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Building a team requires expertise and experience, would you build your own with hungry but less experienced developers?

Today on the WPMRR podcast, we have Noah Labhart, podcast host and producer of Code Story. We discuss the non-traditional way of hiring developers, growing podcast listenership, and the motivation to continue podcasting.

Listen in for more podcasting secrets and team building tips! 

 

What you’ll learn:

  • [00:01:17] Who is Noah Labhart?
  • [00:02:52] Have you always been an outdoors person?
  • [00:04:44] How Noah’s interest in software development started. 
  • [00:08:56] The programming and execution learned at HP.
  • [00:10:19] From programming to learning entrepreneurship.
  • [00:14:33] In startups, people that become developers contribute long-term to the company.
  • [00:19:59] Junior developers are hungry to learn, they are excited to figure out problems. 
  • [00:24:33] How Code Story came to be. 
  • [00:29:09] Why Code Story podcast is delivered in seasons?
  • [00:32:09] Some of the most popular Code Story episodes.
  • [00:33:59] How do you grow your listenership?
  • [00:35:54] The type of guest helps. Tell people about the podcast.
  • [00:39:11] Distribute and SEO optimize podcast content wherever possible.  
  • [00:43:38] To stay motivated in creating podcast episodes, stay passionate and be creative.

Episode Resources:

Podcast Transcript:

Noah Labhart:

The best thing that works to grow your show is to go out and tell people about it and work for every listen. That’s the thing that works the best. It’s like a startup. I mean, you build an app and you have to work for every download. There’s no secret formula for the most part. There’s no secret formula that you just do one thing and all of a sudden your stuff goes viral.

Joe Howard:

Hey, hey, good WordPress people. Welcome back to the WPMRR WordPress podcast. I’m Joe.

Noah Labhart:

And I’m Balin son of Fundin.

Joe Howard:

And you’re listening to the WordPress business podcast. Oh, we got an awesome character on the pod this week. Is that like one of your favorite characters? Do you have like a certain connection with him?

Noah Labhart:

That’s totally one of my favorite LOTR characters. So Gandalf’s my number one, but I don’t know that I can say that I’m Gandalf. Right. So Balin is the noble, I think very noble dwarf. He’s always the good team player who looks after everybody. So I like Balin.

Joe Howard:

Yeah. Nice. We’ve had people picking Gandalf on the podcast before actually. And the conversation actually always comes up is like, oh, maybe I’m Gandalf the gray and not Gandalf the white. I want to be Gandalf, but oh, Gandalf the white is just like super high level. I don’t know if I’m there yet. Am I allowed to be Gandalf the white? So that conversation has definitely happened before.

Noah Labhart:

It’s intimidating. Is totally intimidating.

Joe Howard:

Yeah, totally. Cool. Well, we’ve got a awesome character on the pod this week, not actually from LOTR, Lord of The Rings, but we’ve got Noah Labhart on the pod this week. Noah, tell us a little bit about what you do because I’m not sure it’s totally WordPress specific, but I think you do a little bit with WordPress as well. So yeah, tell us a little bit about your story and what you do.

Noah Labhart:

Sure. Sure. So I am a startup entrepreneur. I’m the CTO of a company called Variable. And Variable is a on demand marketplace for manufacturing labor. So I’ve been a tech guy for about 15, 16 years now. I’m also a podcast host myself, a podcast being Code Story. I’m a husband. I’ve been married for 11 years. I have three kids, nine, six and four. And I’m also an outdoors man, like to get outside and do a lot of analog activities while I can. So I’m not doing digital all the time.

Joe Howard:

Awesome. Very cool. Well, we have a list of things we’re going to talk about on the podcast, but after your intro, we may have to talk about totally different things because as a new dad, every time I talk to a dad of like, oh, I’ve got three kids, like older because I’m like, “Okay, I got to learn some stuff myself.” So there’s that. Outdoors man is cool. I mean, it’s funny how many people are in tech and in technology but also are super into outdoors and doing more outdoor analog activities because it like, you have to be able to balance yourself well. You can’t just be in front of your computer all the time.

Joe Howard:

I’ve got that problem a little bit sometimes where I’m like, “I’m hanging around, oh, I should do some work, maybe I’ll just jump on my computer.” And then like two hours later it’s like, what happened? And then I’ve had too much computer time. So let’s start there with like the outdoor stuff. So have you always been an outdoors person or did you kind of get into it more when you started getting into more tech to balance stuff?

Noah Labhart:

Yeah, so I’ve always been kind of an outdoors guy. Growing up in the country, growing up on a couple acres with some cows and stuff and playing outdoors. I didn’t even have a computer in my house until I was a junior in high school. So we didn’t have a ton of technology around, worked a lot outside with my hands, with my dad doing projects. And so I think for me when I think about being outside, I think about doing things like that, it’s centering for me to have that balance, to get out, be in touch with nature, get some sunshine and do things with my hands. And it helps me to see things in a different way too, not just in ones and zeros, but in real natural life.

Joe Howard:

Yeah. Yeah. I totally like the working with your hands and really getting out there and doing, I don’t want to say digital stuff is not like real stuff because it is. But I have a friend grant who is like, does a lot of carpentry and builds these Adirondack chairs. He’s into carpentry and I’m always like, “I don’t necessarily think I would want to do that.” It’s not my really … that’s not like … that’s a little too much for me. But I am a little bit jealous of like he has like a chair, what he’s done. Right. It’s like, wow, that’s a cool real product. You could sit in that chair. For me, I’m like, we’re managing websites or putting out podcast episodes and YouTube videos. It’s not a thing you can really touch and stuff. So yeah, that’s cool.

