We’re coming to you live from the executive suite at the Bellagio, with a shoutout to the Blackstone Group. The hospitality here has just been absolutely incredible.
We’re excited to be back! It’s been a 4-month hiatus, a little minute in time.
What happened to the Builders Build podcast? Was there a falling out? A growing rift between the boys? A takeover coup by the interns?
It could have been any of those things, and you’ll never know…
What you do know is Builders Build is back, without any expectations for the future, with another flaming hot podcast upload. As one does after taking 4 months off, the gang regroups and recaps the last several months, including Q1 updates and most recent EBITDA info.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- James’ foray’s into the newsletter business
- Oren’s entry into the influencer game
- Colin’s (re)acquisition of LTRMN
- Twitter is still a complete mess
First up, thanks to our newest podcast sponsors, Circle Wide Saddles. Oren has become an actual influencer since our last pod, and if he had to tell you that he had a hand in making a fully bespoke saddle, I’d believe him. Know what I mean?
Our thanks to Canon, Sony, and Fuji for sponsoring this pod, too.
So glad you joined us. Now, let’s recap where we’re at since we last spoke. This is an alpha drop, so hold onto your hats…
James’ Foray’s Into The Newsletter Business
I’ve been having these pseudo-anxiety attacks about the impact of AI. Based on a preview of a NY Times article I saw in my search results (because I don’t pay to read the paper), it seems as if the first jobs to fall away thanks to AI will be accounting, software, and developer jobs in India.
I also recently read an article that reckoned 70% of all GitHub code written in the last 6 months had been done with the assistance of AI. It’s crazy.
As we look at some of this AI stuff, and take into account one of the threads that has existed since the beginning of Builders Build | Tab Talk, we speak of the three most valuable strategies to focus on, which for us is:
- that a personal brand is a real thing
- organic and SEO are the way to go
- and where content is king, actual people are going to be taking up the vast majority of attention in the coming years.
So, leaning into video is super-important at this time. We’ve all been leaning into that wave. Most of the people now doing the Twitter thing – which we’ve all done for a couple of years now – probably can’t take it to video the way we’ve most certainly taken a run at it, just off of being able to speak eloquently and come off smart (and be smart, perhaps?).
Valuable Content vs Content Value
Video is a whole different ball-game! I’m very aware of the fact that I’ve been “kind of/sort of” making content, and trudging along doing all these things, until now. I’m trying my best to take it all seriously and put the pedal to the metal. For me, a big part of that is that you just have to lean into yourself.
I mean, I could probably very quickly go pop the “Three Factories for X” short form video that social media needs right now, but that’s devoid of the personal brand. If anybody can do it, then surely it becomes less valuable than something that only I can do?
The money really comes from the hot, experiential stuff, not the how-tos out there. And it also leans in to what Google is looking for, the actual authority and experience of things. That’s also applicable to video content.
So, how do you show authority when / if you decide to answer some of those questions (that maybe an AI could answer)? Why would anyone listen to Colin or Oren or James instead of ChatGPT? Where is the value?
And the answer to that question is that these three guys have actual, usable experience inside this field. Their unique perspectives are useful. And that’s why I think we’re going to see that a lot of the content that’s been around for the past 10-15 years is just going to be gone.
Instead, if you own a blog, you’d better be covering incredibly unique perspectives in an interesting and entertaining way, and building your community around this strategy.
It just forces your hand, your content, to be really good – better than the competition, better than AI, and with more personality.
Oren really landed his influencer role, the way we used to joke about it in the past. And my experience with short-form video (which is a fraction of Oren’s at this point) is that the entertainment you can throw out there is valuable in a totally different way versus the value-pack stuff. Entertainment is the “holy grail” that makes people want to stick around for more of the same, I’ve come to realize.
In much the same way that you can get my three factory links just about anywhere, you can also get stand-up comedy anywhere. Bridging the gap with funny, entertaining perspectives – while learning and adding value – is the grail for me.
Along the way, we’ve all had videos that pop. You’ll see the ones that pop and bring in followers versus those that bring in averages.
