Three Steps to Getting Started in Voiceover

I get a lot of questions about doing voiceover. Almost as soon as I started doing voiceover, i started getting friends coming to me saying “I’ve always wanted to do that, but I don’t know how to get started.” 

I’m always up for helping people. I LOVE helping people. I love connecting people to opportunities, and assisting them in realizing untapped potential. And I love talking to people and getting to know new people.

But lately, it’s been happening so often, that I can’t keep up. So to that end, I have written this blog post, with lots of resources listed of places to get more information and get started. If I’ve sent you to this post, it’s not that I don’t enjoy your company and don’t want to talk to you, but I’d rather chat once you get the basics from the pro resources I’ve listed below. Then, if you still have questions, I’ll be happy to answer them, especially if it pertains to the Minneapolis market.

So…if you’re serious about doing this, here are the first three steps to getting into voiceover…plus some other stuff I think you should know.  


Just as actors imitate human beings and have to do things that human beings do every day, naturally, without thinking, and make them look NATURAL* and also be interesting, voice actors have to stand in front of a microphone, and say things in a way that is believable, very often saying things one would never say in a million years to another human being—“Oral B toothbrushes are just $3.99, through Saturday!”—and somehow sound like you’re saying it to your best friend, but sound like Rashida Jones, but with more energy, and NOT ANNOUNCERY. Cool? 

Voice acting IS acting.

If you don’t have the acting part down first, your road is going to be a much longer and bumpier one. Even with an acting background, coaching is important. You might get lucky and book some jobs without coaching (I did), but like with on-camera acting or stage acting, the craft is hiding the craft. You need to learn tricks to making difficult copy sound conversational.

You need someone to call you out on your upspeak, or your constant eating of the last words in your sentence that causes everyone to never really get what you’re saying. Or to teach you how to enunciate better, or stop enunciating too much, or whatever habit it is that you have that is going to cause you not to get booked. To correct your fear of breathing in front of the mic (that’s totally a real thing). To give you permission to speak in your natural voice instead of putting on that over-the-top smooth jazz DJ voice that you think everyone wants to hear, but which puts them off because you sound super phony. 

So, get coaching. 




I don’t care if you just graduated from sound engineering school, or if you have been a DJ for 40 years…get someone reputable. Invest in your career. Make a great first impression with something that is industry standard, that fits the style that agents and directors and casting directors are used to hearing. 

Also, do not make a demo that includes more than one genre. You will need separate demos for different genres, which is why most people start with a commercial demo. If you don’t know what other genres you might want to do, then commercial makes the most sense. 

As you are looking for a demo producer, be wary. Be skeptical. Tons of places will give you a little bit of coaching, tell you that you’re brilliant and that you’re going to make lots of money, then take your money and leave you with a terrible demo that will not only not help you get started in this business, but may make a terrible first impression with agents and ruin your chances of getting represented. 

Once you have a demo, the next step is to use that demo to get work. You can market yourself directly, join some P2P sites, or you can use the demo to get an agent, and then do auditions through them. This is a whole other topic I’ll leave for another day…


This step can be optional if you are an actor who lives in a market where a lot of work is done in studio, and if you are just hoping for voiceover to be supplemental to your other acting work. HOWEVER—without a home studio, you are counting yourself out of a LOT of potential income streams, and if you are recording your agent auditions using an iPhone’s built-in mic, you might be positioning yourself poorly to compete against professional voice actors who are sending in fully edited auditions with broadcast quality sound. 

Sound treatment is the main thing you need to focus on. Not only do you need a space that is relatively free of outside noise, but then you have to make sure the sound isn’t going to have any weird reverb or other noise issues. And your basement may seeeeeeem quiet until you start recording and realize you can hear your cat purring at your feet, your ceiling fan in the other room, the roommate walking around downstairs, and the neighbor mowing the lawn. If it takes you hours to get a clean take of a single audition, you’re going to get very frustrated very fast. Find the quietest space in your house and create your recording sanctuary. And if you have to, turn off the HVAC, impose quiet hours for your family, or record at night when the planes stop flying.

