It’s hard to believe it’s been 12 months of newsletters and podcasting, yet here we are! Thank you all so much for coming along for the ride so far, the growth has been far larger than I would have ever hoped for and all of your support has been incredible. Your support has helped me achieve the goal of putting out material every two to three weeks.
When I started last November, my pie-in-the-sky goal was one subscriber a day and we have blown past that. We just cracked the 600-subscriber mark! A huge part of the subscription surge came when Substack featured the newsletter as part of their ”On Substack”, which was cool to be a part of. Substack recommendations also brought in a lot of subscriptions, which is when other writers on Substack recommend the newsletter. Huge thank you to Cole Noble, Sarah Lavendar Smith, Ron White, and James Maynard for currently recommending the newsletter, and anyone else who has at various times over the past year. Various other places that subscribers have come from include Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook (other people’s accounts, the newsletter does not have FB). Twitter proved to be very fruitful when I sent direct messages asking followers if they subscribed and provided a link if they didn’t already. This is something I do now every couple of weeks, but I didn’t do it for the first several months, so it led to a huge surge of subscribers. LinkedIn and Reddit have provided some clicks (a whole bunch from Reddit), but no subscriptions.
Being featured on Substack also gave the podcast a big boost to download numbers. The boost in downloads after being featured was small in the beginning but snowballed after 2 episodes. Since being featured the downloads on each episode have tallied up faster for the most part. Substack shows that 28 episodes were published over the past 12 months. Two of those were trailers and two of those were descriptions of what the show is all about (one for Ultrapostie and one for Community Trail Running). These episodes have been collectively downloaded nearly 4700 times.
One of the first episodes that received a lot of traction from Reddit was Episode 12 with Scott Snell:
Scott is a super humble guy and one hell of a runner, and his story seemed to resonate with Reddit folks as it was downloaded over 150 times in the first 24 hours. Reddit can be a bit hit-and-miss for posts (I’m learning which posts do better than others on the platform), but the American trail runner was definitely a hit over there, as were the most two recent episodes, that featured Search and Rescue information.
Americans are downloading the podcast more than anyone else. 48% of listeners call the USA home and 30% of listeners are fellow Canucks. Our friends in the UK account for a nickel’s worth of that percentage pie and finally, Germany and France are worth 2% and 1% respectively. All of you are downloading episodes about 90 times in the first 7 days. Episodes have been allegedly downloaded in 49 other countries. That’s pretty cool!
Having downloads come from so many different countries is fun to see and the way people have been listening is interesting to delve into as well. I was surprised by how few people listen to podcasts on Spotify (2%), and how many listen in the browser (59%). Apple podcasts had a smaller share than I expected (20%) and Overcast (3%) actually beat out Spotify. Don’t forget to rate and subscribe to the podcast on your preferred listening app, it really helps!
The fact that you are all listening and supporting from all over the world means a lot. It’s very fun to be a part of this community and find ways to bring value and increase our love of the sport. The love for this sport, and the passion to share knowledge that all of the guests brought this year can’t go understated. The reason the show gets downloaded is because of these awesome people and I will forever be grateful!
Anatomy of a podcast
Before the show ever gets downloaded, there is a whole lot of production that goes on. Each 15-minute episode is the culmination of hours of work.
Preproduction involves reaching out to potential guests and finding a match. Sometimes it can come together really fast and others it takes a little longer. Once a guest is solidified, the focus turns to research on the person and the subject. Most of the questions and the introduction are sent to the guest the day before the recording. This helps ensure our 15 minutes of interviewing is as informative as it can be and it helps me ensure all the research was correct before recording.
The recording is definitely the most fun and shortest part of the process. I use zoom for ease of use. Generally, we chat a bit before recording to go over anything that needs addressing (I don’t think a single guest has changed anything to this point), and then I start my timer and the recording. I try and start wrapping up sometime after the 10-12 minute mark to make sure we are wrapped with plenty of time. This is an area that I always need to focus on to ensure we stay 15 minutes or less. I remind the guests once we are done recording when it will be posted and that takes care of recording day.
Post Production has a few steps which start with editing. Editing can be pretty simple (removing some umms and ahhs) but it gets more complicated if I was bad with my timing. I look to edit out repeat information and that sort of thing. The goal with editing is to go unnoticed (like a good umpire!) and I really try to keep it to a minimum.
