Today we’ll be talking about taking the frustration out of Podcasting with VAs – How VAs can take some of the aspects of podcasting to offload some of the work for you and how some of these principles apply to any type of VA projects you have going on. I will give you behind the scenes look at how I produce this podcast using VAs and I will tell you about some VA case studies that I’ve got in the works. So let’s get started!
Audio Editing – Narration
One of the things I really enjoy doing is working with anything that has to do with audio. Audio means a lot of fun for me. But unfortunately it takes a lot of work. It doesn’t seem like it if you haven’t tried it but believe me; audio multimedia can really eat up a lot of your time. Combine that to editing, researching for the pod cast topic, doing the show notes and editing It to a blog format can really eat up serious time. That is one of the things I’ve been learning as I’ve gone down to the journey of podcasting.
For me specifically, I don’t have a ton of time because I have a day job and I have a lot of other things going on. I have my family, I have a 1 ½ year old son and a 2 ½ year old daughter and my wife. They are so important to me and I want to spend a lot of time with them. What this means is that at the end of the week, I really don’t have much time to devote for the podcast so I really have to find creative ways to leverage VAs myself. That is the reason why I decided to do this podcast. I wanted to cover this topic for other people who might be doing podcast and could use a little help and also to give you a behind the scenes look of some of the things I’ve learned in using VAs for podcasting.
One of the things that is really unique with podcasting is that if you’re looking for a VA to help with the audio editing, you would want someone who is good at narration. It’s not enough just to have someone who is really good at mixing and has a good ear for sound. You really have to find someone that has an ear for natural conversation and are able to tie together a whole bunch of things to make a really good sounding podcast. One thing you might not be aware of is when you hear an interview on the radio for instance; they spend a lot of time trying to make the interviewee and the interviewer sound good so they end up taking out a lot of the “ums” and various other things, noises, pops, destructions and retakes. They basically end up cleaning the audio quite a bit and that is a unique skill set that you’ll need.
Here are some helpful tips for finding good VAs for this kind of project. The principles here can apply to any type of VA project that you have.
- Break down and understand the specific skills you are looking for. Like in this project “Audio Editing with narration.”
- Find someone who speaks pretty good English otherwise it would be very hard for them to edit an English speaking narration, general podcast or an interview. They have to know in their mind what’s going to sound good and what’s going to make sense once they start the slicing, dicing and cleaning up the audio itself.
- When posting a job for editing a podcast, list how long the podcast is going to be to help the VA understand the scope of the work. Like for instance my podcast is typically 20 to 25 minutes so I put that info in my job description as well.
- Understand that the VA may be good in audio editing and speaks good English but may not have the specific skills in making a narration sound really smooth. It can be tricky when you try and cut out specific things and know how much to take out and still make the flow natural. So it would be good to start with a sample project wherein you have the VA edit the first few minutes of your audio file and get back with you so you would know if he or she is a good match for your project.
- Find someone who knows not only the audio basics but also the more advanced audio techniques too. I actually had an experience with a VA that helped me with audio editing couple of weeks ago. The guy seems to be knowledgeable in audio but the problem was, when he sent back the edited audio to me, it just didn’t sound right and I couldn’t quite figure out what was going on. It sounded like there’s a lot of high pitched hiss on the background. I dug into it and I realized that he has basic skills and that he is not using pro audio tools, just the basic ones and he ended up saving the audio file in 22 kHz instead of 44.1 kHz. As a result, a lot of the high frequency content was lost and when you post process that, like running it through filters, it becomes unusable. You really have to find someone who knows what they are doing.
Audio Editing – Mixing
If your are just looking for someone to do audio mixing which is a different skill set as well, take note that not all VAs with experience in audio editing can be very good in mixing. Audio mixing is different from audio editing – narration in a sense that mixing involves having your intro, background music, then you have the narration and the ending. It is having all the levels in check and making the overall audio sound good. If you find someone who has a good music experience and done a lot of recording and has samples of well mixed audio then they could be someone who can really help you with that.
You can actually use multiple audio VAs if you want. This can be useful if you’re trying to setup your podcast levels and you don’t’ quite know what you’re doing. It is always useful to get some fresh ears on what you are doing. You can hire a professional audio editing VA and they can setup the parameters for you like maybe in Adobe. They can also just take your podcast and the associated audio files, mix it for you and send you the finished file back. You can also do it like you’re looking over their shoulder and get to learn some of the tips and tricks that they use as far as getting a good sound for your podcast.
Audio Editing – Fixing
The third type of audio editing VA is one who can really help you in fixing serious issues in your audio like pops, clicks, distortion or serious loss of fidelity for a variety of reasons. There are some plug ins out there that you can play with that will help with those sort of things but sometimes that can be so tricky in cleaning up your audio. So if you can find someone who has access to high-end pro audio hardware and software that some of the pros in the industry use for audio restoration then you can really get help in cleaning your audio especially in cases of having serious audio distortion.
Networking with Audio Editing VAs
It is good if you can easily find someone who can help you in cleaning up your audio when you’re in a hurry or if you’re not having luck with the tools that you have access to. It is good to network with them ahead of time so you can easily have access to them when you need them. Like me for example, whenever I am working with something audio related, it seems like a problem always crop up like between 2am. The later it gets at night, the worse the problem usually is or the longer I put something off, the more likely it will go way wrong. That is actually the best time to find a VA to help you with it because when its midnight or 2am here in the United States, its just morning in Europe and Asia and so you can jump online right then and have a good shot in finding an audio expert online who can help you out.
