Here are a few handpicked highlights from the podcast:
This concept of hub and spoke model of creating content. Do you want to take us through what that was first of all, and then tell me why you landed on that as a strategy?
Yeah, so it kind of much like a lot of things that I do, it came out of just necessity, a need for a better process or system to deliver the things that power my business. To provide some context, what generally powers my business is content. So I create a newsletter, I create 10 pieces of LinkedIn content, generally 10 to 15 tweets a thread. There's a whole bunch of content to create. I was having a hard time figuring out how to keep going, how to always have something new to write about, how to say something differently than I've said it before, and also not just that part of it, but also how to use that content to drive website visits and familiarity with my products and services.
I started to build this system where I decided to use my Saturday newsletter as essentially my hub piece of content. My newsletter is relatively similar each week. It generally teaches you how to do something in four or five steps that you can read in less than four minutes. I ideate twice a week and I write that newsletter on Monday.
Once I've written the newsletter, rather than think about the different content that I want to write, I kind of push that newsletter into a new process. I start pushing out six different pieces of content. Generally it's a story, an observation, a contrarian take - holistical past versus present in a Twitter thread.
They're spokes that come off of the newsletter. For example, instead of sitting down and saying I have to write six pieces of unique content, so what do I talk about? I look at the newsletter topic and I say, let's write a story about this topic. What's a contrarian take about this topic, what's an observation I had about this topic, what's the listicle that relates to this topic? By pushing it through the lens of the newsletter, I suddenly have a topic to talk about. Writing those six different pieces of content becomes much simpler.
What are all the experiments you ran that got you to this, or was it an intuition you blended on hub and spoke model?
The fact of the matter is, where it came out of is I was struggling to find enough time to do all the things that I want to do. Content, being a large part of my business, was taking up a significant portion of that time. So I actually reached out to another creator who I'm buddies with - Dan on Twitter, and he had written a piece of content about a writing system. I had seen it and reached out to him. He sent me over this notion page with a little Loom video. And he's like, here are the four steps I go through. I saw that and I was like, oh, that's really cool, but I think that I can customize this to make this more my own.
Dan kind of shared these three or four steps, and I turned it into ten steps. It's like most things, it's not uniquely mine. It is a riff off of something else or somebody else's tactic. Right. I just made it uniquely mine by customizing it to the way that my brain works. And that's where it came from.
What did you think about niches? Were you intentional about arriving at a niche and sticking with it? And second, why do you think the solopreneur niche makes much a lot of sense for you?
Yeah, I think that trying to be everything to everyone is probably never a good strategy. I'm a fan of having a niche and staying focused on a particular topic or subtopic to a group of people. I think, by the way, I've used this phrase before, the more I think about it, the less I like it, which is like choosing or picking a niche. It kind of sounds like you're at a buffet and you just pick something off the table. This is what I'm going to talk about and I don't think that's necessarily how it happens. For me, I arrived at my niche in a strange way, which was I quit my job in 2019. I started talking about SaaS sales because that's what my background was. People liked it. I started to gain some following on LinkedIn, but then all the questions were about LinkedIn building following.
I was like, oh, I'll talk about this more. I talked about LinkedIn more, and then I started to make some money by doing that. I started to share how I was doing that. People were like, how do I make money? How do I build digital product? I built two or three other revenue streams, started talking about that. People were like, how do I build more revenue streams? It was less about me picking a niche and more about me finding the intersection of two things, what my audience is interested in and what I'm obsessed with at the moment. The reason that I feel like what I'm doing with the solopreneurship niche, as you call it, the reason that I think it's resonating is not necessarily because it's all that interesting versus other folks who have talked about it in the past, but because I'm obsessed with it.
Listen to the full interview for more insights and stories here
02:05 KP Hello, everybody. Welcome to yet another episode of Build in Public Podcast. I'm your host KP, and I am super thrilled today to invite one of my fellow creators, entrepreneurs, especially right now, he's in Nashville, so close to my heart, because a lot of you might know that I was in Nashville for 34 years and went to school there. But I will read out his bio. It's a pretty prolific bio. But first, I want to say welcome to the show, Justin Welsh.
02:34 Justin Welsh KP, thanks so much for having me, man. I'm excited to be here.
02:35 KP Thank you and I can't skip on this bio. This is prolific. Over the last decade, you've helped two 50 million dollar companies, teams of 150+ people, raised over $10 million in venture capital. Companies, teams of 150 plus people raised over $10 million in venture capital. You've got burnt out and you decided to choose a brand new path of helping solopreneurs, helping founders, and through your digital products and through advising. Now, when you're not advising and building products, you're an angel investor, mentor to entrepreneurs in LATAM with 500 startups and an LP at GTM fund. All in all, you're one of the most prolific internet Twitter creators that I've come across and I was trying to figure out a phrase that would summarize who you are in my head and probably will introduce you well to our audience here. I thought about this and I thought maybe the most leveraged, disciplined, creator turned entrepreneur that I know of.
