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🧑🏼‍🚀 The Blueprint 006

PLUS: The biggest trap for creators with traction, my secret weapon for design, best content, custom shoes for Joe Rogan, and more

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 & earnings

  • 😖 | The biggest trap for creators seeing early traction

  • 🙇🏻‍♂️ | Dispatch is becoming my secret weapon

  • 😲 | My favorite content from this week

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 ✌🏼😎

POST PERFORMANCE

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

  1. 🏈 | Thursday Night Football’s AI-powered broadcast: Watch on TT | IG | YT

  2. 🛒 | There will never be another brand like Kirkland Signature: Watch on TT | IG | YT

  3. 💃 | Taylor Swift’s Era’s Documentary is a genius move: Watch on TT | IG | YT

AUDIENCE GROWTH
Weekly Recap

We had a big traction week. All three videos went 1M+ on Tiktok, a first for me.

Here’s a quick summary of my biggest takeaways, observations, and learnings from this week:

  • 🎥 | My YouTube channel is still screaming higher. It’s pretty remarkable to have 22K+ subscribers from basically only re-posting Shorts. For reference, my lifetime YouTube channel earnings are $911. 83% of that came from two shorts going mega-viral, so still a ways to go on the “reliable” monetization front. I think YouTube is the best place to earn consistent money while simultaneously building audience depth. Excited to double down here soon (more on that below)

  • 🧮 | Metrics tracking has been key for me to realize what actually drives growth (hint: it’s shares). A few tweaks you’ll see in the graphics above. I stopped tracking Twitter and added a historical view into both growth and income from week to week. I also set preliminary goals ($10K and 50K followers per week) as targets. Lastly, I now track share percentage (shares/views) for all posts. This is the most important metric imo

  • 🎡 | Compounding is wild when it’s working for you. Your goal as a creator is to get the momentum wheel spinning and never let it stop. The energy required to generate new momentum from nothing is pretty high. It usually takes multiple banger videos in a 7 day window to get algo tailwinds behind you. But once you have them, keep feeding the monster. This is why consistency is so important. Your next videos will benefit by drafting off the previous ones

  • 💰 | Tiktok will pay me $6,280 for my 17 qualified videos in August. This is from their Creativity Beta Fund and a result of ~10M qualified views. Pretty proud of that draw in month 1

  • 🔧 | There was one major adjustment I made this week…how I picked my video topics. I now ask myself this question, “Is my target viewer going to share this in the group chat they care most about?” That is all that matters in the content game…share percentage. Shares are a proxy for deep resonance. If your video sucks, someone will scroll by. If it’s pretty good, they’ll throw you a like. But if they love it, they will share it with someone else…because sharing dope content is a form of social currency. My 3 videos were shared 300,100 times across Tiktok and Instagram. This means 200-300K new viewers were exposed to my channels in the last 6 days. That’s pretty amazing. What’s not super amazing is that I only gained +11.5K followers from those shares. That’s only 3.8% conversion. I need to up those numbers. Increasing the conversion will likely come from improving my profile picture/bio/pinned posts, etc.

  • 😒 | My biggest area for improvement is still sound design. I’m absolutely awful at picking songs for videos and my sound effects game is pretty basic. Trying hard to up my skills here. If you’ve seen anyone that’s a master at this, please share!

STRATEGY

The biggest trap for creators with traction

It sounds silly, but the hardest thing to do when you’re seeing success as a creator is to remain laser focused on the thing you were successful at in the first place.

Here’s what typically happens to creators:

  • They struggle for years to get traction on anything they make. It sucks.

  • Something finally starts working. They find magic at the intersection of some topic in some format across some medium (e.g., documentary-style, startup founder breakdowns, on YouTube)

  • That channel starts really growing. They’re feeling great. They begin to monetize in a small way on that channel (e.g., Adsense)

  • At this point, they’re probably 1-2 years deep on creating for that channel. Still at the flat part of the hockey stick curve. The money they’re earning is enough to keep them alive, but barely. Maybe it’s $5-$10K per month. They’re doing their best and putting a lot of hours in. They come to realize that in order to make the life-changing money they want (e.g, $500K+ per year), they need to supplement their primary channel with something else. Another channel, other types of content, digital products, physical products, consulting services, etc. They’re also probably getting a little bored of only focusing on one thing.

  • So they think to themselves, “Amazing. If got this thing working, I can make anything work. Let me throttle down my time commitment on my core thing to 50% (but it’ll keep growing at ~80% of peak because I’m better at it now) and I’ll pour half of my time into starting something else”

But then something terrible happens. Either…

The new thing doesn’t work and the original thing stalls due to the lack of time/intensity.

OR

Both things start working but the creator gets burnt out and can’t sustain max effort in both areas. They end up with both things operating at 30-70% of max potential and they are forever treading water.

On accident, they effectively stunted the compounding of their primary thing.

Ironically, creators are probably better off going all-in on their core thing and putting blinders on long enough to get to the “stick part” of the hockey stick curve.

Almost certainly money will come in bigger bunches than expected and the effect of compounding on one channel will supercede the sum of several others that are all pre-explosion.

The problem is, spending 10 years on one thing isn’t very fun and takes an unfathomable amount of discipline.

The feeling of wanting to do more and adding other things is natural, but it can result in a vicious cycle.

Two of my favorite creators talked about this in the last couple weeks. Ali Abdaal is a big-time YouTuber. He was being interviewed by Colin and Samir and broke down how this impacted him. Matt Wolfe, another YouTuber and all-around AI guru, had a great tweet on this.

Now here’s the truth.

It’s fun to take on new and exciting projects. For someone like me, it’s not realistic to assume I will spend 100% of my time on one channel forever. That just wouldn’t be enough fun for me.