Joe Howard:

But you mentioned you didn’t have a computer in your house until like midway through high school. So many stories you hear people like I started my first online business when I was six years old and I sold like whatever online and then they became a successful entrepreneur, whatever. But you started a little later because you kind of had to. So I’d love to hear more about like how you got into computers from there starting like in high school. Maybe you did a little bit more in the years after that.

Noah Labhart:

Yeah, sure, sure. So I got the first computer in high school. Right. And I mean, we’re talking like minimalist computer, dial up internet, AOL back then. Right. So there was not a lot going on. Played some games, played like the three and a half floppy inch version of Doom, which I still have the discs on my wall, like old school stuff. And then decided, hey, this is pretty cool, I want to learn more about it. I’m going to go to school and I’m going to study it. Went into it the first year, didn’t know how to study at all. Really kind of got weeded out of the computer engineering part of the program, but I was always really good at math. So I stuck around in math, I started majoring in applied mathematics with a minor in computer science.

Noah Labhart:

So I basically started doing computer programming alongside learning more intense mathematics, three-dimensional calculus, differential equations, discreet, probabilities and things like that. So really enjoyed the math side. Got to where I was about to graduate and didn’t want to go be a mathematician. I wanted to keep on the software side. I realized that I could get a computer science degree alongside my applied mathematics degree if I just stuck around another year and took a few more classes. So I was like, “I’m going to do Texas A&M, I was working for Hewlett Packard as an intern, started doing software development there professionally and I was hooked. I loved it and I just really wanted to keep doing that. So that’s where it all kind of kicked off there.

Joe Howard:

Nice. I bet you thought you were going to come on this podcast … Well, I guess you didn’t know this, but as soon as you started talking about math, I bet you were like, “Okay, he’s going to be lost. Who knows about differential equations?” I was a mathematics major in college.

Noah Labhart:

Awesome.

Joe Howard:

So I know all about this stuff. I studied mathematics. I had a minor in education, so not quite in the CS area, but I went, I was a math teacher for a couple of years after I graduated. But I was super into geometry and topology. So I did my … like we did a senior thesis in undergrad and mine was on Gauss–Bonnet theorem, which is like, it’s a typology heavy theory. It’s pretty much a complex way of telling you how many holes an object has. So you can tell if it’s like doing some pretty complex mathematics, you can tell someone based on every point around a three dimensional object if something’s like a torus. So something is like a donut pretty much or if it’s a double torus, like it’s a double doughnut.

Joe Howard:

So people who aren’t in math, people may not totally understand this, but I think it’s super cool. I did a lot of theoretical mathematics. And the reason I did my thesis on that was because I thought it was so … If you expanded that out to do that for like our universe, now we’re getting super abstract. But if you took every point on the universe and did some mathematical modeling, you could tell what the shape of our universe is, which isn’t very abstract thought, but people think it’s just like this sphere of like universe, right? But maybe it’s a torus. Maybe it has like this weird hole in the middle. Maybe like I don’t know, but I’ve always thought that was cool. So rock on. Mathletes are very cool.

Noah Labhart:

It’s super cool. Fist up.

Joe Howard:

And a CS minor or a computer science minor, I loved, I liked doing math, but I always wish I’d done it a little bit more applicably. I kind of always thought like I think I would have been a good engineer or like a good, maybe I should have taken some computer science, but I took like astrology or not astrology, astronomy and mathematics and some physics and it was all somewhat abstract and not super applicable. But it sounds like you went kind of the a little bit more applicable route and did some computer science with that and then you moved into Hewlett Packard and did some work there. Was that like IT stuff?

Noah Labhart:

It was programming. So it was started out some IT stuff, like we were testing, we were an intern center, so we were doing a lot of testing, kind of a lot of the grunt work that some of the HP full time engineers didn’t want to do essentially. But we were testing firmware flashing for servers. Back then HP was selling a bunch of servers and we were testing some of those components. But what I got to do was write some software to automate the testing. It was all manual until I got there and automated the process through some scripts, through some XML, XSL processing. And then I got to move over to the .NET team and do some .NET programming, some ASP.NET, actually some classic ASP, C++ COM components to .NET. So that’s at HP I’d learned a lot about programming and execution professionally from a programming standpoint.

Joe Howard:

Cool. You’ve mostly lost me in the tech talk because that’s not my area of strength, but I understand the automation in order to make manual programming faster or not having to do a hundred hours of manual work. Instead, you run the script and you can maybe do it in a couple of hours or maybe faster. So cool. And then got into what you, I guess, do now and transitioned over to that. Tell us a little bit more, because you mentioned at the beginning of the episode what you’re doing now, but tell us a little more about that.

Noah Labhart:

Sure. So at that point I worked at, I left college, worked at Software Architects, which is a consulting company doing .NET development for pier one imports. After that, I actually went to the corporate world for eight years and worked for Alcon laboratories in different areas and ultimately ended up supporting manufacturing, had a team of IT folks there but was still doing software development on the side. And at that point, I kind of started getting the entrepreneurial itch. I was like, “I’m well taken care of. I work for a great company. There’s great people here, but I want to do something myself and I want to see the difference I’m making be sort of correlated to the work that I’m putting in.”

Noah Labhart:

So I left and started a mobile development agency called Touch Tap which is no longer in operation, but did that for two or three years building startup solutions essentially for people. And then at that point transitioned into what I’m doing now, the CTO at Variable. So Variable’s an on demand marketplace for manufacturing labor. So we’re the Uber for the shop floor. And so we’ve built a platform to connect businesses and workers, manufacturing workers, distribution and supply chain, blue collar type workers to businesses for discreet work opportunities. So we’re the third labor paradigm. There’s full time, there’s temp staffing which is really long term short term and then there is on demand labor. So we’re introducing a new paradigm to manufacturing.