Nano Flips – An Update
Switching topics here, Nano Flips has become a very big business for me in some regards. I mean, I’ve spent a number of years feeling uncomfortable about selling courses on the internet, for instance. But there’s a fundamental shift coming when it comes to educational online content…
If you can sell fantastic and value-packed courses online, while lowering the price of education and the barriers to learning, you can be much more efficacious for people.
We have a program that’s a few thousand dollars. We normally do a multiple-month program where we take on 100 people, put them in a group, and teach them everything about buying or underwriting online businesses. We then given them basic access to CEOs in my phone book, for instance, who help them understand how to buy and set up businesses.
I’ve come to realize that I can’t scale that business. That’s the very top end of an offer-stack, if you will. Unless I’m a real piece of sh*t, I can’t take more than 400 people a year to do that with. So, we’ve had to try and figure out where the other options are for us in a very tight market, considering our niche.
Now we know that the upper end is capped. What we can scale is the lower end of the offers, the newsletters, CPMs for advertising, and possibly even a lower-ticket community. I’m also making a giant bet on AI and education later this year, and that will require me to be better at the lower end by then..
Newsletters and Subscribers
We’re looking at a glut of newsletters online right now. Everyone thinks newsletters are the business to have. I’m a huge fan of newsletters, and think it is a fantastic business, but then you hear about all these “top-ticked” corners of the market…
Now, I top-ticked the market and the investment news websites by accident in 2020 with my cannabis media company, but I don’t think I can do it with this one. That said, all of these newsletter companies aren’t just newsletters; they’ve all realized that the best way to onboard people to their software platforms is to help them set up newsletters and grow their audience first.
So now, we just have an obscene amount of newsletters out there… but not enough advertisers or publishers to manage the demand.
Listen in to the pod to get more alpha on newsletters…
Oren’s Entry Into The Influencer Game
It’s interesting what James was saying about AI jobs in India. I have a large contract engineering agency I’m a partner in, and a recent poll at the agency revealed that every single developer in the agency is using ChatGPT every single day.
The poll came about because we’re putting AI on the system, on chip, so it can run on a hardware device for an upcoming hackathon client event (among other things) .
Looking back on the Builders.Build website at previous pods we’ve done, I do feel like my life is completely different. Even though it’s only been 4 months since the last pod went viral, it’s actually a whole transformatively different lifetime ago.
If you’re one of the fans, I have two things I want to say to you directly: Thank you. I appreciate you.
My life is very strangely different, comparatively. I’ve got a hundred things going now. The internet is very weird now, too.
TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter
And for those one or two of you who don’t follow my internet journey, my Tiktok growth has been going well. I’ve been getting going on Instagram and it has been going really great there, but I didn’t realize quite the impact it would have.
I think we can all agree Twitter is kaput in a lot of ways. Tiktok is great, though. You can get a lot of attention on Tiktok, and a lot of people see you posting.
Instagram is like a Zeitgeist in terms of where actual people you work with, that you see day-to-day, see you there. It’s a lot similar to LinkedIn, which does not have the same reach.
But now – it’s not that I’m not huge on there or anything – but every single day in a 30-day period over the last 90 days, I’ve had a million+ impressions on my posts there.
So, I can definitely say my life has completely changed. People will text me and go, “Hey, we’re having meetings about your videos!” It’s an interesting dynamic.
Audience, Perception, and Influence
I started getting really weird about hours in the day about a week ago. I’ve just been doing one video a day. I’ve stayed on that routine, but now I’ve realized that my audience is happy for me to change the conversation and the niche that I’m in.
I can change perception about a brand, or I can force a concept into a brand’s head so they have to have a meeting about it, even if they’re a large brand. That has been an eye opener for me; I’ve never had power like this from social media before.
And, if anything, I’m just doing a lot of social climbing on this. I’ve been talking to a lot of builders in related niches, and it makes you start to wonder what would happen if all three of us… as in, what if this really influential group of people all said, “Well, we just don’t like this brand.”?
There’s really only a handful of people doing this at the moment. That has made me feel very concerned about the hours and minutes I have available in a day. I need to be more focused than ever, especially now.
