🧭 The Blueprint 005

What to do when nothing works, the GOAT content metric, creator strategy framework, depth over everything, free video editing resources

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

  • 😰 | What to do when nothing works

  • 🧐 | Thinking through your creator strategy

  • 👀 | The only content metric you should care about

  • 🕵🏻‍♂️ | Best free creator resources & finds

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 on the internet. If that’s you…let’s ride ✌🏼😎

AUDIENCE GROWTH
Performance This Week

It was a tough week. Nothing worked. All four of my videos were duds.

Most of my growth and 99% of my income came from my back catalog of videos that are still ripping from previous weeks (all praise to Taylor Swift 👸🏻).

So for The Blueprint this week, I thought it’d be helpful to shine a light on what happens when it feels like nothing is going right as a creator.

My Initial Reaction

You’d think the hardest thing about being a creator is getting something to work in the first place.

When you’re getting started, you’ll give anything to have a glimmer of traction. Any signal that what you’re doing is worth continuing.

But oddly enough, that’s not the hardest part.

Because when you’re starting out, and nothing is working, you have nothing to lose. You can try anything and keep going until something works.

It’s frustrating, for sure, but not paralyzing.

It turns out, the hardest thing about being a creator is when you had something working, you changed nothing, and all of a sudden, traction stops.

And you have no idea why.

Then, the self-doubt questions start creeping in…

  • Was I just getting lucky before and now I’ve reverted back to the mean?

  • Is this just a blip of poor traction that I should completely ignore and keep doing exactly what got me here?

  • Should I make a slight adjustment, and if so, what?

The overthinking and self-questioning is what becomes paralyzing.

This ^^ is a transparent look into my brain and what I felt this week, after just four below-average performing videos.

That’s how fast the self-doubt can infect you.

Now of course, it’s all relative. My “dud videos” will still fill an NBA basketball stadium with viewers. That was crazy to type. 

And of course, I’m grateful for that.

But in this game, it feels like you need to fill 100 basketball stadiums every night to move the needle.

So in my head, it’s time to zoom back out and gut check if I’m still on the right path. I went through these three steps:

  1. 📼 | Game Tape - an unemotional look into the posts from this week and why I feel like they didn’t work

  2. 🧠 | Game Plan - is the path I’m on the right path strategically?

  3. 🔧 | Adjustments - how (if at all) am I going to adjust moving forwards?

POSTS & EXPERIMENTS

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

  1. 👩‍🎨 | Neymar’s new Saudi contract perks: Watch on TT | IG | YT

  2. 🎙️ | Chicago Bulls marketing team breaks the internet with schedule release: Watch on TT | IG | YT

  3. 💃 | Universal music goes all in on AI: Watch on TT | IG | YT

  4. 🛒 | Robomart brings convenience stores to you: Watch on TT | IG | YT

Game Tape

The first thing to do is look at the game tape. What have I started doing in my videos that could have led to worse performance? Why do I think these videos didn’t do well?

First, some overall themes:

  • 🔍 | Video Selection - I’m noticing that I’ve subconsciously started biasing towards video topics that have a broader mass appeal, even if I’m not super interested in the story. And this shift happened when Tiktok started paying for views in their Creator Program. I saw the chance to earn more money with more views, so I slowly started picking video topics that were clickbaity (e.g., Taylor Swift, sports contracts, Kanye, etc.). Now sometimes this strategy works, but even if the views come in, and the checks cash, am I really building the type of audience I want to build long-term? (more on that below)

  • | Delivery and Pacing - I’ve noticed that lately my delivery has gotten more cracked out. I’m forcing too much emotion in my voice which is shifting viewer perception from being shared with to being sold to. I’ve also noticed that my edited cuts are more aggressive and fast-paced, to the point where it might be overwhelming to the viewer to keep up while watching. I need to shift back to a greater emphasis on balanced entertainment while storytelling

  • 💬 | Language and Phrasing - I’ve been using language that is a bit too extreme and overselling my point. Phrases like “greatest marketing stunt of all time” or “best I’ve ever seen” or “wildest contract you’ll ever see” etc. I’m exaggerating a bit too much which leads to a feeling of inauthenticity

Now, a quick look into each video and why I think it didn’t work:

