#001 - Courtland Allen on growing downloads and community through storytelling
Record Edit Podcast

Full episode transcript -


I've thought about you know why I didn't do so well and had a way grow the podcast. I think the answer is just consistency, but not just in terms of releasing episodes, but in terms of quality. The better the episodes are, the more people are likely to share them with their friends and listen to the multiple times. And so the podcast Gross,


Theo, I'm throwing the formal intro out the window. I'm talking Teoh, a good friend of mine. I could call in my business mentor, and most importantly, he's my first podcast client. He's Courtland Allen, and he's the founder of indie hackers dot com. Real quick. Could you introduce yourself and kind of give us an overview of your business and your


podcast? That Brad, my name is Corland Alan. I run an online community of founders called Andy Hackers. It was acquired by stripe a couple years ago, and it basically consists of thousands of people who want to start online businesses. Most of them are developers, and there's gotta helping each other out, sharing their stories, talking about how much money they're making and how they're coming up with their ideas and how they're following up with their customers and finding the first customers etcetera. So it's basically an online community, and a significant part of that is the podcast, which you've been helping me edit it for several years now the podcast is super simple. I just bring Founders on from the website or founders out of here about from other channels, and I asked them the same questions that we talked about on the forms. So again, how did they get their businesses to where they are today? And the goal is to basically inspire listeners to start their own companies and show that it's not as hard as it may seem? Ah, and also to give them some educational tips and details and how they could do it.


I think it's it's gonna be super interesting when we dive into, uh, exactly how the podcast has influenced the community and vice versa. But I think starting out I want to touch on how we started working together because it's actually a funny story from my end. But I want to ask you if you remember, like exactly how we started


working together. Yeah, I do. I remember the vague outline It's funny. I remember telling people about it more than I remember the actual thing because I've told it to so many people. But I'm trying to scroll back to my emails. I could figure out exactly what was said because I'm pretty sure you reached out to me right as I was starting the podcast, like, right after I launched it. Or maybe even before I launched when I was just talking about launching it. And you're like, Hey, I would love to add it your podcast for you. And at that time, I was like, No, I'm gonna do everything by myself.

It was very stuck on Like, Andy Hackers is a one man show. What? I'm gonna do everything by myself and it's gonna be so cool and so impressive that I'm doing it all. And so I was doing like all of the editing, all the production stuff, spicing in the interim music in the outro music and just cleaning up the episode completely solo. And to the best of my memory, you were, like, very persistent. You would email me and I would be like not good. You know me again, like you look not good, but I think one time he e mailed me with two audio files like Here's Rivers in Cortland. Here's my version and it was so much better is like so obviously better than I was like I was stupid for continuing to try to do this on my own.

It makes no sense. And so I think I was like, Yeah, look, give it a shot. The next episode we'll see how it goes and you did a great job and the rest has been history.


That's so crazy because, like, honestly, what I was doing at that time, I was just starting out and I had gotten banned from up work, and I I had, like, made $400 my first week on up work. But I ended up trying to extract work from the platform, and I didn't know it would result in permanent. And so the next thing I thought like I took a week to be depressed, and then I was like, Okay, I got to do something and I remember going to the the iTunes charts and looking at like the new, noteworthy business podcast has always had, like a love for business and I was already listening to a bunch of shows like yours. So I was like,

Hey, actually, like this show, let me reach out and see if I can help. And I remember you telling me no, at least like three or four times, huh? But I like I eventually showed you how it could be improved. And yeah, the rest is history. And I really I love that story because that's such an indie hacker story


really is. How did upward know that you're taking work off their platform? I'm curious.


They flagged whenever you mentioned, like, pay power stuff like third party. Look at the payment processors. Yeah, gotcha. Um, but yeah, let's It's so much bigger than that. Though. I want to really discuss the benefits Ah, host can expect from outsourcing production like that. Like Like I want this conversation to really dive into. My perspective is like the freelancer offering the service and you is the host, like using that service to buy essentially buy yourself time to focus on more important tasks. So when I reached out initially like that and you trusted me with the production, what did that extra time do for indie hackers.


