🧭 The Blueprint 004

PLUS: Selling out, short-form storytelling golden framework, creative sunk costs, top creator follows, metrics, money, and more!

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 (3.8M views) & income ($7,100)

  • 🤑 | Creative sunk costs & selling out

  • 📜 | The ultimate short-form storytelling framework

  • 🕵️‍♀️ | Best creator follows for short-form video inspiration

A reminder that this internet game is not zero-sum. Everyone reading this can win at an unlimited scale. I’m writing this for creative nerds building their own worlds. If that’s you…let’s ride ✌🏼😎

AUDIENCE GROWTH

A quick reminder that my goal with this Blueprint series is not to brag.

I’ve been failing at entrepreneurship for 8 years. I’ve spent thousands of hours and tens of thousands of dollars trying to figure it out.

I’d consider myself currently on step 2/100. Long way to go, but starting to see things click 👍

Why am I spending time writing Blueprint?

I think 99% of advice is unhelpful because it lacks the necessary context and nuance to make an advisor’s suggestions actionable.

There are a lot of people out there charging for advice that a) have no clue what they’re doing themselves and b) don’t invest the time to learn about your unique situation.

I think it’s a trap and a waste of your time to listen to them.

Instead, what 21 year-old me would have wanted was transparent access into someone actually building. Not 10 years ahead, but one or two. This would have given me someone to chase and something to model after that felt attainable.

Because it turns out, having the tactics is not actually the secret. The secret is learning how to uncover the tactics for yourself. Learning how to learn. That’s the only way to win forever. The ole’ give a man fish or teach him how to fish parabole.

But here, I’m not even going to teach you how to fish. I’ll just show you how I fish and point you to the bait shop.

I have no idea where this journey will lead or how long it will take, but I know it will be a huge success. Here’s to hundreds more episodes and helping thousands of world builders architect their own infinite games 🍻

Performance This Week

I had another average growth week. If it wasn’t for my Taylor Swift video, I would have seen very little channel growth.

Fortunately, from an income perspective, I had the first of three sponsored videos with Adobe go live on Monday. Wagyu sliders for dinner it is.

Here are a couple of quick things I noticed this week:

  • 🚀 | My YouTube channel is absolutely on fire. Grew 21% this week. The majority of the growth is coming from my Oppenheimer Short (currently at 2.8M views)

  • ⭐️ | The secret to long-term content success is building up an evergreen back catalogue. 35% of my channel income came from videos posted before this week. That’s pure passive income. Try your best to make content that isn’t solely reliant on time relevance

  • 📈 | Over the past few weeks, my Tiktok and Instagram channels have been growing at 2.3% and 3.8% weekly, respectively. At the current rate, my following would be 629K (Tiktok) and 952K (IG) in 1 year. Compounding is crazy if you zoom out.

  • 🙋🏻‍♂️ | I’m starting to have friends text me that my videos were randomly shared in their personal group chats. A cool anecdotal sign that my stories are resonating

POSTS & EXPERIMENTS

Here are links to this week’s videos if you want to check them out:

  1. 👩‍🎨 | Leveling up your personal brand (with Adobe): Watch on TT | IG | YT

  2. 🎙️ | Google launches “AI for rappers” with Lupe Fiasco: Watch on TT | IG | YT

  3. 💃 | Taylor Swift’s Era’s Tour Stage is crazy: Watch on TT | IG | YT

  4. 🛒 | Generational trends that could lead to the next Amazon: Watch on TT | IG | YT

Creative Sunk Costs

Mr. Beast is famous for saying that his team will spend months and millions on a video, only to not post it if it isn’t a banger.

He is okay with creative sunk costs.

My thinking up to this point, was the opposite.

If I’m at least 2 hours into a 4 hour process, I should just finish and post, even if my gut is telling me it’s not going to be a top performer.

My rationale was that a) I might not realize it’s actually a good video and b) maintaining consistent posting volume is better than posting fewer but better videos.

I still don’t know the right answer on this…but something tells me Jimmy (Mr. Beast) is probably right.

It seems like the bigger you get, the higher standard you should have for every single video. In other words, your tolerance for incurring greater creative sunk costs goes up.

The reason I’m writing about this is because it impacted me this week.

I was working on a video about “generation-defining stats that could lead to the next big companies.”

