Episode 26

Steph Smith

3 Steps to Building a Lucrative Side Project You’ll Love in 2022

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In this episode, Adam and Carlton are joined by Steph Smith, the Director of Marketing and Head of Premium Products at Hubspot. Steph talks about audience building, managing projects with her 9-5, why understanding the internet is key for the future, and her favorite content trends.

Highlights from the conversation:

  • Dealing with internet fame (7:11)
  • How to pick which projects are worth pursuing (11:47)
  • The value of learning how to code (18:35)
  • How Steph produces the volume of projects she does while being employed (24:10)
  • The content trends Steph is most excited about right now (32:07)


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Transcription generated by Otter.ai

Adam Vazquez 00:06
On today’s episode we have Stephanie Smith Steph is the Director and Head of premium products at HubSpot. Prior to that she led the popular trends product for the hustle and she’s also the author of doing content right, which is a primer on how to build audiences and leverage the Internet for growth. All of this she does in addition to her coding, creating publishing and podcasting over at Steph smith.io, Steph joined the show to talk about how she balances all the work. I just listed with her full time job at HubSpot, how she views content and products as leverage for her career and totality. And what has her most excited right now in the content space. I was obviously thrilled to get stuff on the show. I think she provided massive value in this interview, and that you’ll enjoy it too. Let’s get into it with Steph Smith.

Carlton Riffel 01:15
Good intro, Adam. Well done.

Adam Vazquez 01:18
Alright, we’re good.

Carlton Riffel 01:19
Yeah, we’re good. We’re recording.

Adam Vazquez 01:21
Alright, Carlton, we got her. We got Steph Smith, who I started the interview with her saying, you know, you gotta kiss up a little bit. I was telling her how she needs it, you know, is a very sought after guests. She She pushed back in that and humility. But the truth is, I don’t know. There’s there’s a few names that you see around. I would say Steph Smith is one of the the most popular right now. Would you think about it?

Carlton Riffel 01:41
Yeah, it was it was a fantastic interview. There’s so many things I was curious about going to that interview. And I feel like you touched on on most of them. One of those things is that her side projects are pretty incredible for being side projects. And somehow she manages to have a, a pretty important job at trends, and then HubSpot, and definitely doing a ton of content work, and then jumping over when she’s done with that and creating a ton of content as well for her side projects. So, you know, she’s got this course doing time, right. And after listening to the episode, I’m even more convinced that I need to do it again. Yeah, I’d say

Adam Vazquez 02:20
yeah. Like that for people below. But yeah, I mean, our her attitude, I think her methodology, she goes into a little bit about sprinting, you know, doing these Sprint’s and you hear that all the time, right? Like everyone reads in of all tweets, so everyone kind of has the Yeah, the sense of it. But this is someone who is actually executing on that, and is doing something like, my takeaway from that was, first of all, I overthink projects, I think Steph talks a lot about how to make decisions and pick projects to work on, I definitely am just hurting myself by overthinking them. But then she takes a simple problem, usually a problem that’s her own, and then executes really hard for a season and then moves on to the next thing. And the result of that is like this pyramid of a really great projects. The other thing I was just gonna say is she bridged into some of the newer media stuff. What did you think about that? As someone who I mean, that’s what what our business is providing, providing those services for other companies?

Carlton Riffel 03:22
Yeah, absolutely. So with, there’s this cycle in, in technology and in technology, and how its associated with media, and it starts in a certain form and kind of transfers and converts into something different it morphs, it changes. So you know, with written word that’s been around forever. And she touches on how that’s changed in some of the the ways that people the methods that people use when creating change. And so we’re kind of at that infant stage for, for podcasting, I think you could kind of lump that in with with audio. And podcasting is another morph of, of audio. But I think as a show medium or as a as a, as something that is long form content. I think we’re still at this infant stage. And just like you’re seeing YouTube creators doing interesting things, I think there’s so much room for innovation in the podcast space. And especially when it comes to something I’ve thought a lot about is interactivity. In the podcast space, as as things become a little bit more easy with our voices to interact with. I think there’s gonna be a lot more technology around that, whether it’s user interaction, or guest interaction or different things that AI or voice interaction can can improve upon. Yeah,