So the question is…how do you sustainably onboard new projects and slowly build up the stack without sacrificing the primary channels or personal livelihood?

In my opinion, there is a “right way” to do it. I’ll explain it in context of how I’m thinking about building my own content empire:

  • 1️⃣ Start with one: When you’re starting out, it’s important that you only have one thing on your plate. If you have a full-time job and make content on the side, that’s fine, but make sure you’re only taking on one type of content (e.g., short-form videos). At first, this primary thing should take up as much of your time as possible, so you can learn as fast as you can and begin taking reps. For me, this was short-form videos. That’s all I started with for the first 6 months.

  • 🧐 Noticing efficiencies: Over time, you will start to notice efficiencies, both because your skills are improving and you’ve uncovered new tools and processes to help you automate tasks. Your output is getting better while your input is getting faster.

  • 👑 Compounding is king: Now it’s important to realize how valuable compounding is. It is king. There is nothing better. So when you get started on something, your primary goal is to keep the compounding working…at all costs.

  • 🕑 When to add a second thing: When it comes time to add a second channel or project, you must ensure that the first doesn’t diminish in input quality or quantity. For example, if I was making 4, high quality short-form videos per week, my #1 objective when adding something else into the mix is to ensure that I am able to beat or maintain at least 4 videos per week at the current quality. If I’d need to go below that input level to add a second channel, then I shouldn’t add it. Why not? Because dipping below my current input level will stunt the compounding, breaking the #1 rule.

  • 🤝 How to add a second thing: Now there’s two ways to add something to the stack without dropping the input of what you’re already doing:

    • Unused time: You had free time you previously weren’t using to do your primary thing that you can now allocate towards the secondary thing. For me, this was writing the newsletter on Sundays. I wasn’t making videos on Sundays so I had that time free.

    • Hiring: You can hire someone else to take on some of the workload of your primary thing or the workload of your new thing.

  • 🔁 Rinse and repeat: This process can work forever. You do something. It works. You learn to do it faster. You hire someone to take some of the workload. That helps maintain input quality while freeing up some of your time to add a second thing. And so on.

Now the secret is to do this slowly. Rapidly adding or trying to combine multiple new things at once will almost certainly result in your primary thing suffering.

And remember, if compounding is the most important thing, and you’re not allowed to let your primary thing suffer, then you cannot take it on.

What’s next for me and how am I applying this framework?

Right now I have two things working:

  1. Short-form videos (3-4x/week)

  2. Blueprint newsletter (1x/week)

I have about 5-10 hours per week that are untapped. That isn’t enough to add an entirely new channel without help.

My next project will be to launch a podcast. This will span audio and video and have full episodes, clips, and shorts.

I will hire an editing team that will handle the entire back-end production of the show. All I will focus on is prepping, hosting/recording, and then strategizing with the team on topic ideas.

Adding a video podcast is the right next move for me because:

  1. YouTube: I’ll be able to double down on YouTube in a format I enjoy (I like podcasting, I really don’t like making YouTube videos). Also, as mentioned earlier, YouTube is still the best platform for monetization

  2. Depth: I’ll be able to build depth with my audience and give fans a place to go to hear my expound on my takes in a deeper way

Now here’s where it all ties together…

If I wasn’t earning any revenue from my primary things (shorts/email), and I couldn’t afford to hire an editing team, then now wouldn’t be the right time for me to start the podcast. This is because I don’t have the bandwidth to launch it myself without sacrificing the compounding of the shorts/email.

DISPATCH

In addition to adding a video editing team to the squad (more on that in the next couple weeks), I’ve also started working with a design partner, Dispatch.

Think of Dispatch like an always-on designer with world class chops.

Anything I need from branding, landing pages, graphics, email design, illustrations, etc. they are able to do it for me. The key is that it’s an unlimited subscription model, so there is no cap on the amount of requests or iterations.

Dispatch is becoming a secret weapon for me as a solo creator.

In the past, I’ve struggled with one-off design projects because the incentives were usually misaligned.

For a contract designer, their incentive is to complete a task as efficiently as possible. There is almost always a point where additional asks or iterations becomes an additional charge.

And that makes sense, of course, but as someone that doesn’t always have the vision fully fleshed out at the beginning of the process, I was often left with half-done work or a deliverable I wasn’t over the moon about.

What I really wanted was a design wizard that could work collaboratively with me and help to visualize my ideas via iteration.

That’s exactly what Dispatch is and it’s been the best design experience I’ve ever had.

If it takes you 30 revisions to get the perfect branding, they will happily do it for you. The design cycles are quick…I have something new to review every 2 days.

My goal is to have Dispatch as long-term design partner that handles everything design related for me (we have a creator partnership). I’m planning on keeping a section in this newsletter to help showcase the design projects we’re working on and my strategy behind why I think they’re important.

Our first design project is revamping the the Kallaway visual identity. I want to up-level everything visually.

Here’s a quick peek at some of the progress over the past 2 weeks (still WIP although I’m stoked about the signature and typeface):

Dispatch is super selective with who they work with because their goal is to find long-term relationships. They have a couple openings for new clients starting in September…could be an individual creator, marketing team, or a startup. They do the vetting up front, but no long-term committments, you could start with as short as a 1 month trial.

If you’re interested in leveling up your design work, drop me a note with a short blurb about what you’re looking for and I will pass it along to the team.

AROUND THE WORLD

The custom box Marko made for the Joe Rogan shoes

Here’s a collection of my favorite content from the week:

  • 🦸🏻‍♀️ | Roberto’s video about brands making you the hero in their campaigns

  • 👟 | Marko makes custom shoes for Joe Rogan (his videos are unreal)

  • 🚀 | Hunter Weiss’s video breaking down a step by step plan for building a content agency

  • 🚪 | Landon Bytheway’s studio tour is so sick

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 🤙🏼