Raphael from Empower Audio sent me a really nice email which is quite cool of him, shared a service the readers here might enjoy, and asked for some feedback. It's good stuff, let's get started -
I hope you are doing well.
I just wanted to say thanks for your blog and your helpful attitude on HN. I've mostly lurked but there were several points you've made on HN that really helped tip me out of a downward spiral (just getting started doing something instead of trying to make a huge ordeal about it), and I've found your blog quite good as well.
I was struggling with discipline and read your comment on HN suggesting to someone to just get started doing some small little piece, like taking a 5 minute walk. I immediately decided to take a walk and start doing so every morning. For the last 3-4 months since then, that one little thing has made such a huge difference it's really quite remarkable. I go on my walk every morning and listen to either podcasts or audiobooks.
I know you are very busy but I'd also like to ask your feedback on a site I recently put together; www.empoweraudio.com. It's Steve Pavlina's content in audio format (since he released his copyright). I think the content and audio production are both excellent, and am now wondering how I might actually start building some traffic. I was thinking of writing a quick start guide to help people kickstart their personal development by essentially doing a 30 day trial listening to positive audio and walking every day.
If it fancies you - I'd love some feedback, if not - I totally understand! You've already given me so much already through your blog and HN for which I am very grateful.
Have a great day!
First, thanks for the kind words. Very cool of you to say and congrats on the successes.
Next up, I'd recommend people go check out Empower Audio - the sound quality is really really good, and it's nice listening. I was a really big of Steve Pavlina's work in productivity and goal setting, especially in that 2004-2006 window. Pavlina's six-part series on self-discipline was marvelous, and people here would probably enjoy reading it.
So, here's my take - you've got a high production quality podcast, and you're already set up with some decent content to turn into audio. Good, good. Now you need to do a couple things.
Yes, you need to get the word out and market. But before you do that, you need to pick and establish a consistent schedule for when the audio comes out, and then stick with it religiously.
Especially when providing entertainment or inspiration to people, consistency becomes very important. In order to have an inconsistent schedule, you need to work relatively much harder.
I'm a believer and advocate in doing on a daily basis (or perhaps, weekdays), but I recognize that'd be tricky with how high your production quality is. But I think you're going to have a hard time getting traction if you go less than weekly.
So, you need a schedule. I think once per week is probably the low end of what's doable here for getting started and building regular listeners. More would be good too, but once per week is probably the low end.
Now in full disclosure, I got this email a week ago and I wanted to think it over... I thought, hmm, there's immense potential here, but I think there's some tweak that can be made to make things easier... hmm...
And then it hits me - a lot of bloggers would love to have high production audio versions of their work made. Right now you're started with Steve Pavlina's work, which is a great place to start - good, dense content and he released the copyright so his work would spread in the world.
But there's a natural limit to articles from Steve. First, you're likely up against some competition from people doing similar things. Second, he's only got so many articles that are going to be relevant to your theme. So you'd run out, eventually.
Thus, I think there's a way you can kill two birds with one stone here - you could approach writers and ask if you could do an audio version of one of their good pieces. If you're cool about it, I think the answer is going to be yes. Then, naturally, the writer will give a heads-up and mention to their audience about your work.
If you've seen Hacker Monthly by Lim Cheng Soon, it's a fundamentally similar idea. Cheng Soon gets permission from writers to produce an edited, illustrated, beautifully designed part of their work in his monthly magazine. This is flattering and cool for a creator, and helps writers get their word out to the excellent readership of Hacker Monthly. Naturally, when people are featured there, they're happy about it and want to share the good news - so they put it out on Twitter, on their blog, etc, and people go check out the magazine. It's a very virtuous cycle.
I think a consistent schedule plus featuring a variety of people's content would go the furthest. There's plenty of outside marketing/spread-the-word/SEO strategies you can use as well, but focusing on putting out good content that the original creators will want to promote probably offers the best mix of creating excellent content for your readers, and giving people a strong incentive to promote your site.
You can mix in work that you've gotten permission to do an audio version, work like Steve's where he released the copyright, or even excerpts from classic books. There's a huge archive of free and out of print stuff on gutenberg.org - another way to get some potential content. Down the road, you could do audio versions of books that get lots of searches, and then emphasize SEO or promote those audio to relevant audiences. But for now, I'd put a heavy emphasis on reaching out directly to writers - that'll give you a nice variety of content and lead to natural promotion. Very win/win/win type stuff.
Thanks for reaching out, thanks for the kind words, and yeah, I recommend people take a listen to Empower Audio - the production quality is really very good.
Thanks V! Your encouragement means a lot to us. We're working hard to bring some excellent stuff out.
Awesome idea! Great content and quality of the podcasts. I like the podcasters voice, keeps me focused on the podcast itself (keeping focused is getting harder).
Thanks Sebastian for the tip and thank you Raphael and Jeffrey for doing this. I hope you guys get many listeners, but it's all good stuff so that shouldn't be too hard :)
Question from a reader -
You have maintained your commitment to being prolific which is made even more exceptional by the fact you are travelling around the world at the same time.
I realise your article on being prolific is about this, but accepting that I'm going to release a lot of crap before I realise something good is a tough wall to knock down. My biggest issue writing anything seems to be that it feel insufficent. Naturally no post I write has the length of Steve Yegge, the persuasiveness of Paul Graham, the content of Unqualified Reservations etc. etc. and while I can consciously accept this, there seems to be some mental block. How do you go "that's sufficient" and release it into the wild?
There's two basic approaches to being successful as a writer. The first, we could call the "Paul Graham / Derek Sivers" approach. This is where you explore a lot of ideas privately, go forward with the best ideas you have, and edit and polish the hell out of everything before you release it into the world. If you do this, and you've got talent as a writer, and you've got important ideas - then you're going to consistently only release masterpieces.
The second way is to just write a hell of a lot and know that a number of the things you write will turn out quite well, but your average quality level will be much lower. We could call this the "write every day no matter what" approach.
In one of the comments someone asked what I plan on doing now that I'm done with gambling. It's a good question, and one that I don't totally have the answer for.
I feel like I'm a little bit behind, since it hit me so fast. Normally I would prefer to have a solid new plan in place before stopping one business, but that's not how it always works.
My approach has been to get involved in a lot of different ventures, and to let time sort out which are worth doing and which aren't. Actually, this post is more for me than you guys, just so I can take stock of where I'm at.