Podcasters September 24, 2019

Indie Hackers Podcast Growth

Courtland Allen @csallen

Overall Stats

I started the podcast 2 years and 7 months ago. In that time I've released 120 episodes and totaled 4.7M downloads. Here's a chart of daily downloads:

Daily Downloads

And here are the top 20 episodes or so:

Episode Downloads

(Note that older episodes have an advantage, since they've had more time to accrue downloads.)

The median episode gets just over 39,000 downloads nowadays.

Recent Growth

Based on the survey I send out to new IHers who sign up for the community, the podcast is now the #1 way people discover the website, which is hilarious, because the website is the only reason the podcast ever grew in the first place.

I have no data on how people discover the podcast, but it's almost certainly driven by word-of-mouth growth. Consistency helps, too. You can see download gaps in the chart whenever I'm missing weeks or taking breaks.

So in mid-July, I doubled the release frequency. Previously, I released a new hour-long episode every Friday. I moved that episode to Mondays, and I replaced the Friday slot with a new "quick chat" episode that's a bit more casual, experimental, and only 30 minutes long. I've also been putting more time into episode prep and guest selection in general, and focusing on consistency. I don't believe I've missed a week since May.

The results have been pretty solid. It looks like the show will average 10k downloads/day in Q3, up from 8k in Q2. The last few weeks have been closer to 11k downloads/day.

Future Plans

Is 35% more downloads worth 2x the work? 🤔 It's hard to say.

I love working on the podcast when I'm able to put more time into it. It's also been pretty cool bring on more guests who I discover from the IH community itself, which the new milestones feature has helped a ton with.

But spending more time on the podcast comes at the cost of spending more time making the website better, which I probably love doing even more.

Most likely what I'll do is keep up the podcasting pace for at least another quarter and see what happens.

I'm considering starting a podcast-specific newsletter, with transcripts and maybe some extras if I can think of something worthwhile.

As always, I appreciate your feedback and ideas!

  1. 7

    Love the podcast. It's consistently interesting. Also enjoying the new quick chats.

    Searchable transcripts would be cool. Especially when trying to find episodes that include some specific subject. And good for SEO, I suspect. :)

    Now that you have a pretty massive archive (120 episodes!) it might also be worth surfacing a few all-time greats on the /podcast page.

  2. 5

    It's great to see you finally really pumped about the podcast. For so long, it felt like I was almost alone in saying it was one of the most valuable parts of IH as opposed to just something to drive people to the forum!

    I must have sent dozens if not hundreds of people to your podcast over the past couple of years. Please don't stop anytime soon!

    I've been seriously reassessing my time spent on the forum but will probably get around to listening to the vast majority of every podcast you make for the next several years.

  3. 5

    Your per-episode download numbers are gigantic.

    Any way you can syphon more efforts from other areas of your marketing time into podcasting?

    1. 2

      It looks like releasing with a higher frequency means fewer downloads per episode, so I'm sure your per-episode download numbers would be similar if you weren't doing 5 episodes/week!

      …other areas of your marketing time into podcasting?

      I'm trying to do the opposite ;-)

  4. 3

    Hi @csallen - New to IH, but not to the podcast or hacking things together. I just wanted to say I really appreciate all of your hard work on the podcast. I jog for about an hour everyday and I constantly listen to audio books and podcasts around building businesses, tech, and entrepreneurship. It's such a drag to have to spend time hunting down good content. I'm so thankful for your hard work on the podcast as it's relevant and constantly has new content out pretty rapidly!

    1. 2

      Thank you for listening and for the kind words!

  5. 3

    Awesome!

    I'm far from the only one to notice it, but you're definitely a natural podcast host (not discounting the hard work you put into it in any way) - it's lucky you discovered that.

    I'm really enjoying both the traditional and "quick chat" episodes. I hope you keep doing both.

    If you were considering switching it up a bit or adding more content, I'd love to see you try and bring back the "office hours" as a 1-on-1 podcast session...

    Ideally featuring 2-3 founders being coached through their challenges in a specific area (eg sales) by a guest expert. Possibly moderated by you.

    IMO this would be super valuable for the IHer community. No matter how great your questions are, they'll never be as actionable as listening to an expert guest coach an IHer through their challenges.

    In the S4F course I started recording short 1-on-1s on specific topics (eg cold email feedback) and sharing them with the community. Didn't expect much out of it, but the participants love it and it has been a massive success.

  6. 2

    Very awesome.. still listen to traditional startup podcasts but this is still my favorite podcast by far. Love hearing these non-VC underdog stories. Thank you!

  7. 2

    you're definitely a natural podcast host

    100% agree with @louisswiss - you absolutely nail the questions, and make the guests comfortable and talkative.

    A friend and I share & discuss nearly every episode. Thank you so much for your work on this.

  8. 1

    Was thinking about this some more and I think it would be good to ask whether "number of downloads" is the thing you actually want to optimise.

    If you have 20 listeners getting yuuuuge value isn't that better than 20,000,000 listeners getting very little value?

    Its natural to focus on things we can actually measure but isn't always the best thing to do.

    "Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."

    1. 2

      You're right, and I think about this a lot -- the tradeoff between impact and numbers. Oftentimes more of one means less of the other. Which is why my goal has always been to grow IH with the constraint that I'm not sacrificing quality to do it.

      I think the podcast is one place where it's relatively easy to live up to that aspiration. There's a strong case to be made that the show's been better in the last 6 months than it's ever been in the past, while simultaneously being much bigger. It'd be awesome to keep improving in both of those directions.

  9. 1

    I don't think 2x the work is worth 35% more downloads, though it really depends on the actual time commitment, right? Eliminating the gaps seems more important, imo. So if you're going to put in the added work, make sure you're building in a queue of shows so you can take a break and keep the content flowing. A little more work to keep a very consistent cadence of contact which should be less time than the extra episode, which provides more time for the website.

    I have liked the Quick Chat episodes, but they are not as impactful and engaging as the full episodes (I am being super general here). Perhaps they don't need to be weekly.

    Thank you for all you have been doing. I appreciate your efforts.

    1. 1

      Thank you for the feedback! I might cut down on quick chats, we'll see…

  10. 1

    This is killer and helpful insight as we think about growing upside.fm. Transcripts are actually pretty easy IMO -- we put them into otter.ai (free) and then hire someone on Upwork for $5-10/hr to clean them up. Typically takes 2-3 hrs for a 60-90 minute episode. Easy peasy, and has proven to be super valuable for us from an SEO perspective.*

    *bonus, when we put snippets from past episodes into newer episodes, transcripts make that suuuper easy from a production standpoint too.

  11. 1

    Nice work on the downloads! You've done great with your show, and the website. I would echo @JeffMeyerson - I'm wondering if your other marketing efforts could be cut and put into podcasting... might simplify (some) things.

  12. 1

    Time for post-podcast production :)

  13. 1

    @csallen I use https://dialup.com/ and many of the users listen to the podcast but haven't heard of the site. It blows my mind everytime.

  14. 1

    Absolutely love the podcast. Many long car rides have been filled with Indie Hackers podcast content. Keep up the great work!

  15. 1

    Nice work, can't get enough of the content.

  16. 1

    Nice! Love the podcast @csallen, awesome to see it doing such strong numbers.

  17. 1

    Courtland dug into these numbers a bit at the last Worldwide meetup as well. Link starts right when the question about podcast growth was asked.

  18. 1

    Congrats! That's hilarious that more people come from the podcast now. Never know what's gunna work

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