When creating your home studio, don’t spend a ton of money right away, but also make sure you’re making a wise investment. The $100 USB mic isn’t going to cut it for more than doing auditions for your local agent, but you don’t need to buy $1000 Sennheiser when you’re just getting started either. Do your research, get a decent mic, an interface, a mic stand of some kind, a pop filter…and you’ll need cables. And a reliable computer.

I started with a Blue Yeti USB mic, which I bought about ten years ago when I didn't know better. Two years into starting to do VO, I upgraded to a Sennheiser MKH 416 and bought a Steinberg UR12 interface recommended by Uncle Roy so I could pursue my own clients and work from my home studio.


There are so many other practical aspects to starting up your voiceover business…creating your website, how to design a great business card, getting work through networking in person, doing more in-depth branding to help your work stand apart, getting agents in other regional markets or other countries, getting national-level agents in New York or LA, moving to a bigger market to pursue certain categories (it’s still really hard to pursue animation work outside LA), getting MORE coaching, expanding into other niches (automotive, radio imaging, promo, e-learning, etc), going to conferences to continue learning about the industry and its trends, and so on.

There’s a lot to consider past the basics, but don’t let that overwhelm you! Take it one step at a time. 


Another aspect of this business that you should be aware of when jumping into voiceover: working from a booth where you speak into a microphone by yourself can be fairly isolating.

It’s a really great idea to find people in your geographic area who are also doing it. Find people you can learn from, and people who you can help bring up as you learn. Joining a voice actor meetup group or practice group will help you find your tribe, bring you opportunities you’d never find on your own, and keep abreast of industry trends and news. Whether or not you are in an area where you can meet with a group like this, online groups are also an option, both for practice, career guidance, and inspiration. 


I have to add one more thing, because it’s important. I IMPLORE you: as you begin in this business, please PLEASE PLEASE have integrity in your business practices. 

Don’t accept substandard rates just to get work. If you are good enough to book a job, then you deserve better rates. 

If you’re not good enough to book a job, then keep practicing and coaching. Though we all have to make our own choices in the end, it is the responsibility of everyone in our industry to help uphold rates at a level where we can all stay in business. 

You get to decide if you take a job for $100 just to win the job and put something on your resume or if you choose to uphold industry standards by consulting the GVAA rate guide to quote a reasonable rate. (btw, you don’t really use a resume in voiceover, so this is a moot point anyway) 

Certain P2P sites are well known for really shady business practices, and others are just known for really crappy rates. It may sound great to record a :30 spot for $100 (“OMG, that’s like $12,000 per hour!”) but once you figure out that it will actually take you an hour on the directed session with the client and you figure in all of the audition time it took to get that ONE job, and THEN the client comes back and wants you to do the whole job over again for nothing because they changed the script and you don’t have a policy about retakes…it very quickly becomes not enough. Do the math—how many of those jobs do you need to get to make a living doing this? And how much time does it take to get each one? And if the industry rates degrade to a point where it makes more sense to get a job as a server, then we all lose. 



So…if, after all of that, you are still interested in getting started on this path, here are some great resources to get started. I’m not saying these are the ONLY resources, but these are safe, trusted, industry-vetted resources. 

*(If you do a general Google search for more info, be diligent about your research before shelling out money—there are a lot of not-so-legit to flat-out-scammy places out there that will pump up your ego in order to get you to open your wallet.)*

The best starter site that isn't trying to sell you anything:

And another starter site that does have stuff to sell, but is still pretty great:

And a paid resource that has a LOT of information that is very reputable:

Another resource for training and the RATE GUIDE:

The professional organization that you should join as soon as you have credits to join:

The best place to get started with VO if you are local to Minneapolis:

Facebook groups to join: 


Voiceover Pros

Voiceover Insider Connect

Voiceover Universe

(Pro Tip: Be careful posting "starter" questions on professional Facebook groups. Pros get annoyed at answering the same questions from beginners over and over. It's best to search the sites before posting and read VO blogs or listen to podcasts to get the info you're looking for.)

Reputable blogs about the VO industry:

Great VO podcasts: 

VO Boss: VO Business Strategies

VO Body Shop by Dan Lenard and George Whittam

All Over Voiceover with Kiff VH

VO Buzz Weekly

Voice Over Marketing Podcast

Voiceover Stories: Real, Raw and Relevant with Tina Zaremba

The VO Meter

Shhhh...Betty Isn't Very Smart


Two weeks ago, I spent a day shooting a dance hall scene for the upcoming WWII feature film titled The Adventures of Ben Keller and Christoph Schulz, about two German POWs who get into hijinks in Minnesota. I play the role of Betty, a friend of the main female character, who meets Ben and Christoph and is completely oblivious to the fact that they are poorly disguising their German-ness (German-ity?)

It was only a slight change from the usual…I get cast in lots of period pieces, and frequently I’m playing a German. See: Jarnsaxa Rising (where I played Himmler’s mistress), the play Hauptmann (Anna Hauptmann), short film The Pardon List (Eva Braun), and doing entertainment for the Saint Paul Saints German Night, where I played a dirndl-wearing fraulein and interacted with the crowds.


It was a fun day of shooting with a great group of people, including my close friend Adri Mehra, who plays Christoph in the film, and the other two main actors in the scene, Colleen Thul and Trevor Simmons.

From Left: Colleen, Trevor, Adri, me

From Left: Colleen, Trevor, Adri, me

Thanks to Benjamin Drietz and director Bryan Steenerson for the opportunity to work on such a fun project! Can’t wait to see how it turns out!

We had a band!

We had a band!

And swing dancers!

And swing dancers!

Why isn’t the payphone working?

Why isn’t the payphone working?


April Come She Will

I’m sure, if you, like me, live in Minnesota, you’re probably frozen solid about now.  

That’s not ice on the’s scratches from Jack Frost trying to claw his way through the glass... 

That’s not ice on the’s scratches from Jack Frost trying to claw his way through the glass... 

But, because you live in Minnesota, you won’t let on. You’ll just go about your business, driving on the ice-skating rink that is 35W...going out in negative windchills without a hat or gloves...popping Vitamin D tablets like they’re TicTacs...RUNNING. OUTSIDE. FOR FUN. 

Okay, I don’t do that last one. I’m not crazy. Otherwise, I just named everything I did today. 

Minnesota is so flat, we have to build our own mountains out of the massive amounts of snow that fall from our cold, gray skies

Minnesota is so flat, we have to build our own mountains out of the massive amounts of snow that fall from our cold, gray skies

But Spring is coming! The sales displays at Target and Michaels say so!! With pastel eggs and bunnies, and FLOWERS, and little chicks (whose fluffy cuteness would never survive the 5 inches of fluffy white crap that fell on us yesterday) and bunnies, and all the other things that signify the end of winter’s icy grasp. 

Spring will be here before you know it (shhhh...just let me soothingly reassure myself that I’m not trapped in some ungodly frigid version of Russian Doll, reliving the same snow emergency over and over again), and April brings the premiere of Christopher Mihm’s next feature film, Queen of Snakes, at the Heights Theater in Columbia Heights on April 24th!


The official poster was just released, and the artwork is *AMAZING.*   It looks just about like any film on MST3K. 



I am definitely planning on buying a poster when they are available!

And remember:  you can still watch all of Christopher Mihm‘s films for free on Amazon Prime, including the other one that I’m in, The Giant Spider. 

I mean, what else are you gonna do until you can safely leave your house again?

Is This Heaven

No, it’s Iowa!



Your intrepid actor-adventurer here, reporting in from the Quad Cities (that’s Iowa, for you not from…Iowa), where I am here on assignment. Tomorrow brings an on-camera shoot for a hospital, and I have done my due diligence in looking into the local scene.

This must be the place…

This must be the place…

After getting into town early, I checked out the art museum, the sculpture garden, the Iowa state capital building, and Raygun (a well-known local store known for their irreverent t-shirts and other gift-y things), all within two hours. It helps that nothing is very far from anything else!

The capital building is made of gold…shhhh!

The capital building is made of gold…shhhh!

