A huge thank you to everyone who has listened and subscribed and supported the podcast over the last 40 episodes! To celebrate this nice round number, this episode is a look back on what I've loved and learned on this little podcasting journey, answering listener questions such as:
Why did I decide to start a podcast in the first place?
How did I land on the 15-minute format?
What tech do I use and how long does each episode take?
what are my favourite episodes?
Have there been any unexpected upsides to having a weekly podcast?
What have the challenges been?
Do I make any money from the podcast?
What will the podcast look like in 2022?
Louise Shanahan is a freelance health copywriter and health tech white paper writer. She's on a mission to help others build a freelance business that feels easy and works for them – in weekly snack-sized bites.
Say hi to Louise:
Welcome to 15 Minute Freelancer, your snack-sized guide to being your own boss and building a business and life you love. I'm your host Louise Shanahan. My LinkedIn bio says I'm a freelance health copywriter. But for the next 15 minutes, I'll be tickling your ears with practical strategies, behind-the-scenes stories, and nuggets of wisdom so you can create a freelance business that works for you. Whether you're just starting out or you've been self-employed for a while, I'll be right here with you to help you navigate the ups and downs of freelancing life. So grab a coffee relax and join me for 15 minutes of freelancing fun. Don't forget to hit subscribe.
Good morning, my lovely freelance friends. How are you? I am very well, thank you for asking. This is the 40th episode of 15 Minute Freelancer, can you believe it? That may not sound like a massive number to some people. But to me, that feels like a lot of episodes. So I just wanted to take a moment today to say thank you to everyone who has listened to these episodes and been on this little podcasting journey with me. I really appreciate all the messages and questions and voice memos. And I really hope that it has been useful for you to on your freelancing journey.
So on that theme, today I thought I'd do a bit of a reflections episode. 40 seems like a nice round number. And we're getting to the end of the year when people start doing their year-in-review type posts. So yeah, I'm about to tell you everything that I've loved and learned during 40 episodes of this podcast over the last year. Why did I start it in the first place? What tech am I using? What has been the hardest thing about putting out an episode every single week? And spoiler alert – no, I did not manage to do that every week. Do I make any money from it? What are my future plans, we'll cover all of that. And if you're thinking about starting your own podcast, then maybe this will give you some pointers, some pitfalls to avoid, or just some positive reinforcement to hit record. Let's dive in.
Why did I decide to start a podcast in the first place? I started this in January 2021, so about 10 or 11 months ago. We were in yet another deep dark lockdown because of the pandemic. And having managed to stay fairly okay mentally during 2020, something about the new year, and the feeling that there was still not any light at the end of the tunnel just hit me and I was like, ugh, I've had enough! I needed a project to distract me. I'd been thinking about podcasting for a while, and I actually bought a mic about a year earlier before I started it, but I always felt too scared to get started, I kept coming up with reasons to put it off. So yeah, this seemed like a good time to finally just give it a shot. And I was excited to learn some new skills about this new format and just have a bit of a new challenge.
I hadn't done much public speaking for a long time. So I thought this would be a good way to hone my speaking skills and get better at articulating my thoughts and ideas, a bit more succinctly.
Another reason for starting the podcast was to have an excuse to speak to people. Like many of you, I'm sure I wasn't getting out to networking events or freelancing meetups as much as I had in the past. So this seemed like a good way to get some of my freelance pals on a call to have that kind of nerdy conversation about business stuff that we might normally have had a pub meetup or a co working space. Or I could use the podcast as an excuse to get on Zoom with some of my twitter friends I hadn't actually spoken to before. And that's been a lot of fun.
And finally, I just felt like I had a lot to say about freelancing. There are so many amazing resources available for freelancers. But at the same time, I didn't always agree with all the advice that was given out. So I wanted to share a different perspective. And I hoped that by doing these weekly episodes, I could share what I wish I'd known when I started and show people behind the scenes in my business and share my freelancing philosophy with anyone that might find that useful for their own business. And 40 episodes on this really is still my main motivation.
How did I land on the 15-minute format? I was already a huge fan of other freelancing podcasts like Being Freelance, Freelance Heroes, Doing It For The Kids, and many others. So I knew that the freelance podcasting scene was already pretty packed with some amazing shows. Why would anyone want to hear from me? I didn't want to and I couldn't really compete with those very well established podcasts. So I asked myself, what can I do differently? Where is there a gap that I could fill? And it seems to me that the shorter bite-size episodes might be the way to go. I did a bit of market research too and found that people seem to like the idea of shorter episodes they could enjoy over a coffee break. In my foolishness, I also thought that 15 minutes would be pretty easy to commit to consistently. And it would lower the barrier to entry for me to get started, like, hey, I can sit down for 15 minutes a week and hit record. It doesn't work quite like that!
