10 Ways to Be a Better Independent Developer
Podcasts are incredibly valuable to me. They offer me entertainment as well as professional training. They allow me to take advantage of my less productive times like walking/driving, working out, or cleaning the house.
There is huge value in working in an industry with other professionals. There is so much to be learned from just being around other smart people. That is one of the major disadvantages to being independent. Podcasts help me to get closer to that environment while still having the advantages of being independent. They can even provide two way communication if you are willing to put yourself out there and reach out to them.
I listen to a lot of podcasts, so many that I need to listen at 1.5x speed just to stay up to date with them and I still sometimes fall behind. I have two major categories of podcasts: professional and entertainment. However, because I love what I do, I still find many of the professional ones entertaining. With each podcasts I may pick and choose individual episodes but I listen to the majority of them.
Discussion / Interview
Discussion and interview podcasts are great for inspiration as well as to stay on top of the news in the industry. It also helps to get in the habit of empathizing and getting inside the head of other people and their perspective on many of the products in my target market or at least similar markets.
- Core Intuition - Great podcast from inspirational developers Daniel Jalkut and Manton Reece about general development topics. I listen to every single episode.
- Developing Perspective - One of my favorites because it is always 15 minutes or less but often contains valuable nuggets of information.
- Identical Cousins - Unfortunately they recently stopped making new podcasts but I recommend going back and listening to these from the beginning. They share a lot of things from their experience making hugely popular products like the fantastic Fantastical and the elegant iOS text editor Vesper.
- Systematic - Show from the awesome Brett Terpstra who develops a lot of small utilities and who just recently went independent himself. He interviews great people, often different from the normal purely development oriented people. It can be great to hear from journalists, artists, doctors, and more. I have discovered a ton of very useful software because of his “top picks” section.
- Freelance Radio - Great resource to get me thinking more about my freelance business.
- The Deep End Design Podcast - Every indie needs to be a jack of all trades. Design is one of my weakest and this keeps me a little more in touch with the design world as well as gives me freelance advice.
- Borderless - About various mobile development topics. I like it because it is relatively short and concise for a tech podcast.
- Accidental Tech Podcast - General, Apple oriented tech discussion from big names in the industry including Marco Arment a very inspirational developer for me. Episodes can be very long though, so I do pick and choose on this one.
- Giant Robots Smashing into other Giant Robots - From a well respected development house called Thoughtbot with valuable discussions around contact development and other development related topics.
- Mac Power Users - Awesome for finding new and valuable tools and techniques to be more productive on a Mac. I do skip some episodes depending on the topic of the episode.
- Mac World - I find it valuable to listen to Macworld because they can often be representative and have a lot of influence over the people that will be judging and potentially buying my products.
- Debug - Great interview based podcast on Apple development topics. Interviews a lot of the hosts of other podcasts I listed above and gets an additional perspective on those people.
- This Agile Life - I far from agree with a lot of their opinions on this show about being agile, but it is valuable to get another perspective on how to work affectively. It also gets me dreaming about being able to potentially support employees and how I might organize and function with them.
It is important to stay on top of the latest tools and techniques for development. Even more so when you aren’t learning those things from coworkers.
- Edge Cases - Probably the most technical podcasts I listen to and it is has very valuable information
- iPhreaks Show - Get deep inside Apple frameworks and other related libraries and tools
- NPR Story of the Day - This podcast is a concise way to get quality NPR stories without listening to hours and hours of content (which NPR definitely has on a daily basis)
- NPR Hourly News - I love this to just stay up to date with the big news going on in the world. I don’t listen to every episode since they are released every hour and have a lot of repeated content. I don’t even have my podcast app download the episodes. I will listen to an episode when I finish all my other podcasts and check in periodically if I am backed up on podcasts or there is something big going on.
- NPR Technology - This is a concise way to stay on top of all the tech stories that NPR produces from their many shows
- TED Radio Hour - Amazingly inspirational. It provides the TED and extra insight by interviewing the presenters.
- Fresh Air - Great interviews and very interesting topics about things that I normally wouldn’t be exposed to. I do pick and choose episodes to listen to though (mostly for the sake of time).
- Radio Labs - Another podcast covering topics that I am not normally exposed to with great production value.
- Science Friday - I find it inspirational to listen to news and information about other industries of science. I don’t get to many technical nuggets out of this, but all forms of science are a good muscle to stretch.
- This American Life - Great insights into people, at least American people. Another way to empathize with the general public whom may become your target customers at some point.
- The Moth Podcast - Incredible and very inspiring and endlessly interesting stories. Of all the entertainment podcasts, I recommend this one the most. You get to hear stories that you normally would only hear from people very close to you. It is great for inspiration and also really getting inside the way other people think. These are hard to listen to while doing much of anything simultaneously because they are so engrossing.
I recommend you pick and choose some of the podcasts that sound interesting to you. They often talk about other podcasts and I am always growing and shrinking my list of podcasts because there are so many great ones but I don’t the time to listen to them all. Don’t overwhelm yourself by picking too many at once.