Creator Case Studies

MustDoCanada: Building a 6-Figure Travel Content Business

Please tell us about your business. 

I started way back in 2013 before embarking on a cross-country road trip with my family. I have family all over the country, especially in Newfoundland and in Montreal, so I’ve always felt a connection to the entire nation. However, this blog was a hobby and I didn’t take it as seriously as I should have until 2017.

Basically, thanks to the crumbling economy in Calgary in 2016, which meant not being able to find a job, I took the idea of Must Do Canada to another level. I came up with a plan to do a 150-day road trip across Canada for Canada’s 150th anniversary, creating a video series about what makes Canada special.

At the time, we weren’t doing video, and so we reached out to a young videographer we knew and pitched him the idea. After making a pilot episode and pitching it to hundreds of companies, Best Western became our main sponsor and away we went.

If I remember correctly, Best Western gave us about $75,000. In exchange, we had to produce 8 videos for their own channel and marketing needs, featuring hotels in various cities. We also gave them photos, social media, etc.

We also worked with a variety of travel companies, restaurants, and tourism boards along the way which helped cover some expenses. Without this sort of help, it never would have happened as we would not have had enough to cover the trip. 

Six months later, we had 12 videos on Youtube, each representing a province or territory, in addition to interviews we did with CBC, Global News, and so forth. Our plan was for this to be a one-time project, but now that our Youtube channel was growing fast, we decided to learn how to record and edit video ourselves and keep digging deeper and deeper into the country. We now have close to 200 videos and almost 100,000 subscribers.

It became a full-time business for us in late 2020, mostly through sponsorships and/or being hired by tourism boards to create content. However, we’ve been building up ad revenue a lot lately in addition to affiliate sales.

How do you make money?

Our income comes from sponsorships, content creation, ad sales, and affiliate sales. Here is the break down:

  • Sponsorships (40% of Revenue): In terms of video, we often work with sponsors such as hotel brands, vehicle brands, or other products, featuring them in our videos.
  • Content creation (30% of Revenue): Essentially, tourism boards or tourism companies hire us to come out and make a video about their region, in addition to other things like articles, photos, drone videos, etc.
  • Ads (25% of Revenue): We have ads running on the website through Mediavine, and we sell individual ad placements in our newsletter. We also have ads on our Youtube videos.
  • Affiliate sales (5% of Revenue): This is something new for us, but we’re starting to intertwine affiliate offers into our website, including hotels, tours, and products.

Sponsorships and content creation make up the bulk of our income, but our ad revenue is growing fast.

Our revenue since 2021 has been approximately $150,000 per year. We’ve been growing pretty quickly since 2020, maybe around 30% each year. However, we expect a bit of a dip this year as we won’t be taking as many video projects until we get settled in as new parents.

Having more subscribers and more views definitely helps get more sponsors. However, I think our brand name and being known for one country also helps quite a bit. It’s not just about us. 

One thing I’m noticing though is that there’s a bit of a cap on what we can charge. Perhaps with major tourism boards and major sponsors, the number can go up with traffic and subscribers, but for smaller locations, they really do have tight budgets.

What works to grow your audience? 

Our website is growing like weeds and is currently getting close to 150,000 sessions every month, all of which come from organic SEO or direct traffic. We’ve never spent money on ads, but we’ve invested a lot in SEO, both in terms of education, links, and occasional help.

Our Youtube channel is finally starting to reach the 100,000 subscriber mark, and all of this is also organic, coming in from Youtube as people watch our videos.

Our newsletter is also sitting at roughly 90,000 subscribers. We’ve grown this through website opt-ins, giveaways, and collaborations with other newsletters such as The Gist and The Peak. Giveaways have worked well for us over the years, even though many of the subscribers are only there for the giveaway. For the giveaways, we’ve either partnered with companies or used paid ads to drive subscribers to the giveaway page.

What has been your most popular content? 

Our #1 video in terms of views is the first video we ever made. This was our first video introducing the Road to 150 and it features Newfoundland. It has more than one million views now: 

Our Britsh Columbia episode and our Nova Scotia episode are the next most popular videos from that series. However, we have many videos since that have done well since then, some of which really surprised us, such as this video about the winter in Canada and this video about Canada’s most luxurious train.

For, our top articles are usually our travel guides. Here are some examples:

Have you had any major inflection points on your creator journey?

I don’t think we’ve had any major boost from the press, but we’ve had some high-quality organic links over the years, which has helped us a lot in terms of SEO and DA. 

I cold-emailed all the major press in Canada like the CBC, Global, etc. Although we didn’t get featured in the big cities, we did get coverage in places like Saskatchewan. I think it’s easier to get features in smaller areas rather than in big cities like Toronto.

Even though we have been featured in places like CBC, Toronto Star, etc, none of them produced much traffic for us. However, the backlinks help a lot for SEO.

All in all, everything is basically slow and steady growth organically. 

How did you get started?

I think the two biggest things we did was focus on a niche (Canada, in our case) and do something very big at the beginning, which was our 150-day road trip across Canada. 

Looking back, I would say our Canada 150 project was crucial. At the time, we thought it would be a one-time thing, but when Youtube started growing, it suddenly became our biggest income source as we learned how to shoot and edit videos ourselves, turning it into a business. 

In terms of Youtube growth, it was that road trip that really gave us a major boost at the beginning thanks to piggybacking on the popular 150th birthday and getting featured in major publications.

How much content do you produce each week or month?

Right now, we produce an article every week, a newsletter every week, 2 videos per month, and social media as well. We hope to ramp up the article productions as we slowly bring on more writers.

How many hours per week do you spend on the business now?