Yeah, the way I thought about it was, as I said in the actors at that time was a one person company. It was just me. And when you got an early stage, one person company, you really have to be good a prioritization because there's so much stuff you could do, like people send your good ideas all the time and they're not bad ideas. But you still end up saying no, because they're not the best ideas and you'll have time to work on every good idea. And so for me, it was pretty simple. You were gonna do a better job editing the podcast than I was. I was a little bit hesitant to hiring back then because I was just I don't know. I don't want to put in the upfront work to vet someone or train someone to bring them up to speed. But you're instantly like Ah, yes,

because you knew exactly what you were doing. You could do a better job that I was so it didn't have any of that up front cost. And so it was kind of a no brainer. Yeah. I can let Bradley handle this editing stuff, and then I can go on to do other things and like that's gonna depend on what your business is, whether or not you have valuable other activities, like if your business is literally 100% just a podcast, maybe it won't be as impactful. But even then, you can focus more on finding good guests and writing up good questions for those guests and the advertising and promoting your podcast like there's so many different things you can do with your business for me with any hackers. At the time, I was very focused on selling ads and trying to monetize the community that was selling newsletter ads and website ads and podcast ATS. And I'll stay Capitan in my time, plus editing the podcast as well, plus booking new guests,

plus managing the foreman coating it. And so every hour that I had that was free to you basically work on that stuff was huge for me. And editing the podcast is taking me something like five or six hours and episode back then because I was just so slow. It was like a whole day of work, pretty much so. It was an extra day for me of work, and it was super valuable.


And from my perspective, is the freelancer like, obviously, it was work to dio and keeping it with the idea of the host in mind. What I've found just in my experience is that, like the hosts that are running businesses that promote their business with the podcast or the ones that need help the most, whereas if you're, ah, podcaster with a talk show or anything that's like solely personality or news based things like that, Um, yes, you can monetize with ads and stuff like that, but I tried to get people to think of it like another way, because I've been able to build an entire career off of essentially helping you with Indy hackers. Like that was your show was my foot in the door to everything I'm doing now, and I feel like there's countless people out there that could do the same.


So what you're saying is, you should've been the one paying me out of the spot. It was a really good deal. I think you're super cheap back then, like my other podcast friend had an editor and I think he was paying them like 20 bucks an episode or something. And so, like, our arrangement was like relatively similar thing was more than that. But still, like, easily affordable was, like 35 bucks an episode, and I was like one episode a week. So for me, it was like no brainer. I would definitely pay $35 to get a free day every week,


right? And the and what that looked like from me is like I was taking going back to what I said earlier is like I was taking the skills already had, like I started in music production. So I was recording bands and ah, I like I was using microphones and stuff. What? All I did was transfer those skills into a service. So if you're a podcaster, ah, with your own show and you need some, you need help to work on your business, and that's a good time to outsource. But when you're looking to translate that into a career, you could consider basically copy pasting what you're already doing for yourself, for others, but and not enough on now, I feel like I'm talking way too much.

Let's talk about the community aspect. Podcasting is a great new media for connecting with your audience on a very deep level. I know when you first started you were just doing the forum, and the podcast was kind of on the side. But it feels like these days the podcast is almost like number one pretty close. What? What does that look like on the back


end? So I'm looking at the set out a survey to people when they first showing any hackers, and I ask, which parts of the site are you most familiar with? And you can choose up to three. And right now it's like 49.4% of respondents say the forum, and 46.3% say the podcast. So it's number two by a razor thin margin on then there's, like 10 other parts of any hackers that come there like distant 3rd 4th 5th etcetera. So the podcast is huge. As for your question of what that looks like on the back end, looks like me spending a lot of time on the podcast. I spend a ton of time researching gas, figure out how to bring on asking you of recommendations, recording episodes and scheduling episodes and pretty much putting them out there promoting them. And recent weeks I've tried to tie the podcast a little bit more into the community, and the beginning was pretty separate.

I did the podcast, but it was very difficult to see what effect that had on the community. And in fact, I think talking other podcasters, it's always kind of hard to see what effect your podcast is having. Because it's not as trackable is a website, right, you're not, uh, you don't really have Google analytics attached to your podcast. It's not easy to see youse clicking, which links unless you have specialized links and people don't even click links have to type them into their browser if you say them in the show. So for a long time was always kind of a black box like, Why am I doing this? What kind of results is it getting? All?

I get really tracked with a download numbers, which always seemed to be going up slowly but surely, and so that was encouraging. But like I didn't get any feedback, people wouldn't like tweet me and be like great episode like very rarely did that happen? And so I always didn't. I was kind of wondering, you know, what's the point of doing this? I enjoy doing and people I talk to you in person seemed to care about it, but it wasn't really a part of any hackers. For a long time. It always seemed like you said kind of a side project. In recent weeks, we started doing quick chat deficits, which are a whole another type of indie actress podcast,

where I just bring somebody up from the community and put them on the podcast. And so this has been a pretty cool experiment because it's very, uh, related to the rest of the website. I'm literally picking people out for the forum have made good post, inviting them out of the show. And so people are now participating in the community with sort of the expectation of the hope that they'll make it out of the podcast and then on the podcast. We also talk about the community a lot. We talk about the post that they're making, so it's very synergistic, eyes very interconnected, and I really enjoyed bringing that vibe to things.