Adam Vazquez 04:43
I was just excited. This is super selfish. But I was just excited as people who have been now for the last, what, four or five years saying podcast, podcast, podcast, and it almost feels old at this point. To hear someone who and if you don’t know Steph, She spends all of her working hours researching what is going to be the next big thing, right? Like that is her job for a huge company that that depends on it. And so for her to say the thing that she’s most excited about within content, is the future of podcasting. Just was affirming and got me really excited in a new way, again, about, you know, we’re just scratching the surface, and there’s a lot of work for us and for the industry to keep moving forward. So anything else before we get into it?

Carlton Riffel 05:28
Well, I was gonna say back on that that whole work like a lion thing. If you were to extend that analogy further, lions are pretty successful at getting their kills. And fairly Yes, yeah, I think there’s like something to be thought about with that. There’s times where people pick projects, because that’s what’s at their doorstep. And one point she made that was very good, and and very helpful for me was, if you if you don’t feel absolutely thrilled about the project, then don’t do it. And if it’s not something that is going to be a homerun, then, you know, then look for something different. And I think there’s times in my life where the opportunity that’s come up just seems obvious, or someone’s asked me to, so I feel obligated to say yes, but a lot of times, it’s not something I’m super passionate about. And if I had taken that time instead and focused on the things that were awesome, an interesting inset kind of like a way to make it sustainable, and not like gotten myself, like neck deep in this project that, you know, that doesn’t have an exit date, then I could have produced something else. So I think that was a good takeaway as well. Hopefully, we’re not just repeating too much of what she said in the non Alright, as not as articulate as she did it. But

Adam Vazquez 06:47
no, no, I totally see what you’re saying. And I think she her answer to that. She explains why that’s the truth, what you said, and then how, for someone like me, and for probably a lot of people listening, it’s less like, yeah, I believe that. But how do I pick the thing that and how do I make that decision? And I think she explained really well in the episode how to do that. So I’m excited for everyone to get into listen to it. Let’s get into it with Steph Smith. All right, we’ve got Steph Smith here on the show. Steph, thank you so much for joining us, obviously, a very in demand guest on tons of shows. But we’re so glad to have you.

Steph Smith 07:36
Thank you. And I don’t know if I’m that in demand, but really happy to be here.

Adam Vazquez 07:40
I don’t know, I don’t know, this is what we need it where we need to start. I was it’s been a probably a I would imagine, you know you’re mentioning and things like that blow up whenever you have appearances I saw. So for context for the listener, stuff was on my first million at the end of last week. And then Sam was tweeting about doing some type of conference or something. And somehow that whole thread turned into actually, let’s just make it a Steph Smith conference. Forget about the money.

Steph Smith 08:09
Accounts. No, I’m kidding. You know what, Sam, Sam did that to himself. Because him and Sean, they’re always very nice. But on that latest episode, they were extremely nice. And they said I had like a 98% approval rating. You know, what’s funny about us online influence is that one thing I’ve learned is that people are very readily accepting of narratives that other people tell them. So just the fact that sadly, John said that a lot of people like me, I feel like all of a sudden people have now adopted that. And I guess, positive for me in this case. But yeah, but I mean, Sam did that to himself by being so nice.

Adam Vazquez 08:47
What is that? What is it? Is that like? Is it fun? When when that happens? And you get blown up like that? Is it overwhelming? Is it distracting? Or is it just kind of like something you’ve you’ve become accustomed to

Steph Smith 08:58
these days, it doesn’t really change much when I first was building an audience, I have to say, and I think anyone that would say otherwise would be lying that it was very fun to like, get a shout out or to especially if it was someone that I respected or I followed, I was like, oh my god, like this person’s tweeting at me or this person like, has encountered me on the interwebs it was very exciting. These days. Since I have grown an audience. This is my fourth time on my first million I’m getting more used to it. But I still you know have to admit it gives you a little dopamine boost, it has to write if you’re not human, if that doesn’t happen. I will say the downside to it, that I have become more aware of is that the more positive you get when when those things happens. There’s the flip side of that, which is when those don’t happen or when you get someone calling you out for something you don’t like. It’s that much easier to go down into a more negative spiral or reaction. So you have to kind of like I mean, the stoics say like don’t respond at all. I do I have I do have, you know, positive feelings when some of those things happen. But I have to like, keep myself in check.

