July 27, 2019

Ask me anything about the Indie Hackers podcast

Are you starting a podcast, or are you curious about how they work? Ask me anything about the IH podcast and I'll try to answer it!

Also, I'm creating a group for podcasters. Let me know if you'd like an invite and I'll email you one.

  1. 9

    How many listeners do you get for each episode and what have been the most effective growth opportunities? Asking for a friend. ;)

    1. 8

      The two questions I always want to know about everyone else's podcast! I asked @abadesi the first one when I came on PH Radio this Monday :-D

      Let's see, in total the podcast has 4,115,595 downloads across 104 episodes, so that averages out to 39,573 downloads each. The median download count is similar, almost exactly 39k. Some recent episodes have reached 40-50k downloads in their first month or two. The most popular episode has 105k downloads, and the worst-performing episode that's been out for 6+ weeks has 15k downloads.

      As for growth, I don't do anything particularly special, but I've noticed a few things:

      • Word-of-mouth growth is a tremendous force, and it primarily correlates with episode quality. For example, my #2 episode was with a guest that nobody had ever heard of, who doesn't have a big audience, and we didn't do anything special to promote it. But I've gotten more positive feedback on that episode than any others, and the downloads piled up. People are just sharing it because they like it. The opposite is also true. Mediocre episodes don't get as many downloads. (I'd say quality is 50% the guest I bring on and 50% my performance as the host.)

      • Consistency is huge. If I miss a week or two, downloads drop. When I'm consistent for months at a time, download numbers grow. I just recently doubled my release frequency, and I'm curious to see what effect that has.

      • Guests with big audiences who do a good job promoting their episodes on Twitter etc tend to get lots of downloads. Adam Wathan is a recent example. But they still don't get as many downloads as the best episodes get, even without heavy promotion.

      • I don't do any external promotion on other websites etc, but it obviously helps to be able to send out my episodes to the IH mailing list.

      I'm interviewing Sam Parr from The Hustle next week. They recently started a podcast that they're sending to their mailing list of 1.5M+ people. I'll definitely ask him some questions about how that's going.

      1. 2

        Which is the most popular podcast (I'd prefer if you can list Top 5)?

        Any reason it's popular?

        1. 6

          Here are the top 5:

          105,034 downloads #043 – Confronting Your Fears and Taking a Leap with Pieter Levels of Nomad List

          82,492 downloads #086 – How to Build a Life You Love by Quitting Everything Else with Lynne Tye of Key Values

          63,541 downloads #035 – "Definitely Not Trying to Fit In" with Tobias van Schneider

          59,734 downloads #067 - Creating a Massive Community and Making It Profitable with Ryan Hoover of Product Hunt

          58,773 downloads #064 – The Path from Minimum Viable Product to $50M a Year with Des Traynor of Intercom

          Pieter's episode is an outlier probably because of what Charlie Munger calls the "lollapalooza" effect — when you have multiple strong forces all pushing in the same direction. In this case, Pieter has a huge audience + his businesses are a perfect fit to be inspiring for indie hackers + our conversation was great and felt natural.

          Lynne's episode is possibly even more of an outlier, as it's at 82k downloads in just 4 months. Pieter's episode has been out for about 16 months.

          1. 1

            Haa knew that would be #1. I guessed it right.

            Agreed with the reason. Actually, I think I found Pieter before Indie Hackers. Haven't heard that episode yet but will do.

            Although I did listen to Lynne's episode which was pretty good. Gotta start listening soon again when it stops raining here.

          2. 1

            Ah #35 was great and I don't think I've seen Tobias promoted anywhere before!

    2. 1

      Hey Ryan, how many listeners does PH Radio get each episode? 😊

  2. 4

    Do you still enjoy doing it every week?

    1. 4

      It ebbs and flows. Recently I've really been enjoying it, mostly because I've been creating more room in my schedule to prep and record. It's not fun at all when I have to rush through things, but it's super fun when I get to take my time researching guests, thinking of interesting questions, and just talking to interesting people.

      1. 1

        Makes sense. As an introvert I totally get it. I need to prepare for things in order to get the most out of it.