Speaking of the community, I I saw a post. I think it was like an a m a on the podcast. But you recently sort of outlined the downloads per episode. I think you said you're averaging about 40,000 downloads per episode and like within the first month of release or something like that, Yep. That's exactly 60 days. Yeah. Okay, looking back, do you see, like, a stair step trend line of growth? And if so, can you kind of outline each of those steps?


Yeah, I'm gonna load up my staff, strike quick and see. So I started the podcasts, Let's see in February of 2017 and it is now, obviously doesn't 19. So it's been almost exactly a year and 1/2 since the first deficits, and it's almost like a perfectly street Lanier line up until the right. It's not super steep, but there are any permanent like steps. Now. There are times where it goes down, and then it goes back up again, and it correlates perfectly. What time's right took a break from the podcasts or times wearing miss deficits? And so it's been like, pretty consistent that if I am consistent and releasing episodes,

the downloads will go up, and if I'm any consistent, they'll stagnate or go back down, but then catch up quickly when I start recording a bit more. There is one stair step, however, on that occurred about a month ago, which coincides with us during the quick chat apps. It's so now. Instead of releasing one episode per week, Andy Hackers is two episodes per week. The full hour long episode every Monday, where I'll take usually a famous guest or super successful gas to making hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars a year with their business and the quick chat episodes where I take somebody from the community who oftentimes it's not making any money, or Islam making a few $100 a month, which come out on Fridays, and those are only half an hour long episodes. So I think just having double the episode has given people double the content to listen to you. And unsurprisingly, the download numbers over the last month have been significantly higher than they were before.


It's definitely a step change, and are they performing about the same as the hourlong episodes? I know sometimes when we introduce ah second episode it can perform a little differently.


But how's that looking? Yeah, I've been actually compared on tremendous detail, but I can look right now. So we got the purpose of Dallas stats. The latest quick chat episode well, should look in the last month from what I recall there before him. Pretty close. And the feedback I've done has been tremendous. Like I know the very first quick shut up. So it got more downloads that week than the full episode. Got that weak. People were so fascinated about it. Yeah, so overall they get Fiore downloads, then the full episodes the full episodes have recorded in the last few weeks have gotten more downloads in the quick chaps by about 50% but still adding a lot to the download count. What's enabled that step changed.

The full episodes aren't getting like more more downloads in the last month. It's only the additional. Quick shut up said that getting downloads, which is pretty cool for me because a quick chat episodes air so much easier to record. It's half an hour. It's informal. I don't prepare a lot of questions in advance. I don't spend as much time you know, combing over the episode with a fine tooth comb before I sent it to you. Tow added it. And so they tend Thio be quicker to produce. I could probably do three or four o'clock, Jennifer says. A week if I really wanted to you and it wouldn't take that much longer to put those out that it takes me to record them.


I think it's really cool, because this is just my assumption is that those air could be arguably more beneficial to the community because it's sort of like everybody's on uneven playing field when you're interviewing the guy. Making a $1,000,000 a month like the principal's might be the same. But the action steps look considerably different versus to the guy that like me, like a new business owner making only a couple $100 a month. So it's easy to see, like the through line between getting from like, 0 to 1000 instead of like, 200 to a 1,000,000.


Yeah, exactly. That's a feedback that I've gotten. It's been, um, it's been a good experiment connecting the podcast with community because like you point your pointing out the people who come on the quick shots are from the community, which means they're better representatives of other people who are in the community. That is more relatable, that kind of the same stages and it's been the first actual interaction I've seen between the podcast and the community itself. So I think the more beneficial for a lot of people. The more educational, but also like the people, are interviewing the quick shot episodes like they have smaller audiences. If they tweet, the represented the tweeting into a few 100 people, not tens of thousands of people. Like,

for example, Jason Freed might be tweeting to you when he shares this episode, so it's not shocking to the download. Numbers are lower, but I'm also not surprised it. I'm getting such positive feedback on the quick chat upsets. You know, one other thing I'll add that is one other thing I want to that is, I mentioned that I sent out a survey to people who join any hackers, and I'll send out another survey about 60 days after you joined. And so they both kind of asking what parts of the side a familiar with but the 2nd 1 ask you which part of the site are you getting the most benefit from? And the podcast ranks number one on the second survey. And it also on the very first survey, this kind of ah question that asks, How did you first hear about any actors? And the podcast is also the number one source of how people first come to the community.