I would say we spend a minimum of 40 hours per week. When the busy season hits, such as the summer, I wouldn’t be surprised if we work closer to 90-100 hours per week, including being on the road shooting video. Last year, I felt like we didn’t have a day off from June to September. However, we love to travel and we enjoy making videos, so I can’t complain. At the same time, we’re hoping to ease off a bit.

Do you have any employees or assistants?

None. I manage most of it as a one-man show, with the exception of Youtube. For that, it’s my wife and I. We both shoot the video, we’re both the hosts of the travel show and then my wife is the editing wizard.

What are the key apps, software, or tools you use in your business?

  • Canva has been a great tool for light editing of photos, finding photos, and creating both media kits and social media content.
  • Final Cut is what we use for video editing on our Macs.
  • We also use Tubebuddy for some assistance with choosing keywords for Youtube.
  • Keysearch has been good for finding keywords for the website.
  • We’re currently using Beehiiv for the newsletter, after switching over from Flodesk. However, it’s getting more expensive, so we might be switching again soon.

If you were starting over today, what would you do differently?

For the website, I would definitely learn and focus on SEO right from the beginning, in addition to niching down as much as possible.

I would also try to determine potential income sources as early as possible so that I have a roadmap going forward. This goes for the newsletter as well. Do you want to make money from selling ad placements, selling subscriptions, selling products, etc? Is your niche full of people willing to pay money for something?

For Youtube, it’s more challenging. I’m always lost on what to say to people aspiring to make videos. Choosing a niche is still important, but unlike websites and newsletters, it’s much more focused on you. There are some channels that have been successful without showing their face, but for the most part, Youtube is about being in front of the camera. It’s also extremely time-consuming and very difficult to make a living with the ad revenue, which means you again need to rely on sponsors or have to sell something.

Overall, whatever I do, I would be thinking about something I’d be interested in doing as well as who that customer base might be. I’d also think about the income angles faster. If it’s sponsorships, who would potentially sponsor such a niche? Knowing all of this upfront can help make the process smoother and faster.

Josh Spector: For the Interested Creator Case Study

Josh Spector: For The Interested Interview

Please tell us about your business. 

I’m a writer, podcaster, and consultant who went out on my own about 7 years ago after a 20-year career working in journalism, marketing, social media, and the entertainment industry including my last job which was running digital media and marketing for The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and The Oscars for about 6 years.

My For The Interested newsletter is the engine of my business – I’ve published it for 7 years and currently have 36,000 subscribers.

How do you make money? 

I have multiple revenue streams including:

  • Consulting with creative entrepreneurs to help them grow their audience and business
  • Ads in my newsletter
  • Skill Sessions (which are sold as individual products and an annual subscription)
  • Inbox to Invoice group coaching program which helps people use their newsletters to get clients

About 60% of my annual revenue comes from consulting and 40% comes from my other products.

What works to grow your audience? 

My newsletter is the engine of my whole business and most of my consulting clients and product buyers come through it.

I’ve published a lot of content over the years – blog posts, podcasts, etc. – and people often discover the newsletter through those.

In recent months I’ve also used Sparkloop to grow my audience and that has worked well.

I’m also very active on Twitter and that’s a good source of audience growth for me as well.

I also run a Newsletter Creators Facebook group which attracts new people to my world every day.

What has been your most popular content? 

It varies, but here are my 20 most popular blog posts of last year.

Here are a couple of tweets that performed well recently:

Have you had any major inflection points on your creator journey?

After about four years of publishing my newsletter as a weekly newsletter on Sundays, I added a daily one-paragraph edition.

That proved to be very popular and gets massive engagement which also made my ads much more valuable.

I get more clicks on a single link in a weekday edition than I get on all 10-15 links combined in my Sunday editions.

How did you get started?

I’ve had various newsletters and blogs for years – my first blog was way back in 1999.

But in 2016 I collapsed the three different newsletters I was running into one which became For The Interested and have stuck with that ever since.

Initially, the newsletter was much broader – designed to help people improve at their work, art, and life.

Over time, I niched down to focus on helping creators and then eventually to my current focus on helping creative entrepreneurs grow their audience and business.

With each time I niched down, it got more specific, more targeted, more valuable, and ultimately more successful.

How much content do you produce each week or month?

I publish 6 newsletter issues a week – 5 one-paragraph dailies and a longer Sunday edition.

I publish 1 Twitter thread a day and a couple other random tweets most days.

I publish one I Want To Know podcast episode a week which goes on all the podcast platforms and on YouTube. On YouTube, I share the full episode and 3 separate shorter clip videos from the episode.

I used to publish one blog post a week for years, but I’ve scaled back on that and now only publish sporadic blog posts.

How many hours per week do you spend on the business now?

This is my full-time job, but I certainly don’t work 24/7.

I don’t really track it, but I’d guess I work about 30-40 hours a week.

I repurpose and repackage a ton of my content, so I don’t really think about it as separate.

Do you have any employees or assistants?

 I have one part-time freelancer who helps me with logistical stuff.

But I do all of the content creation and creative work myself. She does things like help manage logistics for my ads.

What are the key apps, software or tools you use in your business?

I use ConvertKit for my newsletter, Workflowy to manage my To Do List, notes, etc., and Stripe, ConvertKit Commerce, and Gumroad to handle sales and payments.

I use a Square ecommerce site to handle my ad sales and payments.

If you were starting over today, what would you do differently?

Not sure I would change much because it’s all an evolution, but a few things I probably would do sooner:

  • I would have launched ads in my newsletter sooner.
  • I would have launched the daily version of my newsletter sooner.
  • I would have launched my Skill Sessions sooner (instead of my initial efforts at paid subscription products).

I’ve also talked about how I’d build a business from scratch if I were starting today in this excerpt of my podcast.

Nick Loper: Side Hustle Nation Creator Case Study

Nick Loper - Side Hustle Nation - Interview

Please tell us about your business?

