🧭 The Blueprint 003

PLUS: How to think about travel/vacation as a creator, failed experiments, freestyle fridays, AI video dubbing in other languages, next-gen consumer trends

Happy Sunday!

Welcome back to The Blueprint, a series where I share a “behind-the-scenes” look into my journey as a full-time creator & entrepreneur.

Today’s topics:

  • 🧮 | This week’s metrics & income

  • 🫤 | 2 failed experiments

  • 🏝️ | How to think about travel/vacation as a full-time creator

  • 🕵️‍♀️ | 7 best creator finds

A reminder that this internet game is not zero-sum. Everyone reading this can win at an unlimited scale. I’m building this as a home for creative nerds with chips on their shoulders. If that’s you…let’s ride ✌🏼😎

AUDIENCE GROWTH

I had an average growth week. Ranked it a 41/100 (still coming up with a scoring system that makes sense).

2 of my 4 videos this week were essentially nothing burgers. 1 was a moderate success and the other went fairly viral.

I traveled back home to Ohio to visit with my parents (Thu-Sun). The travel caused some shifts in the weekly routine that definitely impacted performance (see below for my thoughts on “how to approach travel/vacation as a full-time creator”).

Because of the travel, I tried 2 new experiments. Both failed.

“Hell yeah, more failures!” [says no one despite the constant guru firehose to seek more failure]

Here are a couple quick observations from this week:

  • 🚀 | My YouTube channel is taking off. Something I’m noticing with YouTube, especially if you’re biasing towards Shorts, is a delayed ramp in the algo push. It’s as if YouTube purposefully stifles your growth until you have one Short go big. As soon as that happens, a switch is flipped and your “floor views” on all Shorts jump 2-3x. The learning is that if you’re still struggling to see traction on YouTube (esp. via Shorts), keep trying until you find that first video to go nuts

  • 🫣 | Instagram Ad Splits are almost negligible. Turn this on, but don’t rely on any significant income

POSTS & EXPERIMENTS

As I mentioned above, only one of my videos from this week saw significant traction. If it wasn’t for Dave Portnoy, it’d be a Maruchan week for ‘ole Kal.

Here are the video links if you want to check them out:

  1. 🎰 | Dave Portnoy buys back Barstool for $1: Watch on TT | IG | YT

  2. 🏋️ | Will Nike’s new group fitness classes work?: Watch on TT | IG | YT

  3. 🗽 | 3D artist creates a 1:1 replica of NYC in 3 hours: Watch on TT | IG | YT

  4. 🎙️ | My craziest video…making a Kanye song: Watch on TT | IG | YT

Failed Experiments

As a disclaimer, any video that doesn’t get 1M+ views on Tiktok or Instagram, I consider a “miss.” That doesn’t mean it wasn’t a quality rep, but from a traction perspective, it goes in the L column. I know that may seem outrageous to some, but as you grow as a creator, your baseline levels will continue to shift. This is where I’m at today.

1. Nike Experiment

Lately, I’ve been focusing my videos on current events across new tech or cult brands. In this Nike video, I wanted to go a bit deeper and infuse more creativity.

Nike launched a new group fitness class concept. My take was that it was going to flop.

But instead of spending 60 seconds belaboring the point and annihilating the swoosh, I thought it’d be cool to also share a few unique ideas Nike could try.

The ole’ bad-good-good open-faced sandwich of feedback and ideas.

I thought the video turned out pretty solid and was fairly unique. But it didn’t perform well across any platform. Interestingly, I did get a lot of DMs from people telling me they really liked it.

So deep, but not wide. This leaves me with an interesting question…

Is it worth continuing to make videos that “the few” love, but “the many” ignore? Or stick to a format that I know will work every time to captivate the many?

2. Kanye Vocals Experiment

A couple months ago, I made a video using the Kanye Voice AI model.

I used to make rap music so I was able to lay down a pretty crazy verse, turn myself into Kanye, and animate the “visual music video” with Midjourney imagery in one night.

To me, it was as close to an n=1 product as I could have produced given my skills at the time.

When I initially released it, the video didn’t perform well at all. I couldn’t believe it.

When I watched it back a few weeks later, I realized that I had taken way too long to get to the cool part. Too much explaining, not enough Kanye.

So my idea for this week (since I was traveling), was to take that video, re-edit the beginning to make it snappier, and then repost.

And by golly it flopped again.

Either the execution of the rapping wasn’t as cool as I thought (doubt it), or my old recording wasn’t enthusiastic enough.

Bummed, but either way, it’s a good learning.

Great repackaging of average source content (my original intro was definitely average), won’t make for a great video.

Here are the original and the new versions if you want to check if you agree with my assessment on it. I still think the verse slaps.

