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Episode 12: Owen Williams

Bet On Yourself podcast.

May 13

Developer and journalist Owen Williams talks about building Charged, his popular tech news newsletter.

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Hello and welcome to Indy Dotes, the podcast for independent creators. I'm Susan Bond. I'm your host. And today on the show we have Owen Williams. Owen is tthe e head of digital for ven move, and he also does charged, which is a podcast and one of my favorite tech newsletters. Welcome to the show. Hey, how's it going? It's great. And it's funny as I was, I was prepped for the show, and today I Googled Owen Williams, and I know where to find you. So Owen is not the actor, not the 18 hundreds politician, not a rugby player or a cricketer that I know of, right?


You know, I've been working on my ex CEO for years and I'm still not number one. I need a Wikipedia


pages, right, right, right. It's hard. And I feel like if people know you, I mean, obviously you know you're on Twitter. Yeah, you think


you see over O W.


That's true, although I feel like it's easy to find on Twitter once you know, I always call you out. Everybody


does. Everybody's like out. That's it. It's just may forever no


out. I'm not hurt. I'm just saying I feel like or if they know, charge. Then they confined you, which is really smart. But yes, Siocon, be hard when you have a name that could be very common. It's British. Yeah, well, when it's really hard like we say, like my partners is very hard. Nobody can say it. Where's my name? If you know the Z, you confine me. I'm like the 1st 100


Exactly. I'm just gonna change


my name. And that's I think that's


it, concluded the pall cast. Change my name. That's come back next week,


right? Yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly. It's it's funny. Names are Names are funny like that. So that's what I always do. So it's always interesting to me. Before the show, I always spend. I didn't have my guests. I always spend a lot of time looking at their stuff. China, learn any details I can about them on. Uh, it is funny,

because today I had I was like, No, I know who he is, but I just wanted T if I was missing something and I was like, Oh,


it's very sad


how often I've checked that, like, really to see how I do if you're getting a pyre


in the Reagan. Yeah, like I'm The problem is like Google actually tells you, it shows it higher if you search for yourself and click on your own link. I think, like if you're signed in, So it looks to me like I'm doing really good, but I think to you it probably is different.


It's like, Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, I know. And I look in a browser. Somebody. Yeah, I don't I don't have that. I don't have that. But I don't have that problem with that. You know, I'm I'm doing you know, bet on yourself is the name of my business. Now. Usually I was my name because I could never think of good names for things.

Right. And Susan Bond is pretty. It's fairly unique. Especially with busy in there. But now bet on yourself. I'm going through through that. But if you put it, if you plug in bed on yourself, I'm very high up. But I'm the top one. But then after that, there's a little Yeah, you know, s e o working on things.


The name of the game. That's all that matters


all about, right? Eh? So let's talk about. I mean, as people who follow me on Twitter know anything you know, charged is absolutely one of my favorite tech newsletters, if not my favorite every single week. When did you start


it? What year was? Oh, my God. It feels like forever ago. Actually, it's one of those things when you've been doing that kind of thing.


I know that. I saw it like I'm on product on. It was like I know it came out on product. Hunted like 2014. Think


it's at least three years. Um, I was just trying to think exactly the date that it was made. I think up to issue 130 now. So it must be about three is a give attacks of miss, like, maybe five weeks that whole time.


Right. I think maybe you missed a week when you re branding, like, pause a little bit. Yeah, there


was. Actually, there was a whole month where I didn't send it. I got all these kind of crazy because I got to the point like this is maybe for way later in the broadcast. But I got to this point after I think it was two years where I had just been sending it every week week. So like, you get into this regularity thing, right? And you just kind of do it. But I didn't really stop and make it better if that makes any sense. So it was kind of just chugging along right around her. And then I realized, like maybe if I just stopped doing it and take a break, kind of like think about a little bit and then see if I'm inspired to change it in a way, Um, then I'll love it even more. And so I did that.

And for the 1st 2 weeks, I was like, This is amazing. I don't have to say in the newsletter on a Sunday And then I started wondering like what I do with a Sunday. So So


it's funny how we have those creations that


just get in that rhythm rights on Sunday mornings. For the most part, I get up fairly early and I kind of like I have this whole queue of, um, like stuff I've saved on insta paper favored on Twitter or whatever, and I kind of go through there and then step putting it together. But when I stopped, it was this weird things. Oh, what would I put this stuff which was cool. And then a lot of people, a


lot of people like where did it go? You're coming back


freaking out. And that's when I realized Well, like this is actually pretty cool. Like it's cool that people really miss it and actually think about it, cause when you're just making it, you don't even know half the time, right? You just kind of putting it out there.


Well, you don't. And it's interesting because, you know, you can look at, you know, you could look a TTE clicks and you can look ATT opens. But there are a lot of times I've discovered in creating content, you know, my newsletter that I think it's not doing great, you know, whatever. If I looked at the weekly statistics and then someone will say, like, a friend or someone in real life will say I read that article and that advice you told me about X wings, right? So good. I was like, Oh, you


read exactly like Whoa! Oh, my goodness. Those numbers are actually people hope


Well, right. And sometimes the numbers don't even tell the whole picture because you don't know how it might have changed their life. Someone who clicked on something but never said anything else back. You know, you just you don't you don't know. So it is interesting when you hear when you're from people. I'm sure I was like, Please, God,


Exactly. I think you didn't know me in that time and like


I'm pretty sure, Yeah, and that's the thing. But like,


you don't even it's so hard to quantify because you're just so I think maybe Social Media does it. We were so wired to kind of look at the numbers that people follow, like how many people open it. Radha rhetoric. The real weird experience for me was when I moved to Amsterdam. So I moved, I think, like a year or so after I started over a year and 1/2 something like that from Wellington, New Zealand, to Amsterdam and had this weird experience in the 1st 2 weeks, I was hit. Where was at some event? I didn't know anybody. So, like the whole crazy backstory of that as I moved to Amsterdam don't know a soul here Uh, and, um, it was a job, and it was pretty cool. And but I didn't know anyone who was at a party for that job, and


somebody came up to Ah, you're the guy that makes


charge. And I'm like, Who you thought it was some guy. You, me, from the news later. And he was like, Well, what are you doing here? Like I love it. This is crazy thing I read every week, and I was thinking, Holy shit, How can you Sorry, can I swear?