    2. 1

      To build on this, how often do you record? Do you record an episode and release it the same week, or are you able to build up a backlog of recordings and schedule them to be posted in the future? How long is said backlog (if it exists)?

      1. 3

        This year I tried batching the podcast to one week per month where I record 4 or 5 episodes. It was fine when it worked, but it's been tough to maintain. For example, during my last two "podcast" weeks in particular, 7 out of 10 recordings got rescheduled, touching me to record on off-weeks. So I've pretty much given up on controlling my schedule and I'm back to recording new episodes.

        My backlog varies. At one point I was 10 episodes ahead. Currently I'm only 1 episode ahead, and that'll come out Monday. But next week I'm recording 4 episodes.

        1. 1

          When you were able to batch the recordings into 1 week per month, what did you spend the rest of the month doing? Editing episodes, writing show notes, researching new guests, etc?

          How much of your time does the podcast consume?

          I guess you and Channing both maintain the website, so you gotta get some programming in there somewhere too 😃

          1. 2

            I spend more time coding than anything else.

            1. 1

              To give you a quantifiable time spent editing, it usually takes 2-3hrs to edit IH

  3. 4

    What is the most difficult or time consuming aspect of doing a podcast?

    1. 5

      Probably editing. You can outsource this for cheap ($20/episode), but I'm a perfectionist, so it's tough for me to simply record an episode and send it to my editor without doing a pass myself. It usually takes 3-5 minutes of editing per 1 minute of audio. If you have a complex show with music, sound effects, ads spliced in, etc., then I expect it'll take even longer.

      Runner up is preparation. Again, this is optional. But it takes me about 2-4 hours of prep before I'm ready to go into an episode. That includes researching the guest, listening to other podcasts they were on, reading their writing, and coming up with my list of questions. Sometimes I procrastinate and only spend 30 minutes prepping beforehand, and then my questions suck.

      I guess I should mention guest selection. If you've got an interview show then picking the right guests is everything. I want founders of successful, scalable, bootstrapped tech businesses, who are both great storytellers and great tacticians. Not always easy to find.

      1. 1

        I wouldn't recommend outsourcing your editing for anything under at least $75 if you're hiring someone in the US that's going to be sufficient (that said I have a VA that does JUST edits for $25, I still add music, fix small mistakes, ect, but I've had to train him from the ground up)

        Regarding time spent editing, it doesn't HAVE to be such a time-consuming process. I've developed a system that allows me to edit with a 2:1 ratio, so if it's an hour-long podcast episode I can usually do it start-to-finish in 2 hours (this is also what I do for a living so lots of experience/muscle memory at play)

        The most time-consuming part of being a podcaster should be finding great guests & preparing for amazing conversations, so Courtland hats off haha ;)

  4. 3

    Have you ever recorded an episode with a guest and decided not to publish it because, for whatever reason, it turned out to not be a good conversation?

    Related: have you ever lost/screwed up the recording and ended up not being able to turn a conversation into an episode for technical reasons?

    1. 1

      Yep, at least 5 or 6 times now. I really should do it more often. I don't think it's fair to listeners or good for the show to ever publish a mediocre conversation. Then again, if I were better at vetting guests, this would probably never happen in the first place.

      I've never lost a recording. I use Zencastr to make a local recording on the guest's end, and I simultaneously record on my end by piping my speakers' output into an input channel. I'd have to be super unlucky to lose both recordings.

      1. 3

        @csallen, what are the signs of a mediocre conversation? And what advice would you give to someone preparing to be a guest on a podcast?

      2. 2

        Yep, at least 5 or 6 times now.

        When this happens, how do you communicate this to the guest? How long do you wait after the conversation to let them know the conversation will not be published?

        As the host, I feel an obligation to the audience, but also to the guest since they volunteered their time and, giving them the benefit of the doubt, did their best to prepare for the conversation and share interesting stories. I guess this is a textbook sunk cost situation.

        As a guest, I would feel kind of pissed that I spent time recording an episode and then it was not published. If I knew that I didn't do a good job, I would be more understanding, but if I thought I was a good guest (and the host ended up disagreeing), then I would be annoyed.

        I really should do it more often. I don't think it's fair to listeners or good for the show to ever publish a mediocre conversation.

        Thanks for always thinking of quality. As a fan of the show, it definitely shows.