How do I make each episode? First of all, I when I was first starting, I brainstormed a bunch of ideas in Evernote. And I add to that whenever they pop into my head, so I'm never stuck for a topic. And then each week, I'll choose a topic to cover. Sometimes I'll feel particularly motivated to talk about something specific. Or other times I'll try to think of a challenge that people might be having like pricing or proposals where I could share my approach. Sometimes it's maybe something that happened that week in my business, and I think, Oh, I've learned the lesson here, that would be a good thing to share.
When it comes to recording, I've experimented with scripting a whole episode versus just using notes. And I'm still kind of on the fence to be honest scripting can sound a bit scripted. But then editing is a lot easier, and your ideas tend to be clearer. But making notes is faster on the front end and is bit more flexible. So I'm doing that now. I kind of enjoy this approach better. And I think this probably varies from person to person. If I'm interviewing someone, then there's a bit more of prep involved, I'll send them the questions in advance. We use Zencastr to record which I really recommend. And then I edit in GarageBand. If it's just me, I'll record and edit in GarageBand. I use the standard Blue Snowball mic that everyone seems to have. But I don't think you need to be super fancy with the equipment when you're just getting started. Honestly, I don't really feel like I know what I'm doing. When it comes to editing. I'm just trying to make it sound natural, not too polished, but without too many arms. And as and, you know, lip smacking noises that might get distracting for listeners. If anyone can recommend a good course or resource for editing, I would appreciate that though.
Then I host the podcast on Buzzsprout, and their customer service is amazing. It's very easy to use. Every episode gets uploaded there, and then they make sure it ends up on all the different platforms that people use to listen like Spotify and iTunes, etc. So that's all very straightforward. I use Otter AI for the transcripts. I probably don't do nearly as much promotion as I should. Once I've completed each episode and they're uploaded, I usually just share once or twice on social media using LinkedIn and Twitter. I used Instagram for a while but I've been moving away from Instagram recently. And I don't think that's made much of a difference. I use Trello to organise all of that. I've got cards with ideas and checklists for recording, publishing and promoting so that helps keep everything organised.
Heidi on LinkedIn asked me how long all of this takes. So all in I'd estimate that a 15-minute episode is about two hours’ work per week. An episode where I'm interviewing someone could be as many as four hours in total. I don't know if that's surprising to you, if you think that's a lot, if you think that's not very much. I don't know if that's comparable to what other people do. But that is my experience so far. If I were to create another kind of weekly content, such as a blog post, I think that could be about the same amount of time. But since I write all day and my day job, I've always found it kind of tricky to stick to a consistent blogging calendar. And I find that creating content in a different format has been much more exciting.
So what are my favourite episodes? I quite enjoy the random topics like the one about freelance love languages was quite fun to put together and how I use theme days. But I do definitely find that the more practical ones like pricing and finding clients are always very popular. The interview ones are definitely a lot fun to record. So I pretty much include all of them in my list of favourites. And that Ask Me Anything episode was fun too. So I'd like to do more of those in future.
Lee on LinkedIn asked, what are the benefits of doing a podcast? Have there been any unexpected upsides? So as I mentioned, the biggest upside by far has been the response from you lovely people. The messages and emails and voice memos have been wonderful to hear. After all, there would be no point in doing this if it wasn't actually useful and entertaining and enjoyable for people. And there's no feeling like someone getting in touch and saying they were, I don't know, really worried about starting a freelance business and then they listened to one of my episodes and they felt less anxious. Or they tried out a suggestion I made about finding clients and they've booked their first project. It’s great to be able to pay forward the advice and support I had in the early days. It's also been a lot of fun. It's so much fun to connect with different people I've had I've loved the conversations with the guests, and those connections have also led to other opportunities, such as being invited to host Twitter chats, speaking and training events, and even being featured in Freelancer magazine, which was a massive honour.
One unexpected benefit was lead generation. I wasn't looking for more leads or more client projects. I don't talk about copywriting really, or you know, the services that I offer. So I wasn't expecting an increase in new client projects. But there has been an increase in traffic to my website, and a wee SEO boost. I think it's difficult to attribute new projects to the podcast specifically unless someone mentions it. But there definitely has been an increase in inquiries, since I've started the podcast, partly through referrals from other freelancers who have listened to the podcast, and partly from clients seeing me show up on LinkedIn and Twitter and seeing that I'm creating something consistently. So that's been quite an interesting outcome as well.
