The Software Engineering Unlocked Podcast reached 15,000 downloads this week.
Over the last 6 months, many things have happened. I started the podcast just with the hunch that I’ll like doing that, and luckily I was right.
I really love producing podcasts. As I have been doing it for quite a while now, I wanted to share the five main lessons I learned along the way:
1. Producing a great show is a lot of work
I did not expect that it will take me that long to produce each episode. I spend on average 4 minutes of editing per one minute of recording. In the beginning, I recorded way too long (over 90 minutes) with the idea of reducing the show later on, so that I have enough great content. I’m not doing that anymore, because, it gives me much more focus for the interview if I know you have let’s say 50 minutes max to get it right. I also experiment with different tools to reduce and automate some of the work. Normally, I edit the podcast with Audacity, but I switched to Descript for the last episode because it lets me edit the podcast like a text document and creates a transcript at the same time. There are still a few features that I miss in that tool, but, I definitely recommend checking it out.
2. Getting the process rolling
In the beginning, I had a hard time finding guests. Funnily, the more V.I.P. the guests were, the higher was my success and acceptance rate.
It was also quite a challenge to keep track of conversations, especially because they happened everywhere (from Twitter, to Email, to website forms). Right now, I use Trello, to keep track of who I contacted (on which platform) and what the status of the invitation is. I also prepared a document that includes the interview instructions that I send to each guest. This streamlines the process quite a bit. The invite message is never based on a template but written individually for each person.
3. Being amplified by thought leaders<br>
I’m very grateful that some very influential people – such as Scott Hanselman, Cassidy Williams, Suz Hinton, Dan Abramov – took a chance on me and help me by amplifying my tweets. This definitely helped me kickstart the podcast. Apart from that, I’m not marketing the podcast in any way. I just do not enjoy the promotion of the podcast – it’s probably the only thing about it that I do not like. So, I accepted that, and I focus purely on creating awesome content. The best content I can. I hope over time, that will speak for itself.
4. Do not follow every advice
I also read a lot of advice from others about how to make a podcast successful. One of the ideas that came up quite frequently, was to prepare tweets that your podcast guests can share in order to reduce their burden. I like the idea of reducing the burden for the guests, but I also felt weird when “putting words in their mouth”. So, yeah, I tried that, but it never felt right, and I haven’t had a single person use the prepared tweets. So, I stopped doing that. There is also other advice that did not work for me, especially around researching, editing or producing the episode. I think, learning from others is important, but once you got a bit of a grip, it’s even more crucial to listen to your own instincts.
5. Finding the Right Podcast Hosting Provider
I researched a lot about which podcast hosting provider to use. I wanted something reliable, that would not break the bank. I was suspicious of the completely free ones because if it’s free, it normally means you are the product. In the end, I decided to go with simplecast. It won over libsyn because the UI is so much nicer and more intuitive. I also thought about pinecast, and in hindsight, I should have chosen them. I did not, because I was afraid if they can provide reliable uptime. Turns out, simplecast was down right after I released my first episode. So, so much for that!
Well, that’s it. I hope you got something out of those five lessons.