Adam Vazquez 10:07
Yeah, yeah, I’d imagine that can be that could be overwhelming if, if you allowed it to? Well, the reason that people are, you know, interested in hearing what you have to say, and even the reason that they follow you, and you have all this audiences for a bunch of different things, but I think one of them is the uniqueness of how many different channels and how many different sort of avenues you’ve investigated fairly deeply. When it comes to business and content, and all those sorts of things, and specifically, to this show, for quick context is for, you know, marketers, startups, and maybe some entrepreneurs who are trying to use content as leverage, right, essentially. And I think one of the things that can happen is, you maybe are good at writing, or you’re good at building or you’re good at whatever, you do a bunch of these things. So I’m just curious, how do you how do you, you know, switch mentalities from maybe something that’s more creative, and like writing focused to coding and building a platform or something like that? Like, what does that look like for you on a on a maker basis?

Steph Smith 11:12
Yeah, so I think over time, I’ve been able to kind of pivot between those different areas, because I’ve taught myself to like embrace that beginner stage of learning, whatever skill it is, whether it’s cooking, or surfing, or coding, I think a lot of people end up like wrapping themselves in a particular identity, like, I am a creative, or I am a developer, I’m super technical, whatever it might be. And I think I’ve had the luxury of early on encountering many of those spaces. So I did my degree in chemical engineering, overtime, somehow found myself more in the like writing or marketing space. You know, throughout time, I’ve kind of like forced myself to go learn new things that seem very foreign to me. And so now, I will say that encountering something new, comes a little more naturally to me than it did five years ago. And so it’s not as overwhelming as when I did first learn to code. I was like, Shit, this is really hard. I have no idea what I’m doing. This feels very, very different to what I’ve done before. And so yeah, now I actually enjoy the diversity in the projects that I focus on. And I will say that every time I’ve learned something, maybe one difference in the way I approach it is I feel like, a lot of people will like dabble very, very high level, they’ll be like, Oh, I’m gonna start tweeting, and they’ll tweet, like, once a quarter. And they’ll be like, Oh, that’s not really for me, or they’ll take like, one coding lesson. And then they’ll be like, that was really hard. And I’m never gonna go back to that, with everything that I’ve done. I’ve really, really focused on that given thing for a period of time until it feels remotely comfortable. So just to give a couple quick examples, when I launched my podcast last year, we did a 30 day challenge to make sure that it was something we wanted to do, but also something that we could do for 30 days before we decided to continue forward with it. When I taught myself to code that entire year was basically dedicated to that outside of my full time job, it was like, let me learn to code let me track how often I’m doing this, I kind of built like four or five projects that given year, same thing happened with my blog, I don’t write as much these days. But in 2019, when I launched it that year, I think I wrote not even that many, but somewhere around 20 articles, and four out of them trended on Hacker News, because I was so focused on writing, and publishing and marketing, that particular thing. And so I think, you know, if people are going to take one thing away, I may do a lot of things now, but I do them almost in like, seasons. Because I think if you’re trying to tackle all of them at once, you’re gonna end up being successful at none of them. Yeah. And that’s

Adam Vazquez 13:41
also just part of your unique skill, right? Like, like, even with, with what you did was trends, or I’m not sure you’re not, you don’t do still run trends.

Steph Smith 13:49
So I lead the product manager, we hired to run it, so I’m not actually in the weeds as much these days.

Adam Vazquez 13:55
Gotcha. Okay. But the idea behind that was, you know, finding or explaining trends or explaining this, the new business opportunities, etc. So there’s always that like, novelty. So maybe that’s, that’s a unique skill. But even when you were doing that, I would say, from the outside, it looks like Steph is like this curator of ideas and new businesses. And you’re able to like select, is there a go to when you’re when you’re like, Okay, I want to decide to learn about X, whatever it might be, do you have a go to area or process or resource to get started on that? Or it just can depend because they’re so they’re so wildly different?

