Who Should You Hire to Produce Your Podcast

Who Should You Hire to Produce Your Podcast?

Welcome to episode 488, Uncommonly More with Stacey Harris. I am spoiler alert, Stacey Harris. I am really excited for today’s show because I want to talk to you about the different options and getting support with your podcast because there are a ton. And guess what? None of them are right, and none of them are wrong. There’s only about choosing what is right for you in the season you are in. None of them have to be forever. Any of them could be forever. It’s up to you. But I want to walk through the distinctions and some of the pros and cons of each of these options just so you know what’s available to you. 

We’re going to talk about DIY, a virtual assistant, a freelance podcast editor, or a full agency.

There are absolutely cases where there are people who blend these categories. For example, there are VA agencies that offer podcast services. There are freelancers who are freelance editors but offer like full production support and some of the show notes stuff and whatever it is. There is going to be bleed between these four categories. Still, you get to sort of figure out what works best for you. And one of those sorts of gray areas between two might be perfect for you. But I want to speak to the major four categories, mostly to highlight their differences so that when you go to look at them, you can go, oh, cool. I want this category mostly, but also I’d like it to lean a little this way or a little that way. And so that’s what I want us to talk through today.

I want to start with DIY. 

Now, full disclosure. Before I tell you that I DIY’d the show for five years, I want to say I DIY’d this show as somebody with a degree in audio engineering. I wouldn’t have necessarily done it had I not had that background and that expertise and that education. It would have been more nerve-wracking for me, but lots of people do. Lots of people do it successfully. And I’m going to talk a little bit about how to get the most out of your show if you’re DIYing without wrecking yourself because that’s an important piece that goes in the con column for DIY.

When I talk about DIY, I mean the whole kit and caboodle from, that’d be a fun show to, hey guys, episode one is live now, go listen, is you. It’s you. And that means you are recording. You’re editing, you’re uploading, you’re creating graphics, you’re creating marketing materials, so you’re sharing marketing materials, all of that. You’re creating show notes, all of it as you. I actually really love this option if you’re not super sure you want to have a show forever. If you are going to say, “I want to do six months of a podcast. I’m going to do this six months, 24 episodes, and see what the process is like.” And you create a season. Maybe it’s a 12-episode season to start to see if you enjoy the process. And then a second 12-episode season to see if the thing still works or see if you can grow it, whatever it may be. DIY, don’t spend the money on getting it professionally produced if you don’t know if you’re going to want to do it.

In my opinion, the best way to go about DIYing is to look at an option like Anchor, where you can record straight up into Anchor and put it out in the world. Or you can record into your computer and upload it to Anchor and put it out into the world. Anchor will actually provide intro and outro music. They are a really great way to start a show. Even with my expertise and my experience and the access I have to my team and my ability to DIY a show, if I were to start a podcast right now about plants, I don’t know, I probably wouldn’t start a podcast on plants. I don’t think I know enough. But anyway, if I were to start … Or the Schitt’s Creek podcast… Yep, we’re back on that. The Schitt’s Creek podcast we talked about the last episode. If I was going to start that, I’d probably do it an Anchor to be completely honest with you.

This is a great first step that doesn’t take a ton of having all the answers or figuring it all out before you can get it out into the world. And so I love it for those kinds of things, those passion project things. It’s totally doable. The thing you have to remember though is if you’re going to be DIYing, I highly recommend minimum viable product. I would not be looking at doing a show with guests and co-hosts and audio clips and lots of extra pieces and the world’s greatest intro and outro music and just all the bells and whistles. I wouldn’t be looking to do that. I would be looking at, what’s the simplest way to get the show up? What’s the simplest way to market it? What is the simplest way to produce show notes? If you want to invest the money, get a transcript. Otherwise, six keyword-focused bullet points and you’re out.

I would not make it overly complicated because the biggest con to DIYing is the not just possibility, but likelihood that you will burn yourself out. You will, I want to say murder, but that seems aggressive. You will definitely work the capacity of your patience DIYing it because there are going to be things you have to figure out. There are going to be things that you have to just navigate, and that’s really, really, really difficult to do alone. Not impossible, but it can feel isolating and it can feel frustrating.

