Welcome to an awesome Student Success Story here at Podcast Production School! In this post, we’ll be hearing from one of our alumni Tag Hatle.
Tag joined PPS in early 2020 and we loved hearing how her determination and drive to build a business strictly on her terms have paid off for her.
Ready to hear how Tag did it? Let’s go!
Hey, Tag! Tell us about yourself:
Hi! My name is Bretagne Hatle (Tag for short). I’m 29 and recently immigrated from the US to Canada to live with my wife and our two black cats. I’m really passionate about music and film.
For the past ten years, I’ve worked in admin and call center roles while trying to “find” myself. I don’t know that I’ve necessarily accomplished that yet, but what I do know is that I’m determined to create a different life than the one I’ve been living professionally.
I come from a pretty rough background – I didn’t always have food on the table, the lights weren’t always on, and the jobs that I’ve worked have been extremely taxing for very little pay. I also don’t have a college degree.
Moving to a new country has been an opportunity for me to start over and give some serious thought to what I want my life to look like in the next year, five years, ten years and so on. Separating myself from my work is really difficult for me, so I want to do fun work that I enjoy since it will pretty much always be on my mind!
Tell us about your business:
My business focus is primarily on launching new podcasts. One thing I’ve always really enjoyed in my day jobs is piloting a new project, making it really successful, then moving onto the next new project. I wouldn’t say that I get bored easily, but I definitely prefer to be involved at the inception of something new. Then I get to step back and watch it grow, which I love.
Honestly, I’m also a bit of a control freak! If I’m involved in the technical setup at the beginning of a podcast then I can more comfortably set expectations for my client about what the final audio will sound like.
I’ve started off with one client. I edit and mix the audio for her podcast, which has more of a personal focus than a business focus, and I also provide transcription and show notes.
My goal moving forward is to find more clients who want to start new podcasts, so I’ll be focusing on networking.
This will probably always be a side business for me. I have plans in the coming months to go to school for music industry arts and I want to be able to support myself while I’m in a challenging, competitive program. Once I’m done with school I don’t want to end up in a job I hate just because it’s in my field – I want to be able to take my time and find the absolute best fit for me.
So, by building my business now and making sure that my bills are manageable with the income from it I’ll be able to flourish and grow in my industry. Also, podcast production is GREAT practice for music production, and I’ll already have an advantage knowing how to handle business at this level.
Update as of 5/30: At the risk of sounding “all over the place” in my new business, I’ve changed my focus a bit! But that’s part of the point – right? I’m crafting a business that works for me, and my needs and wants for how I want this to go. As I move along with new experiences I’m figuring out what I enjoy most, and what makes sense when it comes to building a viable business.
I still want to help people start podcasts, but I’ve realized that my ideal clientele has already looked into hosting, setting everything up, etc. So, to be as efficient as possible and focus on the things that I think are most beneficial to me (audio production) I’ve decided to focus my efforts more on audio editing and show notes.
While I’d be happy to help a couple of clients launch new podcasts, more people need help with audio editing and I can take on administrative tasks as the client needs rather than starting with an ENTIRE podcast launch package.
I’ve also started networking more! I joined a local networking meetup, and I’ve had some good results already. There are a lot of MLMs and an absolute saturation of business coaches, and I was the ONLY podcast producer in the whole group. Someone who’s looking to start a podcast in the fall has already reached out to me about rates, and a couple of other people have emailed me asking questions and asking about referring other people to me.
“The most important thing for me though hasn’t even been that, it’s been being able to go in front of a group of people and say, ‘I’m a podcast editor. This is what I do.'”
I focus on the fact that a lot of people feel like you need a giant network to help you run a podcast or you have to do it all yourself, which really isn’t true.
How did you decide to start offering podcast support services?
Right before I immigrated, I came to the conclusion that the only way I could be financially stable was to learn web development/programming. I got a certification from FreeCodeCamp, took Udemy courses, Wes Bos’ courses from his site, and a ton of other things, only to realize once my permanent residency was approved that… I hated it! Some things about it were fun, but I definitely did not want to do it for a living.
