Mastering Home-Based Voice Over: Lesson 1

Introduction | The Art Of Voice Over

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  1. When you say they “do VO but they are not really old enough to do the work themselves yet” what do you mean by that? Just trying to figure out what’s happening with them.

  2. You win the gold medal for “best extension of a tree-related metaphor,” if nothing else! Sounds like you’re gaining headway in a number of art areas…we just need to expand the number of areas.

  3. One thing I would be careful of doing is counting on a demo as the key to getting you work. Usually, it’s a key to getting auditions and attracting an agent, but although it sometimes leads to work, where someone simply books you off your demo, that’s a rare occurrence. I would ask why you don’t want to use a pay to play site – it sounds like you have an issue with doing that.

  4. I hear you – and there’s a lot to unpack in your comment. You sound like someone who is more than a bit gun shy about all the different options (and wasting money), and I don’t blame you. (I hope you don’t lump me in the same category when I offer my training program at the end of the week!) It might be helpful to look at how your auditions are sounding (cynicism can creep into your performance), the sound of your studio, even your slates to see where the disconnect is – if any. There might not be anything wrong – just remember that the people looking for you to do the work are shopping, and it’s no commentary on you if you go up against 500 other VO talent and they pick someone else. I’ll be answering this with SW SW SW SW – watch the next couple of videos to see what that’s all about!

  5. Gosh, I hope they don’t tell you that! You’ve made a choice to keep your day job, and that’s fine – but you have to live with what that means to your rate of progress. If you simply don’t have the time to move faster, just remind yourself that you’re surviving and thriving, but you don’t have the time to make it quicker. Patience. Breathe. It’s OK. And I’ve heard you. You don’t suck. 🙂

  6. If you mean talent agencies that represent talent and not producers, can you be more specific about what you’ve experienced? Has someone tried to charge you for simply meeting with you and reviewing your materials for possible representation?

  7. Where are you looking? Just in your neck of the woods? What about other cities? Are you repped in your town, and in others?

    And what free sites are you using? I’d love to know what trees you’re currently shaking, and that aren’t charging you.

    1. I tried a couple of those sites a few years ago. Cannot remember the names of them. I remember the dozens of auditions and nothing that came from them.As far as local stuff, I have heard over and over again that I am heard on other stations in my cluster, so I am not unique to them. I have not tried other cities as I really don’t know how to go about getting myself out there and and be taken seriously. I am anxious to learn the proper way to seek out clients. I basically want to start from ground zero and start all over again, and this time…do it correctly.

  8. I’m sorry to say not in this forum, no. When I review someone’s demo, it’s not a quick cursory listen – that does no one any good. I only review demos as part of a full hour long private coaching session. In a private session, rather than a public discussion group like this one, I can safely convey to you the good, the bad and the you-need-to-fix-this of your demo. I think that people who will quickly review demos doesn’t do the artist justice, or they are just doing it as a precursor to pitching them on paid coaching. It’s likely that if you are getting into the business, it’s not time for you to do a demo yet – but you can play with the process to see how it works.

  9. Yep…all throughout the curriculum, but more importantly, as a part of your monthly workouts should you become a VO Heroes member. It’s not something you conquer in one class, it’s something you need practice and on-going work to succeed at.

  10. Your last sentence says it all – subtlety is your friend. That also answers your question about how many voices you need to be able to perform, since a little bit goes a long way – it’s the same for the differences in characters’ voices. It’s their content and intent that makes them different, far more than complete distinct individual voices. Hope that helps! And I’ll see you at the new location of the Voices Anonymous meetup this month!!

