Welcome to the Podcast Production School Student Income Report Series!
We’re super excited to share the amazing things our PPS students are up to in their businesses.
Why share student income and success? Great question! Gina shared her income reports for the first two and a half years of her VA journey – she stopped as her business model changed and they were no longer relatable to newer virtual assistants.
But we know that income reports and student success stories are super motivating and encouraging to read through, so we wanted to share them with you!
In this series, we’ll learn about where each of our students is in their business journey and their plans for future growth.
We looked for students who were already kicking butt and taking names working in the online space. That includes everything from landing their first clients, to making a considerable amount of extra cash each month by running a full-time podcast production services business, to scaling over time.
Meet Michelle Wells. 🤩
Hi, Michelle! Tell us about yourself.
Hey, Guys! My name is Michelle Wells, and I’m a wife to one and mom to six.
All those kids eat a lot, and so about four years ago, I started a quest to supplement our income and at least help pay for groceries. I homeschooled and wasn’t willing to give that up, so finding a way to work from home became my obsession.
I wish I could say that my journey was a straight shot from there, but honestly, I was all over the map. My first attempts involved buying cheap stuff at yard sales and selling for more on eBay. Although it was a great learning experience, it wasn’t a comfortable fit and not a reliable business model for scaling up.
But all great journeys involve lots of ups, downs, and detours that impact where you end up, and what you learn along the way. And mine was no different. One thing I discovered was I needed more “tools in my toolbelt.” The best way to expedite that was to purchase a course (or courses) that would give me the ability to step into some new spaces—enter 30 DOL to Freelance Writing, and my first introduction to Gina Horkey.
I took the course and within a month had two writing clients. Wow! This was cool, and the dream to pay for groceries—and maybe more—began to take shape.
Tell us about your business.
Fast forward three years and several courses later—read, a more equipped “toolbelt”—and I now own a content creation company with my daughter. Our tagline is:
Grow Your Business With Exceptional Content
Words. Design. Audio.
And yes, you guessed it, Audio refers to content creation in the form of PODCASTS.
How did you decide to start offering podcast support services?
Not trying to earn any “brownie points” here, but three years after taking my first course, I still read ALL the emails that Gina Horkey sends my way. Last November, when I saw the email about the new Podcast Assist course she was offering with Mel and Hailey, my curiosity was piqued.
I’ve never been much of a Black Friday shopper, but I was feeling the need for another “tool,” so I purchased the Podcast course on that legendary shopping day
And how long did it take you to earn your course investment back?
I was fortunate to already have a client that I had been working with, helping him to create content through blogs, video scripts, and some additional VA work. In the time we had been working together, he had come to trust my opinions and direction, so I pitched the idea of branching out into the world of podcasting—and keeping the timeline transparent, I pitched the idea BEFORE I purchased the course.
He agreed that it sounded like a good idea and so I bought it and set to work right away learning the material. We decided that—come hell or high water—we were going to launch a podcast in mid-January. (Just a side note, I’ve since learned, and recommend to newbies to launch only after you have 3-5 podcasts ready to go.)
Since I help him with two podcasts/month and I have my hands in every step of the way, I probably do about 10 hours a month. So I earned back my course cost in less than two months.
What was your biggest fear before you started your business?/Adding new services to your repertoire?
I tend to be the opposite of someone who gets “analysis paralysis.” When it comes to diving into new services, my approach is usually to jump out of the plane, and THEN figure out how I’m going to land. Although I’m not recommending this to anyone, I have to say that I don’t get stuck in fear about starting.
However, I do sometimes struggle with “imposter syndrome.” I have a genuinely supportive family, and when I start to head in that negative direction, they stop me in my tracks and point back to past successes. I’m thankful for that.
I’ve also found that the BEST way for me to move forward is to keep learning and fine-tuning the services I offer.
What was the most challenging part about getting started?
Since I’ve always considered myself a bit technically-challenged, (it’s my generation) and I knew NOTHING about mp3s, mp4s, .wav files, etc. that part of the process was the most intimidating.
Navigating through that part of the course the first time felt like I was in a dark room, looking for a bobby pin.
How did you overcome that?
But I went over those sections several times and then just started to feel more comfortable as I went through the action steps. “The knowing is in the doing,” as my hubby always says.
What has been your biggest success since you’ve started?
With my podcast client, we started from scratch—like seriously—he didn’t even know what kind of podcast he wanted to create. But with a lot of brainstorming and collaborating we came up with a gameplan and then executed it step by step. We repurposed a lot of his older content and within a short amount of time, published 9 podcasts! Recently we passed the 125 downloads mark. Woo Hoo!
I’d say my personal success is that I LOVE how I’ve learned to edit an audio file! To me, that is totally out of the realm of other things I’ve done. Creating show notes, marketing the podcasts—even creating the artwork in Canva—all seemed like areas that were similar to other client work.