And in my opinion, it’s the leading cause of what they call pod fade. Somebody who started a podcast for two or four or 10 or 12 or 15, or sometimes 40 episodes, and then they disappear. It Isn’t, okay we’re closing it. No, they just stop producing them. And I think that really comes from DIYing and biting off more than we can chew, or over-investing too early and not being able to justify the expense because you didn’t plan for it. You didn’t plan to essentially have a podcast running at a deficit for a while because it will take a little bit of time before your podcast is paying for itself. You need to have the leeway in your budget to afford that help. Cool? That’s DIYing.

The second option is a VA. 

There are a lot of VAs who offer podcast services who maybe don’t have an editing background or who have maybe executed show notes. They do the admin pieces so that you don’t have to. Maybe you can record an edit your own show, but you want someone else to do the show notes and get it up on your website and upload it to LibSyn or whatever other host you’re going to use. Help you get the marketing for the podcast out, whatever that is. Or some of them do offer basic clip the front and the back and put a prerecorded intro and outro on there and you’re done kind of editing.

Yes. Again, there is gray area. There are absolutely also podcasts focused VAs and BA agencies that offer editing at a professional level. Again, I’m talking about general buckets. Don’t come at me. Cool? Cool. Generally speaking, these are virtual assistants who are doing a lot of different things. This is always the warning I put with virtual assistants. Personally, I like to hire for a specific job. I want you to be doing this. And oftentimes, especially early in our business, I think we bring in VAs and we think, cool, you can do 57 things. I’m going to ask you to do 57 different things. However, we can run into a good enough at all of the things instead of being exceptional in any one thing. Again, massive generalizations. I would rather have a couple of different pieces, a couple of different people in play.

For example, a VA to handle the admin side and a freelance editor to handle the editing side versus having one person who maybe isn’t as qualified to do all of the pieces. And again, when I’m talking about a VA, I’m generally speaking about somebody who is just a solo setup. It’s not like they’re an agency model where they have on their staff people who excel in all of these different spaces. People who are really focused in each of these different spaces. That’s a different conversation. We’ll talk more about it during agency. But what I want you to look at is, is it going to be financially viable for you to hire someone? Is it going to be worth it? Oftentimes, I think the best thing to hand off to VA specifically is show notes because oftentimes you can get some really high-quality show notes, really incredible prices from people doing a really freaking good job.

And so start with that. Start with that and maybe the social support. Maybe they take your audiogram and put it on the background and create it in a headliner or a wave or whatever it is, and actually schedule it for you or write some social posts to go along with your episode. Getting help on that admin and marketing side I have found in the conversations I’ve had with people is where they’ve had the most success, with a VA support. That means either separately hiring a podcast editor and/or continuing to DIY your editing. It’s still going to be incrementally better than DIYing everything because you have at least taken something off your plate. The same is true, and I know I’m talking about these together, but I think they fill parallel spots with a freelance editor, somebody who is just going to edit the audio.

If that’s all they’re doing, it comes back to you to get it uploaded to Libsyn, to get show notes created, to get social created. And so again, this can be a really good one-two punch with a sort of admin focused VA or marketing focused VA to get you where you want to go. Now, the downside here is you’re managing both of them. You’re managing the communications between them very likely. I would definitely set up an environment like Slack or honestly a project management tool, like Asana or Trello, or we use Monday. So people can see where the episode’s at. We see this across all of our shows that we produce with all of our different people, because this is the setup we have. We have marketing assistants who actually handle the show notes and the upload and the website, the post creation.

We have podcast editors who actually edit the audio. We have strategists who actually strategize with our clients as far as, what episodes should we be doing, and what are you thinking, and how is this going to go? And what do we need? We have a project manager who actually project manages all of that. Again, it’s going to mean project managing, you running the show as far as production is concerned. And so if you’re going to choose one of these options, be aware of that. You might be able to lower your costs though, which can be a huge benefit, especially if you’re in the launch phase or you’re in the early part of your show, and you don’t have a ton of proof of concept that you can turn it into revenue yet. That can be a really good place to start.

Lastly, let’s talk agencies. 

