Akta: [00:00:00] There's a lot of writers on the internet, so how do you stand out?
Kieran: You need this asset that shows you know more and care more than your competition, and you give it away for free because people go, oh no, I'll never give my best ideas away for free. But what happens is this free product, whatever, you make a video and ebook or whatever, This demonstrates that you are worth investing in so that when you do come to release something else, you're not there trying to push and persuade people.
You just invite them to invest.
Akta: Kieran Drew quit his job as a dentist to pursue his passion for writing. Now he has an audience of over 185,000 people, a news asset called Digital Freedom, and he recently made six figures in just four days. In this episode of Creators on Air, Kieran shares how to stand out as a writer, build trust with your audience, and create an offering that builds your business.
Kieran: There was a long period of time where I was like, I know I wasn't happy at, uh, as a dentist, but I, I couldn't work out what else to do. And so my [00:01:00] version was, you know, double down on working and then hopefully retire early, you know, get to like 40 and, and then work out. And, uh, when Covid hit suddenly, you know, a lot of time to think.
And it was pretty uncomfortable 'cause I was like, well this plan is pretty stupid. And, uh, someone sent me Naval GaN, who just said, you know, there's this alternate path to, to building wealth and happiness, which is along the lines of, uh, building online, attract an audience, build a product, this sort of path.
And yeah, it was pretty wild because, you know, Quite humbling to, to start again from scratch. Particularly like dentistry was going pretty well and the, the first step was that whole exploring your curiosity, uh, and seeing what you find. So my idea was, uh, first off to become a standup comic because I thought, what a brilliant way to make like a living, right?
Just making people laugh and. For better or worse, uh, it was still lockdown, so I never actually made it into the clubs, which I don't know, it could have been good, but, um, I actually found writing when I was writing the jokes and I was like, wow, this skill is just incredible. Um, [00:02:00] Very energizing, really fun.
And, and, and so I sort of pivoted and thought, well, how can we just start writing more? And, and then there was maybe a year where I was fascinated by the topic, but absolutely sucked. And it was an interesting balance because, um, you know, I, I, I went back to my nine to five. I was working six days a week, but every early morning I was like, look, if I could write for two hours a day in the morning, um, Do my, like social media and lunch and then read an hour at night, hopefully something's gonna happen.
And uh, that was about a year, uh, thousand followers after a year, which was pretty rough. Uh, and then it all just started kicking off around, um, August, 2021.
Akta: And how did you choose where you were gonna write and what you were gonna write about at that point, when you were still so early in that journey?
Kieran: Yeah, I mean, for the most part, I. I tried out everything. So I'm a big fan of experimenting, and this is one reason it took, you know, a year to get a thousand followers. Uh, I just started picking platforms and the main mistake I made, uh, was I tried to do it all right? Mm-hmm. So I was writing on Instagram.
I [00:03:00] started a newsletter that my mom and my girlfriend read, and that was about it. Uh, we had Reddit, um, and, and a couple others. And then I stumbled across Twitter. And it's funny because when I first started Twitter, I was like, this can't be right because I thought it was about, you know, sports commentary and people were talking about copywriting.
I thought that was for lawyers. And, uh, anyway, I I, I came over and around August or maybe just a month before I realized, yeah, it's very difficult to to grow if you're not kind of narrowing down, right? So if you try to grow everywhere, you grow nowhere. And the thing with Twitter that was really cool was the, the attitude just seemed to be really five, 10 years ahead in terms of knowledge and also just this perspective on business.
And, you know, so for example, I was writing on Medium and all of the, like, backend of it. People were going, how can I make a hundred dollars per article? And on Twitter, it, like, the, the basic question is like, how do I make 10 K a month? And, you know, really, really fond of this idea about environment. And I was like, well, this seems to be the place to [00:04:00] be.
Um, so I just stopped doing absolutely everything and went all in, uh, over on Twitter after. But
Akta: even on Twitter, I feel like there's so many writers there at the moment. So how, how did you stand out?
Kieran: Uh, my tweet, uh, time, I think so. I didn't stand out for a long time. Uh, you know, the problem with writing on social media is that when you start, you have all these intentions to be unique, and then you realize that it's algorithm based, and if you say a certain thing, it'll get a certain amount of engagement.