But if you had told me a couple of years back that I would know how to take a cough out of someone’s pre-recorded audiotape, I would have been flabbergasted (I’ve always wanted to use that word).
Can you tell us about your highest paying project?/ What are you working on right now?
Currently, I’m only working with one Podcast client, the rest of my income is from a combination of writing, optimizing website copy, virtual assisting, social media management, and a bit of email management from several clients.
My highest retainer client at the moment happens to be the one that I do the podcast for, and my invoice to him last month was for $1225.00 (By the way, with that one client, I can pay for groceries. 😎 )
I continue to confidently pitch podcast clients that I learn about in the Podcast Production School FB group and I also talk to current clients about this form of content creation. As a result, I have 2 possible future clients that may materialize in the next month (with Covid-19 decisions are made a little slower).
What are you looking forward to most over the next 12 months?
I’m super stoked about the potential I see in the Podcast world, and I really enjoy the work that is involved in assisting a client through the process. My goals definitely involve building up this side of my business.
Right before all the COVID stuff happened I was able to get a professional website up that reflected my new PODCAST offerings and partnership with my daughter. I did hire someone to help me with it, but of course, I wrote all the copy, which saved me some money.
Last month I finally made my business an official LLC. And in the rest of 2020, I will continue to lay down all the processes of a legit business and I hope to build my services up enough to give both my daughter and me a healthy income.
Update: 3 Months In
Hey, Michelle! How are things going?
Business has stayed steady despite the challenges on the planet. As I hear about others struggling due to the repercussions of COVID, I’m thankful for three realities in my business:
- Rock-steady RETAINER clients.
- Small projects from past HAPPY clients.
- Referrals leading to NEW business opportunities.
And as I write this, I have to admit that offering several services—even though the “wisdom-of-the-day” says to niche down—has been a good thing during this CRAZY time.
Later I’ll show you a graph that breaks down all my services and what each is bringing in, but suffice it to say, I’m glad I don’t have all my eggs in one DIGITAL basket.
Let us know how you’re progressing with last month’s goals.
Building up the Podcast side of my Content Creation Business is one of my top 3 goals. Although I didn’t earn any more podcast-specific clients in June, I did “polish up” my podcast offerings. So I’ll take that as a WIN.
I’ve been creating PDFs for my client to send out to the people he interviews. For example, in Canva, I designed a branded PDF that gives interviewees creative IDEAS for “The Best Practices for Podcast Distribution.” This handout allows them to get the most mileage out of their interview and hopefully gets our podcast in front of more people.
I plan to repurpose these templates with other Podcast clients too. 👍
Tell us about last month’s income.
The month of June beat out May by about $100. Not a ton, but I’ll take it.
I’m a visual person, so I decided to create a graph showing the breakdown of my services and the income they each bring in.
Three things to note:
- Podcast production is my 3rd highest earner, and it’s the newest service that I’ve added!
- Every one of these services, I’ve only learned AFTER starting my journey of being an entrepreneur.
- Small numbers DO add up over a month.
What are your goals for this month?
I’m still going after another Podcast client. Let’s go, JULY!
Additionally, even though I’ve BEEN offering Social Media Management for the last year, I’m always interested in leveling up my results. I purchased the latest course by Horkey Handbook that focuses on Social Media for Virtual Assistants. So my goal is to get through it and start applying any new tips and tricks to my current roster.
How do you plan to reach those goals?
This next month and the last is all about staying FOCUSED in the midst of a very loud remodel in our little home. We decided to enclose a porch to give us a bit more space. And it will be GREAT when it’s done.
But I have to admit it’s been difficult to feel productive with all the different trades showing up every day. Each interruption compounds on the usual distractions.
Since I have to be here to oversee everything and make sure my 120lb mastiff doesn’t eat anyone 😳, heading to a coffee shop is not a good solution.
BUT. I. WILL. PLOW. THROUGH.
Planning out my day the night before is one of the best ways to hit the day running. And it keeps my goals always on my radar.
What do you think is working well in your business right now?
At the beginning of April, my daughter and I decided to make it official and open the doors of Creatives Collective Marketing, LLC—TOGETHER.
As much as you LOVE someone, you never know how things will go when you become co-workers, colleagues, associates, partners, etc. And if you both approach decision-making differently, which we do, it can get interesting FAST.
But I can say with all transparency that our mom-daughter business venture is working well. There were a few “growing pains” in the first month but we seem to be in a good rhythm now.
Want to get paid to support podcasters or learn how to launch and grow your own podcast? Check out the Podcast Production School course here.
Michelle Wells is a Business Storyteller: She firmly believes in the power of a story and helps companies tell theirs in an engaging, fresh, and organized way. The result is the crazy-effective content—in words, design, and audio, that a business needs to grow.
Visit Creatives Collective Marketing to learn more!