Use this system to 10x your content production

How I turn one idea into many.
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These days, everybody is a content creator. So hopefully, this can help you:

  • How does my content machine let me just create?

Let’s do it!

I’ve spent the past 8 months creating a “content machine.” 

It lets me do something pretty magical: 

  1. I sit in my office with a rough outline of something I want to talk about.
  2. I record myself talking through the concept for 20 to 30 minutes and upload it.
  3. A week or two later, I get back:
  • a newsletter (written like I write)
  • a LinkedIn post
  • a Twitter thread
  • a longform YouTube video
  • and a bunch of shortform clips to approve.

This is exactly what I want as a creator — to spend my time creating great content and have it come out the other side ready to go.

So how did I get here?

Let’s go back in history about a year ago. 

I was a solo creator writing on Twitter (a lot), doing everything myself. 

My process was more like this:

  • Get an idea
  • Research it & take notes
  • Write a draft
  • Agonize over my wording with 6, 7, even 8 rewrites
  • Find the right picture to go with it
  • Schedule it (and probably rewrite it one more time)
  • Look at the numbers and replies to try to figure out what worked and what didn’t
  • Repeat

It was long, complicated, and painstaking. And that was just for Twitter!

Here’s what I did.

The principles

First, I had some core principles that were important to me. 

It had to be my thoughts. I didn’t want to be parroting someone else’s ideas. I don’t want other people putting words in my mouth with random business BS. I don’t have a problem with anyone else hiring a ghostwriter, but I just wasn’t going to do that.

It had to be high quality. Because it’s my name on it, I want everything going out to be top-notch. 

I only want to spend my time on the activities of the highest value. For me, that meant ideation, outlining, and getting my original thoughts out. The stuff that only I could do. So, there is no wordsmithing, fixing typos, scheduling content, or anything else.

So, following those principles, I got started. And from nothing last year, today I have a team of four.

I’ll introduce them to you.

The team

First, we have Marina. She takes care of a bunch of operational stuff. 

She helps us by posting content, scheduling reruns, and helps with the admin of the company (because it’s a real company now, with payroll and everything). We hired her through one of my businesses, an offshoring company called Near. (They’re terrific! Get 5% off your first hire!)

Next, we have Will. He’s located in Toronto and does everything related to the written word. 

Over the past 12 months, we’ve spent a bunch of time together where he learns how I think and how I write. Authenticity is super important — Will doesn’t write original articles masquerading as me like a typical ghostwriter. He functions more as an editor. 

So he’ll take a video (like this one about building my content machine) and distill it down to a draft in my words. I’ll tweak it and send it back.

After hundreds of iterations, he’s gotten really good — and you don’t get that with an agency process. That’s one of the things I like about this model. The people on my team only work on Girdley stuff, so the bar for quality is really high.

Will’s also there for ideation, research, scripting and outlining — and he’s part of a weekly content creation meeting, where we plan out the calendar of stuff I’m going to publish over the next weeks and months.

Next is Dalton. What Will does for the written word, Dalton does for video. If he could choose to do anything in the world, he would fiddle around and get in the weeds in YouTube and video analytics. He’s the one in there playing the games you have to play with thumbnails, hooks, A/B testing, all that stuff.

Dalton also manages a couple of offshore editors we hired through Clipt, who are amazing.

Lastly, there’s Ty. He’s everybody’s boss. Because I do not want to be CEO of the content creation machine. Ty is at the right time in his life to be doing all that business-building stuff I’m not excited about anymore.

Ty also figures out how to monetize through ads, selling courses, and figuring out partnerships with other businesses. If I’m paying a team to work on my content, I don’t necessarily need to make money, but I don’t want to lose money. 

That’s the whole team so far. (But we’re bringing on a head of podcasts very soon!)

The process

Here’s how our process works today.

Every Monday, we have a 90-minute content creation meeting. It covers our entire content calendar of what we will put out. We’ve got a Slack channel where we brainstorm stuff through the week and drop ideas, and the content meeting is when we hammer out what will work and what we cut.

From there, the team might do some research — like pulling the numbers on a business I’m breaking down or seeing what formats are working for other people.

Then Dalton or Will sends me a prompt with any data they’ve collected. I’ll jot down some notes for an outline and go to record.

We tried writing scripts for a while, but I sounded like a robot. Now I just pretend I’m teaching Dalton something about business. It is much more natural, and it’s all my own words. (I think Ali Abdaal uses this method too!)

When I’m finished recording, I upload the video and the team starts working on it. Dalton does a first pass, cutting out where I talk in circles or repeat myself or my body makes weird noises, and sends it to his offshore editors. (This hurts to write.)

Once we have the video ready, it goes to the written team. Will turns the videos into written content for my newsletters and social media, capturing my voice. 

We publish at different times. Sometimes the written stuff shows up first, sometimes the video, and that’s fine. Sometimes people say, “hey, I saw this on your video three weeks ago” — and that’s totally fine. When you’re a content creator, you’re marketing to a parade, not a captive audience. It’s always a new crowd, especially since we’re on multiple platforms. No matter how many times I rerun a “greatest hit” on Twitter, most people have never seen it before. 

Once the content is published, we see how it performs. Some things blow up, others bomb. You learn and move on. On social media, you can fail as much as you want. it’s just the hits that matter.

This method lets me spend the time on the stuff I truly love: creating, helping, ideating, and working with a great team. It makes it fun for me to scale. 

Because frankly, without my team, it would have been impossible for me to scale beyond Twitter at the quality I wanted. 

What questions do you have? Hit reply and let me know!

See the process in action — here’s the video this was adapted from!

Any questions about my content machine? I’ll all ears. Just hit reply and ask away!

Have a great week,

MichaelHey, beautiful business people!