Andrew Kirby is a YouTuber who founded Synthesizer School, a free community for educational content creators and consultants to reach financial freedom through synthesizing.
In this episode of Creators On Air, Andrew shares the mindset shift from consumer to creator, a framework to build a business, and how to bring value to your audience.
[00:00:00] Andrew: I think the best option for monetization is the option that creates the most value, and the option that creates the most value is the one that solves your audience's problems.
[00:00:16] Akta: Andrew Kirby is a YouTuber entrepreneur and synthesizer. In today's episode of Creator on Air, Andrew shares exactly what synthesizing is and how he achieved financial freedom using the great online game.
[00:00:30] Andrew: I define myself as a synthesizer. That's somebody who goes through life, learns everything they can, experiences, problems, makes mistakes, but then synthesizes the mistakes and the lessons that I've learned, and then shares them publicly on the internet.
[00:00:46] Andrew: So I'm most well known for my YouTube channel where there's around 600,000 subscribers. But I also have a little community of around 4,000 members of content creators, educational content creators specifically, and consultants called the Synthesizer School. So those are the places I'm most well known.
[00:01:03] Akta: I love that you've given this a term with synthesizing and you actually say a lot online that you hit financial freedom at the age of 22 desynthesizing. So what does that journey look like and how has synthesizing played a part in that?
[00:01:18] Andrew: Yeah, the journey was, was an interesting one. It all started when I went to university and on the very first day of uni, I realized that the degree that I was studying marketing. Absolutely dreadful. I was watching YouTube videos about marketing that was a thousand times better than the degree that I was studying.
[00:01:39] Andrew: So I realized in my very first day that the degree that I was studying wasn't what I thought it was gonna be, and any job that really valued that degree wasn't the sort of job that I wanted to be in. So I made the commitment to myself that I was gonna find another option, but I didn't know where to go.
[00:01:55] Andrew: I didn't know who to turn. But there was a part of me that knew that it was gonna be somewhere on the internet. So I started creating content about the thing that I was interested in at the time, which was stoicism. I had read loads of stoicism books, and then I would summarize some of my insights into YouTube videos.
[00:02:13] Andrew: That was the very start of the journey. There's been ups and downs along the way. I went from stoicism to personal development to productivity, and now more to business and content creation. And yeah, it's been a, it's been a rollercoaster.
[00:02:27] Akta: And how have you personally changed since making that switch from being a consumer to an active creator?
[00:02:35] Andrew: Yeah, that's a, it's a really interesting question and one of the lessons that Stoicism taught me is that there are some things in life you can control and there are other things that you can't control. And when I was a consumer, a pure consumer, I thought that most of my life I couldn't control. I thought I was going on the normal path and the normal trajectory was gonna get a normal job.
[00:02:53] Andrew: And that was what was my, my life was gonna look. . But the more that I've made the switch from consumer to creator, and by the way, I think everyone's a creator to some degree, and everyone's a consumer to some degree. It's just to what extent do you consume and create. But the more I've gone to the creator side of things, the more I realize that, ah, like I can control where my life goes.
[00:03:12] Andrew: I can control what happens with this one life that we have. And that's been the biggest mindset shift, realizing that I'm in control. I'm not just somebody who life is happening to me. I have some say in how my life turns out.
[00:03:27] Akta: Yeah, I like that. And I can resonate with that a lot because I actually left my job as a dentist when I started creating. And it's just crazy how your path changes when you make that active decision. Um, you talk a lot about,
[00:03:40] Andrew: sorry to interrupt. My girlfriend's a nurse and well, she was a nurse and she. to do more online stuff way. So it's a similar journey to you. Yeah. I love that. I love like leaving that traditional path behind to do something new online.
[00:03:54] Akta: And you talk a lot about personal monopoly and specific knowledge. What does that mean to you and how did you find your own personal monopoly? Hmm.
[00:04:03] Andrew: Okay. So have you specific knowledges, the thing, the knowledge that you acquire by following your own interest, your own curiosity. It's not the sort of things that you learn in university or that you can learn from books.
[00:04:17] Andrew: It's more your experiences that teach you these lessons. And your personal monopoly is how you convey your specific knowledge to the world. So the idea of personal monopoly is taken from either David Perel or Jack Butcher, not me. And the idea is that you wanna find the thing that only you are known for.
[00:04:38] Andrew: The thing in this internet space, which is so vast, you wanna find yourself in some tiny, tiny little corner where you become known as the sort of person that does that thing. And this isn't something that you go out and you pursue. logically, it's more found by just following your obsessions, following your curiosity, and you end up cause of the inter lap between all of your different interests.
