In this episode of the Digital Publishing Podcast (which you can find a full transcript of below), I talk about a great tool I’m using to finally finish a new project, some interesting narrow niche digital publications, and a couple more great ideas.
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- 1:01 – 1. Creating an MVP task list
- 4:38 – 2. More narrow niches
- 8:33 – 3. A great ebook format
- 11:04 – 4. The YouTube subscriber mindset
- 14:32 – Pick of the week
DPP037: An MVP Task List, More Narrow Niches, and 2 More Great Ideas
Hi everyone, I’m Tristan Higbee, recording today in Sofia, Bulgaria. This podcast is all about the things I see and would like to see in the world of digital publishing, including blogging, ebook and video creation, podcasting, and other things relating to internet business and online marketing. You can find a full transcript of each episode of this show at DigitalPublishingPodcast.com.
I’d really appreciate it if you rated this show in iTunes. Just go to itunes.digitalpublishingpodcast.com and then click the blue “View in iTunes” button in the sidebar to rate and review the podcast in iTunes.
I will still be here in Bulgaria next week and so will be able to put out a new podcast episode, but I’ll be doing a lot of traveling in Turkey the week after that, and may not be able to do a new episode that week. Again, that’ll be the week after next.
Ok, I’ve got 4 topics to talk about today, so let’s get started.
1. Creating an MVP task list
I read a blog post recently called 10 Things I Learned by Going It Alone. In the post, the author talks about things he learned after quitting his job to create a web app by himself. One of his ten points is “MVP is all that matters.” MVP here means “minimum viable product,” which more or less refers to the idea that you should get a product to a point where it is good enough, and then you put it out there to get feedback on it. But what was really interesting to me was how that guy went about building his MVP. He said that he focused “ruthlessly” on building his MVP, and he did this by “keeping a task list, in spreadsheet form, with a rough [time] estimate per task, and by marking each task with whether it formed part of the MVP or not.”
As you may or may not be aware, the Digital Publishing Podcast is part of a website called Osmosio. It’s a site I’m building to teach people various things relating to digital publishing, and it’s a site I’ve been building for many, many months now. Too many. It’s time for me to finish the thing, or at least get it to the point that I can start showing it to people. There are several reasons why I haven’t gone live with it, but one of the big ones is that it’s hard for me to figure out what to do next and what things I still have to do and where it will all end, since I have enough ideas for the site to last for years. When I read that blog post about the guy creating the spreadsheet, it hit me that that was exactly what I needed to do. So I did it. I made a Google Docs spreadsheet that lists everything I want to do on the site, and then I went through and marked the things that I needed to get done to have what would essentially be my MVP.
Having a list to go through makes the idea of launching the site so much more manageable. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel and an end in sight, and that gives me something good to work toward. And I don’t have to waste time trying to figure out what I want to do, because all of the things I need to do are there in the spreadsheet.
As someone who loves spreadsheets, this approach works really well for me, and I’d be interested in hearing from any of you listening to this if it’s something you’ve done before or you think is worth doing. The guy who wrote the article I read assigned an estimated amount of time for each task that needed to be completed. I didn’t bother with that because the time it’ll take me to do something is irrelevant if it needs to be done, but it might be something worth doing if you want to get an overview of how long the whole project or certain chunks of it will take.
And I guess stay tuned to see if it works for me, to see when I actually do end up going live with the site. But I think that this methodology of making a big list of everything you need to do would work for way more than just a website or web app. You could do it for any big project, including ebooks and even blog posts.
2. More narrow niches
Back in episode 31, I talked about some interesting and very niche digital publications of various forms that seemed to be doing well. Among those were the YouTube channel that posted daily videos about one specific kind of mobile phone, the podcast all about pens, and the blog about traveling with an iPhone.
I’m always interested in how people convey ideas about the things they’re most interested in. In my mind, that’s what digital publishing is all about, and that’s why I love talking about it. It’s all about how to get your thoughts, opinions, and ideas out into the world, and that’s an extremely powerful concept.
So, here are some more narrow niches that I’ve seen and heard about recently. The first is a YouTube channel called The Slingshot Channel. Together with The Brain Scoop, which I talked about in last week’s episode, and another channel that I’ll talk about later on in the podcast, this is one of my very favorite YouTube channels. It’s run by a very jolly and likable German guy named Joerg, and he makes slingshots and videos about slingshots. He makes little handheld slingshots of various shapes and sizes and he interviews people about slingshots, but he also invents these massive, rubber-powered weapons that shoot machetes and chain saws. They are ridiculous and wonderful. The channel on YouTube has nearly 300,000 subscribers, and the videos have nearly 50 million views. Who would have thought that a channel about slingshots would or could have gotten this popular? I previously had no interest whatsoever in slingshots, but a couple days ago I ended up watching a video of Joerg interviewing the owner of a slingshot company for 40 minutes.
And then earlier today I was listening to an episode of Cliff Ravenscraft’s Podcast Answer Man podcast. He teaches people how to podcast and mentioned a handful of really interesting sounding podcasts that have either recently been started or will soon be started by his students. These podcasts include a show about keeping the cost of college down, another about gun holsters, another about baseball in the 60s, and another about wireless LANs. An earlier student of Cliff’s started the Hooked on Wooden Boats podcast, which is, obviously, about wooden boats, and that podcast just reached the 100-episode milestone. The topics of those podcasts are all things that I never in a million years would have thought there would be podcasts about.