I started the Side Hustle Nation website and accompanying podcast, The Side Hustle Show, in 2013. I thought of myself as a writer first, so it was surprising when the podcast started to get traction faster. (And by “traction”, I mean just enough listenership to motivate me to keep going.)

With the podcast, I set out to create the show I wanted to listen to: light on the theory, and heavy on the tactics. I wanted people to finish the episode and be ready to take action. By interviewing successful side hustlers to deconstruct their marketing methods, tools and resources, and growth steps, slowly but surely the show started to gain a loyal following.

Today, the podcast reaches around 100,000 listeners a month and has been downloaded over 25M times in total. It’s all pretty crazy to think about, since it started as just a little side project experiment with a $60 mic in the corner of the living room.

How do you make money?

Today, the primary revenue drivers of the business are sponsorships on the podcast and affiliate relationships through the blog and email list.

I also sell a handful of digital workbooks, self-published books on Amazon, and my own online courses.

All told, it’s a comfortable multi-6-figure business I get to run from home.

What works to grow your audience?

The initial audience was almost entirely from the podcast. There are lots of podcast growth strategies out there, but two are the most important.

First, guest on other relevant shows. The biggest spikes in exposure I’ve seen have come following an appearance on other shows in the entrepreneurship and personal finance space.

Second, with every episode you create, think about climbing the listener pyramid.

Listener Pyramid

Think, how will this episode help turn:

  • Strangers into listeners?
  • Listeners into subscribers?
  • Subscribers into fans?

If you can do that well — on top of having compelling content — word of mouth will start to spin in your favor.

The other challenge is that podcasting is a very anonymous medium. You can build a really strong relationship with listeners, but don’t get much information on them. That’s why I make an effort to convert listeners into email subscribers with a variety of lead magnets and content upgrades.

My latest effort on that front is a “personalized playlist” quiz, that drove over 600 new email sign-ups last month.

The other big driver is SEO to the website. It ranks well for a variety of side hustle-related keywords, reaching over 200,000 unique visitors a month. My goal is to translate those visits into:

  • Podcast listeners
  • Email subscribers
  • Affiliate conversions

What has been your most popular content?

Most of my best-performing content has been born from my own curiosity. One of the very first posts I published was this big list of side hustle ideas. It’s been a “pillar post” for almost 10 years now and has been viewed over 3.2M times.

Similarly, this list of ways to make extra money started as a much longer post, detailing as many different ways as I could find. (As it ballooned to over 11,000 words, I pared it down for the sake of readability and SEO.) The original post did so well, it actually gave me the inspiration to expand on it and create a whole book, called Buy Buttons.

This post on paid market research studies is another great example. It’s closing in on 1M lifetime pageviews, and it all started when I got invited to a paid focus group in San Francisco. I was excited by how easy and fun it was — and riding BART on the way back, I started looking for other companies that might pay you for your opinion.

On the podcast side, episodes on online business and affiliate marketing are usually hits, but a format that’s consistently super popular is my annual roundup of 10 Creative Side Hustles. I’ve aired a different version of this on Thanksgiving for the last 5 years, and they always do really well. Over the years, it’s included side hustles like renting out backyard chickens, getting paid to wait in line, going after robocallers, the 7-figure lemonade stand, and lots more.

Have you had any major inflection points on your creator journey?

There are a few that come to mind.

The first was in 2014, a little over a year into the project. It was still very much a side hustle to the main business I was running at the time, but was a lot more fun to work on.

At that point, I (finally) realized that the podcast wasn’t a business in itself, but was instead a content marketing channel for a business. When I started treating it as such -— by creating episode-specific lead magnets -— the email list growth really started to take off. At that time I had around 1000 email subscribers. Within 3 months of implementing this new strategy it was 3,000; within 6 months, 6,000. And it was off to the races from there.

Another big spike came after guesting on Entrepreneurs on Fire in 2015. John had a huge listenership, and we got a chance to talk about The Side Hustle Show, which had just been nominated “Best Business Podcast”. That nomination gave some credibility to a much smaller show that much of John’s audience would still find benefit in.

And finally, in early 2017, NY Times bestselling author Chris Guillebeau launched a very similar-sounding podcast called Side Hustle School. At first, I thought I was toast. “Hey, this is my territory!”

But I never saw a bigger spike in downloads than I did that first month of his show. He brought a lot of new listeners into the fold and introduced a lot of new people to the concept of “side hustling.” And when they searched for more information on it, who did they find? Me.

It was proof that a rising tide lifts all boats.

How did you get started?

I chose this niche based on some soul searching, like:

  • What do you never get tired of talking about?
  • What do you have experience in?
  • What do other people ask you questions about?
  • What do you want to be known for when someone Googles you?

The topics of side hustles, online business, and creative ways to make extra money were (and still are) super exciting to me. I thought I had a decent grasp on them after having quit my job to pursue my original side hustle full-time, but I’ve learned so much more over the years of talking to hundreds of other entrepreneurs.

To get initial traction for the project, I just started with my existing network. It wasn’t huge and I didn’t have any pre-existing audience, but I just went through Gmail and started emailing everyone I could think of (I literally would type a letter in the address bar and see email what auto-populated). I let them know I launched this new podcast and that it would help me if they could go download a few episodes.

But beyond tapping into my own network, it was more about carving out some mindshare that Nick was now the side hustle resource. If anyone they knew was interested in the topic, I wanted to be top of mind.

How much content do you produce each week or month?

The Side Hustle Show comes out every Thursday, rain or shine.

I’d love to produce more written content, but do spend quite a bit of time maintaining the archives vs. creating completely new posts. Still, there’s a lot of articles on the “to do” list!

How many hours per week do you spend on the business now?

