I'm not just coming from a Creator background. I have an MBA. I have a business degree.
Lonnie IIV is one of the rare Creators who considers where he might want his creative and business endeavors to be in the future, and then lays the groundwork to get there.
Whether that’s a result of his MBA education or something inherent to his personality is anyone’s guess, but there’s a lot to be learned from how he operates as a Creator.
Lonnie’s one of the first Creators I’ve met who puts time and energy into curating a Spotify playlist and building a followership on the platform.
For the next three to five years, I'll be incorporating a lot of music into my content….so whenever I want to start putting out music down the line or do any kind of musical projects, I already have an audience there.
Similarly, he collects email addresses through his bio link, but isn’t currently using them for anything.
I have a smart team that's like, “Yeah, you should have an email list.”
Down the line we're going to be launching some courses… the newsletter is going to talk about what I'm doing in the industry… It's another one of those passive things that my team is working on in the background.
Whether or not they have a team, few Creators lay the groundwork for something they might want to do in the future, and fewer Creators execute with a 3-5 year time horizon. Many Creators fear that their followers will disappear or their content will become irrelevant, and so the focus becomes how to maximize near-term success.
Audience comes and goes in waves. Sometimes you have a big wave, and then you might have a trough, but when the waves are there, make sure you have as many buckets ready to collect as possible.
This sort of strategic planning is rare for entertainers, who tend to focus on the opportunities that are right in front of them. It’s the sort of thing I’ve only heard of megastar Hollywood talent like The Rock doing - and it seems to work out well for him 😉
Lonnie’s revenue model is very unique among Creators, because he makes the majority of money through direct partnerships with platforms - and I’m not referring to revshare. He’s worked with TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, Snap, Discord, and Twitter as a marketing partner.
A lot of my sustaining revenue…has come from doing programs with these different platforms. That's like speaking engagements…or they're launching a new thing, they want to test it out, and they're going to pay $X for you to post on it, use it, and talk about your experience with it.
One doesn’t simply fall into repeated platform partnerships - as with everything else Lonnie does, there’s a lot of intentionality behind it.
Here’s the five (5) tactics he uses to get 50% of his revenue from platform partnerships, while also cultivating brand and Creator relationships:
You’ve got to be willing to go where the platform people are - otherwise, you’ll never connect with them. That could be in person or virtual, but the effort is required.
Whenever a platform is like, “Hey, we need some feedback for this thing,” or “We're having this event,” I go…I try to get to know everybody's name and actually socialize … I usually wind up meeting the organizer.
Following up via email or DM puts you on peoples’ radar…and it’s rare enough that it makes you memorable. Plus - it might just get your content in front of them as well, if DMing affects newsfeed programming.
During the pandemic, there'd be a Zoom call with Instagram. They had a thing called Creator Day, and I was invited. I DMed all the hosts on Instagram, and afterwards, all the other participants… Behind the scenes, it starts up a little conversation, and … they'll see your stuff on their newsfeed. So as I'm making this content, but also connecting with these event organizers, they're like, “Oh, who's this guy? He's popping up in my feed. He said, thank you!”
…It helps me stay top of mind with these platforms.
No one ever gets enough recognition for the work they do, so expressing any amount of gratitude is a super-hack for building positive relationships with people. Seriously - “I appreciate you” is a powerful phrase!
That's something my mom taught me… That extra human element goes a long way in helping you stand out amongst other Creators who might just be like, “Oh, We came. It was cool.”
…Follow up, say thank you. Say what you actually appreciated.
Feedback is valuable, but it must be given in a positive way to build strong relationships. Everyone complains. The valuable partners say what’s good and what they’d like to see more of - not what’s “bad”.
Whenever you give feedback, if you do, say, “Hey, a lot of people really enjoyed this element,” or, “I thought this was really smart how you guys did this,” or “We'd love to see more of this thing.” …It's a great way to be top of mind and be remembered by the brands and the [platform] organizers.
Remember that platforms are staffed by people, and those people have goals - often, related to new feature launches. Help them achieve those goals and they’ll remember and reward you, in the same way that you probably remember who your earliest followers were and are more willing to engage with them than newer fans.