Joe Howard:

Okay. This is super interesting to talk about right now. I think, especially now that like COVID stuff’s happening and the economy is whoa, crazy things are happening. How are things going over at Variable? Yeah, I don’t even know if I could guess because I feel like it’s hard to know unless you hear what’s happening from someone there. So how has COVID treated things that Variable?

Noah Labhart:

Sure. So I think like everyone in the beginning, it sort of flattened things for us. We’ve been on a growth trajectory for two or three years now, upward trajectory and it flattened things for us for a couple of months, but we’re back on the upward trajectory. Now that the stimulus money is sort of running out for people, they’re wanting to go back to work. Right. There’s a lot of people that are unemployed and need work and so we’re right there ready for them to sign up and get to work. So really we’re seeing a big boom right now, people coming back and wanting to get to work in manufacturing, earn some dollars.

Joe Howard:

Yeah. Yeah. Now you have my math brain going. I’m thinking about like the graph, the flattening of the graph and then going back up, that makes sense to me now. I think the first month, most people were like, “Yes, we have to be very careful. We have to slow things down. There’s this virus going around.” And so now four or five months later, I think things are a little different. People are really starting to get that itch. It’s like, well, is this going to be forever? In the WordPress space, all official WordPress like in real life meetups, word camps are all canceled through 2021. So WordPress based are kind of freaking out like is this, I guess this is like going to be your next year or two at least for the WordPress community, all virtual stuff.

Joe Howard:

So yeah. Cool. So Variable stuff is starting to pick up again. That’s great. One of the things you mentioned in these little notes we have people leave before they record the podcast is you mentioned some things about how you build teams non-traditionally. And I love talking about nontraditional solutions here on the podcast and in general, because I think a lot of people want to follow best practices. They want to get an exact blueprint for exactly how I do something. I’m always trying to tell people like there’s not one way to do things. You see a million businesses be successful a million different ways.

Joe Howard:

I like to hear the stories about nontraditional ways to do things, because I think there’s inherent value in that. Maybe some people say, “That doesn’t sound like my style. I don’t think I would do that,” and that’s fine. But there are definitely a few people out there who’ll be like, “Oh, that’s interesting.” And even if you don’t follow that way, it plants some seed of idea in your head that can grow into something that could be successful for another business. So let’s talk a little bit about some of the hiring you do in team growing and maybe some of the nontraditional aspects of it for you.

Noah Labhart:

Absolutely. Yeah. It’s interesting. So I used to be subscribed to the formula. To the, okay, I’m building an engineering team and so that means I need to go get a bunch of CS grads or a bunch of senior engineers who’ve worked in the industry for a long time who have the pedigree. Right. And my mind has been totally flopped in that. And when I built a team at Variable, we started out hiring some career changing developers to where they started out doing one thing and then they went to a bootcamp to learn something else, like to learn software development, front end web development, back end development, things of that nature. And what I found as I hired those people and we started working together was that they had a better view on the world than most of the CS grads that I had worked with.

Noah Labhart:

They were developers, they weren’t programmers. Programmers for me are the types of people that are going to take some specs, sit in a basement and code something out. And I don’t mean any disrespect to that, but that’s what they do. In a startup space, what I’ve found is that the people that come in and be developers are the ones that are really going to contribute to the longterm vision and the success of the company and the product. And what I started to do was partner with this boot camp, local boot camp called Dev Mountain. Dev Mountain teaching React programming, some Angular, but mainly React, some backend stuff, some really practical, useful knowledge for individuals who they weren’t all career changers, but a lot of them were.

Noah Labhart:

And what I started to notice when I interact with those individuals was that they were building solutions that were solving problems in a different way, but in a better way. They were able to see the world, see solutions to the problems that they were solving from their perspective. So like my lead friend and engineer was a English teacher for many, many years before he went to switch his career into programming. I actually have a couple of English teachers or a couple of teachers on my team. One that was doing biomedical research before he switched into programming. So individuals that have different stories. A recruiter, a guy who did recruiting for a long time and decided to switch into the coding that he was recruiting for.

Noah Labhart:

So they just, they see the world as an end user and as a developer. And they see it also as we’re solving problems here, we’re solving business problems. We’re creating solutions for … We’re not trying to build a embedded system for a fighter plane that has to be algorithmically perfect. We’re building something to solve solutions and we’re to get things to market fast. And what I noticed it was those types of people that did it the best. So in a non-traditional way, I went after and I still do today go after those types of people over comp sci.

Joe Howard:

Yeah. That’s a really cool idea because I think that a lot of people traditionally when they’re hiring programmers or developers, they kind of, they split almost like their business or company into like different pieces. One is like the business development people who are focusing on the business solutions and maybe the marketing and sales. And then there’s the developers who are more like building the solutions. And the business development folks think like I can handle managing the development team to build a business solution. But I think what you’re saying, correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s like, if you have a team that in its entirety understands the business problems and can also build something together as a team to solve that business solution, everyone understands and is like moving in that same vector in the same direction, you can build something better or you can do it faster or more efficiently, whatever you want your advantage to be.

Joe Howard:

You would hopefully have advantages in building something better or faster or something like that. So I totally, that resonates with me because I think like at WP Buffs, we hire a lot of WordPress engineers. We have 15, 16 engineers on the team and we’ve tried to like, I don’t want to put this entirely from a financial perspective, but we’ve tried to hire more expensive, senior engineers to do a lot of the work that we do. And a lot of them are not as good as almost like junior level engineers, because it seems to not always just be like, do you know how to do everything necessarily from a technical standpoint? A lot of it is are you a hard worker? Are you someone who can figure out challenges? Can you Google something to figure out a problem?

