When it feels like it’s time to scale up.
This week Frankie Tortora and Steve Folland have a chat in response to a question from podcast producer Dave Howard. He says:
“I develop and make podcasts for people — universities, PR companies, businesses, charities. I’m largely a one-person operation, with a few trusted freelancers available to take on odd bits of work here and there when things get busy.
But now there is just too much work. I seem to have won a lot of business all at once, and I’m finding myself constantly racing to edit people’s programmes, to meet deadlines. Some things are getting rushed and some things are a bit stuck on the back burner.
There’s no time for working on the business, updating the website, socials, etc. (Accepting that home schooling is also happening — and is a shitshow).
So, is it some sort of pipeline management strategy I need? Do I just need to learn to say no – or even ‘I can help with that but not until April’? To adjust my prices? Move to a model of bringing in subcontractors?
(I’ll be honest, I don’t really want to become someone whose day-to-day work is managing and overseeing other people — been there, done that, didn’t enjoy it. But I can see that being a way forward).”
• • • • •
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Take note dear listener! We might swear a bit. This one’s for the parents. To be enjoyed at your desk or once the kiddos are in bed.
Here’s what was said in this episode:
Comments on the previous episode:
[00:01:32] – Frankie
Hello! You’re listening to the Doing It For The Kids podcast, where we swear a bit too much and talk a bit too fast about freelance life with kids in the mix. I’m Frankie and this is Steve.
[00:01:42] – Steve
Hello. Yes, each time around we take a question from the Doing It For The Kids community. Do our best to answer it, but of course we start each episode by looking back at the last episode. Last time, we were talking about…
[00:01:53] – Frankie
How to decide how much work you can take on.
[00:01:55] – Steve
Caroline Bordman’s been in touch. Hey, Caroline.
“This is definitely not just a newbie question. This will continue to be a question throughout your freelance life. And then when you have too much work, you can outsource some things that you don’t really enjoy — for me, VA, cleaner, bookkeeping assistance — and focus on your own stuff.
I bet it isn’t luck that things have fallen into place for you. It sounds like you know what you’re doing already by trusting your gut. If you have enough client work and you are happy with the money you are bringing in, you’re fine.
If you have enough work and you need more money, look at putting your prices up. If you don’t have enough work or money coming in, that’s when you should set aside time to network and sell yourself more.”
[00:02:39] – Frankie
Fiona Tapp says:
“Loved this one, and it ended up topical for me as I had to make a big decision today. I was offered an amazing opportunity to write a book, but the deadline was too tight, the pay wasn’t very good, and I could see how much stress it would cause me, so I turned it down despite really, really wanting to do it.
My general emotion at the moment, though, is relief. So I’m thinking that was the right decision. Also, I’m really trying to develop the opposite of a scarcity mindset in terms of career opportunities. There really are always more clients, more jobs, more gigs, just around the corner.”
[00:03:09] – Steve
Laura Mingozzi-Marsh said:
“I had to listen to this 20 minute podcast episode in four, five minute bursts because I can’t seem to get 20 minutes to myself at the moment. So when Frankie said, ‘Really, you need to build what you can commit to and when around the hours you actually have for yourself to do your job, and only Laura knows what those are’, I actually burst out laughing. Hi, my name is Laura, and I currently have no hours. See you on the other side of the school closures clients!”
[00:03:37] – Frankie
Honestly, I feel that SO HARD. Hi, Laura.
[00:03:43] – Steve
Thank you so much for your comments.
Our answer to this week's question:
[00:06:12] – Steve
This week’s question comes from Dave Howard, who is a podcast producer and his website is https://www.bespoken.media/
“I develop and make podcasts for people, universities, PR companies, businesses, charities. I’m largely a one person operation with a few trusted freelancers available to take on odd bits of work here and there when things get busy.
But now there is just too much work. I seem to have won a lot of business all at once and I’m finding myself constantly racing to edit people’s programmes to meet deadlines. Some things are getting rushed and some things are a bit stuck on the back burner. There’s no time for working on the business, updating the website, socials, etc.
Accepting that homeschooling is also happening and is a shit show. So is it some sort of pipeline management strategy I need? Do I just need to learn to say no? Or even, “I can help with that, but not until April”? Should I adjust my prices, move to a model of bringing in subcontractors?
I’ll be honest, I don’t really want to become someone whose day to day work is managing and overseeing other people. Been there, done that, didn’t enjoy it, but I can see that being a way forward.
[00:07:26] – Frankie
Yeah, this is really interesting because obviously a lot of people in the pandemic, their industry is completely gone, but podcasting on the other hand, it’s like it’s popping off! That’s great. It’s so nice to hear a positive story at the moment. It’s a nice problem to have. Right.
[00:07:48] – Steve
The simple answer is the one that you’ve flagged, which is say no. The other one, as you say, is to push work back, which is something we touched on the last episode. But the trouble with podcasts is that podcasts are often things that won’t wait.
