90% I won't audition for.  If there's a 95% or better compatibilty, I'll consider an audition (again...that's based on how many people have already submitted their auditions). claims that if you're at 95% (or better), your audition will be pushed towards the 'front of the line' of those folks who submitted with a lower percentage compatibility.

The other P2P sites:, Bodalgo, The Voice Realm, Elance, VoiceJockey and a few others. 

VOPlanet- Not 1 paying job over the 2-3 yrs I had my paid membership.
Bodalgo- is a European P2P site (paying attention to the currency conversion rate is important there)
The Voice Realm- is a generic site (I think it's an American site).
Elance- (in my opinon) is a 'No-Frills' site.  The rates that are offered there are really, REALLY LOW. 

When you're awarded a job there's, often, a process to follow until the recording is completed and the client accepts the voiceover.  When comes to getting paid- 1 site will charge as much as a 50% commission fee; 1 will only send out payments on the 15th or 30th of the month (with a 10% fee taken out); 1 site has a 15% fee while another charges 20%.  So, aside from having to pay for a membership voice talents have to get paid. 

Having a listing on the P2P sites is not a necessarily bad thing; it increases your web presence and it gives you some practice when it comes time to auditioning.  After you've submitted your audition....forget about it and move on to the next thing; if you get a call on it...great, if not?  Move on to the next one.  Don't attempt to make contact with the voice seeker on your own, it's not professional.  If the client wants to contact you, they will; just make sure that all your profiles have some (if not all) of your contact info on them. 

Pick and choose which project to audition for, at times you'll audition for a bunch where, at other times, you might not audition for a day or two.  Use your time wisely, don't rely on the P2P sites for your work; work on making contacts, advertising and marketing.

Good Luck.

by Rich Brennan


Getting Started in Voiceovers- Letterhead

Posted On: February 20, 2014

  A letterhead is a word document that has your your logo, and contact info, at the top of the page (the header); some folks use the bottom of the page (the footer) for contact info.  It depends on your needs and likes. However, a word document SHOULD contain your logo AND contact info. Word documents are used for correspondences that you send to a perspective client; it can be for an introduction, a proposal, a rate sheet or a thank-you for being chosen to work on the previous job you voiced/produced.   Remember, it's all about familiarity- your logo and contact info on EVERYTHING.  It also shows that you've got your act together. 
  A note on 'rate-sheets': A rate-sheet is a breakdown of what you charge for a particular voice service: commercials, narrations, on-hold messages, production, the various markets...etc. The Edge Studio, (and a few others) carry a rate sheet that you can use as a guide for what you'd charge for a voice recording and/or an audio production.  If you're contacted about doing a project (let's say a 5:00 narration for a company's training program) you could reply to the email with a quote, along with a breakdown of how that quote was determined.  It would also be a good idea to attach a copy of your ratesheet as a reference; just make sure that your quote, coincides with your rate-sheet:  What good is having a rate-sheet, if you're not going to follow it?

by Rich Brennan