I have a confession to make—I don't run my entire podcast myself. I have hired help! Running a single podcast is a lot of work. This means that the two I have on my plate is double. And, honestly, it's a little too much for just me. So, I hired a virtual assistant.
Well, technically, her actual title is “podcast producer,” but we'll get into why that is in a moment.
A virtual assistant or VA can make your whole podcasting experience significantly easier. It takes some of the administrative workload off you. This way, you can focus on creating content that your audience will love.
So, let's chat about what a podcast virtual assistant can do for you, how much it could cost, and how to budget for one (even if you're not ready to hire one today).
What’s the Difference Between a Podcast Virtual Assistant and a Producer?
I work a lot with the TV and film industry. So, I’ve adopted much of my language related to show running from there. A producer in film is the overall boss of the project. They oversee both the administrative and creative aspects, to make sure everything gets done when it needs to.
My producer does the same for me. Not only does she oversee and perform the administrative tasks related to the production, she also has considerable creative control. She ensures that the vision that we share comes to fruition. This doesn’t get me off the hook—I still have plenty of work to do—but it keeps me on track.
Now, you might not want to give away any creative control—and there is nothing wrong with that. Your show is probably your baby (I know mine is). Hiring a governess to help it grow up might not be something you’re comfortable with, or have the budget for yet.
If that’s the case but you still need help, a virtual assistant is your answer. Unlike a producer, a podcast VA usually doesn’t have any creative control. Instead, they focus on the administrative side of things, helping you push the show along to make sure everything goes smoothly.
Record. Edit. Publish. All in one Tool.
Alitu records calls, solo segments, cleans up your audio, adds music & transitions, helps you edit & publishes right to your host.
How Much Does a Podcasting VA Cost?
I find that my shows only really start to make money when I hire people to help me run it. This is because the actual act of monetizing a podcast takes considerable work.
Whether you’re going to find sponsors or advertisers, work with affiliate programs, or even sell your own products or services, there’s extra work to do. So, removing some of the easy-to-do repetitive tasks can make the process considerably easier.
But, hiring before I monetize means that I’m not necessarily making the budget. So, the question is, how much do I have to find?
The cost of hiring a podcast VA depends on a few factors:
- How much work you need done—the more help you need, the more money it’s going to cost.
- How much experience you need—VAs further along in their career will charge more.
- What kind of work you need done. While a general VA can take care of many tasks, if you also need yours to edit your audio or perform another more technical task, it’ll cost more.
You can find a podcast VA on a platform like Upwork. That will cost you anywhere from $6.50 to $50 an hour. This depends on what you’re looking for. Or, you can purchase a monthly package that’s based on deliverables (like writing show notes, creating audiograms, scheduling the episode, etc.). This can run anywhere from $500 to $3,000+, depending on how much outsourcing you want to do.
Unfortunately, there isn’t really a solid number I can give without revealing what my podcast producer makes—which is a complete breach of trust. But, I can tell you’re looking for at least $500 for a few hours a week.
What Can You Outsource to a VA?
Before we talk about building a budget to hire a podcast VA, let’s first cover what kind of tasks you can outsource.
Besides the actual hosting of the podcast (which I assume you want to keep doing) you can outsource pretty much everything. But you’ll probably want to pull in the reins a bit for the sake of your budget.
The first thing most podcasters outsource is the editing. This can be done by a VA if they have the tools and skills. But, it's most often given right to someone who specializes in podcast editing. Many refer to this as the “podcast producer.” Since I have an editor for one show and a producer for the other, I differentiate the two. You can probably snag a decent one for between $30 to $50 per episode.
Show Notes and Scheduling
After editing, the next tasks to go usually include:
In some cases, this can be done by your podcast producer/editor. But, they could also be handled by a podcast VA.
Many podcasters (myself included) struggle to do enough marketing on their own to do their show justice. If that’s you, market tasks are easy to outsource, including:
- Creating social media content
- Creating blog content
- Posting and engaging on social media
- Designing podcast-specific content like audiograms
- Sending weekly email newsletters
- Even pitching your show to publications
If outsourcing your marketing is your primary goal, I might recommend skipping the podcast-specific assistant. Instead, opt for someone who specializes in social media. Someone really skilled in this area can cost more money (but they’re worth it). However, if you’re looking to stave off the administrative side, you can find someone for a lower hourly or monthly rate.