        Then again, if I were better at vetting guests, this would probably never happen in the first place.

        Yup. Easier said than done, though.

        1. 3

          When episodes are going poorly I try to stop them mid-way and say so. People are usually understanding. The point is that you as the host want the guest to look great, so your interests are aligned with theirs, and they can tell. Nobody wants to be the worst episode on your podcast.

          1. 1

            What words/approaches have worked well for you here?

            Do you interject and say something like "I feel like our conversation is a bit rambling. Let's try to refocus it and talk about X. It would be great if you could share more personal stories too"?

            1. 3

              No clue, actually. I just say whatever feels natural, whatever's specific to the situation. Probably something like, "Hey, I feel like this episode isn't going as well as it could…"

  5. 3

    This isn't a question, but a note! The quick chat you recently did was great! I'm down for more of those!

    1. 2

      Lots more on the way! What'd you like about it? Anything in particular you think I should do more of?

      1. 2

        As somebody who is still learning, improving, and moving the needle to our first paid customers, it's nice to hear you talk to people in the same boat more often then the people that are up and running with 10k monthly revenue.

        Granted, I enjoy both, I just take away more from the above. Thanks for IH podcasts!

        1. 1

          Yeah and it definitely added to that sense of community. Knowing that I'm not alone in building products and I'm not too far off from where they are in the quick chats!

  6. 3

    Which interview did you learn the most from?

    1. 8

      Interesting question. I don't think about this as much as I should. I can't just give one answer, so here are a few:

      • Jason Fried, the founder of Basecamp and author of Rework; Nir Eyal, the author of Hooked; James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits; and Josh Kaufman, the author of The Personal MBA. Whenever I interview authors I tend to read their books beforehand, so I learn a lot.

      • Julian Shapiro. Growth expert, full of info, and a good friend of mine.

      • Ben Halpern. He runs a site very similar to IH, so it was fun mining him for information.

      • Jason Cohen. It's hard not to learn from him any time he writes or says anything. Wish I could follow him around for a week.

      • Natalie Nagele. Really got me thinking about different ways to run a business.

      • Adam Wathan and Wes Bos. The world of course creators is nuts, and they're two of the most successful.

      I'm leaving out a lot for sure.

  7. 2

    @csallen if you spent all the time you spend on Twitter each week instead producing additional podcast episodes, would it be positive net value for your overall brand?

    1. 3

      I actually don't spend as much time as it may seem on Twitter. I try to tweet insightful things when inspiration strikes and stay silent otherwise. I'm not sure I could produce that much more podcast content with the time I spend on Twitter.

      I also think there's a certain sense in which being absent from Twitter can reduce a tech brand's relevance, a bit like if Coke were to stop all their advertising. I can't back that up with any data, but with a bunch of anecdotal evidence that people feel like IH is more of a "thing" when we're tweeting regularly, and I suspect that helps us with landing guests, etc.

      So probably the sweet spot for me is keep spending a couple of hours on Twitter every week, but no more, and then spend my remaining time writing code and working on the podcast.

      1. 1

        Agree on the advertising thing except that Coke can do a little more delegation there.

        Until it is possible to hire a good social media marketing manager, I'm always feeling the pain of opportunity cost when I spend time on Twitter.

        And I love Twitter.

  8. 2

    @csallen How has hosting a podcast changed your perspective on other podcasts you listen to?

    1. 1

      Mostly that I now just listen to other podcasts with a maker's perspective, probably like a chef visiting other restaurants. I'm always evaluating how good things are and how my podcast compares, what I can do better, whether I can learn anything from them, speculating about their audience, etc.

      Btw poker got crazy last night! We were up playing til 3am and raised the blinds to 5/10 😬

      1. 1

        $5/$10?! That is a step up.

  9. 2

    This is such a great thread! I'm curious, what's in your podcast rotation at the moment? Who inspires you in podcasting?

    I appreciated the response about how you find your guests. What do you think makes for a great Indie Hackers podcast guest? How do you evaluate this? And, I'd love to be in te podcasting group!

