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New Worlds: Productizing Yourself
Leveraging specific knowledge and uniqueness
If you read my newsletter issue “From Corporation to Self-Actualization” then you know that I am quite bullish on the creator economy or what I called productizing yourself.
So this week, I thought it would be nice to explore some examples within that productizing yourself world - particularly, a few uncommon examples:
NOTION - Template Creators
The workspace platform Notion is becoming increasingly popular. Now, on marketplaces like Notionery or on social media, people are selling Notion templates. The interesting part here is that people are basically turning their self-organization or business structure frameworks into a product. And people love to buy and use a Notion template of a successful entrepreneur who they follow and admire.
For example, this is a creator and entrepreneur that I follow on TikTok. He is on an interesting startup journey and seems to have really good routines and self-organization. And hey, he also sells his notion templates. #NotionTemplate has over 23 million views on TikTok and you can find templates for project management, mindfulness, workout management, content planning, and much more. And here is the story of Ben Issen who, in 2020, created a Notion template pack and made over $15,000 selling it in the first two months - and even more later on:
CURATED - Category Experts
Curated is an expert-driven shopping platform that leverages category experts to guide shoppers to the right product. It’s focused on sports, for now 😉, and connects shoppers, for example, with Edward Clem, a filmmaker specializing in winter sports or Connor Hult, a camping and hiking expert.
Experts get connected directly with people looking for new products and then help them find the right gear. When shoppers buy that gear through Curated, the expert earns a commission and tips. Curated says their experts earn around $2,000 on average per month and for most of them their expertise is their hobby and passion, and Curated is something they do on the side.
TEACHERS PAY TEACHERS - Educator Resources
Teachers Pay Teachers is a marketplace for buying and selling educator resources. It’s basically Etsy for teacher material. The platform is used by over 7 million educators around the world, including 85% of all U.S. PreK-12 teachers.
Kayse Morris is a popular creator on TPT. She started selling teaching material on the platform in 2013 and has since built a huge brand and a million-dollar business from it. And now, she is - wait for it - teaching teachers sell teacher material on Teachers Pay Teachers (quite meta ey?!). 🙃
WHATNOT - Livestreaming Collectors
WhatNot is a rapidly growing livestream shopping platform for collectibles (i.e. sports cards, sneakers, Pokemon, NFTs…). Collectors can apply to become sellers on the platform and are then allowed to sell all kinds of collectibles via livestreams in which they present their collections, start rapid live auctions and respond to questions from potential buyers.
Cary Williams, as American Arbitrage, is a well-known seller on WhatNot. He became quite popular via TikTok and is now increasingly moving from selling on Ebay to selling on WhatNot as it’s much more engaging, convenient and lucrative for him: “It’s the best selling app we use and we average about 1,500 items a month”. Jason Strong, a passionate comic books collector and seller on WhatNot says: “On the right night a WhatNot show can bring in thousands of dollars in just a few hours.”
PROTEGE - Artist Access & Advice
Protégé is a platform that allows aspiring artists to get access to and advice from industry experts. So far it’s quite focused on vocal coaches, singer-songwriters, and producers but will ultimately expand to other categories (e.g. dancers and athletes).
The interesting thing here is the format: the aspiring artists pay between $10 to $200 to submit a short-form, TikTok-style audition video (60 sec) to the expert who will then respond with another short-form video. Due to that snappy format that’s super lucrative and time-efficient for the experts, even if they are quite well-known, high-earners like DJ Khaled who is also on Protégé. But it’s even more lucrative for the singer-songwriters, producers or coaches that are behind those mid- to highly-known artists and athletes. Let’s say you charge $50 for a video and comb through 20 in an hour: that’s an hourly pay of $1000 🤓. And you also meet amazing talent! The company says that around 3,000 Protégé applicants have already signed deals with famous music artists via its platform.
Ultimately, productizing yourself is a new way of working that’s quite different from traditional careers and work structures. Productizing yourself is mainly about two things: specific knowledge/skills and leverage.
Specific knowledge or skills come from being good at something and then turning that into a specialization, which means something that’s uniquely you and has a specific focus and simplicity to it.
Leverage, then, is about productizing that specific knowledge or skillset and scaling it. It’s about building a personal brand and putting yourself out there. But it’s also about monetization parts of your specific knowledge or skillset beyond the end product - for example, access to you, your frameworks and routines, your thinking, your feedback, etc. And this ‘leveraging’ is now increasingly enabled by platforms like the ones above.
The core difference to the old ways of working is that one needs a somewhat standardization of knowledge or skills in a corporate work setting and almost a non-brand and non-public presence of one’s own skills, knowledge, and uniqueness (CVs are about the brands you worked for, not your brand). In the new world, however, the focus is on specificity, uniqueness (i.e. non-standardization), and publicity.
That’s it for this week! Hope you like these New Worlds explorations as I have many more planned. So stay tuned! 😉