Ali Abdaal has 3.2 million followers on Youtube, a team of over 20 people, and his business makes $350,000 a month. Sahil Bloom is an investor, entrepreneur and prolific creator, who grew over 500,000 Twitter followers in under 2 years and has over 100,000 newsletter subscribers.
Does anyone else feel behind in life right now?
It's easy to assume that Ali and Sahil are in different leagues of their own, devoid of any creator worries like you. But you’d be surprised.
These two creators sat down for the Deep Dive podcast, comparing notes on their creator journeys whilst giving each other advice. Their conversation was eye-opening, business savvy, but also super relatable. It became pretty evident that no matter where you are on the creator journey, we all have similar fears and worries.
So, here are 15 of the best gems from the conversation on:
- growing online
- managing your business and finances
- career longevity as a creator
Build a connection
There’s going to be a trend towards artificial intelligence automating content creation. In fact, it’s already happening, with companies like Yahoo using bots to create content. But no matter how advanced it is, AI can’t automate personality.
That’s why Ali and Sahil share things they personally resonate with.
When you build a connection with your audience, it means people are there for you. And no fancy bit of AI can ever take that away from you.
There’s always more to do. When you see Lady algorithm rewarding your friends on TikTok, your FOMO kicks in, and you start scrambling to make short-form content. Whenever you take a break, there’s that niggle at the back of your mind, telling you to work on your website redesign or start that newsletter. When you see another creator have a successful launch, you consider building your next revenue stream.
There’s a sea of options. But as a creator, one of the best things you can do is ride against the wave of pressure and FOMO.
You can’t be everywhere and you can’t be everything to everyone. So stop trying.
When you stand firmly where you are and resist the tides of pressure, you focus on what you do well. You stay rooted in what your audience came to you for. You stay authentic. You may struggle with FOMO, but once you grow, you'll realize you weren't missing out of anything.
Dealing with negativity
When you put yourself in the arena, there's always someone who wants to throw rocks at you. If you plan to be a creator for the long game, you have to learn to deal with the negativity:
- Have empathy - there’s usually a reason why someone chooses to be negative
- Mute people
- Confront the haters - in the early days, Sahil used to message people saying, “sorry, that was written in good faith”. More often than not, people took down their comments.
- Take pride in the fact that you’re in the arena, and don’t take feedback from people who are stuck on the sidelines
Create what inspires you
When something you create takes off, dopamine rushes through your body. It's a glorious, addictive feeling. And that's why so many creators create for the algorithm.
But the algorithm shouldn't stop you from creating the content you want to make. It also doesn't mean it has to perform badly either. Sahil’s most popular thread is one he wanted to write, but he wrapped it up in an algorithm-pleasing hook that grabbed the attention of his audience.
As Sahil says, even if your hook is clickbait, does it really matter if people are seeing the value-filled content you worked so hard to create?
Make sure you enjoy it
Consistency stacks up more than talent. That’s why Sahil has done so well on Twitter - he's written 250,000 words on Twitter in the last 2 years. It's hard to beat the person who keeps showing up, just ask anyone who's lost a game of Whac-A-Mole.
But what are you showing up for? If it's money, that creates intensity, but if it's joy, that will create consistency.
You have to enjoy what you do to keep going, it's the only way to win.
Managing your finances & business
Income-generating v.s. wealth-generating activities
When you're planning your finances, consider both income-generating and wealth-generating activities.
Use your income-generating activities to cover your expenses, and then deploy the rest towards wealth generating-activities. By utilizing both, you give yourself as much protection as possible from being in trouble financially.
Create a model of your finances
You should be able to visualize your finances. Draw out your sources of income and expenses. Visualize what will happen when things go awry, like if there’s a recession. Pull the lever on different areas - will you still be ok?
Live within your means
If you want to scale up your lifestyle, consider what you can also scale back. E.g. If you want to spend more on holidays, can you reduce the number of times you eat out? This will help you to keep your financial life simple and stress-free.
The fear of losing it all
When you make it online, you fear you’ll lose it all. The same thing happens when people become rich - they worry they’ll lose all of their money. This is a combination of impostor syndrome and scarcity bias.
But if you were asked a year ago today where you’d be now, your answer wouldn’t be accurate. You couldn't have predicted where you are now, so stop trying to predict the future.
When you bring good energy to the things you do, you’ll always be ok. You'll figure it out as you go along.
Durable creators focus on longevity. They scale their business outside of their creator business. They may still be related (e.g. YouTubers may have a newsletter or online course) but there's separate pillars that make up your income, which reduces your reliance on one thing.
Every time you draw a line at something, write it down. These become your core values, which can guide the direction you move forward in. For example, Ali has stopped taking on sponsorships for products and services he doesn’t already use, even though he’s turning down 5 figure deals - one of his core values is authenticity.
Being a side hustler
Creating outside of a 9-5 doesn’t sound sustainable, but most people work only a fraction of the time they think they’re working. Instead of scrolling on Twitter when you’re waiting for your next meeting, you could work on your next idea. This is how Ali built his channel whilst he was still a medical student at Cambridge University. It’s possible to hack a 9-5 workday without having to work in the evenings and weekends, which means you can be a side-hustler in a more sustainable way.
To avoid burnout and be a durable creator, ask yourself - how can you make what you’re doing more energizing? Sahil works in 60 minute blocks of focus work, and has 15-30 mins break in between to go for a walk.
You don't have to grow
When you scale your business, it might increase profit twofold, but it might require four times the amount of attention and time. It can cause you unnecessary stress that spills over into the rest of your day. That might not be worth it.
The general consensus is that you should always be growing in order to be moving forward, but that’s not true.
If you've got a good set up and a good work-life balance, it's ok to stay where you are.
Build a team or community
One of the most challenging parts about being a creator is how lonely it is.
If you can overcome the loneliness, it will protect your mental health. That’s why Ali prefers to pay more for employees based in London, instead of hiring remote workers. Having a team or community is worth paying for.
Thank you to Sahil Bloom and Ali Abdaal for the insightful, reassuring conversation. You can listen to the whole thing on The Deep Dive Podcast. If you found these notes helpful, let us know over on Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn