🧑🏼‍🚀 Blueprint 041

Headscratching content experiments, the insane story of Wesley Wang, two creator mindset boosts, Kallaway's Toybox

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

It’s been 41 weeks (10.25 months) since I went full-time.

TODAY’S TOPICS:

🧐 | Week 41 metrics & headscratching content experiments

🎬 | The insane story of Wesley Wang, Darren Aronosfsky & doing what you love

🧠 | Two quick creator mindset boosts

🧰 | Kallaway’s Toybox - creator tools I’m playing with right now

If you prefer audio, you can listen to this episode on Apple & Spotify.

A reminder that the 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 👩🏻‍🚀

WEEK 41 METRICS & CONTENT EXPERIMENTS
Content Experiments

When things are working, the game is easy. Do what you’re already doing, just do more of it.

But when things stop working…you begin to question your game plan.

Did I get worse, did the world get better, or did the game change altogether?

Although it’s usually a combination of the first two, I’ve started noticing a major macro shift.

The content game has officially changed.

And I’m not the only one that feels it. Hormozi talked about it here (this video is amazing btw), Gary Vee talks about it here, and on and on.

The shift is from faster/shorter/louder/insane → slower/longer/normal/relatable.

And as frustrating as this is to admit…my wife was right about this one too.

My hypothesis for why this is happening…people have seen so much of the high retention “whiz bang” stuff that it fried their brain and they’re sick of feeling brain dead.

People can now recognize this style instantly and will scroll right past it.

How do I know this?

My short-form videos have stopped performing as well as they used to.

My flagship style is built around this high retention editing methodology. As I edit, I literally think to myself…how can I make sure there is enough movement on the screen to retain the viewer?

So to test if this shift was real, I ran a couple of experiments.

Experiment 1: Barstool for Business

The first one I tried was my video about “Barstool for Business.”

I started by making a greenscreen style video, which you can watch on Tiktok here.

I thought it was so bad and so cringey that I couldn’t bring myself to post it on any other platform.

I shot it on my iPhone, didn’t use a microphone (just the iPhone audio), and I edited directly in CapCut mobile. It took ~2.5 hours to make, mostly because it was my first stab in this style. I think I could get this down to <1 hour.

It ended up getting 6.1K views on Tiktok.

Then, I took basically the same script (slightly more optimized) and created the “Barstool for Business” video in my Kallaway signature style. You can watch that for comparison here.

This took 5 hours to make (woof) and got 11.6K views on Tiktok.

Here is the detailed Tiktok metrics comparison:

So my normal Kallaway style got almost 2x the views, but the average watch time was lower, full watch percentage was lower, etc.

The reason it got more views was because it had significantly more saves & shares.

You can also see that the Kallaway Style had a longer half-life, continuing to ramp for 3 days after posting, while the greenscreen one was DOA after the first initial burst of traffic.

Now being the terrible scientist that I am, I didn’t post the greenscreen version anywhere else (again because of my ego and fear of embarassment), but my Kallaway Style version got:

  • 26.7K views on IG

  • 413 views on YouTube

  • 1.6K views on Snapchat

  • 176K views on Twitter

So my main takeaways after experiment #1:

  • The greenscreen video style, if executed properly, might be a better ROI on time (esp. on Tiktok). It needs more testing

  • If it wasn’t for a random Twitter viral moment, the Kallaway Style version would have been another “average” performer. I need to explore adjusting my default style

And then came experiment #2…the real head scratcher.

Experiment 2: Mindtrip

I found this cool AI travel platform, Mindtrip, and thought it would crush in a video.

So I spent another 5 hours (double woof) making it in my Kallaway style. You can see that version here.

I posted on IG (with the Manychat growth loop) and it performed pretty well (currently at 42.3K views).

But on Tiktok…only 569 views.

WTF?!

5 hours of work for only 569 views is so wild to me because I really thought that video was a banger.

So last night (Saturday), I decided to run the ultimate test.

I came home at 7pm PST and recorded this version of the Mindtrip video.

