How This Freelance Translator Makes Washing Up an Exciting Learning Experience

Last updated Jan 22, 2024
By Gwenydd Jones

Sick of seeing your valuable time sucked up by household chores? Hours each week slaving over a hot stove. Full plates fast becoming empty plates. Washing dishes, only to dirty them again later. For this freelance translator, it all used to feel like a thankless cycle of wasted time.

That’s because I still hadn’t explored the world of podcasts.

Now, I turn chore time into fun time. By doing mindless household tasks while listening to podcasts. You’d be amazed at all the news and knowledge podcasters share. And they give it to the world free of charge. You just have to subscribe. Podcasters, thank you for making this freelance translator so happy.

Freelance translator washing up a fork

In this article, I’m going to tell you how to get started listening to podcasts. It’s a great way to learn stuff for your freelance translation business. But also to keep up with the news and anything else you’re interested in. And even better, it lets you make cleaning fun.

Why did it take me so long to get started with podcasts?

Because I’m cheap about getting apps. It’s like, I can buy an expensive eye cream, but I struggle to buy a cheap app. I see it as an abstract digital thing on my phone. So, it’s like it isn’t real. I don’t get the same immediate feeling of joy as with wrinkle-reducing eye cream. So, I don’t want to spend my hard-earned cash on them. This is a really stupid attitude, as I’ll now illustrate.

Without a decent app on your phone, it’s difficult to follow podcasts. After realising this, I eventually bit the bullet and bought a great app called Pocket Casts. And after using it for about 30 seconds, I fell in love with my 1.50 purchase.

I get so much more information every day, without making any effort whatsoever.

How a podcast app works

A podcast app lets you search for and discover podcasts. Being a podcast newbie, I found the discovery function very useful. It shows which podcasts are trending. But there is also a search function. You type in a keyword, like translation, and it shows you a list of related podcasts. The podcasts are all free, so you can subscribe to as many as you want. All the ones you subscribe to appear on a separate screen. You can see when a new one is published.

The super-easy podcast learning curve

I went subscribing crazy and soon had about 75 podcasts ready to listen to. It quickly became obvious that many had just a few episodes. I think a lot of people like the idea of running their own podcast but find the reality to be more complicated. That isn’t a problem, because with the app you can unsubscribe and delete them. I should mention I also set it up so it would download podcasts only while I’m connected to Wi-Fi. No data crises for me.

It’s like being a kid in a sweet shop. You can suck them and see. With some, I hear that the quality is poor and immediately unsubscribe. With others, I dislike the speaker’s voice or accent. Unsubscribe. I accept a little advertising, as I know producing quality podcasts is time consuming. But some are packed with it. I get rid of those too. Sometimes you have to listen to about 5 minutes of advertising before they get into the meat.  Fortunately, my fabulous app has a solution to that. It lets me start the podcasts a certain number of seconds in. So, I don’t even have to listen to the introductory music if I don’t want to.

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You’d be amazed at all the news and knowledge podcasters share.

How podcasts improve my freelance day

After a few exploratory lessons, I soon got into my groove. As an early riser, I often find myself breakfasting alone. For me, that’s a great time to listen to some news. Admittedly, I sometimes finish breakfast depressed or angry. But, at least I know I’m not as ignorant as I might be.

If it’s my turn to make lunch, then I listen to an educational podcast. It may be specific to my work as a freelance translator and copywriter. Or it could be about business or humanity in general. When time comes to make dinner, I listen to a fun podcast related to my hobbies or interests. Audiobooks are another of my favourites for the evening, but that’s another story.

Now can you see why I love them? I get so much more information every day, without making any effort whatsoever. I never thought household tasks could involve so much insight.

My top podcasts

It would be rude to leave you without recommendations to help you get started. With time, you’ll discover your own favourites. There really are some amazing people and organisations in the world of podcasting. The podcasts listed below are all high quality, and you can subscribe for free.

1. Serial. This one is about criminals. Or are they? In each series, Sarah Koenig investigates a controversial crime. I can’t wait for series three.

