Unless you’re overburdened with free time and a desire to learn a variety of new, highly specific skills or have a team member with the time, interest, and aptitude, starting a podcast for your company usually means hiring a third-party service provider.

You’ve got a lot of options for what that relationship can look like. There are solo providers like editors and promoters, podcast coaches and consultants, full-service production agencies, training companies, niche-specific agencies, and recording studios with in-house production—all with their own spectrum of price, quality, and capacity.

As you know, hiring a third-party provider can be such a thing. When hiring for a podcast, it’s also fairly high-risk; your show needs to reflect well on your company and help you achieve important goals, and the provider you choose to work with needs to be reliable and produce high-quality work.

When you work with a great one, then creating your podcast is going to be a really pleasant part of your workflow. You’ll get to focus on creating interesting and valuable content and won’t have to do much else while the benefits to your business stack up. But when you end up with a less than satisfactory one, it will be one heck of an expensive nightmare and time-suck.

Today, we’re talking about what information you should gather from the different providers you talk to when you’re exploring hiring help for your company’s podcast.

Listen below or continue reading the blog post!

Tune in to the full episode to learn about:

  • Considerations for hiring a third-party podcast production service.
  • Questions to ask potential providers including success metrics, contract terms, ownership of episodes, handover points in the process, and support provided.
  • Understanding the provider’s workflow, turnaround time, and use of AI.
  • Importance of trust and clear communication with the chosen provider.

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Before we start…

We published a version of this back in 2022 in our very first podcast season, and a lot has changed since then—the podcasting industry has exploded.

There are so many different kinds of providers and different technologies available to help or hurt your show, and generally, there’s just a lot more noise you’ve got to cut through in order to make a great decision for your organization.

So, when you’re ready to take the plunge, or less happily, if you took the plunge and sank, then you should probably plan to talk to at least a couple of different providers; the types of services and prices for production can vary really widely.

If you have friends or colleagues who podcast, asking for recommendations is a fantastic way to get your starter list, and if you don’t know anyone, join literally any podcast group on Facebook, post that you’re looking for an editor, and be prepared to receive dozens and dozens of messages from people wanting to sell their services.

You will almost certainly find a decent fit within that horde of eager humans. (And you’re warmly invited to talk to us too!) Once you’ve got your discovery calls booked, here’s what you should ask:

1. What does a successful podcast look like for your company?

As a producer, this is one of my favorite questions to be asked because it means that someone is seriously thinking about how to evaluate the podcast as a marketing channel.

Success can mean all sorts of things, from particular download numbers to the length of time spent podcasting to much more nebulous things like getting invited to speak at more conferences or shortening your sales cycle.

What they say isn’t as important as the fact that they have an answer for this question. The answer can be “it depends,” but they need to be able to tell you what it depends on and how the determination of what success means for your podcast is going to be made.

What you don’t want to hear is something like:


“There’s no way to evaluate success.”

Whatever you want!

That’s not really helpful for a business show. But if their vision of success matches your vision of success, they pass!

2.What kind of contract or services agreement will we enter into?

Any provider is going to have a contract or service agreement that you need to sign in order to do business together—that’s just practical.

A lot of what goes into those contracts is boilerplate: “You own your content, we do A, B, and C, liability, emergencies, etc.”—but one of the things you really want to look out for and can ask about before it’s contract signing time is the length of the term of service.

There are providers who work month to month and allow a variable number of episodes, those with specific packages, and those that require commitments of up to a year. There are others that work on a credit basis, or let you cancel at any time… with sufficient notice.

Make sure you end up working with a company that offers you the level of flexibility or stability that works best for your firm.

3. Who owns the life of an episode?

There are a lot of moving parts in every podcast episode: finding and inviting guests, preparing for the call, recording, audio editing, asset creation, scheduling, and promotion.

It is extremely important to get clear on who owns the high-level process. Who is going to make sure everything is done at the right time and in the right way? This is basically like asking whose desk the project management for the podcast is on.

Different companies are going to take responsibility for different elements, and some are more proactive about things like making sure you get your audio recorded on time, getting reviews and feedback organized, and scheduling episodes than others, so you want to make sure you’ve got clarity on exactly what you can expect in terms of who is going to be “owning” the podcast.

The next question is directly related.