03:26 KP So with that said, welcome to the show again.
03:29 Justin Welsh Thanks, man. I really appreciate that and it's nice to hear that it doesn't always feel that way from my perspective, but it's nice to hear that it does from yours, so thank you.
03:37 KP It definitely does from outside. I got a few prompts that I want to ask you questions on. I'm not going to go super deep into your backstory and your journey into this new chapter, because I feel like that was covered in some of the episodes that I watched, some of the interviews. I want to ask some more tactical things that I don't know if you got the chance to talk about publicly on video or audio. Maybe that could be part of the content that you can share with your audience later too. Let's kick it off with one thing that I thought was super interesting in the last month that you shared with the Twitter verse, which is this concept of hub and spoke model of creating content. I thought that was very unique and of course, some essence of that was obvious to many people.
04:20 KP I think your spin on it and the way you've executed it, you even have a visual in that newsletter edition where it's like there's a little hub in the center and then there's all this books around it. Do you want to take us through what that was first of all, and then tell me why you landed on that as a strategy?
04:37 Justin Welsh Yeah, so it kind of much like a lot of things that I do, it came out of just necessity, a need for a better process or system to deliver the things that power my business. To provide some context, what generally powers my business is content. It's getting people from Twitter or LinkedIn or other social media platforms off of social media and onto my website to browse my products and services. With that being the core goal of my business, I wanted to build a system that would make it much more likely that people would do that on a regular basis. I had a few different pieces in what I create on a weekly basis. So I create a newsletter, I create 10 pieces of LinkedIn content, generally 10 to 15 tweets a thread. There's a whole bunch of content to create. I was having a hard time figuring out how to keep going, how to always have something new to write about, how to say something differently than I've said it before, and also not just that part of it, but also how to use that content to drive website visits and familiarity with my products and services.
05:43 Justin Welsh I started to build this system where I decided to use my Saturday newsletter as essentially my hub piece of content. The core pillar not too dissimilar from pillar content, right? Which you've probably heard people like Gary Vaynerchuk and other folks talk about. I start by writing my newsletter and I write my newsletter using a template. My newsletter is relatively similar each week. It generally teaches you how to do something in four or five steps that you can read in less than four minutes. I ideate twice a week and I write that newsletter on Monday. Once I've written the newsletter, rather than think about the different content that I want to write, I kind of push that newsletter into a new process, which is I immediately write my teaser. How am I going to tease people about the newsletter the day before it comes out? I write my post teaser, which is, what am I going to say the day after in case you missed it, to get you interested in going back and reading it.
06:35 Justin Welsh I start pushing out six different pieces of content and I might forget what one of them is because I don't have it in front of me. But generally it's a story, an observation, a contrarian take - holistical past versus present in a Twitter thread.
06:50 KP Now these six are ingredients of the newsletter or are they separate pieces.
06:57 Justin Welsh They're spokes that come off of the newsletter. For example, instead of sitting down and saying I have to write six pieces of unique content, so what do I talk about? I look at the newsletter topic and I say, let's write a story about this topic. What's a contrarian take about this topic, what's an observation I had about this topic, what's the listicle that relates to this topic? By pushing it through the lens of the newsletter, I suddenly have a topic to talk about. Writing those six different pieces of content becomes much simpler. Often I can write two of each kind, two observations, two stories, whatever, and have twelve pieces of content. Once I have that content, I can stagger that content out across the next three to four months. Since it comes off of the newsletter, I always have something to refer back to. So a month from now, when I'm posting a story that's related to the newsletter, at the end of the story, I can say if this is interesting to you and you want to learn more about it, go check this out.
07:48 KP Link back, right?
07:49 Justin Welsh That means all of my content is linked to my newsletter. So I can always send people to my website where they can do a couple of things - subscribe to the newsletter, buy a product, enroll in the service, so on and so forth. That's how I think about creating the content.
08:03 KP I think it's genius. I, just as someone who set up, dabbled in the same space with you for a while now, I feel like I struggle with the same struggle that you talked about, where I'm doing all these things. And a lot of the times they are whimsical that I do them based on my day or what I'm thinking top of mind. Sometimes I have like, oh, here's an interesting story I want to share. Top of mind, sometimes I have like, oh, here's an interesting story I want to share. The justification that I give myself is that they all serve the larger purpose that I have for my niche, which is building in public. They all sort of add up. What I love about the way you've gone more concrete is saying, all right, there's this mega niche that I serve, of course, but also there's this almost like a chapter level journey that I'm taking people through.
08:44 KP Each chapter can have bullet points of content, all these six or seven styles of content that lines up really well. It's super tangible, practical, and accomplished. Like all of your content, man, I love how you break it down that you just can't miss it. I appreciate it. One other question I had was it seems super crystallized distilled and almost like you just woke up and found this. But I'm wondering, all the experiments you ran that got you to this, or was it really where you had, like, an intuition you blended on hub and spoke model?
