I started the My Food Job Rocks Podcast about a year ago for fun and to maybe help a startup out. Once I realized I was having a lot of fun, I kept on doing it.
Of course, every project has its bumps and turns, and this was no exception. Usually, a lot of stuff I do falls flat or worse, but this was my first successful thing on my own outside of college.
Though I explain most of this in my latest episode, I wanted to make a more concise article.
The point of this article is not to brag that I’m amazing (maybe a lie), but to show you it’s not that hard to do things like this.
I want to start off on how this little project has changed the way I think. Whether it’s a mindset of an entrepreneur, or a mindset of someone a bit too obsessed about his job, I wanted to bring this up.
I made 10x the money starting up
I initially invested about $500 dollars in the start up to buy a mike ($70 bucks), hosting service ($10 bucks/mo) and a podcasting course ($400 bucks) so the bulk of the startup cost was more about training than equipment.
I think the training was worth it for multiple reasons just because the information was high quality, the community was helpful, and the resources were very useful.
Anyways, I started getting offers for food consulting maybe 20 weeks into podcasting. This was a combination of a cold offer (someone messaged me via email), and a referral from a couple guests, and small “thank you” donations here and there. This totaled up to about $5000 dollars which is cool, and then I spent it all on taxes and a website…yay.
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In any case, I learned how to get money from an external project which is actually a huge accomplishment as I have never done this before.
My network exploded and my best connections got stronger
Starting an interview-based podcast, I had to find people. I had to find interesting people! So hustling on linkedin, I had to convince people to connect with me, and then offer to interview them.
I might have had like, 300 connections starting up and now I think I have 1500 just from constantly inviting and asking people to be interviewed. Oh, and having super connectors who shared my stuff also helped.
More importantly, was the strength of my connections. When you interview someone and hear their voice or see their face, you have made a very strong personal connection. You actually know a tremendous amount of detail from interviewing, probably more than most co-workers you work with.
So with that, you build trust. And you can call on connections if you need them, provided the experience interviewing was a blast. When you share your work, especially in such a tight knit industry, you get a lot of emails saying “I love your show”, or, “I’ve seen your writing on linkedin”. Stuff like that really warms your heart once in a while.
Recently, I contacted all my guests to see if I could meet up with them at the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT17). I have a lot of meetings in Las Vegas because I care about the people I’ve connected with. I’ll probably even buy them coffee. Even the guests who said they couldn’t make it, but still informed me that it’s great that I talked to them.
The experience improved my soft skill set
Understanding technology, writing, processing information, setting a routine, asking questions, asking good questions, negotiating, network management, not saying umm (I do this a lot still), listening to my own voice, public speaking, sharing my work to the public, delegating tasks to people who will help me for free, etc, etc etc.
These are all of the soft skills I’ve improved on dramatically while podcasting. Just starting something in general brings up most of that skill.
I also explored soft skills my guests thought were important. Some common themes were curiosity, passion, and critical thinking.
Utilizing the skills gained from podcasting and the skills adopted to my guest has improved my thought process tremendously. I’m more engaged in my work and I’m willing to take more risks. I also feel like I can read people better and understand their pain points a lot clearer, which helps me find solutions faster.
Most importantly, interviewing people who love their jobs in my industry improved how much I appreciate the industry and how much I am fortunate to have the awesome job that I have.
How I did It
I like giving actionable information and because it’s still fresh in my head, I can tell you the details of how this project came to life and grew wings.
Magic Formula: Luck = Preparedness + Opportunity
Pieces are always going to fall on your lap, but you have to build a net or you won’t catch anything.
When I first moved to Phoenix, I became obsessed with Podcasts, almost about the same time I started hating my first job, which you can listen about in episode 60, which was around the time I wanted to find a way out.
I noticed that sure, listening to music was fun, but it wasn’t productive. So I started listening to audio books which I borrowed form the Phoenix library. Soon it evolved into podcasts.
My first podcasts I listened to often were Smart Passive Income and Entrepreneur on Fire. I’d consider these entry-level because they are indeed inspiring stories with a little bit of tactical knowledge. This went on for about a year.
In maybe January 2016, I read an article by Tim Ferriss about how he started his podcast. Through his write up, I found it was pretty easy to do. For example, the equipment was dirt cheap, and the barrier to entry is pretty good.
About a month later, Nicole posted the fated article about how the food industry is hiring people at a declining rate and everything kind of clicked.
The lesson here is really about this simple equation, that opportunity + preparedness = luck is something that resonates with me when I do projects.
If I didn’t listen to podcasts, or read how to do them, I would never had had the opportunity to work with Nicole. There are many other factors in how this started up that made it worked as well.
For example, Foodgrads was a startup, so they were flexible and willing to support me in this venture. Though they didn’t give me initial capital, the power of just getting a thumbs up is more than enough justification to get started with the podcast so I set aside $1000 dollars and went to town. I would provide the episodes, and they would provide the website that I could post on.
I bought equipment recommended by Tim Ferriss including this microphone. I downloaded Audacity, and then I bought a course called Podcaster’s Paradise. This course was created by John Lee Dumas from Entrepreneur on Fire. I subscribed for about 3 months and learned a lot of technical tidbits in not only on how to use Audacity, but how to structure my podcast from getting guests to sending thank you notes. It also gave me some amazing tools such as calendly.com and libsyn.
The best way to improve a skill fast? Sense of Urgency
I split off from my host website about 20 weeks in because I wanted more control and a certain person who was there at the time didn’t want that. Eventually, they had to approach to let me go.
