🤔 The Blueprint 001

The Tiktok money printer, Ben Shapiro, sound design, how to measure success, Mr. Beast

Happy Sunday!

Today’s episode of Espresso is a Blueprint style.

As an aspiring entrepreneur/creator, I’ve always wanted to see a “behind-the-scenes” look in the operations of the legends I admire. Blueprint is my attempt at transparently documenting my growth (from the beginning), to hopefully inspire & help others.

In this Sunday series, expect to see real numbers, income, learnings, experiments, lessons learned, ideas and more.

Let’s ride ✌🏼😎✌🏼

AUDIENCE GROWTH

We had a huge week this week — it was my first as a full-time creator.

It’s amazing how quickly you level up your ideas when you remove unwanted noise.

I wish I started these from day 1, but better late than never! If you’re newer to my creator journey, here’s a quick recap of how we got to where we are today:

1. Started posting short-form videos on 9/1/22. Profiles were basically at zero. In the last 331 days, I’ve posted 177 videos (3-4 per week). I sucked at the beginning…0/10 video editing skills. Still feel like I’m a below average editor.

2. Looking back, I’m embarrassed at the quality of the first ~100 videos. It was the best I could do at the time, and I knew they would get better with reps.

3. Tiktok Milestones (for a sense of how long it takes to “see results”)

21st video was my first to get 100K+ views

41st was my first to get 1M+

121st was my first to get 5M+

155th was my first to get 10M+

4. Most of my channels have had fairly steady linear increases from zero, with a few step change bumps on extra viral videos. I’ve had 17 videos get 1M+ views (~10% hit rate). Each video takes 2-4 hours to make. I’ve put in 500+ hours making videos so far

POSTS & EXPERIMENTS

I had a couple massive posts go super viral this week, which led to explosive follower growth. Here they are if you want to check them out:

  1. 🐦 | Twitter → X: Watch on TT | IG | YT

  2. 🏫 | AI South Park: Watch on TT | IG | YT

  3. 🛒 | Drake’s E-commerce Store: Watch on TT | IG | YT

  4. 👁 | Worldcoin: Watch on TT | IG | YT

  5. 🔮 | Ben Affleck Predicted Spotify and Netflix: Watch on TT | IG

Ben Shapiro Reacted To My AI South Park Video

Ben Shapiro has a massive following. He’s a conservative political commentator and media entrepreneur (founded Daily Wire).

He made his own Tiktok video reacting to my AI South Park video which now has 800K+ views on his channel.

Typically, getting a big account to reshare your content is the holy grail of free promotion. It exposes you to another huge audience. Tiktok has a Duet feature for this akin to Retweets or IG Story reposts.

Sadly, this one had zero attribution to me. Ben removed any mention of my name from the source video. So, even if one of his fans liked my take/storytelling, they would have no way to find me.

It’s a good reminder that the internet is the wild west and there are no rules.

  • On the positive, he permissionlessly put my face in front of 800K+ of his fans. That might build long-term affinity for me if they see another video of mine in the future.

  • On the negative, none of his audience has a direct path to flow back to my channel. So it’s pretty much just free content for him, that he can monetize. It is what it is. As my friend Danny aptly reminded me, he doesn’t owe me anything

Experiment: Sound Design

One of my core focuses for the next few weeks is to level up my sound design.

An example video timeline

Great videos are made up of the following:

  1. Storyline/Narrative

  2. Source Video (me talking into the camera)

  3. B-Roll Video (other clips/gifs)

  4. Source Audio (my vocal recording)

  5. Sound Design (the background track and sound effects)

Oddly enough, audio is more important than video when it comes to making videos.

Ever wondered why music is a massive part of culture but nobody watches silent films?

While my source audio is pretty high quality (I use these DJI wireless mics that I love), my sound design is definitely beginner-level.

If you listen to the first part of the videos from this week, you’ll hear more exaggerated attempts at whooshes, risers, hits, and other sounds to elevate the experience.

Here’s where I get most of my sound effects and music from:

  1. Epidemic Sound (all background music and base sound effects)

  2. This YouTube video (I found a YouTube video with a bunch of popular sound effects and then use Downie → Permute to easily convert from YouTube link to .mp3. Downie + Permute come in the SetApp bundle (free month with this link)

  3. Friends (have gotten a bunch of random sound effect packs from friends. Will put something together in future weeks)

LEVELING UP

💰 Tiktok Creativity Program Beta

Most of my non-brand deal income has come from the Tiktok Creativity Program Beta.

If you make videos, you should be taking advantage of this.

Tiktok is paying $0.60-$0.80 per thousand “qualified” views. That’s $600-$800 for every 1M views.

For comparison, YouTube pays $2-5 per thousand views, but it’s way harder to go viral.

Here’s what qualifies for Tiktok’s program:

  • | Videos must be longer than 1 minute

  • 👀 | A viewer needs to watch for at least 5 seconds

  • 🙋🏻‍♂️ | Each unique viewer will only count as 1 view

Right now, I’m seeing 60-70% of my views counting for the program.

To enroll, go to Settings → Creator Tools → Creativity Program Beta and sign-up. Once you’re approved, you’ll start earning.

📐 How to Measure a Successful Week

Now that I spend my entire day working for myself, I’ve quickly realized how important it is to define what a “successful week” looks like.

There will always be more I could be doing.

But what is “enough” so that I don’t make myself crazy?

Here’s how I think about it…

  • Inputs vs Outputs: Inputs are the only thing you can control (the videos I make). If you measure success by outputs (the views they get), you are inherently putting your satisfaction/self-worth outside of your control. That’s no bueno. So all I focus on is my input

  • Quality + Frequency: If I can set an extremely high quality bar and hit that quality bar “x” number of times in a given week, then I can be happy with my effort, regardless of where the results land.

  • 1% increases: My quality bar should be increasing 1% per week.

For me, the quality bar is “95% of my best effort” and the frequency is 4 short videos and 3 emails per week.

Why 95% of best effort?

Effort is asymptotic, meaning there’s always something more you could be improving, but you’ll never hit 100% quality.

The key is to find the line where your incremental effort isn’t moving the needle enough to warrant it.

A lot of people call this 80/20. In content, 80% quality just won’t be good enough.

95% lets me sit back and look at a piece legitimately happy with the quality.

Could I spend another 20 hours going from 95% → 99%?

Absolutely, but then I wouldn’t hit my frequency milestones.

Required frequency is the forcing function that limits perfectionism. When you’re starting out, and alone, this is really helpful.

To contrast, Mr. Beast only uploads 1x/month. And he has a team of 100+ people working on it.

He has decided that it is worth the “incremental 20 hours” to go from 95% → 99%.

In the beginning, when you’re alone and still figuring out what works, you don’t need 99%. Once you establish something that’s working, you can reduce frequency to increase quality.

AROUND THE WORLD

Here’s a collection of other interesting finds, tools, and creators I’ve seen this week that I thought were worth checking out…

  • 🕵️‍♀️ | Ben (@streamstrat) has the highest frequency of free finds for content creators, from fonts to preset packs and overlays

  • 🤯 | Landon Bytheway (@landonbtw) is one of the coolest video creators I’ve come across. He’s hosting a Creator Workshop on 9.9 and I’m considering attending virtually. He just launched a creative agency, built his own studio space and is ramping up

  • 🎨 | Randoma11y is a cool site for visualizing color palette combinations

  • 📸 | This is a great video showing how to use Adobe Photoshop’s Generative Fill to turn a landscape video into a vertical one

  • 😳 | A 10 minute compilation of Mr. Beast telling you everything you need to know about internet growth and marketing

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