Human vs AI Content Strategy
I spend a lot of time just thinking about and talking to people about content strategy. This ties in to the AI conversation, too.
Three or four weeks ago, I was trying to decide what the content strategy is going forward, what it should be to go on to YouTube harder, and my initial thought was a 30-day challenge, something along the lines of “How to Start an Electronics Company”.
The plan was to include everything you need to do, what a system-on chip is, what this thing or that thing is, how to get Bluetooth certification, etc. Then I realized that any content type-able by AI, or able to be posed as a question to AI is going to going to have a completely different SEO value to human-typed entertainment, even if it builds your personality or whatever.
So I decided to pivot the content I was making on TikTok or wherever to episodic, which resulted in the “status” episodes. Each of these contain three elements:
- a negative one
- a positive one
- and a “how to”
and there are new ones out every week. From a performance point of view, I’ve been seeing amazing results, especially on building my personal brand.
Whereas before, I was so stressed about the “value” of my content that it’s literally all I thought about. But value needs to be commoditized. Entertainment doesn’t. So how do you commoditized entertainment and combine the two then?
Value is something you can sell. Is personality monetizable in the same way?
For anyone looking at their strategy in the same way, ask yourself, “What can I do that’s episodic”? What’s hot?” And for me, I would rather drop a hot, entertaining episode than make a 10-part YouTube “how to” series.
Brand Strategies Worth Noting
Being on the other side of brand deals now, and seeing how people spend money, what they ask for, and what that looks like, thinking about how to approach working with talent has been quite interesting, too. If I was a brand trying to work with influencers now, I wouldn’t be buying just one sponsored post from that influencer.
Absolutely not! I’d be looking at it as if I were building an NBA team… 15 people on my roster. This is my bench, my starting line, my secondary lineup. How can I encourage them to work together? How can I sign them up for my year, not just this season?
And how does this compare to my competitors’ benches?
The most interesting thing about this journey is how much opportunity exists in this space for new brands! I think there’s a playbook there for listeners of this pod to just run with, and it can be extremely impactful.
Newsletters and Engagement
Even how you engage with things moving across the internet. One strategy often overlooked is newsletters. I put a lot of packages out there. People are happy to pay for value, but the economy hasn’t lined up.
There’s definitely a better model for newsletters out there!
Listen in to the pod to get more alpha on newsletters…
Colin’s (Re)acquisition of LTRMN
At the beginning of the year, Colin bought back LTRMN. A few weeks later, one of the co-founders was murdered. It’s definitely been a weird year so far.
It’s also been wild, super-bitter, yet amazing – all things considered. We are recovering and rebuilding.
Year-to-Date EBITDA Overview
Month 1 was profitable, month 2 not so much. Overall, Q1 has been profitable. This month will be really good, and we’ll sail off into the future from here.
The business accounting is largely outsourced to India, and my administrator, who is excellent, by the way.
The Phenomenal Growth of AI
Touching on the ongoing debate about AI, it’s interesting to note that our last 3 podcasts from October, November, and even into early December 2022 did not include anything about AI or ChatGPT (to the extent that it now exists). None of this was even a real possibility just 6 months ago or so. That’s incredible!
Content and Brand Strategy
Thinking about Oren’s NBA playbook, brands need to do an entire project, a product line, instead of just content. Your content can be the by-product of that. There’s just so much more to it than just buying placemats and cutting a check!
There’s a ton of alpha in this one update. You need to listen to the pod to take it all in…
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Follow the Builders.Build team on Twitter and TikTok:
- Oren: twitter.com/orenmeetsworld | tiktok.com/@orenmeetsworld
- Colin: twitter.com/landforce | tiktok.com/@landforce
- James: twitter.com/jamesoncamp | tiktok.com/@jamesoncamp
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For great ideas on making and selling products and where to source suppliers, head on over to Oren at https://www.productworld.xyz/
For rock-solid intel on owning your own cannabis biz and where the opportunities are, check out Colin‘s curated list of Twitter threads at https://landforce.co/threads/
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