Yes. Uh, yes. Like, how can I, like, bump into


somebody in the other side of the world that reads this thing? It's Ah, it's It's really cool. And so that really kept me going.


Well, yeah, like the numbers again, I I absolutely fell in the trap of looking at the numbers, and I really tried to get


around. Still had That's the only thing you know, that you can quantify that, right? Because it's, you know,


is hard. Did you don't really know what's happening. Someone's mind, You know, I would be creepy to go to their house,


and they're like, Hey, just want to see what's


Ah uh even I want to do that. I want to get some use. Autistic, but okay, Yeah, exactly. You know, well, I want to talk about I love this. I like I love that you did the shifted in the newsletter. And was that because after you've been doing it for a while, you were just kind of getting tired it creatively, you know? You


know I love it. It's a very good question. I think a combination thinks I think when you do something on the side for, like, two years and you know, I mean, you just kind of doing it and it's there. And it's cool that, like at some point, you kind of reach this point and two years is pretty far along, even for a side project like that. I think what you like is this useful known like, ah is X amount of subscribe is like a good amount. I have no idea. And like, what am I doing road over? Actually,

at that point, I think it was kind of an inflection point. Um, I'm trying to think back cause it feels forever ago was almost two years ago now, but I think at that point. I had kind of maybe it was a year ago. I did. It feels like two years. Anyway, uh, I kind of looked at him, like, Does this thing bring me any value? Actually, so maybe being a little bit greedy, but I was kind of thinking Okay,

so I do this news there every week. Why am I doing this? Um, like, is it bringing me value? It takes quite a lot of time every week. I mean, it's still it's probably I mean, if I'm honest, it's at least three hours just to, you know, you've gotta write it and even just saving all the articles and digging them up and then re reading them before takes quite some time. Ah.


Oh, yeah, yeah. You


have to have a thought about him. So even that's the hardest part. Some weeks, it might take five hours because you just nothing like comes out of your brain. But so I kind of was trying to figure out worth like something if I should keep going, and then I kind of thought about it a bit more and yeah, I mean, that was on the break, and I realized like. Yeah, actually, it is a lot of value. The reason I started the thing in the first place was until, like, get rich or something, or I mean, I would love to get rich off a newsletter.

It's like, amazing. But I know I know somebody who does make good money off, but the key for me was actually just It's the weirdest thing. Actually, I was worried about Twitter dying. And here we are three years later, and Twitter is still alive. Ah!


Oh, my God. Wait, Gotta go. Born of this. We see you. So I


Well, I was thinking about it, So I was a journalist at the time, and I don't know I had I am like a twitter addict. I have so many tweets. I'm not even gonna say how many of its into the six figures.




uh. It's a lot of tweets, but I've been there for years and I've built up an audience quite some followers there. And so I was thinking, OK, if I could get like, 20,000 people, whatever it waas on Twitter following me, can I can I, like, transfer that somewhere I own and right Because on Twitter, you're in the midst of Twitter. If the algorithm changes are I did whatever, but that's kind of what was born. I thought, Well, what if I can own the channel a little bit and,

like, provide value at the same time? Like I wasn't thinking? Like, I just want all these people to subscribe. It's like a horrible misunderstanding. Easily. But it was Yeah, I e I love that. Follow me everywhere I go, but I feel like a like an evil email list guy now. But no, it was more about, um I think it was more about, you know, like,

keeping keeping in touch with those people as one thing. And also a number two just like providing some value. I felt like I felt like I didn't really, ever I had never had a project like that before. I just did it, you know? I read take all day. Anyway, I'm like the biggest nerd. I read all of this stuff, and like every conversation I have basically starts with, like So, did you see that thing at Google? Like whatever. But I've kind of thought Well, why don't I at least just put that somewhere. So my i r o friends don't have to hear it, I think, um, but it's


Oh, interesting. Did you? So was it right away? Like what? The news that it was gonna be was Yeah, I knew.


I knew that I wanted to. One of the big motivations for it was also like writing regularly personally. So I mean, I always struggle with that little bit Like blogging is so permanent and on the Internet, but a newsletter feels more intimate, right? So I really wanted to, like, write more frequently. And so the concept of the news that it was one we just take one topic. Ah, and like, kind of explain it really good or like, tie it together really? Well, try and find some reason for somebody to read that, because the whole aim was always if you if you're a normal person and I always forget this because I'm so engrossed in this if you like just a normal person and living somewhere,

you don't know what God was doing. You know, frankly, I don't give a damn. And so, like, tying all that together is really useful because if you look at um, if you look at the verge or TechCrunch or whatever, take block, they basically assume you're constantly looking at them. There's no way to go. If you go there three days off to something happened, it's like it never happened. There's no no way to drag it back up. And it's And that was kind of it. Yeah, and


like they hate


that ever moving nature of kind of home pages in that way. So it's almost like the slow Web movement kind of thing as well. So it's a whole bunch of things. Um, it started out as just ah, well, actually, originally it was gonna be a series of links, and then I kind of realized, Well, you could, but you can. Also, Anyone could do that. So I kind of tried toe. It's still some links, and,

like it's interesting things I've read. And then it's one big thing that I kind of try and break down a little bit. And then, like one other cool product I found that week, and it's basically been the same since, probably about six months in. If you look at the early ones, I mean, you're definitely trying to find your feet. At that point, I had no idea what I was doing.


