Aderson Oliveira: I've spoken with Evaldas Miliauskas from CastSource.net. They provide transcription services for podcasters like myself. Actually, I'm a client of his organization as well, and during the interview, we have gone through his processes, how he uses Zapier to glue all the different moving parts of his internal processes of getting a new podcast and getting that transcribed by his team. So, he uses that to glue Google Drive, Trello boards to do project management. That, I think that we have spoken is the fact that he outsources a lot of work as well. He outsources virtual assistant work, even some transcription services as well. We spoke about both things. Please have a listen and watch the interview.
Hello, hello, Aderson Oliveira here. This is another interview for the OuchSourcing Podcast, and today, I have with me Evaldas Miliauskas. He has a company called CastSource.net, and he provides transcription services. So, welcome Evaldas.
Evaldas Miliauskas: Hello, everyone. I'm very glad to be here on your show. Thanks for inviting me, firstly.
Aderson: Perfect. I want to start by, I guess, giving a little bit of background information here how I came to know Evaldas. It was an introduction from our friend, Harry Duran. I mentioned to him that I needed some transcription work done, and he said, "I work with Evaldas and they do a great job for my transcriptions for my podcast and maybe you want to give them a try." So, I've started to work just a few weeks ago with Evaldas and I said, "You know what? How about we talk about outsourcing transcription services?" So, that's what Evaldas will be talking about. Evaldas, my first point is how about you start by describing a little bit of your products, your services, what you do there on CastSource.net?
Evaldas: Sure. Thanks for the intro. So, I'm running this service called CastSource.net, which is basically providing transcription services specifically for podcasters. Maybe a little bit of background why I started this service and how I kind of got involved in podcasting, in general. Basically, some time ago, I was kind of interested in entrepreneurship and I was kind of an avid podcast listener myself.
At one time, basically just before the New Year arrived, I was thinking where could I invest more of my time and maybe try my hand on another type of project that I was involved before. Originally, my background is a software engineer, so I'm kind of good at systems and making processes easy and other things. But, I never was involved in business, in general, that much. So, this idea was nagging me for a long time, and I was looking for something that would be interesting to me, but also could be an easy way to start providing value in specific industries, which I wanted to be involved.
So, after some, let's say, elimination process, I kind of married podcasting as kind of my favorite pastime and this business, which was doing transcriptions. Actually, I wanted to do podcasting analytics, but as a first-time kind of tryout of a business, that seemed a bit too hard, and knowing myself, I can get very deep into these things, probably. I wouldn't launch anything if I go and try to solve hard problems initially.
So, I kind of got stuck with transcriptions, and this is how I have the service that I have right now, CastSource. Yeah, so we are specifically trying to adapt a process to fit in what every podcaster needs, and of course, the main point is that we try to provide the best quality of transcriptions and in the formats that would be suited for every podcaster so that we can put it on his website or post it like an email or put it like a video with subtitles. So, we are kind of flexible in that perspective and that's how we differentiate ourselves from other transcription services. That's a bit of a short intro.
Aderson: My next question is you mentioned before that you did some podcasting yourself as well. But, from doing a podcast to providing service to podcasters, that is a little jump there. So, where did the idea come from? The idea, not of podcasting, but of transcribing podcasts, how that spark come about.
Evaldas: That's a good question actually. So, I was listening to this business podcast, one I can mention actually - it's called Tropical MBA - and they kind of go through a process how you can pick on ideas and how to know which idea might lift off and actually be a real business driver than just a kind of a passion project or just something that you do as a hobby.
So, one idea is to look into the market and see what people are already buying, what kind of services they're buying and what kind of problems they need to solve. I looked at transcriptions were interesting, which some of the podcasters use in their shows. But, it wasn't too much, let's say, oversaturated, so I didn't find one any specifically, transcription services who would want to concentrate on podcasters. There are usually some big transcription firms which just do any kind of transcription and they -- I think they were very generic, so I thought up that would be the kind of interesting part to provide the service that I could do to maybe provide more value to the podcasters. But, I didn't know anything about podcast production, or how the processes work, and all other aspects of what you have to know when you do a podcast.