  11. I always reserve judgement on whether or not someone has egregious mouth noises, as we’re always the hardest on ourselves when it comes to that sort of thing. I’d have to hear a sample – and maybe someday I will – before giving you advice on some things to try to ameliorate any noise you MIGHT be making. I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

  12. WIth rare exception, audiobooks are narrated from PDF files you view on your screen, the same screen you’re recording your audio on – and in the rare instance where you’re working from a hard copy, you have to be aware not to talk while you’re turning pages, and you have to edit those page turn noises out. If you have a manuscript that isn’t bound, but rather a stack of loose sheets, it’s worth every penny to either invest in a good scanner, so you can turn those sheets into a PDF, or take them to FEDEX Office and have them scan them for you. I’m going to do a video on this next week!

  13. That’s great – you’re on your way back! If there’s anything I can do to help, please let me know. We’d love to have you in our Pro group to help you with your journey.

  14. Gordon – these videos were all released last week – if you want to see “tomorrow’s” video, just click on the thumbnail for lesson 2 below the main video – and so on. I’m so glad you’re finding this helpful! And I hope you choose to continue your studies!

  15. After you’ve watched the video, please ask questions!

    What has always been a problem for you when it comes to VO?

    What confuses you about it? What worries you about it?

    What makes you really frustrated when it comes to being a VO talent?

    I’ll read them all, and respond to as many as I can – and I’ll try to answer the best questions in the next video.

      1. Thanks as usual, David..for your wit, wisdom AND thoughtful presentation. My frustrations are always the same: HOW to find opportunities! Should I go back to paying Voice123’s expensive fees? Are there other sites to explore? Should I look for a new VO agent who actually knows I’m alive? Why..altho I’ve done 38 books for ACX…is it still hard to land the next, and possibly one with a decent PFH? For me I feel maybe the agent search should be my priority. Am I right? THANKS!!

    1. Hi David! Always grateful to get more training from you. Thank you for this! Still slowly working through Home Study ACX Masterclass we just finished with you and Dan and Audiobooks is a place I’m very excited about. I have a great VO agent and get many excellent commercial and animation/gaming auditions but have only booked a couple. I love it and work very hard at it but I realize these areas are in the “higher fruit” to attain. I try to stay positive and trust my work. I get good feedback from my agents. I just want to get better and book more! I look forward to all your advice. I’m sure you’re about to tell us how to try for Training and Educational stuff, etc, which I would so appreciate. I just want to work in VO as much as possible and pursue every opportunity I can. Thank you, dear Mentor David! 🙂

    2. David,
      Can you breakdown a commercial script and how you would voice it? Thank you!

    3. David I was a radio disc jockey and have been told I have a great voice but when I submitted for out of London Ontario I rec’d no response, the rep said my voice was muffled, discombobulated, I bought a good microphone; when I replayed the segment I voiced it sounded perfectly fine

    4. David

      I worked in tv and radio as voice overs ; submitted voice overs for with absolutely no success

  16. Thanks David ….good refresher lesson after the ACX masterclass and confirms I’m in the right place starting with audio books. Laurey ?

  17. Thank you so much for doing this David. Your video is outstanding! I originally learned about you through our mutual friend Michael Kostroff. My Question: even though I’ve been a professional stage and TV Actress for 40 years, I’ve never been drawn to voiceover, simply because I never had the confidence that I had a speaking voice that was “marketable” , i.e. I didn’t have the voice people would say, ooh you should do voiceovers. However, I’m very good at reading aloud and pronouncing difficult words so I know I have the aptitude. I guess I’m just wondering, are all voice types welcome these days or is there still a standard quality? Thank you so much for your generous gift of your videos!

  18. Great first lesson, David — thank you! My biggest question right now is: regarding low-hanging fruit opportunities, where and how does one seek out IVR work without the benefit representation (agent, Manager, etc)?

  19. Really great lesson and I’m excited for the rest of the course! I’ve been flirting with VO for a few years and have had a few false starts with both UpWork and ACX. The main problem I’ve run into on ACX is that, while there are a ton of books in the queue, it seems like so many of them are…bad. There have been a few times I’ve downloaded an audition script and started reading through it only to realize it’s riddled with poorly written, awkward sentences. I guess my question is…am I being too picky? Do you recommend powering through projects like that just to build a reputation and a resume on the platform?

