17 freelancing podcasts to listen to during downtime
Podcasts are kind of the perfect medium for learning new things.
You can consume them anytime – sit and listen to them on your computer while you sort through your inbox, take them with you to the gym, or tune in while you do the dishes.
They’re easier to multitask with than something you’d read or watch – meaning you actually can absorb the information if you have it on “in the background.”I know multitasking is evil, but podcasts make professional development really easy.
Plus, podcasts feel less like learning than something like a course or video. They’re conversational and personal, making it feel more like you’re a fly on the wall in a mastermind of the industry’s experts.
So open up Stitcher, Overcast – whatever your favorite podcast app may be. We have a few things to make sure you’re subscribed to.
Freelance all the time
First, let’s talk about the specific work of a freelancer. These podcasts are for us, by people like us. They get specific talking about a lot of the work that we do and struggles we face, making the episodes incredibly relatable and immediately helpful.
Paul Jarvis’ weekly freelancing podcast, aptly named The Freelancer, is made up of short, casual, one-sided conversations (it’s not as weird as it sounds) about all things freelancing biz.
He pops in to talk about everything from the business aspects like marketing and qualifying potential clients, to more conceptual and opinion pieces, like “Why ‘do what you love’ is f****** ridiculous.” And can we get an ‘Amen’ on his reaction to such incredibly oversimplified advice?
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The best thing about this one is how casual it all is. Paul reads from a list of talking points, not a script (here’s his podcasting process). And it runs the gamut of topics, so there’s something short for everyone. I’m also just a fan of short podcasts in general, but that’s a pretty personal preference.
Brennan Dunn’s podcast focuses more on the straight business. It’s all about growing your freelancing biz – from legal topics to branding, strategy to client relations. Plus, Brennan Dunn has multiple show formats to keep thing interesting.
Every week, Brennan interviews an entrepreneur (sometimes more than one – score!) that will give you great advice on a different aspect of your freelancing business. It’s a casual conversation between insanely smart people, so it’s easy to get sucked into.
Subscribe or listen to this episode: Trajan King on Building Processes and Procedures to Scale Your Business.
RJ McCollam’s The Freelance Podcast is specifically for newer freelancers – those still thinking about or working towards a full-time freelance career. I love this focus.
As a newer freelancer myself, I totally know the feeling of getting overwhelmed by the more advanced advice out there. Having a podcast that goes over the basics, like building your portfolio and finding your niche, is amazing.
And like The Freelancer, this one talks about everything freelancing – from how-tos like the topics above, to reflection-like episodes about RJ’s goals and lessons learned throughout his career. You really get to see inside what the career you’re working towards is like.
While not specifically for freelancing, the audience for The Solopreneur Hour will have a ton of overlap with you and your career. As freelancers, you’re a solopreneur.
Michael O’Neal has a great tagline for his brand: “Job security for the unemployable.” And isn’t that why freelancing is so attractive to so many of us? It’s not like regular jobs.
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New episodes come out multiple times a week with various themes like “free coaching Friday.” Other episodes focus on things like running an online business, how to launch an online product, and how to set up a solo business.
Business and Entrepreneurship
Now we’re getting less specific, but equally helpful. From improving your life to managing your money, these podcasts cover general business stories and advice.
Like everything 99U does, this podcast is devoted to creativity. They sit down with “leading makers, thinkers, and entrepreneurs” to talk about things on a creative freelancer’s mind, like negotiating for more money, the way people tend to think about careers, and building a career on your own terms.
It covers how to adjust your mindset to “being boss,” as well as practical advice for freelancing topics like working from home, managing clients, and using social media to grow your business. Whether you’re a designer, developer, or copywriter, I think you’ll find a ton of relevant episodes.
Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek and several other self-help books, uses this podcast to interview people at the top of every field. It’s regularly at the top of the business podcast charts, and has even reached #1 on the overall podcasts list on iTunes.
He’s talked to people like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Brené Brown, Shaun White, and Kevin Costner. The goal is to “deconstruct world-class performers from eclectic areas (investing, sports, business, art, etc.) to extract the tactics and tools you can use.” It’s so fascinating and lets you hear things these people probably wouldn’t talk about in other interviews.
That being said, it is hardcore long-form – most episodes are around an hour and a half long, and some creep closer to 3 hours. I like to break the episodes up into a bunch of short sessions.
Pat Flynn, online marketer and entrepreneur, uses this podcast to share his secrets to running an online business. Freelancing can have its ups and downs, so having multiple income streams to supplement client work can stabilize your earnings – yay, security! Pat’s an expert in this.
Pat primarily interviews other online entrepreneurs at his level of greatness, but occasionally pops in to share his own insights for a full episode. They talk about marketing launches, website copywriting, and adding products to a service-based business (hello, freelancing!).