Anytime there's a new platform or a new feature on any platform, I would highly recommend that you go hard on it for 60 to 90 days.
For example, when Reels came out, I had a backlog of a bunch of content for TikTok… so I hired my little sister to just repurpose all my old videos and post for me every single day on Reels…
And Instagram was like, “Oh, thank you for filling this new feature with content so people stay using it and see what it can do. To reward you, we're going to add the Featured badge to half the videos you post, and we're going to promote you, and hey, anything else you want to do?”
Email Collection - Beacons
It gets the job done … And the people at Beacons are pretty cool, so I like working with them for now.
Project Management - Asana
I used to use Trello…I recently got a project management certification…and the class used Asana a whole lot. So I'm like, cool, I'm gonna stick with Asana. I get it.
Finance - Karat + QuickBooks + Accountant + PayPal + Venmo + Credit Union
I love Karat, they're fantastic…if you're in LA and you're a Creator, getting a Karat card is pretty great because they also host events, which has been great for my networking and meeting a lot of very, very talented and accomplished Creators. So it's a good network to be a part of for that.
Communication - Text, maybe moving to Slack
I hate Slack with a passion, because it feels like it's just Discord but boring…but I'm pretty sure we're going to be going over to Slack soon…it's easier to stay organized than just text messages.
Representation - 729 Management
I used to do it myself, because I understand and enjoy business, but I hit a spot where I need to do what I do best, which is content…So whenever a brand reaches out, I send it straight to my management.
Multi-Channel Network - Collab
MCNs gets a bad rep, because they used to take a chunk of Creator revenue without providing much value. Lonnie’s relationship with Collab seems to be different - they act as his sales partners.
Before I had a manager, they were kind of that stand-in… They’re just another way to get opportunities and connections.
Research / Ideation - ChatGPT
Lonnie has a brilliant way of using ChatGPT for research and creative development:
As a short form creator who’s not the most well-versed in long form, I'm trying to figure out formats and how to spread out my personality over 20 minutes. So I went to ChatGPT and asked: “ChatGPT, give me the scene-by-scene format for a reality TV show like Chopped.”
And basically, it broke down scene by scene what happened, with the purposes of every scene in every episode of Chopped the cooking show. It's like, ‘Alton Brown will come out and he'll say this, and will meet the competitors. We’ll do this. We'll see this. And the reason we do this is for this...’
I'm like, “Interesting”…you can take a format from one genre and just remix it to whatever genre you wanna do.
Podcast Production - iPhone + Mobile Audio Interface + Mics + Audacity + Opus AI + Editor
Podcast Distribution - BuzzSprout
Video Production - iPhone + TikTok + CapCut + SnapChat + Camera App on iPhone + Premiere Pro
I'll storyboard it with TikTok…
So if I have two characters talking to each other, and it's just me playing one and me playing the other, I will go and put on a hat and replace all of the draft parts with character number two. Then I'll go change my hat and replace all the parts of character number one.
Video Distribution - Sister handles distribution + Repost app
I try to keep a library of all my content. There's a Repost app that helps me pull my content from Instagram to put into Google Drive…it also helps me with reacting to stuff because sometimes I want to stitch something I see on Reels, and it's hard…but if you use Repost, it lets you grab the Reel and then edit the stitch together in CapCut (or any other editing software).
Operations / Team - Manager + Assistant + Sister + Editors
My sister, she handles a lot of the post scheduling and she also does analytics with me so whenever she posts stuff, she'll look and be like, “All right, what happened here? Why did this video do well? Yo, people are doing this trend and this trend. You should make one like this.”...
I also will hire editors for certain videos, especially if I have a lot of brand deals or activations happening. I’m like “I don't need to sit here and try to edit all this because I'm going to overthink it. I can hand it off to an editor. I'm getting paid either way.”
Relevant Previous Interviews
I write about the Creator Economy on LinkedIn through the lens of my 15 years as a Creator, agent, manager, marketer, producer, and executive at companies like Patreon, Wheelhouse, and WME.
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