Quickly going from idea to product with Upload.fm, a tool for podcasters

A few months ago I needed to upload a song to YouTube. With a quick Google search, I was able to find a few websites that would combine an MP3 file and an image file to make a video. One of those sites had a comment feature, where hundreds of people were thanking this site for quickly making their video for them. In fact, some people were asking for a premium plan that didn’t have a time limit or a watermark, like that site did. That got me thinking, and this idea for a site like this without limits has always been in the back of my mind.

After I had learned enough code to build this idea from my previous projects, I started building it. It went from an all out audio to YouTube service, to just narrowing in on podcasts. I had made a podcast for fun before and knew that uploading to YouTube was important because

  • YouTube can recommend your show for new listeners to find,
  • it can rank better in SEO,
  • and people unfamiliar with podcasts will be familiar with YouTube.

But it could take forever to render a simple video on your own computer. Plus, you’d have to wait awhile for the video to upload, especially because podcast episodes can be hours long. So now, I knew I was going to focus in on a service for automatically uploading new podcast episodes to YouTube. The sell would be saving time for the podcaster, but also expanding the podcast’s audience.

Getting feedback

via Product Hunt

Of course, I wanted to prove the idea was needed. I discussed it on Product Hunt’s new Maker Goals site, and got feedback from people like Ryan Hoover. I made an upcoming page using Product Hunt’s Ship feature and got some subscribers. I also posted to Twitter where a few people said they liked the idea.

I quickly went into making this a reality. It was simple to render the actual videos using ffmpeg. I used Node.js for the backend as I was most familiar with Javascript. Within a few weeks I had a solid product. The thing that I knew would take the longest was setting up a payment system for the backend, but I discovered Drew Wilson’s Plasso which sped this along considerably.

A name. Picking a name is the funnest/hardest/agonizing part of building a new project. Many podcasting startups were using the .fm TLD, like Transistor and Ruby, so I started with that. I found “ease.fm” cool, but “upload.fm” stuck out a lot. I was very surprised that it wasn’t taken yet, so I registered it in a heartbeat.

So now that Upload.fm has launched, how does it work?

Next steps for me:

  • Reach out to podcasters that already publish their episodes on YouTube, but do it manually
  • Market to podcasters and let them know the benefits of publishing on YouTube, and how easy it is with Upload.fm
  • Maybe add more providers to upload to, like Soundcloud and Facebook? If this idea picks up… That’s why I like the name I picked, it’s flexible :)

Check out Upload.fm now! There’s a neat demo I put on the site, where you can enter your podcast’s RSS feed and it will render a short demo video. Also, it’s on Product Hunt!