And so I'm. Curiously, all that trendline will go in the coming months, with the new quick shot episodes coming out and being Maur targeted at the early stage founders who are like the ideal in the hackers users. But, yeah, it's really cool to see the fact that people are actually coming to the website because of the podcast, which was not the case two years ago, was the exact opposite. The only reason anyone even heard of the podcast was because they're on the website, so it's sort of flipped around in terms of which one leads to the other.


Besides consistency. What else are you doing to drive growth of


the podcast? Honestly, man, very little I, uh, I don't think too much about trying to grow the podcast deliberately. I mean, there are a few things like, I'll ask guests to tweet the episodes, but I'm not pushy about it. In fact, I explicitly say, Only if you think it was good and you want to tweet it, um, we send it out on our newsletter, which I think is a good way for our existing audience to sort of know about the episode. But to be honest,

like that's something I've always done, it's not something I can really say. Well, here's the result. Before and after it is, there's never a time right didn't do that, but mostly what I think about it. Just episode quality, like my number two most popular have sort of all time was with a good friend of mine, Lent I, and her episode was just amazing. You could tell by listening to it that we were really good friends. We had really good report. She was a great and like entertaining story teller, and she had almost no audience online, like she'd very few Twitter followers compared to many of my other podcast guests.

But she has 84,000 downloads for her episode and climbing. It'll probably be number one a year from now, and that's not because I did anything special to promote it because it was a good episode and people listen to it and said, Wow, that was great. I just listen to it again. I need to tell my friends to listen to it And she gets a ridiculous number of e mails She hates how much how much emails he's getting is a result of that episode. But, you know, ever since I came out, I've thought about you know, why did some said, do so well and had a way grow the podcast. I think the answer is just consistency, but not just in terms of releasing episodes, but in terms of quality.

The better the episodes are, the more people are likely to share them with their friends and listen to the multiple times. And so the podcast groups. And so kind of the feeling I have in my head with how to grow the podcast is every week. I want to make sure I have great F suits. I almost kind of like emotionally attached to this like chain like how many great episodes have there been in a row? And I feel bad whenever there's an episode that I don't think it's amazing. It's like I've broken the chain. I need to get back on it. But hopefully I can get to a point where every episode is amazing. And it's this unbroken chain where people listen over and over again and every episode meets or exceeds their expectations. So that's what I really want to be. The case. I never want someone who's like told about the indie hackers podcast to download it and look at the latest episode and be kind of a lackluster efforts. It and they never come back. I want every episode to be amazing, and I think word of mouth Group is pretty much unbeatable.


What do you do to prepare for your interviews? Because I have to say they are very, very pointed, direct, an actionable And I'm just curious to know your thought process when it comes to outlining and creating questions and just what goes through your head during a podcast.


Yeah, there's a lot. I'm a very active interviewer. The entire time I'm interviewing someone, I'm like, I've got my computer up. I do video interviews. Only a few interviews have been in person, so I'm able to, like, type and take notes as they're talking and prayer my next question. But before that, I spent a lot of time researching the guests and coming up with questions. So I'll spend a couple hours listening to other podcast that the guest has been on a couple of hours reading tweets that they've made or Blood Post that they've written. I just sort of taking notes on things that I find interesting about their story or their personality or their viewpoints. And then I'll sit down but another couple hours coming up with questions to ask them. And this process is like,

admittedly, not very fun when I'm rushing it when I'm like I've got other stuff to do. I want this to go by as fast as possible. It's not fun at all, but when I'm taking my time and just sort of enjoying like who this person is and what they put out there and engaging with, like their thoughts, it's actually really fun to do, especially the part of the energy coming up with questions because you're coming with questions that are pretty mediocre. It'll be like so and so how did you come up with your idea or how did you get started? It's a very straightforward question. It's not a bad question. It's just very straightforward. But when you look over that question a second or third time, there's all sorts of ways to make it more interesting and spruce it up. So I've got, like,

a few tricks, like generally. I think questions air better if they're unique. And the second you've asked that question, the guests thinks, Wow, no one's ever asked me that question before. And listeners think, oh really am curious to know what the answer to that question is gonna be. And so, in order to make a unique question, I tryto combine the question with some other concept that somehow related to the guest. And usually if you combine two concepts like the combination of those two things is pretty unique, or at least pretty rare. I'll see if I can come up with an example of the top of my head. I don't know,

like if I'm talking to a guest and I noticed that they are a huge fan of a particular author instead of just asking them, How did you come up with your idea. I'll say, Hey, you're a big fan of Charlie Munger is writing Charlie Munger recommends a tot of mental techniques to be a clear thinker. How did that influence the way that you came up with your idea? And now it's not just a normal question, but it's kind of mixed together with this other concept that makes it interesting. And anyone who's listening like, Ooh, I wonder what the answer is. And the guests especially appreciate that, because it's like, Oh, you've taken time to learn what I meant to you learn what I like and what I know about. I can answer these questions easily.