It varies, but 25-30 hours is probably a good average. That includes:

  • Vetting guests and outlining episodes
  • Reviewing transcripts and prepping for editing
  • Interfacing with advertisers and affiliates
  • Optimizing existing blog content
  • Creating new blog content
  • Creating video content

I don’t spend much time on social media, which is definitely an opportunity for growth.

Do you have any employees or assistants?

I have a pretty lean team of on-demand specialist contractors. Here’s what my current team looks like:

  • Dedicated administrative VA – email triage, customer support, podcast spot checking, and lots of other stuff. Usually 5 hrs a week, but could be more.
  • Podcast editing service –
  • General VA – – Weekly repetitive tasks and ad hoc assignments.
  • Video Production VA – 5-10 hrs a week. She creates short-form video clips from the podcast episodes and uploads them to TikTok and YouTube. She also creates full-episode videos for YouTube.
  • Show Notes Writer – – Summarizes each episode and creates the text version for the website.
  • Bookkeeper –
  • Website Support –

What are the key apps, software or tools you use in your business?

  • WordPress
  • TextExpander
  • Beaver Builder
  • GeneratePress
  • LeadPages
  • ActiveCampaign
  • Descript
  • Screencast-o-Matic
  • Awesome Screenshot
  • Zencastr
  • GroupLeads
  • TryInteract
  • LastPass
  • Ahrefs
  • TubeBuddy
  • Google Docs

Those are the big ones off the top of my head!

If you were starting over today, what would you do differently?

I definitely think I could accelerate the journey if I had to start over.

I would have paid more attention to audio quality at the beginning … some of the early episodes sound a bit rough! I would have figured out the email opt-in thing earlier, since that was such a huge turning point for the business.

In a way, I’m happy with how the early days of the blog were more personal-journey type of posts, but they certainly didn’t attract evergreen readership. It would have been beneficial to focus more on SEO early on … it was probably 3-4 years before I looked up from my desk and took notice of what other sites in my niche were doing!

But all in all, super grateful to have started this thing. It’s truly been life-changing, and I’ve met some incredible friends and entrepreneurs along the way.

Justin Moore of Creator Wizard Creator Case Study

Justin Moore Creator Wizard Interview

Please tell us about your business.

My name is Justin Moore, I’m the founder of Creator Wizard, where I teach creators how to find and negotiate their dream sponsorships.

My website is, and I’m basically @CreatorWizard everywhere on social media (YouTube, TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn).

And I’m also the host of a podcast called Creator Debates. So, I have a lot of different projects going on. But my main business is sponsorship coaching.

So, it’s a little bit different than, let’s say, having a manager, for example.

A manager is someone who usually takes 15% to 20% of every deal you do. They handle, oftentimes, all the negotiations and back and forth with advertisers and so on. They can sometimes help you with other aspects of your business, but in the realm of social media creators, oftentimes, brand partnerships are one of the primary functions that they have.

What we do, to contrast that as a sponsorship coach, is that we don’t take a percentage of your deals. It’s basically a flat fee to retain us to help you with your ongoing negotiations.

There are lots of different ways in which I teach creators about sponsorship strategy:

  • I have a YouTube channel, where I pump out tons of content for free.
  • I have a free newsletter with about 20,000 creators on there, that I send out three times a week.
  • Mondays are Mindset Mondays, where it’s kind of a short think piece around sponsorship strategy, pitching, negotiation, psychology, pricing, and all of that type of stuff.
  • Thursdays are what I call Take Action Thursdays, where it’s a digest of brand deal opportunities or sponsorship opportunities that you can apply to. These are brands who are saying, “Hey, we actually want to work with creators. We will pay creators to talk about our brand or our product. Click here and apply.” It’s a super high-value, curated email.
  • Saturdays are what I call Strategy Saturdays, which is an evergreen nurture sequence that is resurfacing the back catalog of my articles and videos. So, it’s a super high-value newsletter.

How do you make money?

I have two courses, but the signature course is called Brand Deal Wizard. It’s a four-week program that I teach three times a year and it’s live. This is my nuts-to-bolts sponsorship strategy program where I take you through the entire process of what it actually looks like to create a consistent income, a scalable income, working with brands.

A lot of creators think that sponsorships are nice when you can get them, but they’re just not predictable, right? You never know when a brand is going to land in your inbox wanting to collaborate with you, right? Which is 100% false. You can create a very predictable income for yourself working with brands if you choose to make it predictable, but you have to actually put in the work. You can’t just sit on your hands and wait for them to come to you. And so I go through that whole framework.

So that’s Brand Deal Wizard, currently, the investment for that program is $3,000. Or there’s an installment plan of $1,095 for three months. That’s a cohort course.

And then I have an evergreen course, which is relatively new, and that’s called Gifted to Paid. That is serving creators who are a little bit earlier on in their journey and maybe getting a bunch of free product offers, or free offers like, “Hey, try our software and make a post about it, make a newsletter blast about it, this type of thing. We’re not going to pay you, but we’ll give you free access, it’s worth $1,000.”

So that course is dedicated just to folks who are in that zone and trying to figure out how do you actually convert those free product offers into paid partnerships. And that is an on-demand program. The investment is $500 for that. There’s also an installment plan for that one too, but that program is about two or three months old.

The Brand Deal Wizard program is for more intermediate to advanced-level creators, people who have done partnerships with brands, paid partnerships with brands before, and trying to figure out how you can take that to the next level.


I also have one-on-one coaching. So basically people hire me when they’ve got an active deal that they’re trying to negotiate. Maybe it’s complex, maybe it’s for a lot of money. They don’t have a manager, and they’re thinking, what do I do? I don’t know what to do here. And so they hire me or other Creator Wizard coaches.