    1. 1

      I don't listen to a ton of startup/tech podcasts. I mostly just listen in preparation for my own episodes, or just to generally keep myself sharp and in the loop. My favorite shows aren't are in other fields: Conversations with Tyler is great, as is Dan Carlin's Hardcore History, and many episodes of Making Sense with Sam Harris.

      The ideal IH podcast guest matches the following criteria:

      • founder

      • business is scalable (SaaS, e-commerce, etc.) rather than an agency

      • business is in tech

      • self-funded

      • confident speaker

      • has an inspiring story

      • has original tactics and insights

      • willing to be transparent about numbers

      • some name recognition or an audience

      • etc.

      I usually just listen to other podcasts people have been on to get a sense, or watch talks they've given. To some degree you can just rely on name recognition. If I hear this person's name come up over and over again, they'll probably make for a good guest.

      1. 1

        Good list - clearly it's a recipe that seems to be working. I still have never listened to Sam Harris' podcast. I need to check it out.

  10. 2

    How much of your motivation is learning vs creating something insightful vs creating something popular? Is your main metric the sheer number of downloads / minutes people have spent listening to you or is it something else?

    PS I'd love to be in your podcaster group!

    1. 3

      What I often tell guests is that I want every episode to be inspiring, educational, and entertaining. This means some combination of sharing numbers, tactics, and stories.

      But I mostly just aim to make the show "not suck." That's literally what I'm thinking about going into every episode. I feel personally embarrassed when I release an episode that isn't received well, so honestly I just think a lot about trying to avoid that feeling. 🙈

      The podcast has always been a secondary priority behind other parts of IH, so I haven't been able to give it the focus and attention that it deserves. In recent weeks that's changed, and I'm giving it a lot more of my time. As a result, my questions, my goals, and my process for choosing guests to bring on are all evolving. The goal that I feel myself zeroing in on is for each episode to have a high density of insightful exchanges seamlessly woven into a good story.

      1. 1

        I'm a pretty big fan of the podcast. The only thing I might like more on IH is the interviews, since I've found several that were very directly useful to me.

        It's always interesting to hear about goals. It's not surprising at all that the goal has been more qualitative.

  11. 2

    Oh my, thank you so much @csallen. This thread is pure gold and once again, your community turns out to be so helpful.

    I'm just starting out podcasting. So far, I am concerned with all the logistics.

    • For people that aren't famous or do not have much to read or see online, how do you get information about them?

    • Do you have a short prep session before the actual episode recording to get an idea of what people want to or can talk about? Or does your interview start from the minute you talk to them?

    • How much time do you ask your guests to block for the interview?

    • Do you give your guests some guideline for preparation? Hardware/Software/Questions?

    • How much of the recorded material are you ending up using?

    • Why did you decide to go for a 1+ hour podcast?

    • Do you cut out excessive "ahems, ums, errs" of your guests?

    • Do you concise answers to questions of your guests?

    • How do you decide on which parts are interesting and which parts can be cut out? Do you ask other people's opinion on that?

    1. 2

      For people that aren't famous or do not have much to read or see online, how do you get information about them?

      Ask them for information over email. For example, you can ask what parts of their story seem to resonate most with others, what parts they care about most, etc. You can also ask them to point you in the direction of things they've written, interviews they've done, etc. Quite often I'll have a 20 minute phone call with a guest a week or two before their episode airs. Almost everyone agrees to that.

      Or does your interview start from the minute you talk to them?

      Nope, I never start cold. I usually book a 75-minute slot on the calendar and we spend at least a few minutes talking to each other before I hit record.

      Do you give your guests some guideline for preparation? Hardware/Software/Questions?

      I rarely send out questions beforehand.

      How much of the recorded material are you ending up using?

      Usually 100% of it, but quite often I'll cut out an exchange or two.

      Why did you decide to go for a 1+ hour podcast?

      Randomly chose that length without thinking, then stuck to it.

      Do you cut out excessive "ahems, ums, errs" of your guests?

      I tell my editor to do this. Sometimes he does, sometimes he doesn't. I'll emphasize it more to him when I think the guest really didn't come off as well as they should have. It's really important for me for the guests to sound great, because I personally hate it when I go on podcasts and don't sound my best.

      Do you concise answers to questions of your guests?

