As a new parent working as a freelance graphic designer for a living, Frankie Tortora didn’t feel as though she could relate with other parents in full-time jobs. So, she decided to create her own space in 2016, starting a community platform on Facebook called ‘Doing It For The Kids' and two years later, created a podcast with fellow freelance parent Steve Folland.
Doing It For The Kids is now an award-winning show bringing together a level of comedy around the realities of being a parent, as well as serving as a relatable space for the self-employed parent community.
“A funny, intelligent, interactive podcast series that totally understands its target audience, and looks after them like family,” said the judges at the British Podcast Awards 2021, where DIFTK won gold for Best Business Podcast. “This was particularly valuable in a lockdown year.”
We asked Tortora to talk about what it was like creating the podcast through the COVID-19 pandemic, why she works with sponsors directly instead of through a broker, and how she balances podcasting .
How would you describe your podcast?
A short and snappy agony aunts style podcast for parents who work freelance.
Why did you start your podcast?
My podcast is part of this wider project that I run called ‘Doing It For The Kids’ which essentially came out of when I had my first kid, seven years ago. I was - still am - a freelance graphic designer and was struggling to meet other people who were in a similar situation to me.
So ‘Doing It For The Kids’ is essentially an online community for freelance parents and about two years into running it, I launched a podcast of the same name with my friend Steve Folland. We've got a good balance of skills and experience when it comes to parenting and freelancing so we combined forces - and he has a radio background, which helps because I know nothing about podcasting whatsoever.
It’s a collaborative thing with the community now. We give advice to someone in the community and then the community feeds back with their thoughts and experience as well. A big part of it is tackling isolation and loneliness because a lot of people in my community are obviously there because they're feeling isolated. And while the community being essentially an online forum is great, having real voices and an audio version of it has been really positive.
What advice do you wish you'd been given when you first started?
I wish I'd been told how much work it is but actually I don't think I would have done it if I'd known. So I guess be prepared to fit it into your existing workload and commitments because it's so much. We literally do everything ourselves - plan it, record it, host it, edit it, promote it, get sponsors - we do everything. We don't outsource any of that so it's a lot of work, the week it’s my job to edit, I basically can't do any client work.
Be prepared for that but also be prepared to love it because I really, really love it. It's changed my life, making a podcast like that. On a personal level, I've had some really positive impacts on my mental health chatting to Steve on a weekly basis. Particularly through lockdown when we were all facing being at home with our children and managing a business, all at once, it was quite a cathartic process making a podcast, particularly during that time. It’s a lot of work, but it's worth it.
How many people does it take to create an episode of your show?
Yeah, not enough. So it's the two of us, me and Steve. but then we read out comments from the community. So in a way, there's a few hundred other people involved, who are actively commenting, so we're not creating all the content ourselves. But yes, it's just us two people.
Do you monetize your podcast?
Yes, so we pay for it through sponsors which we get entirely off our own back. I think we're on our fifth sponsor now, and again, that has been a huge amount of work to do it ourselves. We've come to the conclusion that that’s the best model for us. We've looked at platforms that get like pre-recorded ads for you but while it takes a lot of work to secure a sponsor, once it's done the money is way better and makes more sense.
How do you promote your podcast?
I don't have any special bells or whistles; I do old-fashioned stuff. So I do a twitter thread about it with GIFs and bad jokes and I do a more professional post on LinkedIn because I'm speaking to freelancers and small businesses. LinkedIn is actually a really good place to talk about it, and I got on Instagram and all that jazz. Really my biggest tool to promote it is people that listen to it because the people that listen to it, love it and share it. We see a lot of word of mouth growth. I haven't done paid ads - maybe I should, but I haven't done anything like that.
What have you learned about yourself since starting the podcast?
That I’m quite good at it! Because when we started, I literally never did anything like this before in my life, and turns out I’m quite good at it; so much that we've won two British Podcast Awards.
Also that I am capable of the amount of work. I'm very proud of the fact that I've been able to take on that much work, particularly again at a time where about six months into making the podcast, there was a global pandemic and everything went nuts. We both still churned out that podcast on a weekly basis with children screaming in the background, Steve was in his car at nine o' clock at night. I guess I've learned that we're resilient and that we love doing it.
Who listens to your podcast?
People like us. They tend to be a one-woman band, businesses and sole traders who are juggling work… feeling isolated and looking for people to connect and to console each other with. It’s just nice to know that other people are in similar situations and dealing with the same.
We do a bit at the beginning where we just talk about how our week has gone and that can be the most mundane three minutes where it's like, you know, my kid wouldn't eat porridge or whatever, but people really benefit from knowing that there's a community out there going through the same stuff.
What was the last podcast you listened to?
I'm addicted to The News Agents. So Steve actually put me on to The News Agents and now I've got my husband addicted to it. Now we talk about how sometimes we're in different rooms with noise-cancelling headphones while listening to the same episodes, and then we'll talk about it over lunch. I mean there's a lot to talk about. That's probably the last thing I listened to, if I'm being honest.