Ep.17 – Podcasts, Side Hustles, and 0 to 42K Views in 10 weeks with Mubs Iqbal

How can people find new podcasts? What’s the “secret” to building traction? Is it harder to go from 0 to 100, or 1 million to 1 billion users? I chatted to Pod Hunt creator Mubashar Iqbal about his serial side projects, business today vs 10-20 years ago, and what it’s like to do work you truly love. 

Based in New York, Mubs works full-time for an agency and loves his job. And yet, he has built several dozen side projects and continues to do so. For the love of the work itself. We spoke about podcasting, how the marketing and content landscape has changed, why social media saves businesses literally THOUSANDS in market research and months of wasted time, and more.

Have a listen to discover the difference between outward success, and internal success. Not every business has to be (or wants to be) at FANG level. [Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, or Google]

If you enjoy the episode, please rate, review and share with a friend who could enjoy this “chapter” of the All About Digital Marketing podcast.

Show Notes

  • The difference between Pod Hunt and Reddit in terms of approach [03:47]
  • Why Mubs is a serial side-hustler [12:45]
  • Stats behind Pod Hunt just 10 weeks after going live [19:11]
  • How to find podcasts that aren’t just the same 100 celebrities you see on every list [23:25]
  • Why social media can save a business $50,000 compared to 10-20 years ago [29:30]
  • Outward success doesn’t = happiness, whether in personal life or in business [37:01]

Stuff We Mentioned

Transcript

Introduction [00:00:02] Welcome to the All About Digital Marketing podcast. The show all about digital marketing brought to you by Social INK, the digital marketing agency specialising in social media and content marketing for brave brands and forward-thinking SMEs. I’m your host, Chris Bruno, and as always, we’re here to bring you the most actionable tips, tricks, tools and insights to help you achieve more when it comes to your digital marketing. Subscribe to the show and be sure to share with a friend if you found something useful or interesting. You can find all the show notes and more information on www.AllAboutDigitalMarketing.co.uk.

Chris Bruno [00:00:54] Hi Mubs, thank you very much for joining us.

Mubashar Iqbal [00:00:57] Hey Chris! Thanks for having me on.

Chris Bruno [00:00:58] It’s my pleasure. And I’m really looking forward to finding out a little bit more about you and your history. We’ve had a very quick chat before starting recording. But let’s talk a little bit about who you are, what you’re currently doing, and then maybe you can give everyone a little insight into how much you’ve done and how much you’ve done over these last few years.

Mubashar Iqbal [00:01:15] So, yes. So right now, I said, you know, so we have – every once in a while you change your title, wherever you are in the world and online and LinkedIn and all those other places. But right now, I would say I’m the founder of Pod Hunt, but Pod Hunt is a side project of mine. And so I currently work at an agency which has offices in New York City and in Paris. So I’m an engineering director there. So that’s kind of my background in terms of my expertise and stuff. But being a side project fanatic, you kind of get your hands in on everything. So I end up doing design and marketing and all that other kind of stuff as well. But yeah. So, yes, really like I said, my main thing is I’d like to do side projects over the years. I think over the last 18 or so years that I’ve been doing side projects, I’ve done 80 plus of those and not all of them are on my own. You know, just purely on me. But I’ve worked with like probably 10 or 20 people as well, helping them start off their side hustle there. They’re kind of interesting as well. So yeah, that’s kind of a little bit of a blurb about me, I guess.

Chris Bruno [00:02:21] That’s awesome. Okay. So for anybody who doesn’t know Pod Hunt yet, tell them a little bit. Or give them the elevator pitch.

Mubashar Iqbal [00:02:27] Yeah. Pod Hunt is… As I’m hoping that people who listen to this are fans of podcasting. But there’s just so many podcasts out there. There’s I think at last count there was somewhere between about 800,000 podcasts, about 450,000 active ones, where someone has put out a new episode in the last I think between 60 and 90 days, according to the report. So finding a good episode to listen to is getting harder just because there’s so much out there. So what Pod Hunt does is it gives people a way to submit an episode that they’ve heard recently into Pod Hunt and allows us to upvote the podcasts that they like. And so you can come to Pod Hunt every day and see a new list of podcast episodes that you might find interesting and hopefully you’ll find a new favourite as well.

Chris Bruno [00:03:19] So, I mean, we have actually used your service and we were quite chuffed to see as we put one of our episodes as well, a couple of people that upvoted it as well. And we were quite chuffed about that. The voting system for. For those who don’t understand it or don’t really understand what we’re trying to say. Would you define it a little bit, or I’d say it resembles the way Reddit works. For example, you know, people are putting stuff up. And as those things get more and more upvotes and obviously that shows that it’s more popular. So it’s therefore shown at the top of the list, for example.

Mubashar Iqbal [00:03:47] Yeah, that’s exactly it. Yeah. Reddit. Pod Hunt itself is modelled on Product Hunt. So which has the same kind of mechanism as well. What makes Pod Hunt and Product Hunt separate or stand out, I should say from Reddit is that we have a daily leaderboard. So. So the upvoting only – It counts forever. But in terms of what’s on the home page, we show you what’s been voted for that particular calendar day, which kind of makes it a really interesting way to kind of see some new content every day, because one of the things I found with things like Reddit is that you come and you don’t know like what’s new since I was here last.