Steph Smith 14:31
I mean, they are so wildly different. So there isn’t like a concrete process. But I will say one thing that I do, where I have done for each of them that I kind of alluded to, is tracking and really like going down that rabbit hole, so not just like attempting it lightly for a couple days. Like in the case of coding again, I had a spreadsheet where every single day, I would track did I spend time on coding, or did I not so by the end of that year, I knew exactly how much time I had spent learning to code and also spending time I’m on building coding projects. And in that case, it was over 300 hours. So that is like not a light investment into that particular thing. With something like podcasting, I was drawn to that, because I had been on a couple podcasts. So I kind of test out whether that was something I wanted to do. And then once I decided I want to do this myself, again, there was that 30 Day Challenge. And then I just like, went down the rabbit hole, I tried to look up all of the podcasts where people talked about how they grew their podcasts, tried to talk to other podcasters, I got involved at HubSpot in my first million more in the back end of that and seeing how they, they were learning. And so is that description super helpful for other people? Probably not. But the idea is that if you do truly want to like, dive into something like really dive into it become the expert that doesn’t even exist, like in podcasting, because it’s a new ish space, especially compared to written content, I would say actually, like even the top podcasters out there are really still figuring it out. That’s something I learned over the last year of diving in myself. So I would, I guess, encourage people not to feel discouraged that they’re like, you know, X years too late, and just like be like, what would it take for me a year from now to be the number one most knowledgeable person on this subject? You probably won’t get there. But you’ll get pretty far if that’s your goal.

Adam Vazquez 16:17
Yeah, so just full immersion. Actually, I think I actually think that is very helpful for people, because it’s not some resource or tool that you can just like tap into, but more of an internal, habitual, you know, sense that you go back to full immersion, when you said you did the 300 hours of coding, was that in a year?

Steph Smith 16:35
Yes, yeah, well, it was actually in less than a year because I started in maybe like, March, okay, or so. And I did that, because there was several other occasions in my life, where I thought how I really should learn to code like this is gonna be valuable in the future. And I tried it. And I kind of did what I described other people doing, like, I took like, an hour of a course, or like, I signed up for Code Academy or something and did like one lesson. And I never got very far. And that year was like, almost like, looking myself in the mirror and saying, Look, this is something that you say is important. But your actions are not matching your words. And so if you truly think this is important, and you think this is going to impact you for literally decades, which is what I truly believe, then show up, like show up and take the actions that your your words, say you care about. And so that’s what I did. And I started again in like March or so, and tracked in this spreadsheet. And what was fascinating about it is even though I look back and I’m like Wow, I did over 300 hours, there was massive chunks, where I did not do any coding, right. So it would have been like three and a half weeks. And in my head. I’m like, oh, yeah, I totally did a lesson like four days ago. And then I’d look at my spreadsheet and be like, Oh, actually, it’s been almost a month. And that’s really helpful. Because I think sometimes we are, our brains are so sophisticated, that we can trick ourselves into thinking things. And in that case, it just like had a level of accountability to really be like, how much time did you truly spend on this thing that you say is important. And in that case, because I had that tracking mechanism, I could look myself in the mirror and be like stuff like Get your shit together? Actually focus? Yes, you say it’s important.

Adam Vazquez 18:14
I love that the tracking and the accountability. I have to ask you, though, you said okay, so you say like, it’s it’s valuable. This has to do with content, really? But, um, well, first of all part of this is defense mechanism. Because I’ve been the person like I’ve probably signed up for like 15 Code Academy things, right. So like, and then each time I go through a little bit, and then I convince myself, I can’t invest time here. Like, have you has it been worth it to you aside from the like, there’s the obvious benefit of you being able to say, I learned how to code, right. And I taught myself and I’d spent 300 hours and like there’s a whole brand and content thing with that. But like in terms of the skill, has that also been worth the time that you invested?