4. What are the handover points in the process, and where and how are information and content shared?

There are going to be points where you need to bring information to your producer, and they need to bring information to you.

  1. What are the points in the workflow for each episode where that happens, and what is the method you use?
  2. Do they have a dashboard or portal they need you to use to send them raw audio?
  3. Do they upload finished content to your Dropbox?
  4. Is email the best and fastest way to submit your feedback on an episode?
  5. Is there a shared project management system?

There are no right or wrong answers here; it’s really just a matter of making sure that you’re going to be able to integrate your workflows effectively, but sometimes when you discuss this, you can find a dealbreaker, so it’s good to fully explore in advance.

5. Is there any kind of coaching, feedback, or strategic help provided?

If one of your goals is to improve your own (or your boss’s) skills as a podcast host and one of your priorities is to make the podcast a valuable investment, you probably want a firm that offers some kind of coaching, feedback, and strategic consulting.

This isn’t needed for every show, by any means, but if it’s something you’re interested in, you will definitely want to know in advance!

As for things like how often and what type of feedback is provided, you might hear something like, “We provide detailed feedback on sound capture!” Which is great if that is your need, but if what you’re looking for is interview critiques, you’ll want to work with someone else.

Similarly, you may want to work with someone who can keep an eye on your stats and progress towards podcast-adjacent goals, and you can learn through a discovery call if a provider is more focused on downloads and social shares.

6. What is your turnaround from raw audio to finished episode?

This can vary wildly from company to company. Some editors and agencies can turn an episode around in a few days or even hours; others take longer, up to a week or more.

There isn’t a right or wrong amount of time, but you can usually expect that the more assets provided, like show notes and sharing materials, and the more complex the editing, the longer it will take. The most important consideration here isn’t finding the fastest turnaround; it’s establishing that you can make your workflow match their workflow.

If the answer to “What is your turnaround time?” isn’t clear or can’t be easily explained to you, I would consider that a red flag.

7. Is your company utilizing AI? If so, how?

Whatever kind of producer or production company you end up working with, they will probably be integrating AI one way or another. There are dozens (at least!) of AI-powered services to write show notes, clip videos, enhance audio, and even develop scripts and episode titles.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s a very good idea to understand exactly what the company you work with is using AI for and what kind of quality assurance mechanisms they have in place so that you don’t wind up with misspelled guest names, choppy, degraded audio, or generic social media posts.

Ask what tools they’re using at what point in the process and exactly how humans are reviewing the work the AI tools produce before the content comes back to you or goes live to the rest of the world.

8. What assets do you provide?

Common assets are show notes and descriptions, social shares, audiograms, video versions of the show, guest sharing materials, and even things up to opt-ins and blog posts.

Depending on how much support you need with the show and how much bandwidth and skill there is on your own team, you might need more or less from a production company in terms of deliverables.

Something I would like to mention here is that you are much less likely to find a single individual who is going to be able to do really high-quality, complex podcast editing, cool graphic design, and fluent social media post writing.

That’s a lot of different skill sets, and while I am sure such humans do exist, they are rare and probably expensive, which often makes agencies the best choice for a podcast with high content needs because they have different people and departments that are experts in each of those areas.

If, on the other hand, you’ve got great writers, designers, and admin support in-house, let them do what they’re great at and find an individual provider who can give you awesome audio without worrying about the rest.

9. Who is providing the service, and who are your points of contact?

Podcast production companies and agencies come in all shapes and sizes and organize the work in different ways.

As a potential client, it’s important to know who your points of contact are and what, if any, contact you will have with other members of the team. Here are some questions you can ask:

  1. Will you have a dedicated account manager who is familiar with your show?
  2. When you have a question, who do you ask, and what is the best way to get in touch with them?
  3. Will you have a dedicated producer who will get to know you, your show, and your editing preferences?
  4. Are there standards and edits that get applied to all shows?
  5. If getting feedback is part of the service, who provides it, and is it a two-way dialogue?

Basically, you want to be very clear about who is handling your content, and how you make sure you all have the information that you need as the production relationship evolves.

10. If you’re starting a new show, what is included in a launch? Follow-up: How long does the podcast launch take?

Podcast launches can be as simple as creating the first episode and pointing you to Apple Podcasts Connect or as complex as orchestrating a multi-channel, multi-media content extravaganza complete with a launch team and listener contest.