I tried to make it as bad as possible while still being good (if you make content, you really should watch it).

Terrible audio, terrible lighting, handholding the phone pointing at my computer screen, stock captions, no graphics, no music.

I then posted it at the worst possible time (Saturday night at 8pm PST // 11pm EST).

I’m telling you, I did everything in my power to make sure this video belly flopped harder than my dad in a Carnival cruise Lido deck pool.

And whaddaya know, that video has 5.3K views on Tiktok….9.4x more than my super polished version.

Hmmm…heads are being scratched.

This tells me that the handheld, relatable style will perform significantly better if I execute it well.

But that’s on Tiktok.

My hunch is that we’re seeing a divergence in “optimal styles” across platforms.

I used to think I hacked the game by making short-form videos because I could make a single version, post everywhere, and grow everywhere.

But that doesn’t work anymore.

I know for a fact that the handheld style won’t work on YouTube shorts. And my hunch is that the graphics would need to be better for it to work on IG.

One last point and then I’ll wrap up this section.

If I’m being honest with myself, the reason I’m making the type of videos I currently make (the Kallaway style) is mostly ego driven….I think they look dope visually.

But when I watch them back and really try to take the “cinematics” out of it, it’s pretty hard to understand what I’m talking about. The story gets clouded by the visuals.

When you watch this handheld “poorly” shot one, the messaging is much clearer and easy to follow, even though, imo, it looks like trash.

People that say “oh that looks cool” won’t share. People that say “oh that’s valuable” will share.

The reason I write all this is because a) I want to win (and assume you do too) and b) it’s clear to me that there is a better approach than what I’m using right now.

I’m going to keep iterating and find some style that marries the best of both…that’s still signature to me visually but much easier to digest and follow.

Short-form + Newsletter Content Ramp Test

One other quick little experiment I ran…

I’m trying my best to figure out the right combination of content on a given topic.

Take Mindtrip for example. Do I make:

  • Just a short-form video (short → Mindtrip’s landing page)

  • A short-form video + a deeper newsletter analysis (short → email)

  • A short-form video + a long-form video on YouTube (short → long)

  • Etc.

My thinking is that I get so deep researching a given topic that I should be releveraging the sawdust in other formats that people want.

This was my test for what a “newsletter post” could look like that I would drive people to from a short-form video.

The thinking is that I’d make the Mindtrip short and then the CTA would be, “If you want to learn more about how I’d make Mindtrip a household name, check this out” and it would take people to this blog post.

In the post, I took the approach of, “Hey, I’m CEO for the day…here’s what I would do if I were running Mindtrip”

If you like my writing and are a business nerd, check this Mindtrip post out and let me know if you think it’s valuable or not.

PRIVATE COMMUNITY SOFT LAUNCH

In the last few Blueprint posts, I’ve mentioned I’ll be launching a private community designed for people that want to level up their content.

I’m looking for a few people that are interested in being “beta testers” for the experience.

Will be free and help influence the community moving forward.

If interested, please fill out this quick form (for those that already filled out the form about the community, you’re good!)

THE INSANE STORY OF WESLEY WANG
The insane story of Wesley Wang + doing what you love

This story went viral on Twitter last week.

A 19 year old kid at Harvard (Wesley Wang) directed this insane movie in high school.

It recently went nuclear on YouTube and led Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler, Black Swan, The Whale) to send this email to Wesley.

Wesley (at 19 yo) is now going to be the youngest director in history to set up a movie at a major studio. He’s adapting his YouTube film for the big screen.

I love this story for so many reasons…the movie, the record, the email…it’s all super inspiring.

But the big takeaway is that this is a reminder to spend time doing what you actually love to do.

Serendipity happens for those that continue pulling on the strings of their authentic interest.

I hope Wesley crushes this movie and becomes the next great director.

CREATOR MINDSET BOOSTS
Creator Mindset Boosts

Two quick mental frameworks I was thinking about this week that I’ve found helpful.

1. Where does work anxiety come from?

Growing up, I was lucky enough to never have anxiety.