Joe Howard:

A good amount of solutions or how to figure something out, WordPress is open source. So if someone’s done it, someone’s probably like written a blog post about it, so you can probably figure out a solution. And that in our experience has actually been more valuable than necessarily just like hiring senior level people who have maybe seen or experienced a lot because WordPress is all about edge cases. You never really know what you’re going to see. So that’s super interesting and it sounds like that’s been pretty successful for you in terms of hiring in the past.

Noah Labhart:

Absolutely. No, totally. And it’s interesting, they’re also, they’re able to solve problems in a different way. They’re able to see the world different way, but they’re hungry too. You talk about the … I totally relate to that. Talk about the senior engineers, the guys that have been doing it for years, the guys and gals that have been doing it for years, and they’re very good at what they do, but they’re sort of set in their ways. Right. And I don’t mean that to be a bad thing. That’s a good thing. You understand certain things, but from a junior developer standpoint, you’re hungry, right?

Noah Labhart:

And so a lot of the developers that we’ve hired are hungry. They want to come in, they want to learn, they’re excited about what they’re doing. They’re jazzed to learn the best way to do things and new way to do things and they’re excited to figure out, well, how can we solve this one like little edge problem using the tools that we have? And in a startup particularly, you need that. You need that grit, you need that hunger. And I really appreciate that about the team that I’ve hired.

Joe Howard:

Yeah. That’s on every job description we have up on our website at the top. The three biggest things are like humble, hungry, smart.

Noah Labhart:

Yeah, I love that.

Joe Howard:

Just to get good expectations for people, but the hungry part is super important. I totally agree with you. I don’t know if I’d call us like a startup anymore. We’re pretty proven, we’ve reached this million dollar a year mark. Some might call us a startup, but I think we’re kind of more of an established company, at least from my perspective, like somewhat established. So we’re maybe not a startup, but we’re still a small company. And having people who are not set in their ways is super important because we’re still small enough that we still need to be agile. We need to be able to move directions and change quickly.

Joe Howard:

So sometimes instead of like hiring someone who’s like, “I’m very, very good at these two things. And I can crush these two things.” Sometimes we need that maybe in some areas, but in a lot of areas, it’s much more like, can you be flexible? Can you handle multiple different kinds of workloads? Can you work across different areas of the business? That’s so valuable to us. Like Dean is on our team, he’s our head of customer success. So he leads the customer success team. He also takes sales calls. He just happens to also be really good at sales. He’s been in the business for a little while. So he understands from a customer success standpoint also like what are pain points for people? So he takes 15 sales calls a week and closes a lot of them. So that flexibility is enormously beneficial to us.

Joe Howard:

And it’s not because he’s some senior customer success person for 10 years, he actually started doing customer success here. it just turns out he’s pretty good at it and he’s been hungry enough to develop professionally himself, to get some help from me but I take very little credit for it. He does most of this stuff on his own. He’s hungry. He gets the work done. He betters himself and becomes very good at what he does and is very flexible in his skill sets. And I think that’s something to look out for in terms of hiring. And so a lot of these non-traditional, like this core of non-traditional hiring you’re talking about actually resonates a lot with me I think that probably other folks would agree with you, especially in startup circles.

Joe Howard:

There’s also this conversation of like, because WP Buffs is revenue, it’s grown from its own revenue. We’re a bootstrap business. I started the business with a few thousand bucks and grew it to where it is today. So we haven’t raised any money. We don’t have like VC funding or angel funding or anything like that. So I never had an influx of cash to hire a senior person in the first place. So it wasn’t even really an option for me. I kind of had to do it this way. Right. Some people think like, yeah, Hewlett Packard, right. Maybe they could hire, like they can hire senior engineers for $250,000 a year or whatever or they could hire like people who came right out of business school to work on all the …

Joe Howard:

They have those resources to do that because they have a lot of cash and they have a … generating a lot of revenue. But we generate some, but like a million dollars a year is nothing compared to the total line item for a big company like that. Right. So I think startups should actually, this seems to me like it should be more of the roadmap than what people think traditionally in terms of hiring. So yeah, that’s super interesting to hear you have that experience too.

Noah Labhart:

Absolutely. Yeah. It’s been really cool. It’s been really eye opening and definitely has changed my perspective on a lot of things.

Joe Howard:

Yeah. Sweet. Let’s shift gears a little bit because I want to talk about Code Story as well. So you I guess have recently launched season three of Code Story. And so tell us a little bit about the podcast, what it’s about, how it got started.

Noah Labhart:

Sure. Yeah. So I’m kind of a podcast junkie, listen to a lot. One of my favorite podcasts is How I Built This with Guy Raz.

Joe Howard:

Nice. I have a WordPress friend who has a podcast called How I Built This, Joe Casabona and it’s called How I Built This. And I think it started around the same time. They both have the same title. And so when I hear How I Built This, I’m like, “Oh, Joe’s podcast,” but people also know, oh yeah, Guy has his podcast too. So, which is, I think, I don’t know. Joe’s podcast is also very well known in the WordPress space, but How I Built This by Guy Raz I know is big, big podcast.

Noah Labhart:

Yeah. I actually know Joe’s podcast too. So yeah, I’ve listened to it. Yeah. It’s a great podcast. So yeah, so I was heavily influenced by Guy Raz’s podcast. And I looked around essentially for something that was like that, but specifically for tech. Well narrated with a music bed on it kind of created some tension in the story and some resolution in the story as well and I couldn’t find it. Couldn’t find it exactly for what I was looking for in the tech space. And not necessarily, I’m not looking for … like I want to know how the ones and zeros are generated. I don’t want to get in the weeds, but we’re tech folk, right? So our hammers are the frameworks that we use. Our hammers, for you W Buffs, your hammer is WordPress, right.

