#101: My Biggest Takeaways From the First 100 Podcast Episodes

When I launched the High-Income Business Writing podcast in April 2013, I was stepping into the unknown.

I was excited. And I was nervous.

I was excited because I’d successfully launched other services and products, such as the International Freelancers Academy and a bestselling book. Not to mention my own freelance writing business. So I knew I could do this.

But I was still nervous for many reasons. For one, I’d never launched a podcast before. So I wondered if I’d be able to produce solid content on a consistent basis… inspire listeners to make positive changes in their businesses… attract high-quality guests… gain a loyal audience.

Or if I’d even have the time to do this right!

As you probably know, I subscribe to the idea of “Ready, Fire, Aim!” But no one wants to scrap a high-profile project midstream. It’s never a good feeling.

The Response Has Been Overwhelming

Well, on the occasion of our 101st episode, I’m thrilled to report that the response to the High-Income Business Writing podcast has been overwhelming positive.

As of this writing, the show has had more than 277,000 episode downloads!

I’ve been touched by your many kudos and comments. Your many likes and shares.

And I’m full of gratitude for the many fascinating guests who’ve agreed to come on the show. They’ve generously shared not only their tips and expertise, but also their challenges and triumphs.

I’ve learned something from each and every one of them, and I hope you have too.

A Special “Highlights” Episode to Celebrate

To celebrate this milestone, I want to spend today’s podcast reflecting back on a few of the highlights from our past 100 episodes. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can subscribe in iTunes to get this show delivered straight to the Podcasts app on your smart phone, tablet or iPod.

Selecting them was no easy task. But I finally settled on a few that resonated with me for a variety of reasons. Some surprised me; some delighted me. Some provoked a lot of discussion. Some got to the heart of the matter in a new and powerful way.

So here we go: 20 highlights from our first 100 podcast episodes, in no particular order.

1. Sometimes, getting laid off is the best thing that can happen to you

When it comes to gut wrenching moments in life, few can top the feeling of being laid off. If you’ve ever lost your job, you know what I’m talking about. It’s never easy. And it never feels good.

But that doesn’t mean getting laid off is always a bad thing. In episode 48, freelancer Don Sadler shared with us his story of getting laid off in 2009, and how he was able to turn his misfortune into a six-figure freelance business.

It’s nothing short of inspiring.


2. The content marketing wave isn’t over. It’s just getting started

Content marketing has gotten a lot of attention lately. But when something gets hot so fast, you have to wonder if interest in it will eventually peak and fizzle.

Not so, says Joe Pulizzi, author and founder of The Content Marketing Institute, Content Marketing World and Chief Content Officer magazine.

He shared his perspective with us in episode 23.

Content marketing is only getting hotter. Which makes sense when you understand that content marketing is simply a new term for an industry that’s been around for a hundred years.

At the heart of content marketing is storytelling. And humans have been hardwired for stories ever since we gathered around campfires and shared tales of the latest Woolley mammoth hunt.

So it’s not going to go away anytime soon.


3. Much of the advice you get when ramping up your freelance business is wrong

Aside from dating and parenting, few things garner as much unsolicited advice as launching or ramping up your freelance business.

People who’ve never freelanced a day in their lives feel the need to share with you their nuggets of wisdom on the topic.

Shockingly, not all of this advice is legit. (Even if it does come with the best of intentions.)

In episode 74, freelance writer and researcher Diana Scheidman shared ten pieces of advice that new freelance business writers have probably heard dozens of time—but that they shouldn’t follow if they want to get their freelance business off the ground fast.

At the top of her list? Don’t blog (!)


4. Much of the financial advice you get when ramping up your business is wrong!

While we’re on the topic of bad advice, let’s not overlook the bad financial advice freelancers often receive.

The tricky thing about this advice is that it isn’t just coming from your Aunt Hester or other trying-to-be-helpful friends and colleagues.

A lot of this misdirected financial advice comes from financial experts and celebrated authors of money management books.

In episode 92, copywriter Dianna Huff throws the hammer down on all the “standard” financial advice that doesn’t work well for self-employed professionals.

In it, she gives specific and realistic strategies to help freelancers manage their finances and tips for living with a variable cash flow.


5. For some freelance writers, “work in your pajamas from anywhere in the world” is more than a fantasy

When we dream of striking out on our own, many of us are tempted by the idea of working from anywhere in the world.