We essentially parachute into this deal in the middle. And say, “give me everything, tell me all the context, where are you at? What have you said to them? Have you had a call with them? Tell me what happened.” I get the whole lay of the land, and then I make a recommendation of how to proceed.

So whether that’s putting packages together, putting pricing together, understanding how to navigate a tricky situation with the advertiser and so on, I will have people hire me for higher-level things. So just understanding your overall positioning in the market when you’re working with brands, your pricing, your positioning, etc.

And then I would say the most recent way in which I make money is what I call Wizard’s Guild, which is ongoing one-to-one asynchronous sponsorship coaching. This is for creators who have a  ton of opportunities that they’re trying to figure out and navigate every single week or month.

They don’t want to hire a manager, but they do need a backstop, someone who they could say, “I’m okay getting on calls with brands or handling emails and all that stuff but I want a second pair of eyes on what I’m submitting.” This pricing, these packages, the negotiations, and so on. The investment for that program is $1,000 a month.

It’s asynchronous. So every Tuesday and Thursday morning, I use this tool called Volley to send a short video or a voice note, or a screen recording, or URL, or text of an email, or whatever. And then Dee, who is another sponsorship coach on my team, or I will get back to you during those time periods.

I’m very bullish on Wizard’s Guild in terms of the scalability as well as the impact that it’s having for creators.


I’m also starting to get sponsorships for the Creator Wizard newsletter, my courses, and so on. There are all these kinds of creator economy startups that are trying to connect with creators so it’s been awesome to grow that side of the business as well

Affiliate Marketing

I’m obviously an affiliate for a lot of the tools I use, ConvertKit and so on, which is a relatively modest percentage of my income.

Again, to back up real quick, I’ve been a creator since 2009, and my wife April and I, we have earned millions of dollars working with brands, doing sponsorships.

I’ve done over 500 sponsorships personally on our other social media channels that have nothing to do with Creator Wizard, so I have a lot of experience. Not only that, I ran an influencer marketing agency for about seven years, and I’ve done thousands of campaigns for other creators too.

So I have this very interesting perspective of both sides of it.

This new Creator Wizard business that I started, it’s only been around for two years.

My wife and I are very transparent about our income. We made over $800,000 in 2022. And that was a combination of sponsorships, Amazon Live (live commerce is a big part of our business), affiliate marketing, and the Creator Wizard Stuff. This has been built up over 14 years of being creators, so it’s taken a long time.

What works to grow your audience?

So my primary way in which I’ve grown my audience over the last two and a half years, is that every single thing funnels to the newsletter. Every piece of content, every tweet, every Instagram post, every YouTube video, the call to action is “join my newsletter,” every single thing.

And that was very intentional because I foresaw that my newsletter, my email list, was going to become the engine, the central repository for me to be able to have that direct connection with my followers. When I started the newsletter, I didn’t have any products, you could not pay me, there was no way to do that. But I saw down the line that, okay, this newsletter, this email list is going to be the most important part of my business eventually. And fast forward two years later and that’s absolutely become the case.

Just a quick anecdote, when I launched that Gifted to Paid course that I mentioned,  I literally did not talk about it on social media at all. I had a five-day launch period, and it was 100% over email. I made $19,000 over five days just launching it on email. I didn’t talk about it on social media at all. It shows you the power of having that direct connection and being able to have multiple touchpoints with folks.

The way I use social media generally is a very high funnel. Someone comes in and they learn about me. A quick anecdote, this has happened so many times where someone finds me on TikTok, they binge a couple of my short-form pieces, they go and start watching some of my long-form videos on YouTube, and then they subscribe to the newsletter. So I look at the short-form content that I’m doing on some of these other platforms where it’s like a 30-second or 60-second video, and then they go find the long-form, and then they go read posts on the blog, and then they join the newsletter. So it’s this funnel.

And I really do think that that’s oftentimes a really smart way to look at your overall content strategy, because people learn in different ways. Some people want to watch those short hits. Some people want to watch a ten-minute YouTube video. Some people want to read they don’t want to watch a video, right? And so I believe that it’s my job as a sponsorship coach to serve people in different ways, to meet them where they’re at, because everyone has different learning formats.

I know this might feel a little bit overwhelming if you’re just kind of at the outset of your journey, and so you shouldn’t try to bite off everything at once. That’s not what I’m saying. It took me a long time to get there because at first it was just the YouTube videos. I didn’t have any of this other stuff. But over time, I hired someone on Upwork. I hired a VA to download the transcripts from the YouTube videos, repurpose those into blog posts. There are all these things that you can start doing over the long run.

The other thing I would mention in terms of the content strategy, is that now I’ve gotten to a point where I’m creating all this unique content I mentioned. Like the YouTube videos, the Mindset Mondays, the unique written pieces and all that stuff. So those become the central source of truth that we then repurpose all the other content from. So, for example, we write a Monday Mindset piece, and then one of the activities is we harvest tweets and Instagram posts out of those long-form pieces. Same thing with the YouTube scripts.

So, an average Mindset Monday piece, we’ll get five to ten tweets. So those will go in, they’ll get scheduled, we turn the tweets into Instagram posts. And those go on to LinkedIn as well, right? So we try to be smart with how we’re repurposing the content so that we’re working smarter, not harder.

What has been your most popular content?

My most popular content came when I really niched down into this topic of sponsorships, because previous to that, I was sharing all sorts of different types of content. I was sharing stuff on building, launching a product line, launching an email list, and diversifying your creator business. And it was all kind of “okay.” But when I started doubling down on this topic of sponsorships, that’s when I started seeing much more traction.

And when I say much more traction, I’m not talking 50,000 views, okay? I’m talking maybe a couple thousand! That’s good for my YouTube channel. But the interesting thing is that if you look at who I’m serving, these are business-minded creators who are trying to make money from their business, right? I don’t need a million or 100,000 people watching for it to have a really big downstream impact on my business. Remember, I have a higher investment level for my courses so I don’t need 10,000 people joining to make a meaningful impact in the business or my life!

