Hi, I’m Zara McDonald, I am a journalist and podcaster, and this is Milkshake ‘Asking for a Friend’.
MS: How do you describe what you do?
ZM: This has funnily enough become my least favourite question because I never know how to answer it. The first thing I say if somebody asks me what I do, is I say that I’m a journalist and hope they kind of don’t probe much more. If they probe, I will say I am a journalist and podcaster who hosts and produces a celebrity and pop culture podcast. I say that I have recently co-founded a very tiny production company where we make podcasts for other people, and then I would say, I do some writing, and hosting work on the side. That’s why I don’t like when people ask.
MS: Who inspired you to do what you’re doing now?
ZM: Probably Michelle because we spend so much time working together, and I don’t think that if she hadn’t have said a year and a half ago, this is something we should do, and we should back ourselves to do it alone, I ever would have done or be doing what I am doing now.
MS: Advice for people starting their career in your industry?
ZM: Start. We were pretty nervous when we started our podcast, because we weren’t very good at what we did when we started, and that will exist on the internet forever. So I would say, don’t be embarrassed about that fact, just start, and you can learn on the job, and it doesn’t matter. People aren’t thinking about you and whether you’re good at your job, as much as you think they are.
MS: How do you grow from a setback?
ZM: I would like to think that I’m not a dweller, which is not to say that things don’t necessarily affect me straight away, but I would like to think that I am pretty pragmatic in my response to setbacks, which is, finding a solution. So the podcast is a pretty good example of that, it was initially rejected by a lot of people, so we just decided to go out and find a way to do it on our own, and we did. We just kind of didn’t spend any time dwelling on it, and more time working on it.
MS: What’s one thing you know about Instagram that you wish you knew when you started?
ZM: I wish I knew how much it mattered. I didn’t take it very seriously at the start, and I kind of used to be a little bit dismissive of people that used it for work.
MS: Wackiest DM story?
ZM: I have to say, The Shameless DMs are a wild ride. Somebody created a collage of my face next to Chuckie from Rugrats and said that we looked quite similar.
MS: What excites you about the future?
ZM: I’m excited by the fact that I don’t know what my job is going to look like in six to twelve months. Had you told me that would’ve been my answer a year ago, I would’ve laughed at you because I’m a control freak, and that normally would stress me out, but I really love the idea that the digital media landscape is changing so dramatically that I actually don’t know what I’m going to be doing, how I’m going to be working, or what my job is going to look like in 12 months.
MS: Biggest opportunity that has come from Instagram?
ZM: I would say two things, the first is just growth, and I know that sounds very vague and broad, but I would say podcast listenership growth, and the second thing is hosting work, we’re doing a bunch of MC work, and hosting work, and presenting work at the moment, and I don’t think any of that would come about, if people didn’t see us presenting in some way on Instagram.
MS: Biggest financial lesson as a creator?
ZM: Get an accountant. And get an accountant who you feel comfortable asking the dumb questions to. I have sat in many meetings with our accountant bursting out laughing, say I actually don’t understand anything you’re saying. So someone who you feel comfortable asking dumb questions to, who’s not going to make you feel like an idiot.
MS: Best Instagram hack?
ZM: Because Michelle and I, and Shameless have completely overlapping audiences, it’s really important to get in first. I need to post before Michelle or else her photo is going to completely outperform mine, because the algorithm bumps one of us out if we post at the same time. I don’t know if that’s helpful to a wide range of audience, but that’s all I’ve got.