Steph Smith 18:54
Yeah. And I think for reasons that people may not expect, so not because I plan to go be hired as like an engineer at Uber, or something like that. And actually, that was never my intention, even when I was learning. Basically, what I my impetus for learning at the time was that I wanted to create my own side projects. And I was living in Bali at the time. And I just saw all these other people around me who completely were self righteous rather say they were completely self capable, right? So every morning, they would code their projects, they would design their projects, they would market their projects, they would do their customer service. And I was like, wow, this is so amazing that they don’t have to rely on anyone else. So that was the reason at the time. I would say that still is a an important reason as to why I learned and why I would encourage other people to learn if they want to pursue that. But actually, the thing that I’ve learned since is just learning to code has removed a massive black box in my life, that I don’t think people recognize its significance until they’ve learned to code or at least that is my impression. Now I’ve learned, am I a great coder? Absolutely not. Am I super far behind? You know, the the fringe of innovation? Absolutely. But when I work with a developer, I know what I’m talking about when I want to understand the direction that technology is moving, like, what are the next things that Apple or Facebook or something are going to launch? I have a little bit more of an understanding of why they might pursue that, or what’s difficult. What’s easy. I also think that I heard someone on podcast recently give this analogy. They were like, if you’re going to like, go buy a house, of course, I know some people buy them now sight unseen, but like, don’t you want to go see your house, see how it works, see what’s going on inside if there’s anything really sketchy. And I think there’s kind of a similar analogy with learning to code where I do hope to start my own businesses, or I’ve hired a bunch of people on large teams now. And when we, when I work with a developer or when someone else works with a developer, I feel confident in what I’m asking for, if there’s anything sketchy about what we’re building, and I feel like I understand the house that I’m either building or buying, right. And I think a lot of people don’t have that capability, which is unfortunate to me. And then the final thing I’ll say is that, I truly believe and I think a lot of people would agree with me that technology is the most significant shaping force on our future, right, the products that we work with, but also the society that we’re building is like dependent on this technology. And again, without that, almost like technical literacy, I think, personally, technical literacy will be as important as like, you know, written literacy in the next couple of decades. I want to kind of build that future or be part of that future understand it. And I think that, again, removing that block box was essential for me, and I don’t think it’s kind of like you don’t know what you don’t know, I don’t think that a lot of people who have removed that own blackbox from their lives know, almost like what they’re missing.

Adam Vazquez 21:56
Great, this interviews gonna end up being super costly for me in terms of time, because now I have to go like learn how to do.

Steph Smith 22:04
I would actually say like, just as a note, when I say technical literacy, what a lot of people do is they go and learn, you know, they take like a web dev course, like I did, which I think is a it’s like, the most straightforward way to learn, because it’s those are the resources out there. But I actually think a gap in the market is to teach people, the technical literacy without them actually being in a code editor, like understanding how to request work in your browser, or like basics of cybersecurity, or, like, what is a browser even like, what is loading on my page? And what’s the difference between HTML, CSS, and JavaScript? You know, what are the back end languages versus the front end languages, like understanding the environment that we’re in? And how technology works, I think is actually the first step. And there’s not really great information out there. Because, of course, all of that information is on Google. But a lot of people would not know what to Google. Right, right. Right to find those things. And so, yeah, I think that, that is actually what I mean by digital literacy. And then of course, I would encourage people if they have the interest to go further and actually learn to code things themselves. But I don’t actually think that everyone in 2050 will absolutely need to be like coding. Right. Right. But they will have to understand what other people are doing. When they’re creating the technology that runs.

Adam Vazquez 23:21
Yeah, it’s yeah, it’s more like understanding and having being able to play like a product manager role, personally, as opposed to being able to maybe like be the full full developer. That sounds like a great course idea. By the way, there.

Steph Smith 23:33
Yeah. Someone I’ve mentioned this on other podcasts where someone should go build it. I’ve, it’s been on my like, you know, product building to do list. I don’t think I’m ever going to get to it, but someone should go create it and let me know if someone does.