  20. Getting the attention of an agent or agency has been the most difficult of my career. What would you say…….is the best advise to catch the attention of an agent ?

    One size definitely doesn’t fit all but what steps to follow that actually works and has garnered you some success ?

  21. Hey, David,

    Thanks so much for your insights! You are so sweet!
    Below please find my answers to your questions.

    What has always been a problem for you when it comes to VO?

    Marketing. Getting Agent Representation.

    What confuses you about it? What worries you about it?

    I get discouraged when I don’t land a gig after auditioning (usually through ACX).

    What makes you really frustrated when it comes to being a VO talent?
    Not getting enough gigs …

    Thanks again, David.

    Nancy Groth aka Summer Jo Swaine

    P.S. I tried to find the website you set up for me but couldn’t … do I owe you money?

  22. Thanks for doing this series, David!

    Quick question. Why start out with the lowest paying (per hour/minute/word) genre instead of something like explainers or elearning? I’ve been in group workshops with other audiobook coaches and it seems to me it is one of the most challenging to do – ie like a marathon vs a sprint. Just curious. Thanks again!

  23. Thank you for the class. It was very informative. I appreciate that you gave specific info about reasonable expectations in pursuing a Voice Over career.
    My question would be “How do you know if your voice is really marketable or “good” for this career? Having a voice that people compliment or notice is quite different than actually having what it takes for VO, I’m sure. Thanks.

  24. Hi David, I began in Radio in 1973 at age 16 and for 20 years made my way up. Then went into a family business (did produce radio commercials for the business), but it seems my older skills I created from at those earlier days, “Theatre of the Mind” radio and “wall of sound” production, seem to get in the way of what I call “millennial matter of fact” delivery. Do you find older skilled VO artist having the same situation?

  25. I just got Source Connect but haven’t used it yet. I’m afraid I’ll forget what to do. Is there a way to practice using Source Connect so it’s not so foreign when the time comes?

  26. Great introductory lesson. I liked the list you gave of the different “fruit” in VO. I was personally surprised that commercials was considered a low hanging fruit. Thanks for this and look forward to the next lesson.

  27. Hi David:

    You suggest we start with Audiobooks. What kind of time commitment does it take on average to record an audiobook? And what suggestions would you make for VO artists recording audiobooks in terms of maintaining vocal health and consistent vocal quality while recording?

  28. I started in Radio in 1978, rose to production director about 5 years later, and have done promos and commercials ever since, I’ve got an ok set-up at home, finding clients is the part I am struggling with I have 3 or 4 steady clients who use me a few times a year each, not enough to quit my day job, I’d love to learn more.

  29. How do you create content for a demo reel? If you’re just starting out in the industry and you’re faced with a blank slate, how do you find ideas to do on your own that don’t require an external assignment or project?

  30. David, this course comes at a perfect time for me. I retired from Radio after a pretty successful career. I didn’t know what I wanted to do and finally decided that I could do Voice Overs from home. I am represented by Idiom Talent in Los Angeles, which sounds great, but I haven’t booked anything. I have come to the conclusion that I might not be quite good enough to succeed in LA, so I want to start with the “Low Hanging Fruit”. I also just put my “Gig” up on Fiverr. So I am going to take in everything you say and put it to work. I’m really looking forward to this.

  31. Thanks, David! I started radio in college in 1968. Was PD at a local AM 3 years. Went full-time into radio commercials in ’81. Ninety-nine percent of my work has been local. It doesn’t pay, I’ve had no more than 6-8 clients at a time. I’ve read a dozen books on business & advertising including Roy Wms. & George Lois. Was mentored by Frigidaire’s national brand manager at Dancer. Have very good equipment. Sent hundreds of professional postcards to businesses in many states, many emails, many phone calls. Done the P2P’s. Zip. I’ve done an audiobook, but I’m not the person to do long form; I’ve had a voice condition that does not allow me to work more than a few hours a day (been to several specialists including the Stop Committing Voice Suicide guy, a Metropolitan Opera soprano who teaches people with voice difficulties, EMTs, and a doctor at Vanderbilt. Went to two of Dan & Dick’s seminars, got a very nice review from them on Secret Commercial Critiques, and as you know, they are absolutely no-nonsense in critiquing. I have gratefully taken advice from some terribly smart and experienced people, but just can’t make it work. It’s pounded me down pretty badly, I’m down to two clients and make $500 a month. The irony is that I’m at the top of my game in interpretation, nuance, pacing, speaking rate variation, taking on the attitude for a given character. Recording quality is very good. Have gone after new retail clients in states from New York to Mississippi inclusive, playing them fully-produced demos on the phone. Zip. I don’t know what to do. I’ve taken my website down as it was useless, have only a FB page now. <– the box below won't accept this. Thanks.

  32. I had a great start getting up to speed and more skilled with WFH voiceover. I am still needing some sharpening of creating excellent sounding audio, especially in one of my spaces outside of my regular space. I am still looking for a VO agent, and wondering what ways I might be missing in contacting, not just ANY vo agent, but the right fit for both parties. Also, with ACX/audiobooks, or any platform for that matter, being a great reader and having the stamina is somewhat of a different skill set. I would love to sharpen those skills as it has frustrated me in the past. David, thank you for doing this. I was in your VO2GOGO platform for awhile and gained a lot of insight. Excited to do a refresher!!

  33. Hey, David! I was so pumped up about recording EROTICA after meeting you at the SAG-AFTRA Conservatory. I ended up enrolling in Elise Arsenault’s “Great Audiobook Adventure” to further that momentum (which had honestly stalled in the interim), and I’ve got profiles on AHAB and ACX, and I’ve been recording a bunch of stuff as samples and auditions… so really, at this point, I’m excited to work through YOUR course and get some guidance on the MakingItACareer part. Ennyhoo, just wanted to say hello and thank you for offering this!

  34. I did voice over for 3 months, but didn’t stick with it. I never got hired. I thought it was okay to do cartoon character voices. BTW is so expensive.

  35. Hi David,
    I really enjoyed the introduction video! I recently just got signed to an agency based out of Austin, TX. I am super thrilled about it! I’ve been having voice over sessions with Elise Baughman for the past 3 months now and she has been a wonderful help. Very positive and keeps me motivated. My question is that for the website, would I have more of a chance to book gigs? I created an account not too long ago. I only did one audition so far.

  36. Thanks for doing this David. It came along at the perfect time, just when I was about to try to do the exact opposite of what you said and try to figure it out myself. Closing all those open tabs now! lol

    Question: If I already have some equipment from acting projects- e.g. I have a Rode Video Mic and the portable home V/O booths like this (, would I be able to proceed effectively using those without having to buy all new stuff?

  37. Thank you David…so inspiring about the mindset…..more on that later….Anthony V….former and current student Narrationkl

  38. Sounds very interesting! I would like more info. I’ve been in radio for forty years and have yet to realize the potential there is in doing voice work. I’d like to change that.

  39. I had actually figured ACX was the place to start because of the ease of auditioning there. ( And audiobooks are fun, like doing every character in a play and being the director besides.) My biggest stumbling blocks are tech and marketing. I just can not seem to get my noise floor down to -60. I almost get it there if I turn off my HAC. But that is probably a topic for a different class. I am very interested in working in information type narration for the government, but have no idea where to look. I wish there was a Dept. of VO narration in Washington. Also, I have been listening to other vo coaches who recommend Fivver and Craigslist as the wave of the future. I know you don’t think much of them, is that changing? Also, what do you think of the Kaotica (sp?) eyeball to get noise floor down? Thanks, for this course, and for being a great coach and resource for an often confusing biz.

    1. I own the Kaotica eyeball… Thought it was great when I first started using it; doesn’t seem to have *any* effect at all on my noise floor, so find a better use for your hundred bux!

  40. David, first off, that was a beautiful introduction and first lesson! Can’t wait for Lesson 2 and all the lessons to come. This is the perfect time for you and Dan to offer this valuable opportunity. Since this pandemic, I’ve been recording all of my shows and voice-overs from my “home studio” here in Tokyo. (Basically, a Sennheiser MD46 going into an Edirol digital converter and onto Adobe Audition with my own, customized EQ and compression settings.) My questions is about pricing for the various types voice-overs you described in Lesson 1?

  41. First, DH XVII, Thanks for helping me escape the scam.Sescondly, with the next class, will you suggest any kind of starting directory for section B: markets all over the country, the world; local markets, etc. there must be some starting point. (As an on-camera commercial principal, i started out with a directory i got from Actors connection).Thanks for any leads.

  42. I’ve been a professional VO since 1963. My first gig was as a newscaster. “Blessed” with a big, authoritative voice I began on air in a major Canadian market, Vancouver.
    Partly because I was a marketing grad at UBC I liked the creative side more than journalism. Soon I was doing blue-chip advertisers’ commercials. My quirky sense of humour gained favour with several leading casting and commercial directors in this country.
    “Wiseass Voiceactor” became my brand. It served me well for decades, until—even with my canny sense of comedic timing unbowed—“callow” youth voices became the rage.
    If you do the math you can guess I’m no callow youth.
    I still sound vigorous, authoritative and mature and can deliver sardonic comedy that kills as well. But demand has shrunk. Of course, COVID 19 accelerated that backward step. I’ve done some audiobooks. Don’t enjoy it. Done some corporate work, including IVR but have yet to find the opportunities you speak of.
    My question is a 2-parter: Is it the result of being in a much smaller market (Canada is about 10% the size of the US). Or is it me?
    Go ahead. I can take the truth.

    1. The Intro is the only lesson we have access to as of now… if you watched the whole half-hour, you’re right where you’re supposed to be! 🙂

  43. Hello
    thank you for sharing your knowledge with us. I’m setting up my home studio and having difficulty making my MacBook Pro (mid 2013 model, OS 10.15.3) communicate with interface devices (specifically a Roland R-26 portable recorder, also an Audient iD14) I am using the latest drivers available, but my Mac is not recognizing parts of the software it should recognize, according to both manufacturers. I realize you’re not a salesman, but will you be covering hardware / software matches for optimal at home recording? Thank you.

  44. Thanks, David, for these videos. Looking forward to viewing them all. No questions right now, but I’m sure I’ll have some as I progress through the videos.

  45. Hello hero ! David where and how dies one get an audiobook record there voice and who and where would you find out to give it to so they can hear it ? Thank you for your time and liked your 1st video … jason

  46. Oh my gosh, that first video was amazing! You’re so precise and thorough, I can’t wait to watch the next videos! I’m happy to know that IVR is one of the lowest hanging fruits because it’s one of the main things I want to get into. I’ve already been auditioning with because I felt like I didn’t need VO classes, but I do know having proper training is important. So my only question now is, how much do you charge for *your* training? You’re so personable and it would be great to learn from you. Thank you.

  47. Hi David,
    Great video about Voice-overs! Truly appreciate it. I have several cartoon voice over reels , I have, an Celebrity impersonation Reel/accent reel/ animal voice over reel. How do I utilize my reels to get submissions voice over job opportunities? Thanks?

  48. Hi David, I learned about your course from Barry Friedman. I am interested in voice over because i have an interesting “Maria Bamford” type voice. You mentioned one of the hardest categories to get into is animation…I don’t think my voice is suitable for audio books or teleprompter calls. What steps do you recommend for someone like this?

  49. Why can’t I move on to Lesson 2? I’ve clicked on every thing but no response. I would like to continue.
    Thank you.

  50. David:
    My worry is that my voice is not strong enough to do these recordings. It’s old and squeaky and worn out. Is there any hope for me in this endeavor?