And if you're not careful, before you know it, you're pumping our platitude and there's no kind of uniqueness to it. And mm-hmm. I was going down that route. Uh, what happened was, um, for some reason I told myself at the start, I would never write about myself. So people don't want to hear about you. They want to hear about what you know.
And that's the complete opposite to my message now. Right? And so in August, 2021, I posted a, uh, story about myself, which is the first time I'd written about myself. And it was just, um, you know, some, some neck issue that I had. And what I learned, I. And I [00:05:00] actually wrote this thread three months before. I never posted it because I was like, who the hell cares?
And my girlfriend was like, you should really send this 'cause like, it's pretty good. And anyway, I click send, uh, you know, logged off, came out the next day, tripled the audience, like 400 dms. And what I realized was, um, was like storytelling slices through the noise, right? Like people are always being told what to do.
And, and, and what stories is actually doing is, is you're showing them like you're not going, here's how to, it's how I. And when I was thinking about it, I was like, well, what's the stuff that really interests me? And I love it when someone builds in public, because that's like a story in real time, right?
Mm-hmm. You, you say you're gonna do something, you share how it goes, better or worse, like I've, it's not gone well for a lot of my stuff. And I've been very open about that. And that was how I shifted my branding, where I was like, look, let's just make this a building public project where, share what I learned, share what I do.
And, um, I think from there it really just started to build a great bond with the audience and, and things started kicking off. [00:06:00]
Akta: Yeah, definitely. Even on your newsletter that you, that's got so many subscribers, what do you think helped to grow that list as well? Yeah,
Kieran: a couple of things. So a lot of people ask me, uh, how do you come up with newsletter ideas and when do you start?
So the, the first bit of advice for that is don't start until you know your niche and you know what you want to achieve or else it's really hard to keep pivoting. So that was my mistake. So I had a. First year I maybe got a hundred subs. Then what for the, for the newsletter, the best newsletter to build is the one that would impact you the most personally, right?
Like you write selfishly. So what I did was I sucked at Twitter, like really bad, and so I made a newsletter called Fire Tweet Friday, where I would deconstruct why tweets were. And, you know, uh, I was very, very interested in copywriting. So it's a really cool way to, to apply what I was learning and, and then attract people that thought just like me.
Yeah. And I basically followed that model ever since. Right? Like, um, I'm not writing, I'm writing for Ki and Drew, right? And I try to challenge myself to [00:07:00] think through ideas better come up with better frameworks, execute better. Um, I feel like the reputation from that has been really cool. Uh, you know, I do like a monthly business report where I share all my numbers and what I'm working on and why I'm worried and all these things, and I think that helps it stand out.
The other side of it, uh, actor was, um, I I made a lot of free courses, so what I realized early was I, in the writing niche, right? It's very, very busy. Yes. And I, I'm looking at people like Dickie or Dan Danko. And I'm thinking I could never compete with these guys, uh, at least not playing that game. And so I decided to shift the metric and think, well, how much value can I give away for free?
Because, you know, I could defer monetization a bit, but also I was terrified to monetize. So this was quite a nice plan to push it off. And so I made maybe four or five courses, um, full video courses, really high quality, and they've been downloaded about 35,000 times. Wow. Uh, on and all. So, you know, they gimme the email for that.
You do get quite a high churn when you build an email list that way. [00:08:00] That's cool because the people that hang around obviously watch the courses and then they keep reading the newsletter. Yeah.
Akta: And I also love how you always end your newsletter, so like a picture of you as well. Like it makes it a little bit more like personal and real.
Like what is your reasoning behind doing things like
Kieran: that? Yeah. Uh, well again, two things here. So one of the smartest things you can do as a creator is pay attention to what gets your attention. And there's an uh, email marketer called Justin Goff who does this right. And what I noticed was I would open all of his emails and quite often it would be to see his picture at the bottom and just think, what's that guy written on the side?
And, you know, look around, no one else is doing it. Um, you know, there's all, that's still like an artist concept. It's not something you trademark. Right. And I thought, well, let's just do the same. Uh, the second part of it is the difficulty as a writer compared to other content creators is that you don't really put your face out there too much.
