lenny podcast cover with chris hutchins

Chris Hutchins: Launching and Growing a Podcast | Lenny’s Podcast With Lenny Rachitsky

Check out the Podcast Episode Page & Show Notes 

Key Takeaways

  • Having a podcast is a great excuse to talk to someone interesting for an hour 
  • Do not start a podcast if you wouldn’t do it for free in perpetuity 
  • Focus on what excites you and not what  you think will move the metrics
    • Tim Ferriss did a podcast with a person on how to make violins; 80% of his subscribers probably ignored it but 20% reached out to Tim and told him it was their favorite podcast episode of the year
  • When you’re at a dinner table, what’s the thing that you talk about that causes people to lean in to hear what you have to say?
    • The answer to this question is what your podcast should be about 
  • Analysis paralysis can delay the launch of your podcast; it’s okay to strategize, but don’t forget to launch the thing
  • Search Twitter and reply to people that are asking questions about topics that your podcast answers 
  • Make clips of your podcast and put them on platforms like Instagram and TikTok that do have built-in growth engines 
  • Growth on other platforms like Instagram and TikTok may not drive downloads, but it drives brand awareness and may help you land more guests
  • Be an expert on something and go on other people’s podcasts to talk about it 
  • The direction of your podcast growth is more important than the number
  • Generally, people will take you seriously when you cross the 10,000 downloads per episode threshold 
  • The last thing you want to do with a podcast or newsletter is to create a job for yourself that you hate
  • Be you, be authentic, and try to be someone’s favorite podcast  

Intro 

  • Chris Hutchins (@hutchins) is a life hacker, points optimizer, and host of All the Hacks Podcast, which has over 1M listeners. Previously, he was Head of New Product Strategy at Wealthfront, he co-founded Grove and Milk and worked in venture capital at Google Ventures. 
  • In this conversation, Chris Hutchins and Lenny Rachitsky discuss how to start, launch, and grow a podcast; Chris’s hardware and software podcasting stack; how to use other platforms to grow your downloads; and other useful tips and tricks to grow your following when first starting out. 
  • Check out these Podcast Notes when Chris interviewed Tim on The Tim Ferriss Show 
  • Host: Lenny Rachitsky (@lennysan

Lessons Learned from Wealthfront 

  • Chris did not know what a “PM” was when Google acquired his company Milk in 2012
  • Chris transferred out of product and into venture capital at Google, eventually leaving the company to start a financial education company Grove, which was later acquired by Wealthfront
  • At Wealthfront, he worked on a software product designed to automate a person’s entire financial life 
  • The automation software never reached product-market-fit, but it became a valuable tool for many Wealthfront users 

Storytelling and Communications

  • Creating a successful product requires more than just customer research; you need to also create excitement internally and get buy-in from all the teams working on it 
  • A successful product requires a compelling vision
  • Founders must state their mission and vision at every all hand 

Why You Should Focus On Overall Impact 

  • Understand at a deep level your customer’s problems 
  • Understand what is happening in the outside world beyond the walls of your business
  • Ask yourself what feeling you want your customer to experience when they interact with your product
  • The people trying to make the most positive impact on the company are the “outperformers” 

Why Chris Hutchins Likes Working On Big Ideas 

  • Chris wants to work on projects with asymmetric returns that revolutionize everything that the company does today 
  • Every product manager must balance the dichotomy of making small iterative improvements and making big bets 

The Early Days Of Chris’s All the Hacks Podcast

  • All the Hacks podcast launched in mid-2021
  • Having a podcast is a great excuse to talk to someone interesting for an hour 
  • A podcast provides you with a platform to explore your curiosities 
  • Staying on topic with your guest is crucial for growing a podcast

The Pros and Cons Of Starting A Podcast

  • There are 4M podcasts, but only about 150,000 have had ten episodes and have published an episode in the last ten days 
  • The easiest way to get in the top 5% of podcasts is to just stick with it
  • You can have a top 5% podcast if you upload one episode per week for ten weeks
  • However, if you do not have a massive platform already, then it is statistically unlikely that your podcast is going to work   
  • Do not start a podcast if you wouldn’t do it for free in perpetuity 
  • One option is to commit to making one season of a podcast so you can see if you like it 

Time Required To Produce An Episode

  • In the early days of Chris’s podcast, he spent anywhere from 2-10 hours preparing for an interview 
  • Conversational shows are easier to edit than shows that are more narrative-driven 
  • Chris uses a software program called Descript for podcast editing  
  • Guest outreach takes a lot of time; for every one person that says yes, there are several other no’s 
  • Have 2-3 episodes ready to be uploaded before launching the show

Apple’s Podcast Ranking Algorithm

  • Apple’s podcast rankings use variables you may not expect it to use, such as momentum metrics
  • The number of new subscribers per hour is an important metric for Apple, which is why new shows tend to teleport to the top of the charts if the person launching it already has a large following
  • If your podcast skyrockets to the top of the charts when it first comes out, then you can always say that it was a top ten podcast (at one point) when reaching out to potential guests 

Authentic Content Is All That Matters

  • All the momentum in the world does not matter if your content is not good 
  • It is hard to stand out if your content is not from a unique perspective, or if you do not have a unique way of sharing it 
  • Be you, be authentic, and try to be someone’s favorite podcast 
  • Don’t try to be everyone’s “okay” podcast 
  • Tim Ferriss did a podcast with a person on how to make violins; 80% of his subscribers probably ignored it but 20% reached out to Tim and told him it was their favorite podcast episode of the year 
  • Half of Tim Ferriss’s top podcast episodes of all time are with people you would not recognize 
  • Focus on what excites you and not what  you think will move the metrics 
  • It’s hard to know if your content is good; just put it out in the world and get feedback 

