5 steps to fuel a viral content flywheel

(4 min read) How the team behind UpDating, the viral blindfolded dating show, cracked the code between live shows and digital content. Featuring Webflow, beehiiv, and WME.

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Harrison Forman

We set up two people on a blindfolded date in front of a live audience. You never know what's going to happen with scenarios like that. 

UpDating, the format created by Harrison Forman and his partner, Brandon Berman, is a ticketed live show that generates a ton of viral video content. They’ve toured for six years, but really blew up on social media over the last two.

The content flywheel they’ve created powers a fascinating business that seems to grow itself, and is a model that any Creator can take inspiration from.

Let’s get into it!



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The Business




People buy tickets and we're already in the plus when we're shooting our videos. We call it “The Symphony” - we're selling tickets for the live show, and the live show becomes our digital show! 

UpDating is, first and foremost, a live show. Harrison and his partner sold tickets and performed the UpDating show long before launching content on the internet - but how well the format worked with short-form was the unlock that allowed their business to scale.

Did we know it would work for short-form? We would have been geniuses if we knew from the beginning. 

The most expensive, time-consuming part of most Creators’ businesses is the actual content creation - but that’s not the case for UpDating.

I think our model is pretty smart because we're not paying money out of our pocket for studio space to go record our content, we're getting paid to make our content. 

Every UpDating video is profitable before the cameras turn on, thanks to the tickets they sell to attendees - but more importantly, every show creates new content for their socials. 

We knew that if we had a show that was sort of like the band Phish or Dave Matthews, where every single show is different, that would create a lot of value in the long run for us. 

Most comedy Creators aren’t in the same position.

They're going on their tour, they're doing 30 cities, but they're doing the same monologue in all of those cities. They can only post one YouTube episode from that tour. They can only post maybe one Snapchat.

This phenomenon is why you see so many short-form clips of comedy Creators like Abby Govindan or Matt Rife interacting with the audience - it’s their only opportunity to create unique content at each show.

All of our episodes are different, so we can monetize all 30 of our tour shows. I think that's really unique, especially in the comedy world 

The nature of their content drives a flywheel - a circular funnel that feeds itself. 

  1. They perform a live show.

  2. They post videos from the live show on social media.

  3. New audiences discover UpDating through the social video.

  4. Those audiences become fans.

  5. Those fans buy tickets to a live show.

And the cycle continues! As their social following grows, they sell more tickets while also generating more from other revenue streams like brand deals and platform revshare (AdSense, Snapchat Discover).

Interestingly, it doesn’t really matter where their audience is watching - TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram all drive about the same amount of revenue.

We have folks that only watch our long-form and folks that only watch our short-form, and it doesn’t matter to us which you’re consuming…The more videos we're posting, the more tickets we're selling.

The Stack

Website - Webflow

We had something on Squarespace and it was just so limited. 

SMS - Community

We are seeing that it engages our fans, whether it's casting or buying tickets - it’s working. 

Community is expensive, and not every subscriber has access to live shows. Harrison wants to spend more effort on merch in the future, to further amortize the cost of maintaining the SMS community.

I don't know when our tour is going to visit, you know, somewhere like Omaha. How else can they show love to us and support the show, besides buying a ticket? I think that's why you have merch. 

Email - beehiiv 

I was using Mailchimp and I was spending 4x-5x more a month than we are on beehiiv. Beehiiv is much more affordable, and definitely gets the job done. 

Communication - Separate work phone

I call it the Drake phone, the burner phone, because I'm sure Drake has like 20 phones…we cast our show and we have a lot of random people reaching out all the time. I started getting creepy calls at like 03:00 A.M. It was too much, so we manage a lot of that through our work phone. 

Representation - WME

They're great partners with us. We have a couple of agents who book our touring and they're experts at what they do - everything from pricing tickets to picking cities to figuring out the right path. 

Ticketing - Venue-specific, redirect through site

Ticketing is an interesting operational challenge for independent touring acts like UpDating.

Every venue has their own ticket platform deal - some have TicketWeb, some have, I don't know, Stubhub or Live Nation or something like that. 

I guess in a way, our ticket page on our website is more of a redirect because you're clicking through to any number of different websites for ticketing. 

It’s pretty standard in the live entertainment space that you're not running your own ticketing. There's just no way around that. 

Link in Bio - Bio Sites

Bio Sites is the Squarespace one. I just like the design, honestly, and I like that it was different. I’m kind of contrarian like that - Linktree looks a little standard. We like our Bio Sites look and we keep the calls to action very specific: tickets here, casting here, and then driving people to our other platforms - and obviously we put our brand deals in our bio link, if we have any. 

Finances - Accountant

Post - Adobe

Graphics - Canva

Production - Multi-camera stage setup + venue sound

We have 5-6 multicams at all of our shows. We have Sonys, we have Canons, we have fancy apps controlling the cameras with a mobile phone so you can adjust the placement during the show. We’re not miking up the people on stage, they're just using the mics from the room, and we get the audio feed from the venue. 

Team - Harrison and Brandon + Preditor

Our Director of Production…he's a one-man wrecking crew, he's like Tarantino and an entire staff in one…Brandon Berman, my partner, hosts the show and does our short-form video editing. I co-host the show and do our casting. 

That’s it - we are a three-person team… 

I think for most Creators, the key is this: if you don't mind rolling up your sleeves, it's better for business if you're doing some of the tasks that maybe an intern would do. That's good. You don't have to hire people to do some of this stuff. We're doing things that we're a lot more skilled and senior than, but we're just doing it because we're being lean and efficient - and most people just don't get stuff done. 

Project Management - Google Sheets

We’re pretty organized. We had day jobs before this.

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Written by Avi Gandhi, edited by Melody Song,
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