Mm-hmm. And it's actually quite hard to build a bond with someone through writing alone unless you're very talented at writing. And so what, what I do [00:09:00] is that, you know, by, by sharing what you look like, um, it just has this friendly, familiar feel and it really plays into this idea of, you know, being the guide and not the guru.
Um, yeah, it's okay, this is a real person. Like, it's not, it's like a tacky sign, right? Like I'm in my flat, like it's not really like highly edited and stuff, and it's just a very nice small tweak that I think is a great differentiator on a long-term timeframe. No,
Akta: definitely. I agree with you. I think it definitely makes you stand out in like all the newsletters that I receive.
Um, and I think it's really refreshing that you are focused, you know, a lot on storytelling and building that personal connection. Um, so how important do you think things are like, because a lot of the things that you read on Twitter is, you know, have a good hook or have a good title for your newsletter so that you know people will click on it.
How important are those
Kieran: things for Twitter? Extremely. For newsletter, not as much as people think. So lemme explain. Um, the thing with the newsletter, yes, a great subject line is cool, but what you'll find is that people generally will open emails [00:10:00] if you overdeliver in the email, right? Like, uh, if you just think about who you consume, right?
If you read a, if you read a bad email, you don't care about the subject line run too, right? You're like, I'm not gonna open that regardless. Mm-hmm. You read an email that feels like it's written for you, it's personalized, it's interesting. You're like, you could just write whatever you want. So, um, yeah, my open rate's pretty, pretty.
Study the whole way along. However, on Twitter, it's a different ball game, right? Because when someone gives you, or email, it's very personal and it's all about connection. Social media is like a live auction of attention, right? People vote with likes, retweets, impressions, all that stuff. Yeah. And so, um, the competition for attention is, is, is much more serious.
And so your hook is a everything, right? That doesn't mean that you have to write this super cheesy. 12 websites are so good that it should be illegal sort of stuff. Um, my, my rule is basically, uh, you know, reputation is always number one. And yeah, I've broken that rule a couple of times. Like I've written the morning thread and in the morning routine thread and all these things, [00:11:00] but, um, you just want to be able to make a hook.
Uh, it's why I teach my course is that clear, concise, and it's curious, right? So there has to be some form of intrigue. And intrigue is generally what's in it for me, the benefit of the hook. It has to be concise, right? Because if you see a hook and it's like a wall of text, you're not gonna read the next bit because you were like, before we read, we assess if it's worth our time.
Mm-hmm. And if you make the first hook looks like a mess, then you're not gonna read the thread. And then the clearness, it's, it is more about, uh, who are you writing to? So like, it's very clear who this is for and what you're gonna get out of it. So sometimes people try to be a bit too clever, I think, with their copy.
And so my checklist is literally when I write a hook, it's like, is it clear? Is it concise? Is it curious? And that seems to work pretty well.
Akta: Mm, definitely. And you spoke about, you know, directly speaking to the person as well. So for emails, do you kind of segment your newsletter list like. Do you have that kinda structure or is it just sending emails to everyone?
Kieran: [00:12:00] I do it very, very basically. Uh, I think the simplicity scales, right? And I don't think you need to mess around with this sort of stuff until you're building a seven figure business. You know, I've made many mistakes. And, and always looking back, it's when I'm tweaking stuff that doesn't really matter. So.
Mm-hmm. For, for my emails, uh, it, it is pretty basic. I have tagging based on behavior. Someone clicks the link on business, they get tagged interested in business clicks, the link on copy, all this sort of stuff. Oh right. That's okay. But I think you're meant to be doing a bit different. I'm not a pro on that stuff.
And um, when I'm doing stuff like product launches, I will ask people to join a waiting list 'cause I don't want to bombard my whole list. Right. Um, and that's pretty much the only differentiator I do. Um, what does
Akta: your current business look like? So what are your revenue
Kieran: streams? Yeah, so we have the, well, kind of ironically right now, not, not much revenue coming in because, uh, I just released my, uh, flagship product, which was called High Impact Writing, and that came out in May and it was pretty wild.
Like we made, um, 140 K in four days. Wow. Which would, [00:13:00] yeah, which would class like, I, I did not expect out, I was expecting it as like a 10 x result. Um, but that's not for sale anymore, for a couple more months. And so basically the way that I'm making money at the moment is we we're doing a bit of affiliating.
