Welcome to another story in our Student Income Report Series! In this post, we’ll be hearing from our Podcast Production School student, Tag Hatle.
Tag joined PPS earlier this year and has been SLAYING it ever since!
Meet Tag Hatle. 😁
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 10 years, I’ve worked in admin and call center roles while “finding” myself. I don’t know that I’ve found myself, but I do know that what I’ve been doing isn’t what I want to do for a living forever. I come from a pretty rough background; I didn’t always have food on the table, or the lights on, and the jobs that I worked were extremely taxing for very little pay. I don’t have a college degree. Moving to a new country has allowed me to mentally “start over”, and think seriously about 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 always be on my mind.
Tell us about your business.
As of 4/29: 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 new project. I wouldn’t say that I get bored easily, but I definitely prefer to be involved with the inception of something new, and then let it grow after. I’m also… honestly a bit of a control freak! If I’m involved in the technical setup for the beginning of a podcast, then I can more comfortably set expectations for my client about what the final audio will sound like.
At the moment, I have one client. I edit/mix the audio for her podcast, which has more of a personal focus than a business focus, and I provide transcription and show notes. In the coming weeks, I’m working on networking so I can find clients who want to begin a new podcast.
This business will probably always be a side business for me. In the fall, I’ll be going to school for music industry arts. I want to be able to support myself while I’m in a challenging, competitive program, and afterward, 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. So by building my business now, and making sure that my absolutely required bills are manageable with this business, 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 in knowing how to handle business at this level.
Update as of 5/30: At the risk of sounding too quickly reactive for a new business venture, I have changed my focus a bit. I still want to help people start podcasts, but I’ve realized that my ideal clientele have already looked into hosting, setting everything up, etc., and I’ve also started a new day job that takes a lot out of me. So to conserve my energy and focus on the things that I think are most beneficial to me (audio production), while I would be happy to help a couple of clients launch a new podcast, I’ve determined to focus my efforts more on audio editing and show notes. 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. One person who wants to start a podcast in the fall has already reached out to me about rates, and a couple of other people have emailed me to start asking questions and introduce others 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 is totally untrue.
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 over the money I made, everything. Because of my experience with admin work, I was looking into becoming a VA, and that’s how I found this course; I was checking out Gina’s 30 days to VA course and saw the Q&A for Podcast Assist (now Podcast Production School) on her YouTube channel.
It’s silly, but because of my “alternative” look/lifestyle, I could never get comfortable with the idea of marketing myself as a VA. 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’s 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.
And how long did it take you to earn your course investment back?
As of 4/29: I will earn my course investment back by August with just my ONE client. With the way I’ve packaged my services, only one new client will make me break even in just a month. This is a lucrative field!
As of 5/30: My client GAVE ME A RAISE! With that in mind, I’ll actually break even a month earlier, in July.
What was your biggest fear before you started your business?/Adding new services to your repertoire?
As of 4/29: 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 it was because it’s been rare for me to see successful businesspeople. I think most of us have interacted with someone who insists that their MLM is a business, and I let that warp my perception of what a 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? So I was afraid that I would be putting in all this work and money, and it would just be extra work instead of something I could be proud of and pay my bills with.
Update as of 5/30: Literally yesterday, I decided I had 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, 2 months later, I’ve realized that the transcription is the part I dread most because it takes FOR-EV-ER. But obviously I didn’t want to email her, “Hey, just FYI, not doing transcriptions anymore!” So I thought about how to approach it and I finished the last transcription I was willing to slog through and approached it as what I could offer instead of transcription 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.
So I looked at other podcasts and determined that they’re doing two things: Offering episode recaps, which are longer than show notes or 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, not just because of the time it took, but because I felt that these other things would be more beneficial to the podcast. IT WENT FINE! 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. So we agreed that I’ll transcribe some important, key parts. 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 everyone like this, I won’t be afraid to remove services that I’ve been offering to a client. I have to be in the mindset of, “I’m doing this other thing that my client needs to be done, or they wouldn’t be willing to pay for the thing.”
