The Content Byte podcast

by Rachel Smith
01 December 2020

Listen to this week’s episode with Sophie Hansen

Do you make a living from using your words? The Content Byte podcast – hosted by Rachel Smith and Lynne Testoni – serves up 10-minute-ish episodes every Monday on all things content writing and freelancing in general. Take a listen, subscribe and grab the show notes. Enjoy!

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Season 6

How to build a community through newsletters, with Sophie Hansen
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Newsletters are big bikkies right now – so how do you create one that people want to open week after week? In this episode, that’s a question we put to  Sophie Hansen, creator of the Monday morning missive 5 Things To Be Cheerful About. Sophie shares the story of starting the newsletter, why she chose the format she did, and how she grew her audience. Plus, if you’re considering starting your own newsletter, you’ll get Sophie’s great tips and advice on how to do it and get that all-important momentum.

What 2020 taught us – and what we’re doing differently
Hosts Rachel Smith from Rachel’s List and journalist and content creator Lynne Testoni talk about what we have learnt during 2020 – and how it has made our work better. Last year took us out of our comfort zones, but it wasn’t all bad. We each share our tips on what we are doing differently because of the pandemic.

Season 5

BONUS EPISODE: Our favourite tips from the year that’s been
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It’s been a great year of stellar guests … and in this bonus Christmas episode, we each share our top five tips and moments from the year that’s been. Plus, find out the episodes in our back catalogue we really think are worth a listen. Merry Christmas!

Episode 12: What DO editors want? We chat to editorial director Kerrie McCallum from delicious. and Escape about life in the hot seat
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It’s no secret that media has been doing it very tough for several years now, with magazine closures and redundancies across the board. Add in a pandemic and it’s been the year from hell for editors, staff and freelancers alike. So how has a magazine like delicious. just gone from strength to strength? And what do you do when you’re editorial director of a travel brand like Escape during a time when no one’s getting on a plane? We chat to Kerrie McCallum about all of the above and more, plus what she looks for from freelancers these days. A must listen for any journalist in the travel, food and lifestyle space. 

Episode 11: Your guide to successful pitching, with journalist and teacher John Burfitt
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Pitching. It’s something we all need to be doing as freelance writers if we want to ensure our pipeline of work is always full. And in today’s episode, we welcome veteran journo and university lecturer John Burfitt to share his pitching system, ways to generate ideas, tips on following up and dealing with rejection, and much, much more. A must-listen if you want more pitching success and regular commissions landing in your in-box.

Episode 10: How we balance freelancing and family
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In this episode, we talk about our experiences freelancing and working around children – the childcare we’ve chosen and why, the government help we’ve tapped into and other interesting tips for freelancers who may be thinking about starting a family.

Episode 9: Why freelancers should blog to get work (and what to blog about) with Brook McCarthy
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Are you a freelancer with a website who struggles to blog regularly? This week, we have a longer episode for you that’s packed with gold from digital marketer and trainer Brook McCarthy. Brook talks to us about why blogging is so essential, the mistakes writers make when blogging and topics we should be considering. Plus so much more. 

Episode 8: From publishing to not-for-profit work, with guest Nicola Conville
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A shrinking media landscape was one of the reasons journalist Nicola Conville started to explore other career options – and she’d always wanted to work for in the NFP sector. In this episode, she shares how she got her job as a content manager at the UNHCR, which skills of hers have been most useful, and her advice for other journos at the career crossroads.

Episode 7: How to set up a home office
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Whether you’re renovating and creating a dedicated home office for yourself, or just carving out a corner for a workspace – this episode is all about bringing the elements together and creating a space you want to work in. 

Episode 6: Turning your side hustle into a full-time business with Jen Bishop from Interiors Addict
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This week we’re excited to chat to journalist and founder of Interiors Addict Jen Bishop, whose one-time passion project has become an incredibly successful interiors website. She spills the beans on her milestone moments, why she doesn’t pay much attention to SEO, lessons she’s learned and why she thinks journos should be taking advantage of the huge content marketing industry. Plus a whole heap more!

