What I learned from Sahil Bloom about building a creator flywheel

Sahil Bloom grew from 0 to 500k followers in less than two years.

This allowed him to quit his job and he’s now at 5x what he was making as a VC.

Here’s everything I learned about how he operates his personal flywheel:

Idea Generation

People always ask him: “How do you write something every week? How do you not run out of things?”

His secret?

A well-oiled content engine.

His content engine is a simple Notion board with columns for:

  • raw ideas,
  • things he’s going to write about soon,
  • things he’s started writing about,
  • finished pieces that he hasn’t posted yet,
  • and then all of the stuff that’s posted and done.

Here’s how it works:

It all starts with his daily reading habit.

Every morning he spends one hour consuming content like newsletters, blogs, podcasts, tweets.

This content consumption fuels his creation process.

The second component is his note-taking habit.

Whenever he comes across something that interests or surprises him, he adds a short note to his Notion board.

These raw notes become the seeds of the things he’s writing about.

The third component is his daily writing habit later in the day.

He never forces himself to write about a specific thing. He just looks at his Notion board and picks whatever grabs his attention on that day.

Here’s what’s magical about this process:

  • He never starts with a blank page. When he starts writing, he has already collected multiple ideas and sources on the topic.
  • It’s driven by his curiosity. Readers notice that he’s excited about the topics he’s writing about

This also helped him develop the right mindset.

He’s writing about things that he genuinely wants to learn about. Hence he never felt like this is a waste of time if something doesn’t take off and go viral.

At the very least he learned a lot.

Twitter

This is where he puts his ideas and writing to the first real world test.

He often writes threads that cover multiple topics and then doubles down on whatever tweet resonated the most.

The best-performing threads become deep dives in his newsletter.

He spent a ton of time studying the algorithm and what works on Twitter.

Takeaways:

  • Threads are great for growth. Think like Twitter. They prefer anything that keeps people on the platform.
  • Hooks really, really matter. Spent a ton of time on the first tweet of each thread
  • He didn’t grow from 0 to 500k overnight. It was a steady grind of just putting things out.
  • Aim for retweets, they drive virality. Ask yourself: why do people retweet? (To bookmark, to signal, …)
  • Tweeting like a maniac does actually work, but so does a quality over quantity approach.
  • Post threads on Saturdays when people are more likely to read longform content. During the week people only save them somewhere (e.g. Instapaper) which is bad if you want to go viral.
  • Repost your evergreen content every few months. Ideally you tweak the hook and change the content a bit. The algorithm shows your tweets only to a fraction of your followers and you’ll always have new followers who haven’t seen it.

Now what kind of threads do work?

  • Some people have built a big following by just regurgitating things.
  • But Sahil is convinced that the most valuable growth is driven off of your thoughts and real earned insight driven thoughts.

Favorite format: Recent events explainers.

He reads the news and ask himself: “What is the novel insight that I can bring to this discussion that makes it more interesting?”

He did this, for example, by discussing the psychological side of the Evergrande story.

Another favorite format: Evergreen collections.

He regularly posts long threads summarizing evergreen principles and ideas around growth, procrastination, cognitive biases, logical fallacies.

Newsletter + Podcast

These are his other creation channels.

The problem with newsletters and podcasts is that discovery is really, really hard.

This is why he uses Twitter as the top of his funnel.

Advantages of newsletters and podcasts:

  • He fully controls these channels.
  • They are places where he can build affinity with people.

Sahil’s framework for newsletter and podcast growth:

  • Base: A consistent schedule allows readers and listeners to develop a habit around your content.
  • Spikes: You need spikes to drive growth. It’s the holy shit moments that are easily shareable and create peak virality.

Monetization

From his creation channels (Twitter, newsletter, podcast) Sahil channels attention towards projects that generate revenue (job board, course, advisory business).

He also sells ads in his newsletter and podcast.

Engineered Serendipity

Sahil’s secret sauce is his networking skills.

He quickly became part of a group of creator influencers (Nathan Barry, Shaan Puri, Nick Huber, Julian Shapiro) that help each other grow.

His advice:

  • Talk to more new people.
  • Send more cold emails and DMs.

Even when he was a nobody with 500 followers, he connected with many amazing people through sending them a cold DM.

And he still has his DMs open and replies to people’s tweets and emails.

Sahil clearly understands that you don’t get 1000 fans at once. You get one fan a thousand times.

Written on August 7, 2022

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