That’s what we are. That’s what Uncommonly More is. And it’s a great solution because our clients, all they do is record audio, drop it into a folder, and we do everything else up to the actual publishing of the marketing. Now, full disclosure. We also have clients who we handle all the marketing for because they’re full-fledged marketing clients. But on our podcast production side, what we’re doing is we’re taking your raw audio. We’re editing it with professional quality, creating an audiogram snippet. Creating that audiogram, updating any graphics for you, creating your show notes, optimizing them for things like SEO, and really making sure your show is ready for the world. Uploading it to Libsyn. Always making sure our or whatever your podcast host is … always making sure their feeds are being distributed to wherever they need to be distributed.

And then you get all the graphics you need to promote the show, all the audiograms you need to promote the show, your show notes, and link is ready to go. All you need to do is actually go share it. We frequently work alongside a VA or an OBM who works with our clients and helps them with that stuff or clients who are DIYing their marketing still. Or again, we do have clients who we handle all their marketing. We then market the show, email about the show, and we do all of those pieces too. And so I want you to look at how much do you want to do? Because here is the con to hiring an agency. We tend to cost a bit more. We are a slightly larger investment than a VA or a freelance editor.

Now I will say, selfishly, I think we’re a better value because I think oftentimes when you buy the pieces separately and you factor in your time to run it, you do end up costing yourself a little more, but you may be willing to trade your time for that money based on the season, you are in your business, based on where your show is right now. Again, none of these are right, none of these are wrong. Also my agency, not the only agency in town. Find one that works for you. Find the people and the setup and the option that works for you.

I just want to talk about types of support you can get in production of your show. Getting it out of your brain and into the world because that is where it’s actually valuable. Your brain surprisingly, not super valuable for your audience if it just stays in there. It has to come out of the mouth and into the world. All right? And so again, I like an agency selfishly. I didn’t realize … It’s funny. Our agency was handling podcasts for clients obviously for quite a while, and we hired our podcast editor. I was editing everything. I was editing 20 hours of audio. It was banana pants.

We hired our editor, and we handed off half the shows at first and then the rest of the shows. And I only had my show, and I was like, wait, why am I still doing my show? And so I handed off my show and do you want to know what? I get why my clients are so excited now. You guys who we manage your show, I get why you like it so much. It’s freaking awesome. I love being able to bash these episodes. We’re doing three today. This is my last one if you can’t tell. It’s just for you and me. I love getting these done, getting them into their folder, and then the team runs with the absolute work. I get like a, “Hey, the show’s live. Make sure you promote it.”

I’ll go do stories. Or true story, sometimes I just see the social for an episode go out and I go, “Oh yeah, it is that week.” True story. Happened this week. Maybe partially because I realized that that meant that was the last episode I batched last time, and then I needed to batch more episodes, full disclosure. Honesty’s the best policy, guys. The show is ultra-transparent. I’m sorry, and you’re welcome. And so being able to do that, having that space and that freedom to not worry about anything other than delivering this and sharing this and putting my thoughts together and wiping my hands with it when I’m done is incredible. However, it comes with a larger investment. It, in my opinion, is for shows who or hosts, who going back to last week’s episode, have a really clear understanding of why their show is around and the ROI on their show.

If you’re somebody who is building a podcast genuinely to content market, to build your revenue through producing a podcast, invest for sure. 

If you’re somebody who thinks it’d be really fun to talk about Schitt’s Creek for an hour every week and released that to the world, wait until you monetize the show. Sell it. Sell the idea. Get a sponsor. Cool. Then absolutely invest. I would go with the VA freelancer option or a VA or a freelancer option before I would jump into an agency unless I had a really clear understanding of where that podcast was working for me, where it fit. That’s just my opinion. We have clients who absolutely have launched with us. Obviously we have a launch package, but that’s again, because they had a really clear understanding of where they made money from the show, even before it launched.

I think that’s it. All right? I walked you through the four categories that I think about when I think about podcast production support. If you have questions, if you want to talk through, if you want to see more about what our services look like and what’s included in them, if you want to talk more about what it looks like for us to support you, please, please, please, please, please reach out, UncommonlyMore.com.  You can read about the team. You can read about the services we offer. You can find more great episodes like this one and probably subpar ones, but still there’s bound to be another great episode in there. Last week, I talked about Schitt’s Creek for a really long time. If you have those questions, head over to UncommonlyMore.com. Otherwise, I will see you next week.

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