An ocean-side grass hut bathed in the tropical sun? Hey man, we’re totally there! All we need is a laptop, cell phone, power and Wi-Fi.

But raise that dream with any established freelancer, and they won’t hesitate to shoot you down. It’s not going to happen.

Or will it?

Because in episode 61, we learned that copywriter Steve Roller has taken the dream and turned it into a reality.

As we learned from Steve, there are many ways to do this, and they don’t all involve selling your house and all your possessions and moving to a sleepy beach town in Costa Rica.


6. The first step in developing a freelance career is to shift your mindset

So what’s the first step in successfully making the switch from traditional employment to freelance work?

Is it writing a business plan? Building a side business? Pumping up your skills?

None of the above.

In fact, as we learned from coach Michelle Ward in episode 84, the first step to making the shift to freelance work is changing your mindset.

And ignore the vampire voices in your head.


7. If you feel like a fraud sometimes (or most of the time), you’re in good company

Are you quietly surprised when clients agree to your prices? Do you worry that some day they’ll figure out you don’t really know what you’re doing (even if you’ve been doing it successfully for years)?

Do you feel, deep inside, that this freelance writing career you’ve been building is a sham?

You’re not alone.

“Imposter syndrome” isn’t new or unusual. In fact, many talented artists, scientists, elite athletes and public figures feel unworthy of their success.

In episode 89, I peel back the layers of imposter syndrome. And while you may never lose these kinds of insecurities entirely, they don’t have to hold you back.


8. Networking doesn’t have to been teeth-pulling painful

We all know that networking can be a viable way to land new clients. But few of us enjoy doing it.

Most of us would rather get a root canal than work a room.

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way. And you can keep all your teeth!

In episode 28, writer John Corcoran shares with us his methodical and yet authentic approach to networking. An approach that’s so successful, it took him all the way to the White House!


9. When a prospect disappears, that doesn’t mean they don’t like you or that they’re gone forever

Our episode about how to deal with prospects who demonstrate an interest in your services and then disappear generated a lot of comments and questions.

Clearly, this annoying phenomenon is something many of us have experienced.

In episode 76, my friend and colleague Ilise Benun and I dug into this topic in detail and gave some concrete advice for how to deal with these situations.

And how keeping a professional demeanor can help bring these prospects back.


10. It is possible to find good clients on Elance and Upwork—if you know how

If you want to start a fistfight in a room of freelance writers, loudly raise the subject of Elance and Upwork. Then duck.

The topic of whether Elance and Upwork and other online job boards are a good place to land freelance work is controversial. Many claim that they’re not.

But you have to love a good success story, and Laura Pennington’s story is a great one. She used Elance to kickstart her freelance business, despite the fact that she had little work experience, no samples, no ratings or reviews and no clear guidance on how to make it work.

In episode 95, she describes how she did it.


11. No one’s going to be offended (or surprised) if you ask for more money

For many of us, it feels weird to ask prospects for more money or better contract terms. We don’t want to look greedy. And we don’t want to scare off the prospect.

So we end up taking what prospects say they can pay. And then grumble to ourselves about it later.

But in episode 8, freelance writer Carol Tice points out that, in business, negotiating is normal. What’s more, it’s expected.

So don’t automatically accept the prospect’s first offer. And don’t automatically bow if the prospect rejects your first offer. Instead, treat it as a starting point.

It’s more than okay to negotiate. And if someone doesn’t want to negotiate with you, then they’re probably not a good prospect.


12. You can land work from trade shows without attending the event (or even leaving your house!)

We’ve all heard that trade shows can be a rich source of new clients and projects.

The idea is that you research the exhibitors and attendees, connect with them at the show, and then nurture these leads over the next weeks and months.

And that’s all good.

However, there’s a whole other approach to landing trade show work that you may not be aware of.

And it doesn’t require you to pay a registration fee or travel to the show!

In episode 60, freelance B2B writer Amy Dunn Moscoso tells us how she’s landed a TON of work from trade shows, all without leaving her house.


13. You don’t have to pick one niche and stick with it

To niche or not to niche. Now THAT’s a topic we’ve talked about a lot.

Many of us struggle to define our freelance writing niche when we launch our businesses. And almost as many of us continue to struggle to define our niche years after launch.

Which is why the wisdom imparted by Ilise Benun in episode 80 was so comforting.

