Minimum Viable Content

How to de-risk large creative failures and stop wasting time
Minimum Viable Content
Jake McNeill
June 17, 2021
5 min read
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Eric Ries wrote a pioneering book called The Lean Start-Up.

The premise of which was a start-up shouldn’t spend months and or years creating the perfect start-up business until they knew there was a demand for the product or service. 

He called this process creating the Minimum Viable Product — or MVP. 

This involves investing the least amount of time in a start-up so they can validate the idea before building it. 

It was a groundbreaking idea for the start-up community.

This got me thinking….

Why don’t we have a similar system in creativity?

As creatives, we waste so much time on projects that people aren’t interested in. We often miss the mark. 

I am a huge advocate of create — fail — iterate

But we have to make them small failures and not big ones.

As creatives, we should employ the same frameworks as start-ups use:

The Build —Measure — Learn — Feedback Loop

The goal of the artists and creators is to build something that their audience wants as quickly as possible without spending years on the project i.e writing a book.

The goal is to remove the parts that do not resonate and double down on what does. 

Learn — we create a hypothesis

Look on Reddit and Twitter for ideas. What topics have gone viral in your niche, genre, or market? Can you create something around that?

What stories have gone viral that you can incorporate into your writing or videos? 

Everything is an Experiment

Don’t spend a week creating a 30-minute video masterpiece. Write a post using the concept of the video idea in a relative subreddit and see if it resonates.

Don’t spend 2 years writing a book. Validate the idea of your book first. Write a blog post and see if the idea resonates. 

Don’t have a blog? Do a guest post in the niche. Or write a long post in a relevant subreddit. Start a Twitter thread. 

Changing musical direction? Don’t spend 12 months writing an album. Try out a single first and see how it resonates with your fanbase.

Don’t know which single to record? Play the choruses on TikTok and see which tracks stick. 

Don’t spend 12 months trying to build a newsletter in a niche that you can’t get access to the target market. 

The point is to create the minimum viable content to validate the idea before you spend weeks, months, or years creating it. 

Once you have validated your ideas then you can start to create them. 

When it is finished, we look at growth strategies. 

Eric Ries argues there are three different engines of growth that we should focus on. 

The Three Engines of Growth:

The sticky engine

Any artist or creator’s main goal is to build an audience. They commonly do this on social media.

However, what every creative should be creating is a mailing list. Your mailing list is the most important asset for your creative business simply because you own it.

Social media platforms are rented land. The platforms have an audience and algorithms for you to tap into their audience.

A mailing list ensures that whatever happens, you have direct contact with your audience. 

Regardless of which platforms you are on the key is to use your content to get them onto your email list. 

Customer Acquisition

How many new subscribers you are getting.

Churn Rate

How many of your subscribers remain engaged.

You can iterate and test your material for both those metrics using build — measure — learn — feedback loop

The Viral Engine

This is when your audience is sharing your content. 

Tip: you can see what type of content is going viral with other artists and creators in your niche/ market — 

You can incentivise your audience to share your content. This is a strategy that both Morning brew and Packy McCormack have used especially well to generate huge growth.

The Paid Engine 

This is where artists and creators use paid adverts.

The two metrics to focus on are:

CPA — cost per acquisition.

LTV — lifetime value of the audience. 

It’s simply the lifetime value of the subscriber - the cost of acquisition.

Pivot or Persevere

After all, this has been taken into consideration you have to choose whether to pivot or persevere on your creative project.

You should expect a lot of work before you see any return.

You need to find the balance. On one hand, you don’t want to quit too early, and equally, you don’t want to be pigheaded and stick with your creative idea that isn’t connecting.

This requires more intuition and you will need to trust your gut.

In most markets in the creator economy, you can see which newsletters, podcasts, or videos are going viral. 

This is the best indicator of whatever path you are on. 

A bit about me

I help maverick artists and creators make a racket in crowded markets, crush the creative blocks that hold them back, and turn their audiences into superfans

Every Creative Rebel’s worst enemy?

Lack of strategy. Creative mediocrity: Being bland. Staying in our lane. Creating in our comfort zone and following the crowds.

The Goal?

To create authentic work that matters. Take creative risks, avoid creative burnout, and make a full-time living with our passions.

I’m a former multi-platinum artist manager who got burnt out and became a creative business blogger, coach, and consultant.

I’ve challenged myself to write 50 articles in 50 working days. 25 down, 25 to go.

You can read more in the archives here. Find out more information on my website or connect on my LinkedIn

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