Alex Llull is a content writer and strategist who helps creative entrepreneurs start, grow and scale their audience and income. With his newsletter, ‘The Steal Club’, he dissects the tactics and strategies that top creators use to grow and monetize their audiences.
In this episode of Creators on Air, Alex shares some of the best strategies to ‘steal’ content, how to avoid sounding like other creators and how to attract a quality audience.
Akta: You may have heard of the popular book, steal like An Artist by Austin Kleon, but how do you steal like a creator? How do you take the most successful creators in line and use what they're doing to help you grow? Alex is the chief, the. With his newsletter, the Steel Club, where he dissects the strategies that top creators use to grow their audiences and monetize it.
And in today's episode of Creators on Air, he shares those very strategies.
Alex: So my background is in advertising. I used to work in. Advertising agencies for four or five years before that happened, and then I got fired. So I had like a plenty, like plenty of time in my hands. So basically what what I did was, um, I started to share everything that I learned on social media. The problem is that I wasn't getting any engagement or any followers whatsoever, and I was getting super frustrated because I, I was seeing.
People that started at the same time as me, grow way faster and have like way more success than me. So the problem is that I was seeing them as competition instead of seeing them as inspiration. And when that happened, that made me click. It was like a click in my head. And when that happened, I started to grow because what I was doing is just see what they did and try to borrow the strategies they and their tactics and just apply them to my own content and my own services and everything.
And it just started to work. Everything started to click and fall into place. So at the, at that time I was reading the steal Like an artist book, and it just made sense to put like the two things together, you know? So. Borrowing ideas from others and tactics and strategies and pair it with the stealing theme, which is more like a branding thing.
Uh, but basically it's just like the excuse that I used to, to borrow ideas from others without feeling. And that's how the was born. And that was two years now and up until now. So it's going great.
Akta: Yeah, I think it's such a clever concept. Um, what are some of the best strategies that you've taken from top creators and that you've personally applied to your own platform and growth?
Alex: Yeah, so there is one that obviously when you, when you look at all of these creators, you start to notice patterns and you start to notice things that they all do at the same time. And one of these is the use of prune structures or, or templates, if, if you wanna call it, For content creation. And that's something that I've applied to my own content and that has literally changed the way I create content.
And someone, someone that does this super well is just in Wills, for example. What he does is that instead of start starting the content creation process, looking at the blank page, uh, what he does is he starts from a preset structure that he either create from scratch or has taken from someone else. And he just, like, let's say he just fill the blanks, that template.
Come up with new ideas, but also like speed up the content process way more. And that's something that I've taken from him too. And I, you know, I, I made my own tweaks on it, but that I, and right now is the way I create content and that's how I am able to create so much content. This is one of the main questions that I get.
On Twitter and everywhere is basically how can you create so much content so consistently and it's like, I'm not starting from a blank page. Yeah. Um, I'm actually starting from something that exists. It's 10 times faster than.
Akta: Yeah. I guess my main like concern about using like growth hacks or templates and stuff like that is n trying to avoid sounding like everyone else, especially on Twitter.
How do you avoid that? Like how do you make sure that your personality is still coming through and that you are still standing out on Twitter, even though you might be using templates that other creators are also using?
Alex: Yeah, and I, I totally understand the concern, and it's actually a valid concern. The problem of using templates is that most creators use them without thinking too much about it.
And that's what, you know, that's what creates fatigue. And that's why everyone is so fed up with this templates because every creator just like copy paste template and that's it. And that's not really the way it should be used, at least in my opinion. Um, there is one thing that's unique to each one of us, and it's our journey and our experiences that that's something that no one else can copy or no one else can steal from you.
So the, the key here is to pair these templates to speed that content creation with your own unique experiences and so on. So you create something authentic that cannot be replicated, right? Mm-hmm. So, um, one, one reflection that, I think it was just in ster that he said that, because I remember he was confronted once about using this type of templates or structures and so on, and he said something like, Even the best chefs in the world, they use recipes, you know, to, to follow.
Uh, but they still sprinkle their own, uh, you know, uniqueness into, into whatever they're cooking. So,
So that's the thing. It's not just like taking one template, copy pasting and you know, publish the tweet is more like taking the template and use that as the base instead of the blank page. But then add your own uniqueness, your own experiences, your own personal journey into the mix to make that unique.