[00:05:01] Andrew: You find this tiny little space that only you occupy and that becomes your personal monopoly. I would say that for most of my journey, I didn't have a personal monopoly at all. I was a YouTuber, I was a productivity YouTuber. I was into stoicism, but more recently, As I've realized how much of a synthesizer I am and how much power there is in being a synthesizer, that's probably the closest thing that I found to a personal monopoly.
[00:05:27] Andrew: And why did you
[00:05:28] Akta: choose to go onto YouTube to start sharing your specific knowledge? Like why that platform?
[00:05:33] Andrew: I grew up on YouTube. I've been on YouTube since I was 13, 14 years old. It was, it was where I spent multiple, multiple hours every day watching. Was a child of of YouTube, and I think it makes most sense to create where you consume, especially in the beginning.
[00:05:54] Andrew: Pick one platform and it's probably gonna be the platform where you consume the most. Because in all of these different social platform, there are these unwritten rules. There's a social etiquette to every single platform and the social etiquette, every platform is different. So the one that you understand the most will be the one that you are the best at, and the one that you understand the most is the one that you spend the most time.
[00:06:15] Andrew: And
[00:06:15] Akta: what do you think made you grow on
[00:06:17] Andrew: YouTube? Hmm. Good question. Good question. I think that you can draw a Venn diagram like this for success on YouTube and on one of the circles is content you love to make. Because if you want to be consistent, you have to find content you enjoy making, you have to find content that you are intrinsically motivated to.
[00:06:37] Andrew: The things that you would make just for the sake of making it. And the reason that you have to do that is because often if you upload a video, you're not gonna get the sort of results that you want to get. And if you keep doing that and you're only motivated by the views, you are gonna go burnout really, really, really quickly.
[00:06:54] Andrew: Whereas if you find something that you happy that you made it just for the sake of making it, even if nobody viewed it, then you can be consistent. And it's once you've been consistent, that the audience can grow. So that's the first circle. . The second one is content that other people want to make. Other people want to see.
[00:07:09] Andrew: Sorry. Cuz if other people want to see the content, that's what YouTube's really trying to optimize for. We now know the two metrics YouTube looks for is click through rate. How many people click on the video and watch time? Of the people that click, how long do they stay? You can summarize that by basically saying if you make a video that people love to watch, they're gonna click on it and they're gonna stick around until the end.
[00:07:30] Andrew: So if you're able to find the overlap between content you love to make and content other people love to see, then you are geared for success on any of the platforms.
[00:07:39] Akta: And how did you figure out what sort of content your audience would love?
[00:07:45] Andrew: Good question. I think that it starts with the niche. So there's a really.
[00:07:51] Andrew: Framework for business, which says that there are five variables to any business. You can break it down, and that is, there's a niche, there's a transformation. There's a price that you charge for the transformation. , there's a mechanism which you use to deliver the transformation, and then there's an access channel.
[00:08:07] Andrew: This is getting a little bit nerdy here, but those are the five different things, and I like nerdy stuff. , , all of those other variables. The transformation, the price that you can charge, the mechanism that you use to deliver the transformation. The access channel that you use to get customers is all dependent on the niche.
[00:08:23] Andrew: It's all dependent on who your customer set. . So in order to figure out what sort of content people love, if you know who you are making content for, then you can interpret what sort of content they love to watch. And there's a few different ways that you could do that. To boil it down to first principles, you wanna find content that has high demand that people really wanna see.
[00:08:44] Andrew: But low supply that only you can make. That's the sort of thing that allows any channel to grow. If you look at any success story in this space, they've created content that has high demand and low supply. So you can find the high demand by looking at what's trending. So in the synthesizer school, this isn't a plug.
[00:09:02] Andrew: This is genuinely the best piece of concept I have on trending there. Lesson there, a free lesson on trends that shows you how you can use tools like Google Trends to figure out what's trending. Because when I say you wanna make content, people love the content that people love to watch changes over time.
[00:09:19] Andrew: And that's what we call a trend. So if you are able to figure out who your niche is, then you can figure out what their attention is on at the moment, what's trending at the. And if you make videos or pieces of content around what they really wanna see at this time, then you're able to grow really quickly.