It was originally inspired by this amazing Twitter thread from Steph Smith.

I spent 2-3 hours working and re-working this script. I recorded it twice.

Something in my head was telling me that this video wasn’t going to do well. It was interesting information, but just not ideal for a short-form video format.

By the time I had cut the raw footage, I was so deep into the process that I decided to ignore my gut and just finish it.

So I posted it, and as expected, it was a meh performer.

The lesson here is to increase my quality filter during the idea stage so I don’t end up working on low-conviction videos.

If I do decide to work on a video, I should commit fully, trust the initial decision to make it, and let it fly.

Selling Out

On Wednesday afternoon, I was facing a pretty stressful decision.

My Monday and Tuesday videos hadn’t done well. I was basically at zero growth and income for the week. Yikes.

Fortunately, I’m at a skill level where I can make videos that go viral at will.

The issue is that the topics required to get that “guaranteed virality” often don’t overlap with the type of audience I want to build long-term.

It would require me to only cover things like news, celebrity gossip, drama, etc.

The long-term thinker in me says, “I’m willing to sacrifice money short-term to build an audience with a profile that will benefit me 10x more in the long-term.”

The problem is, you can’t eat patience for dinner….so I kind of, sold out.

There are certain topics that go nuclear every time you post about them, especially if you have a unique angle.

Taylor Swift is one of them.

I had a couple of other video ideas on Wednesday that were a bit more niche, but there was a risk of them also being average performers.

The Taylor Swift video went bananas, as expected.

And so the question really becomes, “When is the right time to sell out and make something that is less connected with your core intended audience, but helps you earn and grow faster?”

For me, the answer is that it’s okay to make those trade-offs in the benefit of money/growth occasionally, so long as you accept a potential high churn in those followers in the future when your subsequent content reverts back to your niche.

It’s an interesting give and take to constantly be thinking about.

Here’s why it matters.

The fastest growing accounts that cover the most viral and time-sensitive news do not have the durability to sell products to that audience.

Their fans are fans of the story, not the storyteller.

I don’t want that. My goal is to play this game for 20 years and so I want my audience to follow me because they like me as a storyteller.

LEVELING UP

The ultimate short-form storytelling framework

I’ve made 188 videos with a variety of different story formats, but there’s one that works every single time. Merry Christmas.

  1. Hook

    1. Headline (1 sentence)

    2. Shocker (1 sentence)

    3. Misdirection (1-2 sentences)

  2. Context (Meat)

  3. Conflict (Potatoes)

  4. Resolution (Dessert)

  5. Last Dab (Bang)

Let me break this down using an example.

My Messi video is currently at 28.5M views across Tiktok + Instagram. The purpose of the video was to storytell around Messi’s legendary contract to play in the MLS (American soccer league).

1. Hook

The first part of a great video is the hook. You need some way to get the viewer to stop scrolling and watch your video.

But this is where most people get it wrong. 

The hook is not a single sentence. It’s a section made up of the first 3-4 sentences.

The first sentence in the hook is the “Headline”. Tell them about the purpose of the video as quickly and concisely as possible. This is not what will hook them, so you need to get through this part before they scroll away.

The reason you have to start with this is because it will qualify the video as interesting or not to the viewer.

You used to be able to hook people without this (e.g., saying something like, “You’re never going to believe this insane thing I saw”). But today, if you try to hook them with something generic and non-contextual, they will mostly likely sense it and scroll away.

So for the Headline in the Messi example, I went with “Leo Messi just changed the business of sports forever.”

It’s extremely quick, but signals to people that what comes next is going to be about Messi, soccer, sports, and business.

Next within the hook section is the “Shocker.”

This is something that helps contextualize the headline and makes it seem shocking or hard to believe. Think of it like hitting them with a quick jab they didn’t see coming.

Psychologically, the Shocker will make them pause for a second to double take on what you said. That pause is all you need to get them to the third line.

For the Messi video, I went with “He said no to $1.7B.”

So when you hear that, you’re like, “what wtf…he said no to $1.7B. Why would he do that?!”

And those first two sentences are setting you up for the haymaker right hand.

The third piece to the hook is the Misdirection.

This is where I’ve got you leaning one way expecting to hear one thing and I surprise you with something completely different.

The surprise gives you a little shot of dopamine and you’re hooked.