What have the challenges been? Well, the biggest challenge by far has been to stay consistent. I always mean to batch record so that I've got a few episodes lined up in advance, but it's not always possible. So sometimes I find myself feeling a bit stressed out that I don't have an episode ready. Being consistent got harder as life got back to normal. And I've been really busy with client work, especially for the last sort of six months. So that has been quite tricky. Another challenge was realising that editing was way more time consuming than I realised, I have a massive newfound respect for people who do hour-long interview episodes on a regular basis. And related to that interviewing is really hard. Because we only have 15 minutes, I decided that in the interview episodes, I wouldn't focus too much on the guests’ back story, as other podcasts do that brilliantly, especially, you know, if they've got an hour to talk to someone that can really dig into how someone has kind of arrived at where they are in their freelancing life. I want to focus on the lessons the guests and learned and their tips and strategies for different freelancing issues. So that was very practical focused. But that does mean there's less room for context, I know that I'm relying on listeners to do the homework themselves if they want to know who the guests are in more detail. And then in the interviews themselves, it's really hard to think about the questions you want to ask and keep it flowing, and keep an eye on the time because 15 minutes feels like nothing when you're talking to such amazing, knowledgeable people, making sure you hit all the points you want to make and still concentrate on what the person is saying, so that you're having a real conversation, is quite hard. And this is something that I'm really trying to get better at. And I've been lucky to have such professional and patient guests.
One question that often pops up for me relates to the financial side of things. I'm not doing this to make money and haven’t really looked into getting ad sponsorship or anything. But in the back of my mind there’s this feelng that you’re breaking the number one rule of business by doing something that doesn’t generate revenue. But sometimes I think it’s good to do things that are just for fun. Not everything has to be about making money. If I was going to do that, I would need to come up with a bit more of a plan for that and actually put some effort into promoting it. And just, yeah, being a bit more strategic about that. Certainly, if you are thinking about podcasting yourself, there are lots of resources on how to do this, I just haven't found a model that feels like a particularly good fit for me yet.
And finally, another challenge is that even though there are ways for people to get in touch with me, sometimes it feels like a bit of a one-sided conversation, it's tricky to really get a sense of what people are enjoying what they'd like, more or less of, and I'm kind of relying on you just to tell me. So it does feel like there's a little bit of distance between us, which is something that I'm not quite sure how to resolve because that's kind of the nature of this format.
So what will the podcast look like in 2022? Well, I plan to keep going, if you'll still have me! I will say that I'm less attached to doing this absolutely every week, which you may have noticed over the last month or so. I'm not going to worry so much about consistency of frequency. So I'll be doing episodes when I can, that may be weekly, or it may just one or two episodes a month. Consistency certainly has benefits. But this is also meant to be a fun side project. And I want this to be useful for you and never get to a point where I'm phoning it in just to meet a production schedule.
And real talk from a business perspective, I need to ask myself what my overarching business goals are next year, where I need to spend my time to achieve those. So next year, I'd like to spend a bit more time on creating content that specifically around health marketing and health copywriting and promoting my services and so on. So the podcast isn't going anywhere, but I'm not going to be quite so well disciplined about hitting the weekly cadence and I hope you will stick with me on that journey.
I'd also like to do more interview episodes, and I'd like to have a more diverse range of guests, people with different backgrounds, different experiences in freelancing, people with different types of freelance businesses. I'm aware that I've had a lot of freelance writers on but I really want this podcast to be broader than just a freelance writing podcast. So please consider this an invitation to send me your pitches and recommendations for future guests.
I also considered doing video trainings on specific topics. So maybe a session on something like sales calls or writing proposals or something like that, where we could dig into it in a bit more detail. And maybe people could show up to that call and you can ask your questions, we can talk about it live? I don't know, let me know. Would that be useful? Is that something that you'd be interested in? What would you like to hear about? Are there topics that you want to hear more about questions I haven't answered. I'm totally open to suggestions. And another question for you. If I haven't asked too many already, is whether you would find it helpful to have a newsletter that sums up episodes as they come out, like maybe a monthly round up of episodes that month.
I think that pretty much sums up everything that I've loved and learned about podcasting in 2021. If you've been thinking about dipping a toe into the world of podcasting yourself, I hope this has been a helpful inside look. Should you start a podcast? I would say yes, it's a lot of fun. It is a lot of work. But you can speed that up with efficient processes and outsourcing, I think it could be a really good fit if you are a natural talker. And if you want to use it to make money, I would definitely suggest having a very clear plan for that from the outset and making it a priority. But yeah, if you feel like you have something to see, and you think podcasting might be the way to say it, then go for it. Okay, that's us for today. Thank you so much for listening to this episode and the previous 39. And if you have recommendations, questions, suggestions on the back of any of the things that I talked about today, please do send me a note on LinkedIn or Twitter and remember, you can always send a voice note if that's easier at memo.fm/15. Okay. See you next time!
You've been listening to 15 Minute Freelancer with me Louise Shanahan, freelance copywriter and content marketer at thecopyprescription.com. If you enjoyed this, please hit subscribe, leave a review or share it with a freelance friend. And if you've got a freelancing question you want answered on the podcast, find me and say hi on Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram. Thanks, and until next time, happy freelancing.