YFVA Podcasting – Behind the Scenes
As I have mentioned earlier, I only have limited time in producing my podcast. When you listen to a 20- 30 minute podcast, you might think that it only takes an hour or so to produce it when in reality it takes 4-5 hours to do it. I’m feeling pretty rushed honestly trying to produce the podcast because you really have to go out of your way to research the topic or think through on what you want to say etc. I’ll just walk you through my flow chart to give you a better idea on how long it would take to produce a podcast.
- Mind mapping – What I typically do first is use mind mapping software to expand my idea in a non-linear spread out type of way. Basically, I just want to map out my ideas because it’s an easy way for me to freely think about the points I want to cover. This can take an hour or longer
- Outline to an article format – 2nd thing I do is to convert my finished mind map into an outline and expand the points further. I type that out into a rough article format which helps me develop a framework for my future article and it gives me time to think of additional ideas or additional points that I might want to expand upon.
- Once I have the article format, I turn it into another outline that is more advanced and ends up with more points than my original mind map. I use this as my show notes and review it while I talk in my podcast. This helps me bring to the top of my mind the things that I want to talk about.
- I then record the podcast based on the show notes I prepared and then there would be post editing that takes a while, maybe 1-2 hours for me because there are lots of things I want to clean up and I want to play with the intro, the outro and the levels.
- Having the podcast transcript written – At this point I would rather have a VA listen to the podcast and outline it for me because I’ve thought through everything, written about it ,re-written about it, talked about it in the podcast and at this point I’m quite tired of going through it 4-5 times. So it’s useful to have someone help me out with it. I’ve been able to find someone who’s been very helpful with this. I could just send him the podcast and the outline that I did and he could come up an excellent show notes complete with the links and other pertinent information that I mentioned in the podcast. That has been a great help and for only $5. It’s an excellent value since it saves me 2-3 hours at least.
- Sometimes I take the show notes, repurpose it and do a blogpost. I have been writing all my blogpost but I’ve been trying to be a little creative and get some people to do some artwork for me. I haven’t really posted a lot of that on my blog yet but I think that it will add value as my blog posts continue to improve. It’s kind of a fun way to increase the quality of your work to have other people add an extra element that will bump up its quality. .
- Additionally, sometimes I also have some tweaks that are needed to be done in my site and I have a VA who does an excellent job for that. WordPress and I are not the best of friends. I sometimes struggle with formatting and plug-ins and things like that and so I just have an excellent VA that really helps me out with that.
So these are some the main areas that I’ve been using VAs related to my podcast and my blog. Sometimes it’s not about the time, it’s about the mental effort and anguish related to a project. It’s just not worth the frustration for me to do it even if it won’t take me that long. And just the peace of mind of knowing that I can ask someone to do that and not worry about it anymore can really boost my productivity and reduce my stress level.
Actual Example of Using VAs for Podcast
Here’s a real world example of how I used a VA to really help me produce my podcast. Last week I had an interview with one of my VAs who’s originally from the Philippines but she’s in Saipan right now. She’s an excellent artist and her name is Nhorleen. That’s the first podcast that I’ve done where I was interviewing. I had to push myself because I knew that it would be a bit difficult because I have to figure out how to record on Skype and I’m also concerned that her sound quality might not be as good as mine and that she is at her house so there might be background noise like a phone would ring and other interruptions that would require a lot of editing.
The problem was, I was actually taking off on a Thursday and I was going to be gone all weekend with my brothers-in-law. As much as I wanted to get the podcast done, I didn’t want to think about it or worry about while in vacation. So what I did was Wednesday night before, I found someone who could edit the podcast for me. They agreed to do it Thursday morning and I was hoping that they could get it done before we take off in the afternoon so I can review it and do some editing as far as the interview portion is concerned. Thursday early afternoon came and it’s time for us to hit the road but it’s taking them longer as expected to finish the podcast. The cool thing was I’ve been at work all day while they are working at my podcast. What ended up happening was, I got on the road and driving with the family with a minivan. I was checking my email on my phone and I would get an update from them telling me to check out the final edit of my podcast. So by 5 o ‘clock in the evening when It was time to stop for supper, we just jumped to a McDonalds and while feeding the kids I downloaded the audio file through the McDonalds Wifi. Once we took off again down the road, my wife drove while and I listened to the audio and made a few tweaks with it. That saved me a ton of time and I just thought that it was awesome that here I was on vacation and I was able to squeeze in an hour or two on the road to put some finishing touches on the narration part of the podcast.
Now in interest of full disclosure, was I able to get the whole thing fully processed, mixed and posted? No, there areas still some additional work I had to do like the intro and the outro and I did not record the audio prior to the interview which I should have done before I left for the trip. But all in all I thought it was pretty cool that I was able to get a VA halfway around the world to help me out and I was able to download it in McDonalds and work in the car while in vacation.
About my Case Studies
I’ve been getting some feedback about my examples like above and other case studies. People have been telling me that they’ve enjoyed the specific case studies. What I really want to do is continue to have more and more examples with as much information as possible on the detailed steps that I have taken or others have taken to accomplish a particular job with virtual assistants because I just love being able to show people exactly how they can do it so they would see how easily it is done and they can get excited about it then go out and get their own VA.
I will be posting additional case studies in the future. I will be adding some over the next month about podcasting and you can access it through www.yourfirstvirtualassistant.com/podcasts , as in case study. If you have any suggestions for examples on how to use VAs and some case studies that you would be interested at seeing, shoot me an email at email@example.com. Give me your ideas and there’s a good chance that I would make a case study out of it. You’ll get to see it and be able to share it with other people as well.
Next week I’ve got another VA interview lined up with a Pro Audio expert and musician who does an excellent job in editing podcasts as well as he record his own music. He’s done a lot of work for various TV shows and other great stuff so it should be really interesting. Stay tuned for that.