Takeaways From the Best Business Podcasts With Nigel Lee
Hi there! Who are you and what’s your background?
My name is Nigel and I produce a weekly newsletter called Inciteful Newsletter. My goal is to run my own business someday, so I’m trying to minimize the risks involved to get there. I came from the Philippines and majored in accounting, but ended up a management consultant. For the past two years, I’ve been working at a software startup in Sydney, Australia. As you can see, my career path started out really ‘safe’ but I’m introducing a bit more risk.
What’s your newsletter about?
The newsletter is all about helping people discover business podcast episodes relevant to them. Every week, subscribers get one email that features a podcast episode. The hope is to save readers’ time by curating episodes and delivering punchy notes.
Topics will revolve around business and startups like marketing, leadership, etc. Each email is just a 2-3 minute read with notes and key takeaways along with the link to the featured episode. I also link to longer and more detailed notes with timestamps.
I believe professionals and entrepreneurs early in their careers are my best audience. I think they’d be looking for more resources to learn and get ideas from. I also think the younger crowd has less patience for long-reads and would prefer my short emails. I could be wrong though, so I’m trying to confirm those assumptions right now.
When did you get started writing your newsletter? What motivated you to get started?
I started the first week of June. I had read an article telling a story of how a newsletter was able to earn $100k+ a year from ads. So I thought this could be a good way to try starting a ‘business’ without needing to quit my day job. Then, the question was, “What do I write about?”.
There were a few ideas, but I later stumbled on podcasts. There were a few things that made sense about it. First, I was listening to podcasts a lot. Second, I found myself having to re-listen to episodes because I forgot important points. But, it was so hard to find them. There’s no search function in a podcast! So I thought, “If only I had written notes on podcasts, then it would be so much easier to remember and learn from it.” If I was going to write notes anyway, I might as well share it to the world.
What does the process of writing your newsletter look like for you?
I release an issue every week on Friday. Throughout the week, I try to go for a quick run everyday. Instead of music, I listen to podcasts. Up until Friday, I just look for podcasts episodes that are interesting. Once I do find one, I have a template for the notes and summaries. I’m usually able to get it done by Wednesday night or so.
What are some of the difficulties you’ve encountered in running your newsletter?
Growing subscribers. I’ve been trying to post regularly in social media as well as forums like reddit and Indie Hackers, but that doesn’t seem to be working well. I need to find where I can reach my target audience, but I haven’t figured it out yet.
Getting feedback has also been more challenging than I had expected. Although I encourage it, no one replies back to my weekly issues with comments or suggestions. I’ve tried sending a survey email, but the number of responses was low. It’s really hard to get people to take time out of their day!
What have you learned through writing your newsletter?
“If you build it, they will come” is really rare. The next time I try to build something, having a great product isn’t enough. Both the product, the market, and the channel to grab that market is so important. For example, Inciteful Newsletter is a helpful product. When I explain it to someone, even someone I’ve just met, it’s very easy to convince them to sign up. However, it’s been difficult to find the right group or platform where people who find this helpful hang out. In contrast to something like management consulting which is a proper channel or subreddit in social platforms.
The next time I try to build something from scratch, I’d consider how easy it is to reach my audience. Is there a subreddit for this idea? Are there Facebook groups about this interest or topic? If the answer is no, then it’s going to be a tough marketing exercise. Therefore it may be worth building the community yourself before the product is even ready.
What’s your favorite part about writing your newsletter?
I recently got a message from a reader that he ended up buying a book that was talked about in a featured podcast episode after reading my notes. It felt great knowing the newsletter was helping someone. At the same time, I’m also learning from building notes on business every week. So even if no one reads it, at least I can still get something out of it.
Do you have a monetization strategy for your newsletter?
I have ideas on how the monetization could work later on like ads and premium access to a better organized version of my notes. But right now, I’m still trying to grow my subscriber base first and figuring out how I can best add value to them.
How do you grow your audience?
Right now, I have 70 subscribers. That’s mostly been from word of mouth and friends spreading the word. I try to post on social media consistently. For example:
- Friday, I post the title and source of the featured podcast for the week
- Monday, I post a ‘recap’ of the episode. That’s usually a quote of some sort
- Wednesday, I post a ‘highlight’ of the episode which is sometimes a framework or idea discussed in the episode
- Thursday, I post a sneak peek of the upcoming episode the next day
I had thought this would be a good way to attract new subscribers. However it’s been quite slow. Social media probably isn’t the right channel for now and I need to concentrate on something else.
What are some of your favorite newsletters, books, and podcasts?
I really like The Hustle. They share business and entrepreneurial stories that are less mainstream compared to the typical Silicon Valley headlines. It’s more relatable and it feels more real.
What goals do you have for the future?
I hope to get to 100,000 subscribers in two years. It’s super ambitious considering my current base, but I’m taking it as a challenge to figure out a way to grow something like this. I feel like if I can crack this, it’ll give me more confidence that I can grow another thing later on.