Noah Labhart:

My hammer at Variable is React and Node. And so those things, I want to hear the stories about how we’re using our hammers and what we went through as humans to build the things that we’re building. So I decided to do it. I sort of did it myself. I had a couple of friends that started some podcasts, saw that they were having a good time and have done great with their podcast. So I was like, “I’m going to give it a shot.” I recorded my first episode with my college roommate, Reiland Barns. He’s a successful tech entrepreneur here in Dallas and recorded that and it took me six months to finish the first episode.

Joe Howard:

What took so long? Do you mean like just like to get around to actually working on it, it took a little bit of time?

Noah Labhart:

That was part of it was time, but the other part was just being a perfectionist. I was trying to make it perfect. And it was the first episode. You got to just get it out there and let people tell you what they want to hear.

Joe Howard:

Yeah. So you were editing the audio. You were like the audio engineer on it. Got it.

Noah Labhart:

Yeah, I was doing the whole thing. I was laying in the music. I was putting all the clips together and things like that. So I ended up hiring an editor to get out of my own way. I hired an editor for the … I hired an editor for season one, season two. Season three I’m actually back doing it by myself, but I’ve gone through a couple of seasons, so I kind of know how I want to do it. So yeah, launched that in June of last year, of 2019, and we’re in season three. We’re nearly 60 episodes in and it’s been really awesome. I’ve gotten to have conversations with peers in the tech space and some really interesting folks and hear their stories, hear how they went about things and it’s been really great.

Joe Howard:

Yeah. That’s cool, man. I love doing this podcast as listeners know, it’s like a pretty informal podcast. Like yeah, it’s well produced. Shout out Bradley producer. Awesome. But it’s not like, there’s no like building tension. It’s just like totally a conversation and the audience is kind of a fly on the wall of me chatting with someone. So I love doing this podcast. It’s great. But one of the things that we don’t have, and it’s kind of by design, but also sometimes I’m like, “I kind of wish we had this a little more,” is like a little bit more storytelling, a little bit more like podcast produced in a way like Guy’s podcast. Right. It’s like when I hear like a Ted Radio Hour and it’s like, this story is amazing.

Joe Howard:

And it’s like for audio, I can tell. Right. So it’s really enticing and makes you want to listen to more of these awesome stories from people, especially Ted Radio Hour, which is like, it’s not necessarily for startups, but it is really just cool people doing cool stuff. Right. So we don’t really have that. So I’m going to definitely listen to a few episodes and get some of that. The website is codestory.co for folks who want to go check out that podcast. I actually had a question for you, which is, and this may have been based on like hearing Guy’s podcast. I don’t know if how I built this does seasons, but you decided to go this season route. I was thinking about when we started this podcast. And honestly, I thought that sounds like too much organization and work.

Joe Howard:

I just want to record put them out when I … like every week, whatever, easy. But you’re doing more like chapters, I guess and in terms of having seasons for the podcast. So is that something you decided to do because you kind of wanted to have this storyboard ark of ideas or was that just kind of like, sometimes it’s people always, when something good happens they’re like, “You must have done that meaningfully.” Maybe it was just like a random decision you made, who knows, but I’d love to know like kind of what prompted that.

Noah Labhart:

Sure. It was a bit of a random decision. So the first season I was like, “Okay, if I did seasons, what would be the right number? Okay. 20 feels good. Okay, cool. I’m almost to 20, I guess I’ll call it the end of the season.” So I started doing that, but what I did notice was that it’s easier to have a conversation and kind of a relaunch of the podcast for each season so you can say season two is coming up or season three is coming up. Right. And you can kind of get people excited about the new stories that are coming.

Joe Howard:

Build some tension. Yeah.

Noah Labhart:

Yeah. Yeah, totally, totally build some suspense, build some tension. It’s also a little bit interesting around advertising because then you can sell a season, you can sell half a season, you can sell episodes, things like that. You can talk about some of the people that you are interviewing and sort of help sell some of the ad spots there, which ad spots are a little rough right now with COVID. So it’s really just a little more artistic right now.

Joe Howard:

Totally. Yeah, I think I’ve been pretty lucky. This podcast started about a year and a half ago. And for the whole time it’s been fully funded by WP Buffs. So I’ve been very lucky that like I hired audio engineer. I record these here every week. And Bradley’s team comes out on podcasts and YouTube every week. I don’t have to do anything. Right. And the audio engineering is great and-

Noah Labhart:

Yeah, Bradley’s team is amazing. Bradley’s team is absolutely fantastic.

Joe Howard:

[crosstalk 00:31:31] sponsorships or like anything like that. I guess I could if I wanted to like generate more revenue from the podcast, but I kind of, I don’t know. I like what I do and to me, that’s the most important part. It’s like, it doesn’t have to make the most optimized amount of money always. I just want to do this, but that’s not every podcast. So I think that interesting to hear how you can do seasons and it does change the way maybe you think about sponsorships or you think about how your audience consumes things. I think that it’s interesting to be able to …

Joe Howard:

It’s like it’s just packaging it differently, which I think is always interesting because it’s like we talked about before, there’s not one way to build something successfully. Some people do seasons, some people don’t do seasons, but at the end of the day, it’s really just like, can you put like a good product together? Right. So any Code Story episodes that kind of stand out to you as one that was like, ooh, that was a really cool one that people should go check out or any maybe like one of the seasons you were like, “Ooh, that was a great season.”

