I Accidentally Started a Podcast Management Agency…
I help run and manage a community of aspiring and established entrepreneurs and business owners. This community is called Coffee with Dan (CWD). Due to my position, I get to see the myriad of questions people ask when it comes to starting, growing or scaling a business.
The more interesting questions I see are the ones where new members join up but they have no idea where or how to start.
I find these question interesting because, you get to see someone go through a process of finding an idea that they are excited by. You then see them take that from idea to something someone would happily pay for. At the same time, you get to learn that not all ideas are thought up equally and the chances of success are hampered further by lacklustre implementation.
So I want to put this post together to write about how I accidentally started a podcast management agency.
At the core of my happy accident, is what most if not all the guru's teach but we all sometimes miss for whatever reason. The core here being that to build a "successful" business, You need to help people solve a problem that they have.
In my opinion, that is where everyone should start, but for whatever reason, we want to start where we are most comfortable or where we can procrastinate the most. <<This is me drawing from my own experience and not calling anyone out.
Going back to the core...
Problem = Time strain on maintaining and growing a podcast
Solution = Let me handle it for you
What follows is as detailed an account as I can give on how the happy accident came to be and the steps I took to streamline and systemise my efforts. So if you have been thinking about starting a business for whatever reason, it is my hope that this article illuminates a path that you can walk to get where you are trying to get to and avoid some of the pitfalls along the way, because "ain't nobody got time for that"
You may be thinking, “What is podcast management and how does it relate to starting a business?
Read on to find out the answers to the question. In addition to that I would also politely suggest you read between the lines, I may be talking about podcast management, but the process can be applied to any topic. The things that we do as a podcast management agency, we can do for almost any other service that helps businesses or business owners.
The details may change but the foundation remains the same. We can switch out podcast management for social media management, or content repurposing, or video editing. Which ties back nicely to the core of good business. Help people solve their problem and they will pay you for that.
With all the preamble out of the way, Let me now tell you a (very short) story of how I accidentally started a podcast management agency.
THE HAPPY ACCIDENT
Once upon a time, many moons ago, I learned about outsourcing, in particular outsourcing overseas where your $/£/ Euro or Yen would go a lot further. Come to think of it, it was around the same time I read "The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss" and I was intrigued by the idea of outsourcing and wanted to try it out.
So, I go on an adventure and hire my first ever contractor...
Thanks to my naivete and lack of experience, my first foray into outsourcing was a complete shambles. It was SO BAD that I thought as quickly as the outsourcing adventure started, that it was going to end as quickly.
After dusting myself off, and getting my wits back about me, I stepped back onto the plate determined to get to grips with outsourcing.
So with my renewed enthusiasm, I become a lot more process-driven about what I wanted to achieve, what problem I was going to solve and who I was going to solve that problem for. As fate would have it, the second time goes A LOT better than the first. After taking people through a process, I ended with someone who I believed would make an EXCELLENT contractor.
Lo and behold, just as I finished and found this person, my friend Adil was looking for someone to help him with managing his podcast. Turns out he wanted someone to help take some of the tasks required to manage and keep his podcast running, I make a proposal to him that if he was willing to go halves on the wages of my new contractor, and we'd manage it for him.
It was a win, win, win.
A win for Adil because he got a GREAT deal, and his podcast would be managed
A win for me because the cost of the contractor is now shared investment
A win for the contractor because there was always going to be work to do which meant stability for them.
Adil shared with me that working on his podcast was taking too much of his time and that it was too difficult to focus on anything else.
Funny story, at the time I made that deal/offer, I HAD NO IDEA how to manage a podcast. I knew how to edit audio but that was the bulk of my experiences. So I said Yes/made an offer when I didn't know how fully to deliver the service.
Thankfully, everything worked out fine and here I am today, telling you the story of the happy accident and the inception of my podcast management agency.
It was that simple!
REALLY TEGS, IT'S THAT SIMPLE?
Now I do not want you to think that I was some sort of wizard and figured everything out on the get-go.
When I just started out with the agency, I felt super lost because EVERYTHING was something new to me.