Be Someone’s Favorite Podcast

  • Chris references the 1,000 true fans framework, which basically says you can make a living if you have 1,000 true fans that like your content enough to support you 
  • The advocates of your show are the ones that will write reviews and share it with their friends 
  • Be consistent with the time and day that you release episodes 

How Chris Hutchins Ideated and Titled All the Hacks 

  • Chris’s first idea for the podcast was a parenting podcast for dads
    • He created a 75-page document outlining all of his ideas and got all the podcast equipment 
  • His interest in the topic decreased after having his child and decided not to make a show on the subject  
  • When you’re at a dinner table, what’s the thing that you talk about that causes the people there to lean in to hear what you have to say?
    • Your answer to this question is what your podcast should be about
  • What do people reach out to you for expertise on?
  • What do you spend your time going down rabbit holes on the internet on?
  • Analysis paralysis can delay the launch of your podcast; it’s okay to strategize, but don’t forget to launch the thing
  • You can always change the name or pivot the topic later 
  • If you’re scared about going public with it, you can create a private RSS feed and share it with close friends

How To Get Your First Subscribers 

  • Build an audience of your closest friends, family, and colleagues
  • Chris mentions Nick Gray’s Friends Newsletter, where Nick just sends out updates on his life and cool things he’s come across
  • Find ways to promote your podcast on other platforms, such as a newsletter
  • Trade your skills and services in exchange for being featured on someone’s platform
    • Example: Do consulting work for someone not for money, but to be promoted on their Twitter    

Gary Vee’s Twitter Strategy  

  • When Gary Vee started Wine Library, he went on Twitter and responded to every single person that was asking questions about wine 
  • Search Twitter and reply to people that are asking questions about topics that your podcast answers 
  • Well-researched answers to their questions provide value to them and increase the likelihood that they follow you or subscribe 
  • Be a value-add to strangers on the Internet 

How To Leverage Platforms With Built-In Growth Engines

  • There are no built-in growth engines on podcasting platforms
  • Make clips of your podcast and put them on platforms like Instagram and TikTok that do have built-in growth engines 
  • Chris mentions how Danny Miranda made clips of his podcast and how they were responsible for much of his early growth
    • Danny generated millions of views across Instagram and Tik Tok and converted those views into subscribers for his podcast 
  • Growth on other platforms may not drive downloads, but it drives brand awareness and may help you land more guests 

The Power of In-Person Interviews 

  • The quality of the interview is significantly better when done in person compared to remotely (yes it is!) 
  • The quality of clips is also better when done in person, even if the audio is the same
  • Podcast guests will share high-quality clips that make them look good, which can drive growth and brand awareness 

How to Pitch To Other Podcasts

  • Find other podcasts that you can go on as an expert in some area 
  • You’re meeting your potential audience where they are when you go on someone else’s podcast 
  • A person that likes 60-second clips on Tik Tok may not like 2-hour podcast episodes, which is why cross-platform growth doesn’t always happen 
  • Be a value-add for another podcast by being an expert on a subject that their audience might find interesting
  • Ensure that you do the work and actually present a compelling pitch to come on their show – and why their show is the best platform for your message to be conveyed 
  • You’re going to get a lot of no’s and that is okay 

Equipment and Products For Producing Podcasts 

How Many Downloads It Takes To Be Taken Seriously 

  • The direction of your growth is more important than the number
  • A person with a large following may have a big download number but a terrible show, and the direction of their growth will reveal that reality 
  • Three-thousands downloads per episode puts you in the top 1% of podcasts 
  • You don’t need “crazy numbers” to be in the top percent of the charts 
  • The top 10 podcasts are doing millions of downloads and episode  
  • The tranche above the top 10 podcasts is probably doing hundreds of thousands of downloads an episode 
  • Outside of the top 300 podcasts, the podcasts are doing around ten thousand downloads an episode
  • Generally, people will take you seriously when you cross the 10,000 downloads per episode threshold 
  •  Forget about the number of downloads you get on your first couple of episodes
  • The average podcast has less than 50% of listeners by the time it ends; don’t be discouraged when the data shows you that people stop listening halfway through
    • For reference, Chris’s best episode had 65% of people make it to the end  

Using Overcast As A Growth Lever

  • Chris Hutchins recommends podcast creators experiment with Overcast, a platform that helps you grow your podcast with advertisements 
  • The average cost to acquire podcast listeners is approximately $3 to $10 depending on the appeal of your show and your audience 
  • Paid advertising to grow your audience is relatively expensive when first starting out 
  • Share your podcast everywhere you are on the Internet
    • The bottom of emails, your Twitter bio, etc.  
  • The last thing you want to do with a podcast or newsletter is to create a job for yourself that you hate 

Lighting Round Of Questions For Chris 

  • Three books that you’ve recommended most to people recently?
  • Favorite podcast other than All the Hacks and Lenny’s Podcast?
  • Favorite recent movie or TV show?
  • Favorite question to ask on your podcast?
    • Answer: What are your favorite misconceptions about [the person’s area of expertise]?
  • Three favorite money hacks?
    • #1: Go to your state’s unclaimed money website and you can find whether there are people that owe you money 
    • #2: Anytime you’re booking a hotel, book directly with the hotel and email the hotel in advance about how excited you are to be coming and if you’re celebrating anything. Email them again a few days before you arrive. Chris estimates a 50% chance they upgrade your stay or present you with a gift if you do this. 
    • #3: Buy gift cards in places that offer a lot of credit card points and then use the gift cards to purchase whatever it is you were going to buy anyways
Lenny’s Podcast With Lenny Rachitsky : , , ,
Notes By Stan Rizzo

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