Your Digital Exit Plan

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My fiancée and I chat a lot about leaving the US and living abroad for a few years. She has a German passport so theoretically, we'll be able to move to anywhere in the EU.

While our physical exit from America probably won't happen for a while and may never actually come to fruition, I'm currently working hard on my digital exit.

And I think you should be too.

Digital Exits

in a speech dubbed Silicon Valley's Ultimate Exit, investor Balaji Srinivasan said "Voice is basically changing the system from within, whereas exit is leaving to create a new system, a new startup, or to join a competitor sometimes,"

Unfortunately, we as individuals are too powerless to change a platform like Twitter or LinkedIn. We have no control over the algorithms or censoring. And if the platform does decide to ban us or censor us, we have no control over what happens next.

While many people wouldn't care if their social media was suspended, creators like myself pay our bills via Twitter. Hence, we build ways to exit the platform and hedge our bets against anything happening to our account (or Twitter falling apart or whatever).

While a physical exit means leaving a country or city, a digital exit means bringing your social media audience off-platform. No platform can take away your email list. That's why everyone and their brother is starting a newsletter.

Path to Platformlessness

"Twitter is becoming a less and less important channel for Not Boring [newsletter] as the list grows and Twitter throttles links," tweeted Packy McCormick, a writer and investor.

Coincidentally also on Wednesday, Twitter closed down newsletter service Revue which allowed a one-click subscribe to newsletters on Twitter profiles. Add this to the fact Twitter is known for suppressing tweets to links and it's almost like they want writers to stay dependent on their platform as much as possible. Hmm. That'd be crazy, right?

Combine that with the fact TikTok and Instagram both only let you have maximum 1 hyperlink and no links on posts, and the entire social media market is full of closed gardens. The path that connects these walled gardens together is an email list. From a newsletter, you can link to all your social media posts on any platform you want.

An email list makes you platformless.

"Subscriptions to knowledge communities are the new books, as integrated tools emerge for 'the platform-less creator' that allow content creators to own their audience."

In the near future, Behance founder Belsky predicts social media platforms will get even more "insecure about losing their creator's content" and continue to crack down "in ways that spawn the era of 'platform-less creators.'" He continues, "Ultimately, I believe all creators-turned-businesses will own their audiences through newsletters and personalized, subscription-based communities." I agree completely.

I tried reading former Intel CEO Andrew Grove's book Only the Paranoid Survive, but I got like 50 pages in and was bored out of my mind. Regardless, the title sticks with me.

In the creator economy, only the paranoid survive. Cancel culture is an obvious reason. A less obvious is the fact that social media platforms don't last forever. Like empires, everything falls apart eventually.

If you think TikTok will live forever and you don't need to grow your profile anywhere else or build a newsletter, you haven't been paying attention for the last two decades. It doesn't even take a federal ban to destroy TikTok. Social networks come and go: MySpace, Vine, etc. Who's to say another app doesn't topple TikTok with a better platform? The point is it's better to be safe than sorry.

Platform dependence destroys careers. Many think the answer is to build on all the social platforms to hedge your bets against one of them failing or banning you. But the easier option is to build on 1-2 platforms and grow an email list.

Life Hack of the Century

I have wonderful news for you who are looking to become platformless but don't have the time currently to build up a newsletter.

You can start a newsletter and collect emails without publishing a single blog post.

A "newsletter" can literally just be a landing page to collect emails until you're ready to publish blogs or have the budget to hire a ghostwriter. It'll take you 3 min to set up a newsletter on Substack or Beehiiv, add it to your bio with "Coming soon", and then you'll be ready to roll by the time you start posting.

In the future, whenever you want to contact your audience — products, events, whatever — you'll have a list of your most dedicated supporters.

With this in mind, I implore you to start a Substack or Beehiiv and start collecting emails. Put it in your bio, maybe send it to some friends and say you'll be publishing soon. There are no downsides and infinite upsides.

Perhaps you too will embark on the journey to becoming a Sovereign Creator and your email list of friends, family, and followers will be your ticket to a new life.

Creators Corner

3 resources that helped me be a better creator this week:

🤝 You might have seen I co-wrote a piece last week with Katelyn Bourgoin! She's legit The Customer Whisperer and provides killer sales tips in her Why We Buy newsletter.

🤑 I'm currently reading How to Get Rich by Felix Dennis. Irreverent, funny, with a lot of genuine wisdom on building businesses.

🌴 I've been a huge fan of Demand Curve's Growth newsletter. Topnotch growth tips from a worldclass team of operators.

Thanks for reading nerds.

Happy creating!

Jason Levin

P.S. Want to really upgrade your content strategy?

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Until next edition, see you on Twitter and LinkedIn.