I don't have to feel nervous because you're asking about things that I'm naturally interested in, and they just like our more energetic and they're more able to give interesting good answers to what they're saying. So that's kind of one trick. I use another one. It would be to try to give guests a good intro on the beginning. I've sort of waffled on, experimented with this this, like, sort of my latest incarnation of what I think is good, but guess seem to really appreciate it when I give them Ah, great ensure right off the bat when I really build them up and talk about what they've done and make it fun. Usually be like, Wow, that's a great entry And they're just more excited. And I think the whole market forget episode. Going back to Lens episode,

for example, is the guests having a ton of energy? It's really good when the guest is excited to talk about what they're up to. You excited to give their answers because you can kind of feel that as a listener. And ideally, I can keep that going from the beginning to the end of the episode. But the very least it should be in the beginning of the episode. So that's like a small trick that I kind of have recently started to try to use. I got a lot more. I'm sort of blanking on. It's hard to just call them from memory, but there's like a lot of different things to try to use to come up with better questions. And I don't always do this like there's a lot of interviews where I'm just lazy and I don't prepare into like, an hour or two before hand that's like enough time to get a kind of okay interview. But if you can't be asking a lot of questions and okay, what happened next door came after that. That's usually what I didn't do as much practice I would have liked to do


when you just throw out the script


entirely. Exactly. And sometimes those episodes are pretty good. Um, like, having a conversational tone with your guest is a lot better man than, like, just like a wrote script. But it's also I feel like coming up with a script. But like a list of questions and interesting topics, even just doing that makes it easier toe have a free flowing conversation that's interesting. So with my friend land, I could do a free flowing conversation cause I already knew what was interesting to her, and I already kind of knew the high points in her story with a total stranger. If I don't know that stuff, then my questions. We're always gonna be like what happened next and they might say something that they have a great story about.

But I won't know they have a great story about it, and so it won't be as easy for me to have just like an off the cuff conversation where they actually hit these high points. So even even having this sort of casual, informal conversations, they're better when you've prepared.


Speaking of great stories, I'm really curious to know what led you to podcasting. To begin with, everybody has always got a different for angle of it. I'm


curious what was pushed into the man. It was not. I was pushed into it kicking and screaming because I did not want to start a podcast in the early days of any hackers. It was just a blogged and a newsletter. And then it was a community forum when I was super into the community forum because number one, I just found it really fun to post on it. But number two, it kind of I don't know how my mind of its own people would come, and they would help each other out. Don't ask questions and answer each other's questions. And even if I wasn't there, it seemed to be this thing that was growing and living and breathing by itself, which is awesome to me, because I could focus on other things. Whereas the stuff where I actually had to produce content writing interviews on the website, writing a newsletter. That kind of stuff was endless.

Every single week I got on my newsletter and I would breathe a sigh of relief. But it turns out like there's just another newsletter to right next week, and I would have to worry about it's analysts and thankless. And so early on, when I was doing these block post right interview people, I got a lot of feedback from people who said, You need to turn this into a podcast would be such a great podcasts. I loved to listen to this on my way to work. You know, I'd love to listen while I'm cooking or cleaning or in my car, and I just kind of told all those people Yeah, yeah, maybe one day. It's a great idea, like stay tuned. But I had no plans whatsoever to have a podcast.

I was like, That's the last thing I want to do. You add another sort of endless amount of force to my plate, but then I appear on somebody else's podcast was the software engineering daily podcast with Jeff Myerson, and Jeff has since become a good friend of mine. But he was an avid reader of many hackers, and after we recorded an episode for his show, he spent like 10 minutes just grilling me like Cortland. Why don't you have a past? It's such a great business. It's amazing. It's a good revenue stream. It helps you connect with people on a deeper Maur engaged level than just block post a newsletter can, uh, you know what? I'll make it easy for you.

Then he just gave me his entire playbook for how he runs his podcast, the tools he uses, the sponsors he uses to sort of fund this show. And he just made it, like, so easy for me that I had no excuse to say no, and so I sort of committed. And then I was like, on the hook to actually do it, and I still went into a little bit reluctantly. But I think just having like, a little bit of a smaller step to take because someone else had made it easier for me and maybe more comfortable was probably the only reason I decided to get started in the first place.