I grew too big for their nest so I had to leave. With a mix of disappointment, support from my friends, and admittedly, utter rage, I decided to make my own website to host my podcast.
I still had a weekly podcast so I had to make a website fast.
Luckily, this wasn’t just a start-from-scratch bang my head against the wall. Ever since I started hating my job, I dabbled into website design. I made my first “successful” website called Az Asian Food Review. Where I reviewed Asian food in phoenix.
I had to pay for a theme dedicated to podcasting (which in hindsight, I never used that feature) and a pretty good front page function.
Building the website was actually one of the most exhilarating I’ve done for this project and I am really proud of the website I made.
Using my skills from Canva, and my website experience, I made a website for maybe under $150 dollars that I could use as my playground.
And looking back, I used it as a playground very well.
Evolving the shownotes, making a blogging section for my own personal use, and recently, hosting another person’s content made this website a proud accomplishment.
Just Start Something
My CSO has always told me that investors told him “Riddick, everyone has big ideas, we are looking for people to execute them”.
But that’s kind of a big task! How do you even start something?
If you wanted to make a cupcake food truck, you could spend $100,000 dollars to do it and then realize no one’s buying them.
Or you can register for the cottage industry certification, make cupcakes, sell them at work and continually test to see if people like them or not.
That way, you learn to sell, you learn customer service, you learn how to market…
Start small. I’ll give you like 5 ideas now:
- Bake goods and sell them at your house, then when you’re good, buy a food truck
- Start a blog and make a facebook page about it, then when you’re good, make videos
- Start a podcast about anything, then when you’re good, get speaking gigs
- Write an ebook about your job or hobby, then when you’re good, make it a physical copy
- Do graphic design work on Canva and sell it on fiverr, then make an agency
- Sell tea online, then when you’re good, buy a tea shop
But what if you break the rules? Like, no LLC, or whatever. You’d be surprised that no one actually cares if you break the rules if you’re small.
You have to understand that living in America, there is actually no better time to start something on your own. Everything is set up for you to just try something out with minimum investment.
Need help? Just email me.
Worries and rationalities
Everyone has constant obsessions in their life. Text messaging, stock markets, bit coin jargon, it’s human nature.
I had tons of worries and obsessions when I first started. For example, I was obsessed with analytics and I used to check them every day at lunch time and after work.
I started to ask the question:
Do you have to really be the best? For some people, yes, you do. For others, maybe you have a life.
I don’t know the answer to the question above, but here are some rationalities I’ve made to help ease my journey.
Stop worrying about your stats
In a year’s time, 15,000 people have listened to my podcast. For some, those numbers suck. For others, they can only dream of reaching them.
In my opinion, you shouldn’t care about stats unless you’re trying to get money. An Entrepreneur podcast will get more listens than a technical podcast just because of the general nature of the subject.
What is a good goal, however, is to be as ubiquitous in your target market. Be that guy who is known for the thing you do. At work, I make bars. Everyone knows this and they come to me as an expert. With this podcast, I actually should flesh this out a bit more.
I’d like to be known as the food scientist who interviews people in the food industry.
So the best thing about podcasting is I guess people in my industry take it up.
It takes years to build a brand unless you’re a growth expert or have a lot of money. Starting your first media project at 24 years old? You are ahead of probably 90% of the population.
A friend once told me. “No one really listens to you until you’re 30.”
All that tells me is that it’s harder to convince someone you’re legitimate.
Be consistent to be ubiquitous
Form blog posts, youtube videos, and podcasts, the key to winning is to be consistent in your work and keep sharing it on different channels.
I’m bad at sharing my work, for instance, and only do it on facebook, twitter and linkedin. I prefer linkedin a lot more as I’ve built some brand equity there, but facebook is an amazing platform for getting views via guests personally sharing their interview, and twitter…still need to get the hang on that.
Sharing your work everywhere is hard work. I’m still struggling on this. I used to send emails about updates but it was too much work. I used to post linkedin articles but those were a lot of work too.
I’m scared of posting my work on stuff like medium or youtube, because maybe it’s not the right audience, but maybe now I will.
I just started posting a bit on a food science forum, it took like a year to do that, but someone said it was a great resource so maybe I’ll keep doing that.
If you’re not having fun, scale back
When I did two podcast episodes a week starting in January, I had a tough time. A lot of my social life was consumed because I had to work on podcast episodes. Though I loved the engagement, there was a tipping point where it became more of a chore to edit and launch podcasts every Monday and Wednesday.
I had to scale back my output while not diluting the quality so I decided to replace podcasts with blog posts.
This is really an important lesson on where your work can consume your life. Sad part is, this wasn’t even my day job!
There are a lot of entrepreneurs or whatever who will always tell you have your nose to the grindstone 24/7 until you’ve made it. Some people don’t have the personality or motivation to do that kind of work and that’s honestly ok.
As long as what you’re doing is a learning experience, something that is transferrable and you can teach others, that’s actually a very handy skill.
Overall, this project is for the long run.
This is what most people don’t think about. They think short term. Everyone does it, you and traveling the world, the government and education, the country and global warming. Everyone thinks in the short run.
Webinars on facebook talk about the short run. Like how to be a 22 year old millionaire, or stuff like that. Yea that’s fine, go for it. There is nothing wrong with that. However, if you are really career focused and want to do something great, then prepare for the long run.
The long run might take a couple years, but it gives you a very strong, unbreakable foundation. It’s more about working smarter, not harder (though working hard will have it’s benefits), it’s about reading how people work, or react to what you do. It’s about training your ability to convince people that you have crazy ideas but you’re legitimate enough to make it work.