I didn’t even really know what it was until I graduated college and began working full-time.

Within my first full week working as a management consultant, I knew I hated it and immediately felt an overwhelming sense of work anxiety.

I’ve always had a burning desire to “succeed,” but didn’t know where I should channel my effort to make it happen. All I knew is that my consulting job wasn’t it.

I think a lot of people feel “work anxiety” all the time.

So in an attempt to find a solve for it, I sat with this question…”Where does work anxiety come from?”

Let’s say you have $100K in the bank today and you want to eventually have $100M.

Most people would think anxiety comes from the acknowledgment of the distance between where you are today and where you want to be.

That feeling of looking up at Money Mountain and thinking, “damn that’s a long way” is what creates anxiety.

But that’s actually not it.

What creates the anxiety is adding the time dimension”I need to have $100M by X time.”

And as social media becomes a bigger part of our lives and we see more people (younger than us) closing their own success gaps faster, we feel more and more urgency to close ours immediately.

It’s the time constraint that makes us feel anxiety, not the distance.

So why not remove the time constraint?

When most successful people reflect on their path, they often reference playing in decades.

What does that actually mean?

There’s 3,650 days in a decade. To play in decades means to not care if certain success benchmarks are hit in any specific time.

Years can pass by without moving the needle at all.

Continually reminding yourself of this is a helpful exercise to minimize work anxiety.

2. Drive

I’d consider myself hyper driven.

If you ask any of my friends, I’ve always been trying to make some venture work, ever since I was 18 years old.

It’s possible that being hyper driven is a suboptimal way to live.

In fact, the more time I spend reflecting, the more I realize that there is no “optimal way” to live.

There is just your nature (who you are), your nurture (what you were taught in the past), and your inputs (what you are taught in the present).

Your “optimal life” is the best fit approach to maximize your unique combination of those three things.

One thing I am quite sure of though, is that drive atrophies when it’s not being consistently used.

Drive is like a muscle…it must be flexed consistently to remain strong.

Possibly the worst part of a long-term hospital stay is not the mental battle of healing (although I’m sure that is very tough)…it’s the unexpected muscular atrophy and the required restrengthening of the uninjured muscles because they went so long without being used.

Drive is the same.

If a hyper driven life suits your unique nature, don’t wait too long to use it.

KALLAWAY’S TOYBOX
Kallaway’s Toybox

I’m going to add this as a section to the bottom of the newsletter anytime I use something interesting. Will only share things I actually love or am actively experimenting with. Some links may be affiliate links.

Here’s what I’m playing with right now…

YouTube Tools (I pay for both of these):

  • ThumbnailTest - you can upload as many different titles/thumbnails and it will automatically cycle through them and then pick the best combination based on CTR, etc. Every YouTuber I know is using this

  • 1 of 10 - it appears that the YouTube game is coming up with unique video ideas in your category that have the best chance of outperforming. 1 of 10 is a super smart tool for coming up with unique video ideas

Offshore Talent:

  • Onlinejobs.ph - if you’re trying to hire someone in the Philippines (thumbnail designer, video editor, virtual assistant) but don’t want to pay the insane markup from outsourced agencies, this is a Philippines specific job board. For $69 you can post any role. Warning that this will come with hundreds of applications you have to sort through. I explored hiring a thumbnail designer on here.

Supplement Stack (I’m in the best shape of my life right now. Here’s what I’m taking):

CONTENT FROM THIS WEEK

My best content from last week:

  1. 🤖 | The HUGE opportunity for B2B creators with TiffInTech: Watch

  2. 🧐 | Blowing up too fast is a trap: Watch

  3. 🚀 | Barstool for Business would be a $100M company in 5 years: Watch

  4. 🛫 | Could Mindtrip take over the travel industry: Watch

  5. 🧑🏼‍🚀 | Blueprint 040 - Month 10 strategy update, how to stay relevant on social media, satellite accounts, 2 creator mindset hacks: Read

  6. 🔥 | Mindtrip - This AI travel company could disrupt the full travel space: Read