Episode 5: Tips, tricks and tools for creating great headlines
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Whether you’re writing a print story or a piece for digital, the headline is all-important. In this episode, we explain the differences between each, share our tips for writing great headlines including those requiring keywords and list our favourite online headline tools to speed up the headline writing process.

Episode 4: What freelancers need to know about Instagram with Sara Tasker
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How can you make Instagram work for you as a freelancer? In this week’s episode, we ask all the curly questions of Sara Tasker: IG expert, creative business coach, best-selling author and host of the podcast Hashtag Authentic, where she shares Instagram strategies and support. She runs courses and retreats on Instagram and has more than 200,000 followers on the platform – last time we checked!

Episode 3: Your ultimate guide to recording and transcribing interviews
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If you do a lot of interviews for editors or clients, you need cost-effective, time-saving systems that work for you. In this episode, we talk about the tools, apps and services we’ve used and the ones we go back to again and again. 

Episode 2: Stuck in a slump? Here’s how to get your mojo back
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It’s been a crappy year and many of us have lost work, faced extended lockdowns and isolation, and suffered poor mental health to boot. If that’s you, what steps can you take to feel better? In this episode, we talk about what works for us to boost mood, motivation and a sense of positivity.

Episode 1: Talking JobKeeper with accountant Holly Shoebridge – what you need to know right now
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JobKeeper payments are changing in the coming weeks, and many freelancers know what a minefield it can be! If you’re relying on it to prop up your income right now, accountant Holly Shoebridge shares all the information you need to know in this week’s episode.

Season 4

Episode 12: Your starter guide to sourcing images
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Today’s writers often need to provide more than just words – they need to be multi-skilled. This week hosts Rachel and Lynne talk all about sourcing the best images to accompany your text, offering advice and tips on where to find great free and paid stock photos, as well as how to commission photographers.  

Episode 11: Niches: Yes, they’re important AND can help you charge more
Can being very specific about the niches you operate in help bring you higher-paying clients? Especially when it comes to content marketing? Many experts in this space say yes, and today we’re talking about how to isolate your niches and market yourself more effectively.

Episode 10: On-boarding systems for clients and why you need them
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We know, on-boarding doesn’t sound like the sexiest topic – but if you’re putting new clients on your schedule, having seamless systems in place will save you time, money and a world of pain down the track. We talk about how we devised our own on-boarding systems, the mistakes we made and why it’s essential to keep tweaking and making your systems better. 

Episode 9: Starting a content business, with Nigel Bowen
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It’s been nearly a decade since journalist Nigel Bowen left magazines to carve out a new path in content marketing. In this episode, we chat to him about how he started his business, Content Sherpa and why he loves being ‘captain of his own ship’. Nigel also shares some tips on finding clients and dealing with the never-ending hustle, and his advice for freelancers starting out.

Episode 8: Internships…good for your career, or exploitative?
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Are you starting off in your career and looking at an internship? This week Rachel and Lynne talk about unpaid internships – and share tips on how to find the good ones and how to make them work for you.

Episode 7: We chat to Wendy Moore about moving from print to TV
Do print journos have transferrable skills for broadcast? In this episode, we put that question to Wendy Moore, the head of Foxtel’s Lifestyle Channels, a former House Rules on-camera judge – and a highly experienced editor and publisher with over 20 years in print herself. (She’s also the sister of one of us!) Find out why print journos are ‘doers’, the skills you need to work in TV and much more.

Episode 6: Mentors – finding one, using one, being one
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If you’re at the start of your career, having a trusted mentor to advice and guide you can be invaluable. But mentors aren’t just for when you’re starting out; even experienced freelancers may benefit from different mentors at various stages of their career. In this episode, we talk about the ins and outs of mentoring, what mentoring is and what it isn’t, and where to find a good one.

Episode 5: Pricing: different methods and what works for us
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How DO you price projects as a freelancer? Should it be by the word, by the hour, by the day? What’s value-based pricing? And when do you opt for a retainer agreement? In this episode, we run through some common pricing structures freelancers use (and what we use) to help you out. 