Noah Labhart:

Yeah. I love them all. But I think the couple that have been really popular was Matt Senter of Lolli. So Lolli is a product that you can just do normal online purchases and get rewards in Bitcoin. So that was one of that was really, really interesting and Matt’s a really cool guy. Ryan Graciano of Credit Karma, that was one that was really popular and really, really great interview. Lots of seasoned tech talk from Ryan around some microservices talks, some team building, things like that. So that was really cool. I have one coming up in I think two or three weeks, Elias Torres of Drift. So that’s going to be a really interesting one as well, but every one of them has some really, really great tidbits in them. And I’ll interview new startups, new startup founders, solo startup founders and all the way up to stuff that’s the size of like Credit Karma. I’m hoping to get Cathy Polinsky of Stitch Fix as well. I think their technology is really interesting. So yeah, those are some of my favorites.

Joe Howard:

Yeah, that’s cool man. I’ve listened to a lot of podcasts that are like more for smaller, more bootstrap businesses like the Indie Hackers podcast. I mean, they’ve had some big guests on there, like folks from like Basecamp and bigger founders, but a lot, a lot of small founders. Maybe people who are doing like $5,000 a month in revenue because a lot of people from Indie Hackers community are starting off and they want to get to $5,000 a month in monthly recurring revenue. But some big folks as well. One of the questions we get a lot is like, how do you … We get podcast questions all the time, but one of the big one’s like how do you grow your show? How do you like grow your listenership? How do you become more visible and this kind of stuff? And there are definitely multiple ways to do it, right?

Joe Howard:

Like we’ve talked about, there’s a lot of different ways to be successful in it. But for someone who is able to get a few pretty big guests on, like Credit Karma is a pretty big business, maybe like a billion dollar business. I actually don’t know, but definitely multi multimillion dollar business, big business. Is that something where after you interview those people and those podcasts episode go live, you see like a boost in listenership? Are there some strategies you’re using around having these big guests that you kind of ask them like, “Hey, can we share this with your audience?” I’m just, I guess wondering some people do care about show growth and they want to do more of that stuff.

Joe Howard:

Some people are like, “Whatever, I don’t even check my analytics. I just want to do the show.” But some people want to use podcasting as like something to help grow their audience. So anything that you do around using some of those bigger guests? Because I feel like we have some listeners that maybe they’re like trying to get that big guest and once they do, they’re like, “Oh shit. What do I do now? I want to take advantage of this.” I don’t know if there’s anything you do specifically for those bigger guests.

Noah Labhart:

Yeah. I mean, for growing the show, there’s three things I do and one of them is around the guest. I mean the bigger the guests, the more, the wider the net their sharing on social media is going to provide people and the more, call it like evergreen content that you can have. Right. So the Ryan Graciano interview, I’ve gotten a lot of downloads even past the first 30 days because people look up stuff about him a lot and about how he goes about solving problems. Same thing with Matt Senter. And then a lot of the individuals too, that are a little more indie hackerish. There’s a lot of community built around. So the type of guest is important and the wide exposure that they will give your show is helpful. It is helpful to get downloads.

Noah Labhart:

Another thing that I do that is helpful is go guest on other shows. So like on your show, this is fantastic. I love going to have conversations. It’s really fun, but it gets me in front of other audiences. But honestly the best thing that works to grow your show is to go out and tell people about it and work for every listen. That’s the thing that works the best. It’s like a startup. I mean, you build an app and you have to work for every download. There’s no secret formula for the most part. There’s no secret formula that you just do one thing and all of a sudden your stuff goes viral. That’s a very rare occurrence. So I’ve learned to just work for every download, tell people about it, get feedback, try to make the show as good as I can. But those big guests do help, a kind of a quick boost.

Joe Howard:

Yeah. I love that advice. I couldn’t give better advice myself. I’m just going to repeat them just so folks who are listening who are like scrambling for notepads, like here they are again so you don’t have to rewind. Evergreen content for big guests. I think I actually have a follow up question to that which I will ask in a second. But another thing is guesting on other shows. I try to as well. Hey, you’re on the WPMRR podcast this week. I’m going to be on the Code Show show next week. So maybe we can do some audience swaps there, right? So it’s you want to get in front of other audiences. You want to put yourself in front of new people who maybe don’t listen to your podcast, but maybe listen to another podcast.

Joe Howard:

Also, we actually talked about this before we started the show. Like if someone’s listening to one podcast, they probably have their podcast player open. And if you say, “Hey, listeners of the WPMRR podcast, go check out code, excuse me, go check out-“

Noah Labhart:

Code Story.

Joe Howard:

“Go check out Code Story on your podcast player.” Hey, maybe some people right now we’re opening the podcast player, hint, hint, and going to check out this show, right? So it’s a nice transition for people, easy transition people to make. But the best advice is probably the working hard for every listener. I think some people see podcast episodes go viral, right? Like a lot of like Joe Rogan podcast episodes like, whoa, this crazy thing was said on this podcast. And it got to 10 million listens in two days and it’s like, yes, that can happen when you already have a big audience and you’re already that big.

Joe Howard:

Most of the big viral things, I don’t want to say all of them because I’ve definitely heard things go viral from very small shows and that’s great, but that’s definitely the exception. Most things that go big and they start with a sizable audience already. So someone has an audience with 100,000 listeners and they have something that is viral, like a fodder or viral content that has a potential to do that and 150,000 people listen to that. And then it just, it has that by reality kind of built in because that audience is already there. So don’t feel bad if you’re not going viral from day one. I actually tell people, if you want to start a podcast, don’t expect like things to even be mildly successful for like a year, right? You are going to have to work on the podcast for a little while to make it good, to get the feedback, to make it great content, to get listeners and to gain that visibility.

Joe Howard:

So I think working for every listener is a really important. The quick followup question I was going to ask was like about around the evergreen content, because we’ve thought about doing more of this on our podcast, but we haven’t really yet. When I think about like you have big guests, people search for those guests, does that mean you’re doing some work on codestory.co around SEO, like trying to optimize podcast episodes for the name of that guest so when someone searches for CEO of Credit Karma, your podcast episode would come up? So if someone’s like, “Ooh, I want to listen to that person,” they’ll find your podcast and maybe become a listener. Do you do that kind of growth work?