Mubashar Iqbal [00:04:29] You see this long, endless stream of new things that people submitted and people are upvoting, which is, which can be a nice way of doing things. But for something that you want to listen to on a semi-regular basis, be it everyday, be it every week, having kind of that segmented list where you kind of see what was upvoted today, what was upvoted yesterday, just makes it easier to consume and to find something you might find interesting as well.

Chris Bruno [00:04:55] So I’d have to agree and I have to admit that with my hands up, I was late to the Reddit party and so I still have difficulties today. I’m trying to find stuff.

Chris Bruno [00:05:04] And you’ve got to kind of filter down between top, recent, new, popular right now, for God’s sake, show me what’s happened today or recently. And if you really must show me what’s really popular over time. But it can be a little bit more muddled up. And like you said, actually, especially for something like podcasts, which in my opinion and the more we talk to people, you know, it’s listened to when you’re commuting, it’s listened to when you’re travelling, it’s listened to when you’re working out maybe on the gym. And the thing is, what’s interesting about that is that you do need that inspiration and it needs to be fresh and simple. So I guess by you guys having that breakdown of the daily list, it means, one. Podcast creators and the people actually behind it are more engaged because they need to submit on a daily if they wanted to keep their product up there. But even more importantly for the user, it means that actually that list isn’t getting gamified too much because actually, you know, it’s. Today’s list. And tomorrow, it starts all over again. For us. For example, I think we’ve used it a couple of times now when we’ve got a new episode that’s just released. But, you know, we’re not reposting that same episode next week. We’re leaving it and saying, OK, well, we had our day. It’s good. It shows that there’s a bit of interest there in what we’re doing. And then actually, obviously, we’ll wait till the next episode comes out.

Mubashar Iqbal [00:06:13] Yeah, absolutely, and you know, when one of the things we found is that it does really encourage people to come back on a more regular cycle too. One of our problems with things like Reddit is that you come in, you’re kind of overwhelmed and you kind of just kind of leave.

Mubashar Iqbal [00:06:27] You may never come back.

Mubashar Iqbal [00:06:29] But you know, seeing 10 or 20 episodes that was submitted, that particular day makes it easy to consume. We also have like a weekly newsletter as well. So if you’d just like to listen to kind of stuff on the weekend or something like that, we do have a weekly newsletter that will send you the top 10 podcasts that was submitted in the last week as well.

Mubashar Iqbal [00:06:48] So just really, if you want like the top of the, top of the pile essentially, for the entire week. You know, you kind of have that option as well. I think, you know, finding the sort of good things to listen to because of the sheer number of things out there is becoming harder. And having a cross between, you know, manual curation, which is the people submitting stuff, and then the crowd kind of telling you what’s good and what’s not. It’s kind of a good little hybrid mix of. Yeah, cause I think you still need the curation because having that human involved I think is still really important. But then also knowing what everybody thinks kind of as an audience I think is not just being tied to what one person thinks. I think it’s kind of important as well.

Chris Bruno [00:07:32] Yeah, I think I mean, it’s worked for everybody else. So whether it’s been, for example, like on Apple or whatever else, you know, the curated content that comes together to showcase the top app of the day or the app of the week or whatever it might be. But invariably, once you’re in that, you go, well, give me a second, let me check the reviews. What do people actually think? Apple might be telling me? This is the best thing since sliced bread, but if no one’s ever given it a five style review, do I really want to start downloading this. So I can completely understand that.

Mubashar Iqbal [00:07:59] Yeah I was going to say, one other thing, though. One of the major reasons for starting Pod Hunt was if you look at what the sort of, you know, the sort of top podcasts are that you find. You know, sites that have these weekly lists or even annual lists or whatever. And we found that it was the same podcasts, every list that you looked at where, you know, maybe number two was number three and number three was number one or something like that. But if you looked at the top 100, they were almost exactly the same. And so one of the reasons that we like the sort of uploading every day is that, you know, not everybody is putting out an episode every day. So you so see, you’re not going to have the same people submitting stuff every day. So every time you come, you kind of get this random assortment of things that maybe even, you know, maybe you’re going to find one episode that you think is interesting or appealing, but even find that one episode that day, I think is more valuable than coming back to a list and seeing the same 100 things every time. You kind of hit it as well.

Chris Bruno [00:08:52] But I think it’s it’s kind of an interesting concept as well, because the chances are we’ve all read a few books that we were told, you know, you should definitely read this and you kind of come away from it thinking, wow, that was a massive waste of six hours of my time. Or, you know, you read half of it and then you bin it and you go, right I’m out, this is to woo woo for me or it’s a little bit too technical for me, whatever it might be. But I think what’s lovely about podcasts is, again, the amounts of effort required to listen to an episode or even half an episode, you know, with average podcasting lasting between 20 to 30 minutes because you’ve got so many short, so many super long. I think it’s really a nice way of kind of consuming content that you probably wouldn’t have consumed otherwise. You never would have found that otherwise.

Mubashar Iqbal [00:09:32] Yeah. And it’s interesting because, you know, effectively each podcast ends up being… Each episode ends up being like a chapter in a real long book.

Mubashar Iqbal [00:09:42] And so somebody pointing you to like, this is a really interesting chapter in this book. You might like the rest of it, too. But even if you don’t. Even if you read or listen to the rest of it, just listen to this one episode and that’s the one that you’ll get the most kind of most value out of, I think is a really interesting approach as well. Because, yeah, chances are that, you know, with some podcasts now have been around for like 10 years and publishing every week, you’ve got hundreds and hundreds of episodes. So which ones are you going to find interesting as well? So, yes, I’ll focus on the individual episode, too, makes it a lot easier to find the sort of that “one chapter” or what about that “one interview” that I think is going to be really appealing and really interesting as well.