At least that, that's how I see it. I, that's how I try to use it too. And that's how, I mean, at least to me, no one has said to me, Hey, we're using templates. You know, at least it hasn't happened yet. So,
Akta: Yeah. No, I, I really like that, um, analogy actually about the recipes. I think that's a really clever way of thinking about it.
What do you think, um, most creators get wrong about growing their platform? Like what do you think are some like common myths or mistakes that get made?
Alex: One that I realized right now really recently, uh, with looking at a ton of creators around me is that some creators, they want to grow their audience just for the sake of growth, and I think that's actually really, really bad and it's helping their business, you know.
Right now my own. I switched my focus from trying to grow my audience as much as I can to try to grow my audience with intent and actually try to get more quality followers than quantity. You know, I've seen a bunch of creators go super with threats that. Have probably not too much to do with their own, with their core content or with the business that they're build.
And that's actually really hurting their, their, their, their strategy, their.
Who are not really interested in what you have to say, then what, what is the point? You know, like when, when the next time you start to, you wanna maybe, uh, sell a product or whatever, they're not going to buy cause they're not interested in what you have to say. Maybe they came to you because of your threat about nine, you know, trendy AI tools, but maybe you write about marketing and why it might be somewhat related.
They're not really, you know, those are not like quality audience members. So that's one of the biggest mistakes I think people do. Um, I've seen people with literally a hundred, 300 followers make a ton of money because it's super targeted and because they don't really need a big audience to do it, they just need the right
So how can creators create to make sure that they're attracting a quality audience versus just. Quantity.
Alex: That's like a million dollar question, right? It's, it's, it's hard. But what I try to do is, at least personally, is just try to create the content that I would like to also consume. So I know that actually high at the same, one thing that used to do is, Um, I used to take my, I still do it.
I, I used to think of my audience, audience for the content that I write as my six months ago, me, something like that. So I have, I always have like one person in mind that's, you know, I, I'm the first person that would buy my products if I were me, you know, so I'm trying to use myself as a model of what my content should be.
And I write for my six months old self, and it's kind of working right now. So that's why the framework I'm gonna use, but it's a really good question that I, I don't have like a, you know, like a very specific answer, but this is how I'm trying to, to solve it personally.
Akta: And you chose Twitter as your kind of main platform plus the newsletter.
What made you go for those platforms when you started?
Alex: Yeah, so basically I, I joined Twitter because I had been a consumer for many, many, many years of Twitter, but I've never been a creator. I was aware of the, of the type of, um, audience that you can build and, uh, how easy it's to network with, with others on the platform, and that's something that I haven't experienced yet on other platforms that I tried to build an audience in.
So that, for me, is the biggest advantage that Twitter has against like everything else. Is that it's just the mindset of the people there is way easier to connect with others just because of that, you know, because the people, I, I, I dunno what, what is it? But if you get a DM on LinkedIn, you at least most people think someone trying to sell me something.
And while there are people selling things on too, obviously, uh, at least when I go to my IBMs, I don't really think like that. So that's one of the biggest advantage is I see Twitter has against other social platforms.
Akta: So how often do you use dms as part of your kind of creative process, I guess, and like do you have any advice for how to network as a creator on Twitter?
Alex: Yeah, I, I mean, I use, I use them every day. Um, oh, wow. Okay. For two things, like first to re to reply to people who reach out to me, obviously I don't reply to everyone because that, that's new. That's not, that's unsustainable, but I try to reply to everyone that has like a valid request or question, you know, not, not people who just say hi.
Uh, you know, that's a big no no. I guess if you wanna reach out to someone, the way I do it is that being genuinely interested on what they do, I think that's the best, that that's the best way to reach out to other, because you can really tell when someone is reaching out just because they're interested and because they want to say something nice and why they are when they are reaching out, uh, because they want to get something outta you.
You know? I think that's really easy to catch on, especially if you're having on the online for quite time. I think it's, it's too easy to get to know. Ok, just make your ask. You know, I see that you're like, uh, trying to sell me something. Um, but so my approach is that, you know, whenever I reach out to someone, it's because I think it's someone who is interesting.