Yeah, it does. It takes time, right? T to figure that out, eh? So it's largely still intact,


which is crazy to even think about. It feels like forever. But, I mean, it's the style has evolved dramatically in the way that it's written for sure. But even just finding out the way to talk to people in the in boxes like this crazy thing because you are really just emailing people. And so it should be kind of personal. And it's this whole experience I've, I've I've learned, like, the hard way. I couldn't figure out for the six months why my open right was, like, abysmal and attend out. Oh, my God. Okay,

so if anybody's listening and you're working on a newsletter, just be really careful with Gmail, which is, you know, the biggest provider of email in the world has this really arbitrary metric thing Where if your newsletter is 101 100 I think it's 120 kilobytes or more in size, which is nothing. That's like list you could fit, like 12 of those on a floppy disk like this. That's what small words. Okay, Um ah, it will clip it. So eclipse the end of the email address and you get this. You probably seen it before in your inbox. You'll like If it's fairly long, you'll get this message of the bonuses like message clipped on brackets and have to push a button to see the rest.

And what I found out is the way that open tracking and all of those fancy things and Mel Chimp and all those tools work. It's always at the end of the newsletter, right, because it's kind of head in like you don't you don't want people to see it. It's just like it's the way open tracking works. This is an image, actually, and it just it loads it cut open. It's really like old school, but it was below that fold. And so what I have done is I had made this really nice email template. Ah yeah, it's the best thing ever. I'm really like getting good at even know now. And ah, it was too big, actually, So I had Thio go back an undesired a little bit to make it to a kid fit with Google's limits. I was really It was a weird experience. Like and how do you fund it out?


What did you do?


Yes. Oh, no, it's I'm like, Oh, my God. It's like I can't even believe it happened even thinking about it. But s o I had launched the new design. It was running for at least 45 months like I was really confusing. I mean, I'd try not to look at the numbers too much, So that was also exacerbated by that. I didn't really look for a while and somebody e mailed me and I replied, unusually Well, usually keeps getting clipped by g mail. And it was weird because in mine it wasn't being clipped. But I think it was because I was setting myself test messages and not the real thing.

Um, because there's all this magic that happens. Um l trump to send it and whatever. Ah, and then So I had. So I I spent my goodness was the worst weekend ever. Just like it's really hard to gauge the size of an e mail cause it's just like one html file. And you like this so many rules you can't make an email of Beautiful, Really, Uh, there's no, like, full CSS and all this kind of thing. And so, yeah, I spent,

I think, like, three days straight, just trying to figure out how to cram it into that limit. Um, and just I had to un design it, so I really ripped parts of the designer, I think, actually threw that design away. Um, a few weeks later, I just gave up. It was the weirdest experience. So they go and it's still to this day the same. It's like 17. And you can't send an email that's over 130 kilowatts and size,

which is so small if you if you like, use a couple of blocks and you write, I think from Mike Isa, right. Quite some length. But like 10 paragraphs with a nice design, you're basically hit their limit. It's crazy.


Well, so what did you see? Did your open rates dramatically increase when you did


that? Yeah. Yeah. So once I relaunched, it was fixed. But so I've always Harvard around, like, right now it's like 55 60% open right, which is insane. Like still pretty good all these years on Um, But back then it was, you know, like when this happened, it was falling down to 2030%. And that was because the 20 and 30% was, um, people on the highways.

There was basically the only people. So if you have an iPhone like, that's the most other most popular email client and those people were seeing it right, which made it even more confusing. So it's just this weird. Yeah,


that's so fascinating. Yeah. Yeah. I wouldn't mind dipped recently. Really heavily, like, recently addict. Really low. And I thought, Oh, you never know. That's the thing. Tent. Or if it's design. And I have you do that, yeah, Like what is happening?

You know, not like in a bad way. But dips really love when there's like something that's quite out of the norm. Then you're sort of like Did I thin somebody? Why, Yeah, like, is it content? You go through that list, right? Is it content? Is it? You know? Is that what I said? Is it the lynx? Is it?

Did I offend somebody? I once said the f word. It's my once said the f word better. And I was reported for inappropriate and smooth Guy said I never signed up for this inappropriate and hit he had signed up like the week before. I mean, I had proof. I mean, you know, I mean, it is fine to me. It's often the people who mark you as I've only had it happened twice. But the people who have mo que at market is like spammer. Inappropriate are the people who often signed up just a few days before


you're like, Yeah, I've had that a lot.


It's really weird. Yeah. So the one time I said the f bomb and yeah, I said the F bomb, and then he marked me and I was like, a bummer. I guess I got a You gotta be careful. I mean, my audience knows me. I swear, like a truck driver. I try not to on the podcast, but but my audience knows. Yeah, try. I've been trying very hard, but you know, my my audience knows me, but I think


it's all


right. Anyway, it is interesting. You're like, what? When something happens, why does that happen? So when you redesigned now, the rate kind of things kinda went back to normal or popped up after that?


Yeah. Rebounded. Um, I mean, it was very much so user error. But who the hell knows about this? If you like, If you Google. Ah. Message clipped. There's just thousands of threads, mostly e commerce people, actually, to be honest, like confused why their email open rates have dropped off a cliff. Most of them still didn't solve it I made at the time. Um,

I think it was with campaign monitor. At that point, I had already moved, and I'm pretty sure I reached out to them. And they told me, um, it was actually really like, in the end, it was something really dumb. So with e mail, if you want the layout to work really good. This, like, this is a joke. Old philosophy that you're supposed to, um,

in line all of your like, design codes. So you, like, run it through an end liner. And so if you have, like, a link, you have to add this style every link, right? And so doing That makes it, like, way bigger size compared to the web where you just load it once and that was actually the problem. So It was just cause you have to repeat yourself every way to make the design look good. And, like,

Outlook 2010 which nobody uses. Anyway, Um, So I kind of made this executive decision that I don't give a crap about outlook, and it was fun.


It's so fascinating. What do you use male chip these days


or No, No. So I use campaign monitor. Still,


um, you want Theo? You know you're using campaign Got


it yet? So I got a really good deal.


You did okay.