09:21 Justin Welsh Yeah, it's relatively new. The fact of the matter is, where it came out of is I was struggling to find enough time to do all the things that I want to do. Content, being a large part of my business, was taking up a significant portion of that time. So I actually reached out to another creator who I'm buddies with - Dan Co on Twitter, and he had written a piece of content about a system or writing system. I had seen it and reached out to him and said, like, hey, man, can you just walk me through these three or four steps? He sent me over this notion page with a little Loom video. And he's like, here are the four steps I go through. I saw that and I was like, oh, that's really cool, but I think that I can customize this to make this more my own.
10:00 Justin Welsh Dan kind of shared these three or four steps, and I turned it into ten steps. It's like most things, it's not uniquely mine. It is a riff off of something else or somebody else's tactic. Right. I just made it uniquely mine by customizing it to the way that my brain works. And that's where it came from.
10:20 KP Another thing that I appreciate, just as another creator in space, also, and sometimes even an audience member, is a lot of the stuff that you talk about right now in the podcast or through your newsletter is actually free. It's out there. You're not really charging for that strategy. I feel like there are some people who could charge for that strategy, and there are some people who would pay for that strategy. But what I appreciate, though, is similar to Gary Vee model, where I think you just give it away and you build this affinity and a bit of a trust and this reciprocity factor of kindness and saying, hey, I'm just giving it away. I just learned something new, hard way, giving it away for you - for free. Use it, let me know how it works, and maybe one day down the line will buy one of my courses or something else.
11:01 KP Right. Is that intentional? Because that's the way I read it and I felt so connected to it.
11:06 Justin Welsh Yeah, it is intentional, and it's intentional, but there's also, like, a piece of luck attached there. I had a good career before I became a creator. So I was an executive. I was a VP of Sales and Chief Revenue Officer. I've been fortunate enough to be in a steady financial position for a long time, and therefore, I don't need to try and take everything that I think is interesting or unique that I produce and turn it into something that I monetize.
11:31 KP So the way that I think about.
11:32 Justin Welsh It is there are opportunities to monetize, and of course I take those. I have two digital courses, I have coaching packages, I have all that different stuff. My whole goal, really throughout the rest of 2022 and the early part of 2023 is just to build incredible top of funnel, to build a tremendous amount of trust, and to really play that long game with the monetary side of the business, where if I don't make another dime the rest of 2022, I'll be okay. I hope I do, by the way. I think I will. I think that by being patient and by really putting a ton of effort into the top of funnel and trust, that I'll have a much bigger 2023, 24 and 25. That's how I think about it.
12:14 KP I love it. Decades and not days, right? The other thing that I wanted to riff on and appreciate about the way your content comes off is - first of all time, most of that stuff is like stuff that you struggle with or you found out or you discovered. It's a very much your narrative on what's happening in your lens. But so much about it is something I talk about in all my attempts, in all my advice sessions, is that don't just aim for attention, aim for attention and trust. Because I think a lot of the time creators are just trying to aim for short term attention, which means that they will take some short term steps. You could gain attention by doing some dumb s***, right? I could insult somebody and gain attention on Twitter or I could just like, dunk on someone or I could just like, say something super crude or, you know, like, polarizing.
12:58 KP Gain attention. But am I gaining trust? Am I gaining brand. Am I gaining like this long term effects? Probably not. I think what I loved about the way you've built your career, or at least in the last two years that I've followed you, is so much of it is built on trust. Sometimes it's not about optimization for attention. Sometimes I noticed that some golden gems you drop don't go viral and you're okay with it, and you're still going back and trying to build that trust as much as you're trying to build that attention vehicle.
13:27 Justin Welsh Yeah, I know how to go viral.
13:29 KP Yeah.
13:30 Justin Welsh I don't mean that in an arrogant way, but I know what type of content is more likely to go viral.
13:37 KP Right.
13:37 Justin Welsh If I really wanted to sit around all day and only put together content that just went crazy, right, I could do that. What I have found generally is like, for example, there are certain people on social media, by the way, I try never to pick on anyone who's trying. Right. That's not my goal is to download anybody. There are certain people who just do listicles or just do Twitter threads that are books and Wikipedia articles. By the way, I'm guilty of doing some of this stuff. So it's not like no one's got.
14:10 KP No one's got the what do you call the pedestal here, right?
14:14 Justin Welsh Totally. But my goal, rather than to go viral all the time, is to show off my expertise and to say like, okay, this won't be as popular with as many people, but the people that it is as popular with - will get tremendous value from this guide, this thread, this LinkedIn post. It's funny because when I see a lot of folks, especially on my primary channel, which is still LinkedIn, there's a lot of talk around. Oh, like recently, Mike, I have 2500 followers and my content might get 1000 or 1200 reactions. There are people with significantly fewer followers that get higher traction than I do. I drive a ton of traffic to my website. I drive the right traffic to my website and I get the right customers buying my products and services. And I'll take that any day.