So, I thought to learn all these tools and tricks, and basically to see what are the main problems. I decided also one of the best things how you can learn this is to actually ask your potential customers and maybe develop relationships and get new customers. It's kind of an interesting way for us to network. So, I started this podcast called CastSource with the same name, so it could give me a little bit more lift in my website, and I talked to at least more than 20 podcaster, interviewed them with all the questions I think I found interesting, and then try to find out if transcriptions were interesting and how they were actually utilizing them in their shows. This gave me interesting value which I can, let's say, tailor my own service to make it more accurate and make it more valuable.
Aderson: Very good. In just a second, I'm going to ask you about how you came about getting to know people to do that for you, but that's the other side of things. But, before I get to that, can you tell a little bit and talk a little bit about the benefits of transcribing a podcast. Why would someone transcribe a podcast?
Evaldas: So, there are different reasons in terms of -- again, looking from a show production perspective. So, there are two aspects. One aspect is for the host and himself. Let's say, especially for a larger budget more business-oriented shows, the production of a podcast can cost a lot of money as well if they're kind of professional. To make sure that the right show is the right quality, it's very convenient to have transcription on your hand. So, basically, you can quickly see which parts of the podcast you want to cut. You can just take a transcript and see, plan your show production. While if you don't have a transcription, then let's say you would need to figure out that just by listening or basically from a wavelength audio, which would be, probably, a little bit hard. So, that's one aspect of the kind of production usefulness.
Another aspect is for your listeners, because some of them either don't want to listen. They just want to read. Or, after they listened and want to like note down some points from the show, which I sometimes do, transcription is very helpful for that aspect. And, of course, if you want to reach some listeners who, let's say, don't know about your show, you can use the transcripts to create blog posts or distribute it in your email list, and repurpose it as an e-book. There are different ways to utilize them as long as you have them in place. That's something I also might be providing in the future if more people will be asking for that.
Aderson: Got it. I think there's one point that you may have missed there, which is I think it's a big one as well, but you tell me. How about SEO? What are the SEO benefits? Actually, first of all, what is SEO and what are the benefits for SEO by having a podcast transcribed?
Evaldas: SEO stands for search engine optimization, and it's one of the "marketing arms", as we call it, to get more traffic to your website, which you can host your podcast. So, if you post the transcription on your website, you can get the search bots who crawl the website to crawl it more often and find more meaningful content based on the transcriptions. But, of course, from interviewing some podcasters and trying it myself, I think if you just dump transcriptions as a text, we have some value, of course, for SEO, as well, but a much more better value would be trying to, let's say, categorize those transcripts or maybe split them up so it would be matched to more relevant content.
Let's say we're doing this show for outsourcing transcriptions. We can split it up in like two parts like a process, how we can use the transcripts and what are specific benefits for doing transcriptions for a podcast, or how to find a freelancer for transcribing a podcast. This is a more intelligent type of headlines tailored through transcription can be, I think, much more useful, and Google optimizes for that as well.
Aderson: So, what you're saying is that don't do just the dump of the transcription, but actually make it more structured in a sense that people don't have to go through the whole thing and they can see headers, they can see more of a flow, and actually more towards an article, isn't it?
Evaldas: Yeah, I think that has a much more bigger value both from a kind of an SEO marketing perspective and for users who are actually reading those transcripts, because it's much nicer when it's formatted in this kind of format, especially if you can even segment it based on your audio format so you can find the places that you listen, but it might be harder to just find it in the text.
Aderson: Actually, if I may mention, right now actually, today, I'm selecting some professionals to convert the transcription into article pieces as well. So, I'll be tasking that out very shortly and I'll let you know how things are progressing there. But, I know that you are interested in doing something like that as well, correct?
Evaldas: Yes, yes. I mean, we are kind of experimenting on different things. I experimented on my side as well because I did the transcriptions from my own podcast. So, I tried blog posts and splitting up transcripts. Both have drawbacks, benefits. It's something that, I guess, everyone should experiment, see whichever venture works better. But, I think, definitely, once we have a transcript, it's good to kind of reuse it. As some, let's say, marketers would say, "You pay the price once, and then you reap the benefits more than once."
Aderson: If I may ask, Evaldas, part of the idea of the OuchSourcing podcast is for guests to talk about how do you go about selecting a professional. In your case, selecting a professional to do transcription for them. I know that you provide a service, but what if I come to you and I say, "Hey, Evaldas, how do I go about assessing a transcription professional?" and I guess that it might be pretty obvious. I mean, send the audio, get it back, get the result back, and see if the transcription makes sense as compared to the original audio. But, do you have any additional tips of how to evaluate a professional transcription?