So I just lead with that. You know, Hey, I seen this project that you've built that looks super cool, or, you know, I love what you're building with this and that, and just try to start like a normal conversation outta it, without trying to be cel or pushing or pushy in any way.
Akta: And what do you hope to gain from those?
And I know you're saying that you know, you don't want to necessarily just have like a sales or game, but what do you think networking offers creators? Like, why is it important for us to, to be doing that?
Alex: And the first thing is just meeting like cool people. I mean, for me, the best part of Twitter is that I can surround myself from really interesting people building super cool things.
So the first thing is inspiration, you know? Yeah. The second one is meeting people with, you know, the same mindset. And some of those can even become friends, which is, in my case, I, I've made a few friends from Twitter, some of them I even met in, in real life. And it's people who I would never have met if I wasn't on Twitter and didn't.
So that, that's one of the main reasons that people should do it. And then at the same time, it's just like, I mean, networking is all about building that network, you know, and getting, just put yourself in front of these people because you never know when someone can recommend you or stuff like that. So in happens that.
Some people have recommended my services in, in this case because they know that I do this. Even if they haven't worked with me directly, they know that I do this because we have chatted a few times and you know, they like me as a person. So when someone comes to request, Hey, you know someone that does X, Y, Z, Hey, I think Alex does this.
They just go talk to them. And since the recomme, since the recommendation comes from someone that they know, Then the conversion is way easier for it to happen than if it's just like me call DMing someone and selling my, my services. That's one of the main reasons I think why people should, you know, just try to build that network and DM more, more people, obviously with the genuine interest in mind, not with the, with the goal of building a bigger network, because I want to get more clients, you know?
Akta: Yeah. And within your network of creators or like the people who inspire you, have you noticed any similarities in. Their mindset as a creator.
Alex: Yeah, definitely. I think one of the first things is that the willingness to share from most of the creators I know like the most several ones, some of them sell courses and stuff like that, but if you really wanted you, you wouldn't even need to buy the courses because they share everything for free is just a matter of finding it.
Obviously they don't fit it in a structured way, but there's just like this generosity I think is like they are, they share everything that they know. For free without expecting anything in return and just build this biggest amount of trust that I ever seen. And that's super cool because then when they.
Then their audience response, because they have been giving, they have been building so much trust and so much, uh, Goodwill, you know, with Route is that it's super easy to then convert them into whatever you you want to do. So I think that's one of the biggest things I've, I've noticed from my network, let's say generosity is, is really big and I think it's one of the best ways to, to build a business, actually.
Akta: Mm-hmm. No, I think that's a really good point. And what does your. What does your current business look like and how do you structure content creation around it? Like what is your system?
Alex: Yeah, so I try to focus my content creation hours because I've tried to do it, for example, daily. Like I used to try to write everything that I put out in the day the same day.
And the problem with that is that it works up until there is like some emergency or you know, like some days that you cannot write because you need to go to the doctor, you need to go to supermarket or. And then everything just falls apart, you know? So right now what I do is that I set a few hours a week to just work on content, which usually for me it's Monday morning.
So I, I have like my whole Monday morning block just for content, for content creation. And then I can't forget about the content creation part of the business for the whole week because I had already done it on Monday in, in my mind. So like, just checking the box and I can't forget about it. And I can, I can focus on other things that are not creation, which requires like a special mindset and concentration.
So that's how I do it right now, and that's how I've been doing it for the last year or year half, and it's working really well. Obviously there are some weeks that you feel burned out and you don't put out as much content. But generally, I think I've been really consistent for the last three years, and one of my biggest secrets is the matching my content creation time.
Akta: Yeah, and something I find really interesting about your approach is you also include a lot of like visuals with the mm-hmm. The yellow, so it's like very distinctive. What made you go for that visual approach, especially on Twitter?
Alex: Yeah, so one of my biggest concerns about content creation is that I actually want my content to be consumed, you know, and for that to happen, it needs to be easy to consume.
And one of the best ways to make that content easy to consume is to use visuals or some sort of visual element, because. Or even, even when I write text, I always, you know, the first drafts that I make are like super long. I always try to try to trim them down because I know that, uh, people are not that willing to, for example, especially on social media, maybe if they're on letters or blog post is something different.
