I started podcasting in 2007 or 2008, long before the boom of professional podcasting but long after the early adopters, interviewing Canadian television creatives for the then-nascent TV, eh? website. At first I went it alone, recording with Skype and editing with Audacity before experimenting with BlogTalkRadio. Then, thank the podcast gods, I met Anthony Marco, podcast king, who became my cohost and technical producer and continued with current website owner Greg David after I exited the site about a decade later.
Despite my own efforts, I was always a bit ashamed to admit I was never a big listener of podcasts myself. I’m not a fan of audiobooks either – I tend to accidentally tune out and find my thoughts have wandered to parts unknown. I think my brain categorizes both as background music and thinks it has to run off and do something else productive like ponder why Greta Gerwig wasn’t nominated for an Oscar for directing Little Women.
But since going full-time freelance two years ago, I’ve fallen in love with a handful of podcasts. They’ve offered moral support and business sense, and when I’m ready for a break, they offer a voice in my home office other than my hungry cats or Alexa telling me she can’t understand me. When you don’t have actual coworkers, you take what you can get.
On my current podcast list, in no particular order, are:
- Being Freelance by Steve Folland. His good-natured interviews probe what made his guest go freelance and the struggles and successes they’ve had along the way. Even the non-communications/writing guests, like graphic designers and animators, have stories that resonate with me and lessons I can incorporate into my own freelance life.
- The Writing Coach by Rebecca L. Weber. She’s gotten a bit too sales-y about her courses lately for my taste, but this podcast offers her practical advice especially for writers who want to pitch to publications. The first episode has a helpful tool to reframe any problem, writer or not, which she references frequently in later episodes.
- High-Income Business Writing by Ed Gandia. Ed is a bit of a legend in content marketing circles but I find his podcast relevant to self-employment in general, too. He’s been around a looong time so there’s a couple hundred episodes to catch up on. Despite the title, he’s not all about hustle and money, instead jamming lots of actionable, inspiring advice into interviews with various writers who come with a particular angle on business writing, or into his solo podcasts on specific topics.
- StartUp by Gimlet Media is a meta-podcast about starting up a podcasting business. Host Alex Blumberg of NPR fame records his disastrous meetings with investors, disagreements with his co-founder, his wife’s sage advice that he doesn’t always heed, and his triumphs until — spoiler alert — his company grows and is acquired by Spotify. Future seasons follow other startups but I was primarily interested in that one story of perseverance rather than overall startup life, so I started from the beginning and then listened only to the Gimlet episodes sprinkled through later seasons.
- Deliberate Freelancer by Melanie Padgett Powers. I’m a newcomer to this podcast and intend to listen to more past episodes, but what I’ve heard jives with my own sensibility – a sensible, deliberate view of freelancing that touches on recognizing burnout, business planning, setting boundaries, and so many more aspects to self-employed life, sometimes with guests, sometimes speaking from her own experience.
- Company of One by Paul Jarvis. I haven’t read his accompanying book, but the podcast, which seems to have ended last year, is a welcome respite from a startup culture that tells us bigger is always better. Jarvis and his guests focus on businesses that don’t view growth as a sign of a success for people who, like me, don’t want to take on employees or be an employee.
- And for something a little different, Where Should We Begin by Esther Perel are recorded therapy sessions that give a fascinating glimpse into psychology. I started listening on the recommendation of an actor friend who found it helpful to gain insight into fleshing out characters, and thought it would help writers as well. She was right.
With about 9 billion podcasts out there, I might be missing one or two great ones. So any other recommendations for a communications freelancer?