Yeah. Um,


I campaign monitor. I liked a male chimp, actually. Just about to move everything over to Director Fancy. Yeah, yeah, yeah. My partner is a software developer. Sue like, Yeah, he does. He picked the software that I recorded a podcast. He does all of that. I I am not the person


I like it. You just kind of show up and use the sofa. It's


perfect. Yeah, I'm like, Okay, so I need a soft. I need software to does that. Does this, you know, like, for example, I wanted to start podcasting, So he came up with cast, which is that's the software that I used Now and I love it, but yeah, he does all that. He where I'm like, I don't really He can see the possibilities where I can't really see the possibilities always for a piece of software and how they all integrate. But, you know, my job is more like I'm business and career,


right? Just getting the stuff, don't


you? Yeah. Just let me get it done. I mean, I do love tools, but I want I don't like I don't like picking them. I just like using them.


Yeah. I mean, that's very frustrating. Trying to choose like tools anyway, So I use campaign money, sir, I got a really good deal. Um, with them out of this wasn't like a sponsorship or anything, but they kind of Ah, I used Meltem for a really long time. And so the thing that people that who don't send email ah, don't realize his e mails sending so expensive. It's so so horrifically expensive that


Yeah, well, I especially like the rates you send down. You have what? Like I don't know. I mean, I know you have, like, 14,000 more people on your list.


That's a lot. Yeah, it's 13 and 1/2 1000. So I was just like thinking, I'm gonna stab it into male gym. Really first, because I'm curious if I type it into the calculator, what it costs at Male Jim's right Here we go. Just don't mind, mate. Why is this patient? Yeah, and it's, you know, it's a side project. Whatever it looks like, it costs about,

like $240 a month. For this like that, there's a lot of money that's, like not inconsequential amount on. So I moved to campaign manager. I really like campaign monitors, Feature said. It's actually Ah, the ah, the used the editor And Mel tramping on Milton has a lot of features I missed. Don't get me wrong like they're really they're really good at what they do. Um, but campaign monitors editor had a bit of fit for people who use custom templates. So yeah, because I wrote my own thing. I was able to build something that's, like, really predictable on really nice. So


I still use that and the cost is a lot less. Yeah, 240.


Yes, it's nice. That gets pretty good. There. Any small start up and it's It's nice.


Yeah, yeah, I've used them. Like I said, I built some newsletters, ransom newsletters, person folks. Okay,


I think they're Australian or something like that. So


I'm gonna ask that question that might not like me for which is do you make any money


from it? So that's an interesting question, because I've got a long, convoluted


answer for it. No love, convoluted answers


I have I have in the past. So I made like it's some point. I was like, Well, I could make money from this year's little I don't know, Just, like show people ads and you know, that's what everybody does. Eso actually did that for a while, and I had some really cool. Like, I was very picky and I had cool advertisers. I think I probably did it for maybe not even that many issues 2030 issues. And I don't know, ads always made me feel a little bit gross like, Yeah, it's a cool way to make money.

If you can find cool partners reliably, it's actually I really like it like it's a way for them to get in front of people, but it was really time consuming. And I found, um, for me, the money wasn't enough to really justify doing it. So you have to have this, like the problem of advertising says quite some newsletters that have advertising in them and that I'm quite sustainable. There's one called This Famous won Iowa stiff Weekly, which just like some developer thing. And that guy charges $1500 a week for the ad. So it's, you know, that's you could live on that, um,

but the problem is that advertisers and email don't really look at, um, like they'll they'll look at open rates, click rights and stuff. But they also kind of are obsessed with lists eyes, even though, like maybe you're open right is no good. So I, you know, I've had I had, like,


right there still like It's still 30


right? And they're like, Yeah, but it's 13,000 people. It's not like 50,000 but yeah, okay, but go and ask them what the Open writers like if you haven't opened rate of 10% like yeah, OK, it's not a very interesting proposition, so I just didn't enjoy that side of it. Um, so I kind of gave up on it, to be honest, like I'm still always I'm open to it. But ah, I kind of just stopped pushing for it. If that makes sense, I really I really found it hard to find advertises that I really liked and all this kind of thing. So that's fine. I'm Mont considering


the effort and like actually,


the biggest thing was just trying to find, like, people who are willing to advertise without it being super like horrible, thirsty advertising. You know, it's a newsletter and, like, this whole thing is about take and whatever, and it shouldn't feel jabbering. It should be just like, Hey, from your friends at Slack like if you like us, click this and like, that's, You know, I always admired that kind of ad because it's there and they're like supporting something cool. Those are the hardest ed deals to get off course,

but I really So I I admire this ah magazine that I love called off Screen magazine, and, um, it's this one by this guy Kai and Australia, and it's amazing. It's about people in take kind of kind of like what you're doing. Like they tell the stories of like nd people. It's it's really, really cool. Ah, and he and his in the middle section of the magazine he has, I think, six spots or 12 spots for ads. They're all the same color. They all just feature the logo and two lines of techs and, like selects one every week,

is just like, Hey, it's slack. If you want to try us, use this code. Otherwise, have a nice day and it's like, Oh my God, that's


so cool on


I just love how like it's not in your face like obviously there cause they call them like they support my stuff and they're just being friendly and it is hard to find that. So I had a few that were like that. But you know, it's hard to get them toe, keep on board forever. Um, so that was kind of what I did first. And then I had this conversation with a friend. So when I was experimenting with the advertising, he really liked it and like he liked the newsletter. And then he messaged me and replied, Toa one of them, he was like, Dude, why you doing ads? And I replied, because I like money any and hey here.

Yeah, but you don't understand this thing, is it? No, actually about money for you because, like, if you're if you're building this, if you're say you get to 50,000 people say I mean maybe only goes 20,000 whatever, but whatever number you have any point in your career or like whatever's going on in your life, you can tell people about it and they're like, click it and like like this, that side of it. And also like, you're building a name for yourself as well. So he said, Kind of that is,

in tangibly valuable. Yes, it's not gonna convert $2 in your pocket right now, but it totally might later. And the amount of, like, weird situations and opportunities I've had as a result of that, like totally by proxy. But people know who I am through it, and they, like, get in touch and then we meet up and it's like, really cool. Whatever. Ah, maybe a job.