When it comes to selling and marketing yourself, a lot of creatives feel a little ‘meh.’ These podcasts will make you feel so much more comfortable going out there, marketing yourself, and getting new clients.
This podcast is brought to you from Nathalie Lussier, who’s long been helping freelancers with her training resources for digital marketing.
Each episode is short and sweet, the perfect soundtrack for a quick inbox check-in before beginning a new task
She alternates between sharing her own experiences and insights, and interviewing other entrepreneurs on digital marketing strategies. Learn more about everything from building an email list to website conversion rates, with a sprinkling of helpful, conceptual stuff like overcoming perfectionism.
This podcast from software company HubSpot is all about – you guessed it – growth. Whether you’re growing a business or growing a community, growth is something HubSpot knows a thing or two about.
They’ve talked to leaders like Slack CMO Bill Macaitis and theSkimm founders Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg. These people know all about starting with a small business and using company values to turn it into something huge.
Freelancers should be striving to build something similar – freelancing provides freedom, so learning how to grow that business while staying true to your values is important.
Subscribe or listen to this episode: Mo Mustaches, Mo Growth – The Rise of the Movember Movement.
Now, it takes a lot more than freelance business know-how to actually run a successful freelance business. And one of main parts of that is actually getting work done. Work is an important part of a job, right?
So let’s get to the podcasts that will help you get more (and better) work done.
Getting Things Done by David Allen is always the top source I think of when it comes to productivity. The Getting Things system for organization and productivity has five steps: capture, clarify, organize, reflect, and engage.
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Its community is fanatical about living by these steps. The podcast helps them get there. In each episode, you hear from a different productive professional about how they get things done.
The Productivity Show is a weekly podcast about all things working smarter, and so much of it is just too relevant to freelancers, like working from home, working while traveling, and energy management.
The team at Asian Efficiency switches between discussion episodes and interviewing other experts in their niche (including a few people who have their own podcasts on this list). In addition to the interviews and themed episodes listed above, they’ll also review different apps, tools, and productivity hacks.
A lot of variety, and a lot of ways to get more productive.
Mike Vardy’s The Productivityist is another one of my favorite productivity media brands. If you want to get serious with working smarter, you want to soak up as much of its stuff as you can, which includes the weekly podcast.
It’s another one that interviews the best of the best, so you’ll see some of the guests elsewhere on this list. It covers everything from tactical tips for different productivity apps to higher level ways to be productive, like making yourself clear in email messages to avoid confusion or miscommunication later.
Beyond the To-Do List from Erik Fisher talks about organization and lifestyle management as well as typical productivity stuff. He does one-on-one interviews with influential leaders on how they get things done, and has also hosted a few roundtables on topics like New Year’s resolutions and inbox zero.
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Erik and his guests get real – they talk about failures as well as successes, and living a good life as a whole. That means more than just work.
Subscribe or listen to this episode: Paul Jarvis on Creating, Freelancing, and What Work Really Is.
You can’t be all business, all the time. Every now and then, put on a podcast that’s purely for entertainment.
A podcast from NPR, this is one where you might hear references to a classic play, comic book, and a reality TV show in one episode. It covers the entire realm of pop culture – music, books, movies, TV, theater, and more – in smart and hilarious conversation.
They publish weekly “full-length” (~45 minute) episodes, as well as “Small Batch” episodes to cover breaking pop culture news, award shows and events, and special interviews.
Chris Hardwick – you’ve seen him on Nerdist.com, AMC’s “Talking” shows, @midnight, and Singled Out – is lucky enough to get to hang out with hilarious celebrities for a living. He’s also a hilarious celebrity himself, so this podcast is obviously a classic.
Jonah Ray and Matt Mira co-host most episodes, special co-hosts pop in from time to time, and recent guests include Jason Alexander and Samantha Bee.
This one’s a crazy unique podcast from NPR. It’s an hour-long news quiz – a game show where panelists and celebrities get quizzed on current events. The games include things like “Listener Limerick Challenge” and “Not My Job.”
Things get random, they talk about all the crazy news stories you see online, and you hear celebrities get stumped.
Queue ‘Em Up
You’re probably hating me right now. I threw 17 podcasts at you and told you why they’re all awesome. You probably want to hide away with your podcast app for a few days and ignore everything else.
And I’m not even sorry.
Because that’s the beauty of podcasts – I’m sure any of these would make a great sidekick to half the tasks in your daily routine.
Listening to something great right now that isn’t on the list? Help us make it even longer by commenting with your favorite podcasts below!
Thank you for these free lancing podcasts. I also watch motivational movies of successful entrepreneurs.