Episode 4: How writers can get results on LinkedIn, with guest John Espirian
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Want to know how to harness the power of the LinkedIn platform in order to get noticed / find more clients? In this episode, self-confessed LinkedIn nerd and technical copywriter John Espirian shares a heap of valuable tips and tricks. Listen in for essential profile tweaks, the kind of content to write (and why the algorithm favours comments), the dangers of automating posts, whether premium accounts are worth it, tapping into the silent jobs market, finding clients to reach out to and much more.

Episode 3: Think weeks: what are they and why do you need one?
Ever since we read about Bill Gates’ penchant for think weeks – a 7-day solo stay to read, think and come up with ideas without distractions – we’ve loved the idea. In this episode, we talk about how to plan your own ‘think week’ for your business, what to take and whether you should invite a co-thinker along with you.

Episode 2: Finding content marketing clients with Jennifer Goforth Gregory
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We talk to content marketing queen Jennifer Goforth Gregory about moving from journalism to content marketing, why it’s so important to have niches, positioning yourself to clients and agencies as a subject matter expert and her three-pronged approach to marketing yourself. She also shares a rough script on how to write an LOI (and why it’s just a starting point and not the ‘whole date’). 

Episode 1: Why interviewing is an essential skill – and our top tips
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New to interviewing people for stories or content pieces? Or perhaps you’ve been interviewing people for a while but want to get better at it? In this episode, we talk about why it’s such an important skill (and one in danger of being lost) and our tips for doing a great interview.

Season 3

Episode 12: Moving into content marketing with guest Claire Bradley from content agency Suddenly
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In today’s episode, we talk to Claire Bradley, Head of Content at content agency Suddenly (an off-shoot of News Corp). She talks to us about what content marketing clients want, what she looks for in good freelancers, transferrable skills journos have that they can bring to content marketing and much more.

Episode 11: 6 things you need to do as soon as you start freelancing
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Whether you’ve been forced into freelancing from a redundancy or recently made the decision to start working for yourself, it can be a learning curve. In this episode, we share the 6 things we think you need to do to get set up, establish your systems and start earning money. 

Episode 10: Why it’s a great time to do an online course (and what to consider)
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Found yourself with less work and more time on your hands? During coronavirus, many online courses are free or heavily discounted, making now a great time to plug the gaps in your skillset. We share our experiences and let you know about a master list of courses to get you started.

Episode 9: Awkward conversations: How to deal with them as a freelancer
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The longer you’re in business, the more clients you’ll come across – and the more awkward conversations you may need to have. In this episode we look at some common freelance issues that can crop up as part of your client management and suggest ways to handle each scenario. 

Episode 8: How to write faster so you can make more money
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Want to be able to write content faster so you can take on more work and make more money? In this episode we share a heap of time-saving strategies that we use ourselves – and explain why they help to ramp up your output. 

Episode 7: 8 ways to find work you may not have considered
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Whether it’s spruiking yourself on your socials, building a Reddit profile, finding new outlets to pitch to or teaming up with other creatives, here are eight ways to pick up work you might not have tried.

Episode 6: Essential SEO for content writers, featuring Kate Toon
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We’re stoked to bring our first ever guest, SEO queen Kate Toon, to this podcast episode. We chat to Kate about what journos, copywriters and content producers need to know about SEO, why it’s essential to have an understanding of it if you’re writing for content clients and how you can get started and build on your knowledge as you go. A must-listen if you’ve put SEO into the ‘too hard’ basket!

microphone and computer podcast session

Episode 5: How content marketing can pay the bills
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If you’re looking for an income stream beyond journalism, content marketing could be just the ticket – it’s a form of marketing writing that’s designed to generate interest in a brand or its products or services. And it’s an easy transition for anyone used to writing features for a living. In this episode, we talk about what content marketing is, how to find this type of work and what it pays. 

Episode 4: A freelancer’s guide to pitching – our tips
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In this episode, we talk pitching – why it’s important to do it, researching markets before you pitch and the many (many!) different types of content or services you could pitch right now. We also look at how often you need to follow up on your pitches, and the importance of having a system for monitoring your pitching efforts. You can also grab 50% off our Pitch Perfect Freelancer Bundle until April 28 2020 with the code PODPITCH50 – this bundle includes our Pitching masterclass and our brand new, revamped Pitch Tracker.