A lot of free lines actually came from the newsletter because people knew me from that, like they knew ended writing, all that kind of thing. So, you know I had this realization like, Okay, what? I'm sending a newsletter for a few hours every week, and it doesn't directly make money, but it doesn't directly really, like, lose that much either. So why don't I just keep doing it? Ah, and see if, like,

opportunities, show up that way And I'll like post. My blog's in there and I'm to say, like, Hey, like following me on Twitter or whatever, but it's kind of just it's not this, like self branding exercise or anything I'm not really talking about. I don't even put all my block posts in there, but it's still just if I the cool that I think the coolest thing. And maybe this is like a horrible, humble burg. But like I think if I found myself needing a job or like, ah, looking for free lines desperately, if I could email of the list on the Sunday with a nice message of the top saying,

Hey, like I'm looking for a job, I need a job like just emailed me back if you know of something and I think people would do that, and I think that's like for me, I realized that is so cool. Um, so that's why I don't matter size right now. But I have plans. Um,


interesting. I mean, it's a really good point, right? Like doing something like this can can build a good reputation for you while giving value. Yeah, absolutely. And


it doesn't have to be direct value. And I think it's really easy to forget that when you make a side project like, it's really easy to get tied up in, like am I making money? How much money am I losing? Whatever. But if you do it right and like, keep it costs fairly low and like you enjoy it, why not just do it for fun? And as a thing to, like, meet people and like, we're here doing this cause like, you're on my list and it's cool and like, it's Yeah, I love that. Um so


Well, that's exactly like the podcast. I mean, I started the podcast in Indy dotes because I wanted a way to talk to folks. Actually, how I started. It was I was I had fibromyalgia and I could not get out of. It was about a year and 1/2 ago. I could back out a bit more than a few hours a day, and I was getting really, really lonely. Yeah, like I couldn't go see people. And I thought, God, I would love to just talk to people in here that I love hearing people stories. I'm so curious.

And that's how it came about. Like I don't make money from this. I'm not looking to make money from it. It's just fun. I mean, I spend I think I spend about $10 plan right now on the hobby plan on using her that I'm on the hottie plan in my software. But, you know, it's just for fun, and and and it gives me a creative outlet that I thoroughly enjoy.


Yeah, And I think that's the easy thing to like. Forget when you're doing something like this, right? Like a lot of people just go. Yeah, but it doesn't make money. And you're like, Well, but like this ways, um, I am actually working on a separate way to monetize it. At the moment. I'm having a launch it soon. It's more of an experiment kind of ideas. Um, So I talked about how,

like, there's all this tech news and it's like a lot of it is noise and it's really annoying. And I don't think like I totally admit, like, take news is not for everybody. Like, no, everybody needs to know about this widget or whatever totally ignores that. Um, but I do see a need for like, I don't know, just so like, the current thinking is a very reasonably priced newsletter. Um, that's every day, and it's probably at the start of the U.

S. Morning with the maybe 12 or three stories, why they met her. And that's pretty much it. Um,


yeah, I remember. I think you did a survey on this


just a couple of weeks ago. Been have been, like, quietly building the software for that because it's actually so There's a couple of ah, there's a couple of them do that at this is one called strategic theory, which is terrible to pronounce. But this is This is a guy who used to work in Apple. He's, like, kind of mildly, I guess famous and take hey, does something similar. Um, but his is like very, very business, like it's about the Shamma. Like the quarterly earnings,

like whatever um, which, you know, is kind of interesting, but he makes so so much money off it. So he judges, um Ah, $10 a month. And I don't know if it's rumors I hear say whatever, but I heard he has 10,000 people pregnant now. So, like, that's crazy money. Um, so there's obviously a market for it. Um,

and I want to provide value beyond that. I actually want to build a community is part of that and, like, build a really nice experiences. What? So that you sign up, you get a description, and it just popped into the things you want. It's all automatic A ll, that kind of thing. You don't have to like, even get anything. If you don't want my could be rather just donate to the main newsletter. That's fine, too. Um, so just trying to build something that's kind of there, if you want to have it, and if not one don't


Yeah, that's so interesting. So will you have the We still do the free Sunday thing? Or will it? I'll turn into paid?


No. So I I don't think I'll ever make the weekly one paid, like it'll always be a thing, and the Pope house will always be there as well and like. But I see those is also interesting. You know, I think because most I would say the majority of people don't need daily. But the people who wanted are probably willing to pay. That's my working theory, Um, because most people don't need that many emails. But there's a, you know, a subset of people who don't want to read take logs or RS s or whatever, because it's so much filler now. Like frustrates me like crazy, like I still I mean,

I used to be a journalist myself, and, like I read the verge of the next weed, whatever. And it's a lot of it is, um, it's like, Look, what's that like? Ah, added new emoji, whatever you know, it's just not substantial. It's no interesting. Whereas I'd rather hear about like, you know,

you hear 100 stories about something going wrong and uber but like, why is that relevant and like, why is this the 50th time I'm hearing about it, You know, all of those kind of things. And so, um,


working there is yours that they might Yeah, when they're certain subset of those who will. I think you wrote recently. I can't remember who's on Twitter or in charge. Flash, you're about flat


is in the news. Last


week it was I thought I loved it because I love what I read what you said about it, because I build S o. I built an entire company's website like I was the project managers had a project management and we will our entire company's website in flash. Whoa, 2000. Yeah. Oh, yeah. It was really interesting. And then we quickly realized that spun around and it was really cool. And then I think it was pretty soon because off course, then the dot dot com bomb happened. Right now, the company went under like lots of other companies. It was interactive agency, but I love the way we built it in flash. Yeah, I like this


