🧑🏼‍🚀 Blueprint 016

Losing the money game, taste over tactics, Andrew Schulz, packaging over product, my "why" for being a creator

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

It’s been 16 weeks since I went on my own full-time.

Today’s topics:

  • 🧮 | Week 16 metrics & recap

  • 💰 | Am I losing the money game?

  • 🧐 | Why am I going down this path?

  • 👅 | Taste over tactics

  • 📦 | Packaging is more important than product

  • 🏆 | Justin Tse, Andrew Schulz and Jelly Roll win the 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 the internet astronauts building their own digital worlds. If that’s you…let’s ride ✌🏼👩🏻‍🚀

Weekly Highlights

The good news is…I had a great week of consistent, high quality output. I posted 5 videos that drove solid audience growth. (+6,343 in net new followers)

The bad news is…I can’t help but wonder if there is leakage in my strategy and my effort is misguided.

On the surface, my content strategy seems logical…

  1. Focus on making as much high quality content as possible

  2. Grow my audience as fast as possible with high trust while maintaining quality

  3. Don’t worry about monetization right now. Steps 1 and 2 will payoff in the future when I “turn on” monetization

But that’s led to a looming topic bouncing around my head for the past couple weeks…monetization.

I made $123 this week from the videos I posted. That might as well be zero dollars.

Fwiw, the majority of my earnings have come from brand deals. I didn’t do one this week, so income was negligible.

I’d obviously rather have more money coming in than less. Step 3 in my strategy above is based on the assumption that chasing money in the short-term will cause a negative trade-off in audience growth/trust.

But is that necessarily true?

I’m more than happy to go years giving max effort while making zero dollars if it means eventually there will be a bigger payoff.

But I think it’d be wise to start thinking through where that “payoff” should come from and back test my content strategy to ensure I’m optimally setting myself up for success.

That leads to the first open question I have right now…”How do I best position my effort so that I can max monetize without sacrificing audience trust?”

I’m going to chat with several other creators about it over the next few weeks.

If you’re also creating content and not yet earning more than $20K/month consistently, I’d imagine this is the most pressing question on your mind as well.

I’ll circle back with learnings as my thinking evolves.

The second open question I have right now (which ties in with the first) is…”Am I best channeling my creative efforts into the right content format mix?”

Currently I create content across three main formats:

  1. ✍🏼 | Blueprint (1x/week newsletter) - this newsletter, which I love writing, and I think is the perfect cadence, level of depth, and amount of value. Feels 10/10 original. No plans on ever stopping this

  2. 🏝️ | wknds vlogs (1x/week shorts) - my “day-in-the-life” short-form videos. I actually really like making these and think they are driving immense value to building my personality online. Feels 6/10 original. Content is 10/10 original, format is 2/10 original

  3. 📰 | info shorts (4-5x/week shorts) - these are my core “content product” right now. 60-90 second short-form videos breaking down a tech product, story or brand. Feels 8/10 original

Roberto and I are also launching a long-form podcast starting next week which will have:

  1. Long-form video podcast (1x/week YouTube + audio)

  2. Pod clips (3x/week on YouTube)

  3. Pod shorts (2-4x/week on IG/Tiktok/YouTube)

So I’ll then have a mix of written, short-form video, long-form video, and audio. Most of my effort is still being put towards my info shorts.

These are the types of questions I’m asking myself:

  • Could I achieve 90% of the reach with 3 shorts/week instead of 5 and use the newly unlocked time to start making medium-form YouTube videos as well?

  • Should I just make fewer shorts and try to make them better with the additional time and ignore medium-form YouTube?

  • Will our YouTube presence grow sufficiently with the podcast content such that there’s no need for additional Youtube videos?

  • Could I do both if I more effectively automated my process? How can I more effectively automate my process without adding massive overhead costs?

What makes this game hard is that there is no right answer. You just have to pick a path, try shit out, see what happens, and then adjust when possible.

But you don’t get to play the counterfactual.

You come to a fork, pick one path, and never get to know what was on the other side.

Hopefully this was helpful to give a peek into how I’m thinking about things!

Why am I doing all this?

An observation about projects…most people start them without first crystallizing a reason why.

Then, as ambitious humans tend to do, we stack these projects on top of each other until we’re overwhelmed.

To find relief from the overwhelm, the easiest path out is to quit. So we abandon the project and move on.

And the cycle continues. This is why most people fail at most things.

To combat this, I decided I wouldn’t start anything new unless I had a super clear reason why.

These are the 3 reasons why I quit my job to go full-time on being a creator/entrepreneur…

Reason #1: I love building

I love making cool stuff and putting it into the world.

It’s what I think about. It’s what feels most effortless to me. It’s the lens through which I see the world.

There was a time in my early twenties when I resisted this nature. I was trained to think people get put into career boxes and must find a way to survive despite their natural abilities.