So I think it’s very important that you’re intentional around who you’re serving and the types of content that you’re making. Because again, my YouTube videos, I would say, are kind of advanced in terms of the tactics that I’m teaching, the people who it’s most resonant with are people who are a little bit more advanced in their journey, and that’s who I’m targeting for the course. So, again, I think it’s super important to be mindful about your overall strategy.

Have you had any major inflection points along your journey?

Honestly, no. If you look at my growth on social media or just even on my newsletter, it’s been basically small, incremental progress over the last several years. It has not been like, oh, I was on someone’s big podcast or I got a shout-out from a big creator and all of a sudden I got all these subscribers on my newsletter. That never happened to me. It has never happened to me. And I attribute most of my success and my growth to just consistently showing up.

I have published this newsletter every single week for the last two years. I have not missed a week at all. In fact, I’ve ratcheted up the cadence. I’m doing it multiple times a week now. So I’m just continuing to show up. I’m continuing to build that trust factor, honestly. I know it’s the unsexy answer. It’s like, what is the hack to get you to the next level? And I’m a testament to the fact that if you just continue to show up, good things will happen.

Even when you don’t want to send a newsletter blast, you do it anyway. You stay up late, and you do it even though you’re tired. People notice that. Remember, people are busy. That’s the thing. People are not reading every post you make or every tweet you make. So if you’re worried that you’re inundating people or you’re doing too much, I’m here to say that people will maybe see, one out of ten of your tweets.

Don’t be afraid to recycle stuff. I recycle stuff all the time. I go back and I look at tweets that I made six months ago, and I repost them. Believe me, people are not going to get mad even if they see it again. They’ll think, “oh, that’s a great reminder.”

Nathan Berry, the CEO of ConverKit, is notorious for this. He literally reposts his threads every three months, the exact same threads. He just reposts them because chances are people didn’t see it the first time around. So there’s no reason at all why you can’t just show up.

What were you doing before you started this? Did it help you become a creator?

My background is actually in engineering. I went to college at UCLA for computer science. So not this at all. And even before that, I thought I was going to be a professional musician. I wanted to be a concert pianist, actually. I played music my whole life growing up. And so I have this very eclectic trajectory of my life and career.

When I graduated college, I went into medical devices. I went back to school, I got my MBA in entrepreneurship, which was hugely helpful. But it really was my wife April, who started her first YouTube channel in 2009 that really put us on the path to where we are today.

I started helping behind the scenes and things started exploding for our YouTube channels and social media. And so that’s really how we kind of got into this 14 years ago.

Before that, we were both on the traditional nine-to-five path, doing the side hustle, that whole thing. And several years into it we quit our full time jobs. My wife April quit hers in 2012 and then I quit mine in 2014, six weeks after our first son was born. Man, it was nerve-wracking. Definitely nerve-racking. But  looking back on it, I wouldn’t wish it any other way.

There was no playbook for being a full-time creator or making income. There was no partner program on YouTube. You could not make money from revenue share on AdSense. That was not a thing when we started. In fact, my wife got rejected from the AdSense program three times.

So it wasn’t this straight slingshot to success for her in our social media business either. It’s been this windy path to get there. And so we felt as though we were kind of blazing our own trail, figuring it out, hiring a lawyer, asking them to develop a contract template for us around social media stuff.

It was very hard in the beginning because we didn’t really know many other people who were doing what we did. I think it’s so much easier now. I am so thankful for people who are coming up now, because there’s a lot more guidance, you can turn to YouTube, you can learn about growth strategies, you can learn about monetization, you can learn about all these things. And it’s like a viable career path now to be a creator.

How much content do you produce each week or each month?

I don’t want this to intimidate you, because again, I’m several years into the Creator Wizard business, but I think in an average month we’re probably putting out over 100 pieces of content.

So here’s the cadence:

My Creator Wizard YouTube videos, which are all around sponsorship strategy every other week, and then each long-form YouTube video gets cut down into multiple shorts. So that’s four to five shorts on average. That’s across all the different social platforms.

Then the Creator Debates video podcast, is recent. The cadence is every other week that the Creator Wizard videos are not going live. So basically, I have a long-form YouTube video going live every week.

Each long-form podcast episode has clips. So if a video podcast is 35 minutes, then we’re developing four to five shorts for each podcast episode.

And then I mentioned the cadence for the newsletter, so it’s a lot of content.

And then all the repurposing, all that written content for all the different social platforms as well.

So it’s a…lot.

How many hours per week do you spend on the business?

I spend a lot of time on it. I’m not saying that I’m proud of that, I just love it. I think that’s part of why I’m always thinking about it.

It’s kind of a nine-to-five thing sitting at my desk, actually working on it. But then once we get the kids in bed, back on the laptop doing stuff, answering emails, and so on.

When you have 20,000 creators on a newsletter and you’re asking them to hit reply to an email, or tell me about the last sponsorship you did, you get a lot of emails. I get hundreds of emails a day.

I spend a lot of time working, I don’t even know how many hours. I work way more hours than I ever did in a nine-to-five.

Do you have any employees?

Yes. My team is structured as follows:

I have a VA who’s full-time, I have a second VA who is a recent addition to the team. They work probably like 25 hours a week right now. And they’re specifically starting to help with email triage, customer service, support-type stuff, as well as other writing projects.

And then I have a full-time community manager, Dee, who’s a sponsorship coach on my team. She helps with community management during the course cohorts as well as helping with the membership, and ongoing coaching.

And then I also have a writer, George, who helps with all the Mindset Mondays and logistically with the email marketing. And he is kind of the last line of defense when it comes to everything that’s being published by Creator Wizard, whether it’s video or written.