But if you're on Twitter, you don't want to be reading like big walls of text. You know, you want to reading something that's snappy, fast to read, maybe bullet points, something like that. You know, something that you can read in under 10 seconds. And that's, that's my obsession. Let's say my obsession is to make my content as accessible and easy to consume as possible.
Yeah. And visuals really play like a big part in that.
Akta: So, and how do you encourage engagement? Um, like with your actual audience versus like networking, if you know what I mean? Yeah.
Alex: You mean like engagement in, in my post? Yeah. Hmm. Yeah, so I, I always try to ask from their opinions, you know, because one thing that I've also tried to build from the beginning is that I'm not a person that's on social media to broadcast things.
I'm, uh, it's more like, for me, it's like a two-way street. So, um, I need actually their input. So one of the things that I do is just ask them for, for their opinion, is something like, You know, um, if I do like a list kind thing and okay, these are the five things that I do to create content, one, three, or five.
And then I ask, you know, what else, you know, or what am I missing? Or something like that. And this, for some people, it's like an engagement kinda tactic for me, just like. I really want to know if I miss something and what my audience thinks of it. And I think that invites people to, to participate and that's how I'm trying to do it.
Uh, but I think it also comes because I've built my brand around actually responding to people's tweets and the like. I'm not like this, that you cannot approach person, you know that it's like up, up here. You know, I feel at least I like to think that I'm on the same level that most people and when they see me and my content, they feel like I'm an approachable person.
Yeah. And that that's how I'm trying to building and it's working so far. And at
Akta: what point did you feel. Ready to leverage your audience into a viable business?
Alex: Yeah, so really early on, I did a few tests because obviously for me, there is no point in an audience. There is not just for the sake of, yeah. So it, there needs to be something behind it.
And in my case it's because I want to build the business. It's not like I want to monetize my audience, but, um, you know, uh, then what's the point? If you, if you just have an audience, unless you are like, you know, like a philosopher or something like that and you want your ideas to spread all over the world, uh, most people that build an audience, they really, because they want to build a business.
So that's what I'm trying to do too. And early on I tried, I started testing a bunch of things that I could do. So I wrote an ebook. I, I created like a few templates that people could buy and stuff like that. So I've been testing a lot and I think, um, yeah, some people say that you shouldn't try to monetize until you have a big audience.
And I part partially agree with that bias, but at the same time, I also think that you should maybe not really as like a biggest course in the world or maybe do like small tests to really see what's your artist's responses to your intent of motivation of monetization. Sorry. Because otherwise again, what's the point of having just because,
Yeah. So how do you actually go about doing those tests? Like do you mean just building smaller, I guess products and then. Yeah, just putting it out there
Alex: like, I mean, I'm being big fan of the super scrappy MVP testing kind of thing. Yeah. Um, so just put like together like a really, you know, basic landing page.
Put a, put a pay button and start the pre presale without even building the product. What's the point of building it if no one is going to buy? Oh wow. Okay. That's my approach with it. And I even saw, I visited Seeing Creator right now, actually, one of the latest courses I bought, it was from, from, and he's releasing a course about, uh, his email marketing study and how he has built like, You know, he has like a huge business and it's, it based a lot of on emails.
So basically what he did, what, what he did was put the tweet out with a directly, not even a like payment link on tweet and said, I want to build this cars, it's going to be hundred bucks, something like that. It's going to have more or less this type of content. And if enough people buy it, I will build it.
And he put the link there and I think he Oh wow. Like, I dunno. 10, 20 k just off, out of presales, you know, no landing page, no, no marketing strategy. Just to tweet because he has somewhat of an audience and general interest and you know, I think that's the best to build product doing. And then, What I've seen other caters do is that they spend like months, weeks, months building a product, creating like a business plan and stuff like that, and then they release and it's crickets, you know, because no one wanted the product.
