In my last article I wrote about how you can increase your earnings if you work in IT. I wanted to learn more about podcasting, so I interviewed someone who knows a lot about it.
Krzysztof Kempiński – in the IT industry since 2005. He dealt with backend programming of web solutions and mobile applications. For several years he co-managed a software house. Cooperated with startups as a programmer, team leader and CTO. He speaks at conferences and after hours he runs a podcast let’s talk about it – “Porozmawiajmy o IT”. Privately, a father and a husband.
I really wanted to thank him for taking some time for me in his busy schedule and for answering my questions really comprehensively.
During the interview, I asked him the following questions:
- Why podcasting, why did you start doing it?
- What was the biggest challenge about podcasting?
- What made you still in it?
- Is it profitable, can you say anything about making money this way?
- Have you thought about going into just podcasting and talking to people?
- Are you still developing technically, or do you spend more time on soft skills useful in podcasting?
- Where do you get your interview topics from?
- How do you prepare for the interviews? What is the creative process like?
- What takes up the most time when you create a podcast?
- What advice would you give to someone following a career path similar to yours?
Interview with Krzysztof Kempiński creator of the podcast “Let’s talk about IT”
If you are planning to start your adventure in the world of podcasting, the following answers will surely make it much easier for you to achieve your goal. Feel free to read and comment 🙂
1) Why podcasting, why did you start doing it?
In 2017 I went to Malta for 7 months. My wife was on parental leave and I was working remotely, so we decided it was the best time to try such an adventure. Such a distance from the place where you live every day makes you think about where you are in life and where you are going. For me, it was a time when I thought a lot about the future. I made a decision to go beyond technical and programming issues and start being involved in the community, speaking at conferences and building a personal brand.
I started working on my personal brand with a blog, which probably comes as no surprise to anyone involved in IT as it is the most common communication channel. This didn’t appeal to me as it was too one-way in communication. I started to try my hand at YouTube, but soon found that it would have to invest a lot of time to get the quality I wanted. Malta is a beautiful place to run, during which I enjoyed listening to podcasts. The idea for my own podcast was a bit of a compromise between the written form and the video form.
You have to remember that 2017 was before the podcast boom in Poland. Back then, it was a niche medium, which I won’t hide, also attracted me to it. There was very little competition. From Polish-language IT podcasts, I only associate Maciek Aniserowicz’s Devtalk.
2) What was the biggest challenge about podcasting?
In the initial phase, the biggest challenge was just talking 🙂 Admittedly, I already had over 10 years of experience in IT and running my own software house. So I had the opportunity to talk to people and exchange opinions. However, I had never spoken in public anywhere before. I had to learn to formulate my thoughts and convey them in an appropriate form. I was under a lot of stress.
Personally, I have a rather competitive approach to life, which didn’t help at the time. Comparing myself with other podcasters was rather demotivating for me.
Another challenge was dealing with the poor reception of the content I produced. Firstly, it was only average, and secondly podcasts weren’t popular at the time, certainly not as popular as they are today. The first six months in particular were a time when it wasn’t worth looking at the statistics too often in order not to get discouraged.
Fortunately, running a podcast from the technical side has never been a problem for me. However, I know that non-IT people sometimes find this challenging too.
3) What made you still in it?
During the first six months the episodes appeared irregularly, which, in retrospect, I now consider a mistake. The audience as well as the algorithms value regularity. For people it gives a certain predictability and for the podcast directory algorithm it is an indicator of development.
After that time I made the decision that I wanted to get into podcasting more seriously. I started releasing episodes regularly. First every fortnight, then weekly. I set up a website. I commissioned a logo. You could say I built creating a podcast into my daily life. Now I can see that it paid off. The number of listeners started to increase. There were suggestions who to invite and what topics to discuss. I met a lot of new people and with time I started to earn money on the podcast. At this point I treat it as a hobby and the opportunity to talk to people who probably would not have time for me outside of recording.
4) Is it profitable, can you say anything about making money this way?
For me, the podcast was not intended to be a project to make money. It was created as a tool to build a personal brand and share my experience. I also did not solicit commercial collaborations. I’m lucky in that they came to me. Over several years I built a recognisable podcast that now attracts advertisers or people who want to appear on it in a paid capacity.
However, it has to be said that podcasting has real costs. Not all of them have to be incurred. Many of these things can be done yourself. Nevertheless, there will always be some expenses. In my case, I do all the production myself. I pay for hosting for the website and podcast hosting, which is for the audio files. I also use several subscriptions for marketing and audio processing tools. I also outsource the audio transcription work and I include the resulting text in a blog post for the episode. I have “listeners” who prefer to read the text version.
At the moment, the podcast brings in about 30-40k a year with 10k in costs.
5) Have you thought about going into just podcasting and talking to people?
I don’t like to labeling people, but I’m an introvert by nature 🙂 Conducting an interview for a podcast is always quite an energy expenditure on my part. Nevertheless, I really enjoy talking to people.
