One year ago today, I launched Episode 1 of How I Built It, the podcast I started to learn from other business owners. I announced it by telling the story of Il Duomo, which I had seen in person 2 months prior. That’s still a great story that gets at the heart of what I’m trying to do on the podcast: learn from other people. I knew when I launched that it would be successful if I got great advice from people who’ve built great things. What I did not expect was the other successes I’ve seen. A year in, I have over 72,000 downloads. Each episode gets downloaded at least 1200 times 2 weeks after launch. And podcast sponsorships have become a major part of my income.
The TIL Podcast
How I Built It is not my first foray into podcasting. Several years ago, I started one with a few friends called the TIL Podcast. Each week, 4-6 of us would get together and talk about…well basically whatever we wanted. It was a lot of fun for me, and hopefully my friends, but it wasn’t great to listen to for a few reasons:
- Think of every conference call you’ve ever been on. That’s what this was. I should have been the moderator and I didn’t do a good job.
- I always say there’s a “bottom” for audio quality podcasts shouldn’t hit. We hit that bottom. Virtually no decent equipment, questionable internet connections, and very little post-production.
- No structure. We didn’t do any research prior, have an outline, or even have talking points. The only prep we did was choose a topic.
Eventually I did try switching up the format to just interviews with me and one other person, but the show was not long for this world.
Despite the TIL Podcast being a fun thing some friends and I did for a few months and not much else, I still learned a lot of lessons. Recently a friend asked me why I think How I Built It is doing so well, and what I’m doing to help it along. There are a few lessons I learned from the last show that help me today:
- Keep it around 30 minutes. Attention spans are short, so short and focused conversations go a long way.
- Be consistent. I release every Tuesday at 3:00am ET. This schedule not only lets my listeners know when to expect new episodes, but it helps me normalize my stats. I know how each episode does because I have some anchor information to point to.
- I’m obsessed with quality. Like I said: there’s a bottom to audio quality. Anything above that is good, but I try to go the extra mile. I have good recording equipment and I asked my guests to record locally so that I can splice the 2 best-quality tracks together and not have to worry about interruptions or drops in internet service.
- Good content! I prep myself and my guests prior to our interview, which is not live. This leads to better content overall. My guests are awesome too, of-course.
I took all of this and applied it to How I Built It and I’m seeing some great results. My guests, sponsors, and listeners are amazing. Their support blows me away.
What I Want to do Better in Year Two
That said, there are a few things I’d like to do better as we enter the second year:
- Transcripts. It’s something I’ve said I’ll get for a while, and I know I will reach a wider, more diverse audience. I just need to do them.
- Engagement with listeners. It’s been a pretty one-way street between me and my listeners. I don’t have many iTunes reviews or provide the opportunity to interact with me or my guests. I also don’t have much data my listeners beyond what Libsyn and Google Analytics tell me. That will change this year.
- More premium content. I launched my Patreon a few months ago and I really want to make that work. The cornerstone is premium content, which includes more researched episodes, specific stories, tutorials, and extended interviews.
To everyone who listens to the show, THANK YOU! The reception has been great so far. I plan to only get better in the years to come.