Chris Bruno [00:10:20] So it’s interesting because you’re a level above this, but I remember talking to Matt Johnson on this podcast and Matt Johnson helps businesses and individuals basically to really kind of build up their own network through podcasting. So it was interesting when we ended up having this chat and then basically I asked him to review how I was and he said I didn’t do too bad. So I was happy about that. But when we were talking about it, we were saying, you know, an episode of a podcast is a commitment. If you send somebody, you know, here’s 45 minutes of the podcast crack on, you know, something’s going oh, for God’s sake. So you have to really have a good relationship and that kind of recommendation friend, as it were. So I’ve got a really good friend of mine. He’s fantastic when he tells me to look at something to do with tech. I look at it straight away. And vice versa when he’s thinking about something for his car. He basically pings me and ask me questions. So it’s an interesting kind of dynamic. But what he was talking to me about was, I think it was on Tim Ferriss’ blog years ago for his podcast. of And he’d asked his audience, what’s the one thing I could do that you really want me to do? I mean, he was actually saying is that the majority the comments came down, too. We want a small section of the podcast so that I can send that valuable little clip which will get that person enticed to then be able to listen. And I think you’ve now created the level above that, which is this is a cool episode and that can potentially lead someone onto going. I enjoyed that. I’ll subscribe. And now I’m following the channels. Now I’m in it for all of the episodes.

Mubashar Iqbal [00:11:43] Yeah. And if is funny. It’s funny that you mention that because one of the most requested features after I launched was people wanted the ability like, oh could we see like of that 45 minute episode. What’s the 30 seconds, what’s the 60 seconds? What’s the 90 seconds that if, if somebody hears this, they’re going to want to hear the sort of rest of that episode as well. So one of the first features I did after I launch was the ability for when somebody submits an episode to add a 30, 60, 90 second little snippet of that episode onto Pod Hunt so that when somebody sees the list, they can click play next to that thing and just hear that little snippet. And then, you know, hopefully at that point they get kind of hooked and then they listen to the episode and hopefully they’ll listen to the actual show as well.

Chris Bruno [00:12:28] Mubs you’re going to end up creating monsters. What we’re gonna do now is at the end of this podcast, I’m gonna record 60 seconds, which is super exciting, it’s about everything. And Mubs reveals all his secrets. And then people are going to listen to that clip. And go oh I got to listen to this. This is gonna be awesome. Straight up there on the rankings.

Chris Bruno [00:12:45] I think it’s fantastic. And again, so you’re doing this as a side hustle. And this is something, again, that I talk to a lot of people about, people that are thinking of leaving their job to go and create something. Or to try and go freelance. So, you know, they’ve got this idea that they want to just do it. They don’t want a boss anymore. One thing or another. But you’ve done all these projects is as a sort of side hustle. So I’m gonna ask you, and be as honest as you can. Why have you always ended up staying on the idea of having these sort of side hustles and keeping your job as as part of that?

Mubashar Iqbal [00:13:15] Yeah. So, I mean, it came down. For me. It came down to I like my job, first and foremost. So I was like, yeah, I get to work with some really big awesome companies from all over the world. We’ve recently done some projects for The New York Times, we’ve done some projects for the Simons Foundation. I’ve done projects in the past for AMC TV over here in sort of in the US. So we have some really awesome customers. We do some really awesome work. I love the people that I work with. They’re really smart and we make some really amazing applications as well. So that’s the first thing. Like, I’m not. Like I mean, I’ve talked to a bunch of people that are like, “I hate my job. I never want to, I never want to be in the office ever again. I hate the people I work with.” You know, I’m like, well, that sucks you should find a new job out there. But, you know, I mean, like I said, it’s like. But. Yeah. But at the end, I like to make stuff. Right. And when I was at a previous agency, again, I liked the work. I liked the people I work with. But we couldn’t talk about what we were actually working on. We we’d signed a bunch of NDAs and things like that. And, you know, we were we were kind of brought on that kind of star stuff, augmentation kind of thing. So the clients didn’t really want us to kind of talk about what we were doing because it was all meant to be handled internally. Right. You know, that kind of fun stuff. So I started doing these kind of side hustle things as a way to be able to talk about some of the things I like to do. And somethings that, you know, kind of how I like to work and things like that. So it kind of started off like that. It was like, well, you know, I can’t talk about what I’m doing, but I like what I’m doing and I’d like to talk about what I’m doing. So let’s do this side hustle and then I can just spend all my time talking about that stuff instead.

Chris Bruno [00:15:03] Yeah that’s awesome. It’s a really tough one, actually. Gary Vee, who polarizes pretty much social media 50/50. But obviously he talks about it so much in terms of, you know, if you’re not happy or you want more cash or you want to do something like, you know, just start doing something on the side. And invariably people will be like. I don’t want to. I finished my 40 hour a week job and I hate it. And it’s horrible. And, you know, I need time to unwind and I need time to relax.

