February 26, 2020

12 episodes and 15,000 downloads

Michaela @Madamdo

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. And today, I finally launch it on Product Hunt. If you have some time, I'd love for you to check it out and leave some feedback. 👉https://www.producthunt.com/posts/software-engineering-unlocked-podcast

Also, 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 for each 1-minute 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 you much more focus for the interview if you 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 you 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. guests were the higher were my success rates. So, many not so "well-known" people just never responded, or said they did not have the time to be on my podcast.
It was also quite a challenge to keep track of conversations, especially because the happened everywhere. Right now, I use Trello, to keep track of who I contacted (on which platform) and what the status is. I also prepared a document that includes the interview instructions that I send to each guest. The invite message is never based on a template but written individually for each person.

3.) Being amplified by thought leaders

I'm very grateful that some very influential people - such as Courtland Allen, 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 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 host

I researched a lot about which podcasting host 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 intuitive. I also thought about pinecast, and in hindsight, I might choose them. I did not, because I was afraid if they provide enough 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.

If you haven't, please check out the Software Engineering Unlocked podcast here 👉se-unlocked.com, and give it some love through feedback on ProductHunt 👉https://www.producthunt.com/posts/software-engineering-unlocked-podcast.

Also, let me know in the comments if you have more questions. It would mean the world to me!

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