2. BBC World Service global news. This is how I pack my head with international concerns over breakfast.

3. TED talks. These don’t tend to be too long and they have excellent speakers. They share inspiring stories and new ideas.

4. ProBlogger. Darren Rowse’s podcast is essential listening for anyone who blogs.

5. The daily meditation podcast. Mary Meckley puts out a new one of these almost every day. My favourite is the breathing techniques. When you get stressed, you can sit for 15 minutes and let her soothing voice calm you down.

6. Marketing tips for translators. Tess Whitty interviews translators about everything related to, well, translation. I’ve chatted to her about machine translation, pricing strategy and customer complaints.

7. Hotcopy. Kate Toon and Belinda Weaver make me giggle while talking about freelance copywriting.

8. The Tim Ferriss show. The worlds and stories of people who’ve done incredible things. Lots to learn here.

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Written by Gwenydd Jones

Gwenydd Jones is a Spanish- and French-to-English translator, an SEO blogger and a course creator. She is the founder of The Translator's Studio and the lead teacher on its courses. Connect with Gwenydd on LinkedIn or contact her through this website.

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  1. Genevieve Shaw

    Interesting article. I tend to listen to Radio 4 (especially Woman’s Hour) when I have to do the decorating, but podcasts could be a new and exciting opportunity. Thanks for sharing.

    • Gwenydd Jones

      Thanks for the recommendation, Genevieve. The BBC has such a wide range of options.

  2. Tess Whitty

    Thanks for the mention Gwenydd! I used the free iPhone podcast player for many, many years, until I recently got PodCruncher for a few dollars too. I go through my favorite podcasts and add episodes I think seem interesting to my playlist and I love the playlist function in this app. I know many successful freelancers who these days learn mostly through podcasts and audiobooks, learning while they work out, drive, walk etc.

    • Gwenydd Jones

      Thanks for commenting, Tess. Great to hear about a different app.

  3. Richard Lackey

    I’m the same, I recently discovered that my Bluetooth headphones would allow me to listen to podcasts while washing up!

    My two favs for translation topics are Troublesome Terps and Globally Speaking. Both are with two or three hosts and usually a guest so can be very lively podcasts.

    • Gwenydd Jones

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Richard. I recently bought some Bluetooth headphones myself. I find they make a big difference with mobility while cleaning. They also have a pause button on one ear, which is great for interruptions ;).

  4. Gwenydd Jones

    I have to add that I just found the S-Town podcast, from Serial and This American Life. It is a true story told in a narrative style. Brilliant.

  5. Jane D

    Oh blimey – there’s no way I could listen to a Brexit podcast over breakfast, even if it is only intermittent. I listen to audiobooks a lot, so I definitely understand the benefits when doing dull jobs (they’re perfect for painting an entire house three coats of white paint, for example!) but one podcast I really love is Escape Pod. It’s science fiction, and they also do horror and fantasy podcasts, if that’s more your thing. Escapism, true, but the Escape Artists people pay proper market rates to authors and narrators, so it’s ethical escapism!

    • Gwenydd Jones

      It’s true that Brexit and poached eggs can lead to serious indigestion. Thanks for sharing this podcast, I’ll check it out.

  6. Katie Ward

    Thanks for this article, I sometimes download podcasts and listen to them when I’m at the gym, but I didn’t realise how useful a podcast app could be. I’m looking forward to checking out the podcasts that you’ve recommended too!

    • Gwenydd Jones

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Katie! Yes, the app makes the whole process so much easier. I’m currently listening to Death in Ice Valley by the BBC World Service about an unsolved crime from the 1970s. Another really interesting story.

  7. Julio Amago

    I love how you use different types of podcasts for different times of the day, something that will get me out of my rut of always listening to the same 5 all the time.
    I spent the last couple of years travelling and living out of my minivan and would listen to podcasts while I drove across Mexico, Canada and the US. A great one that was recommended to me with a mix of stories from different backgrounds is The Moth. The focus is on personal stories well told. Lots of tear-jerking and inspirational/motivational real-life experiences.


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