Jack Butcher is the founder of Visualize Value, where he's built a community of nearly 3,000 builders, entrepreneurs, and founders, providing them with principle-based courses that teach people the foundations of design, building audiences, and so much more. Here, we talk about how Jack grew his audience from 5,000 to over 110,000 followers in under 12 months, what he learned from running a design agency, and how he’s sold his work in the form of NFTs for the Etherium equivalent of $10,000.
By his own admission, Jack Butcher struggles with his definition of Visualize Value:
“It’s kind of the place I’ve landed or the thing that represents everything I love about design,” he tells Tom at the start of their chat.
I’ve seen Visualize Value described as a digital agency and digital brand, which it is. But even that sells it a little short. It’s also a community of builders, entrepreneurs, and founders.
What I can say with certainty is that it’s unlike anything else out there and people love it for that; people love Jack for that.
This is proven by Visualize Value’s courses bringing in $3000+ a day, Jack’s Twitter following growing to over 100,000 in little over a year, and people being ready to pay the six figures for his art.
It’s an impressive achievement for someone who, in 2019, was a one-man-band agency owner feeling overwhelmed.
And it’s an achievement we can all learn a lot from. Because there are no magic money trees or helping hands from friends in high places in Jack’s story. His success is built on creativity, hard work, and focus. Attributes we all possess.
If you want to learn how to grow a brand—be it personal or business—this one’s for you.
Visualize Value comes from Jack’s 10+ years of working as a designer for agencies (including one of his own) and learning how to build something centered around the work that interests him:
“The Visualize Value idea was really born from necessity. So just out of a bunch of iterations of ‘what type of work do I want to be doing? And how can I build something that attracts the type of people that need or are interested in that type of work?’
“So it really began as just like a lead magnet for design and consulting clients. And then the feedback that I got as I was publishing just opened my eyes to all these other different possibilities. And now it's not only a design and consulting service. We have education products, we have a community product, we've built decent-sized audiences on social platforms.”
But while Visualize Value isn’t one single thing, it doesn’t try to be all things to all people—a quality that Jack’s first agency Opponent perhaps didn’t have:
“I think the specificity of the work that actually won me new work when I was working on Opponent was another lesson of, ‘I don't need to be offering up 25 different services as an agency here.’
“Going from working within an agency where the opportunity comes to you and you just get told what to do, to being in the world of you have to go and seek it out, I think the narrowness of the stuff that resonated was definitely a wake-up call.
“If you can just find something that you love doing, you don't need to have this agency services page with nine lists of things that you do.”
Ask yourself: what do you do best? What do you like doing best?
Find what you’re good at and what you enjoy and make that central focus of your brand. Everything else can grow from that.
At the time of writing, Jack (@jackbutcher) has 120,000 followers on Twitter. A little over a year ago he had around 5000.
None of these followers are bought. None of them have come from Jack starring in a reality TV show or Netflix documentary. He doesn’t follow 119,000 people back. Heck, he doesn’t even have a blue tick to leverage (note to anyone from Twitter reading this: please verify Jack).
So how has he done it?
By understanding how Twitter works in comparison to other social platforms:
“The distribution mechanism for content on Twitter is so different [than Facebook].
“I was trying to grow Opponent on Facebook organically, which is like 85% of the people I'm connected to on Facebook have no idea what an agency is, have no need for agency services. I went to school with them. I grew up around them.
“I think the expectation was strange that I was going to scale anything meaningful in that [...] they're not closed networks on Facebook, but it definitely doesn't have the same dynamic as Twitter where there's more of a meritocracy in content. If you can start to get some traction, that thing can really go viral to a way more aggressive extent than on Facebook.”
So Jack played into the viral nature of Twitter with the designs he was creating for Visualize Value:
“[I] started posting images over there [Twitter] tagging the people that had coined the ideas originally.
“Even a like from an account that has 700,000 followers is putting 1000 more eyeballs on every post. And then, yeah, I think the consistency in the visual played into that [Jack’s designs all feature white typography and geometry on a black background].