I'm really big fan of just first, you know, sell it, then maybe build it, and then you can iterate, you know? But first, You need to validate ideas on how, and the best way is to put it, put like landing page or whatever, or even a tweet, like the example I just mentioned, a, a payment button and let the world decide,
So what is the kind of threshold that you would kind of accept, be like, okay, this is my worth, my my time, and my investment. And if it doesn't meet that threshold, how do you go about, you know, the few little crickets that did actually decide to sign up? Like how do you. Manage your expectations once, once they've already signed up.
Alex: So I, it really depends on the, on the type of the product that you are building. Uh, but for example, for my latest golf, which I actually released, um, at the beginning of this month, um, I set three goals and I said, okay, if we made this, this amount of sales is going to be okay. You know, like this, this one is really, really good.
And if we pass this one, it's like, Really, really good, you know? And I was born to build it. If you, if you were like, maybe a bit more than the Okay. Goal. Yeah. So, you know, I think it's good if you set some goals beforehand, usually, um, because it needs to be worth your time. So it's more like estimating, you know, what's your time worth?
How much do you think that it can take you to build the product that you said that you are gonna build? And then just see, okay, if it takes me eight hours and I value my hour at, you know, a hundred bucks an hour, so I need to make a hundred bucks as official. You know, that's more or less the, the math that's going on, on, on my head when, when thinking about it and if it doesn't work, uh, what I've seen other people do, and in my case, I'd be lucky that every time that I did this, it has worked and I have end up building the product.
But if I don't, what I would do is just like be super honest and upfront with people and say, Hey, you know, only three people bought it or whatever. Um, I'm not going to build it because it's not worth it for me. So just refund them the money and you know, take the loss and go home. Um, that's what I would do, you know, if I was me.
Akta: I think that's a really great approach because I feel like a loss of CRAs is just so busy and it's really difficult to know what support your time into, so I like that you've actually got an approach where you are making informed decisions versus just. Trying and seeing what happens. That's really good.
Um, I'm gonna end with a quick fly around now. So I'm gonna ask you five questions that I ask all creators that come on air. So what's your favorite thing about being a creator? Um, freedom. Hmm. I like it. And what's something that gives you the most inspiration for your work? Hmm, keeping
Akta: freedom. I like how those answers are related.
Um, what's one tool that helps you as a creator?
Alex: Uh, a hundred percent.
Akta: Nice. And what's something that helps with your creative work-life balance?
Alex: Um, just expectation management and, uh, my
Akta: girlfriend. What do you mean by expectation management? Do you mean like how much you can do in a day or? What? Yeah,
Alex: so, so being, being aware that you know, that you have certain, so much energy in your day and so much hours to put in and sometimes when, you know, being really aware of what you can, I guess more than expectation management, it could be like awareness, you know, so awareness of your energy levels, of your time and you know, the keeping some violence of your life.
Because the bad thing about being a creator is that there is, I mean, the bad and the good thing about being a creator, there is no one saying, Telling you, okay, this is what you need to do now. Yeah, so it's you calling the shots, but at the same time, that's dangerous because if there was no one for me or myself saying, Hey, you know, just work 6, 7, 7, 8 hours a day, I could work 24 hours a day and, you know, be like a mess because there is no one saying stop.
You know? But at the same time, true, uh, you know, having, I'm trying to have some work-life balance and. Energy management and awareness of my current estate has been something that I'm still learning to do, but it's really helpful, I think, um, something that every creator should at least think about, you know?
Akta: Definitely. And what's one piece of advice that you would give to other creators? Don't
Alex: be afraid to, uh, share stuff and learn stuff and put stuff out there, because that's the only way. To actually know if it's working or not. If it's in your head and it's, it's, it's not worth it, you know, in the sense of everyone has ideas, not so many people execute them, you know, and to execute an idea, you need to put it out there and just to let the world, uh, decide on your idea.
But if it's, if it exists only in your head, then um, you know, it will stay there forever.
Akta: Yeah. Thank you so much, Alex, for coming on air and teaching us how to steal like a creator. Um, I feel like I've definitely learned a lot and I really appreciate you sharing your insights on how to grow and monetize.
Yeah, thank you. I really like Alex's approach to using what the top creators are doing to help him grow. While still injecting his own personality and style to his content. You can find [email protected] or on Twitter, and if you are a creator, check out passion fruit so you can do sponsorships without the hassle.
I'll see you in the next one.