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42-year-old brings in an average of $41,000 a month from his podcast and works on it just 5 hours a week

Lenny Rachitsky.
Courtesy Lenny Rachitsky

In 2019, Lenny Rachitsky started a newsletter about product management called Lenny's Newsletter. He'd been working in engineering and product managing for more than a decade and felt he had valuable insights to share. Turns out, he was right. The newsletter quickly became his main source of income.

Today, Lenny's Newsletter boasts 574,000 subscribers and, since many of those are paid, it brings in "over $500,000 a year," he says.

In 2021, Rachitsky expanded his output to include a class about product management on online course site Maven. He ran it twice but "I found that it just wasn't bringing me enough joy," he says. There was an element of performing when he was giving the course and "it was sapping me of energy." So he stopped giving it.

Though Rachitsky didn't plan on starting up another project, it didn't take long before he decided to try something else: a podcast. Like his newsletter, Lenny's Podcast found an audience and revenue stream fast. It now brings in more than $500,000 per year.

Here's how Rachitsky, now 42, built up his second revenue stream, and how he balances the two projects he loves.

'Lenny, you need to do a podcast'

In March 2022, Rachitsky was invited to be a guest on the 20VC podcast with Harry Stebbings. "We stopped recording and he's just like, 'Lenny, you need to do a podcast,'" he says.

Rachitsky had considered adding other projects, but at that point was content to stick to his newsletter. He spent about 10 to 20 hours per week putting out his weekly posts and was bringing in a good paycheck.

That comment "pushed me over the edge," he says. "It convinced me to give it a try."

Rachitsky spent the next several months reading books about interviewing people, getting equipment and gathering "really high-quality guests" to pre-record about 10 episodes, he says. His first guests were former VP of design at Facebook Julie Zhuo and former product manager at Google and then-Twitter Shreyas Doshi.

The idea is giving "very tactical, concrete advice" about building products, he says. Rachitsky's first episode went live in June 2022.

To 'be competitive, you want to do two a week'

Rachitsky was able to line up advertisers for his podcast right away.

"I've always had a lot of demand to run ads in the newsletter," he says, but he hadn't wanted to. When he started Lenny's Podcast, he reached out to companies that had been interested about advertising that way instead. Some said they were willing.

At first he put out just one episode per week. Then he realized that, to get higher rankings on platforms like Apple and Spotify and "be competitive, you want to do two a week," he says.

That's his current cadence. Each episode lasts about an hour and features an interview with a leader in Rachitsky's space.

The response has been pretty great. "Basically every day I get a message from someone about how impactful the podcast has been to them," he says.

'I can't imagine any better thing I could be doing'

These days, Rachitsky gets some support. A producer helps with audio, writing show notes, and so on. He has also hired people to help with his social media presence.

Altogether, he spends about four to five hours per week working on the show.

There are a couple of other projects within his newsletter community he collaborates with others on. He's worked on an interview prep tool and a mentorship program, for example. But, big picture, he's focused on the newsletter and podcast.

And he likes that balance.

"It's amazing," he says. With the newsletter he gets to share his own insights, and with the podcast he gets to learn from others. "I can't imagine any better thing I could be doing for work."

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