Evaldas: Yeah, that's a good question, and that was a problem I was struggling initially a lot because when I got this idea to start the service, I didn't know anything about transcripts, in general. I just knew that this thing exists but I didn't know how this works and who is transcribing and what are the tools we use.
There are a couple of aspects. So, quality and accuracy is the main indicator. But, the other aspect is the timing of the person who does the transcript, how long did it take him to do it. Especially, when you're talking a lot with freelancers, you kind of have to set the deadlines or at least see if they can meet the deadlines. Because, when you have deadlines, you want to serve. We want to make sure that we are quite reliable.
What I do, especially in my service, to make sure I trust the people I hire just to be sure, even if the person is kind of good, but he still makes mistakes. So, what we do, every transcription that we produce is reviewed by another person, which doesn't take too much time if it's good enough quality, it's just small mistakes. But, this is just ensuring an additional level of quality that we can provide. This is also how I evaluate myself, of course, just reviewing my transcription. Simple, but working.
Aderson: You mentioned at the beginning of the interview before it got started that you may want to share a little bit of your process there and you have some screensharing to do. Do you want to give it a try on that and share a little bit of your process?
Evaldas: Sure. Yeah, I think that might be a bit more interesting to listeners. We can try. I have a couple of tools I use I want to share and then give you an idea what is the behind-the-scenes.
Aderson: You have presenter's access there, so just go ahead, you can share your screen freely. I can see it.
Evaldas: Basically, one of the ideas behind my service is to develop a process. I think this kind of business services, like podcast production, or in my case, transcription services, we have a generic type of business, which are called productized services. Have you heard about those?
Aderson: Of course, of course. Actually, what we do at DeskPal is a bit about productizing a service, so I know.
Evaldas: So, generally the idea is that you provide the service, but you try to make it as kind of structured and process-driven, like automated, and you sell it as a product. So, that is what I also try to do here. Basically, to make it kind of process-driven, I use several tools. So, I can show you here. For example, here, I use Google Drive, which is basically where all the transcriptions land.
I have some kind of examples here. So, let's say a potential host drops a file here, mp3 file, what this does is it creates a kind of email from an automated tool called Zapier which allows you to match, let's say, their Google Drive, kind of listens to all the folders and checks every 15 minutes if there's a file in there. Just to give you an idea, these matchings are connections called Zaps.
Aderson: Got it. So, basically, what we have here is we have Google Drive open and then Evaldas was just showing the Zapier interface that you can connect and perform tasks, correct?
Evaldas: Yeah, that is correct. So, basically, once you're in Zapier, you pick, as I have here, Google Drive as a starter connection, and then after you configure the settings for it, you can configure after I get a new audio file, send me an email. Once that is done, it allows me to get notified what are the transcriptions. I have a kind of special folder here, which let's say, for every podcast I have all the transcriptions. Then, once that lands, I need to somehow create a job which allows me to assign them to my team to make that structured instead of emailing, chatting. It's quite messy to do.
So, with that, I have another tool, actually. It's just called Trello. A lot of people use Trello for like project management or just planning their own small projects. But, I use Trello, basically, for automating the transcription process. That's kind of the heart of all the things that are happening here. So, once the email lands in my inbox, Zapier creates another kind of Trello card, which here, let's say, it says, "Transcribe OuchSourcing Podcast about Transcriptions", and then it has some kind of details what should be done and how it should be landed.
Then, one of my team of transcribers gets a subscription, and he can see there's an available card and he can assign it and put it in a kind of specific list. We have here your previous show, and basically it contains all the detail on what he needs to do. To make it very clear, we use these called SOPs, that's kind of a fancy word for "service operating procedures". But, basically, I describe, in detail, every step from start to finish, like, "What should I do when I open the document, what kind of things should I look at?" and then I have sub-processes for every podcast, which we can drill down and see what every podcast want to tweak.
So, it makes me flexible in making sure I don't miss anything along the way, and then we can react as fast as possible to, let's say, deliver the transcription in high quality.
Aderson: Got it. So, you were talking there about your internal processes, your internal automation. How about as a client, how do they experience that? I mean, they just drop it and they will say, "Hey, Evaldas. Here is the audio file in that set"?
Evaldas: It's basically more simple than that. So, we have the numbers up here, which basically does the same thing. So, once the transcription is done, like we have here, the OuchSourcing. We have this specific folder.