so nostalgic for me, like some of the coolest websites with built in flash. And it's really easy to hate on it, cause right, like the legacy of flash was like making your browser run like crap. And like always asking to be updated, super annoying for the early days. It's so easy to forget. It was so cool. All I wanted to do in the early days of the Internet was build something with you. Remember those websites where you like push the enter button before you even got in And like did crazy animations and stuff I always


wanted? That's exactly what I did. I mean, it was like it would swing around. There's like all these bubbles swung. I was just like it was so much fun. We had the most fun


in that incident. Used to be so like crazy and like, weird and like. That's why Miss Flashes like Everything's like boxes and fancy design Go good, Don't get me wrong, but like, I kind


of miss the weird stuff, too. I miss that, too. You're making some nostalgic for it, but that was in their night. I loved that. I mean, you know, I always find every week there's a least an article or two that I find that I haven't seen, or maybe I've seen something about it. But then you clip, you send me to one that I think it's really good. I love what you do. You cure it really Well, because just a fight that's crazy. Like you said,

right, it's a fire hose. So the curation, I think one of things I love about charges Is that curation? Yes,


I hear you. That's what I do. It's still easy is


yeah, it's important. And I want to talk also about podcast. So what was the, you know, the genesis of starting the Pied


Cow? Wow, that's a good question. Like I actually don't even remember the moment I actually like. So you had Fink on my partner and she sat of one God. Hers has been going for even longer, I think two years ago she was


like that.


Yeah, she hasn't missed a week, by the way. I've missed so many


weeks. But you're not. No, but she's just very poor achiever. Get stuff done, Very reliable. She's very reliable.


And for me of, like, some weeks, and that there's no good take of, um, like sometimes there's just not a MME No, like, I guess the thing with that was so like, I guess the reason I mentioned hers, she did it for a while and she was always peer, pressuring me a little bit to do it like that. It makes so much sands like you have this newsletter. Why don't just, like, do a voice version of


the Oh, yeah, exactly. Just do it. Come on.


And I always wanted to like it seemed like the coolest thing ever and like whatever. But it's kind of hard right when you're not done it. It's very easy to feel shy about doing such a weird like thing to do. Like sit on a microphone and talk


like Adam Teoh talk. It took me over a year to launch it after had the idea,


right? Yeah, exactly, because it's like this weird thing. I can't even imagine how people on YouTube do. It's like, How do you film yourself in? Like, uh, at least with a microphone I can hide and like,


yeah, my jammies often when I'm recording. Not today. I'm actually in real close. But, you know, sometimes I'm just in my jammies like


right, but nobody knows. So it's perfect. Um, so it's It kind of came from that. And then I wanted to do it for ages, and I thought, Well, okay, um, like, who would I do it with? And that was like another roadblock I didn't really like. I couldn't think who I wanted to poke us with. S I just put it off for a long time.


And I guess I gotta hear


ago. Yeah, because you look


like you have to pick out. Like I knew I didn't want to do on my own, But I also wasn't sure I wanted I didn't have anybody. I was going to do it right. So that's when I was like, it was very clear to me like, Oh, I'm just gonna have guests. Come on, because I'm curious, but that that was an easy decision. But I think it's hard


to Yeah, I vote for me. It was like in this thing. It had to be kind of consistent because it meant we had to have a regular time what we could call. And it just seemed a lot of overhead because the thing with mine pocus very like recent events. And so we have to do it every week, right? Like if we don't, that's you can't record it in advance. Because next week, like uber might have died like


it moves so fast. Where's mine is, Um, I I I have so many evergreen content. Exactly. I mean, people, like, have you put it out? And I'm like, No, I'm just still working through the woods, but with yours. So you record in the every weekly every


week. Yeah, I'm Thursday. We record and then try and get it out on the Saturday So it's pretty quick turnaround, But I kind of got in, like this groove now that so I guess, like So if we're on episode 50 this week, which is crazy. Um, so just over a year ago, um, I had this weird thoughts. Okay, Well, I have this friend who was, um he was like, we kind of knew each other somehow from the incident.

You know, there's like people, you know, and you're not sure how you came across each other, but we talked a few times. We hung out once in New York together. He lives in Brooklyn. Um, and, uh, you know, I was just, like, really shy about it, and I was, like,

about I thought he would be a cool guy to do it with, and so I just messaged him one day. Hey, I was thinking about doing a podcast, would you liketo you know, like, do it with me. Eyes like asking somebody on a date. Yeah. Ah, and he was just like, Yeah, that sounds really fun. So, um, it was so weird because we like,

recorded, and if so, like how It's just a weird It was a weird thing, right? Like, we were kind of friends. And, like, dude, friends don't really just call each other to catch up as well.


So, um,


but like from that perspective, it's been awesome. Like we're really good friends Now. I go and see him a couple of times a year and like we hang out and we talk every week on Thursday about whatever and catch up and like, then we just talk about this week's tech stuff, Um, so that, like, I think it was just doing it, you know, like, what's the worst can happen if it doesn't work, You just say, Well, I don't really like doing this. I'm gonna do any more Like, and so we were quoted a few episodes, like, honestly, the first I think, the fist to win in the trash because


Oh, interesting. I've heard other people that actually heard someone say record episodes, knowing you're gonna put him in the trash.


Yeah, like the 1st 2 It was just really, like, weird. And like, you're kind of trying to figure out each other a little bit as well. So if you're doing quite regularly with somebody, you kind of have to, you know, especially if you like to outgoing people. Then it's, like, really hard to not cut each other off Lila s o the first few. We really just I didn't tell him until afterwards, like Sorry, man. Like, I gotta delete this one. It's not like it's not up to scratch yet


because I never want Thio.


Yeah, I think it was bummed because they were. I mean, they were good and I still have them, like maybe one day I'll just release it. So people know like, it's probably a good thing to put it in the world. Or so, like, people understand that sometimes crap work. Ah, you know, what you see is not the result. But, you know, I just something for me that, uh,

I actually really struggled until very recently to get into podcasts, because the audio, like it's just you if you mess it up. It's so hard, like, Ah, there's a There's a fine line of what people are willing to put up with basically right, like if it's if there's a good reason for the audio not being good, it's fine. But if you're doing it every week with two people reliably like it should be decent quality without at least like rustling cans. Or like whatever,


that's definitely I know that's definitely hard. I had to tell people like he cares, not fidget. Jingle jangle leg.