“So you give people something to expect. And there's this imprint happening where it's like, people start to recognize the constraint that you've applied.
“I don't have any proof for this but my gut is, people start to recognize it, you see one and you're like, ‘oh, that's an interesting way to interpret this. I'm going to follow that account.’
“I think there's like a real nuanced idea here where, what's the difference between someone deciding to like or amplify something versus follow something?
“I think what's implied with Visualize Value is you're going to keep getting these. You know, it's not like an account that writes [a] funny joke that gets 200,000 likes and then that account just disappears into the ether.
“This stands for something, we're gonna keep publishing stuff like this. So I think that helped.”
There lies the difference between Jack’s account and the typical Twitter user. Jack posts consistent content, consistently.
By doing this he’s become someone you want to seek out, rather than a name you occasionally see pop up in the feed.
In a similar way to how he got eyeballs on his content by tagging influencers, Jack also tapped into the Visualize Value community:
“I just started borrowing the Visualize Value traffic to grow my personal account. So the idea was, let's start a feedback loop where ideas that I want to visualize I'll write and then I'll retweet those to the Visualise Value audience. [If] they get some traction then they're worth visualizing. So you have this little flywheel going on.
“The one other thing I would say was a big catalyst was when I started to develop the products. Just being incredibly transparent about what was going on there. So what the material was going to be inside that, how the pre-sales looked—just laying everything out.
“I think that behavior has become very commonplace at this point. So maybe there was like a vacuum that was sucking interest in. I don't think those things get the same reception as they do before. And I think the way your account is viewed at different sizes also really changes the context of what you're posting. So I think the climb up to a certain size, some of the editorial direction was more appropriate [then] than it is now.”
There’s a lot to be said for the phrase: ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’. Certainly, if you’ve hit upon a good thing, it makes sense to milk it. But not to the point where it goes stale.
When it comes to Twitter, what gets you to your first 100,000 followers isn’t necessarily what will get you to 200,000 followers. And Jack’s point about the editorial content he was posting in growing his following being more appropriate then than it is now is an important one.
To attract people who are interested and engaged in what you create, you have to evolve. This is Jack’s next creative challenge for Visualize Value:
“We could stay on the same trajectory, just sticking to the same stuff. But there's some creative fatigue in doing the same thing over and over again. I think the idea is big enough to hold a lot of different executions, right?
“If your objective is to make complicated things simple, then you have a lot of creative agency within that remit to do interesting stuff.”
And Jack’s advice for making the most of that creative agency?
Listening to your creative impulses:
“There really is some layer of resonance that gets unlocked when you are truly excited and curious, and not doing something for the sake of getting a retweet from X.
“It sounds cliche, but it's absolutely true. It's like when you write something that just pops in your head and just be like, ‘I've got to share that’, it will do 100-times better than this really calculated, ‘let me swap out every word and look at the thesaurus for this, this and this.’
“I think it's one of the reasons why you see platforms like TikTok just explode. Because there's just so little friction between, I guess, who someone actually is or them expressing themselves in multiple senses and the people that are watching that. So I think that, again, cliche, it's like the authenticity translates into not just what you're saying and how you present yourself, but the stuff you're making too. People can tell if it is this contrived, tactical attempt to manipulate somebody into doing something versus this person's having a good time, I want to have that as part of my experience on a daily basis.
“Your upside is way higher in trying new things, experimenting with new things. Come up with some new paradigm, new idea that six months down the road, there's 1,000 accounts copying you.”
Be consistent in the look and feel of your social presence, but don’t be afraid of spontaneity. Embrace your creativity. Amuse yourself.
The worst that can happen is that a tweet gets no likes. But isn’t that only where you’d be headed by following the path of oversaturation anyway?
When Jack started creating visuals for Twitter and Instagram, he never set out to monetize them directly. They were used as a way to tell people about a product in an interesting way.
But then NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) came along.
NFTs are the digital answer to collectibles—things that are unique and cannot easily be exchanged for something else.