Aderson: On Google Drive.
Evaldas: Yes, on Google Drive, we have a specific folder, like we would say, a transcription is finalized. It creates a new file and then we have another Zap, as we call it, which picks up a new file and then sends an automated email to the host or my customer who wants their transcript and just receives it instantly once that file is done. It doesn't involve myself, so everything is automated so I don't have to check every point of way when is the job done or if there's any kind of problems.
Aderson: Then, by the time things are ready and the client is about to receive the transcription, what happens there? Just an email as well?
Evaldas: It's just an email, basically. Once it's done, once he receives the email, he gets the link to the actual file and he can just pick it up, basically, on his request either it's HTML, or a doc file, or any kind of special format, but all instructions will be in my email. We have a full history of those transcripts, so even if he, for some reason, would lose it on his Drive, we can always get them back.
Aderson: So, what you actually are doing is you are using Zapier? Is that how you pronounce it? You are using it to glue your process, correct?
Evaldas: Exactly, exactly. It's a glue between different tools and applications. That's the kind of modern age of digital business in terms of internet business, which in the before days, you would build a custom software, if you have a budget, or you do it manually via some people. But, these days, a lot of things can actually be automated by these innovative new tools, so you don't necessarily need to write any new code yourself or create specialized applications. You just pick different tools and you can connect them together, which makes your business much more efficient in that way.
Aderson: Very true, very true. Is there anything else that you'd like to share on your screen, anything else?
Evaldas: No, I think those are the main points which I wanted to share and I think I can stop sharing for now.
Aderson: Perfect, perfect. That's good. Now, let's change, a little bit, the focus of our conversation. So, far, we have been talking about you as a service provider, as an outsourcing provider of transcription services. But, to get that business to run, you have to hire people, you have to hire some -- you have to, in a way, outsource stuff yourself as well. So, let's talk a little bit about the other side of you and your business. Do you outsource work as well? And I'm not talking about transcription itself. I'm talking about some other aspects of your business. Do you do some outsourcing?
Evaldas: Definitely. One of my main reasons I can actually tell you why I outsource and I can tell you for sure that we wouldn't have -- without outsourcing in general, I wouldn't have a business probably. It wouldn't be possible. So, it's kind of a critical factor that I utilize, outsourcing, myself.
Aderson: Which tasks, which positions, which jobs have you outsourced, or are currently outsourcing?
Evaldas: So, in the past, for example, when I did my podcasting, the first thing, and even this business side, the first thing I decided to do early is to hire early someone so it could keep me a bit more accountable and I could spin off for different ideas. Because, when you're alone and you're doing your business, it's quite hard to think that an idea you're doing is good or not, or the thing you're creating is actually valuable. Because, when you're hiring someone, the costs starts dripping from your pockets and you're kind of forced to create something faster. So, it helps you to be accountable and create something useful.
Aderson: So, what was that that you have outsourced there with that first hire?
Evaldas: My first outsource was actually a podcast VA, you could say. So, she could help me to find guests for interviews, which I think you're also doing right now. It was quite difficult at first when you don't know anyone and it consumed a lot of time, hours, just to find someone to interview. I kind of thought about just to find someone to do that and develop a little bit of a process so that she could follow the steps, and you create what kind of price we can get for each invite, and it worked quite well. I could stay accountable for getting my podcast.
Aderson: So, that was one hire of yours? Any other outsourcing initiative? Anything from a technical standpoint or even from transcription as well, anything else?
Evaldas: Yeah, just to be clear, I hire through Upwork platforms. I guess that's one of the most popular ones, and I hired for podcast, like the VA was one, and then the audio editing was another one, and then I hired short jobs designer while I was kind of pursuing podcast analytics as an alternative business, and of course, for transcriptions, I hired a lot of people and tried a lot of people. So, that was probably my main focus because that was where my service evolved eventually. So, these were a few aspects.
Aderson: So, any horror stories that you have gone through of people that didn't work out and how you were able to fix those horror stories? Anything you wanted to mention?
Evaldas: Yeah, I guess even your past guest mentioned, but I kind of iterate on that. A few things is that freelancers tend to disappear sometimes and you need to find them, or you don't find them at all, actually. That's one aspect, but the other aspect is I think getting someone reliable is quite hard. Especially, it's even more hard to find someone who can take responsibility from you and make decisions on their own. I think that is the hardest part to find a freelancer like that. But, if you are lucky enough to find one, then it can be potentially someone you can promote inside your business, which I'm actually, right now, trying to do myself, as well, because you want them to be motivated. It's a good way to test someone first and then build out the team from there.