So, I started looking for other options. I wanted to have my cake and eat it too – flexibility with how much I work, control of my income, everything. Because of my background with admin work, I was considering becoming a virtual assistant and that’s how I found Podcast Production School. I was checking out Gina’s 30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success course and saw the Q&A workshop for Podcast Production School on her YouTube channel.
It’s silly, but because of my “alternative” look and lifestyle, I could never get comfortable with the idea of marketing myself as a virtual assistant. There’s absolutely a market for every type of person to be a VA, but I created an obstacle for myself and told myself I couldn’t find clients who would pay me… blah blah blah.
But podcast production? That can be a pretty technical thing, and I have a ton of technical skills. I instantly felt comfortable with the idea of saying, “I help people with their podcasts by ____.” So, I decided to go this route instead of the VA route.
How long did it take you to earn your course investment back?
At first it looked like I would earn my course investment back in a couple of months with just my ONE client. With the way I’ve packaged my services, only one new client would make me break even in just a month. This is a very lucrative field!
But then my client GAVE ME A RAISE! I’ll actually break even a month earlier, so in about a month total.
What was your biggest fear before you started your business and adding new services to your offerings?
I was definitely afraid of saying, “I’m Tag, and I do ____.” I was actually embarrassed to talk about it! I would even phrase it negatively to my wife, like, “I started working on this course…” instead of “I started learning this so I can have a business doing this work.”
Part of my self-limiting thinking came from the fact I’ve rarely known, firsthand, successful business people in the online business space. I think a lot of us have encountered people who insist that their MLM is a business and I let that warp my perception of what an online business actually is. In previous jobs, I had worked with people who had side businesses but were still working my job, so I thought… How lucrative can something like that actually be?
I was afraid that I would be investing all this money, time and effort, and that it would just be extra work instead of something I could be proud of and pay my bills with.
Update: I’ve very recently decided to actually REMOVE a service that I was offering a client. My current client didn’t originally ask for transcription, but I decided to offer it initially because I think accessibility is super important. However, two months later, I’ve realized that the transcription is the part I dread most because it takes FOR-EV-ER.
But, I obviously didn’t want to email her something like, “Hey, just FYI, not doing transcriptions anymore!” So I thought about how to approach it – I finished the last transcription I was willing to slog through. Then I thought of what I could offer instead of transcription (trying to be the solution and not the problem of course) that would actually benefit the podcast.
While accessibility is important, the truth is that most people listening to podcasts are looking for a better audio experience.
I looked at other podcasts and determined that they’re doing two things:
- Offering episode recaps, which are longer than show notes
- Offering time stamps that link to specific, notable parts of the episode
I emailed my client that I wouldn’t be able to offer any more transcriptions after the one I just uploaded, and not just because of the time it took but because I felt that these other things would be more beneficial to the podcast…
And it went GREAT! She emailed me back that she had been thinking the same thing, and gave me an example of a blog post she had been putting together with one of my transcriptions. We agreed that I’ll transcribe some important, key parts and it will be less work for me and a more cohesive experience for the listeners. A win-win all around!
In the future, as long as I approach it in a way that benefits the client like this, I won’t be afraid to switch gears with services I’ve been offering – especially if I’m not enjoying them. I have to be in the mindset of, “I’m doing this other thing that my client needs to be done, and it’s obviously valuable/important to them or they wouldn’t be paying for it.”
What was the most challenging part about getting started?
The most challenging part was my own perception and self-limiting thinking. I kept telling myself, “You can’t actually do this. You’re an introvert, you don’t like talking to people and you hate being sales-y. Everyone will know you’re a fake, and no one will pay you to do this. You haven’t seen anybody else LIKE YOU be successful, so you can’t be successful either.”