Professionally, I manage my career in such a way that once every few years I manage IT teams more and then focus only on technical issues. In this approach, I have found a balance for myself.
Financially, it would be very difficult to make a living in Poland just from hosting a podcast. The market doesn’t look like in the States, where some of the more famous podcasters do it professionally. In our country podcasting is an addition to other business activities such as courses, books or training.
6) Are you still developing technically, or do you spend more time on soft skills useful in podcasting?
At the stage of my career I am at, which is 17 years of experience in IT, I am trying to develop both categories of skills. What I have noticed from my own example, although I will stress that it is my case, is that soft skills are increasingly useful. I no longer chase the latest frameworks, programming languages or architectures. These are all important and needed. I really appreciate people who explore these issues in detail. In my case, cooperation with business, knowledge sharing, mentoring, recruitment and other issues around IT that I deal with are the source of not only professional development but also fulfilment in non-obvious fields. I recommend such exploration, because you never know if you will come across something that will change your career forever.
In addition, it is important to diversify one’s skills and to take care of a subject we hear more and more about, namely avoiding professional burnout. You can, of course, effectively escape from it by changing the technology you specialise in. For me, however, this is not enough because you are still in the same circle.
So I try to make sure I keep both up to date with technology and more broadly with everything outside of it that is IT related.
7) Where do you get your interview topics from?
In the beginning, these were topics close to me that I had an idea about or knew someone who could talk about. For anyone looking to start their podcast, I recommend making yourself a list of 10-20 topics for future episodes.
The next stage was to search for people, experts in a certain topic. I did this both at conferences and by observing their activity in social media. Inviting such a person was for me a guarantee of the content of the episode, but also an opportunity to learn something new.
After about a year, my listeners themselves started to suggest guests or topics. And a little while later I began to hear from people who would like to speak. I must admit that some of the topics I would never have thought of, but it turned out that they were very interesting and worth talking about. It was another opportunity for me to learn something new.
At the moment 75% of the episodes are created as suggestions from guests or listeners. This of course does not mean that I accept all topics. I apply a filter of relevance of the episode to my listeners. Occasionally there are suggestions that are too narrow or not relevant. The vast majority, however, turn into valuable episodes.
8) How do you prepare for the interviews? What is the creative process like?
The whole process starts about a month before publication. On the basis of the information from the guest and my research, I prepare a list of issues I would like to cover in the episode. This list is verified with the guest. Then we make an appointment for the recording, which we do remotely. Then I have to deal with the most time-consuming stage of editing the audio, preparing the post for the website and social media materials. This stage takes about 3 hours. For a week after the publication of the episode I have various promotional activities planned. The whole preparation, recording and publication process takes at least 6 hours.
In the process of my preparation for the interview, I do research on the internet and listen to/watch the guest’s previous speeches in order to get to know them a bit and adapt to their temperament.
9) What takes up the most time when you create a podcast?
Just preparing for the interview is not the longest stage. Recording and audio processing usually take several times longer. Recordings need to be listened to and edited into one. Preparing a blog post and promotional materials also takes some time.
All these activities can be outsourced. There are people on the market who do audio processing for podcasts and what’s called virtual assistance. I think this is a good option for companies who are thinking about their podcast.
10) What advice would you give to someone following a career path similar to yours?
I hope everyone will follow their own path 😉 However, if anyone would like to be inspired on mine, I would give advice related to consistency of actions. Building a personal brand or generally creating your place in the network is a long-term process in which consistency matters. Of course, this does not mean that we should not experiment and abandon actions that do not work. However, once we decide on something, we should be patient and determined. Personally, I don’t rely on genius or motivation, which may or may not be there once. I have a template of activities associated with each episode and I block out time for such activities. This is the real time I have to spend and I approach it with the knowledge that I won’t do anything else in that time. The internet is full of blogs with two posts, YouTube channels with one video or podcasts with three episodes.
Another piece of advice I would give is that even in a technical industry like IT, at the end of the day relationships, networking and so-called soft skills count. There is nothing wrong with focusing on your technical craft. But it turns out that going beyond that very often presents us with other opportunities in our careers.
Finally, let me just add that there is no such thing as one right way to develop a career in IT. From junior to CTO. We have the freedom in our industry to make the changes that suit us at the moment. I change my focus every few years from the technical part to the more business oriented part. I was a programmer, a team leader, then a co-founder of a software house to cross over again to the role of a programmer and from there to the position of CTO and again a programmer. Each such experience enriches me as a specialist and a person.
I conducted the interview in Polish, there may be minimal discrepancies in the translation. The original text can be found here.
I don’t know about you, but for me Christopher’s answers were very helpful. Again, I wanted to thank him very much for agreeing to interview me and sharing his knowledge and experience of podcast creation.
If you would like to listen to his podcast Let’s talk about IT then you best check out his website https://porozmawiajmyoit.pl/.