Aderson: I always like to ask some, what I call, standard questions. Is there anything in your business that you still struggle to let go and to outsource and to have people taking care of that side? Is that still things that you, "I want to do this myself"?
Evaldas: I don't think there is a kind of perfect business anywhere. There is always some problems, but personally from my side, I think the biggest struggle is customer acquisition. Because as one of my managers told me, quite a good phrase, "If you don't have a customer acquisition strategy, you don't have a business, in general," because you cannot grow and what doesn't grow, as you know, eventually dies.
That's one thing that I'm even trying these days to find which channels to pursue and which channels get me more leads and new customers. So, that's something, it's hard, of course, because there's no one process to pursue. So, in a way, it's like an art, but you also have to kind of experiment a lot.
Another aspect is actually market and operations management, which I did it a lot before. But, as much as I could, I try to optimize it and use some processes to get my manual work out of it. But, there really is still some small tasks. Just recently, I used this, as I said, promotion to find a person who can help me with that as well. So, it's just finding someone and trying to see how you can develop your business. I think letting go of things, it's very liberating.
Aderson: I have to tell you. I have been seeing a few Facebook ads from your organization. I have been seeing that.
Evaldas: Yeah, that's one of the new marketing things I'm trying right now. It's called remarketing.
Aderson: Perfect, perfect. It seems to be working. In any case, we are coming to an end, Evaldas. I really appreciate the fact that you're taking your time to do this. There's one thing that I always ask towards the end is, when it comes to transcription services and particularly outsourcing, in general, what is one thing that you'd like people to leave this interview, this conversation here that we had today with? I mean, what is one thing that you, if nothing else, if you haven't learned anything else, if you leave with this, that's enough from you? What is the one thing here?
Evaldas: Probably one thing that you should think about, especially if you think about starting your own service, as a matter of like outsourcing or other sorts, probably, if you're alone and you want to utilize the internet, you probably need to outsource. So, find some problem or, let's say, value which you can create, which people would be willing to buy and really kind of need it in the market, and test that early, and once you have that place, you have a business, other things will just come together, I think.
Aderson: Outsourcing is a great way to find something like that, because with outsourcing, usually, you are saving people time, money, or you're providing an expertise there. So, again, outsourcing, it's a good vehicle to potentially find those kinds of problems and solutions.
Evaldas: I think yeah, it tends to lend itself to a lot of different problems. So, if you, let's say, just take a blank paper and just draw something or create, you can create from outsourcing quite different kinds of businesses, and I think quite different kinds of value propositions. I think that's one of the great things about it.
Aderson: Very good, very good. So, Evaldas, really thank you very, very much for being here. Anything else that you'd like to say? Please plug your services, your company, where people can find you.
Evaldas: So, you can find us at CastSource.net. I have there all the descriptions of what I'm providing right now. Of course, if you want to try our services, we always do the first transcription for free so you can make sure the quality you get is what you want, and we try to very flexible in terms of podcasters. We can plug into your process so you don't need to do anything, so you just send your audio to us and we just give you a transcript and format you want, simple as that.
Aderson: I can truly attest to how effective that has been for me, for us, in the past few weeks. We have never done transcription before. That's our first contact with transcription. So, it's really saving us a lot of time. I can tell you this. Just roughly here, quickly. Our podcast takes about 50 minutes to an hour. I think it would take two hours if myself or someone else in my organization would take to listen and transcribe that. It would take two hours. And when I do the math, I realize that, "For Fullcast, I'm just paying $20 an hour. Is my hour worth that or worth a lot more? It's worth a lot more. Okay, great, no-brainer, I'll do that." Quality has been good, and again, it was really great to be able to connect with you, Evaldas.
Evaldas: Thank you very much. I'm really happy that you're happy with our service. I can testify myself that creating a transcript is quite tedious work and you don't want to spend your creative time on that, for sure.
Aderson: Just to make it clear, this is not a paid placement. I mean, Evaldas is not paying me to do this promo here. It's really genuine, it's really legit. It's based on my experience. Evaldas, again, thank you very much for your time. I really appreciate it. Talk to you next time. Bye now.
Evaldas: Alright, cheers. Thank you, bye, bye