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How To Do A Voice Over - Step By Step

Mar 24, 2021

This article talks about how to do a voice over and discusses the different parts of the voice over and the industry and how you can get involved. 

But before we start, we should make sure we understand what is a voice over and who needs a voice over? 

What Is A Voice Over

 A Voice Over is spoken words that are mixed with (Or over), music, and/or video. 

Today, we hear voice overs all the time. We hear voice actors when we listen to the radio, watch TV, Youtube, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Facebook, etc. Where ever we consume information or entertainment, we hear voice overs. 

Who Needs A Voice Over?

Anyone that is creating content can use a voice actor. That is broad, so let me narrow it down with these genres:

  • Commercials (This can be on TV, Radio, or Social Media)
  • Video Narration (Makes up 90% of all voice overs today)
  • Movie Promos (Movies and TV Shows use voice actors for promos)
  • eLearning (Anytime there is online training, usually there is a voice narrating)
  • Video Games (Most video games today use voice actors)
  • Phone Messaging (Businesses use voice actors to record phone messages)
  • Audiobooks (Anytime you listen to a book through iTunes, Amazon, Audible, etc.)
  • Podcasts (Narrating podcasts and their intros and outros)
  • Dubbing (When videos are dubbed with a different language)

These are some of the main genres for voice actors and businesses looking to hire voice artists. 

... Now that we know what a voice over is and who needs them, let's dive into how to do a voice over. 

How To Do A Voice Over

Voiceovers are not complicated. The act of performing a voice over is simple ...

Record yourself speaking, most likely from a script of some kind, and you have the basis of a voice over. 

But like many things, IT'S NOT THAT EASY! 

Because voice actors are asked to deliver a message or idea to all kinds of different people, there is acting involved. Some people naturally have a higher sensitivity than others, when it comes to expressing emotions and/or thoughts, which can become very challenging to relate to the client and the customer. 

However, before we dive into acting, we should talk about what equipment you need to do a voice over.

Here is a list of items you will need (This list varies based on preference) 

  • Computer
  • Microphone (XLR or USB - most professionals use XLR)
  • Interface (If you are using an XLR mic)
  • Monitors (Or headphones)
  • Treated Space (Acoustical treatments like blankets, foam, insulation, clothes, etc.)
  • DAW (Digital Audio Workstation to record your voice, like Audacity, Adobe Audition, or Studio One)

There are many different types of these products and it can be challenging to figure out which ones to get. Check out my store here for options - Voice Over Equipment Store.

... back to the question at hand ...

In order to do a voice over, you simply record yourself speaking to an idea, message, sales pitch, promotion, educational purpose, etc. and either mix it with or without music and/or video. 

This can be accomplished on your cell phone, but to do this professionally, you will need a sound-treated space and XLR microphone, preferably a condenser mic. You can use a USB microphone, but as you try to get a better sound, XLR mics are currently the way to go. 

Now, let's get into the acting part. 

I have been an acting coach and voice acting coach for many years now. And I can say without a shadow of a doubt, your acting is the basis for your success as a voice over artist. The better you are at acting, relaying a message and/or idea with the correct sensitivity and emotion that is called upon, the more sought after you will be. 

So, in order to perform well in voice-over, you need to work on your acting by taking classes and practicing. A great way to practice is to go on YouTube and find videos with voice overs in them, practice doing the voice overs with the videos. 

Also, you want to become good at mixing your voice over with sound effects, music, and video. The better you become at this, the more potential clients will see your sample work and see how good you are. 

If you are looking for some voice over coaching, check out my voiceover coaching here

Acting is about expression. And expression can take many different forms. In voice over, we like to classify these forms as tones. 

Here are some common tones that voice actors use:

  • Authoritative
  • Conversational
  • Eloquent
  • Enticing
  • Inspiring
  • Nurturing

Of course, there are so many more, but these are just a sample of voice-acting tones you might be called upon as a performer, to act out. 

What Is Mixing (Editing and Mastering)?

Mixing, or in this case, editing and mastering your work, is what we call making your recordings sound better. We do that by removing background noise, mouth noise, and any frequencies that make our voices sound unpleasant. 

Also, technology allows us to manipulate our voice with different effects, so we can make ourselves sound in all sorts of different ways. From the voice-over GOD, to an AM Radio Jockey, or even an anime character, mixing is a vital part of the VO craft. 

What's left? 

At this point, your goal should be to read more of this blog, watch YouTube video tutorials, listen to A VO's Journey podcast, and keep researching. 

After you feel confident that you know what you need to move forward, purchase your gear and treatment for your space. 

Once your space is ready, set up your equipment and start practicing voice overs, as I stated earlier in this post. 

Get coaching and buy some courses. It will help tremendously. 

Remember, it is not a race. Take your time. 

At this point, you need to get a demo. This is your calling card, your audition, your way in. Without a demo, no one will be able to know what you can do. Check out our demo services here.

After you get your voice over demo, it is time to join some websites. Here are some websites you can start your vo journey on:

  • Fiverr
  • Upwork
  • ACX
  • Ahabtalent
  • Voquent
  • People Per Hour
  • Voices.com
  • Voice123
  • The Voice Realm
  • Bunny Studios

There are many more websites out there, which I call online agents because they find the business and bring it to us. 

* It's also important to note that you will need a professional headshot. We use this headshot as a way for people to connect with us over the internet, and know who they are dealing with. The more care you put into your headshot, the more people will view you as a professional. 

Also, there is direct marketing like email marketing, social media marketing, ads, etc. These take us down a road that leads to running an online business. That is not what this particular article is about, but it is also vital to your success. 

This brings me to ...

Agents and Agencies

These are people and organizations that actively find VO work and bring it to voice artists in the form of auditions and bookings. 

Agents can specialize in all sorts of voice over genres and they represent you like a professional actor would have representation. 

Their job is to negotiate the best rates for you, deal with all of the legal minutiae, and bring their wealth of knowledge to help you navigate the waters. 

Agents are great and you should also seek to be represented. However, I do want to point out that you do not need to be represented these days to make a good living through voice over. 

But ... it doesn't hurt to have more than one option. 

SAG - AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists)

This is the union in the United States of America that works with voice actors, and actors in general. 

I am not going to dive into the union because I am not a union member and don't know enough about it to speak as an authority. 

However, the union has done a lot over the years to legitimize actors and make sure the profession was taken seriously, making sure actors had healthcare, retirement, and other protections like work hour caps, etc. 

I have a lot of respect for the Union. But, I feel that it is not needed as much these days because so much of the business is non-union work, and the rules, while they are there to protect actors, are very limiting and rigid, and difficult for people outside of Los Angeles and New York City to capitalize on the extreme influx of non-union work. 

This is not a rebuke of the union, it's just my personal experience. I do hope to interview representatives from the union someday on my podcast because I still think the union could do a lot to help voice actors. 

You Are Ready To Begin Your Journey

No article is going to prepare you to be a professional by itself. But hopefully, you have a good overview of how to do a voice over and what the industry looks like, so you can get started learning more.

I also think it is important to join a community of like-minded people, trying to learn and grow their businesses as well, so you have a place to ask questions and learn from people actively working in VO. 

Check out A VO's Journey Facebook Group here

And if you have any other questions, please feel free to leave a comment below or contact me here. I would love to help.

Best of luck on your voice over adventure!




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