30,000 monthly downloads

Launched in July 2016

1 episode a week

Hello! What’s your background, and what’s your podcast about?

Hi! My name is Joe Casabona and I’m a Front End Developer. I’ve been making websites since 2002 and work primarily with WordPress, writing custom themes and plugins. More recently I’ve been focusing on educational content through online and in-person courses.

My podcast is called How I Built It, and I interview developers and business owners about a product or service they’ve built. We cover everything from inception to launch. Generally, I’ll ask 4-5 questions about how they came up with the idea, what research they did to see if it was worth the effort, how they built it (tools, methodologies, or whatever my guest is most comfortable answering), and what their plans for the future are. I also like to ask them for a piece of advice my listeners can take away at the end of the show.

I started the show in July of 2016 and didn’t have many expectations, but each episode gets downloaded over 5,000 times. Way better than I thought it would do!

What was the motivation behind starting the podcast?

The idea came from me having private conversations with friends as I prepared to launch my online course platform. I’d ask them about tools I should use and how they priced out their own courses, and I felt these conversations should be made public!

I honestly didn’t try to validate the idea too much besides telling a few friends about it and seeing what they thought. I booked guests, came up with the questions I want to ask, and just launched. I felt I could have some great conversations because being a developer myself, we could speak the same language, and I could parse out some of the more technical details for the listeners.

When I started the show, I thought it would be a good way to cross promote the courses I was working on. I was employed full time at an agency and had a side gig making websites and courses. This would be one way to sell my services…then I got sponsored.

What went into launching the initial podcast?

When launching the podcast, I had to make a money investment for a few things: mic, recording software, and audio hosting, which I do through Libsyn. I also needed to schedule guests, come up with questions, and learn how to edit (that was short-lived, as I decided to hire an editor after getting sponsored).

Luckily, I’m a web developer, so the website took only a few hours to set up. I think from inception to episode 1, it was about 1 month, including connecting to iTunes, recording and schedule episode, etc. A quick rundown of my tools include:

  • WordPress for the Website with Powerpress as the plugin in use
  • A Blue Yeti (I’ve since upgraded)
  • Libsyn for audio hosting
  • Skype + eCamm Call Recorder (though I’m experimenting with Zoom now)
  • GarageBand or Audcacity (on Windows)  for editing and adding bumpers

On the business side of things, I decided it would be a good way for me to establish myself as an authority to help sell my courses, but I got sponsored pretty quickly thanks to a generous WordPress community. This really helped me cement time in my schedule to make it happen. I also knew I wanted it to be a short show (around 30 mins) and be focused around building the business, so it’s the same 5 basic questions each time (with wiggle room for good conversation, of-course).

Finally, I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the help of some friends in the WordPress community. They came on the show, supported it, and gave me advice on hosting and the right tools.

How have you attracted listeners and grown the podcast?

If I’m being honest, I didn’t have a good plan for attracting listeners. I will tell you that I had some great guests early on that generously promoted the show. I’m sure I got many listeners from my guests. That and promoting on social media were my main forms of PR.

I will say though, that I’ve done a few things that I think have really helped make the show what it is today. The first is a consistent publishing schedule. I make sure to publish every Tuesday morning, come hell or high water. My audience can expect to hear a new show then, and I’m sure they’re happy with the predictability.

I also make sure the show isn’t about me – it’s about my guest. Listeners hear my voice every week, and while I do interject my own opinion and interpretations, I let the guest drive the show. I’m more like the GPS, asking the right questions and guiding them through a story I want them to tell.

Finally, I try not to ask the same questions that you hear on every podcast. “How did you get your start” is asked everywhere. “What kind of research did you do,” is not.

What’s your business model, and how have you grown your revenue with having a podcast?

My business model is sponsorships. I have at least 1 season long sponsor that makes the show possible. I manage to fill most of my spots as well. I also add affiliate links where it makes sense, but the return is so low on that for this particular show that it doesn’t register as any good form of income.

Sponsorship is great if you can get it, and I was lucky enough to be able to open up 3 spots on the show in some cases. Usually i’ll do 1 (or 2) pre-roll, and 1 (or 2) midroll, but not more than 3 spots per episode.

Some of the best advice I’ve gotten for new sponsors is to create a pitch deck with all of your information on it, and do cold emails. Ask if they’ve considered sponsoring, then explain why you think you’re a good fit. It’s not just about downloads – it’s about influence. If you have a good following, sell that.

What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced and obstacles you’ve overcome when it comes to running the podcast? If you had to start over, what would you do differently?

The hardest part for sure has been how long it takes me to publish each episode (between 3-5 hours, from booking guest to hitting publish). There are a lot of moving parts to each episode and I’ve finally, 2 years in, listed out everything I need to do. I’m currently in the process of automating what I can and outsourcing what I can.

I also think that I was blindsided by the importance of transcripts to folks in my community. Some have even told me they wouldn’t share my show without them. I’ve added them starting in Season 4, earlier this year. But they are expensive and can be a run on a show’s budget. I think you need to decide how important they are to you.

I’d love to transcribe the back catalog, eventually.

Have you found anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

I went to Podcast Movement this year and it was HUGELY helpful. I met a lot of great people and got fantastic advice on automating processes, sponsor outreach, and more.

I also think that getting into the habit of publishing weekly has helped the show grow. I mentioned this before but a consistent schedule helped me build up nearly 100 episodes at the time I write this – lots of great content for people to download.

Finally, I try to be a good interviewer. I listen to my guests, let them drive the show, and guide them with follow up questions. I elaborate or explain when needed, and try to repeat the really good points for my listeners. If my listeners come away with 1 or 2 takeaways, I’m happy.

What’s your advice for podcasters who are just starting out?

Take some time to research before starting – get your tech stack right from day one. It will make life much easier. Be consistent with publishing episodes. And remember that good audio quality is good, but it doesn’t need to sound like NPR. It just needs to not sound like it was recorded in a cave on your iPhone.

One thing I didn’t realize to do until a year in was make a strong effort to understand my listeners. On day one, you should have the Facebook Pixel installed and an email opt-in form. Connect with them early and often.

Pat Flynn is a guy that know podcasting, and he’s a great resource. And at the risk of sounding self-promotional, I’m working on a course on how to get your Podcast Website up and running quickly and easily with WordPress. 

Where can we go to learn more?

My podcast is at How I Built It and everything about me is at Casabona