  • ⚽️ | Neymar contract - I think this was the best of the 4 videos that I made this week. I’m actually surprised it didn’t go ballistic. My “head turning” take here was that the Saudis are paying Neymar more for his influence than his play, but if you watch the video, I kind of buried that point. Overall, I tried to smash too many side narratives into this single video and it didn’t leave the viewer with a cohesive takeaway. Lesson: Focus on one main point and build the whole narrative around it

  • 🏀 | Chicago Bulls schedule release - This was the video I was most excited about this week. It felt like a cool niche find that I was early on, bridging tech and culture. Turns out, the Bulls aren’t the only team to do a cool schedule release. Apparently, it happens a lot. So when a viewer saw my video, but knew about other teams that have done this, it probably didn’t feel super unique to them, leading to fewer shares. So I should have done more research on this one up front. Also, the overlap between Chicago Bulls fans and Pokemon gamers is probably pretty small. Lesson: Do better research to ensure the “coolest marketing stunt of all time” is actually unique

  • 🎶 | Universal Music goes all in on AI - This was one of the worst hooks I’ve ever written. The story was about how Universal Music, the biggest music label/talent company in the world, was completely changing their tune on AI by co-launching an AI music incubator with YouTube. I struggled to come up with a catchy way to introduce this, so I thought naming Universal artists (Taylor Swift, Frank Sinatra, Kendrick Lamar) and then bridging the narrative to Universal, would work. In retrospect, it took 6+ seconds for me to introduce the Universal <> YouTube deal, which might as well be 36 hours to a Tiktok viewer. So I think despite an interesting concept, the hook turned everyone away. Lesson: Don’t try to get cute with hooks. Tell the viewer what the video is about ASAP

  • 🚙 | Robomart - I thought this was a cool find in emerging tech that was undercovered in the media. My video delivery was pretty solid and well paced, but it never took off. My guess is that this was too niche of a topic for people to care about. Lesson: Make sure a topic is meaty enough to warrant a video

Overall, I think all 4 of these were solid attempts. The inputs were pretty strong, but the output reward never came.

So that brings me to the second piece of the gut check…

Game Plan (Creator Strategy)

It’d be easy for me to brush this week off as an outlier and change nothing.

But I’ve had this thought brewing in my head for a couple weeks now…am I on the right path strategically?

Most of this game is about putting your head down and running forward. Unfortunately, if you pick your head up after 6 months and realize you were moving in the wrong direction (because of poor strategy), you’re not going to be very happy 🙁

So it’s important to gut check strategy every once in a while.

To do this, I’ve been working through a strategic exercise. I call it “and then what?”

Take what you’re doing today, ask “and then what?” over and over, and then see if where you end up is aligned with your desired future vision.

Let’s do it using the Kallaway brand.

Right now, I’m making videos covering interesting news across tech and cult brands. I make these videos with the goal of building a big audience across anyone that likes tech, brands, culture, etc.

And then what?

As my audience grows, brands will pay me to cover their stories in my videos.

And then what?

I’ll be able to reinvest those earnings into making more content to grow an even bigger audience.

And then what?

Bigger brand deals.

And so on.

The end result is that I become a next-generation news source for tech and brand-focused content.

And that’d be cool, but the highest probability outcome for where this path leads is that I end up with a business built around an advertising dominant model.

Advertising dominant model = Brand pays me to advertise in my content. I make sponsored post. I get paid once. Brand gets traffic.

But it’d be hard to sell my own products to this type of audience (e.g., clothes, software, supplements, courses, journals, etc.).

Why?

Because most people are following me for the way I breakdown the news, not necessarily because they love me.

They like the story more than the storyteller.

And if you don’t believe me, ask yourself if you’d buy vitamins from your local news anchor? Or even the host of the news podcast you consume? Probably not.

And the reason why not is because this person is kind of like a utility for you. You wouldn’t pay your cable company for new sneakers. They do one thing for you and that’s why they’re in your life. Same story here.

But don’t get me wrong, the advertising dominant model can work really well (e.g., all mainstream media companies).

It’s just that an advertising-heavy media business is not really my vision.

Because in that world, I’m basically on a content treadmill. If I don’t produce new content, I don’t earn new advertising dollars. Not ideal.

The goal is to make content when I want, about what I want, and I get paid anyways. I’d like brand deals to be a part of my monetization strategy, but not the dominant piece.

If you’re still with me, this is where it gets good.

Okay, so this tells me that my end vision is slightly misaligned with my current content strategy & trajectory.

Perfect.