[00:09:38] Andrew: So one of the videos on my channel, I made a series about dopamine detoxing, which ended up getting. I think eight or 9 million views across the series. And the reason this worked was because I went on Google Trends and I saw that this phrase, dopamine detoxing, was starting to spike. And I thought, ah, this is a big opportunity.
[00:09:57] Andrew: So I created four or five videos on it. And if you now go on Google trends and you search dopamine detoxing, you see there's a huge, huge, huge spike. And that was a large part of the reason that those videos did well because it was a trending topic at the. How
[00:10:11] Akta: specific were you with Nish, because you've called yourself a productivity YouTuber, A lot of the advice that I see is that you have to be really specific, like productivity for single moms or, you know what I mean, things like that.
[00:10:24] Akta: Do you think that's important to grow on YouTube, or can you be a bit more generalized? Yeah,
[00:10:30] Andrew: I think that both can work, but the most repeatable process, I would say would be going as niche as. So I view how niche you are as how sharp the spear is that you use to attract attention. So the more niche you get, the sharper your sphere.
[00:10:46] Andrew: So imagine you are just a random consumer and you watch a video that's generically about productivity. It's kind of interesting. But if you watch a video about productivity for podcast hosts, Now all of a sudden you're gonna click the video far more likely, and you're gonna watch the video for longer, click through rate and then watch time, which is more likely to have that video served to more people similar to you.
[00:11:09] Andrew: So there's one person recently who has executed the content creation model perfectly. And that's Jay Alto. Do you know who? Yeah, I do. Yeah. The thumbnail guy. Yeah. And I think he's, it, it's, it's really genius what he. Everybody else was talking about YouTube, but he narrowed down and said, I'm only gonna talk about thumbnails.
[00:11:28] Andrew: And because he was the first, or one of the first people to claim that as a niche, his audience grew really quickly. And it's really cool to see how, how perfectly he's executed the creator. Zero to something playbook. ,
[00:11:43] Akta: do you have any advice for creators who are doing all the right things, but they're still struggling to see that growth and they're struggling then to stay consistent?
[00:11:53] Andrew: Hmm. I would say if you're doing all of the right things, you would be getting results or, mm-hmm. , if you keep going and you trust the process, then the results will come. So success will come. When you get good enough for the success to come. And the only way you can get good enough for the success to come is to be consistent, but not just to be consistent.
[00:12:19] Andrew: Cause I don't think consistency is everyone, everything. There's some guy on YouTube who's uploaded 2 million YouTube videos and he doesn't have the biggest audience in the world. I know. It's crazy. But if he uploaded 2 million videos and every single video he uploaded was slightly better than the one before, then he would have the biggest channel in the world by a long stretch.
[00:12:40] Andrew: So if you just trust the process that if you keep going, and if every time you upload or you create, you get slightly better than the time before, then it's only a matter of time until you get to where you wanna get to. So just trust the process. It's like if you go to the gym and you are working out regularly, you're lifting heavier weights than before and you're eating.
[00:12:58] Andrew: even if you're not seeing results, you know that if you keep doing it for a long enough period of time, the results will come. And the exact same thing comes to creating content. Keep going, keep getting slightly better, and just trust that the results will come.
[00:13:12] Akta: definitely. And I've actually watched a lot of your videos and you are incredibly compelling to listen to.
[00:13:18] Akta: I dunno if it's just the way you speak. I feel like you could read like a shopping list and I would still listen to this from start to end, but what do you think makes engaging content, you know, things that make people watch from start to end? Great
[00:13:33] Andrew: question. Great question. I think probably one of the really valuable.
[00:13:38] Andrew: Skills that if you look back for many, many, many, a hundred thousands of years, humans have been telling stories, and the better you master the craft of effective storytelling, the better you'll be able to capture attention. And I'm not the best storyteller in the world. I'm too nerdy and analytical to be a great storyteller.
[00:13:59] Andrew: I've got better at it. And if you go back on my YouTube channel and you scroll back to the oldest video, YouTube actually removed, sought by oldest recently. It's really frustrating. You're gonna have to scroll back to the oldest video and you watch the first video uploaded. You will see how unengaging I am.
[00:14:14] Andrew: I'm the worst speaker in the world. So again, it's just practice with constant focus on getting slightly better than the time before, and then you'll become more engaging.
[00:14:25] Akta: It's one thing building an audience, but you've actually. Built financial freedom through what you do. What were the income streams that gave you that financial
[00:14:34] Andrew: freedom?