Noah Labhart:

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And that’s where my WordPress stuff comes in. So all of my podcast site is WordPress. And I focus a lot on the SEO to make sure that, one, the SEO and then make sure I’m distributing my podcast everywhere I can as well because it shows up on any platform, anywhere anybody is searching for say Ryan Graciano, right. That it’s going to pop up or Credit Karma. So pay a lot of attention to that. I use Yoast plugin for WordPress to really check out my SEO, make sure the open graph stuff is sharing nice, has the excerpts correctly and things like that. So yeah, it is something that I pay attention to a lot and make sure it’s optimized as much as I can, as much as I have time for.

Joe Howard:

Yeah. I think there’s branded and non-branded SEO kind of. So there’s like people search for like how to do X, Y, and Z. And a lot of those are pretty competitive because they’re going to be a lot of websites that want to try and rank for that and collect email addresses or get someone to buy their thing. But for branded SEO, which is more like the name of a company or the name of a person, a lot of that is less competitive, probably gets less searches, but I think there’s some low hanging fruit out there for like, I bet 300 people a month search for the CEO of Credit Karma. I don’t know. I pulled it out of my ass, but let’s say 300 people a year search for that. Well, he may have some stuff that he’s trying to do, some reputation management and some branded stuff for himself.

Joe Howard:

But if you at Code Story have this website with a decent domain authority and a podcast that’s ranking for his name and maybe you’re the only podcast that really tried to do the on page SEO for his name. So if he’s been on a few podcasts, yours is going to be the choice for Google, yours shows up, I don’t know, in the second spot. That gets a hundred clicks a month from those 300 searches. Hey, that’s only one podcast episode and maybe it took 15 minutes of on page SEO and it took an hour to record the podcast. And maybe it took four hours to like do the work to get him on the show, but Hey, in five hours of work, it’s a hundred searches a month. You repeat that 50 times, hey, you’ve got good traffic coming to the site and new listeners organically coming to your show that you don’t have to pay for really moving forward except for, I guess probably some like SEO maintenance maybe, but most of that’s pretty free moving forward.

Joe Howard:

So I like the idea a lot. We don’t do very much of that on our show. At least we haven’t in the past. At some point we will. I honestly just have not gotten around to it yet because the podcast is still just this, like whatever, it’s a podcast, it’s like a fun thing. If I drive traffic, that’s fine. If listeners find us that’s fine. At some point, maybe we’ll get more serious about growth stuff. I’ve thought also about doing more transcripts on page because I know Google cares a lot about having good content on the page. And if you just have a podcast episode on the page, that’s fine. But if you’ve got 2000 words of content, even if it’s just a transcript, Google’s going to be like, “Ooh, authoritative page. We should rank that better.”

Joe Howard:

But also there’s a question of like, is it worth paying all that money for 110 transcripts of episodes we have so far for not so much traffic searches for like guests? I don’t know at this point. To me it’s more, I want transcripts for accessibility purposes, but we have that on YouTube now. Another reason we went into YouTube, hey, we can do video here, but we can also have transcripts for people so anybody can watch and anybody can get a transcript of the episode and words under the episode, which you should see down below, if not, I’ll make sure they go on there, make sure [inaudible 00:43:44] up. So yeah, but I think that’s a cool idea and then I want to go back to the working for every listener. That’s just, it’s so important.

Joe Howard:

Let’s start wrapping up, but I’d love to hear like how do you keep yourself motivated to continue to work for every listener? Because I think at the beginning when you’re excited about podcasts, it’s easy. I’m 110 episodes in. I’m not going to lie, sometimes it’s like, it feels more like a slog than it does like I’m excited about it. Honestly, sometimes I have episodes scheduled. I’m like, “Oh, I got to do this episode today. I don’t really feel like it. Should I postpone it? Should I make a bullshit excuse why can’t I have to record it?” I’m not going to lie. Right. That happens to me and I try to find ways to stay motivated and I love the show overall. But how do you stay motivated to keep doing what you’re doing? Even if you’re having to work for every single listener and maybe stuff isn’t going totally viral, how do you keep rolling through things?

Noah Labhart:

Yeah, sure. There’s a couple of things I think that helped me stay motivated. One, this podcast is in a space where I’m passionate about already. It’s what I do. Right. So I’m basically talking to my peers when I record these episodes. And so it’s really fun to me because I can be like, “Oh, I asked this kind of general, maybe not general, but specific question about that sort of follows the outline of my interview.” And then I get an answer and I’m like, “Oh, I know exactly what you’re talking about there. I’m going to dig into that a little bit.” So really the conversations to me are pretty fun and I learn a lot from the conversations already.

Noah Labhart:

And then two, the editing part of it and the music, I’ve been a musician for many, many years. And so there’s a little bit of an artistic creative thing for me as well, putting the music to it, creating the story, creating the narrative. So that also is motivating. So I think those two things are the main backbone of the motivation. I like it when the numbers are good too. I like it when there’s lots of advertisements, that’s obviously great. But really those are the things for me. That’s really why I do it is for those two things.

Joe Howard:

Yeah. I totally hear you on that and I think what I get from that is like, I think a lot of people now that podcasting is like a big thing, they want to start a podcast to primarily grow their audience to become an influencer, to you have a bunch of people they can talk to about whatever their area is. But I think the most important part of starting a podcast is like, it has to be fun. It has to be something, not only that you’re passionate about that topic area, but something like you should be really excited to talk about that kind of stuff. You shouldn’t do a podcast because you want to get a hundred thousand listeners. You’re going to fail. You’re not going to make it there because you’re going to quit after a month or six months because your goal isn’t to do something that’s awesome and fun.