Adam Vazquez 23:46
Cool. Okay. Well, I want to get to some of the other things that you have made. But before you do, you touched on briefly there. The fact that you do all of this outside of your your normal job, and I know they cover they asked you this in on the My First million episode, they asked you like why don’t you just quit your job and, and whatever. I’m not as interested in that as? And some of this goes to probably your course, doing time, right? But how do you just manage to create and output as much as you do, while being employed full time? There’s just I don’t understand that just from like a basic time constraint.

Steph Smith 24:24
Yeah, so I, I guess I have a couple kind of disparate answers that we’ll pull together here. So the one thing that I think is really fundamental is that ultimately, the only way that you’re going to create a lot of things is if you remain interested in creating a lot of things right like that, that your interest stays the same or increases over time, right and doesn’t die out. And I actually think this is one of the most important things that people don’t focus on enough. Where, you know, I talked about this on the podcast with Sean, he was like, Why haven’t you quit yet? And ultimately, I know, at least for right now reflecting on on my own habits and interest levels that if I were to quit and go full time in my own projects, my interest in those projects would go right down into the trash, because I’m spending all my time on them. So instead of them being like a fun, lucrative hobby, they turn into this weight on on my psychology. And so I think that’s ultimately why sometimes I do push back on people who are like, you should just quit your job and go all in and they talk about all these like, you know, super risk taking individuals who choose that route. It’s not that that doesn’t work for everyone, but or it’s not that that doesn’t work for anyone, but it certainly does not work for everyone, right. And so, in my case, I’ve recognized that about my own psychology, and I’m like, Look, I get to work have really, you know, good, in my opinion, full time job, it keeps me interested, they keep putting me on new projects, as I mentioned, I’m no longer as focused on trends. And so I get that. And then on the side, I only do things that I want to do only do things that I’m like, truly excited to do, I wake up in the morning, and I’m like, I could either spend my time, like going for a run outside hanging by the beach, or there’s this other thing that’s competing with that, because I’m truly interested in that. Yeah. And to that point, I think a lot of people when they see my output, they think that I’m like, always grinding. Now I do work a lot, I spend far too much time on the computer, but I work in the seasons. So like, I recognize that I also would burnout if I everyday was like, okay, work your full time job and work on these side projects. And so I tried to like package these projects into really discrete periods of time. I mean, I think a lot of people are familiar with Parkinson’s Law, too. So like with my book, a lot of people, if they choose to write a book, they’re like, I’m going to read this book over the next couple years. And like, eventually, they’ll write it. But it’ll be this like, wait on their mind during that whole period, what I chose to do is write it in 50 days. Now those 50 days were probably more stressful than, you know, that average person who’s writing it over five years, but it was like in and out, right? Like, write it 50 days focus, get it all out there. And then I don’t have to worry about it again. And I would also say I, I structure, the projects that I build around the psychology too. So a very simple example is, when I wrote this book, I wanted to tack on a community. But I didn’t want to have this ongoing requirement for me to be heavily involved. So I structured the price point so that it wasn’t, you know, a cohort based course, it wasn’t something that people would be like, hey, we want you involved all the time, I paid $1,000 For this, like, where are you kind of thing. I structured it so that the understanding was that you’re buying this from me, it’s an asynchronous thing, you do it on your own time. And therefore, like I can basically move on from this project. And so that’s always like, kind of at the top of my mind is like, How can I set this up so that I’m creating for the super long term. And so sometimes I make those trade offs. I mean, I see tons of creators making these cohort based courses. And they probably make way more than I do, especially on a per sale basis. But what I want to do is just figure out how I can create, you know, for five years so far, but also like 50 years moving forward. And so those are some of the I guess, notes on like, how I managed to work on my job full time, and then also create on the side. I do think that like idea of creative constraints and setting really rigid deadlines is important. Because if you think about, I don’t know about you, if I think back to my college days, I’m like, I did a lot. Like I studied like crazy. I was able to attend classes, I like worked part time jobs, I partied a bunch like I was like, how did I do that during that period? And the answer, if I reflect back are really rigid deadlines. And yet, when you’re working in like a full time job or on your side projects, we don’t have very many deadlines. We’re like, Oh, I’ll ship that next month, or if it happens to be next quarter, like no worries. So I do think that’s a very, very simple way that people can almost like accomplish more by setting super arbitrary admittedly but important deadlines in their own life. That’s so