[00:15:28] And I think the core that keep it that comes all the way back, like you said. So I’ve been doing this now, not the podcast, but doing, running an agency since 2008. I absolutely love what I do. Even on the bad days when clients are shouting cause, you know, they want something delivered two days ago and you think they’re thinking, well, you know, you only told me about it this morning, but okay, I’ll take the bollocking that comes with it. And I love what I do. I genuinely enjoy. I work with a really awesome team. We’re all remotely, remotely based. So, you know, we get to meet up. We get to catch up when we can. If not, we’re all online and we’re all doing things. But literally, I like what I do. I mean, I get to sit here this afternoon. Having a chat with you like this is awesome.

Chris Bruno [00:16:03] Again, I’ve kind of ended up being lucky in the sense that all of these things have come because I’ve made them kind of happen. But I think there’s so many people out there that, one, hate the day to day. And my first piece of advice is run a mile, lose 10 grand a year on your basic salary and go find something that you absolutely wake up in the morning thinking this is going to be wicked. I get to go do X, Y and Z, whatever that might be. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks or if you can’t afford a new BMW next year. That’s not important. But having that wake up in the morning and I think that the biggest thing, I’d probably ask what your opinion is of this. But I think your energy and your levels to want to do other things are also fuelled by the fact that you do actually love what you do because you know, you’re not finishing your day exhausted, depressed. And wanting to go home and curl up into a ball and cry, eating soggy ice cream or anything. You’re finishing your day. And you’re like, “That was awesome. I’ll see you guys tomorrow. Yeah, we go.”

Mubashar Iqbal [00:17:00] Yeah. I absolutely agree. I mean, I’ve done. I’ll say, you know, right now I’ve been in the industry for a really long time. I graduated university in 1996 and I’ve been in the software space ever since. Much earlier my career, I was working more in the kind of startup space, where I working with venture-funded firms and all that kind stuff. And I tell people, you know, people who people ask me, I don’t talk anymore because it was such a long time ago. But I left plenty of these really high-velocity start-ups, you know. Not FANG [Facebook, Alphabet, Netflix, and Google]  level, but, you know, people who did the venture, the IPO and all that kinda stuff that… I left them because, you know, after I’d been there for 18 months, or eight months. So somewhere between a year and 18 months. Normally I started really early with those. Like I was employee number three at one, number six at another one. Things like that. But after a while, just because of the way that they kept growing and the way that, you know, you kind of hire more people, the culture of what you do becomes anew. Because you’re now in a different place. And so after a year or so, I was always like, this is not the right fit for me anymore. And, you know, I’m not feeling that same way where I want to, you know, I want to stay til 8:00 o’clock tonight working on stuff and be back at 8:00 in the morning working on stuff. And, you know, obviously depends where you are in your life. If you have a family and kids and all that kind of fun stuff as well. But for me right now, you know, I start my day and at the end of the day, I’m still excited about what I’m working on. And I still want to do more. I do. I do have a family now. So I do cut off and say, okay, now it’s time to go spend time with the family. But then, you know, my family likes, like to sleep I’d say that I’m kind of a strange beast where I if I get between four and five hours sleep a night, I’m quite happy. And so I get like three or four extra hours in the day, I think.

Chris Bruno [00:18:59]  That’s pretty cool. So the idea of Pod Hunt, you’ve now got this, you’re up and running. How are things going and where do you see it going? How do you see this kind of evolving?

Mubashar Iqbal [00:19:11] Yeah. Things are going really well. I mean, it’s still really, really early. Like, I started working on what’s live now on July the 25th. So it’s you know, it’s less than 10 weeks old now, I think. But we kind of had a soft launch two weeks after I started working on it. And we’ve kind of done kind of kind of holding trading launches after that as well. I think – I like to just pull out live stats about it as it’s happening, because then I can give you kind of accurate stuff. But yeah. So we’ve done – Yeah. I mean and you know, I share a lot of these stats, you know, just in on my Twitter feed and stuff like that all the time. So I’m quite open about all of this stuff, but I’m going to try and get you some live numbers. But yeah. So I think we’ve had something like 10,000 people come to the website since we’ve launched. I think we’ve done something like 42,000 page views. And I checked this morning, I think we had about 600 users had created an account on the website. So, you know, people who want to upvote stuff and things like that. And so, yes, I mean, I think right now we’re doing somewhere between 100 and 200 people come to the website every day still. And hopefully, they’re finding some awesome stuff to listen to as well.

Chris Bruno [00:20:45] Hopefully we’ll get to number one with this episode on Pod Hunt as well. If not, then we know it’s definitely not gamed and it’s a completely honest service.

Mubashar Iqbal [00:20:55] I do try and be completely open with that. So you can see what people have upvoted and all that that kinda stuff. So it’s there’s no magic in the background moving stuff up to the top automatically or anything like that.

Chris Bruno [00:21:07] Mubs too nice to say this. I won’t be. Please take this episode. Drop it into Pod Hunt. You can sign up there quickly, very easy and then get your friends to upvote this episode please. Show, show Mubs the support and obviously myself, but show us the support that we really want.

[00:21:23] Yeah, I mean I. Yeah, it’s funny because people reach out to me like, is it okay to ask people to upvote it. Yeah. And my basic answer is like, if they like the episode. Yes. They should upvote it. I mean that’s what it comes down to at the end of the day. And if you have to ask them to do that, that’s okay. As long as you’re not like holding a gun to their head or something at the time. I think it’s okay to ask.