15:03 KP The other thing, too, is you look back, I think the question that I ask myself is this the kind of content that I would be proud of ten years later? And more often than not, even when I'm doing the tactics, the mechanics of writing a realistic or a thread -. Because that's the tactic according to the algorithm that will work. I try to think about the purpose behind the tactic and try to drench the tactic in value and then put it out there, as opposed to just leveraging the tactic and just putting some random s*** that I'm not proud of or something that's not even relevant to me on there. At the very minimum, I'm trying to solve for N equals one, which is like, me would I read this? Even when the tactic is logical, but if it's the stuff that I would read, I care about, I feel like the persona behind me, thousands of people like me, hundreds of thousands of people like me who want to know about this will read it and find value.
15:56 KP That's where I think it's slightly different to your point. Also, in the long run, the ripple effects my joy comes from not watching the reactions and responses and everyday stats. It comes from a random DM from some guy in Kenya saying, KP, I listened to you in January, like, you told me that you should check out Bubble or whatever, one of the no-code tools, and I built this thing, check it out. I dedicate this to you. I'm like, wow, I don't even remember saying about talking about bubble back then. I think those are like the intangible stuff is my real driver, and I hope that I'm sure you feel the same. But even despite all the tangible metrics and conversions that are great, the joy comes from something that's beyond them.
16:35 Justin Welsh For sure, I mean, I think about my business and my content and the creating that I do in a very similar fashion to how I think about or thought about building big sales organizations when I was a chief revenue officer, which is people are especially the more metrics driven you are. People say the answer is always in the data. And that's quasi-true. I think that reactions and engagement and all that kind of stuff are all good indicators that you're doing something right. It's like you said, it's the DMs, it's the, hey, man, I read this thing and then I did this thing and it worked. Or I took your course and then I wrote five things and started the business and made ten grand. Those are the qualitative things on the side of the quantitative metrics that you're measuring. That's definitely the dual sided way I measure my business success.
17:27 KP Right? Because obviously the former race of trying to go after metrics all the time is always draining because there's always somebody who's going to beat you at some other metric, right? Like if they come up with a brand new metric of measuring API engagements, per impression or whatever, and suddenly you're like, there's somebody else is going to do so much better at that. I feel like that chase is always like it's a distraction from the real purpose of content creation, in my view, which is to serve people and help people. Now, if we can reach a lot of people and if we can really influence a lot of people, that's great. But even if it's just one person, sometimes if we can change their life, have them make a really tough decision that they're struggling with, that's worth all the highs that I think I get.
18:15 KP Sometimes it seems like you're thinking the same thing. Another thing that I wanted to jump off to is this concept of niche and 'niching' and like figuring out what your niche is. And I think that's another thing that a lot of people struggle with, especially beginner content creators, beginner entrepreneurs too. Like, I'm sure you feel the same way even with startups, they're trying to build everything for everybody. What I loved about how you've arrived at your niche and you stuck with it was the solopreneur niche and again, you're not the first person on the planet to discover that niche, but you've embraced it. And I feel like there is a sense of the way you embrace that niche was so unique and refreshing and you stuck with it and you were still with it, and that's so refreshing and different compared to so many people who are like window shopping niches. Tell us a little bit about how first of all, what did you think about niches? Like, were you intentional about arriving at a niche and sticking with it? And second, why do you think the solopreneur niche makes much a lot of sense for you?
19:09 Justin Welsh Yeah, I think that trying to be everything to everyone is probably never a good strategy. I'm a fan of having a niche and staying focused on a particular topic or subtopic to a group of people. I think, by the way, I've used this phrase before, the more I think about it, the less I like it, which is like choosing or picking a niche. It kind of sounds like you're at a buffet and you just pick something off the table. This is what I'm going to talk about and I don't think that's necessarily how it happens. For me, I arrived at my niche in a strange way, which was I quit my job in 2019. I started talking about SaaS sales because that's what my background was. People liked it. I started to gain some following on LinkedIn, but then all the questions were about LinkedIn building following.
19:58 Justin Welsh I was like, oh, I'll talk about this more. I talked about LinkedIn more, and then I started to make some money by doing that. I started to share how I was doing that. People were like, how do I make money? How do I build digital product? I built two or three other revenue streams, started talking about that. People were like, how do I build more revenue streams? It was less about me picking a niche and more about me finding the intersection of two things, what my audience is interested in and what I'm obsessed with at the moment. The reason that I feel like what I'm doing with the solopreneurship niche, as you call it, the reason that I think it's resonating is not necessarily because it's all that interesting versus other folks who have talked about it in the past, but because I'm obsessed with it.