Adam Vazquez 29:06
helpful. So if you okay, the the threads that I heard, while you were saying that was first of all, understanding your own psychology before you just jump in, so understanding like, what actually motivates you what’s important, what do you want objectively to get out of the project, setting super, you know, tight constraints, whether that be having a full time job, so your time is, you know, just naturally limited or something else. And then once you decide sort of sprinting, just just going into Sprint’s which it sounds like is a is a trend you’ve done over and over again, whether it be coding or writing the book, or that sort of thing. would you add anything else?

Steph Smith 29:38
Yeah. Well, just on the note of sprinting, I mean, I can’t take responsibility, or I can’t say this as my own. But people are probably familiar with navall saying it’s like work like a lion instead of a cow. And so I think that most people would benefit from more of that approach. The only reason I shouldn’t say the only one of the major reasons We work the way we do in these, like nine to five really slow, long arduous sessions is due to the fact that people needed to do that back in the day, like the 40 hour workweek was invented over a century ago. And we just adopted a lot of the same practices from the factory days that no longer apply to the information era. And so I think people almost have to, like untrain themselves from like, this very slow, long work period, to something that’s more oriented around when they do have a like, clear drive to do something. Yeah, right. And, and that is important, not just in the times you work, but again, what you work on, like, I think sometimes people are trained within a job to just like, you know, they’re handed a project and they’re like, Okay, I guess I got to do this project. I’m not super stoked about it. And then they apply that in their personal life to their like, I guess I’ll guess we’ll do this thing, or I guess we’ll do like, you know, as cheesy as it sounds, people like Derek ciphers like fuck yes or no, it’s like, you should, if you have a full time job, like I do, your side projects should always be a hell yeah, yeah. Yeah. Fuck yes. Because if not, that’s when I’ve seen tons of creators, you know, do things that, you know, they may think are sleazy, or that they’re just not super stoked about and then they burn out, they disappear. And, you know, they they aren’t creating for again, that like five or even 15 year period that I was talking.

Adam Vazquez 31:22
Yeah. And it’s so tempt, or it’s so ingrained, like I, I worked in the agency world for many years, worked at VaynerMedia. And so obviously, there’s like some expectations of time there. And then when I left, I just kept working as if I was still working at Vayner, which I love Vayner. But it’s just like, you know, I don’t have to do that, necessarily. And so there’s Yeah, it’s definitely ingrained. But breaking out of that, and that’s a good model to to help folks break out of it. We only have a couple minutes left. So I want to get from you. I’d like be super remiss if I didn’t ask stuff about what idea content ideas or content trends. And I know that’s a little bit specific. But have you most excited or most curious, or you’re just they’re just on your radar right now that you’re interested in?

