The best podcasts for freelance writers

Headphones at the ready – these are the podcasts I love listening to as a freelance writer

When I began freelancing earlier this year, I decided to take in as much information as I could about being freelance. With a sudden and distinct lack of office pals to bounce ideas off, seek help and reassurance from, or even just to break the silence of home working, podcasts have become a big part of my daily routine. Musings about how to make my business work, how to overcome common difficulties or for motivation can usually be solved by a fresh download and a hot cup of coffee.

While the following favourites aren’t always about freelance writing per se, I feel there’s usually something I can take away from them as a freelancer/writer/creative. I’ve decided to limit to these four for now (any more and it’s just procrastination). They’re perfect for when I need some inspiration, or a good talking to.

The Writing Coach by Rebecca L. Weber

The must-listen for newbie writers

Rebecca dishes out so much indispensable information on her show that this podcast has essentially been my freelance writing crash course.

It was the first writing podcast I came to back in February when things felt a bit scary and new, and Rebecca’s endless supply of practical tips and advice have given me so much reassurance, solved a bunch of problems and prevented me from making some rookie mistakes too. From pitching tips to freelance finances, listener Q&A’s and interviews with journalists and authors, this podcast provides lots of inspiration and practical working examples of freelance writing in action. It’s a great one at getting you out of your critical head and down to work.

Episode highlights

Ep 17: Overwhelm
Ep 24: Which comes first, the pitch or the interview?
Ep 42: Writers and imposter syndrome

The Tip Off

For lovers of investigative journalism and breaking down the anatomy of a story

The Tip Off gives an amazing insight to another field of journalism to my own, and how these journalists work to get their story. It’s an exhilarating insight into what sounds frankly like an incredibly stressful beat. It is inspiring, exciting and quite often, sobering.

Presented by journalist Maeve McClenaghan, she interviews investigative journalists to retell some of the biggest investigative breaks in recent history. The stories are forensically dissected from tip off to publication, with every twist and turn recounted in between. It’s always a hats off moment for me when I listen to this podcast. It provides me with so much insight in to how investigations work, and I’m left in awe of the work these journalists do for a story they believe in.

Episode highlights

Ep 5: It started with a body
Ep 6: Caught offside?
Ep 18: All the President’s Club Men

Is This Working?

For thoughtful analysis on working life

My other freelance crutch this year has been to devour basically everything freelance journalist Anna Codrea-Rado, founder of FJ&Co, shares to the freelance ether (shout out to her excellent The Professional Freelancer newsletter too). So I was stoked when I could add her most recent project, Is This Working?, to my podcast diet.

Each week, she and co-host Tiffany Phillippou dissect how we work and how we can make work better for ourselves. In season 1 they’ve taken some admirably deep dives into topics including success, burnout and productivity, as well as sharing and examining aspects of their own careers. There are plenty of tasty takeaways to be had from this podcast. It is most definitely working for me. Bring on season 2.

Episode highlights

Ep 1: Time: why do we feel like we never have enough of it?
Ep 2: Money: why are we so awkward about it?
Ep4: Freelancing: what’s really making us ditch the 9-5?

How to Fail With Elizabeth Day

For a reminder that overnight success does not exist

This podcast by Elizabeth Day (no relation, unfortunately) is so grounding and humbling, I often listen whenever my critical self-talk creeps in.

This series celebrates the things that have gone wrong from a treasure trove of famous subjects. It is by no means an exercise in schadenfreude, but rather it takes the benefit of hindsight by the horns, runs with it and shows we’re all human. Elizabeth’s thought-provoking, sensitive and skilled interview style often reveals deeply personal thoughts from her interviewees to show there’s usually a lesson to be learned from failure, which can be the making of us. Look out for the series 1 finale in which Elizabeth Day turns the tables on herself and presents her three failures to journalist and interviewer, Dolly Alderton.

Episode highlights

S2, ep5: Alastair Campbell
S4, ep 1: Vicky McClure
S5, ep1: Nigel Slater

Do you find listening to podcasts helpful as a freelancer/writer/creative? I’d love to hear which are your favourites.