What was the most challenging part about getting started?
The most challenging part was my own perception. 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 you 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 everyone kept thanking me for performing really well. I had immigrated to another country with NO lawyer, my wife and I did the paperwork all ourselves. I told myself the worst that would happen is that I paid to learn a valuable skill that I could use at some point later. 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, and I think that’s totally fine. It proved to me that I can make money doing something enjoyable, to put something good out there in the world, that doesn’t have to be sales-y or fake. It doesn’t have to go against “me” and who I am.
Can you tell us about your highest paying project?/ What are you working on right now?
So 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 2 hours of work per week, and it averages out to around $15/hr. My client pays me bi-weekly, every other Monday, so it’s a great way to start the week.
This is a supplementary income for me right now. I chose to accept a 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 when I’m just starting out. 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 is actually not 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! But by having a service that I can offer and accepting clients, I can form new relationships. It’s like making friends at work, except at a day job you might not have a lot of control over who you’re interacting with, and with this business, I’m calling the shots.
Update: 3 Months In
Hey, Tag! How are things going?
Wow! I thought March of this year was a long month, but now that it’s the end of June, I have a new contender. I feel like my business has grown a lot, and that I’ve also grown a lot, and I’m excited to share how that looks under the hood.
Let us know how you’re progressing with last month’s goals.
Full disclosure, I am super bad at setting goals. I don’t know what’s reasonable to hope for, so I just kind of shoot in the dark which is not great! But I want to show how even my tentative testing-things-out has resulted in some good stuff.
At the beginning of June, a lead was posted in the Facebook group that I was really excited about, for content that I’ve studied in the past and really enjoyed, but ended up not pursuing as a career. The podcast already existed 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.
It may not sound like I was still happy with the outcome of this, because, in the end, she preferred her existing audio editing service over what I had provided. However, I’m still really pleased with what I learned, and I wasn’t afraid to charge for the work I had done. She gave me some great feedback as well, and due to her feedback, I ended up checking out another audio editing program – Adobe Audition. There’s a 7-day free trial, so I tried editing my existing client’s podcast through it, and some things about it were easier but some things about it were so frustrating that I don’t know I’ll continue using it as my main editing software. To me, “getting the client” wasn’t as important as getting better at the craft. I feel pretty confident in what I’m doing now.
Tell us about last month’s income.
I still have my client from before, so that income is still coming in. I also received payment from my test client for the work I did:
What are your goals for this month?
My day job situation has been precarious, and I started and ended a new position in June that was very stressful and emotionally taxing. I’m starting a new job in July, and school in September. So quite honestly, even though I have a lot of time, I don’t have much energy. It’s also a really difficult time between the pandemic and racial violence in the US. My preferred client is under-represented people, and I’m hesitant to ask this demographic for business in light of all of this going on. My goal for July is to network more efficiently and become known as someone who would like to help my preferred client. I’m really sensitive about appearing like I’m trying to take advantage of people, so I’m taking it slow on purpose to be able to focus on building relationships with the type of client that I would prefer to have long-term.
How do you plan to reach those goals?
My current client knows that I’m looking for more work, and has shared my tweets, given me a great testimonial, and when she sees people asking for podcast producers, she tags me! Two of my close friends are also interested in starting a podcast and know that I’m happy to help them. So being more visible is how I plan to reach my goal of networking more efficiently.
What do you think is working well in your business right now?
I think what’s working well for me is just SAYING, “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 saying it publicly, or telling my friends “I do this and I can help you,” coupled with the proof from my client that I’m good to work with and provide good work, is helping me build a reputation. I’m lucky that I can build this reputation over time thanks to both working a full-time job and the support of my wife. The main thing for me is the relationships that I can build with other people, and that’s going really well for me at the moment.
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.