[00:14:35] Andrew: Good question. The main one was a cohort based course that helped people be procrastination. So I think that a really good little mental model for people to take away is that the way the place you can add the most value is probably gonna be the biggest problem that you've solved in your. So if you've solved your own problems, chances are there's other people out there that have similar problems to you but haven't been able to solve them.
[00:15:01] Andrew: So if you think, what's the biggest problem that I've solved? And then you share the solution to that, that will add a lot of value and you can monetize that value. So in the beginning, one of the biggest problems that I solve was procrastination. I used to, like I said, spend all day on YouTube, spend all day gaming, and I slowly started to understand how I could get over that problem and create consistently.
[00:15:22] Andrew: So I created a cohort-based course that taught some of the lessons that I learned, and that was by far the biggest income stream that brought me to financial Freedom. Now, I realize that the biggest problem that I've solved is reaching financial freedom and doing that through synthesizing, which is why I'm creating content around that.
[00:15:40] Andrew: But to answer your question, it was that singular income stream. A lot of people talk about having five or 10 different income stream, and there's that quote that the average millionaire. five or six different income streams, and that's true, but oftentimes the way they became a millionaire wasn't through multiple different income streams.
[00:15:58] Andrew: They just now have multiple different income streams in order to preserve their wealth, not to create their wealth. That was a bit of a tangent, but to answer your question, it was that cohort based course.
[00:16:08] Akta: No, I think it's a good tangent to go down because I think as a creator, there's so many options for monetizing.
[00:16:16] Akta: It's quite overwhelming. So what advice would you give to creators who are trying to figure out how to leverage their audience? Like I know you went down the course route, but people could go down the community route or you know, like paid new set is, there's like so many options. How do creators work out what the best option is for them?
[00:16:36] Andrew: I think the best option for monetization is the option that creates the most. And the option that creates the most value is the one that solves your audience's problems. If you create a massive amount of value, then it's relatively easy to capture a percentage of that value. So things like t-shirts and merch are good, and they're okay if you have a huge audience because the similarity and problems that that huge audience has.
[00:17:00] Andrew: isn't very similar, so you just have to find something that all of them have, which is t-shirts. But the more niche your audience is, the more you'll find that they have very similar problems to each other. And the better you're able to solve your audience's problems, the more value you create for them, and then the better you're able to monetize it.
[00:17:17] Andrew: So for me, whether it's a course, whether it's a community, doesn't matter. What matters most is what is the problem that you're solving. So to go back to that, those five burials, I brought up the niche, the transformation, the. The mechanism in the access channel, what we're talking about here is the mechanism.
[00:17:34] Andrew: The course or community, again, comes after the transformation. So the first problem you solve for is what's the niche? The second problem you solve for is what's the transformation? What is the problem that I can solve? What's the transformation these guys wanna achieve? The third variable you solve for is the price.
[00:17:50] Andrew: So what are these guys? What is this niche willing to pay for this transformation? Then the fourth variable is once you've figured out who's the niche, what's the problem that you're solving? What's the transformation? What's the price you're charging for that transformation? Then you can solve the mechanism.
[00:18:04] Andrew: Nobody cares about what the mechanism is. People care about achieving a result. So figure out, after you've figured out what the result people wanna achieve, what the mechanism best serve that transformation
[00:18:16] Akta: you've had, your cohort based courses, you've reached financial freedom, but you are still going like, tell me about what's happening now.
[00:18:25] Andrew: Yes, so I hit that point of financial freedom. I went traveling, I went to Thailand, stayed there for six months and it was great in the beginning, but eventually it felt stag. And the last thing I want to be do is complaining about a very privileged position, which I'm aware of , but I do believe that humans are built to work.
[00:18:47] Andrew: I believe that humans are built to improve and to solve problems, and that's a large part of what makes life, life. So I did a bunch of different experiments. I tried a bunch of different things to figure out what was gonna be next. I actually didn't upload on YouTube for six or seven months, and I was. A blank slate exploring my curiosity.
[00:19:08] Andrew: Again, putting myself in the beginner position again. And one of the thing that I realized is that Naval says that the modern wealth creation vehicles nowadays are either code or content because they're the most leverageable forms of media or the most lable leverage. Leverage. Leverageable, . Leverageable.
[00:19:32] Andrew: Oh my goodness. You said I was good at speaking. I'm not. Um, I think you are . . Yes. That word that you just said, content and code. And the code. There's this really cool community called the Indie Hacketts, which are a group of people that are trying to leverage code in order to build a career for themselves that they love online.