I wouldn’t mess with her…

I wouldn’t mess with her…

A person made of letters

A person made of letters

Sculpture that ran away from the sculpture park

Sculpture that ran away from the sculpture park

Egg-shaped art sculpture

Egg-shaped art sculpture

I also got dinner (or I guess it was more accurately an extremely late lunch), checked into my hotel, had a bath, gave myself a pedicure, and watched an episode of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Highly recommend!), and worked on some cross stitch all in the past few hours. It’s easy to get a lot done when there aren’t any distractions.

Any who…where was I?

Oh, yeah. It’s been a while since I’ve posted. I promise to be better at that next year. And SO MUCH has been going on!

Since my last post: I went to Iceland. I went to Atlanta. I did voiceover work for Hershey, Great Clips, Traditional Medicinals, Yoplait, some random other stuff, and just this past week I did another spot for the Pillsbury 49th Bake-Off!

Somewhere in Iceland! Volcanic rocks and stuff!

Somewhere in Iceland! Volcanic rocks and stuff!

Whale shark at the aquarium in Atlanta

Whale shark at the aquarium in Atlanta

I also finished my work on the fictional podcast I’ve been working on for almost two years, Au: Earth Under Gold which should be released sometime next year.

Is he still there?

Is he still there?

I shot a short film with my friends at Urban Mountain Media for the 100 Hour Film Race (spoiler alert: we got disqualified because of computer issues keeping the team from meeting the deadline, but the film will still get finished eventually).

The new year approaches! What will it hold? Who knows! But I hope it’s at least as awesome as this year has been!


Accurate pictorial representation of how I feel after this fall

One more day more!

Last week we finally got one of my two days on set for Christopher Mihm's next film "Queen of Snakes" in the can. I'm so excited to be a part of his most recent homage to 1950s monster movies. Only one more shoot day left, and then the whole movie will be wrapped! 

Christopher Mihm, Stephanie Mihm and myself on set (Photo by Mitch Gonzalez)

Christopher Mihm, Stephanie Mihm and myself on set (Photo by Mitch Gonzalez)

This is Christopher's second addition to the Mihmiverse this year, with "Guns of the Apocalypse," a sci-fi western, already in post-production. 

Want more while you're waiting for "Queen of Snakes" to be released next year and "Guns of the Apocalypse" to come out in September? Check out all of the other Mihmiverse movies on Amazon Prime

And Your Bird Can Sing

It's been a long road to get here, a road littered with classes, and workshops, and conferences...rehearsals, and research, and seven days last fall of having NO VOICE WHATSOEVER, and doctors' appointments, and scopes down my throat, and now it's actually happening! On June 11th, I will perform my first solo cabaret set ever at the Troubadour Wine Bar in Minneapolis. Adri Mehra and I will each perform an hour long set with the theme "Songs We Can't Sing at Karaoke." 

Adri and I have been singing karaoke together for the past four years, and as avid karaoke-goers, we have tried, in vain, to find certain beloved songs listed within the giant books our karaoke hosts bring with them. Many to no avail. 

Now, the time has come for us to unleash these songs unto the world. To let loose. 

Join us! 

Cab Cabaret presents: Songs We Can't Sing at Karaoke

Troubadour Wine Bar, Minneapolis, MN

Monday, June 11th, at 7:30pm



April is the Cruelest Month...

April has been pretty quiet. And brutal, here in Minneapolis. I wanted to dig up some stats, so you all could see how bad it's been, but suffice it to say, we had 17.5 inches of snow on my yard two weeks ago...starting Friday, I stayed in my house and didn't leave, because we were experiencing true blizzard conditions, which is more rare than I thought, and record snowfall. I ordered Chinese food, and holed up for a weekend of productivity and binge-watching whatever my roommates put on the TV. 

Therefore, I have not had anything to report. I have been laying low, auditioning occasionally, switching support jobs, cleaning out the house...really NOT MUCH HAS BEEN HAPPENING. When there are two feet of snow built up on the yard/street/everything, you see how industrious you and everyone around you feel. 

Today, it's in the 60s, the sun is out, and everything is starting to get better. Spring is definitely here. Finally. The allergies that I never had before in my life agree. 