20:43 Justin Welsh And again, I want to say this and make sure that it doesn't come across as -. It's not intended to be arrogant. It's intended to just be how I feel about it, which is it's going to be really hard to beat me talking about it because I like it. I love it. I want to talk about it every day. Other people are slogging through their content because they feel like they have to put it together and that's never going to win. I know my audience loves it. I love it. It's not about really choosing a niche. It's about embracing an obsession.
21:11 KP I love that. I think that's one of your newsletter articles too, right? Which was awesome. I love how you phrase it on obsession. I think it's so important because it's not something that you're able to cruise through or just surf high level. Like, case in point, the way I think about my niche, it's building in public. When I chose that niche, it was not really a choice. It was more so like, at the time, I was building a lot of side projects, a lot of the no-code stuff in public, and I was sharing screenshots. I was like showing stuff that people had never seen before, your revenue charts. I was just like putting it out in the open and asking things in the open. And I think a lot of people are referring me under other threads and saying, okay, tagging me, saying, KP - this guy building public, blah.
21:56 KP I decided, what, this is something that I think I would do for the rest of my life, at least for another two decades easily. Because I don't see going back and building in private ever as a pathway because it makes no sense to me. So I'm like that makes sense. And it's also another topic. It's a topic that I the way I think about a niche is what is the topic that somebody could wake you up at 04:00 M in the morning and you would not miss, skip a beat, and you would just talk about it right away and then go on for hours. In the morning and you would not miss, keep a beat, and you would just talk about it right away and then go on for hours. It seems like the answer, the right phrase, is, what are you obsessed about?
22:26 Justin Welsh For sure. By the way, you can be obsessed with lots of things that people won't pay for. You have to think through it. That's why, to me, it's the intersection of those two things. Not just what I'm obsessed with, it's also what my audience wants to hear about. If you can find the intersection of those two things, you're probably off to a good start.
22:46 KP It's a golden intersection. Awesome. Thank you. Let's chat about this other thing that I thought you were doing that was so unique. And so this is about Twitter growth. You built a Twitter really well, really intentionally. One thing that stands out in your story, in your journey, to me, Justin, is using Twitter replies as a good strategy. I don't think I've seen any other person executed that well. Maybe I know it, a lot of people know it. I do it here and there. But you really do it. You're obsessed about it to a point where, if I'm right, if I'm wrong correctly, but I think it's about 45 to 45 minutes to 1 hour a day replying to other people's tweets. That's wild. Tell us of why you chose to do that strategy and has it worked? Why do you think it works?
23:34 Justin Welsh Yeah. There are two different engagement things that I do. I call them strategies, but they're not really strategies or things I do, which is each morning when I release my social media content on Twitter and LinkedIn, I engage with my audience for 45 to 60 minutes, just depending on the day. Today is like the first day in a very long time that I didn't just needed a break and then I might spend 15 to 20 minutes engaging with other people's content. But generally it started as a habit. I started writing on LinkedIn in late 2018 and then gave it another shot in early 2019, I'm just like everybody else who's getting started with content. Like reading about how do you get more engagement, how do you get more popular, all those different things, right? All the blogs we read and everything that I read was, make sure that you engage with your audience for the first 45 to 60 minutes.
24:19 Justin Welsh I'm like, I'll do that every morning because as a reminder, I left my job in the middle of 2019. It was harder in the beginning, and I just was doing it because I was like, I want to grow and I want to check this out and I want to learn. And it became a habit. I wake up, pour coffee, post my content, engage with people, and so. After a couple of years of doing that, I finally decided to embrace Twitter. When I embraced Twitter, I was like, I think that you have to do the same thing. I don't know, right? It's not like a rule, right? It's not like anyone's forcing me to do it. But I was like, I think if I want to grow - that, I should be interacting with the audience who interacts with me. I just cut that time out in the morning and said, all right, here's the time I'm going to spend each morning doing that.
24:57 Justin Welsh And as I started to do that, I started to form a small network of relevant people, like you, Dan Co, Nicholas Cole, Dicky Bush, Sahil Bloom, all these different guys just started to reach out to me, and we started to form small friendships. I decided, okay, they're all relevant to what I create. I like these folks, so I need to figure out a strategy for being able to engage with their content. If it's relevant, I don't force engage. It's just like, is this relevant? Then,
25:22 KP I'll engage with it.
25:23 Justin Welsh And so I use Blackmagic by Tony. I installed that. What that did was allowed me to form a favorite group once in the morning, and once in the evening, I go through, check out all their content, add some value, and that's it. Nothing too complicated.
