Today Chris and I released the 500th episode of ShopTalk. That translates to 10 years of weekly episodes (taking off holiday breaks and that one time one of us had a kid). That’s a lot of showing up and doing the work. And when I say weekly, boy howdy, I mean weekly. Peeling back the curtain a bit, I think the most Chris and I have ever been ahead is two episodes. Every week at 11:00 AM Texas time Chris and I hop on a call, sometimes with some guests, sometimes without.
It’s interesting to have a first-hand chronicle to our industry’s ebbs and flows. When we started ShopTalk “front-end developer” wasn’t even a job title, WordPress was super cool, React didn’t exist, and people were starting to dip their toes into Sass. I switched operating systems and switched back. We delved into a handful of series that capture snapshots of the industry which I find offer up a neat vantage point of “what’s happening now” from tons of different voices. I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to gain perspectives outside my own.
I’m lucky enough to have worked on some cool projects (I once made the Microsoft.com homepage in my spare bedroom), but ShopTalk stands out as a distinct career highlight due to its consistency over time. On a hard drive somewhere I have a graveyard of abandoned side projects, apps, podcasts, and games… yet ShopTalk still stands. We log in every week and do it. Hopefully, getting a smidge better every time. Not all projects need to go 10+ years — and that’s something I still need to learn, it’s okay for them to go away, they can and should change — but it’s rewarding when you’re still having fun doing the thing you started doing so long ago. Fine wine, yadda yadda.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned about podcasting over the last 10 years: it’s all about consistency and quality. Releasing on a consistent day/week/etc (whatever that is for your show) and making sure the show you send to people’s earbuds and cars is a good quality audio file; that means good mic, good edit, decent music and audio cues.
For your podcast or (in more contemporary parlance) your livestream focus on finding one easy thing that can boost your quality. I’m a firm believer in the 80:20 rule, there’s often a trick you can do that makes your thing 80% better with 20% of the effort. Often that’s a microphone or learning proper mic technique. Figure it out for your situation, it’s worth it.
The other thing Chris and I talk about often is that whenever we’ve needed to make a decision we’ve always sided on making our lives easier and we have no regrets. This allows us to continue to enjoy the podcasting with less stress. For example, I use a USB mic with no audio interface, because easier. We don’t do high concept shows that often, because easier. We don’t typically have more than two guests, because easier. We pay an audio editor, because easier. “Easier” has been a good compass for us.
It’s tough to predict the future of ShopTalk, but it’s more of the same I think. We flamed out a bit on getting guests lined up during the pandemic but I think there’s energy to get back on track. We’ve invested in our “studio” a bit and are using Riverside.fm to make having guests and capturing quality audio even easier.
The biggest change going forward is that we’ve branched out into video over on the CSS-Tricks YouTube channel. Be sure to smash that like button and subscribe. We’ve made ~24 episodes since September which isn’t too shabby for a buncha dads.
The final thing is the ShopTalk D-D-D-Discord. We’ve pivoted a smidge from being a broadcast-only podcast to being more of an active community. Lots of friendly folks in there now and because it’s a global chatroom so there’s messages and activity happening from when I wake up to when I go to bed. That’s exciting. There’s a lot more we could be doing (weekly hangouts or whatever) and hope to explore that more going forward.
Thanks to all the people we’ve brought on board to help with the show. First was Aaron Dowd editing, then Chris Enns took over at the audio editor helm, the folks at BuySellAds helping sell ads, Tina Pham at Pham Transcription Services, Miranda Mulligan for helping us with the books, Chris Taylor for the theme songs, the D-D-D-Discord for inspiration, WordPress devs and plugin authors who have helped work on the site, and countless guests who have let us pick their brains over the years. Thanks to everyone who has helped out.
Thank you, dear listener, for downloading ShopTalk in your podcatcher of choice. It means a lot to me that you’d take the time to listen, even once. Thank you. Shopomaniacs 4 lyfe.
And finally, thanks to Chris Coyier, my partner in podcast crimes. It’s been a blast.
“Just. Build. Websites.”