🧑🏼‍🚀 Blueprint 030

The game within the game, attention pyramids, speed vs weird, the creator growth equation, joe rogan vs sora

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

It’s been 30 weeks since I went on my own full-time.

Today’s topics:

  • 📈 | Week 30 recap and metrics

  • ♟️ | The game within the game

  • ⚖️ | Speed vs weird

  • ⛰️ | Attention pyramids

  • 🧮 | The Creator Growth Equation

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 worlds. If that’s you…let’s ride 👩🏻‍🚀

WEEKLY RECAP
Recap

I’ve been having a lot more fun lately.

Most of that is coming from an unconditional acceptance of who I am and leaning into the weirdness that comes with it.

For now, my videos feel like they live in a lane of their own…some unique combination of culture, business strategy, and tech.

And as I try to broaden my skillset, to unlock other formats, it feels special to have something special.

But the challenge with being unique is that your stuff constantly feels different than everything else you see.

This feeling often triggers a red alert response in your subconscious, because humans were hardwired genetically to fit in vs stand out (for survival).

To be different, you have to be willing to be different. 

And that goes against what we’ve been taught our whole lives.

Picasso wasn’t Picasso in the beginning. He was just a weird dude that put noses on chins and eyes on elbows.

But he was willing to be different even though it wasn’t what he saw day to day.

This is part of what I call the game within the game.

The game is trying to use the internet to accumulate resources, build relationships, make cool things, and help others.

The game within the game is the daily internal battle within your own mind to determine if you’re making the right moves.

It feels like I’m on the right path, but who knows?

There is no baseline benchmark for what I would unlock if I picked a different approach. I don’t get to see the counterfactual.

All you can do as a maker of things is trust your gut that you’re choosing to make the right things and pursue relentlessly.

— — — — — — — — —

Sometimes, when I go through spurts of wondering if I’m on the right path, I find a picture of the amount of people that interacted with my content.

This is what it looked like over the past 6 days…three of these👇🏼

SPEED VS WEIRD
Speed vs Weird

Lately, I’ve been trying to resist making the reactionary, news-style videos.

Mostly because I don’t want to become a prisoner to the news cycle.

If I have something planned for a day, I don’t want to have to clear my entire schedule just to cover some breaking news story.

Also, breaking news videos aren’t one-of-one. Hundreds of people can make this content.

But, in this current era of short-form video, being the first to cover a highly searched topic is the best way to rack up millions of views.

Funny enough, this week I was able to run an A/B test to explore this thinking.

Weird - Joe Rogan (Video)

I had been sitting on a cool idea for a video exploring Joe Rogan’s new Spotify deal and how it signaled a change in the media landscape.

I was stoked about this concept, thought I had a really unique point of view, and assumed it was a certified banger.

I knew I was a couple weeks late on the news story being talked about, but figured that wouldn’t hold my video back.

I spent 7 hours editing it. Stayed up until 3am on Wednesday night.

It was one of those pieces that I was super proud of and wanted to be perfect. The video ended up being ~90 seconds long.

I posted it at 9:30am PT on Thursday morning.

Speed - Sora (Video)

Was just about to leave for the gym at 10am when I saw a tweet from OpenAI about Sora, their text-to-video model.

Reactions on Twitter were that this was a ChatGPT-like product, would change the world, etc.

So I threw down my gym bag and went from end to end making a video about Sora in ~1 hour, the fastest I’ve ever gone.

The script was as unoriginal as it gets, the video was ~30 seconds long, and there was zero special Kallaway sauce on the video.

I don’t like to post 2 videos in one day, but obviously this was a speed play so I posted it at ~11am PT.

Here is the performance breakdown for both videos since then…

So in summary, the Sora video had 4.7x more views, 10x more shares, more engagement, and took 14% of the time to make. Woof.

When things like this happen, it’s easy to learn the wrong lesson when analyzing with frustrated eyes. Let’s not do that here.

Here are my takeaways:

  • If you want to “go viral” on short-form platforms, get max views, max shares, max engagement, being the first to talk about a breaking story gives you the best chance to consistently do this (this doesn’t mean you can’t get all those things with other forms of content, but this is a surefire way to milk engagement)

  • Time spent doesn’t necessarily map linearly to performance out. Time spent on the right ideas matters.