      Not sure what you mean here, missed a word. Do I give concise answers if they ask me questions on the air? I dunno. I can be long-winded, but I try not to be on my own podcast. The episodes are about the guests, not about me.

      How do you decide on which parts are interesting and which parts can be cut out? Do you ask other people's opinion on that?

      I just use my judgment. Everyone's opinions here are wildly different. I'm often surprised by people loving episodes I thought were mediocre or vice versa.

      1. 2

        Wow, thank you so much @csallen for answering all my question in detail. I'm blown away.

        Do you concise answers to questions of your guests?

        What I wanted to say is: Do you sometimes condense the answer of a guest?

        Say, the guest answers your question, but parts of it are repetitive or sound fluffy. Do you sometimes "improve" the flow by removing certain parts of one answer - obviously keeping the original meaning?

        Thanks again for taking the time and sharing all your experiences with us!

        1. 1

          Yeah I'd say I do that once every 5-10 episodes.

  12. 2

    What is the worst mistake that you have made with the show so far and how did you recover from it?

    1. 3

      Nothing egregious comes to mind. I've had to throw it away a number of episodes that didn't go well, which isn't great news to deliver to the guest, but is still better than releasing. Luckily I've never lost any recordings. I get some occasional criticism for not having profanity warnings or a sufficiently diverse cast of guests.

      1. 1

        Just out of curiosity. Would you ever be opened the idea of releasing those episodes that haven't been released and/or the unedited versions of the ones that have been released?

        1. 1

          Nah those will never see the light of day :-D

  13. 2

    Has producing the podcast changed since getting acquired by Stripe?

    • Is there less pressure now that you don't need to make money from the show directly?

    • Is there more pressure to put out high quality episodes constantly?

    • What can you do with the show now that you could not do on your own (before Stripe)?

    • Have things remained basically the same?

    1. 4

      Nope it hasn't changed.

      I wouldn't say there's more or less pressure. Nobody at Stripe is telling me how to run the podcast or even inquiring into how I make decisions about it, so I feel completely independent there. Plus there's no need for me to run ads, so there's less pressure to make money. But I do care about making the acquisition a worthwhile one for Stripe, so I have some added internal pressure there.

      Generally, the longer I work on the podcast, the more I want it to improve. I'd hope the last 10 episodes are always better than the 10 episodes before that. I worry sometimes that I'll run out of ideal guests, but so far so good. It's probably not a rational worry.

      Not much has changed in terms of capabilities. I can probably get my boss to intro me to some people who otherwise wouldn't agree to come onto the show, given that he's the CEO, but I haven't really asked for that yet.

  14. 2

    How exactly did you go from zero to one? Like, from the very beginning, up until the point of a nontrivial amount of traction. How did that happen?

    1. 4

      Indie Hackers started as a blog. The blog got a lot of traffic via Hacker News, which allowed me to build a mailing list. Then I grew the podcast off the back of the mailing list.I'm not 100% sure that people would've heard of the IH podcast if not for the website or the mailing list providing a springboard.

      Then again, the first month the podcast only got 8k downloads total, and last month it got 265k, so it's come a very long way. Nowadays there are tons of people who've heard the podcast but never been to the website.

      I haven't done anything particularly special. What @AlexDaro said is true: just be consistent, show up every day, and do your best work. Podcast downloads go up when I'm putting out good episodes and I'm releasing every week. They stagnate or go down when I take long breaks or release mediocre episodes. Pretty simple.

      I suspect the subject matter is important, too. People won't listen to just anything. The IH podcast does well in large part because of the kinds of conversations we're having, and the fact that there exists a "market" of listeners who really benefit from listening to these. If I "showed up every day" to record a podcast about underwater basket weaving, I probably wouldn't get many downloads!

      1. 1

        Awesome, thanks for the response! There's two thoughts that I find myself having:

        1. It seems like you really succeeded in Making Something People Want. Tons of people post to Hacker News but few really get a lot of traffic. And then from there, it seems like the podcast was pretty "sticky" too.

        2. HN as a distribution channel seems like it played a big role. Consider the underwater basket weaving example. Imagine that there really is a huge market of people who wanted such a blog/podcast. Even if that were true, how would you reach them? To my knowledge, there isn't an easy way to do so. Whereas with Indie Hackers, you have the audience and the distribution channel (HN in this case). It seems like both are pretty important. And if so, I'm wondering whether attacking the distribution channel part would be a good way to further Stripe's goal of increasing the GDP of the internet.

