The Radio Production Series – Freelancing

I’ve dived into the brave new world of freelancing…again. It’s been 3 months since I’ve taken the plunge and it’s been quite the journey where so many doors have opened up that I wouldn’t have expected.

Now that I have a spare moment, I thought it might be useful to share some of my experience and tips since starting back up as a freelancer to help you with those first steps, regardless of your career :

Get organised. Seriously, like, really organised. I don’t mean buy a nice pen, note pad and some biscuits. I mean, you will need those things eventually, but start a spreadsheet and get an accountant – there’s more on this below – don’t put it off, in fact do it before you even begin freelancing – get your ducks in a row before you start.

How much time do you want to be working? There’s a risk of saying yes to everything and finding that your life goes out the window because you’re constantly working. Factor in working to a pattern, or making sure you have a day off or 2 to do the life stuff, buy food, socalise etc. You do need to be disciplined about everything though. I have a routine in the morning of waking up and planning my day as though I was going out of the front door, when in reality I’m trekking only as far as my kitchen table – it helps you focus the mind.

Biscuits. I mentioned them earlier and they’re amazing radio content fodder, as well as going well with tea. Basically though – don’t buy them. Since becoming a freelancer, I’ve had to quite literally hide them as I work from home. They’re every self employed persons kryptonite.

Spreadsheets. They are now your friend. We were quite literally forced to do spreadsheets at school and most people I know hate them, but slowly I’ve learned to love them like a small teddy bear with a missing eye and stuffing pouring out. My spreadsheet has several pages to it and tells me everything from invoice numbers and when they were sent and due, all the way up to how many hours I work each day – which you’ll find out more about when I mention accountants next . My spreadsheet is quite literally my guide because it tells me how much I’ve got coming in, how much I’ve got going out, how much I should put to one side. It’s like a giant shopping list, but with fewer biscuits on it. It’s also useful to have a spreadsheet that’s organised for the end of your tax year that you can just hand over to your accountant to make life easy.

Accountants (Now also your friend). Unless you are a mathematical genius that understands how to submit a tax return in one swoop this may bit may not apply. For the rest of us, myself included, get yourself an accountant. It’s all a bit grown up, and they make you sign scary forms at the start which makes you gulp so hard that you think you’ve swallowed your tongue, but trust me. GET. AN. ACCOUNTANT. Not only will they be able to do all the mathy type of things, but they’ll also be able to point out things that you might not be aware of. Working from home? You can run a portion of your electricity and gas bills through your end of year expenses, which is why I mentioned earlier to keep a tab on how many hours you do each day. Using a mobile phone? It goes towards your expenses. Taking biscuits to a client? Expenses. A good accountant will be able to point all this stuff out to you, and some even offer business advice if things aren’t going so well and are able to fill out benefits forms based on your earnings while you try and get up and running smoothly. Anyway. Get an accountant. (You can also run the cost of hiring one through your expenses).

Now that you are a fully fledged human in the world of being self employed, you need to actually go and get some work. It’s not likely to come knocking at your door any time soon if you don’t tell people that you’re good and ready to go. Talk to people who you’ve worked with previously, introduce yourself to people you’d like to work with, network with as many people as you think you need to get somewhere. It sounds obvious, and it really is, but if you don’t tell people that you’re now self employed then how will they ever find you?!

Insurance. Some people need it for what they do. Some people don’t as they are covered by the company they are working for. It’s worth looking at though.

Get a diary and plan your life. Don’t just try and remember to be places –  you will forget. Write it down in a diary. Take it with you where ever you go and make it your new best mate. If someone offers you a job, pull out the diary and say yes or no straight away. It’s a basic business skill, and being able to give an assertive answer to someone there and then is more likely to win you brownie points than saying you’ll check later when you get home (and then forgetting).

Have an invoice system. It may be as simple as numbering them from 0 to a million, I have a coded system depending on who I am sending it to and what it’s for, but create a system that works for you and cross reference it somewhere on a spreadsheet with when it was sent, how much it was for, when it was due… whatever. It’ll make life easier if you need to refer to something. Just have a system.