  • My hypothesis with short-form video was that, by being consistently unique, different, and one of one, I’ll establish more depth with my followers over a long time horizon. I believe this to be true, but there is no way to measure with data based on this example. The only way would be to run a click campaign on both videos with the same messaging, which I didn’t do

How will this affect my strategy moving forward?

I think short-form as a medium is designed for news/real-time event consumption.

As I double down on YouTube and other higher depth channels, I’m going to look to leverage the natural tailwinds of each platform.

For short-form, current events and breaking news take advantage of social search, which drives most sharing and discovery. Maybe that means I’ll lean a bit heavier into this for short-form videos moving forward?

The issue with my current approach for short-form (bangers only) is that it isn’t efficient when you don’t know which videos will actually go viral.

If the short-form platforms worked efficiently, and unique takes, creative ideas, and one-of-one execution always mapped to the best results, then everyone would make videos with unique takes, creative ideas, and one-of-one execution.

But that’s not how it works…instead, it’s much more like a slot machine. More pulls means more wins on an absolute basis.

Thought this was an interesting A/B test to walkthrough.

Let me know in this poll which of the two videos you preferred to help confirm I’m not going insane 👇🏼

Which video did you like better?

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SECOND NEWSLETTER
My second newsletter

I teased this awhile back, but I’m launching a second newsletter this week, wknds on Mars.

It’ll be free for an interim period and when it becomes paid, everyone who signed up during the free period will be grandfathered into free forever (so be sure to subscribe if it sounds interesting to you).

Here’s the difference between this newsletter (Blueprint) and the new one (wknds on Mars)

I want to protect Blueprint as more of a creator diary/investor letter, sharing my thought process, metrics, learnings…everything that has made it dope to this point.

But because I spend so much time on the edges of the internet, I have lots of other thoughts around business ideas, trends, emerging business models, creators I love, etc. that often don’t make it into Blueprint.

So all of that stuff, which is more tactical and less connected to my individual creator experience, will go into wknds on Mars.

A good example of how I’d approach writing about the same topic across both newsletters might look like this:

  • Blueprint - I’d talk about Sora in the context of how my video on it performed or how I’m personally using it in my creator workflow, etc.

  • wknds on Mars - I’d talk about business ideas using Sora as the engine, what other creators/entrepreneurs are using it well, trends emerging because of it, etc.

Again, not sure if wknds on Mars will be free forever, but it’s going to be free for this interim period so make sure to subscribe here.

PS: I’m going to spend the next few decades building out the wknds universe. The newsletter is called wknds on Mars because I want it to feel like a glimpse into the future

ATTENTION PYRAMIDS
Attention Pyramids

As a creator, it’s impossible to control the outcome of your work.

What you must control though, aggressively, is your time and how you funnel it into various channels.

At the beginning of my creator season, I went all-in on short-form video. It was the only channel where I was making content for about 9 months.

I did this because it had the fastest feedback loop, best chance to grow a large following (for brand deal optics) and, as I believed at the time, was the best visual medium for sharing my ideas.

I know a lot more about the content landscape now.

A short-form only strategy will not get me, or anyone I know, where we want to go.

Take a look at this chart, I call it “The Pyramid of Attention”

I’ve mapped each of the popular content channels against 4 factors…ease of attention, views, depth, and likelihood to purchase.

Ease of attention and views are directly correlated with each other. Channels like Twitter and Short-form video are the easiest to pull high views.

But depth and likelihood to purchase are inversely correlated with ease of attention/views, meaning it’s generally easier to get someone to purchase or build deep fandom from content at the bottom of the pyramid than it is at the top.

Now, before I break this down, let me be clear…I’ve seen people win with every combination of these blocks.

Twitter only, books only, the full set of all of them, etc.

There are a million ways to win, and on an infinite time horizon, with infinite effort and max leverage, they’ll all work.

However, what I’m after, is the optimal strategy.

The strategy that gives me the best chance to win based on my natural talent, audience niche, content style, etc.

