I’ve spent more than one post on this blog talking about podcast sponsorships. Today, I wanted to talk about podcast listeners. There are a lot of stats out there for website users – where they came from, what they do on the site, how long they stay, and a lot more. While there have been strides in the last few months surrounding stats on podcasts, I feel like I still don’t know much about my listeners. I’ve tried surveys in the past, but they didn’t go well. So I’m switching things up a bit.
how i built it
The first time I learned how to burn a CD was mind-blowing. It was 1999 and YouTube didn’t exist. Most of the web was brochure sites with marquees and hit counters, so there wasn’t a great place for learning how to do literally anything. Instead, my cousin came over and showed me. He brought a blank CD, opened software on my computer, dragged the songs I wanted into this window and clicked, “Burn.” A few minutes later, BOOM. I had my very own mix CD. What jumped out at me the most was how easy it was when someone was there to show me the way. I felt accomplished.
That experience did 2 things for me. It allowed me to have a very successful mix CD business in high school, and it made me realized I just needed to try things in order to learn them. I felt empowered by the fact that someone showed me the way.
I want you to feel empowered too. That’s why I started on Patreon.
7 months ago I took my business full-time. Being a freelancer for most of my life, and even doing it full-time for a while after college, I thought I had a pretty good handle on how things would work. But as it turns out, the product space is a lot harder to work in than the services space (for me). I’ve lamented over the last few months that it’s easier for me to sell one person on a $5,000 project, than 100 people on a $50 course. But after attending CaboPress and participating in an amazing Master Mind group, I was able to get some perspective and readjust. The Autumn and Winter have been much better than the Summer.
But what does that have to do with a new site I launched called Creator Courses? Everything! I decided that as well as do an intro course on Gutenberg, I would launch a new brand. Here’s how I did it, and why.
Season 3 isn’t wrapped yet, but I’ve already started thinking of better ways to deliver for Season 4, coming in January. When I started How I Built it, I didn’t think I would see the success the show has had. It’s a formidable part of my income, it’s got over 100,000 downloads, and it’s growing in popularity.
When you first start anything, you are just finding your sea legs. Over a year in (and a fun obsession with this project), and I’ve got my bearings. I’m ready to go to the next level.
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.
Over the last few months, I’ve interviewed dozens of people, asking a pointed question: “How did you build that?” In that time I learned common tools, business decisions, and generosity. Recently I gave a talk where I went through the most important lessons I learned, and some tools to get the job done.
Last summer I was at a crossroads with WP in One Month. In-person courses didn’t work, the webinars were running their course but that wasn’t a sustainable business model. I started having conversations with some great folks in the community – Matt Medeiros, Cory Miller, and Shawn Hesketh just to name a few. These conversations taught me a lot about what I should do, how I should position myself, and potential partnerships. If only they could tell me exactly how their built their business or product…
Those conversations are what gave me the idea for the podcast. When I started How I Built It, it was going to be a way for me to funnel people to my online courses (the new direction for WP in One Month); something like, “You learned how X was built, now take my courses to build it yourself.” But a funny thing happened: the podcast became popular. More popular than I imagined in the first few month. I started getting sponsors and people were asking to come on the show. Last month, I hit 50K downloads in less than 9 months.
I imagine building product is like building anything else. Let’s take a recipe for lasagna. Sure there’s a basic set of instructions you should follow, but everyone probably does it a little differently. Everyone has their own method for layering the pasta, or what sauce to use.
When it comes to building products, the same thing is true. The only difference is there’s no cookbook. There’s no set number of steps you can take to get from start to successful business. The best thing you can do is the same thing I do when I try to cook: talk to the experts*.
*The expert in this case is my Italian mother. Thanks mom!