Becoming An Entrepreneur Audiobook

I’m very pleased to share this chapter from the audiobook version of Becoming An Entrepreneur by my good friend Jake Desyllas. Becoming An Entrepreneur is Jake’s first book, and also his first author-narrated audiobook! He did a phenomenal job of expressing his own unique voice in the audiobook… listening to it, it’s hard to believe it’s his first one. He’s way better than many experienced audiobook narrators I’ve heard!

The way I was involved in helping bring Becoming An Entrepreneur audiobook to life was as its producer and sound editor. Jake is an experienced podcaster, but I helped him adjust his recording setup for audiobook narration, to be more ergonomic, quiet (in terms of background noise), and consistent from session to session. He sent me raw recordings of his narration, and I edited them – removing the outtakes, processing the sound to make Jake’s already-very-pleasant baritone, British accented voice sound extra nice, and formatting it according to Audible.com’s specifications.

He’s shared the Introduction chapter on his podcast, The Voluntary Life. Listen here!

You can purchase the full audiobook here. Review copies are also available – contact Jake at the voluntary life dot com for more information.

In rare cases, I accept audio editing & production projects. If you’re interested in hiring me as your audiobook editor, get in touch with me here!

Becoming a Voice Actor

My Career Change

I have not been a voice actor for my entire working life. In fact, if you were to ask me 10 years ago if I ever though I’d become a voice actor (or even start my own business), it probably would have struck me funny. It would have never crossed my mind at that time in my life.

I hear that this is really common. Many voice actors have had “other lives” before they started working in their current field. This makes them, as a whole, a really interesting group – because they have very different backgrounds and skills in addition to great pipes, and can bring their prior experience to their current work in voiceover.

Personally, my background is in science and medicine. I have a Biochemistry PhD (my thesis research was on Alzheimer’s Disease) and I also went to medical school for 2 years. I speak “medicalese,” and now medical and scientific audio projects are a favorite of mine to work on.

However, I went through a lot of changes during the time that I was in graduate school. As I gradually started learning about entrepreneurship and working on personal development, and I realized that I could do much, much better in the personal freedom department than where I was at.

So, I left.

I started my own business as a voice actor. And I’m so glad I did! It was scary to make such a bold move and completely switch careers. There’s a lot of external pressure to fit conventional definitions of “successful.” But to me, success means being as happy as I possibly can. It’s been a blast to become a full time voice actor, and I feel a lot happier now.

I explain it all here, in this interview I recently did with Albert K. Lu of The Power & Market Report.

References & Links

Sponsors
Liberty.me: A social media and publishing platform
WB Wealth Management: An independent registered investment adviser

Would you like to interview me or hire me for your next audio project? Get in touch!

thisApp Bitcoin Video

I recently voiced this cool animated video about thisApp, a tool to help solve two problems at once – bitcoin adoption, and decentralized exchange of BTC and fiat. Video produced by BitFilm.

I’ve been called “the voice of bitcoin” by some… and while I recognize that bitcoin is decentralized, I’m flattered. 🙂  Could I be the right voice for your bitcoin explainer video? Contact me for an audition sample!

How to Podcast Like a Pro

How do I get started in podcasting?

That’s a question lots of people ask me. It’s a great question… in fact, starting my first podcast in 2009 was what ultimately led me to me making a total career change from working in science and medicine to becoming a voice actor!

Podcasting is such a fun hobby, and can even turn into a business if that’s where you want it to go. But before you start your first podcast – please ask yourself this one question…

You can find the most important question to ask yourself before starting your podcast here, in this interview I recently did with Albert K. Lu of The Power & Market Report.

(And funny enough… I also voiced the intro bumper for Liberty.me, which is heard at the very beginning of the show!)

Also mentioned on this show…

Stephanie’s Podcasting Equipment Suggestions

Albert’s Podcasting Setup

  • Audio-Technica ATR2100 USB Mic
  • Roland R-05 Digital Recorder
  • Audacity

Sponsors
Liberty.me: A social media and publishing platform
WB Wealth Management: An independent registered investment adviser

References & Links

 

Would you like to interview me or hire me for your next audio project? Get in touch!

Where do I find royalty-free background music for my project?

Lots of people ask me where to find royalty-free music for their audio projects.

Audiobooks, radio commercials, explainer videos – the list goes on.

Music isn’t always a requirement, but it’s likely to make the production more exciting and interesting to hear.

Music can make your explainer video more memorable and set the tone for the viewer before the voiceover even says a word. While some radio ads work well with just a voiceover, music in the background can make them way more compelling. Have you ever listened to an audiobook and thought you might go nuts if you heard the narrator’s voice one more time without some kind of break or change of pace? Heck, music can even assuage the grumpy caller listening to an on-hold message for the umpteenth time while trying desperately to reach an actual person.

But where do you get the music?