Well, I think I remember you saying somewhere either in writing or might have been one of the podcast episodes of that. You're a bit of an introvert.


Oh, yeah, I'm a huge introvert, man. I don't care. I'm like, I don't know where I fall on the scale. I'm probably like 60 40 introvert, extrovert like there are times where I can get super into having conversations. And if I'm with people that I'm comfortable around, I could talk forever. But I mostly sit in my apartment, working on any hackers, watching anime, reading books, like doing whatever I want. I'm not like the kind of guys going out to parties and going out toe events all the time. They need to be social neither.


Yeah, what kind of animal do you watch? Just


curious all of it, man. I probably watched 100 enemies. I'm a really big fan of stories and storytelling in general. I love a good story. I love like a very internally consistent story with great characters who are varied, and the decisions make a lot of sense, and it's exciting. But at the same time, it's like complex. There's my favorite types of movies, is my favorite types of books and shows. And so I'm kind of like a critic. You know, I like to watch movies and Anna Mae and the entire time I'm watching. And I'm like, Oh,

here's what I would do different, etcetera. So one day, maybe one day I'll be a mango artist or a screenwriter or something, but yeah, I spent a lot of time at home. It's basically I'm getting at, which is, ironically, not that uncommon for people who run online communities. Most of my friends who also run big community sites Ryan, who were a product time, for example, my friend Cage, when he runs a community for women in Tech called Alfa Callous. Other examples.

I've talked to them about this, and they're all to a person introverts. I don't know why that is, maybe the extroverts too busy building like riel and person communities. But, um, it's not that uncommon.


I feel like there's way more introverts in the media space, and then people really realize whether it is like outside of just communities. I feel like there's so many people, like even here in Hollywood, that air like that and like you talk to these people, they might be like crazy on screen, but they're really just like that introvert guy that, just, like, hangs out at their apartment by ourself, for with their significant other in like plays, video games and reads books. And And they're supposed to be this big, crazy, larger than life figure, and I think that's amazing. I think that's amazing, because I feel like the introverts have that self awareness. But it's so often anxiety that holds us back. Have you ever felt anxious when you first started the podcast?


Oh yeah, I still dealing Shit, man,


it's not How do you break


through that? Um, okay, let me temper that a little bit. I definitely felt a lot more nervous in the beginning. There's basically two types of creative work that you can do. I would say one type of practice base and one type is editing base like practice would be something like, You're a basketball player, you practice a ton, but then you have to give an actual performance. You have to go out and play in that game and you hope your practice pays off. If it doesn't go well, that's all everybody saw was the actual live performance versus, like, editing based creation, that stuff like writing a block post, writing a newsletter,

building a website, editing an audio file at that point, like you can spend as much time as you want editing that thing before you release it to the world and you could get it as good as you want. You can make sure it reaches your standards and you have never release. You could just never release anything that doesn't match your standards. Well, I


like that size. You there. A lot of people just get stuck there. Yes, like admittedly, even I was like this whole idea of the podcast training site like I mentioned this to you years ago, right? And I got stuck. Yes,


that is a risk when you are not doing any sort of like practice performance space creativity, right? You can't hold back your creation and definitely forever. And there's nothing sort of forcing you to get it out unless you set that up by yourself. So that's a risk. But they're all sorts of tricks you can use to sort of avoid getting stuck there. A lot of it is admittedly easier said than done. But once you've been bitten by that a few times, you sort of learn how you work. You learn what helps you get things out there, What what hinders you? And you could sort of contract that. So for me, for example, I know from previous experience that if I build something that requires a lot of code, I'm such a perfectionist, said it's gonna take me months,

if not years, perform ready for the public to see it. And so I kind of Onley allow myself to work on things, websites and after example that require very little code. And the hackers is a blogger. When I launched it, you don't need a lot of code, right? A blogger and fat You kill Entre Blob with no code. And so I just don't allow myself to go down that rabbit hole because I know I'll get stuck forever. The podcast was nerve racking to me when I first started, because the podcast was not editing based. I didn't get that perfectionist control. It was me and another person who I'm interviewing, and there's very little that I could do. Or so I thought at the time,

to help that person be a better guest. And if things didn't go right, then I would reflect poorly on me or poorly on the guest of poorly on the show in the community as a whole. And it would be this sort of disaster, or I wouldn't want to release an episode. But I wouldn't want to tell the guests that I'm not gonna really surface. It was just very nervous about it. And so, going into every episode, I was like, This is high stakes. I've got one shot at this and if it's not good, it's not good. So it took me, actually, I think three months from the time that I said that I was gonna do a podcast to actually get three episodes recorded and feel good about releasing the show and getting it out to the world.