[00:19:50] Andrew: And I realized that I, there wasn't one, at least not one that I was aware of for educational content creator. . So I started a community called to Synthesize a school, which like I said, is a place for educational content creators and consultants, which are basically educational content creators. They just monetize their content creation.
[00:20:08] Andrew: And I built that community and it grew a lot quicker than I thought it was gonna grow. And people started meeting up in person and people started creating friendship groups and they started having weekly calls and it kind of just took off without me. And I now realized that that's the thing that I'm doing, that I love the. That building of a community, of a group of incredible people that are all in the same goal and trying to achieve it through the same mechanism is such an incredible place for cool things to happen. And that's where I'm putting a lot more of my focus on now. So the Synthesizer school's completely free.
[00:20:42] Andrew: Um, it's a free community and yeah, it's for people that are trying to reach financial freedom through synthesizing and through creating. . I love
[00:20:54] Akta: that you've made it accessible and that you're helping people with what you've achieved. Have you noticed any common threads going through that community of, you know, like what they're struggling with or the biggest thing that holds, holds 'em back from doing what you've
[00:21:08] Andrew: achieved?
[00:21:09] Andrew: Yes. Yeah. First one is just overcoming the barrier from consumer to creator. Just uploading something once and there's always these limiting beliefs that are holding people. Things like, ah, it's not good enough, or, oh, there's too much competition, or whatever the case is. That's the first problem. Second one is to stay consistent.
[00:21:31] Andrew: Third problem is to actually grow an audience and to get traction and to have people enjoy the content that you're creating. And then the fourth one is to monetize the audience that you've been creating. and those are the four main problems that if solved, can take somebody a really long way. Um, I'm
[00:21:46] Akta: gonna finish off with a quick fire round, so I'm gonna ask you five quick questions and just answer the first thing that comes to mind.
[00:21:54] Akta: So, what's your favorite thing about being a creator?
[00:21:56] Andrew: It's so much fun. I get to wake up in the morning and there's hundreds of things going on, and I get to pursue my passions, follow my curiosity, explore the world. It's so much fun.
[00:22:06] Akta: And what's one thing that gives you the most inspiration?
[00:22:10] Andrew: Hmm. Mentors and other content creators that create valuable content and share their lessons and their insights and their passion.
[00:22:22] Akta: Mm. And who do you say your mentors are?
[00:22:24] Andrew: There's been lots along the way. The very first one was people like Tony Robbins, Napoleon Hill. Then it went to creators online. There was a guy called Sunny T, who was actually the guy that encouraged me to create my first piece of content. Then there was someone called Miles Beckler.
[00:22:41] Andrew: Then there was someone called Sam Ovens. Then there's people like Naval Rav and Kail Gupta and Alex, or. Who are probably the people that I look up to most, but most recently it's . So in the community, one of the things that I do is I go through somebody's content. I scrape everything that they've created.
[00:23:02] Andrew: So I transcribe all of their interviews. I scrape all of their tweets, I get all of their articles, and I put it in a searchable database. And the one that I've been spending the most time in recently is Leila Homos. She's really.
[00:23:13] Akta: Nice. Lots of inspiration there. Um, what's your favorite tour to help you create?
[00:23:19] Andrew: Am I allowed to say the internet? I guess so. very broad. Uh, the, it, I mean laptop phone, which is what I'm recording this video on the internet, YouTube, Twitter. There's no specific niche hacky tool that I use. The community of synthesizer school is hosted on school.com with a K, not a ch. I really like that as well.
[00:23:45] Akta: And what's one thing that helps your work-life
[00:23:47] Andrew: balance? The belief that let less but more focused work is better than more, but less focused.
[00:23:58] Akta: Mm. Yeah, I like that. I feel like I could definitely use that advice, . And what's one piece of advice that you'd give to creators?
[00:24:07] Andrew: Have they started uploading yet?
[00:24:10] Andrew: Yes. Keep going and keep getting better.
[00:24:14] Akta: Thank you so much, Andrew, for coming on. I really appreciate your insights and your encouragement for people to keep synthesizing.
[00:24:22] Andrew: Of course.
[00:24:26] Akta: This has been, this has been fun. I've enjoyed this podcast. I think Andrew has shared some really important frameworks to help us create and grow online.
[00:24:30] Akta: You can join Andrew's community, synthesize a score, or find him on YouTube and Twitter. And if you are a creator, check out passion fruit where you can handle sponsorships, collaborations, and payments all in one place. Thanks for listening in, and I'll see you soon.