With a podcast, not unlike with a blog, content tends to get buried and forgotten over time. In fact, it’s probably worse with podcasts, since with a blog you might at least get some SEO traffic. But podcasts aren’t even searchable, so unless you make an effort old contents disappears into a void.

When we started out we took a fairly news-driven approach, so that might have been okay. But over time the way we produce content has evolved and today most of our episodes stay relevant. So as our episode count is now at 71, helping our listeners find previously released content that they care about becomes important. So this weeks post on growing Epicenter Bitcoin focuses on making more out of the content we already have.

Back Catalog Plays

One of the metrics, we have been tracking for a while are back catalog plays. I defined back catalog plays as all the downloads of episodes released during previous months in a given month. For example, in September we had ~9,400 total downloads. Of those, about 7,500 were downloads of episodes released that month and the remaining 1,900 were of episodes released in August or earlier. So for that month, back catalog plays were at just over 20% of the total.

An increase in back catalog play is a great sign in my view. For the most part, those downloads come from people who have discovered our podcast, like it a lot and then go back and download previous episodes. If that happens more, it seems to indicate that we succeed at producing content that is good enough so people want more of it and retains value so listeners are happy to go back to listen to old episodes.

We’ve had between 800 and 2600 such back catalog plays each month, which constituted between 12% and 35% of our monthly downloads. When we switched to Soundcloud two months after starting our podcast, we put our previous episodes there too. (Although, they were not again pushed out to our RSS subscribers.) So for our first episodes all the plays we see on Soundcloud are back catalog plays. It’s interesting to see that the our very first pilot episode, which was of very poor quality, received by now over 300 plays. So the going back and listening to old episodes is happening, but in a haphazard way.

The Problem

If people love our podcast and want to hear more, it’s a burden for them to go through all the episodes to see which ones they like. Some have even lost their value and are outdated now. Others were of mediocre quality in the first place. And the ordering on our blog and in podcasting applications is by publication date. This really doesn’t make a lot of sense in this case.

Let’s change that by providing people with a powerful way to find our most relevant and best content. And let’s offer a guided way to go through that content by topic area. And let’s even build this in a way to have a resource people can rely on if they want to go deep on one of the areas we’ve focused on.

Introducing Epicenter Curricula

Here is how we want to go about this. You will in the near future find pages on our website that give an overview of specific topic areas, describe the content we’ve already produced on that topic and how it fits in the larger picture. Let’s call them Epicenter Curricula. They’ll offer a way to go through our best content on a specific topic in a sequence that is thought-through.

Here are some of the curricula we have planned right now:

  • Decentralized Applications
  • Regulation
  • Economics
  • Startups

I think the coverage we have on Decentralized Applications and Regulation (most of it thanks to Siân Jones) are particularly strong and comprehensive. We’ll build those pages first. But thinking in terms of focus areas, also makes me realize what episodes we might still have to produce to provide a comprehensive coverage on an areas. For example, we have done a lot of episodes with specific Bitcoin startups, but it would be fantastic to have a big picture episode on the cryptocurrency startup space in general to introduce that topic. The same is true for Bitcoin economics. For those pages we may produce a few more targeted episode first or we might release them now and complement later.

In the end, I think we can develop these into solid resources. So that people who want to learn as much as they can about decentralized applications or regulation, know where to turn to.

Measuring Results

The effectiveness of this campaign should be reasonably easy to measure. First, with Google Analytics we’ll be able to see changes in the behavior on our website. Increased page views and visit duration should be expected. Second, we should see an increase in our back catalog plays. The overall number of back catalog plays and share of back catalog of total plays will give an indication. However, by looking at how the plays of the episodes included in one of the curricula develop relative to the plays to episodes not included, we should have a very precise idea of the effect.

The curricula pages may also have positive effect in SEO terms. It may rank well on Google for the keyword, it might garner a good amount of inbound links and it creates more link within our site itself.

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Growing Epicenter Bitcoin

November 12, 2014

Until the end of January, I’m focusing on growing Epicenter Bitcoin. If you want to read some background on what Epicenter Bitcoin is and where are at the moment, I just finished writing a long post on exactly that.

The basic format of the project will be this: In this post, I will give a general overview of the factors that affect growth. I’ll also define a list of areas that we can focus on during the coming months. Then, each week I’ll choose one specific area to dive in, discuss how it plays in our specific context and take some action on it. The list below will be the basis for this, but it’s possible that I won’t exactly stick to it. I’ll also be publishing one blog post for each area and I’ll finish with publishing a post analyzing the overall project on January 28.

Of course, I will only be able to dabble in each area and get a better perspective on it. But my hope is that at the end, we should have a very clear idea of which areas are the most promising and merit more attention.

Principles First

Before hurrying into action, let’s take a step back and look at some of the fundamentals that affect growth in the long term. This also helps to determine on what’s right category of activities to focus on. Doing something at the wrong time can be a big waste of time.

1. Reducing Churn

How many listeners stick around and keep listening instead of dropping off?