Episode 3: 6 ways to start future-proofing your freelance business
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Work or no work, there are a number of things you can start doing now to future-proof your freelance business. In this episode, we talk about how to navigate the new landscape by expanding your network, reaching out to clients, upskilling and much more.

Episode 2: Survival mode and adjusting to the new normal
It’s easy to get bogged down in despair while in lockdown and feeling like your business is in free fall. But taking steps now to sort out your finances and start thinking about getting your business hat on is what freelancers across the board need to do. We talk about how our week has been and how we’re adjusting to the new state of play. 

Episode 1: Freelancing during a crisis – our tips
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This week’s events have left people reeling as the world copes with the effects of the coronavirus, or Covid 19. Freelancers in particular feel vulnerable as industries shut down and we all struggle with the uncertainty that has come with this medical crisis. In this week’s episode, we share our thoughts about how to cope, how to help your clients – and how you can find work in a time when it feels like the world has gone mad.

Season 2

Episode 12: Social media for clients – should you say yes?
For freelance journalists used to long-form writing, taking on social media gigs can give you pause. You might not be sure if you can write bitsy teasers, do hashtag research or check insights on the daily – while others may welcome the change in pace and different style of writing that’s required. In this episode, we talk about what can be involved with ‘doing social’ and how, if you use your time effectively, you can use social media gigs to plug the gaps between long-form work.

Episode 11: Can public speaking become another great income stream for freelancers?
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If you’re an established freelancer, public speaking can be a fantastic way to boost your reputation and position yourself as an expert in your field. It can also help bring more work your way and – kaching! – make money. In this episode, we talk about different kinds of public speaking, what public speaking pays, how to get over ‘the fear’ of speaking to an audience, and where to find public speaking opportunities.

Episode 10: Anatomy of a great piece of content (and how to create it)
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Writing a good piece of content can be quite different to penning a feature for a magazine. In this episode, we look at how to choose a topic, perform basic keyword research and write a decent headline. Also covered: writing metadata and the call-to-action (CTA) – plus the resources to help you do all of the above!

Episode 9: How exercise can make you a better freelancer
It’s all too easy to embrace a sedentary lifestyle as a freelancer, tapping away on your computer all day. But there are ways to shoehorn movement into your day – and in this episode, we share what works for us and touch on the benefits to your life and your creativity.

Episode 8: Working in-house when you’re freelance – should you?
A lot of us start freelancing so we never have to darken the door of an office again – but what if you miss working alongside a team? Or crave a regular pay-check? Taking occasional in-house stints as a freelancer CAN be hugely beneficial for your cashflow and your visibility (often bringing you more work or new clients). Of course, we touch on the downsides too and other considerations to think about before taking an in-house gig.

Episode 7: Should freelancers work for small businesses or steer clear?
It’s the million-dollar question for any freelancer – do you only chase high-paying clients, or take on the often more piecemeal work offered by small businesses? In this episode, we share the pros and cons to working with small businesses, our own personal strategies around this income stream – and tips for making it work. 

Episode 6: How sending newsletters can bring you more work
While you might think your clients are hanging onto your every word on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, newsletters are a far superior way to stay in touch (and bring you more offers of work). In this episode, we touch on why newsletters work, platforms to create your newsletter on, lead magnets and more.

Episode 5: Packaging your services as a freelancer
As a freelancer, you’re going to be much more indispensable – and frankly, richer – if you take the time to educate clients about what they need (beyond what they think they need). Doing this is a way of adding value, making your client’s life easier and helping them get a better return on investment. It can also create opportunities to talk about other services or packages you offer. In this episode, we talk about the kind of services to package, and how to do it.

Episode 4: PITA clients – how to spot them and manage them
Most freelancers will stumble on a PITA (pain in the ass) client or ten. These clients may quibble over your rates, try and renegotiate your services, query your invoices or encroach on your personal time (and that’s just for starters). How can you spot PITA clients – and manage them, if you end up working with one? We share our tips in this week’s episode. 

Episode 3: Your guide to negotiating retainers with clients
Do you have a client offering you a regular amount of work? It might be worth negotiating a retainer arrangement. In this episode, we talk about how to structure these arrangements and what you need to be aware of.