So for the Messi video, you’d expect I would follow up the Shocker with something to explain why him turning down the money was dumb.

Instead, I came with “Instead, he signed one of the greatest sports deals of all time.”

At this point, I have you hook, line, and sinker. Most viewers are thinking, “Wait, what just happened? I need to keep listening to find out how this makes sense.”

2. Context & Conflict

Once you’ve got someone hooked, the video shifts into more of a dance between Context and Conflict.

You want to provide some interesting contextual points while inserting occasional mini conflicts that need more context to be resolved.

This is the meat and potatoes of the story.

You can keep doing this as long as the story needs it. Your only jobs in this section are to entertain and get them to the end.

Here was the context and conflict dance for the Messi video. Context is highlighted in green and conflict is in yellow.

Over the weekend, Messi announced he was joining Inter Miami, in the American soccer league.

Now rumors are that he turned down $450M per year to play in Saudi Arabia.

And the crazy thing is….

Inter Miami couldn’t even come close to matching the Saudi offer…so they got creative.

In addition to player money, Miami brought 3 friends to the table…Apple, Adidas, and the MLS.

A few months ago, Apple just paid $2.5B to own the streaming rights for American soccer.

They decided to offer Messi a share of the streaming revenue, which has never been done in any sport.

To sweeten the deal, Adidas offered Messi a profit-share in all MLS apparel they sell.

This is similar to the deal Michael Jordan signed with Nike which eventually made him a billionaire

Messi also gets the option to buy a percentage of an MLS team when he’s finished playing.

So he’s getting salary + streaming + apparel + future team ownership.

3. Resolution

After a fun dance between context and conflict, it’s time to deliver a memorable Resolution to the video.

By this point, you will have opened a thought loop in the viewer’s brain. They need that loop closed or they will feel unsatisfied.

So with the resolution, your job is to close it. Again, no wasted ink. Make sure every sentence is additive.

This is what I wrote for the resolution of the Messi video (and this was a bit long, but this particular story required a lot of detail to tell the full story).

Now who wins most on this deal? Everyone

Messi gets uncapped upside as a player, something that is almost never offered.

Apple’s streaming and Adidas’s apparel revenues are going to skyrocket, giving them slightly less ownership of a much bigger pie.

The American soccer league now has the greatest player on the planet as its face.

And for Inter Miami, average ticket prices jumped from $80 to $420 the minute the news was announced.

4. Last Dab

This is the secret to my success.

Most people think the video is finished at the end of the resolution. It isn’t.

After the resolution, all of the loose ends are tied up in the viewers brain. So it’s a neat and tidy loop. They will feel okay moving on.

You don’t want that (but I thought you just said…)

I know what I said. You want to close the main loop, and open another tiny one at the end. This will drive comments, shares, and rewatches.

The best thing to do is to ask a question or say some joke/witty take.

Here’s why…

Whatever the last thing is the viewer consumes will be what they will remember about the video.

So if your last line is weak, they will be less likely to share/comment/like.

Your last line should be just as strong as your hook section.

For the Messi video, this is what I used for my Last Dab.

But after all that, here’s the most interesting part to me…

If you’re Lebron, Steph Curry, Pat Mahomes, Mike Trout, Sydney Crosby or any star player in any other league…do you have a case to demand something similar?

Try this story format for yourself and let me know how it works.

BULLETIN BOARD

Here’s where I’ll post any notes about opportunities to join my team

  1. 🎥 | Video editor - I’m looking to hire a video editor/producer that will serve as my right hand for all things video. To start, this person will own my YouTube channel and podcast (coming soon) production. It’s important that this person is an A-player, an editing monster, outside-the-box thinker, and extremely proactive. I’m hoping to find someone that can work with me for the long-term and is excited by this journey. In addition to competitive pay, I’m open to sharing a split of my YouTube Adsense in perpetuity. If this sounds like you, and you’re interested, please shoot me email with examples of your best work. If you have someone in mind that may be a fit, please send through a recommendation (there will be a referral reward for you if I hire them)

AROUND THE WORLD

Here’s a list of some of my favorite creators making short-form videos. If you’re diving into this as a medium, make sure to study this crew.

SHARE

If you liked today’s post and you know another creative nerd building their own kingdom on the internet, it’d mean the world if you shared this with them 🤙🏼