25:39 KP It is complicated, man. I think it's not complicated, but it's super high impact. Really, like, you made me use that strategy in the last couple of months. A lot of the time, every time I do it, I think about you. Every time I'm engaging with somebody else, I think about you. I'm like, ang, Justin must be doing this in his freaking sleep. I appreciate it because I think, again, like, maybe it was commonplace behavior in LinkedIn in that world. Definitely not in Twitter. I've never seen anybody do it the way you've done it. You do it almost every day. It's almost like a religious like a serious, sincere, earnest habit. A lot of the folks, you'll be surprised, a lot of the top 1% 10% content creators on Twitter, even when they drop their own threads, don't engage, right? Like, it's just after they go to, like, I don't know, 100K or twenty K.
26:25 KP Thirty K followers, they don't ever engage with their own threads. Forget about engaging with somebody else's threads. Now, the ones you mentioned so far are slightly an anomaly. Like, say, Bloom and Dickie Bush are anomalies, but the majority of them don't engage. I think they're just like, it's more broadcasting. What I loved about you and this group that you talked about is it's become much more of a back and forth conversation. That's where I think they see the person, they see the creator, not the brand behind you. I think that's what makes it much more relevant and readable is what I was looking for. Sure, yeah. I would call it a great job too, by the way. Definitely Sharath and a few others. I think this is a behavior that's picking up and I'm happy that it is. So, actually, on that note, I wanted to ask you, because you've seen both the worlds of LinkedIn and Twitter, and I have not much exposure with LinkedIn.
27:21 KP If you have to summarize the way you approach LinkedIn and context which summarize and the way you approach Twitter, how do you view them differently? Or are they even different? Or are they similar?
27:33 Justin Welsh In a sense, they're more similar than people think. LinkedIn has a longer character limit. This is really tactical, but I do think it matters. You can write 3000 characters on LinkedIn where you can do 280 on Twitter. Of course, you can do Twitter threads. Every LinkedIn post that you choose to actually anything relatively medium length is a thread, because LinkedIn and Twitter, you scroll and you see full tweets. If someone does a thread, you have to enjoy that hook tweet in order to open up and go down the thread. Every LinkedIn post is like a thread, so three lines and then a See More button. You got to have a sharp hook, you got to be compelling, you got to get straight to the point. I think it was Sahil Bloom who said that Sam Parr talked about your first line kind of punching the reader in the face.
28:18 Justin Welsh I always think about that when writing LinkedIn content. There's just a different style, and I'm glad I started on LinkedIn. I feel like LinkedIn is a much happier professional place than Twitter, which can be a little different, meaner, a little harsher. I kind of cut my teeth on LinkedIn. I got trolled plenty of times in three years on LinkedIn, so by the time I came over to Twitter, I had thick enough skin where nothing really matters, when people aren't very nice. But the difference is the writing style. I think the difference is, right now, LinkedIn engagement in organic growth is much faster than Twitter for most people. I'm finding it to be the opposite right now. Yeah, I've saturated on LinkedIn, but most people can post something on LinkedIn and the same thing on Twitter and get much higher organic reach on LinkedIn. There's a stigma around LinkedIn that was created on Twitter, around how it's cringey and not cool and all these different things.
29:16 Justin Welsh And I think I just was talking with Jay Clouse the other day about this, which is like, I don't really care. It's another platform, it's a box, and you put words into it and you hit post. Who cares if it's LinkedIn or Twitter? It's great for business, it's great for meeting new and interesting people. I was never interested in being cool. I was interested in engaging, building an organic business. LinkedIn is a really great platform to do that. That's why the Twitter creators are now coming over there.
29:44 KP Right? I've noticed the shift that embraced LinkedIn lately. So in terms of content creation, let's say both on LinkedIn and on Twitter, if you had to pick - reflect on your early days and pick out maybe two or three non obvious lessons for people who are like, just getting started. I think the hard part from what I've noticed is you can get to 300 followers on Twitter after that 300 and 400 to maybe like five k. That stretch seems like a really long stretch for a lot of people. What would be your advice? We'll talk about LinkedIn in a similar setup.
30:21 Justin Welsh Yeah, I think most people on Twitter forget that. By the way, I'm like pretty new to Twitter. I've only been posting there for ten months, or tweeting, I guess you would call it. I think most people forget that it's really important to give people a reason that they should follow you. I see a lot of new accounts tweeting into the ether where they're like, yeah, just random nebulous things that aren't like, focused on, here's who I am, here's what I do, and here's why I think you should pay attention to my journey on Twitter and why you should click the follow button. The follow button is something that you have to earn, right? If I could give people one piece of advice early in their days in Twitter, it's two things. Number one, set up your profile. Who are you? What are you doing right now?
31:04 Justin Welsh And why should someone follow you? What will they get if they follow you? The second thing is to ask yourself three questions anytime you're about to tweet something, which is, does this educate the person or my audience that has chosen to follow me? Does this challenge the way that my audience thinks about something, or does this motivate my audience to take some action? If the answer is no to all three of those things, it's probably good to go back to the drawing board and educate, challenge or motivate downstream. When you've built 1000 followers, you can share yourself eating a sandwich but early on, it's really about getting people hit that follow button. That's the kind of content that I think, at least generally, does it.