My final point is money. It’s that all important thing that will keep you afloat and will allow you to buy nice shoes and occasionally food (biscuits). Whoever you’re working for, always write down and even confirm by email if you want, what everyone is expecting from the job you’re being paid to do. Again, it sounds like basic stuff, but it’s essential to write this sort of thing down so there’s no discrepancy about what you’re actually being paid to do. Be honest and communicate if you think an unexpected bump in the road means that it’s going to cost more, don’t put it off. On the other side of that point, don’t be afraid to chase an invoice that’s overdue. Be polite, do it nicely – maybe they’ve forgotten, we’re all humans at the end of the day just trying to get by on the merry go round of life.

I hope that if you’re starting out and embarking on a freelance / self employed career that this has been of some use. Of course, there’s lots of other things which you’ll need to consider – social media, websites, specialisms and so on… but good luck, and remember to always stand up straight, give a solid hand shake, and always bring biscuits.

green steel container with biscuits lot

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So You’re Thinking About Starting A Podcast?

I was delighted to be asked by the Suffolk business support service ‘Menta’ to write a short introductory piece about podcasts and new businesses / start-ups recently. You can find out more about Menta here. The aim was to help inform new business owners about podcasting and make them think about whether it’s the right step for a new venture so early on in their business.

So You’re Thinking About Starting A Podcast?

Everyone’s doing it nowadays aren’t they? Podcasting is very much here to stay and there’s a podcast available on practically any subject you can think of, and even ones on things you dare not think about. But is a podcast right for you and your business?

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The Radio Production Series – The Importance Of Teamwork

When an event as tragic as the Manchester bombing takes place the world stops and watches. This is an insight into my day as a radio producer from 23rd May 2017, a day after the Manchester bombing.

I’ve held off posting this until now as it didn’t seem appropriate to do that so close to the event, or the ones which followed it in the UK which also saw loss of life. I would also note that this isn’t a post to glorify what has happened or the show, but hopefully a useful guide for programme makers and those interested in the media of what happens in a production house when something so tragic like this happens.

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Back To Basics

Usually I spend a few hours editing audio, writing in and out lines; throw aheads, trails and pointers for online listen agains, promos and music reference points.
Today we had a technical malfunction in the office with all our computers, and it makes you realise just how much we rely on technology working.

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Everyone Has A Story To Tell

(NB: This post was originally written for the Student Radio Association)

This is probably an odd blog post. Initially, the SRA wanted people to write about their jobs in radio and the sort of things they get up to. I’ll do that a little bit of course, but really I want to write about people, because people are awesome. Listening to people is incredible.

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Extra, EXTRA… read all about it!

I wonder if you’ve ever stopped to consider the news?

That’s an odd question to ask but in recent years the format of what news is, against what it potentially should be, has changed a lot. A quick Google search for the definition of news tells us that it’s:

“Newly received or noteworthy information, especially about recent or important events”

or…

“A person or thing considered interesting enough to be reported in the news.”

News is something that surrounds our lives. It’s what allows us to stay connected to the world around us; whether that’s within our families and circles of friends, or something that’s happened internationally. It’s also taken on lots of different forms; local news, regional news, national news, international new, showbiz news, music news, business news… the list goes on and on, and that’s no bad thing. People that want a specific subject can get it at the touch of a button or on a 24 hour rolling news channel on TV.

The thing I’d like to get to the bottom of though, is what exactly is news in 2016?

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The Radio Production Series – Preparing A Radio Programme

Fail to prepare. Prepare to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

That’s a phrase radio and every single task we do as beings on this planet lives and dies by.

  • Forget to buy milk. You don’t get breakfast.
  • Don’t plant seeds. Harvests won’t grow.
  • Didn’t read the map. You’ll probably get lost.

You get the idea.

Everyday I have to prepare a radio programme and everyday I have to assume that it won’t go to plan. It sounds a bit cynical to think like that, but assuming that what you’ve prepared will get you through an entire show without a hitch is not the smartest move to make.

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