Creating Happiness Out Of Sadness
Published by James Brooks on January 3, 2020podcasting personal
On the 30th October 2019, I launched Happy Dev a podcast in which I interview software developers and we discuss mental health. I see it as a platform in which we can share the guests' story; when they first became aware of their mental health, how it has manifested over the years and what we as an industry can do to help each other, among other things.
After my brother took his own life in 2018, I found myself at a bit of a loss. I'd lost someone very important to me and I didn't have an outlet for these strange and confusing feelings that I now had. I knew that I wanted to do something, but I wasn't sure what. Out of this came the idea of Happy Dev.
I found myself thinking about it more and more and eventually I settled on the idea of making a podcast. However, I kept putting it off because, in some ways, the idea of recording a podcast was embarrassing to me. It's silly in hindsight, but it's honestly how I felt at the time.
When I joined Laravel in July 2019, I was lucky to gain an audience of software developers and importantly, an audience of people who are likely to listen to podcasts. I'd also been listening to a lot of podcasts myself, which made me feel more positive about recording myself.
Around this time, I also realised that if I wanted to make a podcast, I could and I should do it. Nobody knew I had been thinking about it and so of course, nobody was going to encourage me to do it. I finally spoke to my wife, Katie about it and although she liked the idea of it, she suggested that I ask people in the industry what they think, so I did. I messaged the Laravel team about my idea and was honestly blown away by their overwhelming support and positivity towards it. So much so that Dries Vints was my first confirmed guest, before I'd even committed to making it.
With all of this positivity came the drive to commit myself to the idea and start making it.
I created a demo (I've always wanted to be in a band making demo tapes) and played it for Katie. She cried and I was worried that I'd made a huge mistake, but apparently, she was crying with pride, so that was a relief!
Here is the original demo in all its raw glory.
When listening to this, keep in mind that I recorded it using the tools I had available at the time which were; Beats Headphones microphone, GarageBand and some royalty-free music.
This was it, it was finally happening! I ordered a microphone and re-recorded the introduction, this time with some words I'd thought about and written down instead of making it up.
I'd like to point out that even if I wasn't in the fortunate position to buy a microphone on a whim of an idea, I could've still produced Happy Dev without it. The point to this is that just because you don't have "professional" tools available, you can still make it.
What Happened Next
Well, it's fair to say that I'm constantly blown away by the overwhelming love and support for the podcast. As of writing, I've already released seven episodes (one trailer and one bonus) and has accumulated over 1300 downloads.
I started with an incredibly strong line up and there's still other amazing guests coming, which is very exciting!
I'm now releasing an episode every other Wednesday, which just about gives me enough time to record, edit and publish in time. I was ahead for a while, but the Christmas break has messed that up a bit.
Although I've not yet confirmed any sponsorship slots, I want to be very clear about how it'll work upfront.
I cover all of the Happy Dev costs personally. The cost equates to about $40 / mo and is made up of:
- $19.00 / mo for Transistor.fm. Transistor hosts the podcast, website and makes it easy to create a draft episode.
- £10.00 ($13 ish) / mo for Epidemic Sound. They license the intro and outro music. I would love to either purchase the use of the sounds for the entire show or record my own.
- $89.99 / yr for Hover.com. Hover registered the HappyDev.fm domain.
Should I be fortunate enough to have sponsorship on the show, then this is the deal:
- I want to be able to cover the costs of the show.
- The remainder of any money made from sponsorships will be split and divided to a few different mental health charities, from Happy Dev.
- Sponsorship must be relevant to the show and audience. I will only place advertisements where I believe the company supports mental health positively.
So for example, if Happy Dev had sponsorship of $500, I would cover the $40 costs and donate the remaining $460 to charity.
The charities I have picked are:
- Open Source Mental Health - Raising awareness and ending the stigma of mental illness in the developer/tech community.
- Boys Get Sad Too - 20% of their profits actually go towards CALM, but I believe strongly in their message. BGST supply apparel with conversation provoking designs. Donations would go directly to BGST so that they can promote their message louder instead of purchasing apparel.
- PAPYRUS - Provides suicide prevention support and a hotline. I've previously raised funds for PAPYRUS.
From time to time I may evaluate the list and add or remove charities.
My hope is that this post has inspired you in some way. If you've been thinking about starting something but been too scared or put off for some reason, my advice to you is that you go for it and see what comes from it!
Sponsor Happy Dev on Patreon
You can now sponsor Happy Dev on Patreon!