And that's just because I was so nervous. And even then it took me probably like a year of releasing upsides weekly before I stopped having that pre episode anxiety. Wherever get super nervous before having a guest hop into the room and like, answer my questions and I don't know why that was, I don't know why it took so long. I got a lot of good feedback. People like the show, but I was always so worried that they weren't gonna like this show. Nowadays, I don't feel that worry. I feel a little bit more apathetic, like they don't like it. They don't like it, but people seem to like it. I think the thing that I worry about the most is if I haven't prepared well for a guest, I feel guilty because I don't want to waste that guest time.

I don't want to be ah, host. He hasn't really done a good job preparing, but even then I don't think I've ever had a guest. He's he's felt that way even when I've been worried about it. So maybe a year from now, even that feeling of anxiety would be gone. And no matter what happens, I'll always feel great. Who knows?


I think that's an important note for everybody out there is just like everybody feels super anxious at first. But the more you do it, the more comfortable with that. You've become even sitting down with you today like I felt it and you just kind of gotta push through. Yeah, of course.


When I think saying I think one thing to know is like an interviewer for an interview style podcast, cause you can do a podcast So you're not interviewing anyone. It's just you talking is that pressure is usually more on your guests to perform and listeners as long it's not doing anything egregiously bad. As an interviewer, uh, they generally judge the show by the quality of the guests on how the gas performs and so really internalizing that. I think it's helped me to feel a little bit less nervous. I'm kind of like, you know, I'm just asking questions, and I can try to make my questions interesting. But I've also watched videos of some of the best interviews in the world and very often like their questions are pretty straightforward on what makes them great. Interview is just good at finding the right guest who's gonna be charismatic, who has a good story to tell and just making sure the guest tells that story. And so I think if you're ever feeling that that nervousness just realize that the pressure is on your guests, the episode's gonna be named after them people are listening to hear what they have to say, more so than they're listening to hear what you have to say. It's the interviewer. And so all you have to do is just like some minimum level of preparation for some interesting questions and get out of the way. And it's really not on you.


Have you ever over prepared?


Oh yeah, all the time. I mean, I probably don't ask half the questions that I want to you. Like an interview Jason freed two weeks ago. Three weeks ago, I read like two of his books. I had, like, 50 questions that I'd written down so much like, Just like, ready, Uh, but we only have, like, an hour and 15 minutes of chat, and that goes by in the blink of an eye,

if you having a decent conversation. And we got into a very comfortable mode where we just started having a casual chat, like at some point, we're sort of talking about, like, how weird Japan is. I don't know why that wasn't in my questions, which has got under that topic that we were both naturally interested in. And so I had all these questions that I wanted to ask, so I didn't get to ask. But the good thing is, not only was it a great episode, but because he had a good time, he's willing to come back and do another episode. And because I didn't get to ask so many different questions about so many topics, people could tell that there is more to talk to him about, and so they'll be excited to tune and episode number two whenever that happens. So it's not the worst thing in the world to over prepare. You just obviously spent a little bit more time than you really need it to you.


Okay, let's Let's take a sharp left turn and go back in time. What would you tell yourself? Now? I give you had a time machine sounds so cliche. What would you tell Courtland back in 2017 right before he started the podcast?


That's a number one. It's a good idea to start the podcast. Keep it going. Don't worry that it's not a good idea. It will grow slowly, but it will grow consistently as long as you're consistent. So keep at it, I would say, do things in advance book guests. Well, advance, prepare your questions well in advance. Give it the time that it needs. I was very focused at the time on like and I still am to a degree like coding the website and like doing the newsletter like doing all the other parts of many hackers. But the problem is that if you're high prioritizing other things more than your podcast than every second you spend on your podcast is gonna feel rushed. Just gonna feel like a waste. You're just gonna be thinking about the next thing you have to do while you're working on your podcast.

That's gonna suck all the joy and the fun out of working on the podcast. If you have a podcast, especially if you have an interview show, it's like a naturally fun thing. It's naturally fun to learn about a person and get to have a conversation with them. And so I would say, like, allow yourself to enjoy that process and you're gonna do a better job. You're gonna be less stressed about it and yeah, it's gonna take more time. You'll get the other things a little bit later than you would like. But like That's fine. It's totally worth it. You should enjoy the work you're doing instead of only doing it as sort of a means to an end. Yeah.


What would you say to other people building communities that are thinking about starting podcast themselves?


