I was inspired some time ago by Peter Rukavina to keep a running log of the sort of things I am working on, or interested in during a particular month. A public pronouncement of sorts, in an effort for accountability. Unfortunately, I haven’t really been paying attention to it since last March and haven’t changed the updated date since July of 2019 (I just updated it now).
But much has happened since then, and since I shared a short progress report on our Instagram, which by the very nature of Instagram must be entirely positive, I thought I might give a slightly longer update here, and include some of our challenges.
🎧 In the past year I have almost completely pivoted to audio. I still do the occasional product consulting, and I try to approach all the work I do with the same approach I advise to others, but my hands on design and design research skills have been set aside. I’m not sure what the future will hold for me if our venture isn’t able to produce revenue but it’s often great fun.
🧑🏾🤝🧑🏻 Our company is now called Minzoo Studio Ltd, and I hold no title, other than what is required on the legal document. I cringe when introduced as CEO or some other nonsense.
🎙️ We currently have 4 podcasts with others under development. Of these 4, Sleep Tight Stories has proven to be the most successful, at least in terms of listener growth. Sleep Tight Relax passed the 1,000,000 download mark a few months ago, and Sleep Tight Science finished its’ 1st 10 episode season. We soft launched Sleep Tight Premium in the past month as a paid product.
💯 Sleep Tight Stories is currently ranked in the 0.5% of all podcasts according to Listen Notes and is consistently ranked highly in kids & family and stories for kids. Unlike most podcasts we share our data on our website.
💯 Our growth this year has been phenomenal, thanks in no small part to The Startup Zone. Sleep Tight Stories continues to grow and now has over 530,000 downloads per month and close to 4,000,000 downloads this past year alone.
💯 Audience measurement and its’ meaning continues to be a bit of a mystery. And downloads ≠ money.
💯 Numbers make for a great talking point, but don’t really expose the true value that this project brings to us and hopefully our listeners. Creating a product that resonates with children and has a positive effect on their lives brings us great joy.
📚 We continue to feature local independent authors on Sleep Tight Stories as much as we can. Authors generally are enthusiastic, but publishers, especially local ones, are less so.
🗞️ At the behest of an advisor, we created a press release, which resulted in a bit of local coverage.
🐝 At one point we (the 2 of us) were producing 6 episodes per week. It was 7 days a week, with our heads in front of Logic Pro amongst other tools. We’ve now managed to make the workload a little more manageable so that we can focus on creating more products for children.
🎨 Content creation as a business, despite the stories of successful YouTubers and Instagram influencers, is not a path to riches, and yet all my life I have found myself drawn to this type of work.
💸 Our original plan to be advertising free wasn’t sustainable as we had little time left to develop other products that people might pay for. It’s proven to be difficult to get people to pay for what was always free in the past but Patreon, private feeds and ad revenue is growing, albeit too slowly.
📚 Our first attempt at being a sponsor of the Island Literary Awards fizzled – this the idea of a generous Island teacher who offered to donate the prize money. For some reason since I have arrived on PEI every attempt to either volunteer or donate my expertise, or in this case our platform, has failed. For now we will focus our attention off-Island, but may revisit helping the local community in some small way once I understand what I have been doing wrong.
💸 Startup Zone has been the only source of government assistance we have received. We are an outlier in this regard, so it seems, as I don’t know any company in the StartUp Zone who isn’t actively pursuing money from the government. Some get government money to hire someone to help them get more government money. Without outside financing we rely upon our own sweat equity which slows growth but I think creates a more sustainable enterprise over the long term.
💰 We find living and working on PEI expensive, so if we grow, and we are able to freely travel again, we might start looking to work and hire from elsewhere. I miss traveling immensely.
🦹♂️ The hardest decision which is always waiting in the shadows is deciding whether or not to stop. The fact that we have worked so long on this project shows how lucky and how financially disciplined we are. It helps when you are bootstrapping to be cheap. There are many measurements of success, and I feel great about what we have accomplished to date, but playing the starving creative was never a role I ever was fully committed to – otherwise I would still be working in music today.