Ali Abdaal's 3 Stages of Growth
How to grow depending on the stage you're at.
Ali is a YouTube legend. He started 6 years ago teaching people how to get into medical school. Now he's “the most followed productivity expert.”
And he has:
4.6M YouTube Subscribers.
300,000+ newsletter subscribers.
One of the top podcasts—Deep Dive—gets 100,000+ views/listens per episode.
~$2M in profit per year.
A team of 10+.
He has also taught 1000’s of people how to grow a YouTube channel.
Ali breaks audience growth into 3 distinct stages:
Let's dive into each so you can identify where you're at, and what your next steps are.
The most common reason someone fails to build an audience is that they simply never start. I did this for years.
Most never start because they’re:
Afraid to suck. You can call this a combination of perfectionism and Imposter Syndrome.
Waiting for the right moment. “I'm just too busy this month.”
Trying to perfect the system before ever trying it. As Ali calls it, you're trying to be an “Architect” where you perfectly plan everything out in advance—but most people need to be an “Archaeologist.” Start digging and figure out where to focus later.
In fact, Ali recommends:
If you're going for YouTube, do the first 10 videos on your phone. Don't worry about the ideal recording setup. For Twitter/LinkedIn, don't do videos or carousels or threads. Just write simple text-only posts.
Lower your quality bar. No one is going to notice or remember your first few posts/videos. YouTuber MKBHD (16M subscribers) had 72 subscribers after 100 videos. No one judges him for his first terrible videos.
Cap how long you spend scripting and editing. Just get it out there and move on.
Prove to yourself you can be consistent.
As Ali likes to say: “The first 50 videos are for you, the next 50 are for your audience.”
Don't worry about the response you get from your first few dozen posts. Instead, use that time to get into the habit and get better at the process.
Once you’ve proven to yourself you can be consistent, now it's time to:
Of those that “get going,” most fail because they never create content that people love—so they give up because they're not getting the response they want.
So now that the ship is moving, it’s time to steer it in the right direction.
Here’s where you focus on:
Narrowing in on a topic.
Sharpening your copywriting.
Deeply understanding your buyer.
Leveling up content quality.
Finding your voice.
Here you try to stand out by getting really good.
There's a ton to this stage, and it requires a lot of study of copywriting, human psychology, marketing, virality, and researching your audience.
But mostly just a ton of practice.
A huge part of it, however, is narrowing in on a topic and buyer. You want to become known as a go-to expert in a particular niche. Ideally, a niche that people would be willing to pay you for.
Most that "get good" fail because they never create systems that make content creation sustainable for the long term.
They're constantly fighting to keep up with content creation each week—and eventually burn out and give up.
So now that the ship is moving and going in the right direction, it’s time to make the ship run like clockwork.
The main goals of “Get Smart” are:
Make it efficient.
Make it sustainable.
Make it fun.
You do that by...
Systematizing everything—make it really easy to do. This includes:
Carving out time in your schedule to create content each week.
Re-using or building off content that worked well in the past
Having a system for coming up with endless content ideas.
Creating templates to build new content off of.
Outsourcing work outside your zone of genius (a.k.a. stuff you hate/suck at), like:
At this stage, you might even post LESS often so you can double down on QUALITY. For example, MrBeast says it's easier to make one 50,000,000-view video than it is fifty 1,000,000-view videos.
Which stage are you at?
If you're reading this, I imagine you're either at “Get Going” or “Get Good.” But congrats if you're already further than that.
If you're currently not posting every week. Start doing that. Doesn't matter what it's about. Doesn't matter how good it is. Just do it.
A nice framework is “post something that you've found yourself explaining three times.”
For accountability, reply to this email and tell me you're going to post once per week for the next month.
I'll keep you accountable by checking on you in a month.
And if you are posting consistently, then devote some extra time each week to specifically getting way better. Read books and newsletters on copywriting, marketing, and psychology.
At the “Get Good” stage, you're better off doing considered learning than posting more often.
And we provide tools and suggestions for all 3 stages of growth in the Un-ignorable Challenge. For a limited time, sign up for the October cohort for $200 off.
Keep at it
Building an audience is one of the highest-leverage activities you can be doing. So whatever stage you're at, keep at it, folks. It's worth it.
If you liked this post, please click/tap the ❤️ and share it with a friend. It really helps it get seen by more people.
How I can help you grow:
Book a 1-hour consultation call with me. I’ve helped:
1000s of companies define their growth strategy.
100s of people start building their personal brand.
And I run two 7-figure bootstrapped businesses.
Sign up for my premium newsletter.
Work with my agency, Bell Curve, and we'll be your Growth Partner.
Neal's Newsletter 🍉 is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.