Podcasts, Charity & Mentors
Welcome to another episode of The Chirp. In our previous story, we got a chance to talk with Daniel Narciso - practically a human encyclopedia. If you didn't get a chance to check out our episode with Daniel, definitely give it a listen because we promise you'll learn something new - Story 6: Be Loyal To Those Who Loan You Money.
This week we flipped the script a little bit and brought in a podcast host (a little podcast-inception) as a special guest on our show. Joe Casabona, host of the popular podcast series How I Built It, stopped by to give us his insights on how he views work in the content world and how he dedicates time in his life to giving back to those that he can - financially and professionally.
This Episode In A Nutshell
We are all trying to do our best in this race we call life. Some people live an audacious life dreaming of one day becoming an astronaut or physicist, while others, unfortunately, have to desperately fight and worry each night about how to put food on the table for their families. Life and all of its ups and downs are full of many mysteries, but one thing is clear to us all, we're all human and we should all be treated as such. This week we got a reminder of exactly that - a motto & sentiment Joe Casabona lives by. A web developer, author, teacher, content creator, and podcaster, Joe takes us through the journey of his life and teaches us how important it is to give back and invest in those around you along the way.
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Audio Transcript of Story 7: Treat People The Way You Want To Be Treated
What's going on everyone? Hello to everyone joining me for our last episode of 2021. The holidays are approaching, we live in anticipation for 2022 to be a better year than the last one. Maybe the one before that as well.
But listen, let’s not focus on the past. Life goes on, as does The Chirp! I was able to grab a conversation with the genius that is Joe Casabona this week.
Joe is a podcaster, a content creator, a teacher, he does live streams with his fans building websites with WordPress - which he is excellent at. He has a Youtube channel that is specific to podcasters getting started, so I was keen to pick his brain about that - he has a plethora of knowledge about everything content creation. And he also helps content creators build their business and brand and he has kindly given listeners of The Chirp some special offers which I will talk about at the end of the episode.
But I’ll let Joe do the talking now. He is a maestro on the microphone, it was great to chat to him and learn about his journey, hear his wisdom about content creation, and also a take on a scenario about relationships and money that I found very unique. So I will let you all listen.
Well, thank you so much for coming on The Chirp. It's a pleasure to have you, I’m a huge fan of your content. I know you're an educator, podcaster content creator, father of two, soon to be the father of three, as I heard from your live stream! So a big future ahead of you. So congratulations. I would love to know how you got started, where it all began, how you became able to do what you love so much, and the plans for the future?
Yeah, thanks. Thanks so much. I really appreciate that. So I got my start in high school. People who listen to my podcast will have heard this story probably many times before, but luckily I was always kind of into computers. And then my church came to me and they asked me if I could make them a website.
They're like, “Joe, you're good with computers. Can you make a website?” This is like 2001.
The early days.
And I don't know how to make a website. And they said, “We'll pay you”. And I was like, yeah, I can make a website. You'll pay me. Great. So they paid me 200 bucks. And it was. The first website I ever made, and I really liked doing that.
And so I decided then I want a career in computers. So that was when I was 14. I feel very fortunate that from an early age, I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I went to the University of Scranton. I got a degree in computers. I got a master's in software engineering.
And while I was getting that master's I also taught as part of a teaching assistantship. And I loved that too. So computers, I really liked, teaching I really liked, and something I didn't include was I did drama club! So I was in like school plays and stuff from like second grade, all through high school.
And so I'm, I'm a very performative type of person as well. And so after writing code, mostly with WordPress and PHP for about 10 years or so I decided that I wanted to get into something that was a little bit more in front of people. I could teach people and be more performative. And so in 2016, I started my current podcast and I launched my own online courses, and that kind of allowed me to combine all of my skills into one business. And so I've been self-employed full-time since 2017 with all of that.
Fantastic. So you've only been at this for about, you know, five years in total, this amalgamation of all of your skills. It’s a relatively new thing in your life.
Yeah. Especially with real stakes, right? Because like, yes, I freelanced in high school, but like I was living with my parents and had no real expenses and yes, I freelanced in college, but essentially what that meant was I had more money than the average college student.