31:44 KP I also remember seeing you share that you have almost a theme, like you said, educate, challenge, and motivate, even for your publishing schedule, that some of the content will fall out under one bucket and that goes on a certain day. Is that true? How does that work? Can you give us.
32:04 Justin Welsh To an extent, I don't want to be so rigid where it's like, oh, every Monday you're going to get this from me. For the most part, I try and look and say, okay, what is the highest performing content? What are the best performing days? I like to match those things up. When do I feel like people are more likely to buy - what days, what times? I kind of match that up. The same thing that any startup founder or chief revenue officer would do at a SaaS business, which is why I'm so fortunate to have had that previous experience. I try, but there are plenty of times where I just wake up with the intention of posting one thing and I swap it out for something else just because it feels right. There's a lot of subjectivity, I guess, to it.
32:42 KP Right. Did you have a content bank where you have a lot of your older content or repurposed content or some high performing content you've saved up?
32:52 Justin Welsh Yeah, I use Shield for LinkedIn. That's the great thing about Shield app. It's shieldapp.aI. It's essentially like an extension of LinkedIn analytics built by a guy named Andreas Johnson. And it's sort of the go-to LinkedIn analytics platform where it gives you more in-depth analytics, but it also saves your content as a repository. You can tag your content, you can sort your content. I go back and find all my high performance content from previous years. I rewrite it, I repost it. Sometimes I post it verbatim. So that's how I think about LinkedIn. And then on Twitter, I use a combination of Twemex and Blackmagic. I don't really have a bank, it's just like between Twemex, Blackmagic, and Advanced Search, I can find all my high performance content. So I don't store it anywhere. Not notion, nowhere. Pretty good, man.
33:39 KP Pretty good, man. I feel like a lot of people actually have crazy documentation tactics and all that. I always felt like, am I the weird one? Like I have nothing. I have some - in a notion dock I've just pulled from my Advanced Search. If I ever hit, like, a writer's block, I go to that doc. I barely hit writer's block because I always have something to say or something. One of your content pieces would have inspired me. My other favorite part about Twitter is that you can actually be inspired by what other people are talking about consciously, subconsciously. You would say something on Tuesday and then that would be I would be thinking about it on Wednesday and then I would post something on Wednesday evening. Right. So I think there's a great sense of riffing off of each other's thoughts too. Let's talk about courses and your experience and your journey with building this out.
34:30 KP You have two courses in the market, correct? One is the LinkedIn one. The LinkedIn one.
34:34 Justin Welsh Yeah. It's interesting. I've built three courses in my life - four actually. It started in 2019 with the LinkedIn Playbook. 2020, actually. And then I turned that into the operating system, which was like, version two of LinkedIn Playbook - originally called the LinkedIn Operating System, until LinkedIn found out about it and told me I couldn't.
34:52 KP What is it called now?
34:53 Justin Welsh Just the operating system.
34:54 KP Okay, yeah.
34:55 Justin Welsh It was a panic stricken moment of renaming. I built something called the Content Operating System, which I'm currently not selling right at this moment because I'm actually rebuilding it to make it even more robust and to be a little more relevant to how I build content today. And then I actually have sort of like what I would call a hidden course called 'Idea - Audience - Proof - Product - Build Internet Income'. Audience Proof product Build Internet Income. That was like a course that I released in 2021, early. When I first started figuring out how to make money online, I just made the mistake of making it like three and a half hours long. I plan on also rebuilding that probably in 2023 into a more digestible course for Solopreneurs.
35:30 KP What was your shortest course among all these?
35:34 Justin Welsh The content operating system in about 60 minutes.
35:37 KP 60 minutes. How was the process of building that course for you? What does it entail?
35:42 Justin Welsh Yeah, I mean, so many things, but generally I just time box production. So I'll choose based on what I think it will take, I'll choose 21 days and say, okay, I'm going to give myself 21 days to build this course. I have a public it's public. Anyone can see it. Course launch checklist. So I just start from step one. There's like 30 steps on it, and I just do them as fast and as good as I can possibly do them.
36:10 KP This is a video course, correct?
36:12 Justin Welsh It's a video course, yeah, it's a video course.
36:14 KP With slides, correct?
36:16 Justin Welsh Yeah, with slides. All one take, no editing. So, like, I generally create the art and the landing page. First, I pre sell. If I get enough buyers, I build. If I don't, I won't. Once I have enough buyers and I can see that there's interest in the market, generally, I'll start by creating the agenda. Once I have the agenda, I create the slides. Once I have the slides, I get it all into Kajabi, which is where I host my platform or my course. Excuse me. And then I'll record the videos. And my last course took 91 hours to do. Across 21 days. Cross 21 days. I try and value my time at $1,000 an hour. Once I hit $91,000, I've hit it, and then every dollar past that means it's higher than my what was.