LEVELING UP

Navigating Travel & Vacation as a Creator

Let’s face it, 99% of people that work for someone else, don’t really give a shit if that company succeeds or fails.

There are exceptions to this, specifically with startups, but what I’ve found is that as long as salaries are getting paid and job security is alive, people can’t wait to shut their laptop for weekends and vacations.

And I enjoyed this on/off switch when I was a salaried employee.

“Out of the fucking office. Yes!” [slams Dell, slams marg]

But it feels different when you work for yourself.

For me as a creator, every hour spent not working is an opportunity lost. Also, I happen to love working. It’s one of my favorite things. It’s play that I get paid for. (I know that will sound weird to people that don’t like their job)

Oddly, nobody talks about how to think about vacation/travel/time off when you work for yourself.

So I will.

Here’s what happened to me this week and how it’s helped me build a healthy framework for thinking about travel/vacation going forward.

I traveled all day Thursday and was with family Friday - Sunday. My goal was to get 4 videos out this week. I missed Monday. This meant I had to rush to record two videos on Wednesday (one for Wed and one for Thursday) and then repurpose something for Friday.

As you can imagine, this plan of rushing didn’t result in my magnum opus.

The Wednesday - Friday videos combined to represent 13% of total views and 1.4% of the income from this week.

In the back of my head, I was kind of silently beating myself up about it all weekend.

I hate that feeling. When I travel/take vacation, I want to be fully present and not worry about something that I can’t change anyways.

So when it comes to travel/vacation, here are a few guiding principles for how I’m going to think about it moving forward:

  • 📆 | Days leading up: For the days leading up to the trip, rise to the occasion and make those amazing days. I have this saying, “don’t compound mistakes”. Not saying vacation is a mistake, but if those days are zeros with respect to content posting, that’s fine. But don’t waste the days before by running around or stressing about those upcoming zero days. All you can control is the inputs. So if you make these amazing days, and the output/result still isn’t what you want, oh well.

  • 🤔 | Mindset: Don’t beat yourself up if you have to miss days when you’re traveling. Eliminate this from your mindset completely. Life is about cool experiences, not sitting behind a computer.

  • 🧘🏻‍♀️ | Be present: When you’re traveling/on vacation, be fully present. If you’re committing time to take it off, then be fully there. Don’t try and juggle both only to perform poorly in both areas

  • 👍 | Saying Yes: Be more critical of the trips that are planned. When you are the boss, the trade-off of the trip must be there. For this one, it was. But for others, it might not be.

  • 🗺️ | Keep traveling: Don’t stop taking vacation/traveling. Living freely is what drives the best creation. To fully stifle travel wouldn’t be authentic to me and would probably also hurt my content

  • 📸 | Unique input: Use travel time to capture, but not complete. If you go to Japan, and you’re committing to it, then make sure to carve some time to capture raw input that can level you up later. Don’t worry about actualizing that raw footage until after, because that will take away from the moment. This doesn’t apply to all fields, but helps with content.

IN THE LAB

There’s a few new things I’m working on that I’m really excited about…

  1. 🎥 | Freestyle Fridays: One of my goals for the next few months is to start building more depth through my content. This requires more of my authentic personality showcasing my daily life. I’m going to start doing this with vlog/travel style videos on Fridays, so look out for those

  2. 🎨 | Visual Identity: Zooming out, I think I’m making a lot of dope content, but my visual identity/brand is a bit all over the place. I’m starting a long-term partnership with a ninja team at Dispatch that is going to run all of my creative and branding work. I’m so pumped for this and excited to share things as we release them. Dispatch is extremely selective in who they work with. If you’re a creator and also in need of some design help (anything from brand identity to landing pages), let me know and I can help facilitate

  3. 🎙️ | Podcast/YouTube: I’m going to add a podcast and more consistent medium-form YouTube videos to my content stack in the next few weeks. Still looking to build out the editing team for this. Drop me a line if you’re a video editor that is interested in a new project.

Will be sure to continuing updating on all of these initiatives!

AROUND THE WORLD

Here’s a collection of other interesting finds I thought were worth checking out…

  • 🪨 | This vlog style video documenting the LK-99 superconductor research at Varda…I think all companies should have someone making BTS content like this for them

  • 🤖 | YouTube is building AI summaries into the platform (gives viewers a quick summary about the video before watching)

  • 🌆 | A free AI image generator plugin to use directly in Figma

  • 🎙️ | Tiktok is enabling full podcast uploads in platform that you can link together with Tiktok native pod clips

  • 📚 | 101.school uses AI to design and host email based courses about any topic

  • 📈 | 103 interesting trends about the next generation of consumers

  • 😳 | Creators are able to dub their videos in other languages using AI

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