You’ve mentioned that you have a few trusted freelancers who help out with bits of work here and there. I would suggest making more use of them. My experience is that the more you work with somebody, the easier it gets. Well, unless they’re rubbish! But it’s easier for you and it’s easier for them because they get to know your workflow. the way you like things done, and they also get to know the podcast they’re working on.
I would take a look at your workflows. You’ve probably already got this nailed anyway. But if you are going to work with lots of people, I found a big benefit — even though it costs quite a bit more — is going up that level in Dropbox, so that you can have team members and then like you can share the same folders in a much easier way.
Also, like, your file naming conventions, or the way you like things saved, or the fact that you only work with one particular type of editing software in this instance — make a note of those and maybe record videos of how you like things done.
[00:09:01] – Steve
So if it’s a particular edit for a particular podcast, like the settings that you like to use, or the style of the editing and the mix of it — make a video of it and therefore you can share it with freelancer A and freelancer A can run with it. But if freelancer A then becomes unavailable, you can say to freelancer B, “hey, here’s the video with the folder with everything in it”. You can even set up in Notion, but you could do this in Google Docs or whatever. But I’m using Notion.
[00:09:32] – Frankie
I do love a bit of Notion.
[00:09:33] – Steve
You could set up like for each podcast, for each client, a workflow, a system, like lots of nice links and you literally just share that with them and it’s got the video embedded in it and people can just watch and learn.
[00:09:45] – Frankie
Steve, Steve, Steve…
[00:09:46] – Steve
Am I getting ahead of myself?
[00:09:47] – Frankie
I don’t want to piss on your parade but — and he doesn’t say this in the question! — but the man’s got eight year old twins at home. Okay.
[00:09:54] – Steve
[00:09:55] – Frankie
I just feel like this all… while it’ll pay off in the long run, that sounds like a fuck ton of work to me.
[00:10:00] – Steve
No, but it isn’t. Because that’s the thing is that most of these things he’s probably already doing. Like, Dave’s worked in audio for long enough, right? He’s already saving things the way he wants them.
[00:10:10] – Frankie
But what I mean is, like, essentially writing the handover document is the kind of thing you’re talking about.
[00:10:14] – Steve
[00:10:15] – Frankie
That’s a big job. Does he have the time to do that?
[00:10:17] – Steve
But he’s going to have to do it if he’s handing it to somebody anyway.
[00:10:20] – Frankie
[00:10:21] – Steve
When you say Dave that you don’t want to be bringing on other people, you don’t want to be managing it, look I totally get that. But some of the issues that we sometimes have with managing other people is more to do with the fact that you’re constantly going back and forth explaining things. If you can make that easier and you work more with them, then you should sort of diminish those things and make it easier and you start to enjoy it.
[00:10:46] – Frankie
The crux of this is like, Dave wants to be doing the creative work, no? He doesn’t want to become the boss that just manages people all bloody day and doesn’t do anything, you know what I mean? He doesn’t do what he enjoys about his job.
[00:11:01] – Steve
Sure, yeah yeah yeah.
[00:11:01] – Frankie
He doesn’t want that. He wants to find a balance where he can say yes to all the projects he wants to do, but in a way that is still fulfilling and still speaks to the reason he was doing it in the first place. If he’s going to outsource — is it better to hire people to do the really boring stuff?
Basically, is it hiring someone, a VA, an assistant to do the admin? Somebody like a bookkeeper. He might have these things already. Bookkeeper, accountant… He talks about things like working on the business, updating the website, social posts, blah, blah, blah. Unless he loves those things, he could definitely outsource that kind of stuff.
I just feel like Dave needs to make the right decisions here. Otherwise he is at risk of just becoming the dude that tells everybody else what to do without really doing what he loves doing. Doesn’t need to have a conversation with himself about like, what are the elements of his business that really make him happy and appeal to him and keep those and then look at ways to hire people for the other stuff.
[00:12:00] – Steve
It’s a good point about the website. Let’s say, for example, you want to add case studies for the work that you’re doing. Hire a copywriter to do that so they interview you, so you only spend ten minutes explaining the job to them and then they go away and write it up and even add it to your website with some pictures in the embedded episode and all of that sort of thing. That’s actually a really nice idea.
In other terms of social media, though, I think sometimes we can overthink it. Like, you could just set a bit of time aside every day to go in and comment on other people’s stuff. You don’t necessarily…
[00:12:34] – Frankie
Yeah, but the man says he’s struggling just to do the job. I feel his pain. I don’t want to load him with too much.
[00:12:41] – Steve
And sometimes the social media can be like a behind the scenes of you editing it. It’s literally a case of taking a picture of you know…
[00:12:47] – Frankie
Or frankly, Dave, just post less! You’ve got loads of work.
[00:12:53] – Steve
But the beauty of the business you’re in, Dave, is that your business is creating content for you without you even needing to do too much.
[00:13:00] – Frankie
That’s a fair point.