        1. 2

          Bingo. I only started IH in the first place because I knew HN would be a good distribution channel. And most of the features and decisions I made about IH, at least in the early stage, were tailored to ensure that the HN audience would enjoy it.

          If you build a square and then discover a circular hole, it's tough to shove the square inside. But if you examine the whole first, then you can build a circle from the get-go.

          Ofc the danger of building for a particular distribution channel is that you may become dependent on it while also not fitting into other channels well.

    2. 2

      I might be able to answer this one on behalf of @csallen. I’ve realized recently that it comes down to “doing the work”. Waking up every day and consistently, relentlessly getting out there and being vulnerable. It’s honestly not magic pixie dust going from zero to one. It’s hard work and an insane level of focus.

      Here’s a little story on how I found the indiehackers podcast. One day around 2016, maybe 2017 I randomly searched apple’s podcast player for dev related stuff. I think I downloaded some random JavaScript podcast (wish I could remember which one it was). There was an episode where they interviewed @csallen giving a horribly recorded talk on how he started indiehackers. The quality was so bad 😂 but I was immediately hooked. I then looked up IH and have been a fan ever since.

      Mad respect to the people that pull it off ✊🏻 Most of us fuck around all day.

  15. 2

    How do you find guests? Inbound? Networking? Cold emails?

    1. 5

      I get a lot of inbound requests, but I mostly ignore those. There seems to be a very high correlation between people who ask to be on the podcast and people who don't make for great guests. There are exceptions, but those are usually people who I already know by name and would've gotten around to inviting anyway.

      Listeners will often suggest people for me to invite on, and I've also tried to make a habit of asking my guests who they think I should interview. A lot of these suggestions turn out to be great once I do some research on them.

      Recently I've added a new type of episode called "quick chats" to the podcast. For these I just look at people posting great milestones on Indie Hackers and send them an email inviting them on.

      As far as outreach, I almost always just send a Twitter DM or an email. I'd estimate 90% respond and say yes, 5% don't respond, and 5% say "yes but later."

      I've got a very long list of people who I'd like to invite on, and I'm always working my way through that backlog. Probably the biggest challenge is that I'd like the podcast to be a bit more diverse, but it's hard to find founders who match my ideal criteria.

      1. 1

        Do you have a template message that you use to invite people via Twitter DM and/or email? If yes, are you willing to share it here? If no, do you just informally say "Hey, want to come on my podcast?"

        When I reach out to people to invite them on my podcast, I want to give them some brief context for who I am and what my podcast is about since it is a new show and they have not heard of it (or me) before. Of course, it still needs to be concise so that they actually read it.

        I could see this becoming easier over time as a show becomes more popular and guests likely have context and have even listened to it before (e.g. IndieHackers).

        1. 2

          Nope, super concise and informal, no templates. It helps tremendously that most people I invite onto the show have at least heard of Indie Hackers before.

          Sometimes I'll mention download numbers, who the audience is, and/or what the purpose of the show is, if I'm asking someone on who I don't think is familiar with IH.

  16. 1

    Which service do you use to generate the Indie Hackers podcast transcripts? Love that you have speaker break downs and tagging of who said what and when.

      1. 1

        Thanks for sharing Courtland. Anything in particular that you drew you to Chris and his business?

        1. 2

          I just got tired of all the automated solutions doing a poor job. Chris' team does it by hand, it's always great, and he accommodates specific requests.

  17. 1

    This is a great thread. Thanks for answering these, Courtland!

    • What software do you use for editing?

    • What features of the software do you wish you discovered earlier?

    • Do you notice a difference in conversation quality when the guest is in the room with you vs. recording remotely? IIRC, some guests have recorded in the room with you (Lynn Tye, Vincent Woo).

    • What mistakes do you see other podcasters make that you try to avoid in yours?

    1. 2

      I edit using Adobe Audition. I like it, but I've never tried anything else. It gets the job done. I barely use any of the features tbh. I'm sure there are some good ones I don't know about. My editing is limited to trimming, deleting, and occasionally re-recording clips. I have a "real" editor who does sound quality stuff.