For example, in the “real” world you could exchange two $10 bills for one $20 bill and the value is the same. But you could never swap two Mona Lisa prints for the actual Mona Lisa because it’s one of a kind.
In the digital world, rather than purchasing a collectible and having the physical object in your house, your ownership takes the form of an NFT. And that NFT, like an original work of art, is a one-off. It can’t be swapped like for like.
And for the people that pay the Ethereum equivalent of six figures in dollars for Jack’s work, they now own an original Jack Butcher:
“I think what the NFT market is doing for people who are creating, or creating things, or creating art that people love to consume is, it does create this very direct opportunity to get paid for making the thing as opposed to, you know, you have to be a marketing genius and make this thing that then goes down a funnel and leads you to this other product. And then you get on the phone. And there's like some sales process happening.
“So it shifts the priorities of the creator. And again, it's so early and bubbly and frothy at the moment that we don't know how it's all gonna shake out. But I think in an ideal world, the way it would shake out is people could just spend that time making art and get paid for that art, as opposed to, you know, posting 100 pictures so a Fortune 500 company will come and give you a commission to do a billboard for some sugar water or something like that. I don't think any artist wants to spend their time that way. But that's just the commercial reality of making your way as an artist.”
The world of digital art is also changing the way artists can gain exposure for their work:
“Digital art does offer a lot of different ways to experience it as well. The guy that bought that Beeple for $69 million commissioned an architect to build a museum in VR and he's displayed the work in that thing. And anybody can throw [a] headset on and go and view it.
“I think what being immersed in that world for the last couple of months has taught me is, these guys are just on a different level in how invested they are in changing the way things are done. So it's an exciting world.”
If you’re a creator sharing your work on the internet, the world of NFTs is worth learning more about.
Hey, if a GIF of Nyan Cat can sell for more than $500,000, nothing is stopping your tokenized work from being a success.
A brand community is a place where people who like your brand can connect with your brand and each other.
Often, the success of a community is centered around how well the brand connects with its fans or members in terms of providing them with content.
For Jack, however, a community is at its best when it’s bringing people together:
“The real value is the cross networking within the community. Like you can put on events and you can post videos and it's very, like, you have to attract people with something like that, right? You're going to come in and there's going to be 1000 videos for you to watch. But in reality, most people aren't going to come in and watch 100 hours of archived content.
“What's really valuable is [...] maybe I don't have a lot of technology people in my network, but I'm really interested in technology, or maybe I'm a designer and I really want to work in crypto and I don't know any developers that have that interest or that ability.
“What I'm starting to realize is Visualize Value just aggregates a certain type of person. It's like everybody that coalesces around this idea values similar things, right? Whether it's like technology, or entrepreneurship, or self-organization, whatever you want to call it. There's this filter that just brings people together that already have quite a lot in common. But then there's loads of nuance underneath that, like where they are, or the specific experience they have. Everybody is very individual underneath that banner.
“So the real utility and value, I think, is better connecting people within that community.
“That's the focus in the community now. It’s how do we just get people connected to one another? The community actually, I think, the real measure of it is how well does it function if I do nothing? That's a community. Otherwise, it's just a broadcast.
“Twitter is not necessarily a community, right? It's just like, here's a speakerphone and I'm just shouting out. I might engage with people underneath, but it's not really an environment where people will connect with one another around that. So [I’m] just trying to build an environment that encourages that.”
A successful community is one that doesn’t go quiet when you step out of the room. Focus on connecting people, not broadcasting to them.
Maker Mixtapes is a podcast about the entrepreneurs, creators, and marketers building impressive things in their field. From content marketing to YouTube and growth, agency life to e-commerce and SaaS, this podcast aims to dissect and share lessons from their success.
To listen to Jack chatting about all things Visualize Value, Twitter, and NFTs, as well as other episodes from the brightest minds in tech and business, check out Maker Mixtapes on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.
Founder & CEO, Grizzle
Founder, Visualize Value