After editing I write the newsletter post that will be used as the “podcast notes”. This includes making sure everything is linked properly. I’ll create graphics from photos that guests have provided and use that in the post as well. That graphic can be used in various formats for social media and for the Youtube version of the podcast. I set the release time for Monday at 3 am (Pacific) and start promoting! Promoting is done over all the social media accounts mentioned above and most of the time the guest will share on their feeds as well.
The podcast has been a ton of fun and something I’ve really enjoyed doing. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and I still am figuring it out as we go, but it seems to be finding its feet, and that’s quite exciting.
I’ve turned on the option to pay after careful consideration. If you contribute to the newsletter you will help the growth and evolution of the community. Nothing is going paywalled, as that’s not the point, but for those who want to contribute, the option is there and income would allow the show to grow and get better on the technical side as well. I’ll make sure to send you a thank you note in the post to wherever you call home (I can also mail you a potato if you’d prefer, and we can test that theory).
Paid membership or not, the plans for year two are simple, to continue creating content and adding value to one of our favourite things, the trail running community. The goal, in the beginning, was every two weeks and that still feels like a good pace. I might go heavier on podcasts as opposed to written pieces, as I’ve really enjoyed them. The written pieces have been fun too, but I need to ensure I’m writing something interesting and not just publishing for the sake of it. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve written so far and I will not force it. One of my favourite written pieces was the two-parter about why you all love to trail run:
We’ve headed up another climb before we know it and Mandy mentions how much she loved the discomfort of running at altitude in Pattee Canyon in Missoula and Jeff shares a story about running the JFK 50 miler and letting runners pass so he could enjoy the ridgeline views of the Appalachian Trail. We continue over the technical terrain and Jeff speaks again.
“For me, trail running is all about being disconnected and unplugged from the artificial digital world that we are pulled into through most of our day. Being on the trail allows you to disconnect from all of that by simply allowing you to connect to the natural world around you. You are able to connect to who you are, how you were created to be, to live, to breathe and to exist. It isn't an escape, so much as it provides freedom to be.”
We’re making our way over technical singletrack with rocks, roots, and bridges. This has a distinct Pacific North-West vibe all of a sudden. I introduce myself to the newest runner I’ve come across, Sandra Louie (Burnaby, BC). She must have overheard the conversation or just knew exactly what to talk about.
“On the trails, you aren't so concerned with pace and time but more on your effort. I take in the beauty around me and appreciate the vistas. It's really a great feeling being in the woods and running mountains. The terrain can be quite different in the summer vs winter and even spring and fall so you can run the same trail but it will be different!”
These pieces were so much fun because I got to read what trail running means to so many of you, and then had the privilege of weaving them together in some kind of coherent manner. This community is so passionate about the outdoors that it constantly encourages me to be better. Thank you all for making Community Trail Running part of your running life.
Highlights from the year
I wanted to highlight a few pieces as part of the year in review that I really enjoyed, and I’ve linked a few above already, so here are a few more:
This was another crowd-sourced piece that I thoroughly loved putting together. 31 trail runners from 7 different countries gave their best tips for trail runners and I organized the list into 4 groups (Rookies, Sophomores, Regulars, and Veterans). Once again it was a blast to see what you all had to say and then find a way to make it all make sense for the readers. This piece certainly took time to put together, nearly 40 hours, but it was worth it. All of your tips were great and I think the piece made a lot of sense in the way it was put together. The feedback for this one was awesome!
This podcast featured Katie Mills, Hilary Spires, and Tara Holland after they finished 1,2,3 at Whistler Alpine Meadows 100km race. It was a super fun challenge for me to host a podcast with three guests at once, and the women were fantastic in sharing their stories of race day. I actually felt like I was part of their group on the course at points during this interview. It’s not easy to interview multiple subjects and I certainly gained a huge amount of respect for those who do it on the regular. Having said that, I’m looking forward to more opportunities of interviewing multiple subjects!
I could put a link to pretty much every piece here as I really did enjoy this whole year, but that’s not the point :-) You have all been so incredible with your support, it’s easy to want to put out more material. This has been a fun journey and I’m stoked to keep on keepin’ on with you all. Onwards and upwards into year 2!
Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your support.
You. Are. The. Best.
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If you enjoy this podcast, I would really appreciate it if you could like, share, subscribe, or comment! I’m trying to make this the best trail running podcast it can be and I certainly appreciate your time. Thank you all and happy trails :)