Let’s redefine what I want my end vision to be.

My goal is to build a holding company (Wavy), with brands that I own and operate. This could be anything from a clothing brand to a software tool. I’ll also make content…because I love doing it. The content I make will be a huge value-add for my viewers. Those viewers will eventually become both fans of the content AND fans of me for me. They’ll also have a want/need for the products that my brands make. My brands, in turn, benefit from the free traffic that my content generates.

Okay cool.

The first things to figure out is who I want that audience to be? That’s core to everything.

Right now, my audience is anyone that likes tech and culture. That’s way too broad.

Why is broad a bad thing?

If I make 10 videos for 1M people, and everyone likes 3 of them, but doesn’t care about the other 7, I’ll have zero superfans.

Superfans are the type of people that will support you across any medium. They’re the ones that buy your products and tell others about it. They love you for you.

The broader your audience, the harder it is to build super fans.

Who are my dream superfans?

For me, I’d like to make content and products for the people that I want to spend the most time around…and that’s other creators and entrepreneurs.

Why?

Because if I’m going to spend all day, everyday thinking about how to add value to a group of people, I want to enjoy doing it. Thinking about creators, startups, and entrepreneurship is what I enjoy most. It’s who I am. So I’m going to make stuff for them.

What would it take for creators and entrepreneurs to want to follow me?

I need to find a way to provide them immense value.

So moving forward, I should only make content that helps that group. Even if my audience growth slows overall, as long as I can build depth in my desired niche segment, I should be better off in the long-run.

Every piece of content I make must be a value-add for this group. I think of this in three buckets:

  • Tactically helping creators/entrepreneurs (can they learn/use this to help themselves?)

  • Informing and entertaining creators/entrepreneurs (will they find this interesting/share this with friends?)

  • Sharing my process/life (will they be inspired to start?)

When you’re building for a narrower segment, you trade breadth for depth.

My hypothesis is that a narrower segment will lead to a better overlap in product-market fit when I create products in the future and the depth will lead to a high conversion.

So quickly playing the “and then what?” game again.

I make videos for creators & entrepreneurs.

And then what?

I build a bigger audience of creators & entrepreneurs that trust my taste and also enjoy my storytelling.

And then what?

Brands (specifically that build products for creators & entrepreneurs) want to pay me to get in front of creators & entrepreneurs.

And then what?

I can reinvest that money to build my own products for creators & entrepreneurs.

And then what?

I can make more content to market my products because there’s a natural overlap in the audience.

And so on.

The business model is product-dominant with support from advertising.

It’s a slight nuance, but I think it will help me achieve my end vision in the long-term.

To quickly summarize:

Before, I was making any video that I thought would appeal to the broadest number of people across tech or brands. That was leading to rapid top-line audience growth but weak depth.

I wasn’t speaking to someone, I was trying to speak to everyone.

Now, I’m going to add a lens on my story selection for creators & entrepreneurs. If I don’t think they would like or benefit from a story, I won’t make a video about it. This may slow top-line audience growth but significantly strengthen depth.

Now I’m speaking to a specific someone (creators & entrepreneurs), not everyone. 

LEVELING UP
Make things that people will share with others

I’ve been saying the word “depth” a lot recently, but I haven’t had a great metric to measure if depth is improving.

This week I saw two posts from my Internet friends Oren and Roberto where they talked about using “shares” as a core metric for depth.

Shares are the depth proxy.

If a viewer is willing to take the time to share your post with someone a friend, that means it had max resonance with them.

The goal is not to create for views or likes. It’s to create for shares.

Shares have max weighting in social algorithms because they’re the strongest force for bringing new eyes into the ecosystem.

So when you make content, ask yourself, “Would my desired audience share this with their friends/fans?”

If yes, let it rip.

AROUND THE WORLD

Here’s a list of some of my favorite creator finds from this week.

  • 🤩 | Relume is an amazing collection of templates/Figma files for designers

  • 🎥 | A collection of 10 Premiere Pro editing plugins to speed up your workflow

  • 👀 | Free open-source imagery/video clips that visualizes AI

  • | A collection of detailed morning routines for entrepreneurs

  • 🌆 | ClickPilot is a tool for comparing your YouTube thumbnails against popular creators

  • 😰 | Mixkit is a collection of free stock footage, sound effects, and video templates

  • 🔠 | Free Faces is a font library with cool, modern fonts

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 🤙🏼