And then as soon as I got out of school, I freelanced a little bit for full-time, but I was still living with my parents and I could still be on their health insurance. And then when I couldn't be on their health insurance anymore, I got a real, a real job, quote-unquote. So now I have a family. You mentioned that our third is on the way as we record this. And so I have kids, I have a mortgage, I have car payments. And so actually when I went off on my own full time, my daughter was three months old. My wife was still on maternity leave. And so I was the only income of the family when I first went out on my own full time.
And so like not the best time to start a business, but it definitely lights a fire under you to make sure you really know what you're doing.
Which has probably, and what you needed. If you're going to go out and do your own thing.
Yeah, for sure. I thought, I thought I made all the right moves. Part of the reason I went out on my own was because our company at the time was having trouble making payroll. And I was still bringing in enough money on my side gig to support the family. And so, full of hubris, I thought I could just do that. And it turned out that I still was getting that income.
And so I was. I was able to fully replace the income I was getting from my full-time job relatively quickly, which is good. Because usually, that takes about three years for most business owners.
But I hadn't really honed in my messaging or my niche which is something I feel like I've done a lot better over the last two years.
Fantastic. And I suppose looking at all of your channels and your YouTube, podcasting, social media, all this big cohesive branding of yourself and your talents, how do you find the time to do it all? Obviously, this is a full-time gig for you in its entirety, but are you extremely organized? Do you have everything down to a tee? Is your day laid out from the night before?
I try really hard to do that, but, you know, as they say, “the best laid plans of mice and men”, right? In general, yes. I try to plan out my weeks on Sunday evenings, usually, in front of the TV, my wife and I'll watch TV after the kid goes and I'll write down all the things I want to get done. I'll look at the week ahead and see what is on my calendar and what I have to get done. And then each day I sit down with this fantastic little card that's part of the analog system. And so I write down everything I have to do.
I kind of color-coded, right? So the tasks are one color and the appointments are another color.
And so my tasks are kind of right in front of me. Now. I also will call a lot of audibles throughout the day. Like if I'm not feeling a particular thing, right, or if I'm supposed to make a video, but I'm not really feeling it. I'll, I'll do something else. But when it comes to creating a lot of content, the most important thing for me and for a lot of content creators, the thing I try to teach my students and my members is batching content.
So my podcast comes out every week. It's like clockwork because I've got four to six episodes edited and scheduled. And for a while, I was doing the same thing with my YouTube channel. And so my YouTube channel is changing a little bit. But once I get the cadence down, I will have probably a month to two months worth of content scheduled and ready to go so that I don't feel that pressure.
Yeah, fantastic, brilliant, good to be so organized. And obviously in the theme of the show, During, yeah. Especially going out on your own as a self-employed content creator. Any examples of relationships that you've seen where, you know, they've been strained by money or lending either to yourself or to those around you? Any, any tales of woe, as I like to ask?
Tales of woe, umm, you know I try to be - you know it's interesting, actually, I was working on a piece of content today, before we got on the microphone. And I was talking about Cura Personalis. I went to a Jesuit University, and so we learned all about St. Ignatius and, and his philosophy of Cura Personalis or care of the whole person. And part of that is that to be able to take care of other people, you have to take care of yourself first. And so, as we've been able to take care of ourselves, I've, I've tried to help others. I like to donate to St Jude's Children's Hospital and things like that. When I first started, and I was very nervous about money. My dad made a thousand-dollar investment in the business. He said I don't have to pay it back to him until I make my first million. So you know, hopefully in 2022, I'll be able to pay him back!
Yeah, yeah absolutely.
And then, kind of from the other side, especially you know, we’re recording this around the holidays - throughout the pandemic, my wife's a nurse, an ICU nurse. And so we had kids at home and she still had to go to work. And so I'm not going to say it was like being a single parent, but I feel like I got glimpses of what it would be like.
Because my wife would leave at 6:00 AM and get home around 8:00 AM. And so taking care of the kids was all up to me for those days. For a bevy of reasons, our support system right now or during that time wasn't as good as it could be. Plus, we weren't really seeing anybody. And so, yeah, especially around this time, I try to look for opportunities to help actual single parents.
And so you know, there's a website called Little Big Donations or something like that. Or you just hear stories of recently single parents with kids who were just trying to get you know, gifts for their kids for Christmas and stuff like that. And I have been fortunate enough and maybe fortunate enough to have an education in financial stability. I won't say responsibility because sometimes that's outside of everybody's control, but you know, I've had good savings for a long time and I've tried to maintain that. So I have not had strong financial hardships because of that and my support system, but I've tried to help people who have fallen on hard times through no fault of their own because another thing that is - I see the GoFundme's get set up because of irresponsibility.