How did I overcome that? I did it scared! I told myself, “Look at everything else you’ve done when you didn’t think you could do it.” I had a day job that I never felt like I was qualified for, but that everyone kept thanking me for doing really well. And, I had immigrated to another country without a lawyer – my wife and I did the paperwork all ourselves.
I told myself that the worst that would happen is that I invested in myself to learn a valuable skill that I could use at some later time. As a side note, I have actually done audio editing at one of my day jobs – one of my call center operations managers had me scrub personal info out of some of our calls so they could present them to a prospective client.
“I thought about that, and how it went totally fine, and nobody hated me or fired me, so I already had proof that I could do something like this and get paid for it.”
What has been your biggest success since you’ve started?
I’m working with an AMAZING client. I love listening to her podcast. It’s not directly business-related – it’s a personal interest focus – and I think that’s totally fine. It’s proved to me that I can make money doing something enjoyable putting something good out there in the world that doesn’t have to be sales-y or fake. Doing this doesn’t have to go against “me” and who I am.
What are you working on right now?
I edit the Sailor Moon Fan Club Podcast. My client interviews Sailor Moon fans from various walks of life, like music producers, people in the animation industry, artists, literary agents – anybody who’s a Sailor Moon fan. It isn’t super high-paying, but it’s also not a ton of work. It’s about two hours of work per week and my client pays me bi-weekly, every other Monday. It’s a great way to start the week!
This is supplementary income for now. I chose to accept a slightly lower rate for this client for a few reasons. One, this is less of a business podcast and more of a personal podcast. Two, it is SUPER FUN to listen to, so I don’t mind getting paid a little bit less to do something I really enjoy while I’m just starting out. And three, I’m really passionate about making sure that minorities get their voices heard.
What are you looking forward to most over the next 12 months?
What I’m looking forward to isn’t just making money… it’s using my business as a way to meet new people and reach out and get to know them. Having recently moved to a new place, it’s easy to feel disconnected!
By having a service to offer and landing new clients, though, I can establish new relationships. It’s similar to making friends at work, except at a day job you might not have a lot of control – or any – over who you’re interacting with. With this business, I’m calling the shots.
Update: 3 Months In
Hey, Tag! How are things going?
Great! I feel like my business has grown a lot, and that I have too. I’m excited to share how things look behind the scenes!
Recently a lead was posted in the Podcast Production School Facebook group that I was really excited about – they were looking for help with content that I’ve studied in the past and really enjoyed but ended up not pursuing as a career. The podcast was already up and running and the client had an audio editing service, so the service I pitched was more administrative – show notes, uploading, that kind of thing.
She was excited to hear from me, and we had a great video conversation and hit it off really well. Even though I hadn’t offered audio editing in my pitch, she was interested in having me edit the podcast because the service she used was lacking in a couple of things. We did a paid test, and I learned SO MUCH editing the episode.
“I was so proud of the final result – it was definitely the best editing I’ve done to date.”
She ultimately decided to stick with the service she was using, but I’m still really happy about what I learned, and I wasn’t afraid to charge for the work I had done.
This client gave me some great feedback as well, and as a result, I ended up checking out another audio editing program –Adobe Audition. To me, “getting the client” wasn’t as important as improving at my craft. I feel much more confident about what I’m doing now.
What’s working well in your business right now?
What’s working well for me is being able to say, “This is what I do, and I want to help you.” I struggle with believing I can do things, even when the proof is right there. So declaring it publicly, or telling my friends “I do this and I can help you,” combined with the proof from my client that I’m great to work with and provide good work, is helping me build a reputation.
I’m fortunate that I can establish my business over time thanks to both working a full-time job and the support of my wife. For me, the most valuable part is the relationships that I can build with other people, and that’s going really well for me.
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.
Tag Hatle is a 29-year-old Podcast Producer, a recent immigrant to Canada and mom to two amazing black cats. You can find her hiding from the weather in Ottawa, and occasionally talking about music, anime and other stuff she finds cool at @redtagcomesback on Twitter.