      People seem to like the episodes where I'm in the room with my guest — Lynne Tye, Vincent Woo, patio11, Shola Akinlade, and Danielle Baskin. But I'm not sure if the correlation implies causation. It's probably the case that I only plan in-person episodes with people I know will be great.

      The top mistakes other podcasters make? Hmm. I don't know if I'd call them mistakes, but there are things people do that I don't particularly like:

      • not taking the time to prepare good questions for the guest

      • talking to much as the host of an interview show without saying anything particularly insightful

      • not having a compelling theme for their podcast as a whole, which means they bring on random guests and don't appeal to any particular market of listeners

      • corny or obnoxious intros and music

      • trying to talk "like a podcaster" and copying what other podcasters are doing, resulting in a show that's totally undifferentiated therefore unremarkable

      • not asking follow-up questions

      • volume issues, e.g. the episode is too quiet, or the speakers are at different volumes (I've had some of these with my podcast, too)

      • quitting way too early, before they even get to 8 episodes

      1. 1

        Interesting, thanks!

        I started with Audacity, then did a one-month trial of Audition. I thought Audition was a nicer experience overall, but I could achieve the same things in Audacity, so I couldn't justify the $300+/yr fee on a podcast that doesn't earn money.

  18. 1

    Do you get many requests from experts interested in promoting their book / paid seminar etc?

    1. 1

      Yep lots. I almost always say no unless it's someone I recognize and like, e.g. James Clear.

  19. 1

    Do you know where exactly people skip forward 15/30 sec when listening?

    1. 1

      Yep, more info here

  20. 1

    There are lots of similar podcasts out there. What is your thought process about outdoing the competition? What made you confident that you could do so when you were getting started, and what do you see as your competitive advantages?

    1. 2

      When I started the IH podcast, I rarely ever listened to other tech or startup podcasts. I don't remember thinking about the competition a single time.

      Nowadays I'm more aware of all the similar podcasts, but I wouldn't say I'm competitive. I'm more just curious about how they work, and how I can learn from them to make my own show better. I actually enjoy listening to a few of them.

  21. 1

    Hey Courtland, this thread is a great initiative. I’ve always been curious to better understand how you track the performance of each episode beyond Download numbers. Can you get analytics on average length of listening session per user? Drop of rate as the episode elapses? Source of traffic etc?

    1. 1

      Only on a per-platform basis. For example, Spotify will show me stats for Spotify listeners, same with iTunes. The numbers are all over the place. On average, people listened to Pieter Levels' episode for 90 minutes! I've had some episode where people only listen for 20 minutes on average.

  22. 1

    Would be honored with an invite for the podcast group. Thanks for offering.

  23. 1

    @csallen I'd love to join the podcasting group.

  24. 1

    Ah, forgot to mention. I'd love to be invited!

  25. 1

    Can you provide details on your process/workflow for recording an episode with guests?

    (sorry this question turned into a wall of text)

    • How do you keep track of episode ideas, which guests you want to reach out to, those you have already contacted, whether they agreed, when you will record with that guest, etc?

    • What information do you require/ask from guests before they come on the show? Do they provide this information by filling out a form, replying to an email, in-person on your call before you hit record, other?

    • When in the process do guests provide you with a headshot for the podcast page on the website?

    • How much/what information do you provide guests so that they know what to expect before agreeing to record an episode? I created a short (~300 word) guide that I send to potential guests to give them an idea of the commitment they are making and what the recording process looks like. This seems to be working well so far, but I only have 4 episodes live so far.

    • Do you send any questions or outline to the guests before recording, or is your research just to help you make a list of questions that you keep to yourself and use during the live recording?

    • Do you coordinate episode publication dates with guests, or do you just choose a convenient date for your calendar and inform guests when the episode will go live?

    1. 2

      How do you keep track of episode ideas, which guests you want to reach out to, those you have already contacted, whether they agreed, when you will record with that guest, etc?

      I just write it down. I use Notion. Love that app.

      What information do you require/ask from guests before they come on the show? Do they provide this information by filling out a form, replying to an email, in-person on your call before you hit record, other?