Today I went in to do ADR for a project with Good Astronaut that I shot back in December. Hoping to see that finished soon! And next week, I'll be returning to the Mihmiverse with my first shoot date with Christopher Mihm on one of two films that he's shooting this spring, Queen of Snakes. That also got pushed forward because of the snow. 

I finally think winter is over. Fingers crossed, guys. Cuz it's almost May, and no one needs snow in May.

Feels like the first time

Sometimes, I look back at things I've done in the past, and I can connect the dots. I can see that doing that reading for so-and-so led to getting cast in this project over here, and then that thing, and then this other. I can see how something seemingly insignificant, saying yes to a particular opportunity that didn't seem especially mind-blowing, has taken me down a particular path and changed my life greatly. 

Right now, the past week at VO Atlanta...all these facts, all these new pieces of information, all of these events, and all of these wonderful people I met...are just pinpoints of light on an inky black sky. They are just stars waiting for the constellation to be drawn in. And it's going to take a while before I can look back to see what the picture is. 

Whatever it is, I have a feeling it's going to be beautiful. 

Read More

Au: Earth Under Gold Kickstarter Launched

The Kickstarter has finally launched! This one's been a long time coming...Audio narration drama AU: Earth Under Gold is a Sci-Fi audio series created in collaboration by Matthew Edward Gustavsen and Paul Michael Christian. The nine episode story arc is currently in production and was recorded here in Minneapolis at Minnehaha Recording Company.  Vidsko Productions plans to have the series released in late 2018. In the meantime, donate to the Kickstarter here (20 days left!) and listen to the demo on Soundcloud to get a taste of what the series will be like.  

Cast and production team, from left: Joel Thingvall, Douglas Sidney, Tony Williamette, Billie Jo Konze, Chad David, and Paul Christian. (Some cast not present for this photo)

Cast and production team, from left: Joel Thingvall, Douglas Sidney, Tony Williamette, Billie Jo Konze, Chad David, and Paul Christian. (Some cast not present for this photo)

Silver Medal Film!

Last night at the awards program for the 100 Hour Film Race, our film "Sign Here, Please" took home second place! (If we were Olympic skiers, we'd all be sporting silver medals)

Great work, everyone! It was so much fun working on this film with Urban Mountain Media. If you want to see the other fun stuff they do, check out their Instagram (@urban_mountain) or Facebook page.

And now that the judging is finally over, I can share the film! Watch and enjoy!

All these things that I've done


Once again, I got so busy with all the exciting things I've been doing that I forgot to update…. What’s been happening? Here’s the quick rundown of everything since January 1st: 





In January, I did a VO for Traditional Medicinals…as soon as it’s released, I'll post it. I can't wait to share it, because it's really delightful. 











The same day, I shot a short film called Old Media Studies, written and directed by Stephan Clark. I play a New Media Studies professor with a pretty, ahem, exciting wardrobe. 







A few weeks ago, I voiced a really inspiring piece for Cambia Health. I’m not sure if I’ll get to share this one or not, but it was a great experience. I love reading copy that has that edge of wonder to it. 








Last weekend, I shot a training video with Best Buy, and learned a lot about what it takes to install washers and dryers. 







I’m currently taking an online VO class with the fabulous Tina Zaremba…can’t recommend her enough! Click here to check her out!

And I registered to attend VO Atlanta for the first time!  I’m so excited to attend this conference, meet other VO artists and industry people, fill my head with knowledge until it explodes, and get inspired!!! 






Other fun and exciting things:

1. A client told me my voice was “magical.” How does one even begin to accept that compliment? By stuttering, that’s how. 

2. I can’t prove it, but it actually happened: Ben Folds told me I was a good singer. I’ll accept that compliment as well, but once again, not without stuttering. 

3. I did a self-tape audition with my cat (they asked for him to audition as well, I didn’t just include him of my own accord). 

4. BONUS! I have wanted to see The Killers for years...and they were as AMAZING as I'd hoped

“Sign Here, Please” is in the Finals!

In December, I shot a film with Urban Mountain Media for the 100 Hour Film Race, and the film is one of fifteen finalists from around the world!