Yeah, exactly. And don't like, touch the microphone and you really can't even like, touch the thing it's sitting on anyway. So and like you wouldn't even believe the amount of trouble we had, like at some point, the guy I was recording with, like like I was so confused. We're editing and like, his audio wasn't bad, but it wasn't good. So confused. What's going on? Intend out? He had the like the podcast microphone backwards


s funny. You don't know


like you just don't know, right? It's just I mean, who knows. I mean, I didn't took me forever to figure out which way it's supposed to go It's kind of symmetrical, like


I'm not looking at me like a fun going having now I'm


terrified. I don't know which one you have, but if there's a light facing you, it's usually a good thing. Um


oh, interesting.


Yeah. So now you're like, Oh, shit,


let's not facing me. No, my life is not facing me now. This'll light was not facing. I have, like, one of those. Yet


you have the idiot. Oh, maybe I just taught you something, but it depends on the merge of Heaven on. So there's a whole bunch of things like that. So, like this, this knob And like, I learned all of these things don't Don't miss it now, but later, going experiment with it. Um, but these the things you learn, right? You like you just as you going. Ah, you have this thing. And then, like I found a need for a pop filter. And like all of these, like small things,


is that the screen is at the screen


that you put in it. Yeah, it's like I have a three year old one, but for the 1st 6 months, we used, like toilet paper.


Oh, interesting. No, see, I I won, but I turned it off because I found it irritating too. Yeah, I found it threw me off, and I did not change the quality of the sound


at all. Yeah, Unless unless you're somebody like me who just is like, I don't know, it doesn't help. I think it's cause I'm from New Zealand. And so, like, appease the very like,


you know, like a very speedy You mean,


apparently Because I need a pop field. Um, so, yeah, it's this all of this, um, kind of thing. Um, so, yeah, it's been a crazy learning experience. We I mean, we really love it. It's ah, you know, we're year in, So this week we're gonna try our first live one to see what it's like.


Oh, wow, that's that's terrifying. Terrifying, Especially


given how much like I could say, like bickering there is on ours. But like, we edit out so much stuff just cause, like also when your friends and like we talked every week, there's so much like behind the scenes stuff, you say that you can't put on tape. Um, you know, like we just especially at the start, we just kind of shoot the crab like, and we just kind of just talk about whatever a ll that kind of thing. So, um, we'll


say I had a U s. A live one. So did you just want to up the stakes way


also, So we I've been, like, trying to take steps towards this thing like this community thing that I kind of mentioned earlier And like the paid plan, um, over the last year and so six months ago, implemented, like a community thing. Um, but it basically gave people like, two chances to get into it. Um And so, like, if you don't get it and then this, like window, you wouldn't get in until we actually opened it. And so we actually have a community like the judge community sitting somewhere.

There's actually two or 300 people in it. Um, that's pretty active. Ah, and the reason we want to do is actually to, like, engage with those people and like like the mascots questions and to see if people show up and, like, if it's it's something interesting. I mean, it's just another experiment, right? Like these are all random experiments to see what sticks,


right? So much of it is right. Experiments like I recently shifted my business. And then I've been experimenting with my newsletter again, like, Oh, what about this? What? It was like all over the place these days, I feel like my port. No idea what I'm like. What to expect, what you get. What's the format gonna be this week? I mean, I know the content isn't changing so much, but do I have a lot of external links and sending you to say I mean, you know, I have no idea what you're doing right now. It's a


fun experience. Wouldn't know otherwise, right? Like you have to, you know, like we make a live one. Um, like like, here's a good confession of something that failed, actually. So, um, we did Ah. So like this the thing you don't know and so well, we tried to do it. I r l. And this was really early in the pockets were like,

What if we just do a meet up in New York and so way like, didn't even promote it very well. And so it ended up being like me and my friend having a drink with one other dude. But it was fun because we could make everything good friends with this other guy. So it was like, this weird experience like it wasn't really a failure. But


what did you do? Did you put it out?


Yeah, well know. So we just That one was like, we were just meeting up, and we just wanted to hang out with people. So we set a time in New York. I went to a place and, like, I got a really big table.


Yeah, but


we drank a lot of beer together. So, like, it was not a failure in my mind. But, you know, like, you don't know if people gonna show up. You don't know if it's too early, like, ah, 100 people fail, but like, what? 100 things will fail and then, like, you find something that works. So like, I guess I guess what I'm trying to say is like, it sounds like it's really It's really not. Uh


huh. No, I mean, it's it's all experimentation. I know. I was I was riffing on this on Twitter the other day because I was I was editing the podcast, and I was thinking, Wow, why I waited so long. I still don't know that I'm doing But I waited so long and I was just like saying like I wish I hadn't waited so long I didn't know how much it would change my life and, like, just go out there and do it an experiment. And I think that's what I would tell my year ago. Self was like Stop futzing, stop convention Sister always calls it and just choose them a big adventure. Stop convention and just do it. And


an experiment. Yeah,


what's the worse that can happen, right? And I think it takes. But I think it takes a little bit of courage or resilience for being. You're being willing t


get it out there and it's a hard thing for


sure. Maybe seeing something fail right like, oh, am I gonna fail publicly?


But the best part is, if it doesn't work, you can just like quietly not do it again. Like I love these. Like if charged, had died or like I mean, maybe it's still head like it's could still die, but like you don't even have to announce that it's did like people wouldn't necessarily know, You know, And like, it doesn't have to be so public.


That's true. I definitely I definitely things I've done that. Sort of like I was gonna when I started. Bet on yourself like two or three years ago. I thought at first what I wanted to do was I wanted to write a book.


Oh, wow.