  51. Hi, David,
    Having just finished the ACX Masterclass with you and Dan, this five-class series feels like great timing! My questions are mostly about finding work and representation: I understand making one’s own demos for audiobooks, and the process of auditioning/booking for Audible. When it comes to the “low-hanging fruit”, I booked commercials and industrials in the past thru an agent. However that was many years ago, and I feel like I’m starting from scratch with #WFH. What I hear is that demos are necessary to get an agent, but awfully expensive if done right. Can one find/audition for union commercial/IVR work without a demo or agent? Thanks, David!

  52. Thank you David, I am a professional actor, often in LA but sitting out covid in New Zealand. I have done ADR, and a couple of clips and auditions but am keen to work from home as much as possible . Lesson 1 opened my eyes to a number of other ‘fruit’ that i hadn’t been thinking about. A friend in the same position just did a very expensive Hollywood class and spent $1000 on a mic, stand etc….. I can’t invest until I have more knowledge and practise. Can I use my iphone 11 in my closet????

  53. David, I watched Ep 1, twice, yesterday. I’ve been attempting to watch Ep 2 since 7 am in NYC and it won’t run. I’ve tried through your site, through Jodie B’s and Michael K’s links… and nothing works. I’ve entered my name and email each time that box pops up… and nothing’s happening. Even though I’ve been getting your emails for months, I’m not getting any notifications about this class and how I can watch the rest of the episodes. I know with many free online classes, each episode is only live for 24 hours. I’m afraid I’ve missed the window to watch Ep 2. Please help. Thanks.

  54. Thank you for this resource. Where are some good places to look for work in IVR?

  55. Thank you so much, David. I am a UK actress. I have taken a few VO classes and have a professional reel. I have joined a few on-line agencies but have no equipment at home. and have not had any work, as such in the field. I am presuming that all your information is the same for the UK, although we have a much smaller market.

  56. Hi David, thank you for offering these classes for free. My question is: what is the current reality for a union actor not willing to go Fi-Core? Is it still possible to make a decent living? Thanks!

  57. Hey David, I’ve actually worked mostly in animation and video games but I have a Masters in IT and I’d love to do some specialty narration since I can pronounce and understand all those tech terms. My current agent is for games/animation/commercials… are there agents for these speciality jobs? Would love to know how to find them.

  58. I’m so thrilled to be part of your classes. My problem is that I have a pro website, plenty of webinars for commercials, animation, narration, MAVO2014/2018/upcoming 2020, Repped by Agent99voicetalent and IDIOM. I only had 2 jobs with Agent99voicetalent, and NO jobs from IDIOM (afterover 250 auditions since 2018. Doing Marc Scott’s Marketing Playbook. I’ve done minimal jobs in each genre: 1 promo, 1 radio commercial, 1 tv commercial, 2 audiobooks (and several motivational narrations), 1 real estate commercial, a few explainer videos. I just don’t get why I’m not booking from IDIOM. I’m reaching out to other agents but no bites.

  59. Thank you, David.

    I am quite confused as to where to “actually” start. Should I “find my voice first” or should I just flop around trying different things until I get that “Aha!” moment?

  60. David, Thank you for these lessons. I think my weak point will be the marketing side of the house. So any good ideas you have there will be gold for me.

  61. I’ve been hesitant to do audiobooks because I’ve found it to be too much work for next to no money. I’ve been much happier with e-learning, explainer videos, and a little bit of advertising. If I got into audiobooks how can I do it in a way where I’m not getting paid less than minimum wage for my work? How can I take advantage of my experience with e-learning to increase that category. I’ve been doing voice over for over 5 years now with over a thousand paid projects under my belt. My main frustration is the lack of feedback from those I audition with or work with sometimes. How do I know if I providing an audition that is a winner?

  62. I’m sorry David, I sent you a comment earlier today, Sept 14th 2020 without filling in my name and email:-) I ended my comment with our being our “flashight.” 🙂