Finally, if you have guests on your show, you’ll know how much work that process entails. You can hire a VA to handle all or some of this process for you. Again, the rates vary based on their experience and the workload you’re handing over. If you want someone who has contacts with and a history of booking big guests, you’ll end up forking over even more cash (again, it could seriously be worth it).
Budgeting for a Podcast VA
The first step of hiring for help is budgeting for it. People’s time doesn’t come for free (nor should it). So, you need to figure out how much you have to spend.
If you don’t have any budget for help at this time, you can (and should) still plan for the future. It’s currently July, and we’re looking ahead to 2021 to see what budgeting we’ll need if the podcast grows, we add another component, or if the workload increases in some capacity.
In the meantime, there are tools like project management software, social media schedulers, blogging calendars, and other automation capabilities that you can set up to take some of the pressure off for a much lower cost.
1. Define Your Workflow
Before you start thinking about outsourcing, you need to know what you want to outsource. That means you need a solid editorial workflow. When you know what needs to be done and who does what, it’s a lot easier to fill in the gaps.
Identify where in your workflow you get hung up (if you’re having trouble staying consistent), and what tasks you can offload that will give you additional time and not cost a lot of effort to get set up. Even the most experienced virtual assistants require a little bit of onboarding manpower. So, start off as easy as you can.
2. Determine How Much You Can Spend
Determining how much you can spend can be challenging, especially if your podcast is not making money.
If your podcast is already funding itself, I recommend putting as much of that budget into outsourcing as you can, so your time can be spent growing revenue. But, if you don’t have revenue coming, you’ll have to find the money elsewhere.
Both my podcasts rest under the overall umbrella of my business, which means their funding comes directly from the business. When it comes time to add a role. and the podcast isn’t able to maintain the funding from its own revenue, we do a calculation of value.
How will this role contribute to the growth of revenue in the podcast? Sometimes this is an easy calculation. For example, if you’re hiring someone specifically to find sponsors, the value would be that they’ll be bringing in money.
But with time-saving outsourcing that doesn’t directly impact the revenue, this calculation gets a little more challenging. So, we look at our schedules. If we outsource this task, what will we spend the additional time on? If the answer is something that moves the revenue needle and we can afford it, it’s a go. If not, we’re probably not ready.
The final factor that we take into consideration is workload. If we’re dropping the ball on something because someone’s plate is too full (which in podcasting can sneak up on you when you’re not expecting it) then outsourcing can be a viable solution.
Other Costs Associated With Outsourcing
Keep in mind that if you’re using services that require your personal login (like your host or social media scheduler), and you’re looking to save money on purchasing additional seats, you might want to consider using a password manager.
My team uses 1Password . This allows me to share all of my accounts from Amazon Associates to Flodesk with my team, without sharing the passwords. This costs me a fraction of what it would be to buy additional seats for different programs (around $6 per person per month).
Full disclosure, we host on Captivate.fm. This allows me to create multiple accounts at no extra cost (and host more than one podcast). And I have purchased additional seats for my team on our project management software, ClickUp, and our design program, Canva.
3. Build an Outsourcing Plan
If your budget is small you might not be able to afford all of the help you need. You want to be careful about going for services that are too cheap. These are often too good to be true.
Figure out what you need first, put your money towards that. Then create an if/then scenario. If the podcast income reaches this much then we hire for this role. Not only can simply having a plan relieve the stress, but it can give you additional motivation to push for more revenue.
So, Should You Hire a Virtual Assistant for Your Podcast?
I am pro-help.
Podcasting is a lot of work. While many of us do it for fun, there comes a time where the work outweighs the fun. Having help can fight that feeling off.
Podcast because you love it. Do it because it makes you more money or grows your audience. But don’t do it simply because you have to. And, if you want to make podcasting easier, check out The Podcast Host Academy. It can help you grow your budget, so you can check off those boxes on your outsourcing plan.