How to Streamline Your Podcast Production Using Virtual Assistant
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Hiring a virtual assistant to help with your podcast production can simplify your podcasting experience and make it more fun! Many podcasters “podfade” because they’re overwhelmed by the production that goes into releasing podcast episodes. A virtual assistant (VA) will help you schedule, edit, post, and even engage with your podcast’s audience on social media. A VA can finally make podcasting less exhausting for you so you can focus more on what matters most, the quality of the content. Join this session as Mark Savant breaks down the production roles and how to hire, train, and delegate your podcasting work to a virtual assistant.
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Does this sound familiar? It’s late-night, and your podcast needs to go live tomorrow. But you’re still writing out all of your copy and editing out all the mistakes. You’re pulling out your hair because it’s 10 p.m. and you’re nowhere near done. You still have a newsletter to write and the social media assets to create.
I’ve been there and it’s not a fun place to be. For the longest time, I was utterly overwhelmed with podcast production. However, I read The 4-Hour Workweek one day, and I started hiring new team members. This has completely changed my life. I want to walk you through how I onboard new team members to my podcast production agency, Mark Savant Media.
If you follow these steps I outline below, you’ll find a rockstar virtual assistant to help you take your show to the next level. More than that, you’ll have more time, freedom, and energy to focus on what’s important—engaging with your audience!
This post is a transcription of one of the talks from our PodPros Quarterly Virtual events.
Get Clarity On What You Need
There are a lot of steps in producing a podcast. So before you hire your rockstar virtual assistant, you need to get clarity on what you actually need.
What elements of podcast production don’t you love or are not very good at? In my case, while I’m pretty good at audio editing, it’s not my passion. So I outsource it to someone else.
Take a few minutes and write down a comprehensive outline of all the steps that go into your podcast production. Note it all down: strategy, guest outreach, calendar management, editing, copywriting, promotion, social media, et cetera.
What if you already have the list but are having a hard time figuring out what steps to outsource?
Here are my recommendations of the best place to start.
- Video and audio editing should be among the first things you outsource, as it can get tedious and time-consuming.
- The next thing to look at is calendar management, guest bookings, and email management. As your show grows, you’re going to start getting lots of emails and questions. While that’s a good thing, it makes it harder to keep up with all the interactions with your listeners, other show hosts, and guests.
- Social media posting is another thing that can take up a lot of time and is worth outsourcing. That said, when it comes to social media, you’re putting someone between you and your audience. This can get in the way of having that authentic connection with your audience. You need to be aware of this and try to find ways to get your voice heard.
Those are my top three podcast elements to outsource.
You can also get your virtual assistant to take care of miscellaneous stuff like list generation, document uploads, and other less technical, more administrative tasks.
Remember, you need to put down in writing what you want to outsource. If you’re hiring someone, the best thing you can do as a new employer is clearly define the role.
Set up Your Application Form
It’s one thing if you’re sitting side by side in a desk space saying, ‘Hey, Mary’, but when you’re hiring a virtual assistant, they’re probably going to be tens of thousands of miles away.
So the first step will be to set up cloud storage where you can share documents and files. This can be a Google Drive account, Dropbox, or something similar.
Second, you want to set up a Google Form. Though you might pay a little for a Google Drive depending on how much data you’re going to be sharing, setting up a Google form is free. Here are a few things that you should include in your Google form.
- Name, phone number, address, email, and other personal details you might need.
- The skillset you’re looking for.
As you chat with a potential hire, you want to ask about their skillset. What is the actual role they function well in? Definitely ask for examples of previous work. If they are a graphic designer, what have they designed? You don’t need a ton of links. Just ask for two links to previous accounts they’ve worked on or prior works that they’re proud of.
Another question I like to ask is, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” This is really important because when you’re hiring someone to be a virtual assistant, you want to find someone who will be here long-term.
Some people are very entrepreneurial and want to build their own businesses. That’s not really who you want in a virtual assistant. You want a great worker who will buy into what you’re doing.
If someone says something like, “I plan to have my own agency in three to five years, or I’m going to build my own business,” that’s a cause to pause. Again, you don’t necessarily want someone entrepreneurial. You want someone that’s going to help support you, grow your business and buy into the vision of your business.
I would also recommend adding a little password or passcode section in your Google form questionnaire. I’ll explain later on why this is very important.
You’ve gained clarity of who you are looking for. You’ve designed a system with a Google cloud and a Google form, so you are ready to start accepting applicants.
But how do you actually fill that funnel with applicants? I’ll cover some free approaches first and then talk about options that I would probably recommend.
How To Find Applicants
An easy and free approach for finding applicants is to go to social media and ask your followers. Is anyone looking to be a graphic designer? Do you know any video editors that I can work with? You can also go to Facebook groups. But there’s one big caveat to this method.
You might end up with too many unqualified applicants filling out your Google form, leaving you inundated with junk. So before you go and post your listing in a group of a hundred thousand VAs, stop and pause for a moment. Maybe try a much smaller network instead?
If you want something more sophisticated that offers a better return, here are some options. Some of them require you to purchase a premium subscription.
- Check out onlinejobs.ph, which is a job listing board and a good place to find qualified and vetted applicants. I highly recommend this platform.
- You also try other job listing boards like Fiverr or Upwork.
You’re going to want to include two things in all your listings. The first thing will be a link to your Google Form. Serious people will take that extra step to go off the platform into Google Form to apply. Also, include the passcode I mentioned earlier. This passcode will help you find people that are attentive to detail and can follow directions.