And here it is: You don’t have to just pick one niche. And you don’t have to dive in with both feet. Try a couple on for size (especially if you’re just getting started) and then adjust as you go.

Because nobody (with the exception of a very lucky few) nails his/her niche on the first go round.

I also introduced a contrarian view on “niching” in episode 16, where I explained why you DON’T need to specialize or to declare a niche in order to launch your freelance business.



14. Keeping your lead pipeline full allows you to sidestep a whole host of problems

As a freelance business writer and coach, I know all about the many challenges freelancers face when launching or ramping up their business.

Challenges such as:

  • A prospect wants you to lower your prices.
  • Your client wants you to make yet another set of revisions to your copy.
  • Your client is late paying your invoice, again.
  • You’re trying to take your business in a different direction, but you keep getting offered the same kinds of projects.

Fortunately, you can eliminate (or certainly alleviate) a lot of these problems when you have the power to pick and choose your clients and projects.

And the way to gain that power is to always be marketing.

Always be marketing (or ABM) is just one of the valuable tips Bob Bly shared with us in episode 58.

And when a marketing legend shares some of his “secrets” of success, you’d be wise to listen.


15. Working alone doesn’t have to mean feeling lonely

Writing is a solitary pursuit. It’s just you, your laptop, a few resources and maybe a cup of coffee. That’s it.

So it’s no wonder many freelancers feel lonely at times.

But in episode 41, coach and freelancer Hannah Braime teaches us that working alone doesn’t have to mean working lonely.

Try out her tips for reconnecting with others and banishing our feelings of isolation.


16. High-income freelance writers do things differently

Why are some freelance business writers more successful than others?

Why do some of them rack up win after win, while others continue to struggle?

Over the years, I’ve been privileged to talk to some of the most successful freelance writers in the business. And through these conversations, I’ve identified 11 essential things that successful freelance writers do differently.

In episode 49, I walk you through them.

What’s surprising is that none of these differences are earthshattering. Some are simple practices. Some are subtle shifts in mindset.

And all are within reach of any freelancer who’s willing to make some changes.


17. To get paid earlier (and more reliably), request payment when you deliver something of value

The possibility of not getting paid is a scary thing for most freelancers. Non-payment (or delayed payment) on one large invoice could put your entire business in jeopardy.

In episode 81, attorney and negotiation coach Katie Lane gives a number of suggestions to help make sure we get paid and paid on time.

And one of these suggestions was to request payment when you deliver something of value—instead of waiting until project completion.

Which could move up your payment date by months!


18. You can make good coin charging by the hour

Most of you know I’m not a fan of quoting hourly rates, at least not as a freelance writer.

But does that mean you should never charge by the hour?

Not necessarily.

Web content writer and SEO specialist Katherine Andes makes a powerful argument in favor of hourly rates in episode 20. And she shows that in some circumstances, and if done well, hourly rates can make sense.


19. When you’ve worked your tail off and played by the rules—and still haven’t reached your goals—it’s time to consider the spiritual side of freelance success

Sometimes, things just don’t come together for your business. You’ve worked hard. You’ve followed the best advice. But no matter how hard you try, you still can’t get where you want to go.

And when that happens, it’s time to turn your attention to the spiritual side of freelance success.

In episodes 33 and 34, my good friend Pete Savage walks us through concepts and questions we can use to solve the problem of not reaching our goals—even when we’re doing everything right!



20. We all have something to be grateful for

I thought it fitting to finish my episode 101 “highlights reel” with a word about gratitude.

In episode 31, I shared with you my daily gratitude ritual. Every morning, I take a few minutes to give thanks for the many blessings I have in my life and the many blessings yet to come.


And I want you to know that a constant focus of my gratitude has been you, my listeners.

Without your support, this podcast wouldn’t exist. So thank you for listening. Thank you for subscribing on iTunes, leaving a review or sharing an episode with friends or colleagues. Thanks for asking a question, leaving a comment or liking us on Facebook.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

And I especially want to thank my team here at High-Income Business Writing:

  • Crystal Coleman
  • Brenda Spandrio
  • Holly Yoos
  • Katie Kelly

You guys are amazing. Your dedication and work ethic are unparalleled. And I’m honored to be working with each and every one of you.

Now, let’s plan to do it all again after the next 100 episodes!