And so I started writing a book. I mean, I had written a book before, Wrote a book about intuition many, many years ago. I don't know. Back in 2005 before this, you know, before we had all the tools that we could we have today to really publish it well, and I really I spent a year doing it. It was a really great product, and it did Okay, project. And it did. Okay. I thought this time I wanted to write another book. And so that's the direction I went.

And then actually, what happened instead? Waas. It was like how I'm a little overwhelmed by this, and my business is busy. So then I was gonna write these guides and I wrote one. I know. What I realized was that I turned bet on yourself just into the name of the business, and it turned into something completely different. And I kind of slowly just I think I just never talked about those. I don't even know if I ever announced that I wasn't gonna do the guys. I just kept going forward.


Just move on, right? Like it. It doesn't need to be this whole like thing, like you can just let it die. And, like, I think that's what people worry about a lot. I mean, it's that doesn't apply to everything for sure, But like if it doesn't work out, just just let it be And like, take the side down. I'll just leave it like people fail


all the time, right? And maybe it's not the right method. Exactly. Right Medium for it, right? Like so I realized that what the knowledge I wanted to get out in the world and what I wanted to do, the impact I wanted to have. I'm absolutely doing It's just that doing it in a book format wasn't the right medium for what I wanted to do it in for exact that time. So,


yes, you just do something else.


Yeah, exactly. So what about the podcast is doing a live episode. Is there any other things that you're thinking about?


Yeah. So this is the biggest thing I'm focusing on is the paid stuff. And I see it like I don't want it to be like I don't want ever, like, I always want to have free parts and like, I still wanna do that. But I think the cool thing with the paid thing is it gives it a little bit more space. I actually don't want to profit off. I'm not gonna charge that much. I haven't next decided she had, so I just started building it and then I'll figure it out later. But I'm not gonna charge that much. I actually want to charge enough like that. A student would buy it, you know, like it's that's enough that it's kind of like money you wouldn't think about. The reason I really want to do that is mortar.

It's It's to cover the costs of running the rest of it. So the hosting and actually I would love to just hire somebody to do the editing, have a really good friend who a Zippo cast editor and I'd love to just pay him to do that. It's all about, like, for me. It's just so I can get time back to keep doing cool stuff, um, and then maybe make a little bit of money from it so I can go out for dinner. I think it's really, um, but mostly, like, I'm just I I also just want to see if it works. Like, if I I mean,

like, the dream situation is like 1000 people signed up at $5 a month, which actually doesn't seem that unreasonable like five bucks a month, like Okay, maybe people will. It depends how much value you giving them and like then


you realize like, yeah, that's like, What, a 10%?


It's like 10%. Um, yeah, and it's like I don't yet I expect, like, 1% even. But like even 500 people, even to 50 people was still enough. Like if I get 250 even that's enough to cover costs. So, um, I'm kind of looking it from that perspective, but like if it grows bigger than instead thinking like, Why do I have, like, a job or like Why do I you know, why don't I do this like,

two days a week and see what I can? I don't know, like build over time with that. So it's and I want to add stuff to it over time. And, like, maybe you get tools with it, I don't know, but I'm kind of trying to build the A really nice experience for because I noticed that there's not many things like that way you like. If you look at this one by this guy that I said makes a lot of money straight equerry, he his experiences like you get this like, striped check out and then, like you magically get emails like it's just like this weird thing. Um, and I think if you feel like you're getting value out of it, like if it's a really good experience in like you can choose what you want.

I think that people like it's a mental thing as well. Like oh, well, I can choose this and this And this, Um, it's that one big experiment, and I also just wanted to try it. So that's what I'm working on. Um, yeah, and then we'll see in six months, maybe it doesn't lost, But I'd love it if it did. Um, you know, it's just one of those things that Ah,

somebody told me a while ago, and maybe this is, you know, like those. Like I said with the podcast, I thought about it for a year, but then did it. Somebody said to me a while ago, like a lot of the time people were willing to pay for something, but nobody ever asks, Right? So, like, until you put something in front of people you don't even know if they're willing to pay you. So if, like, nobody pays and fine, don't do it. But you'd have asked. So how will you know?




Ah, I figure, like, build it, See if they come. If they don't keep doing the weekly one and find something else as well.


Yeah, I think that's really great. I love that idea of experimentation and being open and free, and I guess because you don't because you're not making a living from it in some way. Maybe there's some freedom that you have to feel like you could play with it a little bit more and


not worry. Yeah, and if it becomes a living. Awesome. But if not, then I try something else and like, hang out and be very honest with people. I think that's something that you miss


a lot these days. I'm so loved having you on. Thank you. So so much for coming on. So fascinating to get Thio talked to the creator. One of my very favorite news. Thank


you for still reading. I appreciate it. You're one of the longest subscribers


I know. For a while, I was trying to think when I started reading it. I don't even remember when I found you


have to research.


You'll find the day how I found. Yeah. I mean, I've been reading for a while, right? I don't think I'm early early, but I definitely uh


oh. Least a year and 1/2. Probably two


years. I'd say a pretty person like I always got a guy or got a girl like I was got, like a person that I'm really loyal to them. You don't need me. Like when I like somebody. I like them and I will I will stick


with them one 100%


like you, right? You know, I mean, I read I read about. I read about Tek a lot, but I do like the curated aspect that charged gives me. It gives me and their high quality really high quality articles of things that make me think they're always makes me think about technology in a deeper way.


I'm good. This trends I'm like, critical addict translates through because you never know.


Yeah, I mean that. That's I don't know if that's your intent, but that's what it makes me do. It makes that is the intent it make. It makes me think I'm like, Yeah, that's interesting. And then, you know, I I as I call it, I like to open up the diner. I hope I start cooking on and I cook for my my partner. And he sits at the drinks homemade computer that I make any sense of the counter. I talked to him like Well, look at that. There was this thing that I just read and charged.

And what do you think about that? And then we end up having these long conversations about technology at our breakfast counter. I love it. Thanks again for coming on the show. I'm really glad you're here.


Thank you so much,

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