Common Business and Legal Mistakes Podcast Freelancers Often Make
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Common Business and Legal Mistakes Podcast Freelancers Often Make

#GrowthGoals: One content creator’s forage into the podcasting space. A blog series exploring the well-intentioned attempt of a content creative to learn about a new trade.

We all have dreams of when the art we create also pays our bills, but often we forget to build the scaffolding that will hold and protect our interests. As I considered creating the content of a new podcast, I could not ignore that my aspiration for an artistic endeavor requires attention to the business side too.

To really make a #growthgoal stick, I had to think like Julekya Lantigua-Williams, CEO of Lantigua Williams & Co. As the sole proprietor of her podcast production company, she’s managed scores of freelancers. And in her 18-year career as a freelancer for the likes of National Public Radio and Random House, she admits that the practical advice she gives came from making mistakes.

Why you must incorporate your business and make your podcast legal.

Why you must incorporate your business and make your podcast legal

“Ladies, we are independent contractors,” Lantigua-Williams said at the 2019 Werk It Festival. “We are a service provider who is doing business with another business, so we have to start acting like one.”

When I heard her conviction, I retitled her talk: A Freelancers’ Guide to Best Practices from a Bad Ass Businesswoman. She continued: “You are not making a podcast. You are not making a TV show. You are not writing a movie. You are not making a documentary.”

(Dramatic Pause)

“You are creating intellectual property from which you are going to build multiple income streams.”

Whoa, that was a drop-the-mic moment for me. Here I was having fanciful ideas in my head that I could make something (specifically a podcast), and the money would just flow straight into my account.

She continued: “Everything that I am doing is because I want to amass intellectual property that in the next decade, I will turn into multiple income streams.”

This badass businesswoman wasn’t thinking about money in her pocket to pay the bills just for today. She was thinking for herself a decade out.

“This is why you have to incorporate your business,” she said. “Because when you incorporate your business, guess what? You start thinking like a business. And people start treating you like a business.”

Creatives forget that they are developing content for which they will want to later license and sell in the future. They forget to set up the legal mechanism to protect themselves and their work. And Miss Lantigua-Williams jostled me: Don’t wait until you’re discovered, incorporate now.

Creatives forget that they are developing content for which they will want to later license and sell in the future. They forget to set up the legal mechanism to protect themselves and their work. #podcasting #creation Click To Tweet

These are the business mistakes podcast freelancers often make:

Business mistakes podcast freelancers often make

Here are more highlights of Lantingua-Williams’ practical advice for podcast freelancers. She points out the mistakes freelancers often make and prescribes a remedy for each.

Common mistake: Not acting like a business.

  • Register your company.
  • Don’t work without a Statement of Work.
  • Set terms in writing.
  • Formalize your processes.
  • Set quarterly goals in multiple ways: Set income goals; project goals and profession goals.

Common mistake: Not setting quarterly or annual goals for yourself

  • Assess what you want to learn and where you want to grow rather than letting others set goals for you on projects.
  • Each job you take should add to a professional or project goal and give you a sense of direction (if you want to be a script writer, but have never written one, ask for a task that allows you to write the first draft).
  • Get a mentor to keep you accountable.
  • Set measurable goals before the start of the year, quarter and project (they could be measurable goals for the amount of money you want to make, travel, number of publications completed).

Common mistake: Not asking for feedback during and after every project

  • Ask for feedback regularly.
  • Set measurable outcomes based on your client’s needs and see that they align with your own growth goals.
  • Openly share your growth goals with your client to see if the work you accept can also help you achieve your growth goals.
  • Take on a mix of work that is both difficult and manageable; but with each project increase the level of challenge, so that you aren’t settling for work that bores you.
  • Have your own ongoing projects.

Common mistake: Not finding a formal sponsor

  • Talk to people who have sponsors.
  • Identify three accessible potential sponsors within the industry.
  • Formally ask for a sponsor (the difference between a mentor and a sponsor is that your relationship with a sponsor results in paid work directly with the company or sponsor).
  • Apply for mentoring programs such as AIRWerkIt BootCampThird Coast Residency.

Embedded in all of Lantigua-Williams’ pinpointed advice seemed to me, filled with a compassionate urgency to motivate other women to enter the podcast space with their eyes open and minds sharp.

Being a freelancer, I felt afraid to ask for help, and just the idea of starting a podcast felt like floating out into orbit. But her advice was a welcome extension of support, motivation and inspiration.

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Elizabeth Chey

About Elizabeth

Elizabeth Chey consults international, community-based, and small nonprofits on communications, advocacy, strategic planning and capacity building. Her passion for arts, peace building and development compels her to tell complex, intimate stories about people working for social justice. She earned her MFA from New York University and a Journalism degree from Northwestern.

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