Remember I didn't really have a game plan beforehand, because this idea sprung forth from impulse rather than months and months of meticulous planning. I had to learn new technology, learn a new language in the different hosting platforms, learn to upload on websites and basic on-page SEO, and a bunch of other aspects. I felt overwhelmed and scared.
I was fortunate enough to work with clients who helped and guided me along the way to make my agency what it is today.
As I grew and got better, I found myself working with some really cool people who were doing great things in podcasting, a couple of them below:
I am writing this article in the hopes that you will be inspired to set up a similar venture for yourself. Which is why I say read between the lines. I mean if you want to start a podcast management agency of your own, then this article should be super useful in showing you what to do, however, if you have an idea for a “Side Hustle” the steps I have broken down here you can still get a lot from the article.
Although I am in no way guaranteeing that your business will be successful, I hope I can help in my own way by imparting what I have learned through this process and journey. This business has been extremely rewarding for me because I have added value to so many people.
I have done my best to be as detailed as possible, but I am sure there will be an instance or two where I maybe have not gone as deep for whatever reason, simply let me know in the comments and I’d be happy to update the article as those sections are brought to my attention.
Are you ready to learn how to start a business from the ground up?
Then let us continue…
IS THIS REALLY A GOOD BUSINESS TO GET INTO?
I believe everyone has heard of a podcast.
But not everyone is aware of the magic (and hard work) that happens behind the scenes from producing to launching the podcast.
Now some podcasters are a one-man-show, and I salute them.
But most of these individuals, who are thought leaders in their industry, have A LOT of demand on their time. Most of them are busy managing their businesses and so do not have the time freedom to handle all the nitty-gritty details for managing and maintaining a podcast from recording to editing to launching episodes then promoting those episodes.
This is where podcast management agencies come in.
If you are currently working with coaches or experts in their field, then creating a podcast management agency can be a great little business hustle to get into.
You do not have to be an expert in podcasts or have a podcast yourself to be able to start this business. As long as you put in the effort to research and learn about the industry, anyone can start their own podcast management agency.
WHAT IF THIS IS TOO COMPLICATED TO BE JUST A SIDE HUSTLE?
If you decided to scan through this article like any normal human being, you might be concerned with the length of this article and start thinking that this process is just too complicated for a side hustle.
Do not worry.
It is only long because I wanted to make sure I am as detailed as possible.
Here is just a quick run through of the process from starting the agency to managing it so you can see how simple the steps really are:
- Step 1: Starting the Business
- Finding clients
- To Niche or Not to Niche
- What Should I Offer?
- How Much Should I Charge?
- Step 2: Launching the Business
- Step 3: Managing the Business
- Tips on Client Management?
- Finding the Right Members for Your Team
- Tools to Help Manage the Business
After reading this article, I hope you will have a better understanding of the behind the scenes so that:
- You will know what this process looks like in full. This includes everything from starting the business all the way to managing your own team and clients.
- You will have another “string to your bow” and sell this as an extra service to your current clients and monetize from it.
- You will have a new side hustle that you can leverage on to increase your profits
Sounds good? Okay, on to the process we go.
STEP 1: STARTING THE BUSINESS
You probably might be asking “Tegs, finding clients already? But I don’t even have the business yet!”
Do not worry my friend, we are taking things one step at a time.
The reason why finding your potential clients at the start is vital is because you need to know what is commonly sought out in the podcast industry. That way, you will know how to structure your packages and services, and everything else will follow from there.
As I said earlier, if you already have clients you are currently working with, then great! You can start with them and leverage from there.
Personally, I focused on my existing network in my social media accounts. Luckily, I have friends who are podcasters and so I reached out to them and ask if they needed any help.
It was natural that some of them declined my offer, but for those who said yes, I worked hard to provide the best service to them and prove myself. This helped build trust, which allowed me to get more referrals from them.
This referral scheme was so effective in creating a snowball effect and growing my client base further.
In short, it is all about leverage.