Those are not something…I want to help. People who have legitimately fallen on hard times, I guess is the best way to put it.
Where it's out of their hands...?
Yeah, where it’s out of their hands. And so those are the kinds of things that I look for. So like not a friend, a friend of a friend, but you know, her husband up and left her with four kids.
And now they have very little income. So she shared her Amazon wishlist and I bought a few things on the Amazon wishlist so that her kids could have a good Christmas. Cause I think that's really important.
Yeah, no that's fantastic. And it's quite refreshing to hear a guest - you know obviously, I said tales of woe, we don’t necessarily need tales of woe. It’s great to actually hear stories of how relationships being affected tell a story of how relationships being affected by money can actually have a positive story as well. And you've affected your relationships and people around you in a positive light.
I suppose, where does that kindness and generosity generally stem from? You said you’re a religious man, ehm is it kind of how you were raised? Where does that, you know, kindness come from?
Yeah, I think it's a combination of that, right? I was raised Roman Catholic and you know, whatever baggage that comes with these days, the thing that stuck with me most was to be a good person, to treat people the way you want to be treated. My dad is somebody who modeled that for me a lot.
I would say that I'm maybe more connected to the religion we were raised as than my dad is currently, but my dad always set an example for me. From the time where we would be on public transportation - I’m the oldest of four boys and he would make us get up if there was somebody who needed the seat more than we did.
And so that sort of thing where my dad was always willing to help someone in need is something that I've carried with me. And so when I, when I can, I will and so it's, it's like a combination, I guess. Being raised Catholic, treating people the way you want to be treated and, and having good examples there for me.
Fantastic. Lovely. Going back to your professional life now, I'm quite keen to know the stages of growth that you've had with all of your channels or your brands, whichever way you want to put it. I recently just discovered that you have a podcasting channel on YouTube as well - full of shorts and informative videos and things like that.
What has been kind of your process to grow your own brand over the years? And if you can share some stuff of the future with us, that would be great as well, but what, what are your plans moving forward? Because you seem to be constantly growing and blossoming in terms of your content. So it's interesting to hear how you did that and what's next?
Yeah. What a great question. I feel like I started the same way. A lot of freelancers. I'm going to say specifically in the WordPress space. Cause that's my experience, but it could be anywhere. When I started I undervalued my work and I just kind of took on anything that people were willing to give me money to do.
Especially when you're starting out and you're like, you're, you're hungry for work.
You want to learn.
You have the time to learn. Now that I'm a married man with two and eight-ninths of a kid, time is a premium for me and I want to make sure to spend it wisely.
But the other thing is, I never did a good job of defining my audience. I've kind of always had the idea of knowing I needed to niche down, but I never truly knew what that meant until the last few years where I've had some really good mentors kind of guide me in the right direction.
And so for a while, I made WordPress sites and I got all of my referrals through word of mouth. And that was great. Especially for somebody who is just kind of doing it on the side, just taking the jobs I wanted to take. But now that I've moved into a product-based business, right.
I sell memberships and courses. And, and coaching, I do podcast coaching. I need to make sure that I'm communicating to my target audience, that I see you, and I understand the problems that you're trying to solve, and I will help you solve those problems. And that's why I spun up the extra YouTube channel.
And that's why I've really honed my message in the direction of my membership. And so for the future going into 2022. My mission is to help creators create consistently and make money doing it. Because I think that one, right, you said that I create a lot of content and I try to be very consistent with it.
That's because of systems I've put in place for idea capture and creating the lowest path of resistance for creating that content. And then when you think about making money, yes. You can get your YouTube channel monetized or yes, you can get podcast sponsors, but there are a lot of other ways to make money.
And so my membership is like, I dunno, $1.99. It might be on sale as we record this. I'm raising my rates on January 1st, 2022, but I guarantee you you make that money back in the first year of your membership. And it feels like a no-brainer. I made like 500 bucks over cyber weekend on affiliate links alone.
My YouTube channel has made not a lot of money, but enough to pay for the equipment. And then of course my sponsorships and my memberships, you know, there's like five or six ways I'm making money off of my contentcurrent. Not including direct client sales either. So like I, I go on people's podcasts or people come on my podcast and then hire me to coach them with their podcasts.