What are the key apps or software tools that you use in your business?

A whole host of them.

  • Fourthwall for my merchandise
  • Riverside for recording my video podcast.
  • TubeBuddy for optimizing titles and thumbnails for my YouTube videos.
  • Restream for multistreaming on different platforms. I do a live stream every Friday. And we by the way, when we do the live stream, we download the replay and chop it up into short-form content. So that’s even more content that we’re repurposing.
  • Thinkific is the platform that I use for my sales pages, affiliate tracking, and checkout for my courses. I’m thinking about potentially transitioning away from that because I’m using Circle for my private community. So when people join the course, I don’t utilize the Course LMS feature of Thinkific. I actually say, “hey, go join Circle.” That’s a longer-term project of transitioning away from that.
  • ConvertKit is my email service provider.
  • Notion for our home base for the business in terms of SOPs and templates.

If you were starting over today, what would you do differently?

I cry thinking about what if I had started building the email list in 2009. Where would we be today?

Quick anecdote here. We actually did build an email list early on, maybe in 2012. And we pretty easily got 30,000 subscribers on that newsletter, 30,000 people by not actually doing that much promotion. This was the time when we were at the height of our viewership on YouTube. My wife had gotten pregnant and there was so much interest in our growing family. We were getting hundreds of thousands of views on every video on YouTube. So it was not that hard to say, “hey, join the newsletter, we’ll give you an exclusive video.” And we completely fumbled that.

We didn’t send emails to the newsletter frequently, and then we just stopped doing it all together for five or six years. And so when my wife decided to restart the email list, we ran a re-engagement campaign. We emailed all 30,000 of those people, said, “Hey, you haven’t heard from us in a while! Do you still want to hear from us? Click here to opt back into the list.” And of the 30,000 people that we had re-engaged, only 1,000 opted back in. So, imagine if we had nurtured all those 30,000 people over all those years.

And so I would never make that mistake again. f I had to go back, put my hand on the shoulder of Justin from 14 years ago, I’d say, “Dude, don’t make the same mistake again. Build your email list. Email them every week, once a week at least, and nurture that, because that can become such a huge asset in your business as a creator over the next many years that you’re doing this.”

If you found this useful, I’m only going to give you one call to action (as any good creator should do); If you want to join my email list, it’s



Alex Llull: The Steal Club Creator Case Study

Alex Llull - The Steal Club Interview

Please tell us about your business.

I like to split my business into two sections: there’s the “service Alex” and then there’s the “creator Alex”.

The service Alex runs a content creation and repurposing agency that works with very recognizable names in the creator economy industry. We basically help them turn their huge content backlogs into social media content. I also provide 1:1 consulting.

The creator Alex runs The Steal Club, a newsletter where we learn how the best creators use content to grow their audience and businesses. And how you can do the same by stealing their tactics and strategies. I also sell digital products as part of The Steal Club ecosystem.

How do you make money? 

The “service” side of the business generates around 75% of my current income. The “creator” side of the business generates the rest. The goal for this year is to balance these and end up in a 50-50 split.

What works on the service side (from more income to less):

  • Content repurposing productized service
  • DFY content strategy
  • 1:1 clarity calls

What works on the creator side (from more income to less):

  • Newsletter sponsorships
  • Digital products (I’m rebuilding the ecosystem as I type this)
  • Affiliate deals (via the newsletter)
  • Upscribe

What works to grow your audience? 

This is where my traffic comes from (from more to less):

  • Twitter
  • Crosspromotions with other creators
  • Upscribe (surprising)
  • Other social media channels

Things I’ll try in the next 3-6 months:

  • Articles for SEO
  • A Product Hunt launch
  • Paid advertising (other newsletters mostly, but also FB ads)

What has been your most popular content? 

Have you had any major inflection points on your creator journey?

Growth has been pretty linear, no real huge spikes. I can identify a few points where it was higher than normal though:

What were you doing before you started this?

My background is in advertising. I was working as an account manager for several ad agencies for 5 years. 

During that time I worked with many creators for our campaigns, so I got a glimpse of how the creator business looked like on the inside. It also taught me the right way to deal with clients, which is something that I still apply today for the service side of the business.

How did you get started?

I didn’t “choose” to get started but was forced into it. When Covid struck, my entire regional office where I was woking got shut down. Over 60+ people got fired.

I didn’t know what to do next so I decided to finally make the switch and go from consumer to producer. I started tweeting what I learned during those 5 years on Twitter. That slowly built an audience. 

But when I really started getting traction on social media was when I incorporated the “stealing” element. I think it’s what help me set myself apart from all the other creators who were talking about the same topics as me.

How much content do you produce each week or month?

Per week:

  • 1-2 newsletter issues,
  • 1-2 Twitter threads and around 8-10 tweets. Those later get repurposed for LinkedIn and Instagram.

How many hours per week do you spend on the business now?

Creating content: 3-4 hours a week (mostly on Mondays). Then about 30 min to 1h a day on Twitter and very little time on other social platforms

Operations: 1 hour per day (responding to emails, reaching out to partners, invoicing, etc)

Do you have any employees or assistants?

 Not right now!

What are the key apps, software, or tools you use in your business?

For content creation:

  • Tweet Hunter
  • Brandbird
  • Figma
  • Grammarly
  • Canva


  • ConvertKit
  • Feedletter
  • Sparkloop


  • Notion
  • Tally


  • carrd

If you were starting over today, what would you do differently?

