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Certified Bangers, Contractual Red Flags, and Stabilizing Deal Flow

Nick Symmonds on million-view video ideas, picking partners based on deal simplicity, and why he decided to sign with a talent manager

Here’s your weekly excerpt of The Stack, featuring U.S. Olympian-turned-YouTuber, Nick Symmonds.

Representation - Bottle Rocket Management

I'd had half a dozen managers approach me, including Night Media, saying “Hey, we want to work with you!” and I'm just like “No, I don't want to split my revenue, like I don't want to give you 20% of anything, let alone everything.”

Some of those managers were saying “We're going to take 20% of your entire pie.” I'm like “But you didn't do anything to help me build this! Why would I give you 20% of that?” So that was a non-starter for me, and also, I love doing brand deals! I love negotiating them myself. It's something a lot of creators hate, but I genuinely enjoy the process of negotiating the brand deals and I didn't want to give that up.

A really good friend, a mutual friend of Chas and mine…he's like “Hey, I was talking to this guy Chas, and he's a manager of YouTubers, and he just wanted to pick your brain for 10 minutes.”

I’m like “Oh God, here comes the pitch!”

I love Chas’ charisma and I love how honest he is, and right off the bat - I think he appreciates that I'm a straight shooter, I'm not trying to waste anyone's time - I said “Listen, if you want 20% of everything, don't waste your time, I'm not your creator.”

He goes “I don't want 20% of anything except the brand deals.”

So he got past my litmus test of - are you trying to take everything or not?

And then I said “All right, you want 20% of brand deals. Well, I'm telling you, this is how much I'm doing right now.” And I was pretty good at getting market rate. So I wasn't looking for a manager to help me get market rate. I was looking for a manager to help me stabilize deal flow, because Q4 was so heavy, Q1 was pretty good. Q2 and Q3 were kind of really slow for me.

In my vetting process, I talked to a couple of Creators that he worked with, and they said “Yeah, Chas has been great. He stabilized the deal flow for us. No complaints.”

So I told Chas I was in.

He called me like 10 times before I finally signed the contract. I said “I know I seem like this prospect that's scared to go on a first date with you.” I said, “Let's try it for three months. It'll be Q4, it's the juiciest quarter for brand deals. Let's try it for three months and see how it goes.” And it was great!

Obviously, we continued our relationship into Q1 2023, and I have no reason not to work with him. I love talking to him. I appreciate all the brand deals they bring. Although I do still miss the brand negotiations, it has freed my time up quite a bit to go back and focus on building revenue out elsewhere, which is really what I should be doing.

So now I know that sometimes, I have to give up stuff even if I like it, to focus on other stuff that's going to drive the business.

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Content Production and Distribution - His wife, Tiana + 2 shooter-editors + himself + looking to hire a producer

My team is actually pretty small. Two video shooters, they double up - Trevor and Ryan, they they can shoot, they can edit, they can do it all. Tiana, my wife, we've talked about, and then me.

I'm mostly on-camera talent producer, and I write the checks. So I managed the business, and the four of us, we operate out of a house in Coburg Oregon.

Nick’s team’s process for brainstorming and producing content is pretty unique - it reminds me of my days at a 4-person startup, sitting around a whiteboard and ideating.

First and foremost, these are what I would call “Certified Bangers”. They're like videos that are guaranteed to get a million views that I'm working on producing.

We're really kind of moving into this this space where it's quality over quantity. I was making one video a week for the last four years, and now you'll see about 2 videos a month coming from us - but they're going to be much much bigger productions.

I'll come up with an idea, or Trevor or Ryan will come up with an idea, and we'll just sit around and talk about it. Sometimes the the idea comes in pretty raw, and then we'll workshop it. Title, thumbnail concept… if we can get all 3 of those, and if at the end of the conversation we're all like smiling at each other, we're like “Oh my gosh, this is it - certified banger.”

We have to have all 3 thumbs up for us to say “Yes, this is this is a good certified banger.” Like MrBeast has that in his own gut because he's been doing it for so long. We, between the 3 of us, we are not on that level. But between the 3 of us, if we sit and workshop it, and we all get on the same page, then it's a 90% chance that we got it.

Sometimes they still flop, but it's very rare when all 3 of us are excited about the video, the title. the thumbnail that the concept doesn’t go.

He also feels very strongly about keeping his shooter-editors in-house.

I hate contracted employees for that particular role, because maybe I need them on this very specific date because I finally got access to shoot and they're like “Oh, I'm sorry, I'm booked with so and so over here.”

We are so reactionary in the sense that we're planning 6 different videos at once, and when I need to shoot something, maybe a brand deal comes in last minute for tens of thousands of dollars but they need it by Friday, I needmy guys on call to react to whatever great opportunity comes our way.

So I got them on full-time salaries. We've got a retirement plan with 3% matching. We've got healthcare. We've got fifteen days PTO. I pay for all their travel. I mean we've got a really really nice package for people that want to work full time here.

For those who are interested - he’s hiring a producer!

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