Chris Bruno [00:21:46] I love it. That’s where it’s going to end up going now. It’s like that. If you don’t. I’ll be really upset with you. Okay. Right. But before we got into any kind of bribery or extortion, kinda ideas about how to get your podcast to work better. And just so that you can clear this up as well. Tell everyone there isn’t a gun to your head for this episode. You came on today of your own free will.

Mubashar Iqbal [00:22:06] We do have video right now, so.

Chris Bruno [00:22:15] So everyone this is the first time we are doing a video episode, but this happened all very much by accident very quickly. So let us know what you think about that. So from my side. Here’s the thing that I really want to talk about, because obviously our whole idea of this podcast was to try and help small to midsize businesses. And this is something that I really believe in because there’s a ton of podcasts out there that are talking to CEOs of multi-million, multi-billion pound companies. They’re talking to the guys that, you know, have had the exponential growth and became unicorns. And I think that’s fantastic. I think, though, that so many people out there that are struggling and they’re struggling with the first steps. They’re not struggling with how to get from 100,000 or a hundred million users to a billion users. They’re struggling sometimes to get the first thousand visitors or they’re starting to get the first 10000 visitors. So I wanted to ask from your side of things. What are the things that small business, or how you’ve used it in your own projects? Well, the sort of things that small businesses can do to try and build that kind of product. I mean, you’re talking about something that in 10 weeks, you know, you’re getting hundreds of people a day coming back to check the website. How do people get into that? How do people start to get that flow to work for them?

Mubashar Iqbal [00:23:25] Yeah. And I think that’s also one of the reasons I started Pod Hunt, too. Like I said in the past, when you’re looking at the Top 100 podcast, you’re seeing the that some TV stars and the sports athletes and things like that.

Mubashar Iqbal [00:23:37] People you see on the TV and kind of hear on the radio already. Versus, if you look at what’s on Pod Hunt right now, you’ll see, you know, there’s people who have maybe have 100 people listen to their episodes, even under that as well. So. So that is very important to me to be able to build a platform that was going to help people who were starting as well as people were established as well. So I think that’s kind of really important as well. I think the best thing that you can do, you know, whether you’re doing something on the side or whether you’re doing something full time is just to engage with your audience as early as you can. And when I say audience, it doesn’t have to be the standard. So it’s just potential people who might be interested in what you’re making or it kind of, you know, kind of anything like that. So, I mean, for me, I’ve spent a long time building up, you know, like people I interact with a lot on social media, on Twitter especially. It’s kind of where I like to hang out. And I share a lot of information. I share a lot of other things that I’m doing, a lot of things that I’m working on, what’s working, and what isn’t working as well. And people do seem to like that just to kind of see behind the scenes of how things are working as well. I think the more that you do that. Yes. I mean, look, I mean, it starts slowly for everybody. And at some point you kind of hit a tipping point. And I’m not saying that you have to get to hundreds of thousands of followers. Right. Because if you’ve got an active, engaged group of people, which is let’s say it’s 100 people. But if you’ve got 100 people who are really actively engaged talking to you every day. That are giving you feedback whenever you put out an article or kind of anything like that. That’s way more valuable than having a hundred thousand followers who aren’t actually going to like anything or respond or kind of anything like that. So you’re just building up that kind of core super fan audience, I think calls it the superfan. Yeah. And I think if you can find that little group of people that will kind of help you make those first steps. I think kinda as you said, it gets easier, not harder. Like people think it’s hard to go from the hundred thousand to a million and from a million to 10 million. It’s the other way round.

Mubashar Iqbal [00:25:55] It’s hard to get from zero to 100, 150, a thousand becomes easier and thousand to a million becomes even easier than that.

Chris Bruno [00:26:03] And like you said, it’s especially based on what you just mentioned there. So I think it’s from Seth Godin. It’s the minimum viable audience. So the idea of actually having a hundred or a thousand real fans, real people that buy into what you’re doing. Real people that would actually be interested in your product. That’s a game changer, you know, because everyone. Not everyone, that’s unfair. Too many people focus on the vanity metrics. How many likes did you get on your Instagram account? How many followers do you have? And people don’t realize that, you know, you could have 10000 followers. But yet, if I had a hundred that are really engaged, chances are I’m gonna do more and achieve more with that because they’re actually getting involved in what we do. And we often refer to this as well as saying to people, you know, as an agency Social INK is trying to put the social back into social media. Literally people have forgotten. I mean, it’s in the title the clue’s there, everyone should see it. And, you know, our agency, we called it Social INK with the same sort of principle of, social is the key component. And you talk to people, you say, well, you know, what have you done to engage? You’re saying that no one’s engaging with you. They go, well, “I don’t know. I shout out about we put an offer up.” Okay. Well, you know, let’s go back a couple of steps and maybe talk about the social element and see how we can actually make this about them rather than about you. And that’s something I think is really important. And I wanted to ask you as well, because you mentioned that you’re often posting stuff and you’re getting this kind of feedback from these people. And I think, well, the question was, is, are you building the product that you want or are you now in the process of taking on feedback to build a product that actually more people want other than just what you thought?