This can be a problem. Regardless of whether or not you agree with the idea of “intellectual property,” if you just want to produce a piece of audio without worrying about it getting yanked off the internet due to copyright claims, using stock music is the way to go.

It can be confusing and overwhelming to search for stock music, though.

In fact, it can be confusing and overwhelming just to search for places to search for stock music!

Google “stock music” or “royalty free music” to find out (and prepare to be overwhelmed with lots of stuff that probably doesn’t meet your needs.)

To help save you time, I’ve put together a list of place that I personally use to get stock music for my audio projects. I’ve used these websites to produce podcast bumpers, radio commercials, explainer videos, phone systems, and even in audiobooks.

Royalty free stock music works similarly to how stock photos do. You purchase a license that includes being able to use it in any way you want, including in a product you sell, an unlimited number of times. Alternatively, with certain music you do not need to purchase such a license because the artist has released it into the public domain or under a creative commons license that allows you to use the music freely, or with some minor limitations, such as crediting the artist.

Here’s a list of my recommendations for stock music:

Paid
  1. Pond5

    This is my go-to as it has the best search capabilities, generally the best or at least great quality, and a big selection of excellent full length songs, :30 and :60 music beds, stings, audio logos, sweepers, and all kinds of sound effects. You can find music and sound effects for as cheap as $2 – $5, on up. For 30-second music clips I can usually find something I like in the $10 – $30 range. The search feature is really good and you can even search by vague terms such as the “feeling” the music evokes – happy, playful, sinister, mystery, futuristic, etc. – and come up with results that match what you’re looking for.

    UPDATE: Since I originally wrote this post, Pond5 has released a collection of public domain stock media – including not just music and sound effects, but also videos, photos, and even 3D models. These are available for free download and you can access the collection here.

  2. Audio Jungle 

    As far as music goes, some of their tunes are better than Pond5, but also not as well categorized, and the selection is more limited. Having said that, there are some real gems on Audio Jungle that you can’t get anywhere else, and they are worth purchasing.

Free
  1. Free Music Archive

    A mix of mostly creative commons attribution licensed songs, which means you must credit the artist, and sometimes cannot use them songs for commercial purposes. But there are some real gems on here. Free Music Archive is where I got the awesome chiptune music for my podcast Sex & Science Hour – eventually the artist found my podcast, was cool with us using his songs, and even wished us luck with the show.

  2. FreePD

    Curated by musician and composer Kevin McLeod, and featuring several of his own songs, all of the music here is in the public domain – which means you can use it, remix it, modify it… or do pretty much anything you want with it, without asking anyone’s permission or giving credit to the artists behind it. Some of the music is not that great, but again, you get what you pay for. The “sci-fi” section is amazing for creating deliciously cheesy audio fiction – my partner Brian and I have used it extensively for his podcast, Sovryn Tech, of which I am the producer. Kevin is an amazing composer and will even do custom stock music (you have to hire him for that, of course, but why wouldn’t you want to hire him? He’s awesome.) By the way, Kevin says he “slogged through 45,000 Public Domain sermons to find this stuff.” Now that’s dedication!

  3. Free Stock Music

    If you create a login, you can download free, royalty-free stock music (though in terms of the quality, “you get what you pay for” applies.) Their business model appears to be to upsell you to a membership at AudioBlocks, which is a membership site with higher quality royalty-free music. Disclosure: I haven’t personally used Free Stock Music yet for any of my projects, but I found it on a search just before writing this post and plan to try it when the opportunity arises – it was one of the few I saw that didn’t completely suck. 🙂

  4. Pond5 Public Domain Collection

    As I mentioned above, Pond5 has recently released a collection of public domain stock media – including not just music and sound effects, but also videos, photos, and even 3D models. These are available for free download and you can access the collection here.

 

There you have it! I hope you’ve found this list of places to find stock music helpful.

Once you’ve found your perfect piece of stock music, why not hire me to add a great voiceover to complete the project?

101 Reasons: Liberty Lives in New Hampshire

I’m pleased to announce the eagerly anticipated release of 101 Reasons: Liberty Lives in New Hampshire! I was the voiceover narrator for this film, the first full length documentary I have voiced.

The film is about New Hampshire and why it’s a wonderful place to be for lovers of freedom. I’ve certainly enjoyed living here myself since 2006.

Watch the full length film here (free!) on YouTube.

Could I be the right voice for your next documentary? Contact me.

Review of Noiseless Mice for Audio Work

Voice actors use all different kinds of setups for recording. Especially for audiobooks. I’ve heard of some narrators who run their computer in a separate room and stream the audio from their microphone to it by bluetooth, to avoid picking up the computer’s fan noise. And while some want to narrate audiobooks under a pseudonym or conceal their identity, I’ve even heard those who literally record in the closet – including one who accidentally got locked in a walk-in closet during a recording session!