Steph Smith 32:07
Yeah, that’s a good question. I mean, I will say, I know we’re on one and I have one as well. I am super interested to see how podcasting evolves. So if people actually look at the history of these different forms of media, written content, well, written content has been around, since like, caveman days, right? They’re like scratching on their cave walls. But only in around 2000. I’m forgetting the exact dates was when WordPress came online, and then only in like the 2010s. But did you see like Squarespace or Wix or ghost some of these other tools that allowed you to create content and distributed online effectively? Podcasting, if you look at that same history is like a decade later. So I think Apple podcast became a standalone tool sometime in maybe like 2008. But then again, most of the other tools, whether it’s like megaphone, or castbox, are all of these other podcasting tools happened in the last, let’s say, five to 10 years, and some of them very, very recently. And so the reason I’m saying this is because what we’ve seen, and if you like look at these histories is that once content becomes democratized in that particular form of media, you see this huge surge of people who play right, you’re seeing the same thing with podcasting right now, where you’re seeing a ton of people like, and their mom that like everyone has to ask. But it does take a couple years for one, the, the data or like attribution to catch up. So that’s what we’re seeing in podcasting. But I also think the creativity within the space. So if you look at video, kind of formats, you said, you you work at VaynerMedia. Like, if you look at what’s going on YouTube, you have people who do like vlogging. But then you also see like product reviews, and then you see people who like are just hanging out with one another versus someone who’s like recording something from their bedroom. Or, like, there’s so many different forms of video media that people have mastered and come up with. And there’s still new ones coming online. And if you think about podcasting, there’s very, very limited formats that people have tried. So for example, we’re on an interview style podcast. There are some like more panel, conversational style podcasts. And then there are more typical, like more storytelling, like let’s say like true crime, yes, serial, etc. Exactly. And I’m probably missing a bunch of people will come at me and be like, No, there’s tons of variety within podcasts. But if people just Google the like, podcast charts out there, it’s a lot of it is the same. And a lot of it’s the same because people go to like what’s tried and true, but I’m really excited for people to get a little more creative with podcasts. And once we can get better attribution or like the tooling improves, that’s when you’re gonna see a lot of smaller players rise up the charts because right now, the best way to build a podcast audience is actually through another audience. Yeah, that’s why I exactly like something like Tim Ferriss had a newsletter, or a book. If you look at the charts, you’ll also see people like Michelle Obama or someone in a network like NPR. And so I’m really excited for, I guess, the podcasting industry to mature a little bit. And hopefully through that maturation, see, like, just really interesting format. So for example, they didn’t end up doing it. But when my first million had Andrew Huberman on, they ended up doing just like a traditional interview style podcast, but one of the ideas I gave them is like, look, what do people really want to know from him, they want to know, of all the health information out there, because there’s a ton of it, what is actually true and what is not. And so I was like, you should just find all of the kind of like, new health tools, whether it’s like melatonin, infrared saunas, ice baths, like blue light glasses, whatever it is, like all these things that people are trying and just like, create a massive list of them, and then get him to go through and like rate them on a scale of like, one to 10 one being like complete bullshit, there’s absolutely no scientific backing to 10 being like, there are dozens, if not hundreds of peer reviewed studies on this. And it absolutely improves your health in some tangible way. And so that’s an example of like, it’s still interview style, but it’s like almost like a game where you like have podcasts more trivia ask or I just think that there’s a lot of creativity to be

Adam Vazquez 36:23
100%. I don’t even know if you know this, but that’s how so we produce internet shows. We started just by producing podcasts. And that’s kind of expanded. And the big complaint we’ve always had is that podcasting has just taken radio, and I’m doing Yes, but it’s just like any more.

Steph Smith 36:39
No. And for the record, I don’t think it’s bad that people do. Like, I just think there’s opportunity for newcomers to proceed.

Adam Vazquez 36:46
Yeah, cuz YouTube took, they don’t take what TV has done only and and repeat it, you don’t just have talking heads or whatever news. And that that same thing is, and I think it’s starting to happen, I think you’re starting to see slowly, like the cream of ideas begin to rise to the top, but it’s gonna take a really long time, because people who have huge audiences, like he said, can bring them over. And so they’re at the top naturally, it’s gonna take years for that transition happen. But, Steph, I’m so thankful for you spending your time with us. I really appreciate you coming on if people want to check out doing time, right, or any of the other work that you’ve put out. And there’s a ton of it, what’s the best way for them to keep up with what you’re doing?

Steph Smith 37:26
Yeah, so you can find all of my projects at Steph smith.io. I’m also super active on Twitter. And my handle there is Steph Smith IO because of my site. I also have a podcast. Like I mentioned, it’s called the sheet you don’t learn in school. But you can find that listen and learn.co. And then as you mentioned, there’s doing time, right, you can run at doing time right.com And as I mentioned, you can find all of my other projects at my site.

Carlton Riffel 37:48
And that’s a wrap. Thank you for listening to this episode of content is for closers. We hope you find this show really helpful as you grow your business with content. Maybe you know of other people who would find the show helpful as well. How about you send them our way? If you didn’t like this show, and you want to tell us that then you can head over to content is for closers comm where you can send us a message give us some feedback, ask questions or find detailed notes for every episode. Until next time, keep creating and keep closing