Mubashar Iqbal [00:27:35] Yeah, I think it depends on where you are. Like when I’m really you know, when I’m just at the ideas stage, at that point, I’m building what I want. Or, at least what I think people want, because I think it’s very hard to get good feedback at that idea stage. All the time and effort it takes to actually sit down with people and actually talk through what you want to build and what you think they want and then for them to understand that and to actually give toy the feedback on that. I think it’s a very hard thing to do. It’s much easier if you build something and then say, here, here’s what I think you want. And then it becomes much easier for them to act internally and say, well, that’s close, but I want this instead or I really like this feature, but we don’t like that feature. That becomes the feedback. So, so early on, I normally try and focus on things where I kind of understand what the use case is and what the market looks like. Because it’s just something – like with Pod Hunt. I’ve been a podcast listener for 10 years, so I kind of experience the pain that most podcast listeners are as well. So I kind of understand that as well. But now that it’s kind of out there and now that I know now that I built what I thought this solution to the pain that people experience is. Now, people are able to come back and say, look, I use the website. Absolutely. Here’s something that you should add, is a feature you should have immediately. And then you can. Obviously, you can’t just take one person’s word for it. If you get enough of the people coming to you and say, yes, you should build this, or even if it’s somebody who you respect, highly, who is saying you should build this one thing, then obviously you can kind of act on that as well. But yeah. So it is I think like you said, it depends on me where I am in the sort of cycle of starting and actually being out there as well.

Chris Bruno [00:29:30] It’s really interesting actually, because we speak to far too many small to mid-sized businesses that are scared of social because of that feedback loop. And I try and sit there and explain sometimes very painfully and not always successfully that this is the single biggest. I mean, it’s the single biggest tool right now that any entrepreneur or small business has ever had. Is to have a feedback loop that is this quick and that is this open. And whereby, you know, you don’t have to guess, you don’t have to pay anyone a million pounds to do market research and find that exact focus group. That’s going to tell you that actually if you did the button in blue, it was going to work better than red. You literally can deploy this stuff in 10 minutes and be like that. Boss, what do you guys think? And suddenly have 20 people that go, wow, it looks awful. It was so much better when it was blue. And literally from there you’ve got this feedback loop that starts straight away and that you can engage that conversation. You can take that conversation further and have, you know, an offline call or whatever it might be to get an understanding from them. But for me, this is an asset. This is literally like, you know, this is worth a £100,000 a year. Back in the day. My dad was in business many years ago, you know, for packaging and stuff like that. They used to put this stuff out to focus groups. They get back, like 500 page reports that you sort of flicked through and go. It makes no sense. This guy one guy said that the letter F was a little bit too floral, but it wasn’t designed sharply enough. And I don’t like superscript. I like it to be so. Oh, my good gosh. And literally so like I look at this. And I say to me, you can’t be afraid of getting negative feedback. And, you know, if you’re getting that much negative feedback, it’s not time to say that the audience are being a pain or that social media is awful. It’s time to look at what that audience is saying and say, right, what are we going to do internally to rectify this. So that people aren’t getting negative experience or friction points here or whatever it might be?

Mubashar Iqbal [00:31:25] Yeah. Absolutely, yeah. I’ve been in the industry for a long time. And I remember the sort of times when we used to spend six months making a website, making a piece of software. And then we would we’d get to the point where we’d finished it and then we’d be like. OK now we should probably get some users to kind of test it now. And so six months after we worked on it, we’d get, you know, 10 people in a room and they may not even be able to actually use the website. We would actually have somebody else kind of showing them the page and then they would tell us, well, I like the size of that header or I don’t like that ad over there. You know, things like that. But yeah, what used to take six months and then you’d have to go, you’d have to pay somebody $50,000 to get ten people in a room to gonna give you ten people’s feedback. When you have a potential audience of hundreds of thousands of millions of people. And you’re kind of really you’re really hoping they’re the best ten people, who really accurately represents who your target audience is.

Mubashar Iqbal [00:32:28] Now, I can have an idea. I can build something I can launch it. I can put it live. I wouldn’t say launch it, I can put it live in the matter of a few hours and get feedback from a thousand people all over the world. And yeah, like you said, sometimes it’s not going to be nice. Like they’re going to go, “I hate that idea” or “The colours you picked sucks”. But that’s what you want to hear because you want to improve what you’ve made. And if enough people are telling you it needs to be a different colour. Chances are it should be another colour.

Chris Bruno [00:33:00] Yeah, but then again, it’s like you said, it’s not because one man’s opinion, unless you know, it’s somebody that you really should be listening to, but not the one man’s opinion. But the idea being that if you get that once, twice, three times a hundred times, you start to think, wow, maybe I do need to rethink their the awful colour of salmon mixed with lime green that I chose as my corporate colours. But I think what’s really interesting about it. And I talked about this the other day on a live webinar and I think it’s Confucius that said, you know, you’re better off having a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without one. And so many people are working so hard to perfect this and actually you’re one of the people that, you know, you actually didn’t have a choice but to do that back in the day because that’s how the systems worked. But today, it just isn’t the case. There are tools out there that cost next to nothing that would allow you to throw up a landing page with a few ideas on there, what it is that you’re trying to do, what it is that you’re asking people for. And you could get that out in front of enough people to gauge if there’s any even interest in what you’re doing. Or like you’re saying, you know, you’ve gone from idea to launching something – a basic version, not launching sorry, releasing something in a basic version within two weeks. And that to me is what it’s actually all about.

