Second Channel, Double the Income 💸

How a side quest helped Thomas Frank grow his business

Good morning. Design creator Soren Iverson, known for posting imaginative (and sometimes extremely funny) product design renderings—like our favorites, an Instagram unfollow notification and a tool to dispute someone’s skills on LinkedIn—just celebrated 300 consecutive days of posting new ideas daily. Iverson says he’s not finished…maybe with 300 more days of his ideas, we’ll actually get something as genius as a ChatGPT summarizer for unnecessarily long texts.

How This Creator’s Second Channel Doubled His Revenue

Productivity creator Thomas Frank goes in-depth on his Notion set-ups on his second channel, Thomas Frank Explains / Thomas Frank Explains

Productivity creator Thomas Frank launched his second channel, Thomas Frank Explains, as a “side quest” in 2020, sharing video tutorials for task management app Notion and exploring product ideas he wanted to build. It was a departure from his original academic and productivity content…but it worked.

The details: Though Frank’s second channel has less than 15% the number of subscribers his main channel has, he said that he’s doubled his income and grown his team to 11 employees in the nearly two years since he stopped posting to his main channel—a hiatus he finally ended last month.

“I didn’t intend to step back from the main channel for that long…I just happened to make this extra business that took up all my time,” Frank told us.

So why return now? We talked with the creator to better understand how his business has evolved:

  • 3 million subscribers and a decade in on YouTube, Frank felt like he’d run out of content topics and didn’t want to rely on grinding out sponsor-backed videos forever.

  • So he launched a more creatively-driven second channel focused on “discovery and building things,” including a month-long project to develop an “all-in-one” productivity template within Notion called Ultimate Brain.

  • That template instantly clicked with Frank’s newer, more niche audience—and a productized version he sold on his website quickly grew to six figures in monthly revenue. 

Since creating that first template, Frank has assembled a team of product developers and even launched a new startup called Flylighter. Here’s the high-level look at his business:

Looking ahead: By focusing on a specific type of content, Frank effectively built a revenue-generating content side hustle that took the pressure off of his main channel and enabled it to serve as a space to update his audience on his journey.

“I liken it to Tony Stark: He gets to go into a cave and tinker with a box of scraps…and every once in a while, stand on stage in a tuxedo to show his creations off to the world,” Frank told us. “That’s a method of working that really resonates with me.”

Keith Lee Rocks the ATL

Keith Lee’s frank food review saga takes over Atlanta / Illustration by Moy Zhong with photography by Keith Lee

TikTok food reviewer Keith Lee went to Atlanta this week as part of a multi-city food tour—and the fiery response to his constructive criticism of some ATL hotspots illustrates the double-edged nature of an audience as large as his.

Backstory: Nevada-based Lee’s visits to lesser-known establishments have been known to cause significant traffic spikes with the so-called “Keith Lee Effect.”  

  • Lee brought the same business rush to four restaurants in Atlanta this week.

  • While there, Lee posted critical videos about two restaurants that had long wait times or strange takeout rules. A range of commenters, from Cardi B to local news, suggested Lee’s reviews were an accurate reflection of Atlanta restaurant culture. 

  • But some of his audience took Lee’s POV to the extreme, lobbing death threats at the restaurants (Lee extensively condemned that behavior).

Zoom out: Lee is currently one of the most-followed food review accounts on TikTok with an audience of over 14 million. With that reach comes influence—which can quickly turn sour. As Kai Cenat, MrBeast, and plenty of other mega-popular creators have proven before Lee, sometimes influence comes with unintended consequences.  

The Gap Between Hollywood and Creators Continues to Shrink

Creators are catching up with Hollywood / Illustration by Moy Zhong

Video creators could soon easily outpace Hollywood in terms of high-quality output, according to a new essay by former Warner Media strategist Doug Shaprio. 

Shapiro’s reasoning:

  • Hollywood made 15,000 hours of new TV episodes and films last year. 

  • But 30,000 hours of content are uploaded to YouTube per hour

  • If consumers consider just .01% of YouTube videos to be on par with Hollywood productions, that would mean creators can double Hollywood’s annual output.

Zoom out: Nielsen says YouTube is the most-streamed service in the U.S. on televisions, which means that many consumers are watching content from Hollywood and creators in the same place: their TV. 

“The question is not whether the production values of independent content will be comparable to Hollywood,” Shapiro wrote. “It is whether consumers will consider it competitive for similar use cases based on their own definitions of quality.”

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