The most important factor in the long run is probably the churn rate. Churn is generally defined as the rate of individuals moving out of a specific group. So in a subscription-based model, it would be the percentage of people who unsubscribe or don’t renew their subscription. In the case of our podcast, the churn rate would refer to the rate at which listeners stop listening. Let’s say we have 1,000 listeners at the beginning of the month and 200 of them stop listening during the month, the monthly churn rate would be 20%.

The reason why this is important it that if the churn rate is high, nothing else will have a lasting impact. It’s a bit like filling a leaky bucket with water. Even though churn rate is obviously very relevant for us, there seems to be no way of measuring or even approximating churn rates with podcast analytics, which are notoriously terrible. So, I have no idea what our churn rate is. But if we’re clever, there may be some ways of getting a rough idea. And in any case, what is clear is that having a low churn is essential so even thinking of how to reduce without having the luxury of feedback in the form of data should be valuable.

2. Increasing Virality

How many listeners share the content and bring in new listeners?

A second factor that can be a powerful driver of growth, especially viral growth, is the rate at which users recruit new users by sharing the content, inviting friends, etc. This is something that can work extremely well for products for which social interaction is an integral part. Facebook is not so cool if none of your friends use it, so Facebook users have a very strong incentive to bring in their friends as well.

There are two big advantages to this: First, it can lead to exponential growth. If each new users, gets two more users to join, you get very big, very fast. Second, you generally don’t pay for this kind of growth (although sometimes users are paid for referring new users).

Podcasts aren’t generally consumed in a social way and listeners don’t have direct incentives to bring in new listeners. This makes achieving this kind of viral growth difficult. At the very least, one has to be creative and think outside the box. But being able to sustainably increase the rate at which listeners share the content and bring in new people can pay off big in the long run.

3. Increasing Reach

How many new people get exposed to our content and show?

The most obvious thing to focus on is to increase the number of people who get exposed to the content. This could be in any number of ways: They might see a tweet about the show, our guests might mention it to their followers, it could be posted on reddit. It could be people seeing it on our Facebook page or reading a blog post about Epicenter Bitcoin. It could be us writing guests post elsewhere. It could even be through paid advertising. There is an endless number of things one can do, so the challenge is to find the few things that are easy to do, but have big effects. While it might be possible to find promising channels and strategies through reading and thinking about it, there is no way around simply testing each channel and measuring the results to find those that work.

It’s also important to take into account to what extent new listeners stick around. Some channels might get a small number of new people, but many of them might become loyal listeners. With other tactics, you might get huge numbers to the site with few sticking around.

Project Structure

Here are some of the areas I am considering spending time on. As time goes on and I write the posts, I will update this list with the blog post titles and link to them. So over time, this should become a solid table of content for the project.

1. What has contributed the most to our growth?

2. What ways do we have to measure churn, virality, reach and conversion?

3. Reddit

4. Twitter

5. Facebook

6. Google Plus

7. Youtube

8. iTunes

9. Guest posting

10. Other audio platforms

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Ten Months of Programming – Month 8 – 10

September 30, 2013

In November 2012, I set myself the goal to program 500 hours over the next ten months, become a solid programmer and get into Hacker School. These ten months have now ended two weeks ago while I was in Scotland in a monastery. I was behind with my monthly updates so this will be the [...]

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September Plans

August 28, 2013

In the last few weeks the things I have spent most of the last few months working on have ended. I have handed in my Master’s dissertation ten days ago, I had the last interview for Hacker School on Monday and I gave my first Quantified Self talk last Thursday. While I still don’t have [...]

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Ten Months of Programming – Month 7

July 22, 2013

I’m about to submit my Hacker School application for the fall 2013 cohort. This, of course, is a good reason to bring this blog up to date and report on what I have been up to in Month 7 – June. How I Spent my Time I spent a total of 57 hours programming in [...]

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Ten Months of Programming – Months 4 to 6

June 6, 2013

Just yesterday I passed the 250 hour mark which means I have completed half of my total target hours. This, of course, is a great reason to finally (!) write the update post on my last three months on the project. The last three months have been very busy. In March and April, I was [...]

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Ten Months of Programming – Months 2 & 3

March 3, 2013

Months two and three of my ten-month project to become a solid programmer have now ended. In total I have spent 121 hours programming since the start of the project which means I’m one hour ahead of schedule (Hooray!) and have completed 24.2% of the targeted 500 hours. In this post, I will discuss how [...]

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A Picture A Day – 365 Project

January 4, 2013

With the new year, I started a new project that I’m calling 365. The premise is simple: Every day I will take a picture and upload to the 365 website.  I will use my IPhone’s camera to take the picture and used Tumblr to set up a separate blog that is on a subdomain of [...]

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Ten Months of Programming – Month 1

December 1, 2012

The first month of my Ten Months of Programming has now ended. Next week, I’m heading to South East Asia to travel with my wonderful girlfriend for a while so I’ll have a month-long break from the project. What have I learned these past three weeks? How did it go? Measurements and Their Use I [...]

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Review of ‘Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep’

November 20, 2012

Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep is a very readable and entertaining popular science book by David K. Randall. In twelve different chapters, he ventures into a different area of sleep research ranging from sleep-walking crimes, to historical sleep patterns to taking advantage of the circadian rhythm to optimize the performance of athletes. It’s [...]

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