I’ve learned something since then…you can’t outrun your true nature and be happy.

Much like how plants grow towards the sun, your brain and spirit naturally drift towards the things you get energy from.

Call it woo-woo, but I believe different people were meant to do different things. And when you spend time doing the thing you were naturally meant to do, things click differently.

So the first reason I’m doing this is purely for me. I believe I was put on this earth to make cool shit for the world.

Reason #2: Time and financial freedom for my family

The second reason I’m doing this is for my family that is alive today. My wife, future children, parents, grandparents, in-laws.

I want to buy time freedom for all of us. The ability to do what we want, when we want, with whomever we want, forever.

Does this mean I need the ability to buy a 5 floor NYC penthouse apartment and put a T-rex skeleton in it?

Nah, although that does sound cool.

I want to be able to fly to Italy with zero notice on a Tuesday and not have my businesses or financial security crumble while I’m gone.

I want to be able and go for a 4 hour walk on the beach in the middle of the day and not worry about missing anything.

The only way to achieve time freedom is to own financial assets (specifically cash flowing ones) that pay you regardless of your time input that day.

You cannot achieve the reality I’m describing with an hourly or salaried job unless the sum total of your wages in cash flowing assets exceeds ~$10M.

This is nearly impossible for any salaried employee in any field, especially before the age of 50.

As I see it, the greatest probability path to achieve this is the entrepreneurial one.

Reason #3: Generational Inflection

I’ve never really cared about legacy.

Maybe this will change when I have kids, but as far as I’m concerned, I care 0% about what the world thinks of me 100 years after I’m gone.

But there is one concept in this category that I’ve been obsessed with lately…changing the trajectory of my family line.

If you look at every single generationally wealthy family today, there was some entrepreneurial savage, at some point in history, that did something to change the slope of the curve for his/her family.

A generational inflection.

Generations of family members, and hundreds of great grandchildren, had better lives and more access to resources because that person decided, “I’m him/her.”

That’s dope. To me, that’s legacy.

You may not agree or resonate with any of these reasons, but if you’re in pursuit of something bigger, I strongly encourage you to get crystal clear on your reasons why.

Taste over tactics

I used to lie awake at night wondering why my business attempts were failing. 

At the time I didn’t realize it, but I had neither taste nor tactics.

Taste is knowing what to make. Tactics are knowing how to make it.

This is a hot take, but here’s a mistake most beginners make…they start with tactics and completely ignore taste.

They think, “I’m smart. I can just brute force learn how to do this thing and then if I do it for long enough, it’ll work.”

So they spend months meticulously learning the long tail of skills required to make said thing.

But when they improve to a point where their output is technically superior, they still net below average results.

Why is this?

How could it be that if you have the best skills and generate the best quality output, you are not achieving the best results?

It’s because you have no taste.

You’re making the wrong thing or in a way that isn’t interesting to the world.

A perfect example of this are the camera YouTubers that make amazing quality videos but have less than 10K subs.

They have all the gear and lighting and editing skills in the world. But why isn’t their stuff resonating?

Why aren’t they Peter McKinnon?

It’s not because their tactics are worse. That’s what most creators in this position assume…but they’re wrong. They’re skills are already 99th percentile!

It’s because Peter has better taste than them.

Taste in storytelling, visual aesthetic, product selection. Everything.

The overall vibe he gives off is a better match for what the world naturally wants.

You can win in a small way with all tactics and no taste, but your ceiling will be always be capped.

This is because like everything else, the world operates with a Pareto lens, where 80% of the wins accrue to the top 20% of the players.

Most of your favorite creators across every category are not in the top 1% of technical mastery. They usually hire those people. They’re the face of the operation (and the biggest earner) because they have taste.

Okay, so the big question…how does one improve their taste?

At the highest level, taste is your unique selection of a few out of many. It’s picking 100 needles out of a million haystacks. It’s your intuition for what the world wants.

In my view, the primary sensory experience tied to taste is vision. How does something look visually and is it what the world wants at that time?

Branding, UX, copy, design…this is how humans communicate taste to one another.

This is why great designers are often thought of as having good taste, because they are masters at making things that resonate with the world.

The best way to improve your taste is to start making things, sharing them with others, and seeing how they stack up.

When you compare your thing to other projects you naturally gravitate towards, does yours hold its own?

I know this is a bit vague, but there isn’t a set formula to taste. It’s kind of an invisible feeling.

Like anything else, the more you surround yourself with people that are universally known to have good taste, the more you will hone the sense for it.

The fun part is that your taste can be the unique combination of things that you like across the categories you play in.

The frustrating part is to have “good taste” means you need some portion of the world to like your combination of things.

If you want to win big, don’t ignore taste.

Packaging is more important than the product

When studying great creators, you often hear the same thing over and over…focus on the packaging of your content.

In my mind, packaging applies both to how you share your message, as well as the medium you share it through.