Chris Bruno [00:34:11] So as an agency, we started setting ourselves a little bit of mental challenges back in April. And suddenly, you know, May was, you know, we’re gonna go live every single day on one of our social channels. So for 30 days, you know, every day we’re live, we’re live, we’re live. Live was great. The next month, we said, right, we’re gonna do 100 blogs in the space of a month. You know, we’ll find out what people want from us to write about and we’ll just keep writing. We’ll create this content. So we did that. And then literally we got to July and July’s challenge was: we’ll create a podcast. And here we are. So it took us four weeks to go from absolutely knowing nothing other than the fact that we all loved to consume podcasts and not really looking into anything more than when we were talking amongst ourselves. We always refer to the same five, 10, 20 people in the podcast. It’s like you were saying earlier in terms of the lists and what we wanted to do is just literally rip apart everything else and just talk to people. And these aren’t people that aren’t successful. That’s the key thing to understand here. You know, people for me that are living what they want to be living. They are running the business that they want to be running. They’re making money to be comfortable. They’re making more than enough money to be comfortable. But none of those things for me are the metrics. It’s not because you had an IPO and you became the unicorn that you’re winning. That’s like one extreme really sort of, you know, and it’s lottery winner kind of numbers for you to actually be the next unicorn. But I think at the same time, though, actually, you could have an amazing life by running a business that’s turning over 20, 10 million, a couple of hundred thousand a year if you’re a solopreneur and you’d be laughing. And not only that, but actually you’d be what I would consider more than successful. And I think it’s understanding those steps and how people actually get there. And I think a couple of those things you said, again, the nugget for me is, you know, you launch something, you get the feedback, you can then start to figure out where this is and where this product goes. And also at the same time, you know, not being afraid to get that little bit of feedback to get that sort of feeling.

Chris Bruno [00:36:05] We were talking to Travis Ketchum, who is, I think on the last episode of the one before this one. And literally he was saying to me, guys, I took. Every single comment, every single support email, every single Facebook message, everything else. We ripped it all together. We basically deconstructed it into pure data. This was about this topic. This was about this particular thing. This is about this topic. This is about this particular thing. And then literally they went through their entire system and anywhere whereby they could fix that one thing on-page. They did. And if they couldn’t, they have a little, “Here you go. There’s now a tip box that comes up just next to it and says, okay, if you’re struggling here, what you need to do next is click, click, click.” Suddenly he said to me, you know, we’ve reduced our customer support and ticket support by about 90 percent. He goes, it’s now like it’s not even a full-time job for one person it’s a part-time job for one person. And literally, that’s it. And it’s all been taken away. Just thanks to relooking at what people are saying and taking on that feedback.

Mubashar Iqbal [00:37:01] I think. Yeah. I want. I think one of the really other important things is, you know, I mean, just talking about happiness and being happy with kind of what you do and things like that. It’s very easy to get fooled into thinking that just because things look successful, people are happy. Right. I was just listening to the I was listening to the Startup Podcast on Gimlet Media, where they talk about their own business and how they just got acquired recently by Spotify. And I guess it’s about a year ago that they were acquired by Spotify. And they were talking about how miserable they were. Investors. From the outside, it looked amazing, like, you know, they were getting hundreds of thousands of people posting to their podcasts and and they were just saying about how miserable they were. Partly because of the pressure that they put on themselves, because they, I think they raised something like $15 million to kind of grow and expand their kind of empire, as it were. But that adds a layer of expectation, a layer of pressure that you apply to yourself.

Mubashar Iqbal [00:38:04] Now, had they not raised that money, had they just carried on publishing podcasts the way they want? They may have been much happier as people and much happier in kind of what they were doing everyday. But like I said, from the outside. I’m sure it looked like everything was hunky dory and everyone was happy. But when you kind of layer on these like, well, now I’m going to grow my revenue from, you know, a million dollars a year to 10 million or to 100 million dollars a year. When you really all that you’re doing is adding more, more people to your business, you’re adding more, more, more expectations rather than just saying, well, I’ve got a team that I’m happy with. Working with people I’m happy with, doing things that I’m happy with. I don’t need to be a billion dollar company IPOing and stuff. I’m quite happy. Just kind of, you know, employing 5 to 10 people and having a very successful, very stable company instead.

Chris Bruno [00:38:57] Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s one of the key things that so many people don’t realize. You know, you for me, success. You know, if you’re running a small local business whereby you’re required to do the delivery of something or whatever, it might be a coaching style business or anything else, you know, as long as you’re earning enough to live. When you wake up every morning thinking less to go do this. This is awesome. Hashtag winning. So I mean all the way. Right?

Mubashar Iqbal [00:39:22] Well, the other thing is that, you know, people often ask me. I’ve worked in start-ups in the past, like a lot of you know, I’ve got lots of friends and contacts in San Francisco, in L.A. and kind of places like that. “Mubs, how come you’ve never, you know, started a startup and raised money with these seeds and stuff?”

Mubashar Iqbal [00:39:40] And, you know, and I tell them, look, I know I wouldn’t be happy being the CEO of ABC funded company, because the minute that you become a CEO of a VC funded company, what’s the one thing you stop doing? You stop making things. You start the cycle of: “Now I gotta go talk to more investors so I can raise more money.” And I’m just like I’m hovering around kind of doing the high level stuff or running a company which you know some people love. And if that’s what you want to do with your life every day, that’s absolutely fantastic. Me, I want to sit in front of a computer and I want to write code. I want to make stuff and I want to launch stuff. And I want to talk to the end-users and get their feedback on things like that, you know, be in the weeds of it, kind of as it were.