36:57 KP The most sucky part for you in that 91 hours?
37:00 Justin Welsh Videos. Because I don't know how to edit. I mean, I do. I can edit. L. You don't enjoy it like a toddler. But I don't know how TikTok works or how I-Movie works or I don't know how to do any of that stuff, so I don't. I'd much rather stand in front of the camera or sit in front of the camera and try and knock out an eight minute video without screwing up. Sometimes it might take six different trys, and on the fifth try, I might get seven and a half minutes in and screw it up. My wife can often hear me cursing upstairs when I'm recording my videos. For the most part, I've got it down to a science by now.
37:32 KP I love that. Yeah. I mean, the reason I asked some of this is because I'm planning on creating a course. It's my first course. I'm, like, a little nervous and unsure about what this journey would feel like. And so I'm like - similar to you. I have a deadline of four weeks. I mean, not 21, but like 28 days, roughly. I almost gave up after the first week because it was so frustrating to advance. I think the thing that I think a lot of people don't realize is actually so much of our course creation is building it in private or like, you're kind of doing the stuff ahead of time, so you're not getting feedback loops. As opposed to our Twitter content or LinkedIn content, where you have an idea, you formulate it, and then you take it to market within 1 hour. In this case, you got to wait 91 hours unless you do the builing in public.
38:16 KP Like, maybe you show bits and pieces, but I don't know if there's appetite for people wanting to see how the course is made, because it's interesting.
38:23 Justin Welsh I did build my course that I talked about the three and a half hour one in public. I sent out a weekly update in terms of everything website, visitors, sales, presale, revenue, everything. People actually really enjoyed that. It led to a huge launch. I had a $91,000 launch or $90,000 launch in 30 days.
38:43 KP I was skeptical about that. I was curious if people would because I understand product building, right? Because you're building a product, then you're like, oh, you have an idea. Let's say we launch a landing page and there's an exception on a landing page. You're like, v one, v two, v three. The course, the way I thought about it was like, the course is an accumulation of content. If I just share chapter one, that's just like a piece of the larger puzzle. Would they get it? Would they appreciate it? Would they give me feedback on it? I was really curious about that. So then let's double click into and share that story, because this is the Build in Public podcast. Share that story of how you build that course in public. What was the first smallest bit that you shared with the world? Landing page?
39:24 Justin Welsh Yeah, I mean, I shared landing pages. I shared the agenda. I shared that.
39:30 KP Did you have a pricing plan on the landing page?
39:35 Justin Welsh Like a mocked up landing page with an assumptive or hypothetical price and a hypothetical message and outcome for the buyer. I had like a mocked up landing page with a hypothetical price and a hypothetical message for the buyer. And I solicited a lot of feedback by building in public. I shared how the slides were coming along. I shared teasers, but I also shared how I was marketing it. So, for example, I would send an email out to my email list and I would post on LinkedIn and Twitter. In a spreadsheet, I would literally break it down from impressions all the way down to revenue for every source so people could see how powerful email versus LinkedIn versus Twitter was. People found that really interesting, and they would write back and say, like, why do you think email converted a little higher here? Why do you think LinkedIn converted higher here, but not on this day?
40:19 Justin Welsh It kind of started getting some conversation going. The cool thing was it was a 30 day journey. By the end of the journey, the basic next step for everyone is to buy the course, right? They can see the finished pack. It's like the last episode of a season of television, right, where it's like, you've watched the whole season, you're not going to skip the last episode, right? It naturally leads into being a good something.
40:43 KP Was there presales on this, or all the prep work and all this stuff was free, and then eventually the sales page dropped at the end.
40:49 Justin Welsh I was pre selling the whole time.
40:51 KP Oh, wow.
40:52 Justin Welsh That's the way that I drove urgency was rather than just be like, oh, it's $150 and I'm going to pre sell it for $99, essentially, I titrated the price up. It's like, the more I was like, okay, it's 99 today, then it's 105. That's 110, that's 115. As people got deeper into the journey, they were like, I better grab this now before it goes out. Exactly. It was a combination of driving urgency through price increases, but also people getting deeper and deeper into the journey.
41:23 KP Man, you blew my mind. Can't believe the way executed it, I'm so happy you did. I would probably do the same thing, maybe customize it to my audience, but I think it's super inspiring to hear that from you next month. All right, I think we're at the top of the hour wanted to be conscious of your time. I want to say thank you for being here. Thank you for sharing your insights. I'll drop the links to your courses and your main website in the show notes. Thank you so much, Justin. Hope to see you again in one of the few episodes.
41:56 Justin Welsh KP is a pleasure. Thanks for having me, man.
41:58 KP Thank you. Have a good one. See you.