I understand that other people may not have friends who are in the podcast industry. If you are one of those people, worry not. If you do not have the network, the general way to find clients is to go on websites or directories that have podcast creators.
A good example is Apple Podcasts. As being one of the most well-known platforms for podcasts, Apple Podcasts is the go-to for many content creators to have their podcasts published. You can actually find many of your potential clients here and the great thing about it is that you can contact them as well.
Let me show you how:
- In Apple Podcasts, have a good look at the podcasts and which ones catch your eye. Feel free to checkout the New & Noteworthy section to find those that are up to date and trending.
2. When you open one of the podcasts, you will be redirected to their main profile page. At the bottom left section, you will find a link to their website.
3. All websites are going to look different, but most, if not all of them, have a contact page where you can access their contact information from.
Take note that some podcasters do not have their own websites, but rather link their social media pages instead, where you can also contact them from.
It is a little bit of a long play and requires manual labor from your end, but the people you will get out of this effort will be guaranteed individuals who need your service. And once you are done with your research, you may notice that the categories or topics are endless.
The question now is whether you want to focus on just one topic or have a more generalist approach.
To Niche or Not to Niche…
Deciding whether to focus on clients from a certain industry or niche is completely up to personal preference.
If you are going to do the work yourself, I suggest working with podcasters who talk about topics that you are passionate about and interest you. This is because if you manage podcasts that you are not passionate about, you will eventually lose interest, and the work follows ends up feeling like a chore.
The last thing you want to happen is that you get bored with managing your client’s podcasts!
But then again, if you have an established team made up of skilled individuals who can do most of the work, I do not see any reason why you can’t branch out to multiple industries if that is something you want to do.
For my agency, I work with entrepreneurs and business owners. This is because working on their podcasts not only educates me and the team, but since this certain industry is one that fascinates me, I am more keen on paying close attention to what they have to say.
Now that you understand the market’s needs a bit more, do not reach out to them just yet.
You need to decide how you are going to package your service and get them to say YES.
What Should I Offer?
The reason I have asked you first to find your market is so that you will understand their needs. That way, you will know how to help your potential clients and make your services more relevant.
If you did follow the earlier step of checking current podcasts in the market, you will see that these content creators have their own website for their podcasts. I suggest you go checkout their websites and see what they do.
In my case for example, one of the guys who ended up being my client, did not have shownotes on his website. So, when I pitched my services to him, I offered to make his shownotes. But it did not make sense, because he did not need shownotes in the first place. This explains why doing prior research is so vital in getting clients.
Always make sure your packages are tailored fit so that you will prove yourself valuable to them.
One last tip I can give you about creating the package is to market yourself as an agency that will make a podcaster’s life easier. Show to them that your agency can take care of most of the work. Market it in a way that shows that all they need to do is record the podcast, and everything else gets done by your agency.
Let them know that starting and maintaining a podcast need not be complicated and stressful with your help.
And once you know what you are offering, you need to know how much you should be charging.
How Much Should I Charge?
Another aspect of the business that you need to figure out is the pricing of your services.
Do not be too pressured about this since you can always adjust your prices as your business progresses and your services improve.
Back when my agency just started, I used to price per episode and eventually added a monthly package. From there, once I could offer more services, I decided to increase my prices. I soon offered a setup package to take care of everything for the client after recording. There was a one-time fee for this, and a separate management fee per month.
Now take note that this only happened when I had the ability to offer a holistic experience for my clients because of my growing team.
Feel free to also check the prices of your competitors and see how you can price your own services from there.
Again, you can always adjust your prices whenever you feel the need to do so.
Once you finally have everything in place, it is time to get the word out.
STEP 2: LAUNCHING THE BUSINESS
Personally, I firmly believe you do not need to spend on ads to get your business out there. The approach is super simple.
Leverage. Leverage. Leverage.
What I mean by this is to leverage on the platforms that you are already on, like what I did. For example, if you have a Facebook account, keep posting about your business and let your friends know.
You can even join relevant Facebook groups and market your business there as well. Just be sure to avoid sounding too spammy or posting too much. Your content must be valuable and attractive to the people in the industry.
