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  • Sam

Some Maxims

Plains by Steven Belledin

If you’re making $1,000 per video, put in $2,000 of effort. This way, the people who already patronize your work will feel proud of their contribution (because they will feel like they’re getting much more value than they expected), and the audience will feel the need to make up the difference (because they will think you deserve more).

If you do not believe in your product, every criticism will sting slightly stronger, since it will unveil a truth that you were too afraid to face yourself.

No clickbait. Ever.

Make something too good to ignore. Then, you won’t have to do any marketing.

Always spend your energy on seeking out the lesser known individuals who are hustling and deserve recognition. Some folks think that gaining the respect and attention of the most popular or influential personality is the key to success. So they suck up and perform sycophantic gestures in the town square. Truthfully, that’s the key to a terrible sense of isolation. You will feel you have compromised your integrity for fame, and the attention you will receive will feel hollow and insecure. If instead you raise up the little guy, you will always find yourself building community. In other words, widen that spotlight instead of turning up the wattage.

Trends are flashy and fun, but ephemeral. Stay away from them. You can never keep up anyways.

The internet revels in celebrating your work, but despises when you celebrate your work. I learned this in my video about running. I wanted to draw parallels between my personal life and magic, but the result (unintentionally) reeked of self-importance. So I was castigated. The art of patting yourself on the back is subtle and tricky. I’d recommend just cheering in private. As Kendrick said, stay humble.

I very often see creative people asking open-ended questions like “would y'all like to see a video or article on xyz?” or “if I started a podcast, what would you like me to discuss?” This is an approach that always results in self-sabotage. In general, people do not know what they want. Furthermore, you will always run into trouble, because what one section of your audience wants is exactly what the others do not want. Instead of asking “will my audience like this?” concentrate on the question: “will they feel happy to have spent their time with this?”

Turn 100 hours into 10 minutes.

I’m always interested in the work that points outwards. So much of magic content is self-contained, and as a result, redundant. Frank Karsten’s articles are must-reads because they always incorporate knowledge from outside the game as a guiding principle to analyze the systems within it. I firmly believe that magic can (and should) operate as an avenue to learn more about the world around us. If you can find a way to use magic to teach your audience about history, or art, or math, or whatever else, then they will feel that their hobby can also be a deep source of enrichment for their life.

Be extremely reluctant to accept sponsorships. You must stay steadfast with your vision and find a partnership that values your work (rather than seeks to remold it). Be patient. Some businesses just want your view count.

Before you hit export, go to sleep. Eat a sandwich. Watch the video again in the morning. You’ll find something you overlooked in the forest of myriad decision trees that is the editing process.

Just get to it. Right away. Start your video at 0:00.

Similarly, if your work is good enough, they’ll like, comment, and subscribe anyway. I promise.

I’ll say it once more: turn 100 hours into 10 minutes. You can interpret this as you wish, but it’s perhaps my favorite mantra of them all.

Learn Photoshop. It is the bread, butter, and jam of every piece of digital media in existence.

Lastly, for now: give up the gimmick. Irony and apathy have run their course. Nobody is ever impressed by how much you hate something, so try instead to be a bit vulnerable and advocate for something you love. If you can make your audience feel something, you will have given them a gift better than ice cream. I am always inspired by the ones who put their best energy into the world. Bradley Rose is a quick example. Being “good” is a quality that requires no explanation, so aim for that. Be good.

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