It was so great to work with Harrison, Justin and Tim and the rest of them again! I last did a short film with them years ago.  Guy Meets Girl was about a writer who gets help from a female friend as he is struggling to write a meet-cute script. 

In this one, I became Clarence’s nemesis, as a snarky courier, drug lord, and Russian spy.  



Harry and Tim setting up the shot

Harry and Tim setting up the shot

What’s in the box? 

What’s in the box? 

I feel pretty, oh so pretty...

Just got some shots from my photo shoot with Mark Riddle, and they look AWESOME! 

Sassy waitress


If only I could do a photo shoot like this every week... Thanks to everyone involved who helped make me look so great in these photos! It was army. 

Gossiping about others in the restaurant?


Photographer: Mark Riddle 
MUA: Mary K Flaa
Hair: Erianne Malchow
Wardrobe Assist: Abby Schoonover
Wardrobe: Jane Williams, Madeline G Moon

My date in the bar scene: Rod Kasai
And all shot on-set at the gorgeous Commodore Bar and Restaurant where I still need to return to get a cocktail...

In Which Adri and I Do Not Sing Karaoke

My friend Adri and I have been singing karaoke together for about the past three years.  We have our favorite songs, and we have our karaoke group, and we have our favorite places.  But we also both sing professionally, he with his band Cabs, and I in the occasional musical theatre production or singing telegram.

Recently, a few people in the theater community have been singing cabaret nights at the Troubadour Wine Bar in Minneapolis.  I attended one for my friend Bethany a while back, and chatted with Adrian (different human being altogether) who runs the programming, and ended up booking an evening! (What?!)

For our theme, we've chosen "Songs We Can't Sing at Karaoke"...meaning songs we can never find in anyone's book, or songs we know we just can't get away with there. first cabaret night (where I'm not just singing a song or two) will be Monday, October 23rd. Show starts at 8pm, free to the public. Come on down! But make sure to get there early to get a beverage and claim your seat, cuz the place is tiny!

See you on the 23rd for Cab Cabaret at the Troubadour! 

A Photo Shoot a Year in the Making

I met producer Mark Riddle almost two years ago, on a super fun 1970s commercial shoot for Medica. Since then, we have also worked together on the big radio/tv campaign I did for HealthPartners. In addition to being a freelance broadcast producer, he is also a photographer, so when he asked me if I'd be interested in working with him on an editorial shoot for his portfolio, of course I agreed.  

We started talking about this about a year ago, but both being busy people our schedules didn't mesh until everything finally came together last week. I saw the raw images yesterday and got to help narrow down the final images, and I am so excited! They look absolutely amazing!


And credits for the shoot: 

Photographer: Mark Riddle  

Makeup Artist: Mary K. Flaa

Hair stylist: Erianne Malchow  

Wardrobe Assistant: Abby Schoonover

Photo Assistants: Matt Porter, Scott McClure

Wardrobe Stylists: Jane Williams, Madeline Moon

Actor/Extra: Rod Kasai

Photos coming the meantime, here are some candid shots from my pre-shoot prep and a couple from the set!


Erianne prepping my hair


And styling it on set


Our gorgeous location, The Commodore Bar and Restaurant in St. Paul


Gorgeous eye makeup by Mary Flaa! 


Erianne, me and Mary


Post-shoot selfie! God, that makeup looks good!

Basilica Block Party...Just a Little Bit Late

I never claimed to be good at this blogging thing. 


My harrowing tale of love, loss, and the parrot that got away

Last month I shot a promo spot for the Basilica Block Party, a really fun little video spoofing Unsolved Mysteries-style tv shows. I worked with a (rather ill-tempered) parrot, and got to wear really unflattering mom jeans. Everyone from Periscope was really fun to work with, and I got to see Brandi Carlile and The Shins, so I guess it was worth it to wear the mom jeans and work with a diva bird. 

I Get to Say Spiderman on National Television

Ever wonder who does those really fast voiceover tags at the end of commercials? Well, I have a national spot airing for General Mills cereals, and I get to mention Spiderman...but no one will ever know it's me!  (Except that I just told you it's

Not sure how long this link will last, but if you want to see my spot for GM/Spiderman Homecoming, check it out here!