So those are the kinds of things I want to teach people how to do, whether they're a content creator, like an educator, author, speaker, or small business owner, who's trying to generate more leads. I want you to make money with your content and you need to be consistent to do that.
Yeah, absolutely. Consistency is king. And you mentioned something there that was interesting. Not a lot of my guests, who are mainly, you know professionals, they’re all professionals…but none of them have discussed the aspect of having a mentor which is - it’s something that I've meant to look into myself as a podcaster, as a content creator, and I haven't taken the plunge yet. I’ve only kind of been at this for about 2-3 years, COVID, the COVID years, anyways, this has been my duration.
Because of your COVID years, haha
Eh, the COVID age. What do you recommend for someone like me or any, any, you know, content creator, looking to find a mentor and who are looking to just get better at everything? What was your kind of process, you said mentors actually so, you must have had a lovely choice?
Yeah. I'm very extroverted and I connect with a lot of people. And so the thing that's been most integral for me is my network. I go to conferences or I have people on my show and I get to talk to them about what they know and what they do best and the problems they solve.
But, I also am always constantly trying to learn. So, first of all, if you're looking for a mentor, you need to keep in mind. I guess this also kind of comes from my Jesuit education right at the University of Scranton. But I guess it's more philosophy, but Socrates, right? Socrates his big claim to fame is that he knows he doesn't know, or he knew he didn't know. So he asked a lot of questions. I think that's really important.
when you are looking for a mentor to understand - that there are things you don't know. When you find somebody who's willing to take a look at what you do and offer you advice that you should be willing to take it and experiment.
And so when it comes to finding a mentor, I think you should define your main goal for what you want to get out of a coaching or consulting relationship. In three months in five months in six months, five months is such a weird interval. Where do I want to be and who can get me there?
And then finding the coach could be hard because you need to be able to trust that person. So this could be a little bit of a journey but search on YouTube first. See who's talking about what on YouTube, look at content, listen to podcasts and figure out who you feel the most connected with, and reach out to them.
So this is going to take some time, right? This is not going to, this is not going to be like, you're not going to Google mentor and find somebody. Like you’re not going to Google “coach” and find somebody. Consume some free content first, and then make changes that way. Reach out and form a relationship with somebody you respect and admire or grab some time with them on their websites, like clarity.fm, where you can pay per minute to talk to somebody and do a little searching.
And this is another reason why I think that people need to create content consistently is because your content is the long game. Right? Again, I've gotten coaching clients because people have seen my content. I've been lucky enough to find people in my network. Chris Lema and Sean Hescath are two of them, who have offered me invaluable advice - including steering the direction I’m going in now.
I think be open to…I guess if I'm, I’m summing this up in actionable items, right? Figure out your goal. Where do you want to be in the next six to 12 months? We'll say, and then ask questions that lead you to that goal, find answers in the free content, find somebody who you feel connected with and see if you'd be a good fit for them.
And they would be a good fit for you, I guess. Cause that's, that's part of the relationship. And then be open to the advice that they're offering.
Yeah, valuable information!
Yes. Is that helpful? I hope that's helpful.
It is very helpful. And I love the way you said don't Google mentor. Cause I would have done that!
That's what I did at first too. And I'm like, what am I doing?
My first mentor was my boss at the deli I worked at there. I’m from New York, I’m Italian, so I’m like every stereotype - I worked at a deli. My first mentor was my boss there. When we closed on Saturdays school was basically in session for me cause he knew I was, I had entrepreneurial aspirations.
And so he would give me advice. He's the first person who told me I need to raise my rates because my rates communicated how valuable my work was and if I was undercharging, people would think I was cheap.
Yeah, you're spot on. I remember in one of my other episodes, I remember talking about how when I started off on Fiverr as a voiceover artist and literally doing 10,000 words for $5 and Fiverr taking 20% of that fiver.
So I knew a year on, it was time to raise the rates and get a book of clients. Fantastic, Joe Casabona, I suppose the last question for me before we wrap this up. To reiterate, the quality and the integrity of your content is what is also extremely impressive to me. As people will see if they're watching this on YouTube.
How do you see the future of - we’ll focus on podcasting since this is a podcast, but I’m always keen to see or get the perspective of fellow hosts. How do you see the future of podcasting going? Not so much in terms of advertising, but just in terms of consumption and platforms and things like that, and the big players and your kind of insights or predictions that you have about the industry.