If you have an email list, get the word out through newsletters.
Use every channel at your disposal and be proud of your new agency and your ability to help other people.
Personally, I never had to market my business since I relied on referrals from my clients. This goes to show why it is so important to prove yourself especially during the first stages of the business. Leverage and make the most of what you have.
And we are done with Step #2!
Yes, it really is that quick and simple.
Let me repeat how to market your agency one last time…
Leverage. Leverage. Leverage.
On to the last step.
STEP 3: MANAGING THE BUSINESS
Tips on Client Management?
The tips that I will be sharing here are all based on my own experience that hopefully you can apply with your own clients as well.
One practice that will give you lots of insight is to learn from your clients and always be open to criticism. This will be especially helpful during the first phases of your agency and will vastly improve how you manage your business. Always focus on constantly learning so that in return, you can be valuable to your clients.
Another tip is to go the extra mile. You want to make sure you provide them with a wonderful experience and make their lives as easy as possible.
Personally, one of my greatest achievements in the agency was that I was told by one of my clients that the work that I was doing was so good and so useful to them that sometimes they forget that they have a podcast of their own!
I know I am doing my job right when I remove a huge weight off my clients’ shoulders.
Finally, always remember that client management is all about communication.
How do you communicate with them?
How do you ensure transparency?
How do you bring about any issues?
What solutions can you suggest?
Over-communication will always be better than under-communication.
And remember that you cannot do all these tasks on your own. Well, you probably can in the beginning. But if you genuinely want to grow your agency, you will need to divide the tasks and find the right people to help you in the business.
Finding the Right Members for Your Team
It is a fact that podcasts consist of various elements that require skills other than being a good communicator. As a podcast management agency, you obviously do not need to do the communicating part. But you are doing everything else (depending on the package, of course).
You need to design the artwork, edit the recording, write the shownotes, maybe even create the website, and on top of that, create a good relationship with your client.
Now that is a lot on your hands! I have simple solution for that: outsource.
For my business, I work with a virtual team from people I have recruited from online job sites. Currently, I work with Filipinos from onlinejobs.ph and I am happy with the results so far.
I highly suggest that you outsource so that one, you find people who are experts in their craft, and two, you save yourself some time by letting other people do some of the work for you.
To know what type of people you need, you should identify what services you will be offering to your clients. So again, you see why identifying your clientele first is important.
If you need someone to edit the recordings for your clients, I suggest that you look for a professional video editor who has knowledge in audio editing. In most cases, those who are good at editing videos can work with audio as well and will be able to edit the recordings MVE (minimum viable edit) style.
Finding the right members to create the perfect team for your business is a whole other topic which I have written about in detail in my other article ‘How To Find Great Virtual Members So You Can Replace Yourself in Your Business.’
Click here to read the article and find out how you can hire the right VA for you.
That article is full of valuable content and tips that you can apply to your business so you can enjoy the benefits of delegating ad outsourcing.
Not only do you need to find the right people to make your operations run smoothly, but you also need the right tools to manage various aspects of the business.
Tools to Help Manage the Business
Here are the types of tools I suggest you work with for your podcast management agency:
- Dropbox or Google Drive – to manage all your files
- Slack – for internal communication within your team
- Trello / Asana / Teamwork – or any other project management tool to help you create task templates (I will show you more of that later)
- PayPal / ThriveCart – shopping carts or a way to collect payments from your clients
- Zapier – for task automation
In my business, here are tools that I am currently using, and I will show you a quick overview on how I use them:
File Management: Google Drive
Here is how I manage my files in Google Drive:
- Create an exclusive folder in Google Drive for all your podcast files, and in that folder, a sub folder for your clients’ files
2. In my own “Clients” folder, I created 6 folders to help manage my clients:
- Completed Episodes – this is where episodes that have been edited will eventually end up
- Guest Images – photos of the podcast guests are stored here for artwork purposes
- Guest Research (since this folder is completely for the purpose of my podcast channel rather than the agency, you may disregard this)
- New Episodes – this is where the raw audio files that are yet to be edited are stored
- Podcast Assets – where you store anything related to your podcast such as the featured image, background music, intro/outro audio and script for intro/outro
- Shownotes – plain and simple. This is where you store your shownotes.