I would say you should know why you want to start a podcast like, what are you gonna get out of it? A huge percentage of people who start podcasts. They end up quitting before episode number 10 because it's a lot of work. It's a lot of time. And ah, if you're not getting some actual real return from that, then you're gonna ask yourself pretty soon, like, Why am I putting on all this time? You're gonna stop doing it. I think that's doubly true. If you don't already have a big audience of people who were really hungry for this type of content you're putting out like I had that with intake actors. I had thousands of people coming to the website. I had five or 6000 people on my mailing list by the time I started the podcast. And so I had people who send these episodes, too,

and my first batch of episodes Already. We're getting, like, eight or 900 downloads each from Day one, which is not monumental, but it's a lot better than, like one or two downloaded a lot of podcasters starting with. And so if you don't have that, you're not going to be motivated to continue from the download numbers. So you gotta know what you want. And that could be anything right? You want to build up an audience so that you could generate revenue from advertisers. She want to use it as a legion funnel to a particular page. You want to use it to meet interesting people so you can connect with them and get them on some sort of professional capacity. You want to use it to build up an audience of people who follow your story so they're more engaged with your product of your company. Whatever it is,

you should know very clearly what you want to get out of it, and you should have like, ideally, just like one metric that you can use the track that you're that you're heading in that direction and then you should be aware that it's going to take you a lot of time, a lot of investment. You should commit to a certain number of episodes, I think in advance and give it that much time to grab. So for me, I knew I was going to get to 100 episodes, no matter what I called. Episode number one of the indicates podcast Episode 001 They put that right in the title to sort of force myself to get Thio three digit numbers because it would look stupid if I only did 50 episodes in the index podcasts and they all had, like that, actually zero in the front. So that was gonna my trick to persuade myself to go the distance and get 200 episodes, which I just got to a few weeks ago and I would say, Yeah,

you're gonna start something, make sure it's worth it so you can see it through to the end. You know, I think what I'll add is that when you're doing a podcast, especially an interview show, it's important to think about what your listeners want to get out of it. And that means talking to your listeners. I think, the altro of any actors. I recorded it like two years ago. We haven't really updated it, but it's kind of like asking people for reviews on iTunes because I thought that would make this show grow. Now, I'm not convinced that helps a showgirl it all. I think it's just kind of B s. What will be even better is if I had,

like, a link to a form or something where I ask people who are listening to chime in with their thoughts about the ship. You know, just send me a quick blurb how I could make the show better. Why do you listen to the show? What do you get out of it? What do you like? What you not like Because I think my sensibilities around that has sort of evolved over time. And in the beginning, I didn't really have a model for why people listened, but I didn't really even think about it. I just kind of asked questions. Nowadays I can, like, see a question, and I can instantly talent is this question phrased in a way where listeners who hear this are gonna be eager to hear the answer because it's gonna tell them something that they want to know.

So if you are a listener and I'm interviewing, I don't know Chris Savage from Wisteria. You don't really want me to ask Chris questions about, Like, how did you get started as an entrepreneur? Like, that's not what you're interested in. You don't care, Alcaraz Savage got started as an entrepreneur. You care about how you can get started as an entrepreneur? Or at the very least, you care about hearing an entertaining story, right? So I should phrase my questions and ask questions That sort of a line with the things that you want to hear. For example, you might want to hear about how Chris made the decision to quit his job and join on,

started some company and like what kinds of factors he considered because you're trying to think about making that same decision and what kind of factors you can you should consider. And so now I'm gonna ask questions that have that have that in mind, really. And another another thing in the same vein is, I think, especially if you're interviewing people. I deal. You're bringing people on to know more about something than you do. And in that case, I think it's kind of cool is an interviewer to just learn from your guests just to basically learn in public. And I think people who are listening just get so much value out of interviewers who are learning from their guests and learning in public more so than they do from interviewers who are like trying to teach their guests something. This is a transition that, like I am currently in the process of making. How can I learn more from my guest on the air? How can you ask more questions to teach me something rather than the questions that I already sort of know the answer to So general theme here is Just think about your listeners and what they want to get out of your podcast. And if you really hit on that, I think you're more like edible to show that people recommend that people listen to every week on that. People really just stick with. I love it.


Thank you so much for coming on the show. Where can people find you online?


I am at CS Alan C. S a L E N on Twitter. I don't tweet very often, but when I do I try to make it, uh, pick on. I also run Indy hackers dot com. That's i N D i e hackers dot com If you wanna check out the podcast, just go. They don't like podcast at the top. And if you want to check out the community forum, it's right there on the home page. Awesome. Thank you so much, Thanks.

powered by SmashNotes