Episode 2: Why you shouldn’t worry about downturns as a freelancer
The peaks and troughs of freelancing can be overwhelming – so how do you handle them? What should you do during a slow patch? And are economic downturns something to fear? Not necessarily, as we talk about in this week’s episode.

Episode 1: Common website mistakes (and how to avoid making them)
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If you’re a freelancer, how well does your website / online portfolio work for you? Does it bring in traffic? Convert leads? Is it something you’re proud to share with clients? If not, don’t stress – it’s not as hard as you might think to improve your website’s look’n’feel and make it more user-friendly. In today’s episode, we run through a checklist of common website design mistakes – and what you can do to fix any that pop up on your site.

Season 1

Episode 12: How to boost your productivity (to make more money)
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Moving from an in-house role to a freelance one is a MASSIVE change. Suddenly, time is money – and productivity is all important in order to make the income you need to get by. In this episode, Lynne and Rachel share their time-saving tips and tricks and talk about the productivity resources available in the Rachel’s List Toolkit (bonus discount code for podcast listeners – download the show notes to grab it!) 

Episode 11: How to escape the under-charging trap
It’s all too easy to undersell yourself when you’re freelance. You want the project, and think quoting a little lower is going to do the trick. But sometimes, under-charging can backfire – and actually lose you work. In this episode, we explain how and why you need to price yourself accordingly.

Episode 10: The skills you need as a content writer
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Once upon a time, journos simply had to file their copy and that was that. These days, you may be asked to do quite a bit more, especially if you’re writing for digital outlets. Find out what editors and clients tend to expect from content writers these days (and where you might need to upskill).

Episode 9: Finding new income streams as a freelancer
Does reinvention scare the pants off you? You’re not alone. Most freelancers find their comfort zone, stay there – and hope the work keeps flowing. But at some point, you may need to use your skills to edge into other areas and embrace new income streams – and in this week’s episode, we talk about doing just that.

Episode 8: How to keep content writing clients coming back
What makes you absolutely indispensable as a freelancer? This week’s episode is all about our strategies for adding value, solving your clients’ problems and using your knowledge for suggesting other ways to improve their content or their business (and score yourself more work at the same time).

Episode 7: Why networking is essential for freelancers
First up, we just want to say that this episode has a few technical difficulties at the beginning with the sound – but hang in there. Lots of great info about why freelancers should network, how you can network, and the happy knock-on effect: more work coming your way.

Episode 6: How to find experts and case studies
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Finding the right experts and case studies for stories – or the right PRs who can get the ball rolling – can be tricky. In this episode, Lynne and Rachel share the websites and resources they turn to when expert quotes or a great case study is required. Our show notes PDF lists all the resources, so don’t forget to download it at the end!

Episode 5: Here are a few of our favourite things
Finding the tools, services, websites and apps that save you time and help you work more efficiently is essential when you’re a freelancer. Here are a few we’ve found over the years and use consistently to get the job done.

Episode 4: What do editors and content clients want?
Filing great copy is a must if you want ongoing work as a freelancer – but are there other ways to ensure editors and content clients keep coming back? In this episode, we reveal what works for us and what’s generally expected these days in print and digital. 

Episode 3: Let’s talk money (without freaking out)
Whether you’re quoting on a project, thinking about raising your rates with clients or negotiating for a higher word rate with an editor, talking about money with ease is a critical skill for freelancers. In this episode we talk about researching market rates, figuring out YOUR rate and how to become more confident discussing dollars and cents.

Episode 2: How to find content writing work
If you’re starting out in content writing or have hit a slow patch as a freelance writer, it can be hard to know what to do and where to turn (hint: it’s NOT to low-paying content mills!). In this episode, we talk about the way we use our networks, leverage social media and employ other tricks in order to land regular, ongoing content writing work.

Episode 1: Hey ho hello! Welcome to The Content Byte
Hosts Rachel Smith (from Rachel’s List) and journalist and content writer Lynne Testoni are serving up weekly short bites of advice, tips and strategies for freelancers who make a living from using their words. We’re shooting for 10-minute episodes, but can’t promise anything because we can both talk the leg off a chair.


Rachel Smith

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