And remember that blog and podcast about pens that I briefly mentioned earlier and that I talked about in an earlier episode? The guy that runs those just started a company that makes pen cases, and I don’t doubt that it will do really well.
By talking about all of these, I want to encourage you and myself to not be afraid of creating blogs or podcasts or YouTube channels or whatever about the things that we are interested in. People in every community out there are looking for more great content, and you don’t have to blog about internet marketing or blogging to build up a following. The world doesn’t need another blog about Internet marketing, but maybe it does need a blog about barefoot running in Connecticut.
3. A great ebook format
Last week I read an ebook called From Muhammed to Burj Khalifa: A Crash Course in 2,000 Years of Middle East History. I really liked the format of the ebook. When you first think of a history book, you think of one that starts as far back as possible and then goes up until the present day, covering more or less everything in between and connecting all of the dots. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I was really more interested in the most important stuff, or the historical greatest hits, if you will. And that’s exactly what this book was. The book was made up of 25 short chapters, each of which covered a significant topic or event, like the Koran, the Crusades, and the creation of modern Israel. Each chapter was interesting and easy to get through.
This is a format that can be applied to any kind of history, and probably has been. Just yesterday I was looking at books about the history of the American West, which is my favorite part of the world, and I found a book called Cowboys, Mountain Men, and Grizzly Bears: Fifty of the Grittiest Moments in the History of the Wild West. Again, it’s not a complete and linear history, but a sort of greatest hits. And you might be able to do something like this for the history of your niche. Let me take rock climbing for an example, like I always do. I would read the heck out of a “50 most important moments in rock climbing history” kind of book. So think about whether something like that would work in your niche. If you don’t want to make an ebook out of it, you could at least make a video or blog about about 10 important or interesting events.
I’ve never written a history ebook like this, but I have written several ebooks that are essentially just big lists, like my 101 Rock Climbing Tips and Tricks book. The great thing about these is that they’re easy to write. You make a list and then write as much as you have to say about each point.
4. The YouTube subscriber mindset
If you couldn’t tell from listening to this podcast, I’ve become a huge fan of YouTube over the past couple months, which is weird for me. I used to very, very rarely watch many YouTube videos. The big change came when I started actively looking for channels to subscribe to, as opposed to just looking for random interesting YouTube videos. I found a handful of ones that I liked and now I subscribe to 19 different channels on YouTube and I watch every new video from each of those channels. Some channels put out new videos every day, some every couple weeks or once a month. I’m now at the point where I haven’t watched TV or a movie in months.
For years now, I’ve been looking at YouTube the wrong way. I looked at it from a content producer’s standpoint, from the point of view of someone concerned about how I could use YouTube to benefit as a blogger or author. But now that I’ve become fairly deeply entrenched in content consumption on YouTube, it’s made me realize how crappy my videos and channels have been in the past (and, frankly, still are). I wouldn’t have subscribed to my own channels. I’ve gotten hundreds of thousands of views on the videos in my channels, but comparatively few people subscribed because while individual videos may have been informative or otherwise good, my video body of work as a whole was inconsistent and not that compelling. In order for me to subscribe to a channel, it’s all about how interesting or engaging the person creating the videos is. It has very little to do with the actual content in the videos. That’s been a huge revelation to me. If you’re creating individual videos that you’re hoping people will find, great. You don’t need to worry too much about your videos as a whole and whether someone watching one will be interested in watching another. But then no one is going to subscribe to your channel. There needs to be a common thread between your videos, and that will obviously vary depending on what your niche is.
That common thread can be you as an engaging or entertaining personality or it can be the quality of your videos as instructional devices about a narrow topic. But I just want to reiterate that optimizing videos for one-off search results and optimizing your videos for the benefit of your channel with the intent of getting people to subscribe are two significantly different things, and that you should take a look at your channel or channels to see if the body of work you’re producing is in line with your YouTube expectations and aspirations.
Pick of the week
And that now brings us to my pick of the week. This is where I pick one useful thing to share, and it can be an app, a website, a podcast, or anything else I find valuable.
My pick of the week this time is a weekly podcast called the GigaOM Chrome Show [link and iTunes link]. It’s a podcast all about Google Chrome. The episodes are on the short side—generally around the length of this podcast, like 15 to 20 minutes long. GigaOM is one of my favorite tech blogs, and this podcast is co-hosted by one of my favorite tech writers, Kevin Tofel. Plus, Chrome is my favorite web browser. Put all of that together, and you have a great podcast. Kevin is the Chrome expert on the show and the co-host Chris Albrecht is a relative Chrome newbie, so you get both of those two viewpoints in the podcast. The podcast itself is the two of them talking about the latest in the Chrome ecosystem. Yes, this includes things like updates to the Chrome browser and useful Chrome extensions, but also Chromebooks and recently the Chromecast.
So if you’re a nerd like me and like podcasts and like Google’s Chrome browser and ecosystem, go check out the GigaOM Chrome Show. Just Google it and you’ll find it.
And that’s all for episode 37 of the Digital Publishing Podcast. Be sure to check out digitalpublishingpodcast.com for complete transcriptions and other blog posts there at the blog.
Please don’t hesitate to email me any questions you might have regarding digital publishing. I love talking about this stuff, and I’d love to help you out. You can follow me on Twitter by going to twitter.digitalpublishingpodcast.com. That will redirect you to my Twitter account, since my name is a bit tricky to spell. If you do follow me there, be sure to say hi. And again and as always, I’d really appreciate it if you went into iTunes and rated and reviewed this podcast, and thanks for listening.