[00:13:02] – Steve
Sharing the fact that a new episode of a podcast that you have worked on, like… that shouldn’t… I don’t know, I appreciate the fact that you don’t have much time, but you don’t need to create something. You just need to share somebody else’s podcast that you worked on or get somebody else to do it for you, as Frankie said.
Taking pictures behind the scenes of you editing. Sometimes we can overthink things and think that we have to make shiny stuff for social media and plan it out and actually it can be a lot more reportage on the fly sort of thing.
[00:13:32] – Frankie
I’m with you on that.
[00:13:34] – Frankie
He’s got eight year olds. Can we train them up in how to use Audition? I feel like that’s a good home school project. I taught my son to do a screenshot the other day.
[00:13:43] – Steve
[00:13:43] – Frankie
One step closer to outsourcing to the child!
Yeah, I just feel like in a lot of episodes we talk about outsourcing and I know that like, freelancer me eight years ago would just be vomiting in my mouth going, “I can’t fucking afford to outsource. Don’t tell me to outsource you gah!” and I appreciate that if you literally don’t have the money…
[00:14:02] – Steve
[00:14:02] – Frankie
But it’s only in the past couple of years that I’ve actually paid other freelancers to do stuff for me and it is genuinely game changing in lots of ways. I mean, in a practical sense, somebody else does the job for you. Amazing. But also it’s like a shift. It just feels good to like pay it forward and not to bodge the job myself and spend ten times as long on it than somebody who does that for a living does. He’s clearly busy and like the money’s coming in, it can feel good to hire those freelancers more and pay more people.
[00:14:36] – Steve
So Dave says, ‘do I need to adjust my prices?’ We don’t know what your prices are, Dave. It’s certainly one way to end up with some people saying no. Yeah, the thing is, you see, I think if you are looking at your prices — and the fact is, Dave, you position yourself as Bespoken Media, as a company, like it’s not just one freelancer called Dave…
[00:15:00] – Frankie
It’s not davehoward.com.
[00:15:00] – Steve
I think that in itself can actually help justify a higher price point. That’s certainly the way you’re positioning yourself anyway. And it sounds like the sort of people you’re working with will have budgets.
But I would go down this route — and this will help you if you take on people as well — and that is to think about how much you would be paying yourself to edit the podcast. And then add on top of that a project management fee and then add on top of that a fee that goes to your company. And then that means if you’re doing all of that, brilliant, you’ve already just made more money by adjusting your pricing in that way. But if you’re paying somebody else to do the editing, then you’re still making the project management fee and the company fee.
And if at some point you’re just too busy and you hire somebody to do the project managing, you’re still making that company fee.
I think there’s an exciting opportunity here, Dave, for you to choose how you want to run your business
[00:16:01] – Frankie
[00:16:02] – Steve
And what it is that you want to do.
[00:16:04] – Frankie
What are the bits you want to keep?
[00:16:05] – Steve
And what’s important to you. And whilst home schooling and the pandemic isn’t — fingers crossed — going to last forever, inevitably other things will come along.
[00:16:14] – Frankie
Yeah. Having the choice to do that at short notice is powerful, right?
[00:16:19] – Steve
It’s great. So there’s this opportunity through having so much work now and homeschooling as well, diminishing your hours to build your business — if you want to — in a particular way, which will actually pay off for being a working parent in the future as well.
[00:16:39] – Frankie
My contact lenses are absolutely killing me.
[00:16:42] – Steve
Is that why you keep doing that thing with your eyes? I thought I was just boring you.
[00:16:46] – Frankie
No, I’m just… I’ve got bits of plastic shriveling up on my eyeballs, so I’m going to go find my glasses.
[00:16:58] – Steve
Honestly, I thought she was bored of me. Unless that’s just an excuse.
Actually, I have been on dates where girls have gone to the bathroom because of their contact lenses and actually, now I think about it, they didn’t even come back wearing glasses. In fact, some of them didn’t come back.
Where’s your glasses?
[00:17:19] – Frankie
I can’t find them.
[00:17:20] – Steve
What did I say??? I was just explaining wasn’t I? Sometimes they come back and it’s a load of bull.
Anyway, I imagine Dave knows exactly what the hell is doing — so feel free to ignore me — but of course, this is all said to everyone, right. Is the fact that sometimes there are ways to work quicker within what you do.
It is remarkable what the difference setting up a load of keyboard shortcuts can make within certain pieces of software. Or getting a plugin that runs a load of processes all at once when you’re exporting a logo as a graphic designer or whatever. There are things that you can sometimes do and sometimes we get so stuck in our ways of doing it because it’s not that slow, so we just keep on doing it. But over the past few years, I’ve taught myself so many little tricks here and there, which make editing in Audition, for example, so much quicker. And recently I taught myself Hindenburg Journalist, which is another editing piece of software which has made everything so much quicker. It’s so much better than Audition.
[00:18:20] – Frankie
There goes our Audition sponsorship, thanks for that Steve.
[00:18:24] – Steve
I feel like, you know, after 62 episodes — there’s a question I actually understand!