Certain mediums are better than others because they take advantage of digital leverage.

I didn’t use to understand this, but it’s been a super important frame shift for me. Feels like I’m on easy mode now.

Here’s a little thought spiral I went down around packaging and how more people should think about it to make money online.

— — — — —

Everyone in the world is talented at something.

Most spend the majority of their day working for money in an area that doesn’t overlap with their talents.

And the reason they’re doing this is because they are unable to package the output of their talent in a way that’s sustainable to monetize.

For example, let’s say you’re amazing at pencil sketch art.

Most people would think, “I’ll draw pictures and sell them on the internet.” 

They’ll quickly realize it’s super difficult to make enough money to live on because this packaging method doesn’t give them leverage on their time.

Each picture takes hours to make and they can only speed that process up so much.

A better way to package your skills would be to film yourself drawing.

The videos become the packaging that you post on social media, and the pictures become a byproduct.

This will work because the current packaging paradigm that the world most willingly accepts is short-form video.

Social media gives you an unfair advantage through leverage because your videos (and therefore art) can get in front of thousands of people without any incremental effort.

You’ll be able to monetize your videos through ads and have an easier time selling the pictures themselves because of the increased traffic.

Now I have to admit, you would have to learn a bit of video editing, which is a net new skill, but you could do the bare minimum on the editing and it’ll work.

A good example of this is Marko Terzo.

He makes custom sneakers out of unique materials.

If he just sold the sneakers on a website, it’d be hard for him to make a living.

Instead, he makes YouTube videos about the process to make the sneakers and is able to monetize 1000x more because of internet leverage.

In his case, he gives the sneakers away for free, but if he wanted to sell them, he’d have a much easier time with his videos than without.

He realized that the current version of the world prefers video content over everything else and adapted his packaging accordingly.

If you have a creative talent/interest and are struggling to find traction online, ask yourself, “What packaging does the market like in this current era” and how can I lean into it?

Justin Tse, Andrew Schulz, Jelly Roll

I love when people do dope shit. Here are 3 examples that caught my eye this week.

Justin Tse

Justin is a YouTuber that makes tech and lifestyle content. He’s been crushing lately and has an amazing aesthetic.

This week, he had a brand deal with Turo that I think was perfectly executed and should be a model for how all brands should work with content creators.

If you’re not familiar, Turo is a peer-to-peer service for car rentals. So think Avis, but the cars are from other people, which gives you more options at the upper end.

If you imagine what a normal Turo brand campaign would look like, it’d probably be Justin in a car, making a video explaining that “Turo is so cool, they have this app, it works like this, etc.”

I call this direct endorsement and, imo, it doesn’t work.

Prospective buyers have been consuming enough content on the internet to know when they are being sold to and generally turn off at this type of sponsored content.

Instead, Justin made content with indirect endorsement.

He drove around LA and went to several trendy spots. He posted a bunch of instagram stories at different luxury retailers, landmarks, restaurants, concerts and occasionally would just tag Turo in the post. A couple of the stories were of his car, but the majority were non-car lifestyle shots.

They key is that he wasn’t actively promoting the brand. He was doing cool things and then left casual passive references that it was powered by the brand.

This is what influencer partnerships should look like…strategically designed, indirect endorsement.

Andrew Schulz

Andrew Schulz is a comedian from New York. He also hosts the podcast Flagrant 2.

I joke that he’s my cousin because we kind of look alike and people in my Tiktok comments like to say I’m a knock-off version of him.

This week, he announced that he was headlining Madison Square Garden for the first time in his career and he made two pieces of content that were amazing.

The first was him walking in the empty arena with his dad and the second was on the subway filmed by Casey Neistat. If you’re a creator, you should watch both.

This is what it’s all about.

Jelly Roll

I gotta be honest, I had no idea who Jelly Roll was until this week. Still don’t really.

He won a Country Music Award and gave one of the most amazing speeches I’ve heard in a while.

Judging by the face tats, this is a guy that was down and out, turned his life completely around, and is now one of the biggest up and coming stars in music.

I love when people like this win.


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

  1. 🤖 | OpenAI releases GPT Agents: Watch on TT | IG | YT

  2. 💬 | Elon launches Grok, a chat GPT competitor: Watch on TT | IG | YT

  3. 🕹️ | The future of tech is not what you think: Watch on TT | IG | YT

  4. 🤏🏼 | Could this actually replace your phone? (Humane AI pin): Watch on TT | IG | YT

  5. 👨🏻‍🎨 | Runway’s new Motion Brush blew my mind: Watch on TT | IG | YT


If you liked today’s post and you know another creator building on the internet, it’d mean the world if you shared this with them. Friends sharing with friends is the best way to help us grow 🤙🏼


I’m open to partnering with interesting brands looking to sponsor Blueprint. If interested, please drop a note to [email protected]