Joe Howard:

And there are certain things that I do at the podcast that are probably not good for growing a podcast if I’m being honest. Honestly, these are just things I like to do. We’re actually switching this up right now, but we have this gag at the beginning of the podcast where you introduce yourself as like this fun character. And I put those into the titles of all of our podcast episodes in the past at the beginning, which is probably not good for SEO. I know it’s not good SEO. I do SEO. I know it’s not good for searches because you want to have like if someone’s looking for Noah Labhart, you want to put your name at the beginning of the title tag. We haven’t done that for a hundred episodes, but whatever. I like it. This is a fun part of the episode for me and I enjoy it.

Joe Howard:

And I wouldn’t say that’s the only thing that keeps me doing these podcast episodes. Right. There are a lot of things, but that’s like a funny gag that I like to do at the beginning of the show. And if people don’t like it, whatever, don’t listen to the show or whatever. So that’s just one small example. But to me, that’s an important thing is like to do your podcast. I guess that’s what I want to get across. It’s like do the podcast you want to do and every potential podcast, maybe I won’t say it that way. I was going to say, every podcast has an audience. That’s probably not true. But you can find, as long as you start a podcast and you get a few listeners and get some feedback and listen to what people like and don’t like and adjust as you move forward, you can find your audience and still do what you want to do. But don’t do the podcast that you think you’re supposed to do to be Joe Rogan podcast or be the like How I Built This podcast.

Joe Howard:

Take those as motivation and as a musician, do the music, enjoy that part. I think people always want to hire an audio engineer to do all their stuff or like a freelancer to do that. But you like to do that stuff, doing it. That’s what you should be spending your time on because if you’re enjoying it, then what else could you ask for except like doing something that you enjoy doing? At some point, you may want to monetize it and get sponsors and stuff. And we get customers at WP Buffs because they listen to this podcast, but the most important part if you want to do a podcast is like enjoy it. So-

Noah Labhart:

That’s right. Totally agree.

Joe Howard:

And I’ll end a little bit on that fluffy note, but I think it’s an important one as well.

Noah Labhart:

Solid.

Joe Howard:

So I usually like to end, why don’t you tell folks where they can find you? You told me before this podcast you’re not on Twitter, so I guess they can’t find you there. But where can we go to find Code Story or find you on other social stuff you do?

Noah Labhart:

Sure. So you can check out Code Story at codestory.co or any major podcast directory. You can check out me, more about me at noahlabhart.com and I’m on LinkedIn. So you can find me on there.

Joe Howard:

Sweet. And last thing I like to ask our guests for is to ask our audience and our listeners for a little iTunes review. So if you wouldn’t mind asking folks for a little review, I’d appreciate that.

Noah Labhart:

Sure, absolutely. So I would love it if you would go into your Apple podcast or actually go to codestory.co/rate and rate the podcast. And I would also appreciate it if you’d go to search for WP Buffs and give a rating as well in Apple podcasts.

Joe Howard:

Boom, there you go. If you search for WP Buffs on Apple podcast, you will find nothing because we have no WP Buffs podcast. But you can search for it anyway and enjoy the loading screen there. WPMRR, if you leave a review for the show, make sure you leave a comment with Noah’s name in there, maybe something you learned from this episode. So that one, we can shoot a screenshot to Noah and be like thanks for the review. We appreciate that. But two, it helps us know what new episodes we want to do, because if we get a few reviews for certain episodes it’s like, oh, we should talk about what Noah talked about more on the podcast. So codestory.co. I just became a subscriber on the podcast. I don’t know if this is reversed on YouTube, but you have one new subscriber on the podcast.

Noah Labhart:

Thank you.

Joe Howard:

Codestory.co, if you want to hear tech stories that are more focused on storytelling. Maybe you’re like tired of this podcast and you’re like, “This is so informal. They just talk about stuff and that’s cool, but I want more well-produced storytelling, tech podcast.” Hey, Noah’s podcast is a good one to go check out codestory.co. If you are a new listener to the show, we’ve got a bunch of old episodes. We’re like a hundred and something episodes in. So Christy and I and our guests, we’ve talked about a bunch of different stuff on the podcast. So if you have questions about pricing or hiring or building MRR, we’ve got tons of episodes on it. So go back, listen to some old episodes instead of bingeing whatever folks are bingeing these days on. Netflix or Hulu or HBO Max or Disney plus, you don’t need any of those shows. Go binge something that’ll help you grow your business.

Joe Howard:

If you have questions for us of the show, we’d love to do a Q&A episode. So shoot those into yo@wpmrr.com and we love to do some Q&A episodes. So we’ll definitely do some more of those in the upcoming months. What else am I supposed to do to wrap the show up? I guess we talked about iTunes review. So leave us a review. It helps us get found and it’s good to get reviews. I guess that’s what people say. I don’t know. Do we show up more in the iTunes store when people search for WordPress? Probably. I don’t know. I’m not an algorithm Apple person, but that sounds right. Check out the show on YouTube.

Joe Howard:

If you’re watching this on YouTube, hey, you should like this episode, because that helps us with algorithm too or become a subscriber on YouTube. I think we’re almost at like a hundred subscribers now, so that would be cool if you were subscribed. Growing a YouTube channel, it’s a whole thing. So I appreciate that. We will be in your podcast players again next Tuesday and back on YouTube I think we’re publishing on Thursdays. I’m not 100% sure on that, but probably Thursdays. I’m pretty sure. If not, I apologize. It’s one of the seven days of the week. So thanks for listening. We’ll you all again next week. Noah, thanks again for being on man. It’s been real

Noah Labhart:

Thanks for having me.

 

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