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.
Back in April, I walked you through my current podcast gear, which I’ve been enjoying! That said, I always knew that this equipment was a temporary “between setups” setup that let me upgrade from a USB mic while familiarizing myself with interfaces and XLR mics without a huge investment. Hopefully in the Fall, I’ll be able to upgrade to the gear that I really want to have. Here’s a breakdown of that.
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.
It was around this time a year ago that I decided to start my podcast, How I Built It. I started it as a way to generate buzz around building things so I could send people over to my online courses, where you learn how to build things. But a funny thing happened. Thanks to Rebecca Gill (Season 1, Episode 2) I reached out to Justin Ferriman of LearnDash about sponsoring her episode and he said yes! Since then, basically all of my episodes have had at least one sponsor, Season 2 was sold out, and Season 3 is on its way to selling out. In that time I’ve picked up a few things that I feel can help anyone who is thinking about Podcast Sponsorship.
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.
When I was in grammar school my 2nd Grade teacher, Ms, McCullough, came up to me and asked if I wanted to be in something called, “Drama Club.” I had no idea what that was, but she insisted that it would be fun and I’d be really good at it; I agreed, and we called my mom to get permission.
It turns out Drama Club was both fun, and I was good at it. My first role was a munchkin in The Wizard of Oz (I was very short). I stuck with Drama all throughout grammar and high school, ending my run in college. But it’s something that shaped me and something that I loved to do. I miss it a lot some days and feel part of the reason I love to teach and speak publicly is that it has the feeling of performing. There’s something else that I do that helps me ‘perform’: podcasting.
This summer I started two projects that require me to be in front of a microphone: WP in One Month and How I Built It. It’s a lot of work, but fun and rewarding. One important aspect of recording is making sure you have the right hardware and software. It can take a lot of research and get a bit pricy, but the quality of what you put out makes it worth it. I’ve spent some time finding the right tools; here’s my current setup.
I’ve been thinking more about the TIL Podcast and what I need to do to make it a show people will actually listen to. I need a good hook to draw people in, and I’m not entirely sure one that’s just, “I learned stuff,” is good. See Friday’s post for why (spoiler: there are a lot of them).
I’m thinking about doing, “Things I Learned Offline.” It might be a good hook and there is human interaction. I can build a story about how I came into the info, and the present the fact at the end of the show.