- Websites (typically, clients will already have their own websites so please disregard this folder. Unless the client asks you or your web developer to build the website for them, you will not need this folder)
Internal Communication: Slack
I use Slack to communicate with my team. How we use it is that we create a channel for each of our clients and every bit of communication or issue is discussed in that certain channel. That way, it will be easier and quicker to assess and write a list of everything that needs to happen in the upcoming days for that certain client.
In the #notifications channel of my Slack, you will see a list of tasks that automatically show up when a new task is added to Teamwork.
This allows me and my team to stay on top of everything that is happening in Slack itself. I will show you more on how I set that up in a bit using Zapier.
Project Management Tool: Teamwork
In my project management system, which is Teamwork, each task/card has everything that needs to happen.
Some cards for more routine tasks have templates or the general set of tasks needed to get something done.
The beauty of this is that you can assign the necessary people accountable for that specific task. That way, no one can miss the things they need to do.
Shopping Cart: ThriveCart
The shopping cart tool I use is ThriveCart, which allows me to design checkout pages so that my clients can pay me either via Stripe (for credit card) or PayPal account.
This allows my clients the convenience of choosing which payment method they are more comfortable in using.
ThriveCart however does cost a bit of money, so if you are on a budget, you can always go for PayPal.
Zapier is a tool that allows me to be notified whenever a payment is made via ThriveCart.
The way this is done is that when a client makes a payment, I send them over to a page that asks them to fill out a form (I use Typeform.com to create the survey). The details that they filled out are all then sent to Google Sheets (the other application that I paired off with Typeform).
Another example of how I use Zapier in my business is that if you recall my Notifications channel in Slack, I connected Teamwork and Slack to allow for automatic notifications to happen.
Zapier is a useful tool for you to easily pass information to your team so that the respective person assigned to the next task will automatically be aware.
All these tools are what I have found useful to my agency.
You can always see which tools will work best for you depending on the features and budget. And now that we have covered all the steps you need to take to setup a podcast management agency, let us end this article with just a few more bonus tips I want to give you.
WISE WORDS FROM ME TO YOU
Just like any other human being, I have made my own mistakes and faced my own struggles while running this side hustle.
During the first stages of my agency, I experienced creating a package that was not aligned with the audience I wanted to target. This meant that I took the time to design a package and in designing that package, I thought anybody who is thinking of starting a podcast will need this package. I thought that it was a one-size-fits-all offer.
The package was priced at £650 since it had so many inclusions. And although it was a very appealing and worth-it package, you will tend to find that people who are not so serious about podcasting or just want to try it out may not be so willing to invest such a huge amount at the beginning.
Regarding that certain client, since he still had no means to monetize his podcast, he did not want to invest yet such a hefty sum without the guarantee of ROI.
This taught me that no matter how good you think your package or service is, you will still need to think about what your client wants for that certain time in his business.
Another tip is that you should be open to criticism from your clients, especially if this business is still new to you.
I already said this earlier, but it wouldn’t hurt to say it again…
Value the feedback from your clients and always find ways to do better. This is how I was able to grow from someone with zero knowledge to now managing multiple clients under my roster.
There are also 2 books that I want to share with you that have guided me when managing my agency:
And there you have it.
That is how I accidentally started a podcast management agency, how I set up the systems to deliver the work, how I have my team do the work to a high-level thanks to the systems we put in place.
So again, if you are looking to set up a profitable little business or “side hustle” and want to be useful to your network, then a service business is the route to go down. Not only are you able to add more value.
You are also able to take the first step to set up yourself as an authority in the industry.
I hope that this article has inspired you to consider this business to help you make the most of your time. Remember that you WILL make mistakes along the way despite all my unsolicited advice and steps laid out here. Mistakes are what help you grow and make you better at your craft.
What are you waiting for?
Go start that agency and grow your business!