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

Riley Walz
May 21, 2018 · 3 min read
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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

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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?

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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!

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