      Nothing. I regard it as my responsibility to prepare. Guests shouldn't have to do anything imo. I do invite them to have a 20-minute prep phone call with me a few weeks beforehand, but it's optional.

      When in the process do guests provide you with a headshot for the podcast page on the website?

      I just grab their Twitter photo.

      How much/what information do you provide guests so that they know what to expect before agreeing to record an episode? I created a short (~300 word) guide that I send to potential guests to give them an idea of the commitment they are making and what the recording process looks like. This seems to be working well so far, but I only have 4 episodes live so far.

      I normally don't send anything about this. I suppose my calendar invite says it'll be a 75-minute block of time, and to wear headphones.

      Do you send any questions or outline to the guests before recording, or is your research just to help you make a list of questions that you keep to yourself and use during the live recording?

      Nope, I rarely send guests questions in advance. I've done it maybe 5 or 10 times out of 105 episodes recorded.

      Do you coordinate episode publication dates with guests, or do you just choose a convenient date for your calendar and inform guests when the episode will go live?

      I usually publish when convenient to me. Once or twice I've tried to coordinate with guests, which is easy to do when I have a backlog going, but difficult to stick to otherwise. I really don't want to miss weeks, so sometimes I have to release episodes earlier than planned if I don't have enough material recorded in the interim.

  26. 1

    Any tips on how to be a good host other than lots of practice (as Im sure that is the best way to get good at being a podcast host)?

    1. 3

      Listen to the guest, don't make it about you. People will get very bored very fast hearing your same opinions episode after episode. IMO way too many interviews spend way too much time talking. That said, some people have told me I don't talk enough about myself, so perhaps I'm too extreme in my belief here.

      Listening well also helps you ask great follow-up questions, which listeners appreciate.

      Spend lots of time prepping your questions. It's always surprising to me how much better my questions get with just an extra hour of work. And guests really appreciate great questions.

      Be flexible. It's good to have a plan going into an episode, but free-flowing conversations rarely stick to a plan. You have to be comfortable with that and adjust, rather than trying to force things. If you're interviewing someone else, you never truly know what you're going to get. They might be tired, they might be long-winded, they might be overly concise, they might go off-topic a ton. But the goal is to present them in their best light, so you just have to go with it.

      It's hard to say how much practice helps. I suppose if you're very deliberate in your practice, you go back and listen to past episodes, you take notes on how you can improve, etc. One thing practice certainly does is make you more comfortable. I used to get nervous before episodes, but now I don't.

      Lastly, develop your own style. Humans are copy machines. We all feel more comfortable copying others than blazing our own trails. But humans are also novelty machines. We get bored of hearing the same old things and crave information we've never heard before. If you want to give people novelty, you have to resist the urge to copy others. It's not comfortable, but it's the only way.

  27. 1

    I’d love to be in the group. Thanks!

  28. 1

    How much do sponsors pay podcasters for advertising?

    1. 2

      I haven't had any sponsors in 2 years, but I did have sponsors for the first month or two of the podcast. Back then I was averaging something like 1k downloads per episode and charging sponsors $300 for a 30-second ad slot, I believe. That's actually quite a lot on hindsight. I'm not sure that could've scaled, or I'd be charging $24K/episode today for two ad slots :-D

      1. 1

        @csallen Why haven't you had sponsors in 2 years?

        What's the process of reaching to advertisers like? Is it easy? Difficult?

        What I really want to know is, how difficult is it for podcasters to monetize their podcast?

        1. 3

          Stripe owns Indie Hackers, so I don't need sponsors.

          I found it pretty straightforward to reach out to advertisers. I just sent a concise cold email. They either responded or they didn't. If they did, then half the time we worked out a deal. I just winged it, and it worked out.

          I'd wager most podcasters find it difficult to monetize. I wouldn't recommend starting a podcast as a business. Either start some other business and (if it's successful) then a podcast on top of that… or start your podcast for fun and only monetize it if it gets big.

      2. 1

        Do the later episodes really have that much more of an audience than the earlier ones? It seems to me like a lot of people would start at #1. I did, at least.

        1. 1

          Yep. Most people don't have that kind of time. The first few episodes have a ton of downloads, but it quickly drops off, as people who try that approach give up.