Personally, I use an eeePC that is in the same room as my microphone to record. The eeePC is small and quiet, placed as far away from my microphone as I can get it, and I also use a noise gate on my compressor, so computer noise is minimized to the point of not being an issue. You can read about my entire studio setup here.

I’ve experimented with different techniques of recording audiobooks, too – including “punch-and-roll,” which means you hit record once and continue recording through the inevitable mistakes, perhaps making a noise like a finger snap to mark the flubbed lines, and edit the recording later; and “edit-as-you-go,” where you get a perfect take of each line before moving on to recording the next line, deleting the bad takes as you record.

For most of my audiobooks, I’ve preferred the “edit-as-you-go” method, which means that I do a lot of mouse clicking and audio editing tasks as I am recording. I had to find a solution that would let me stop the recording without making an audible click… and a way to scroll through pages of the script during recording without making any noise that would get recorded. Some narrators use a tablet with a touch screen to read their scripts from, but I prefer to look at my monitor, which is already at eye level at my standing desk. That way, my chin is not tucked, kinking up my neck and affecting the sound of my voice, as I look down at a tablet.

Standing at my standing desk, looking at my monitor which displays the script and my audio recording software, with my microphone placed in front of my mouth and not blocking the field of vision, editing as I record an audiobook has proven to be the best and most ergonomic solution for me. The tool that has really made this possible, though, is a noiseless mouse. I’ve used a couple of different types over the years, and over time I came to like them so much that I switched all of my mice to noiseless ones.

Noiseless USB Optical Computer Wheel Mouse 800 DPI Super Quiet JNL-006K Black Silent

The first one that I tried was this one – the Noiseless USB Optical Computer Wheel Mouse 800 DPI Super Quiet JNL-006K Black Silent. It was quiet enough to not make any noise that got picked up on my recordings, and it really convinced me on the benefits of noiseless mice. However, it didn’t last – the scroll wheel broke after about 6 months of daily use, and I couldn’t repair it myself.

Kinobo - Silent Click Blue Wireless Mouse with Scroll Wheel 2.4GhZ Laptop DesktopFor my next noiseless mouse, I decided to go with one that was wireless. I was a little wary of the reviews claiming it wasn’t the highest quality product, but I ended up going with this – the Kinobo – Silent Click Blue Wireless Mouse with Scroll Wheel 2.4GhZ Laptop Desktop. I’ve had it for about a year and it’s still going strong. In fact, it was quieter than my previous one, the JNL-006K, and even slightly quieter than the mouse that is now my main noiseless mouse, the JNL-101K (more about that below). The Kinobo gets great battery life, has not broken yet, and just… works. The only thing I’m not crazy about is the size. It’s a bit too small for my preference. So, I use this one for my non-audio work (I’m using it to write this blog post right now, in fact!) For my main noiseless mouse, I went to a different model.

Noiseless USB Optical Gaming Computer Wheel Mouse 1600 DPI Super Quiet JNL-101K Black SilentThe Noiseless USB Optical Gaming Computer Wheel Mouse 1600 DPI Super Quiet JNL-101K Black Silent is now my main workhorse for voiceover and audio work – including podcasting – very handy when you need to click on something during the recording without creating a distracting noise! It has lasted through about 6 months of daily use at this point with no problems. The last JNL broke after about 6 months, so I’m watching out for that, but this model does seem to be higher quality than the JNL-006K. Paying the extra $4 in price differential does seem to have made a big difference. The JNL-101K is larger (which suits me better), has a more ergonomic design, and feels more solid in my hand. And it’s very quiet (the Kinobo is slightly quieter, but the difference is barely noticeable and the JNL-101K does the job quite well). The only real downside to this mouse is that it’s wired, and occasionally the wire can bump or scrape against something and create a noticeable sound.

I’m happy with the value that I’ve gotten for the money out of both the JNL-101K and the Kinobo. If you’re looking for a wireless model and have small hands, the Kinobo can’t be beat. If you have larger hands or want a more substantial mouse, or if you prefer something wired so that you don’t have to mess with batteries, the JNL-101K would be a great choice.

As a final word, I guess I should say that although noiseless mice are marketed as “noiseless,” they are very quiet but not 100% noiseless. You probably get a 95 – 98% reduction in noise compared to a conventional mouse, but there is still some sound. If you have a good quality microphone that zeroes in on the nearby sound of your voice relative to far off background noises for your voiceover or podcast work, and especially if you use a noise gate, they will suit your purposes just fine.

After a while, you may find that you want all of your mice to be noiseless. That’s the conclusion I came to. I don’t see much of a useful purpose that loud clicking sounds serve, and they can be really distracting sometimes!

I’d love to hear your feedback on whether you found these reviews helpful, or if you have a favorite noiseless mouse, so please feel welcome to leave a comment on this post if you have something to say!

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