  • Niche down what you do and who you do it for. Try to find your “Red Pill”.
  • Brand yourself. Try to find your unique edge. What makes you different? For me, that was the “stealing” bit.
  • Focus on one social channel, and one only. Then funnel everyone into your email list
  • Choose 2-3 core content pillars and only write about that. You want to get known for 1-2 very specific things. You are building a pro creator brand, not a personal account.
  • Pay to skip the line (if it’s possible). I’ve seen major improvements on my business when I stopped trying to figure it out and turned to experts for advice. This can be in the form of courses, other learning resources, or coaching.
  • Don’t be afraid of promoting yourself. No one else will (early on).

Daren Smith of Craftsman Creative Creator Case Study

Daren Smith of Interview
Please tell us about your business.

I’ve got three businesses… (yikes!) I run that aims to help creators build bespoke creative businesses that support their work full-time. We have content, community, courses, coaching, and business consulting to help at any stage of the journey.

I also have an online course business and work as a film producer.

How do you make money?

I have two high-ticket offers. The “Craftsman System” is a done-for-you service that costs $15,000, where we come into your business and build out the systems for you. Then I have the Membership System that costs $5k per month or 10% of revenue, whichever is greater. This is a done-for-you paid podcast subscription that we run for your business, aimed at well-known authors, podcasters, and thought leaders. These are ~75% of my revenue.

The next tier down is the “done with you” offers of coaching and events/challenges/courses. These range from $200 for the challenge and courses up to $1,000/month for coaching. These account for another 20-25% of revenue.

Lastly are books and merch which are all in the $20 range and represent a very small percentage of my business.

What works to grow your audience?

I’m spending $1,000/month on Sparkloop referrals, that’s been the biggest growth channel at around 900 subs per month. The rest are organic referrals from other Sparkloop products like Upscribe, people learning of my newsletter & business from social media, and direct outreach for my high-ticket clients.

My website currently gets ~1,500 visitors per month.

What has been your most popular content?

  1. Identify Jobs To Be Done

  2. How To Create And Launch An Online Course In The Next 2 Weeks

  3. Craftsman Creative | Book

  4. How To Create A Six-Figure Creative Business

Have you had any major inflection points on your creator journey?

The early days benefited a ton from shoutouts in newsletters by Arvid Kahl, Justin Moore, and Josh Spector, who I now consider all friends. Since then it’s been pretty slow and steady growth for my audience.

One nice boost came from doing the 10k Creator show with Joe Pulizzi in fall of 2022. That gave me exposure to his audience as the show was on his existing Content, Inc. feed. It didn’t directly lead to much revenue growth, but lots more awareness.

The big revenue growth came from the lessons I took away from that podcast, specifically conversations with Jay Clouse and Brian Clark. I added the new high-ticket offers and 10x’d my revenue in two months.

What were you doing before you started this?

I started in music and sound, then transitioned to film around 2007. I had a post-production sound business for a few years before starting a video production company that I ran until 2017, and then left that to become a TV and film producer. I started Craftsman Creative in 2020. So I’ve been a creator for my entire adult life 🙂

Why did you start Craftsman Creative and what did you do when you were starting out?

I started Craftsman Creative to help artists and creators build more resilient businesses. It was right at the beginning of the pandemic (March 2020) when I launched, and so there was quickly a huge need for guidance and stability in their lives. I saw a huge opportunity to serve and contribute. Those are things that drive me as a creator, so it was a perfect fit.

When I started it was just an online course business. I partnered with other creators who had big audiences, and I provided the technical side while they provided the marketing. It worked well and we crossed $100k in sales within 2 years. Partnering was a huge asset early on.

I applied that same principle in 2022 when I partnered with Joe Pulizzi from The Tilt on the 10k Creator Podcast. We put the new show on his existing feed, so we started with 2-3000 listeners per episode from the start.

How long did it take you to start making a liveable income from Craftsman Creative?

The course business shot up pretty quickly. In the second month, we did $11,000 in sales from one course launch, so the partnership strategy helped a ton getting leads and sales into a new business.

When I turned Craftsman Creative into my “personal brand” with the book announcement in August of 2021, my personal revenue from the business was around $1,000 per month, and only grew to about $1,500 per month in 2022. I was also working as a film producer and had about 6 months where I was doing that full-time and spending no time on Craftsman Creative.

But about 15 months in (from that August 2021 kickoff) I added some new high-ticket offers and landed some clients rather quickly, so the business shot up to $15k/month in December 2022. So for me, it was about 16 months of part-time effort. Most creators could benefit from employing that high-ticket offer much sooner, and getting to profitability and sustainable revenue much quicker than if they start with a low ticket, $20-200 offer that requires a lot more volume to reach, say, $10k/month in revenue.

How much content do you produce each week or month?

It’s a lot!

Twitter – daily posts

LinkedIn – daily posts

Newsletter/Blog – one per week on Mondays

Podcast – one per week on Friday

How many hours per week do you spend on the business now?

It generally ranges between 30-40 hours per week. I generally work 9-3 every weekday.

Do you have any employees or assistants?

Not currently.

What are the key apps, software, or tools you use in your business?

I use ConvertKit every day, as well as Ghost (blog), Typefully (Twitter), ScoreApp (leads), (leads), Streak (leads), Basecamp (project management), Tana (second brain), Hey (email), Publer (LinkedIn), Circle (Membership Community)

If you were starting over today, what would you do differently?

I would focus on one core offer ($500-2,500 range) and one channel until that was doing at least $10k/month in revenue. Then I would systematize that so I could keep the same revenue with <10 hours per week. Then I’d either add another offer ($5,000-25,000 range) and get a channel working there to 5-10x the revenue while systematizing the business further. That would lead to a $50-100k/month business in about a year. From there you can kind of do whatever you want – write a book, grow an audience, expand the team, etc.

I started by trying to be everywhere at once, build an audience, created low-price offers like a book, and grew from there. It takes longer that way. Start with businesses then expand to your individual audience members and you can get revenue much faster.