Yeah, I think we're, I think we're reaching a point where the majority of people at least know what podcasting is, right? Edison Research is a really great resource for this. Yeah, but I think we just recently crossed Americans. Yeah, just recently over 50% of Americans listened to at least one podcast a week.
Yeah right? We're still growing, right? According to some stats, there are like 4 million podcasts, but only 400,000 have been published within the last 90 days. Gosh, I’ll try to find that stat for you if you want to link it in the show notes. Actually, I wrote it down here in my field notes, notebook somewhere. Podcast index dot org I think, keeps track of all these things and so - one 10th of podcasts have been published within the last 90 days, less than half a million, right? So we're not at critical mass yet. For comparison's sake at the beginning of this year, there were, I think 32 million YouTube channels or something like that.
So we're a long way off. So I think what podcasting can do or will do more people will figure it out. It's a lot cheaper and easier to get started than it used to be. And it'll be a place where people look for personalized, convenient learning, right? YouTube is great, but if you can’t watch YouTube, you know their app in the premium version just rolled out a…
Don’t get me started, yeah, a nightmare. Leave me alone YouTube.
Right, but if you're not paying for YouTube, you can't listen to anything in the background.
I'm going to guess that becomes free next year, background listening, if I had to guess, because of the interesting move we're seeing towards audio, an explosion in audio, only stuff. So if you don't have a podcast, I recommend at least experimenting with it. If you have a blog, just read your blog, not just, but read your blog posts and put them out there. And if you have YouTube videos, and they're not overly like “click this”, right?
If they're not like step-by-step tutorial screencasts, release the audio in podcast form. And that's a way to repurpose your content and at least experiment with it. I think that's going to be really important for a lot of people in 2022.
Yeah brilliant, fantastic. Unbelievable words of wisdom, Joe. Just before we go air for those who are listening and you want to find out more about you and find you in general and potentially, you know, get in touch and use your wonderful services, how can they contact you? Where can they find you?
Assuming that this is not coming out today as we record this, I will set up a page called casabona.org/chirp where you will be able to find more about me. You'll be able to book a free half-hour consult as opposed to the normal 15 minute consult like a podcast consult. And there'll be a discount for my creator crew membership there for listeners of the show.
Unbelievable. We'll share that link around as well. So that's fantastic. Listen, Joe, absolute pleasure to talk to someone, especially another esteemed podcast host, or an esteemed podcast host - I’m not esteemed yet! But it was a great conversation, and it was a pleasure. So thank you so much.
Thanks so much for having me. This was great.
Loved that chat. Loved that chat a lot. Very cool to hear a positive story about money and relationships that I believe is a first for the show. Joe hears about a friend of a friend and offers to contribute towards her children’s Christmas presents so that they can all have an easier time over the holidays. What a great story to hear before the holidays, and before Christmas as well. And to know that money can improve people's relationships and create a lot of love as well.
Also wishing Joe the best in this quest to pay his Dad back for his initial loan when he reaches his first million. Everyone will be a winner that day.
Very interesting as well to hear him talk about how he’s streamlined his workflows, and you know, the way he mentioned “time is not a premium” anymore. And living my 31st year, as I record this, I couldn’t help but be a bit smacked in the face by that one. It's interesting to think about when you’re younger, you had so much time on your hands, you can take as much time as you need and now there aren't enough hours in the day.
Joe gave some pearls of wisdom about mentors as well. No doubt he’s put in his 10,000 hours at this stage. And he mentioned in the interview, we’re going to put a landing page below in the Youtube description where Joe has kindly offered our listeners some special offers if you would like to use his services. He’s offering a free podcast consultation valued at $250 as well as 25% off to join his content crew! Check out the link everyone. If you’re just listening, go to the Pigeon YouTube page and check out the episode. Link will be in the description. You’ve heard him talk here, it’s clear it's a valuable investment of your time to get involved.
Well, that brings an exciting 2021 to a close here on The Chirp. It’s been real, it’s been great. Thank you all so much for your support, listening in, and watching, you know there’s been over the last 7 episodes. We’ll be back on the 3rd of January with another story. Everyone will probably be back at work at that stage and dreading those January blues, and maybe January blues is an Irish thing, I don't know, maybe that’s just an Irish thing...
I hope you all have a wonderful holiday and enjoy the rest of 2021 and we will see you all next year! Bye, everyone.