Mubashar Iqbal [00:40:24] And so doing the bootstrap side hustle thing just makes it makes me happy, versus being VC funded. From the outside it would look awesome. “I just raised a million dollars or I’m raising it”, it would look fantastic. But inside I’d be like, well, I wish I could write some code now.

Chris Bruno [00:40:42] I think it’s like you said that really the expectation from outside and then actually internally, like you said, you’re spending your day literally going from meeting to meeting where you’re either getting a bollocking from somebody about the money they already invested. Or you’re trying to convince somebody and not take too much of a bollocking for the money you’re asking them to invest in. Yeah, I do find it quite… Again. there’s no right or wrong answer. I think there’s great businesses who go out there, they need some sort of capital, so they want to try and do this and everything else. I think there’s also a lot to be said for, you know,  generate some revenue, build your business, generate more revenue, build the business a bit more, right. You know, there’s different ways that suit different people. And ultimately at the end of the day, like you said, success is what feels right to you, not necessarily what’s right according to a Gary Vee or Tim Ferriss or whoever it is, whoever else we’re listening to online. No one model, I think, is right for everybody.

Mubashar Iqbal [00:41:34] Yeah. I think you also have to remember when we are as well right, time changes a lot. And I think what worked 10 years ago, what worked for Gary V and those guys kind of when they were coming up and even when you listen to the Basecamp, guys, in the 37 signals, like what they’re telling you works. I mean, I think in some, in their case, what they’re telling you actually works now. It wouldn’t have worked for them, back when they were starting.

Mubashar Iqbal [00:41:59] So understanding that the kind of world that we’re in has kind of changed. I mean, just this whole idea of remote work is something fairly new. Like ten years ago, there was very, very few people doing it. Now there’s a lot of people doing it. Part of it is this the way that the technology has changed, but also the skills that you need to do to kind of do things like that I think has changed a lot as well. And the same with how you run a company. It’s kind of weird because Mike Mike, my dad used to run a supermarket, essentially. And, you know, when he got a bank loan and, you know, he bought the shop and he ran the shop. Small business, normal way that, you know, for the last thousand years, that’s how enterprises had started and things like that. You know, now it’s like, well, if I want a piece of something, it’s almost like it’s new. But you know, I think back to what my dad was doing in the 1970s and 80s, like he was bootstrapping his business. Yes. He had to get a small loan to be able to, you know, to be able to afford the shop. But this isn’t really anything new that we’re doing. We’re just going back to the way things actually used to be.

Chris Bruno [00:43:12] Yeah, absolutely. Just doing it slightly quicker, faster and with less downside. Hopefully. In terms of, we know we don’t own the building, we’ll have to keep paying back and things like that. I agree with you completely. And I think that’s again, what’s right for you, what’s right in the time, what’s right for the type of business. One thing. I think that’s huge. But I think there’s a lot of people out there that are either thinking that they need to go all in.

Chris Bruno [00:43:33] Dive in the deep end kind of thing. They forget what you’re doing. You know, this is a whole different project. You get to have that excitement and fun, discovering it, developing and seeing what people think of the product. People started to use it. And you’re not doing it with any risk to you, your family or anything else as well in that sense. And you’re not taking on investors money to then try and, you know, potentially lose that. And they’re not sure what’s going to happen next. Then you have sleepless nights and all of these kind of models that we’ve seen far too many times before.

Mubashar Iqbal [00:44:00] Yeah, I think yes. I think the other thing that people think about is, you know, is how big is the pie and what is my slice of that pie? Right. Because you could have a very successful company. You can launch, you do your IPO and own, you know, 1 percent of it, or you can have a moderately successful business and own 100 percent of it. So, you know, so the pie might not be as big, but having more of the pie is just as important than having a huge pie.

Mubashar Iqbal [00:44:25] So I’m I tell you, I’m quite happy to be a big fish in a small pond. I know some people want to be wealthy, the biggest pond that they can be. I’m quite happy to be. I’m quite happy to be a big fish in a very small pond.

Chris Bruno [00:44:40] Mubs. Listen, this has been absolutely awesome. Quickly, where can people find you online if they want to connect?

Mubashar Iqbal [00:44:46] Yeah, I like to hang out mostly on Twitter. It’s my full name. twitter.com/MubasharIqbal. I’m also fairly active on IndieHackers.com as well. And I’ll see if you want to check out more podcasts, it’s Pod Hunt.app.

Chris Bruno [00:45:02] Okay. Awesome. We’re gonna add everything into the show notes, Mubs. Thank you very, very, very much for joining me today. And I look forward to seeing this episode up there on Pod Hunt.

Mubashar Iqbal [00:45:12] No, thanks. It’s been an awesome chat. Absolutely. Anybody can submit and anybody can upvote.

Chris Bruno [00:45:19] Thank you very much.

Mubashar Iqbal [00:45:20] Thanks a lot.

Chris Bruno [00:45:23] Hope you enjoyed the episode. Remember to subscribe and leave us a review to let us know what you think. You can find all the show notes on www.AllAboutDigitalMarketing.co.uk. If you’re looking for more help me with digital marketing. I’m excited to tell you that the team at Social INK has launched a brand new education platform focussed on helping all brands and businesses with their social media marketing. If you’d like to find out more, simply visit PostLikeShare.com. You’ll find all our latest training courses, coaching and resources available so simply sign up today. Till next time. Thanks, everybody.

Music by Hani Koi from Fugue