If anyone asked me how I generally consume content, I would probably tell them I do it through multitasking.
By this, I mean I can have three blog posts on the go, and while I'm making notes on one and clicking a link from another, I'm often forgetting to read the third entirely. There'll be a documentary on in the background, I'll be taking a break every five minutes to check Twitter, and usually, somewhere, there’s a cup of coffee going cold. And that's just when I have a free few minutes. It smacks of FOMO to say the least, I know.
This is where podcasts come in; those glorious little nuggets of content that I don’t have to stop everything to pay attention to. I love them because I can't read blog posts or books or watch Youtube videos while I'm working, or driving, or walking the dogs, or food shopping, or eating, or y'know, sleeping. They attend to my need to be creatively productive a lot of the time.
One slice of the day that I feel is particularly wasted is the relatively early weekday morning; that time in between getting out of the shower and getting out the door. I mean, I love breakfast radio as much as the next person, but I felt for a good while that this time could be better spent. So I've elected this as my podcast time, making them the soundtrack to attempting to look half presentable, jamming some toast in my face, and washing up marmite smeared breakfast plates. I think this benefits my day in a number of ways…
It starts my day positively. Hearing too much about the news can tend to push despair into my sphere more than I'd like it to, and silence merely breeds anxious thoughts. Podcasts nip that shit in the bud, drowning all that out with insightful interviews, helpful advice, and angles on being freelance that I hadn't seen yet.
I feel like I'm awake and ahead already. I start my working day a little red notification down, and wiser as a result. Many of the podcasts I listen to are creative business related, and listening to them in general gives me ideas, inspiration and confidence for my own work, which I can apply throughout the day. If I listened in the evening, I'd feel all pumped up and inspired right before bed, and by the time I woke up, those good intentions would have dribbled away.
An example of the good that's come from this practice is my business itself. It was listening to Jen Carrington's Make It Happen podcast in the mornings that gave me the kick and the confidence to shift my freelance business into a higher gear. I started each day for around two weeks with a podcast from her backlog, and got my website up and running in that time, fuelled by the determination those episodes gave me.
It’s all about people, and people's stories make you feel good. I feel this is pretty much the most important advantage. Podcasts introduce me to bloggers, artists, writers, Youtubers, photographers, coaches, and many, many more, through being both the hosts and the interviewees. Being any sort of creative can sometimes feel isolating, so hearing another's story, along with their processes, their struggles and their triumphs does make me feel less alone, and more confident to show up and do my thing. Not to mention that it gives me a plethora of cool people to follow and support online.
So, what are my favourite podcasts to press play on in the morning?
As I mentioned earlier, Jen's podcast really can make it happen. Jen is a creative coach who is passionate about helping creatives do impactful and sustainable work, and live a fulfilling life in the process. Make it Happen is a mix of friendly, helpful advice, and interviews with other creatives such as Holly Booth and Sara Tasker, who give an insight into how they Make it Happen.
My ‘Make it Happen’ Must Listen episode: 004 Authentically Building Trust Online
Emma's was the first podcast I listened to - my first dip into the podcast pond, if you like. Emma is an author, blogger and lecturer (seriously, this girl is unstoppable) and her podcast is based around interviews with people who are generally killing it online and beyond. Guests have included Liz Gilbert, Estee Lalonde, Liv Purvis, and so many more. I've discovered a great many people through Emma, and her discussions with her guests are always insightful and fun to listen to.
My ‘Ctrl Alt Delete’ Must Listen episode: #60 Grace Victory: On Building Confidence and Staying in Your Own Lane
Hashtag Authentic by Sara Tasker (Me & Orla)
Instagram, e-courses, writing, coaching – in fact there’s not a lot that Sara isn't smashing, and recently that portfolio of brilliance came to include podcasts too. Sara's long been the Instagram Queen, and Hashtag Authentic not only provides useful Instagram and photography tips, but it's also a platform on which she interviews other creatives with gorgeous feeds to find out how Instagram works for them. Plus, she uses the word 'wanky' in one of the first episodes, and if that isn't deliciously relatable, I don't know what is.
My ‘Hashtag Authentic’ Must Listen episode: Avoiding The Comparison Trap on Social Media
Janet's experience in the PR world is invaluable, and although press coverage isn't at the top of my list for my freelance life right now, many of the tips and topics covered in Janet's podcast can be applied to many areas of my business. For example, one of her latest episodes explored whether you should put prices on your website, something anyone looking to make money online would be interested in.
My ‘Soulful PR’ Must Listen Episode: Six Types of Blog Posts You Should Be Creating Regularly
Being Freelance by Steve Folland
Though Steve’s podcast is focused purely on freelancers, this actually means a broad range of topics are covered, as every freelance story is different. On each episode, Steve interviews someone who has gone solo to do what they love. We learn how they got started, how they grew their business, and how they manage the freelance life now. It’s full of inspiring stories, and introduces you to individuals and industries you may not know much about before listening.
My ‘Being Freelance’ Must Listen Episode: Creative Block – Illustrator Emma Block
Of course, sometimes there are days where I start off differently (because, y’know, hangovers), and on some occasions, I do like to watch the news first thing as opposed to waiting until lunchtime. However, I try my best to start weekdays with a podcast. I’d love to hear what routines you employ to start your day in a way that makes you feel awake and ready to be creatively productive. Do you use podcasts too? Do you have any recommendations? I’d love to hear from you.