Inside your job listing on that platform, you should include something subtle that says passcode: carrot or whatever word you choose. Anybody that fills out your Google form and does not include a passcode is bypassed immediately. If they can’t follow such simple instructions, they’re not paying that much attention to detail. This is a recipe for problems down the line. Again I want to emphasize how important this step is!
I think it’s also essential that you give people an idea of how much the compensation will be. How much are you willing to pay? 5, 10, 15, 20 bucks an hour? What is your budget? Now, you don’t want to give away everything by telling them exactly what they will be earning. This could hurt your leverage when it comes to negotiating compensation. But it’s good to give a general range. If someone is outside that range, then you’re just cutting out applicants that are not going to be a good fit.
How To Evaluate The Applicants
Now that you’ve gotten a ton of traffic to your Google form, it’s time to have a look at it.
The great thing about the Google form is it’s going to present the list in an Excel or a Google spreadsheet. You want to go through the list as quickly as possible as you highlight or delete the applicants.
I generally highlight potential applicants with either a yellow or green. Yellow means I’m seeing some good stuff here, but I need to look at it more tightly, while green means I really like what I see.
In the end, you’re going to reach out to the greens first. If none of those pan out or you want to try others, you can move on to the yellows.
Ideally, the goal is to put all the applicants into one of three categories: green, yellow or deleted.
As we mentioned earlier, here are a few things that I tend to look for.
Are they entrepreneurial? If they’re entrepreneurial, I will probably delete them or give them a red or different color code. I’ll reach out to them on their job listing site if I like them. What kind of reviews do they have? That’s among the first things I’ll look for.
Is their writing legible? If you can’t understand the writing, it’s not going to work. Do you like their work? How about their references? Do they actually fit within your budget?
The other thing that I look for in a potential applicant is to go beyond filling the form and reach out to me on social media. Maybe they reach out to me via email, but email is not quite as exciting to me.
Honestly, I prefer it when people DM me or reach out to me on social media, particularly LinkedIn. Because if I know someone is on LinkedIn, they’re somewhat of a professional mindset. That willingness to go that extra mile, that’s what I’m looking for in a potential applicant.
At this point in the game, you’ve probably filtered it down to a few different applicants. Now it’s time to start reaching out and narrow it down to your top three.
How To Narrow Down To The Top Candidate
Once I have narrowed down my list to a handful of applicants, I like to get on a short zoom call with the potential team members.
You can also have them do some sample work. Of course, you should pay them for it. Give them a small sample job to see how they do.
Another thing that you might consider is organizing a competition. It’s so easy to waste a lot of time finding someone, hiring them, trying them out for six weeks only to decide that’s not a fit.
So, instead, consider a small competition where you hire all three or four different virtual assistants to perform the same task and see who does the best.
Onboarding The Virtual Assistant
If you’ve gotten this far, props to you! Now we’re getting to the good stuff—onboarding. How do you bring someone on board?
Number one, clarity is king. Whatever you ask your assistant to do, they’re going to do it and probably to the letter. So make sure that you’re clear, specific, and concise with what you want them to do.
Personally, I like to meet with new team members once a week. At this point, I’ve six to seven team members, and we meet every week. This weekly meeting allows us to ensure that the accounts are up to date and that things are moving smoothly.
Also, make sure you have a review system in place. Have in mind, when you’re reviewing it with your assistant, they’re not going to be perfect. In fact, it’s guaranteed they’re going to mess some stuff up. While your first inclination might be to yell at them, to fire them or find someone else, don’t do that.
Take a step back, ask yourself, Did I give clear instruction? Is this a mistake they keep repeating, or is this something that we can resolve?
Once you start getting more thoughtful about that, it will lead to a better relationship with that virtual assistant.
Work Management Tools You’ll Need
Now, let’s break down some of the systems you’ll need. By the way, all of these systems are free. While some do have upgrades, you can start using them today for free.
- So if you do decide that you want to pay an hourly rate, timestation.com gives you a completely free solution to managing their clock-in and clock-out.
- LastPass is a great inexpensive program that allows you to grant access to other people without revealing your passwords.
- I use Slack for communication with my team members. It’s free to get started with upgrades for extra features.
- We talked about Google Drive earlier. You must have cloud storage if you’re working with virtual assistants. I find Google Drive to be the cheapest solution.
- Calendly is an excellent way of scheduling appointments with your new team members. You send them a link, and they can book a meeting directly to your calendar. There are a lot of cool things that you can do with Calendly. You’ll pay a fee depending on the subscription and features you choose.
- I like to make payments through Wise. There are a bunch of different payment options out there. I would avoid PayPal because they charge way too much for your transaction. I find that Wise is one of the best.
- Another great tool is OBS, Open Broadcast Software. While you can do many cool things with OBS, I really like the screen record feature. Being able to record your screen is important when you’re trying to communicate with your team members. With OBS, I can do a quick two to three-minute screen recording, upload it to my Google drive and then send it to my assistant to check it out.
Did you learn something new or valuable in this post? You can find more amazing podcast-related content in our PodPros Quarterly Virtual events.
To Wrap Up
As soon as you start getting serious about outsourcing your podcast to virtual assistants, your whole life is going to change. It’s like the heavens just shine down on you. So make the effort and you will not be disappointed in the results.
About Mark Savant:
Mark Savant runs a podcast production company. His agency, Mark Savant Media helps clients achieve their goals through the power of audio and video podcast. Ever wake up in the middle of the night wondering if your episode is ready? Yeah, Mark solves this problem. His YouTube channel has over 600,000 views. His podcast, the After Hours Entrepreneur frequently ranks in the top 1% of business podcasts. Mark offers both consulting and full production services.