So when I'm writing a newsletter, if there is an, I don't really like writing an email about something, but, you know, let's say I'm talking about email, I'll mention Convert because, you know, very, very fond of it. Kind of following along those sort of plans. Mm-hmm. Uh, I stopped advertising on the newsletter, but I made a, a fair bit of money with that.
I also have another product called the Viral Inspiration Lab, which again, isn't for sale because I'm fixing the funnel. And the other thing that I do sell is a, a group coaching. So before I launched the product, I launched like a beta coaching to test the ideas and get, uh, testimonials. And at the end of it, uh, that finished at the start of January and I, and I offered to these guys.
Do you want to carry on on like a continuity pay? And, uh, they all said yes. So that's been about three K a month and I'm just waiting for them to stop basically. Wow. Uh, [00:14:00] it's brilliant. Uh, but like, uh, the, the main focus by the end of the year is to have, uh, a couple of products and a monthly payment, uh, and, and then advertising, and then the rest is just scaling free
Akta: that's amazing. And you mentioned earlier that you stood out by having, you know, like the free courses and things like that. So how do you know when you know it is time to create kind of a, a lead magnet that's free versus creating a paid product and creating a new revenue stream? How do you distinguish between the two?
Kieran: Sure. The, unfortunately there's no cookie, uh, answer here, uh, but the conversation I have all the time is this distinction between nice versus necessary. The problem online is that most of the time we get stuck chasing nice things with shiny objects and we don't really execute the necessary, right? And so the way I look at the creator business, we have three components.
We have reach, we have relationships, and we have revenue reach. The necessary is one [00:15:00] social media channel, right? Uh, or you're paying for ads, which are like one way to get more customers. Obviously as writers, I say very bullish on the audience side of things, but one thing I'm not bullish on is when.
People think the necessary is four, five social media channels. Mm. Because, uh, you know, people go, oh, you know, it only takes five minutes to grow on two accounts. And it's a complete lie, right? Because you have to engage. You've got all the split focus. You dunno who you write to anymore. So one social media channel for relationships is funny because it's the most ignored, but most important.
And the reason being is that followers and dollars are very easy to track, right? Grow your audience, build, build stuff to sell to them. It's actually like the creative business is a relationship business and trust is everything. And so I always say, um, first and foremost, we need the newsletter. That's a trust building mechanism for your writing, but also building an authority asset, the lead magnet.
I think that's a necessary thing. You need this asset that shows you know more and care more than your competition and you [00:16:00] give it away for free. Okay? Because, uh, people go, oh no, I'll never give my best ideas away for free. But what happens is this free. Product, whatever you make a video, an ebook, whatever this demonstrates that you are worth investing in.
So that when you do come to release something else, you're not there trying to push and persuade people. You just invite them to invest. So it's necessary. If you haven't got one, then it should be one of your like priority lists. And obviously with revenue, it sounds really stupid, but um, you need an offer like, I can't tell you how long I spent worrying about how I was gonna make money online.
And I'm talking like I quit my job in September. I didn't monetize for six months, but I wanted to, and I just wish someone came back and slapped gear around the face and said, build something to sell. Yeah. And so, yeah, why don't you tick off those three things, uh, then you can start playing around with.
You build more assets, more courses, but I think a, an honest review of your business and just saying like, reach, relationships, revenue, are these ticked off? If not, pick one, do it and you'll find that there are other two catch up as a result. I
Akta: love that. I love that you've given [00:17:00] it like the three R as well because I think that's memorable.
Um, how did you decide on what your offering was? You know, you said, you said that you left a job and then there was that time that you weren't monetizing. I think that's what a lot of creators can struggle with is like, how do I monetize? So how, how can people. Figure out what they should offer.
Originally I wanted to be a copywriter. Just to give some context, I wanted to be a freelance copywriter and there was, uh, you know, I was very, very motivated. Quit my job, made a tweet building in public, everyone, watch out. I'm gonna be the best copywriter in the world. And two months later I had to write a thread being why I'd failed to find a single client.
And the reason being that it wasn't for me, like the energy wasn't there. It felt like I was going from job to job. And I quit my job to teach, right? I find it very energizing to help other people with ideas that I believe in and seeing that make an impact. And so I think that's the first question is do you want to do it or do you want to teach it?