Instead of giving advice on what you should do, I’ll walk through my general approach and how I’m thinking about it:

  • Short-form only leads to super high views, big followings and $500K-$1M/year of mostly brand deals and affiliates, but will cap out there and slowly degrade over time (btw, this is great for some most people)

  • Podcast only leads to super high depth, a potentially huge following, but will take 5-10 years minimum. Could be $5-$10M/year at peak (in theory higher if you look at Rogan)

  • Medium/long-form YouTube is the best mix of helping you build depth while also not taking a decade to see results

Most of the creators with massive net worths are YouTubers. There are exceptions of course (especially in podcasting), but long-form YouTube has been the magic zone for the past few years. Side note: that doesn’t mean it will continue to be the magic zone for the next few years, but I’m bullish on it

But the question I’ve been thinking about lately is, “How do I add gasoline to my YouTube fire?”

It’s worth noting that the pyramid is mud on the way down and escalators on the way up.

What I mean is that it’s much harder to get people to funnel down the pyramid than up.

For example, if someone consistently watches your short-form videos, it’s hard to get them to jump to YouTube or podcasts…we’ve seen this first hand with the wknds podcast.

On the other side, if they discovered you through a channel at the bottom of the pyramid, it’s much easier to get them to check out your other channels above.

So given that, a failed strategy that most people rely on, is expecting to drive a high volume of people from short-form videos to YouTube/Podcasts. It just doesn’t work well.

That means, you need to gradually stairstep people down the pyramid at a slower pace.

The short-form video → email newsletter and then email newsletter → YouTube/podcast is a much more effective route.

And that’s my strategy…use short-form video exclusively to funnel people to my email newsletters (Blueprint and now, wknds on Mars).

I’ll reference YouTube videos and podcasts within my short-form content through stories and make a Reel every now and then, but the primary focus is to activate through the email list.

Once people are on the email list, I should have an easier time getting them to the higher depth content, because they’re consuming information via email at a much slower pace (i.e. more willing to click links and pursue rabbit holes)

In addition, I’ll be launching a free community for creators and entrepreneurs to share everything I know about content, marketing, and growth. This should also help build a stronger bridge between the top of the pyramid and the bottom. More on that next week.

The funny thing is, the content at the bottom of the pyramid (wknds podcast, my personal YouTube videos, etc.) is actually higher value content than anything at the top, but it takes way more work to get people to find it.

This is my current strategy based on what I’m seeing. As always, things may change with new information.

If you’re a creator and have thoughts on this (in support or against), please reply and let me know where your head is at.

THE CREATOR SUCCESS EQUATION
The Creator Success Equation

This week on the podcast, Roberto and I talked about trying to figure out an equation to measure success for a creator.

Here’s my attempt…Kallaway’s constant.

The constant is a point in time, quantifiable way to compare the trajectories of multiple creators.

In theory, if you ran the numbers on both, all else held equal, it’d give you a sense for who had the higher growth potential at that time.

And let me just say…this was a totally unnecessary section, but in the spirit of leaning into your oddities, here we go.

Let me quickly break it down…

The numerator consists of:

  1. The Juice - Level of effort applied (scored out of 10)

  2. The Sauce - Level of skill in the given medium (scored out of 10)

  3. Reps Per Week - As a proxy for the speed of iteration on that skill

  4. Sequential Active Quarters - To apply a compounding factor for positive iteration over time

The denominator consists of:

  1. Days in Month Active - A proxy for focus. The more days active, the lower the denominator, the greater the constant will be

Ideally, you’d apply this formula for each active channel you were working on and add them together to get the total.

Let’s use myself as an example…

So my number as of today is 523.

Does that mean anything to anyone…absolutely not lol.

The principle though, is that if there was a standardized metric to compare all creators, the same way they have Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in baseball, it’d look something like this.

In creatorland, it’s hard to use output numbers (views, shares, etc) as a predictive metric because of the variability.

Instead, the combination of effort, skill, iteration, consistency and focus are probably the most predictable factors in success.

CONTENT FROM THIS WEEK

My best content from this week:

  1. ✈️ | These 3D airport maps are wild: Watch

  2. 💰 | Spotify is paying Joe Rogan $450M: Watch

  3. 🤖 | OpenAI just destroyed the video industry with Sora: Watch

  4. 🔨 | 17 Creator Tools that Save Me 20+ Hours Per Week: Watch

  5. 🦖 | wknds podcast (013) - The Apple Vision Pro content creation, Buildalongs, advertising on courses, the infinite money glitch, Gary Vee and more: Watch / Listen

  6. 🧑🏼‍🚀 | Blueprint 029 - Be The Office; The Happiness Project; Sets, props, characters, and uniforms; One person billion dollar companies: Read

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