As business owners, we’re constantly juggling twelve things at once. Between marketing and client work, it’s easy to overlook a vital part of running a freelance business: constant learning. Podcasts, as it happens, are perhaps the most reactive and most unobtrusive way we can allow ourselves to learn.
Here’s how it works, at least in my head: there is an entire cast of voices that tell you either one or all these things:
- You’re not good enough.
- You don’t have the network to grow your business.
- You will never hit your freelancing goals.
- You’re stuck now, so why bother?
Regardless if it’s drawing inspiration from other freelancers’ success, extracting new workflows, discovering new tools that will help your business (or your clients!), podcasts should be something you seriously consider if you haven’t yet. Here are nine of my recommended podcasts for freelancers.
The New York Times called Tim Ferriss “the world’s best guinea pig,” not without sound reason. Non-readers might begin skeptics about “The Four-Hour Workweek” Ferriss proposes, but a few episodes from his self-titled show can easily turn one into a fan. His roster of guests, which consists of key figures from vastly different arenas, is as eclectic as his life experiments, and yields incredible insight for anyone who wants to make life better.
Freelancers can take away invaluable lessons on a number of things; chief among them is how to run their business. And while he’s at it, Ferriss will throw in an episode dedicated to mindfulness, too. But my two favorites, no doubt, are the episode in which he talks to Reid Hoffman about the absolute musts and must-nots of startup-building and an episode with Seth Godin in a discussion about “thinking small to go big.”
“Unemployable” is Rainmaker Digital’s flagship podcast, featuring its founder Brian Clark as host. The show extracts insights from conversations with professionals, agency founders, and entrepreneurs who have broken free from the nine-to-five grind and started their own hustle outside work. There’s an abundant value to yield from the show, especially for freelancers wanting to hear from people who have actually made the jump to “deliberate unemployment.”
Plenty of episodes are worthy of recommendation, but the biggest hit is one with Austin Kleon, in which the bestselling author of “Steal Like An Artist” talks about how to steal like an entrepreneur. There’s also the episode with Rand Fishkin, where he paints a sobering picture of what real entrepreneurism looks like. Listen on in these if you’ve only got time for two episodes. I’m sure, however, you’d be long bitten by the binge bug by that time.
Todd Henry’s podcast, “The Accidental Creative” invites freelancers and creative professionals to “not be a cover band” for “cover bands don’t change the world.” It’s a good mantra to live by, and indeed it serves as the very core of the show. But don’t get fooled into thinking it shares nothing beyond that nagging call-to-action to be original. The show packs some eye-opening, well thought-of ideas that you ought to apply in your work as a freelancer.
Among my favorite episodes are the ones about making work that lasts (with Ryan Holiday), the concept of “unbranding” (with Allison Stratten), and the secret language of your customers (with Jeffrey Shaw).
Bryce Bladon is the guy behind “Clients from Hell,” a blog that takes a crack at some of the worst clients freelance life can muster. Like you, he knows how disastrous some clients can grow to be, from the cheapskate to the downright arrogant. You name it, and Bryce’s blog has probably ranted about it. In the podcast adaptation, Bryce tries to help freelancers avoid such clients mentioned in his blog.
He does so by way of bringing on guests to talk about various areas where freelancers need help most. A prime episode is about providing an agency experience even as a freelancer. Solopreneurs will take home invaluable insights from that short but packed episode.
“The Freelance Transformation Podcast” is a weekly show hosted by Matt Inglot. In it, Matt tours a cast of successful freelancers in the hopes of getting answers about exactly how they find clients, how they price their services, and how they build a sustainable freelance business. Matt will often switch between his own experience or a guest’s in tackling some of the most pressing problems freelancers face.
The episode about freeing oneself from chaos with Susan Fennema (of Beyond the Chaos) is particularly appealing –at least to me, a born-writer but raised-project manager. There’s of course plenty of stuff to go around for everyone, from writers, developers, consultants, and more.
Solo entrepreneur Paul Jarvis and professional “stuff-doer” Jason Zook host “The Invisible Hours,” a podcast “that explores the intersection of creativity and commerce.” More than the insightful business tips that both Jarvis and Zook provide, the show thrives because of their personality. Jarvis is the ever-helpful mind behind the workshop series, “Creative Class,” and Zook is the manic brain behind projects such as IWearYourShirt and the book “Creativity for Sale.” Their podcast shares not only business insights but also updates to whatever project either hosts are working on.
As such, my favorite episodes are about the hosts’ spritely misadventures, like the one in which they try and explain why Paul Jarvis had sold all his bitcoin. It’s like listening to two biz-buddies get down and dirty to the nuts and bolts of what makes their businesses work.
“The Fizzle Show” helps budding entrepreneurs and freelancers hoist their flags to the right direction. It’s a podcast for “creative entrepreneurs and honest business builders who want to earn a living doing something they care about.” The team at Fizzle toils away to create a library of incredibly helpful content for anyone who wants to build a business, brand, or a product online. If these aren’t enough to hook you in, maybe the hosts will.
As hosted by Steph Crowder, Chase Reeves, and Corbett Barr, the show navigates the murky waters that is content marketing. A few of its cornerstone episodes include: “The Step-by-Step Story of Becoming a Full-Time Blogger,” “3 Myths About the ‘Starving Artist,’ Destroyed,” and “How To Enjoy Sales, Without Feeling Cheesy, Manipulative & Gross.” I’m also loving the recent episode, “Making a Book, Blog or Podcast? Start Here!” which I imagine is a huge help to any freelancer who’s just starting out.
Pat Flynn is among the O.G. bloggers who have found immense success in turning their passions into profit. Lucky for you, among Pat’s passions is helping people build businesses online. In his long-running show “Smart Passive Income,” Pat takes you to in-depth conversations about how to go about your work as a freelancer and the obstacles you must overcome to build a successful freelance business.
There’s a whole course’s worth of episodes dedicated to affiliate marketing, and Pat’s episode about “the dark truth” in affiliate marketing is illuminating and insightful.
The best thing you can do about these podcasts is to listen to them. It’s also the worst thing you can do – it’s easy to get lost in this free information overwhelm, even easier to get bitten by the binge bug. It doesn’t take too much to find yourself binging a whole season of “Invisible Office Hours” and forgetting to accomplish the tasks you should have done.
Listen only when you have time to spare, otherwise, have at it. Learn. Teach to your team or your colleagues. And apply!
What else are you listening to? Share your favorite podcasts for freelancers in the comments below?
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