The provider you’re talking to should be able to tell you about the linear steps in their launch process, what has to be done in what order, and how long it usually takes.  You’ll want to know what kind of show development support they provide; will they be really hands-on in helping you design the different elements of your show, like the branding and the episode format, or will they just take what you send and produce it?

It’s the same thing for the rest of the elements of the launch.

Ask if they have different packages, what is the most popular, and how much time it’s all going to take. It’s also a good idea to get a sense of just how custom the launch is going to be for you. If they have a standard launch they provide for all shows, that can be a really good thing; it will likely be a smooth process that runs efficiently.

Sometimes you want something more personalized, however, in which case ask about how much collaboration and differentiation of your launch is going to be possible.

It’s typical for there to be a launch/setup fee for new podcasts, so ask about those as well.

11. What type of editing does the firm do?

There are many different kinds of podcast editing, and it’s reasonable to expect that different service providers will use different terms to describe them!

The person you are speaking with should be able to describe their editing style or styles clearly, explaining what kind of sound improvement they do, like minimizing background noise, balancing the levels of the speakers, “sweetening” the overall sound—that kind of thing.

They should also be able to tell you what kind of content editing they will do (removing filler words, cutting trailing questions out, making editorial decisions about what should be included)—the range can be big!

Sometimes, companies might be able to follow the content edits you provide; other times, they can make editorial decisions on their own. You should also ask if they can give you an idea of the difference in length between raw audio and finished audio.

For example, a typical show will be 40 minutes long before we start editing and 34 minutes when we’re done with it. Ideally, they can also give you examples of shows they either produce or that are pretty popular and say, “Like that!” so you can get a good sense of what you can expect.

The key thing to figure out with this question is what you are going to be responsible for providing in terms of editorial instruction and what they are going to do. There might even be a process where you collaboratively establish content standards, and that’s awesome!

Just know what you’re getting into, so you don’t find yourself expecting something they can’t provide.

12. How long do their clients keep podcasting?

Many shows fizzle out after a few months; we call it podfading. That’s when the project just loses steam and stops releasing.

It’s a very sad occurrence, and one that you should definitely try to avoid for yourself. Ideally, the provider you work with will have clients who have been podcasting for a long time; that’s a good indication that they’re providing quality service.

This is far from a hard and fast rule, of course; new providers can provide fantastic service, and sometimes companies specialize in podcasts that have limited lifespans—by design! Once a show achieves its goal, it ends, and everyone parts as friends. This should just be one of the many elements you consider when choosing a provider.

Something else you should ask about is if it’s possible to create a podcast season instead of a permanently ongoing show. For a lot of businesses, this is an amazing fit, either to test the waters or to serve a specific business function.

13. What do you do when there are problems?

This is kind of a tricky one because we sell based on things being great, but there will be problems.

You want to know in advance what the provider’s approach to things like late audio, audio too bad to release, or confusing instructions is going to be. It could be that they don’t have pat answers—sometimes you’re foreseeing problems they haven’t, or vice versa!

But a willingness to collaborate with you on those kinds of standards—”Okay, if we don’t have raw audio by X date, we run a replay that we choose”—means you’re going to have consistency and ultimately, trust. And that is the foundation of any good working relationship.

At the end of the day, the most important consideration in your choice of producer or editor is that you trust them with your content. You might only need someone to clean up your episodes and slap on the intro and outro. You might be looking for someone to take your hand and walk you through the process long-term. It could be something in between.

There isn’t a wrong thing to want from a third-party provider; the trick is to find someone who is happy and excited to provide what you’re looking for and who is clear about what they can, can’t, or won’t do.

What do you think?

Did I get everything? Did I miss something important?

What do you like to ask service providers when you are doing that discovery process and deciding who to work with? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Find us on Instagram at oscpodcasting or fill out any contact form on podcastingforbusiness.com.

Key Quotes

“When you work with a really great producer, production company or other kind of provider, then creating your podcast can be a really pleasant part of your workflow.” – Megan Dougherty

“What does a successful podcast look like for your company? As a producer, this is one of my favorite questions to be asked because it means that someone is thinking seriously about how to evaluate the podcast as a marketing channel.” – Megan Dougherty


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