Now, if you wanna teach something, you have to have some result to teach, right? The best way to do that is to look back at a problem that you have already solved and then think, well, how can I package this up into a [00:18:00] solution? Mm-hmm. So for me, I'd been writing for a while, and one thing I really struggled with was writer's block.
And then I asked my audience what they all struggled with, and they always said the same. And I was like, brilliant. Well let's go, uh, build something to solve that. And so I, I made a swipe file and you know, gave it a fancy name, gave it, gave it a mechanism, you know, the whole like three R stuff. You need to make stuff stand out.
And then I released that and just said, Hey look, I love writing. This is what I use to overcome writers block. If you, if you have, if you struggle with that too, come and get it. The thing about the first product or the first offer is people, you overthink it because you're chasing perfection. Right. But it, it just needs to be published, not perfect, because actually the product or whatever you release is, it's a reputation building asset just as much as revenue.
So, you know, the first launch made four, five K, which at the time by the way, was sweeter than anything dentistry had ever made. 'cause I've been working so long for it. Yeah. Because I had solved a specific problem in my niche. I was able to move on to the next level. And, um, it was kind of like the cascade.
So when a creator says like, well, what do I do? If you just write [00:19:00] about what fascinates you, you'll la attract people who are fascinated by the same stuff. Ask them a problem that they're struggling with and see if you've struggled with that problem too. If you can't pick a problem, like from your personal experience, go solve one for them and then you have a solution.
And then it's about marketing.
Akta: And once you've come up with your solution and you know what your offering is, how do you know how much to value it for?
Kieran: Yeah, again, not an expert when it comes to business, uh, but I will give you some personal experiences. Uh, first product I released absolutely terrified that no one would buy it.
And so what I did was I launched for $80, uh, with a special 50% discount at launch to make that whatever for 40 bucks. And. That's pretty cool because you get all this urgency and the scarcity and, and all that stuff. What I will say, I mean for a first pricing strategy, it's kind of smart because it gets stuff going, but you run the risk of devaluing yourself.
And so you have to think first and foremost, what are you confident with charging? Because on Twitter, you know the advice is you've gotta be charging super high ticket, never devalue yourself on all these things. I'm actually the opposite. [00:20:00] I feel like money isn't the problem for creators, it's momentum.
Mm-hmm. And you know, you charge how much you believe you can help. I think you do that one win at a time, right? So when I started coaching, I started for free. Then I sold 10 hours of calls for $500 and that was through a friend. So he was either very smart or very evil. Um, and now, you know, I charge 500 minimum for one call.
So start small and scale fast. It is kind of my advice. If you're not sure, it's always easier to undercharge and move up as opposed to overcharge and move down. Mm-hmm.
Akta: And I mean, there's quite a lot of people who offer things like writing courses and, you know, coaching. Do you think as a creator it's important to make the product or like the service stand out?
Or is it more you as a creator and your content standing out?
Kieran: Oh, that's a good one. I'm gonna have to cop out and say it's both. Uh, I think Okay. Um, I think you should make one [00:21:00] a priority. Because it's much easier to get results on one thing and use that momentum to propel the other. So for example, if someone builds an excellent service offer, they have the reputation and results to them when they start building an audience, people have a reason to pay attention from day one.
Yeah. Um, you know, I see a lot of people that, from the copywriting word they're writing on Twitter, they grow really fast because you know, they're actually making money on, unlike a lot of writers on, do we all pretend to me right.
I went for the brand first approach. And the reason why I like this one actor is because I didn't know what to build. Yeah. And so if you can, you know, focus on the writing, build a great relationship with your audience, prove that you are here to make a difference and not just make money. I. Then when you come to build the product, you can, um, you know, people, people wanna help you, right?
They're, they're, they're on your side. When you do start building the product, it's great to release it, uh, published and imperfect, but then the next game is to keep refining it until it's excellent, because I think, mm-hmm. [00:22:00] To scale the business, the product to offer has to be brilliant. Mm-hmm.
Akta: No, I agree with you.
I think you are definitely, um, like a role model, I guess, or like inspiration for people who want to leave their traditional jobs behind and build digital freedom. What do you wish more people knew about that
Kieran: journey? Best and foremost, the best outcomes have delayed, and a lot of people kind of expect results in three months when reality it should be three years.
