I had the idea for Indie Bites on the 1st Sept 2020, bought the domain on the 2nd, built the Notion site on the 3rd then released the first episode with Charlie Ward on the 4th.
I didn’t know how a short podcast would be received, or even if I could execute it, but I was willing to give it a crack.
I had a podcast called Marketing Mashup that I’d run for a couple of years. I hadn’t published an episode in a few months and I was bored of the long-form interview format. I also wasn’t really that involved in the marketing community any more. I’d found a new group of people I felt at home with; indie hackers.
Since most of us lost our commutes (our prime podcast listening time) podcast listen times went down. I used to listen to about 3 a day, now I’m lucky if I get through that many in a week. I didn't want another long show.
I also knew I really liked listening to Nathan Latka’s show. I liked that I could get through a few episodes in one sitting or listen to a single episode if I was doing a short task. However, I wasn’t so interested in people making millions with their high-growth startups. I was interested in bootstrappers making a better life for themselves with sustainable, profitable businesses.
So I paired all these factors together and decided on a 15-minute episode speaking to some of my favourite bootstrapped founders. Easier for me to produce, easier for people to listen and hopefully slotted into a little gap in the market.
I reached out to some of my favourite people in the IH scene. Anne Laure Le Cunff, Harry Dry, Corey Haines, Sabba Keynejad and to my surprise, they all agreed to come on the show.
The first few episodes were getting between 20-40 downloads which was nice, but I wanted to do better. Things took a change when I invited mr Indie Hackers himself, Courtland Allen. Courtland doesn’t do many pod interviews so I was stoked when he agreed to join me for an episode. He was super kind with his time and you could tell this guy was smart and had spent a lot of time around indie hackers.
I knew the episode would get more downloads than normal, but what I didn’t expect was for Courtland to invite me into the Indie Hackers podcast network that he was thinking of starting. The network was the catalyst for the growth of Indie Bites and it wouldn’t be where it is now without it.
The Indie Hackers podcast network
For the first few weeks Courtland would set up weekly mastermind calls with a few of the other shows in the network, where he’d listen to our shows and give feedback on how we can do better. His vision for the network also included sharing some of our shows on the Indie Hackers podcast feed to increase listenership. My Indie Bites episode with Sabba Keynejad (founder of VEED) was fortunate enough to be shared on the feed and this kickstarted the growth for my show.
Overnight I went from 20-40 listeners to 250-300 listeners per episode. From then the show just started to grow organically and I was having a blast.
I was releasing episodes regularly with some of my favourite indie hackers, people were sharing the show on Twitter, I was making new friends and enjoying the mentorship from Courtland.
The plan from the very start of the show was to turn it into something that could support me doing something I love, while helping out the community I love. I had to figure out a way to make money, which is hard to do with an audience of 0.
So I spoke to my good friend Charlie (from episode 1) who agreed to sponsor the show for £25 an episode for the next 5 for his community, Weekend Club (I'm pretty sure you can still get 50% your first month with code "Indie Bites"). From then we just agreed to keep going indefinitely until I found some new sponsors who were willing to pay the £49 full price I’d set for the show at the start.
Indie Bites wouldn’t be where it is today without the support of Charlie, who sponsored from 0 listeners, and the community at Weekend Club who have kept me motivated even through some tough times.
After this I raised my prices to £89 an episode and have had some amazing sponsors (all of which are previous guests).
- ilo by Dan Rowden
- Embarque by Julian Canlas
- VEED by Sabba Keynejad & Tim Mamedov
- Churnkey by Baird Hall & Nick Fogle
- Upvoty by Mike SaaS
However, a few months in I started to struggle with mental health challenges for the first time in my life and it really knocked me back.
November was a struggle. Lockdowns were happening and podcasts were not. I’ve written about it fairly extensively. I then tried to push through in December and January (fresh start and all) then hit another roadblock in February as we were in yet another lockdown. I got my act together in March ’21, as some restrictions were lifted and I decided really wanted to make Indie Bites work, giving it another real crack.
I published 4 episodes during my very own March Madness:
I also recorded like a mad man with a bunch of people - some of which I’m yet to even publish! At this point I felt I had my mojo back. I was wrong.
Then, it hit again. From April I had some of the worst months I’ve experienced. I struggled with work and took time away from everything. I wrote about it here:
I released an episode which talks to my experience too:
I got 3 actual episodes out in 5 months, which wasn’t really in-line with my 1-a-week schedule. It was on a 0.15-a-week schedule.
Looking back on it, I'm grateful the podcast still got over 1k downloads every month as people listened to old episodes and the odd episode I was releasing.
I can’t write this article without thanking everyone who supported me through some tough months. It’s hard to write about this sort of stuff because I feel like I should be happy having the life I would have dreamed of as a kid, but instead am struggling with some of the lowest points.
Despite this the support of my friends in the indie community has been unwavering and I can’t thank everyone enough. I also wrote specifically to the people who reached out and the impact they’ve had.
How do I make the show?
In the past year I’ve written a lot about how to start a podcast from my YouTube videos with Riverside and my writing for Welder. These are quite in-depth, but if you’re interested I’ll quickly write a section on how I make Indie Bites.
- I write all show notes in Notion, with everything published at indiebites.co (using Super).
- I’ll reach out to a guest and usually schedule a pre-recording call to get to know them.
- I schedule my calls with Savvy Cal which creates an automatic link to my recording software.
- I record using a combination of Welder, Riverside and Squadcast, which are all local recording tools meaning I get crispy audio.
- My microphone is the Shure MV7 (£250), having started with a Shure SM58 (£100) and upgraded to the Shure SM7B (£400). It’s the best mix of quality and ease of use (as it has a USB output).
- I edit every show using Descript, which makes life much easier but can be quite buggy. It usually takes me 4-8 hours to edit each episode.
- Finally, I host Indie Bites with Transistor and I’ve been with them since the very first podcast I made. Big fan.
- Oh, and the website I use is made in PodPage.
None of these are affiliates but I do endorse them, so please check them out or ask me any questions if you have them.
Finally the juicy part. Am I now rich from the podcast? No, but I’m pretty happy with these numbers.
- Total downloads: 20,767
- Avg downloads p/m: 1,730
- Avg downloads p/ep: 692
- Total revenue: £2,290.45
- Sponsors: £1,552.45
- Members: £738
- Best month: March 2021 (3,551)
- Best episode: Dan Rowden (1,221)
So that’s been my year in a nutshell with Indie Bites. Started out wanting to speak to some of my favourite indie hackers, got featured on the Indie Hackers podcast feed, monetised from the start, lost motivation through depression and then ended the year strong.
I’m happy with the progress of the show. Although it’s been a strange year I think if I publish episodes every week, continue sharing these stories and put everything I can into the show by this time next year I should be at 100k downloads and running this full-time. That’s the goal.