How did you know what to create?

How did you find your focus?

Basic value proposition: What need/problem do you help solve? Your specific brand: People subscribe because you provide __________ . How did you know this?

Me, currently:
—American with a following of mostly Iraqis.
—Make videos in English + Arabic on issues of social conflict, identity, and cultural understanding.
—Value I provide (according to fans) is positivity for facing tough social issues, and also info + insights in engaging ways.

But is this the right long-term focus for me? I’m struggling to define my basic product/value that is 1) clear, 2) valuable, and 3) something I am excited to invest in long-term.

I will always be passionate about:
—Interacting with people and feeling like I am uplifting/helping in some way.
—Personal growth.
—Sharing insights about compassion and social change in fun and creative ways.
—exploring other cultures and languages (I speak Iraqi Arabic and Spanish)

How did you find your focus? Any advice?

Thank you amazing people!


Facebook @filsonpeace
YouTube channel: John Filson
TikTok: @johnfilson
Insta: @john_filson
LinkedIn: John Filson

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When you can write what you are doing and why you are doing it in one sentence, you’ll just about be there.

After that it is just refinement. I don’t think anyone else is going to be able to tell you what your particular focus is and whether it is right for you specifically.

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I am creative writer; my work is entirely about providing content for role-play games. I’ve been actively participating in the community for years, and I often advised on writing and editing modules for game masters to improve or enrich their games.

As I looked at the level of activity in the community, I knew I would need to assess whether the time spent was actually satisfying or was sapping my time and attention to my day-job career. I felt that I could create content and use Patreon as a platform for a subscription model. It is not an easy model to use for game content, as the traditional model is to buy individual publications as needed or build a collection piecemeal.

Problem Solving: By often advising writing and editing of modules, I felt this was a key piece of content to shape my paid content. It took the longest period of time in my participation, and I was certain that a little extra effort would form a downloadable publication of a module that game masters could print and go directly to a game ready to play.

Subscribers: I segmented tiers based on creative fiction that might suggest how to play or how to portray game play, sample non-player characters that can be easily included in a game session, and sample modules that can easily be the essential foundation of a game session. So, in my perspective, a patron gains something from my creative writing to take to the game session for improving or enriching the game session. I have pretty near no feedback from patrons about my success at that effort.

Metric: I know that I would like to be writing creative fiction and game content especially even if I were not paid for it. I also knew that I needed to show my spouse the time spent was in pursuit of a viable business model, rather than time wasted which might have advanced my tech career.

Metric - Tier Rewards: Each month as I write, edit, and release reward content, I know that I am building a library of available content for each tier. It empowers my internal motivation to continue each month as I know the body of work will develop and refine within my style of writing and editing.

Metric - Public Polls: Each quarter I hold a public poll for upcoming content. These polls focus primarily on patron rewards, but I make them available as public polls. I use the results to set my schedule for an upcoming 12 months of content, in a particular rewards category (e.g. Winter poll was for sample characters; Summer poll will be sample modules). Although I do not know how many non-patrons place a vote or more, I am hopeful it attracts new patrons as they view the potential content being scheduled for creation in the future. I feel it shows commitment to a long-term endeavor.

Metric - Stretch Goals: One particular poll, the Autumn poll, is dedicated to stretch goals. These are ideas that came to my mind that I feel confident would positively compel personal growth as I endeavored to complete the goal. However, to better manage the effort and gauge interest, the poll allows me to select a manageable number and set a manageable schedule for completion. I feel it has contributed to growth as a writer of game content, and several projects from the poll have been public content to contribute to my community activity.

Metric - Community: Many years ago, over another platform, I was responding to a thread about the game and had some push-back on my comment; another poster responded, “Hey, that’s [Prevail], you can’t argue with him. He knows this stuff.” (paraphrased). That fueled the idea that I wanted to maintain and build on the reputational credit of my long-standing community involvement and presence. In the Patreon effort, this has will be through topical posts, participation in Discord, and forums on another platform, but all in the effort to maintain a public presence of participation and contribution without a paid subscription. It is only one pillar of my overall approach.

As a veteran who deployed to Iraq for an accumulated 18 months, including being present in Iraq for the first democratic election, I think your value proposition is solid. This looks awesome! Building a community bridge between American and Iraqi culture will be a positive contribution to the global community.

But, I can imagine that your product definition is different. A downloadable file, a topical post, a vlog or blog, a podcast or vidcast with interviews, all might be positive contributions, but more difficult to accommodate the subscription model.

It seems from your description you are a community organizer. I’m a creative writer; you’re a community organizer. I might be wrong. Here are some thoughts that might contribute to your focus.

Passion Projects:

  • Building a library of interviews through audio or video recordings can align with your passion to interact with people and bring uplifting or helpful content; the recordings can be published freely or segmented into a free portion edited to a smaller length and a paid portion edited to a longer length.
  • Holding public polls, particularly about patron rewards content or stretch goals might align well with your passion for persona growth; polls can be filled with options of your choice, that you feel confident about, and results can indicate how the community feels about those goals.
  • Written content, like essays, poetry, commentary or editorials, and journalism might align well with your passion to share insights about compassion and social change; this can be a paid or free newsletter.
  • blog or vlog posts as a tourist or journalist could align well with your passion for exploring other cultures and languages; this could include visiting American communities of Arabic speakers, finding foreign cuisine, and more, as well as travel in foreign countries using this as a means of providing free content that can interest both casual followers and dedicated supporters.

Kudos on building a bridge between communities! I think you have an awesome bit of work ahead.

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Thank you! That’s a simple and useful way to approach it.

Ask yourself what topic you have experience or interest in and focus on it.

It sounds like you have a fabulous handle on your value and your product (for now). Can you tell me more about what your next step is in your long term work? Your website is well done, and you understand the issues we all are thinking about but not many Americans are TALKING about. You have enough of a subscriber count on YT to pull people over. Now…where are you going five years from now and why. This could be a wonderful focus to even build more bridges with your community. When’s your book coming out, for instance, or if you have one, what will the next one be about and how can a book support your cause? I personally love your cause and can’t wait to watch where you go with it.

I believe it’s easy to know what you want to do when you know your cause, know yourself and are able to connect people in the way that you have and are doing. Focus should be easy if you maintain creative momentum. For instance, I noticed that you didn’t charge in November and there isn’t much free content on your page to drive people to your cause. Give us some behind the scenes action right up front and LURE us in with this powerful, beautiful, loving, uniting cause!

Breaks are not for busy people, but for people who are losing momentum. Let every day be a gift that drives you into your creative purpose by providing some small amount of behind the scenes content. Maybe just something in your thoughts that may inspire people for the day, or even a 1 minute behind the scenes sharing. Anything to keep you and your fans motivated to keep checking in daily. If your focus is to get people invested in the world, you are going in the right direction? But how can they do that by also focusing on YOU, daily? I hope this is helpful. You are doing powerful work.

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