Yeah. And that's myself included. You know, the, I made the start a lot harder because the expectation and I, I ended up just saying to my girlfriend, you know what f it. We're just gonna do this for two years without monitoring the result. And that helped a lot. I guess the other thing, actor is, um, there's this meme on Twitter that you don't need a useless degree to be a creator or whatever, or to make money online.
Really misleading, because actually it's knowledge that sets you apart. Knowledge and skill, and the creator thing is a whole tip of the iceberg, right? You want to get paid for your ideas, but what you don't realize is marketing, copywriting, storytelling, product building. These are all things that you can go and learn.
Mm-hmm. And um, an [00:23:00] idea I'm really fond of from Nathan Barry is that there isn't actually a limit on how fast you learn when it's self-educated. Right. It's just your time. And you can go pretty hard with that. Yeah. And so the reason why I'm here now is because a lot of intensity at the start, right. Quit TV every weekend, every evening, every early morning.
Um, a lot of intensity at the start, but it's worth every effort. Right? Because now my day is usually four hours of writing calls in the afternoon. Time off whenever you want it. All that good stuff that people, you know, tried to suck you in with, but. It takes a lot of work. It's work. It's worth every effort.
That's kind of what I like
Akta: to say. No, I like that. Um, amazing. I'm gonna end with a quick fire round. So I'm gonna ask you five questions that I ask every creator that comes on air, starting with what's your favorite thing about being a creator? Making an impact on other people. Nice. And what's something that gives you the most inspiration for what you
Kieran: Oh, for me it's reading. I love reading ideas from other people. And then the question I like to ask, you know, when like an idea pops up. You highlight is not enough to just do that. You need to ask, what does this mean for me? Mm-hmm. I like, if I ever find that I'm struggling with [00:24:00] writing, pick up a book for 10 minutes and actually, you know, being quite intentional and be like, okay, this is pretty cool.
What does that mean in my journey? And then bring there as your content. Nice. I like that.
Akta: I like how you've added the extra point as well about bringing it back to your, your own journey. Um, what's a tool that helps you as a creator?
Kieran: Hi Fury for Twitter Convert, if I'm allowed to say that for, um, email.
They, they've both been really useful. Uh, apart from that, my entire business is built on Notion. I like how everyone
Akta: says Notion. It's so common.
Kieran: Yeah, I was just, I was doing Google Drive, Microsoft Word, all these things. And then, um, you know, we moved everything to Notion. So I don't even go on any other apps.
I literally just write on notion, click a button, VA goes and uploads it. All these sort of things. Very frictionless. I think that's really important for creativity.
Akta: So, yeah. Agreed. And what's something that helps with your creative work life balance? My girlfriend.
Kieran: Nice. I like that. I, I'm someone who enjoys work and, you know, I enjoyed working as a dentist even though I didn't like dentistry.
So now that I write, if I had it my way, like I might end up working every day. Um, but it's actually not congruent for [00:25:00] creativity and inspiration, right? Yeah. Like you need to step away from the keyboard. So, you know, my girlfriend and I love getting away. And um, yeah, the relationship brings a nice balance of
Good. And what's one piece of advice that you'd give to other creators apart from what.
Kieran: We've spoken about, uh, I'm obviously a little biased, but learning to write Well, I feel like the internet is the whole point in the internet is to be able to attract people that you can help and your ideas don't suck.
It's just the way you package them. Yeah. And having a three to six month sprint on copywriting and taking the craft seriously will then let people trust you. You can build trust at scale if you can write a good story, for example, and then you can build the business that you really want. So take writing seriously.
I think that's really,
Akta: that's a good point, and I think it's applicable to almost any medium. So even like YouTubers writing better scripts and like Instagram writing better captions. So I think any creator can definitely take that advice on board. Yeah. Thank you, Kieran. This has been an amazing conversation.
It's been so nice hearing your journey into the writing world and how you are building your business by being very real and authentic. So [00:26:00] thank you for coming
Kieran: on air. It's been my pleasure. Thanks for having me. If you
Akta: are a creator and you offer sponsorships, check out Passionfroot. We help you to streamline your entire workflow.
I'll see you in the next one.