Case Study: World Builders by Nathan Baugh

World Builders exists at the intersection of business, tech, and storytelling

Nathan Baugh has a unique background in tech, engineering, and storytelling. He’s using this combination of skills to reverse engineer storytelling successes in the world of business. His goal is to show how some companies and entrepeneurs are able to authentically connect with consumers and build loyalty, fandom, and community while helping readers level up their own storytelling.

While completing a degree in engineering, Nathan, over the course of a year and half, wrote a fantasy fiction novel. From there, he taught himself the mechanics of storytelling to better understand how writers, like Game of Thrones author George R. R. Martin, build enthralling worlds.

These days, his writing takes place on Twitter and in his newly launched ‘World Builders’ newsletter. Each edition of the weekly newsletter examines how a company or a leader/founder cut through the noise to tell the story of their product. Whether it’s Steve Jobs, who once said “The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller”, an in-depth analysis of the psychology of the hero’s journey, or how Michael Jordan is able to retain the title GOAT, World Builders is “the newsletter to make you a better storyteller.”

For many readers, that means becoming a better salesperson, entrepreneur, marketer, etc. Nathan is adept at taking a vague concept, providing tactical examples of brands and creators who are doing it super well, and explaining how to make it a repeatedable process. We chatted with him about the difference between world building and storytelling, why Twitter threads are the gateway to newsletters, and how beehiiv supports newsletter writers on all fronts.

The Newsletter: World Builders

Writers: Nathan Baugh

Top posts to check out

2022 Goals

My goal this year is to reach 50,000 subs and a 50% open rate with a 10%+ click thru rate.

Advice for other writers

Nail your call to action -- why someone should open up their crowded inbox to your specific newsletter.

Favorite beehiiv feature

Pollinate is an effective tool, the customization is great, and I love how fast the team ships product improvements. Generally, I appreciate that they have the best interest of the creator and intuitively know what we most need support on -- growth & monetization -- and build tools to make those easier.

Previous newsletter platform and why you switched

On my first newsletter, my co-founders and I launched it on Mailer Lite. The two biggest issues we ran into were a lack of referral program capability and limited customization of design.

Advice for anyone considering a switch to beehiiv

It’s a great option. If you want to be able to plan your newsletter, and have very full customization, beehiiv really works well. When your newsletter looks clean and polished, it's great for engagement.

Tell me about World Builders

World Builders exists at the intersection of business, tech, and storytelling. I have a background in engineering and have worked as a tech consultant. I also love fantasy fiction and taught myself to write in the process of writing a novel and studying how to structure writing to get across broader, deeper points. It’s a unique background and the newsletter is how I am pursuing what I am really interested in.

How can companies employ storytelling effectively?

I like to separate World Building and Storytelling into two separate things. World Building, to me, is the actual structure that a company will put around itself. Beehiiv, at its core is the newsletter product, an email service platform. That’s its core competency. At the same time, it is creating a world around newsletter writers and companies that use beehiiv. They are saying we’re going to help you with growth with the referral system, we’re going to help you in the future with monetization, we’re going to help you on the content side, we make it super easy to design your newsletter/customize it, etc. What we’re doing right now, highlighting creators on the platform to exemplify how beehiiv is utilized for potential converts, that’s a win-win for everyone and I would consider it a way to storytell for the brand. It’s a way to show that beehiiv puts the customer at the center of their mission and that the customer is the hero of story.

Shopify is another great example, they offer a ton of resources and events designed to support e-commerce entrepreneurs, including business courses and social opportunities. Anyone who wants to launch an e-commerce brand can learn so much and Shopify can then be like, oh by the way, this is a great platform to sell your product.

What kind of stories are you interested in?

A story requires tension at every step, the best stories are the one that are hard to stop watching or reading, there’s a high level of inner emotion or physical danger going on. A really good story will have a larger impact than just the immediate story. Everyone knows Steve Jobs is one of the best entrepreneurs out there. I looked at how he told stories. His first stint at Apple, he objectively failed to tell the story. The products were great, but they didn’t connect with people. In 1986, he buys Pixar and spends about a decade there. He is way more hands offs at Pixar than he ever was at Apple, he appreciated that time because he effectively learned to tell stories at Pixar, he intentionally learned those skills. And he brought them to his second stint at Apple, he applied storytelling to launch three products to billions of users.

What about these rise in podcasts and tv shows about the downfall of CEOs, why are these stories so compelling?

Storytelling and products are two separate things. There are founders, like Elizabeth Holmes and Adam Neumann, who nail the storytelling but have a product that was so far behind. For the storytelling to be effective and to not be a complete fraud, you need to have product competency as well. There’s a good amount to be learned from them and I’m sure I’ll cover some of them down the line. Steve Jobs had Steve Wozniak to be the other side of the coin, to focus on product. There’s a great quote from the Steve Jobs Biography, “I play the orchestra, and you're a good musician. You sit right there and you're the best in your row.”

What was behind your decision to switch to beehiiv?

I launched World Builders on beehiiv, previously I’d created a newsletter that was launched on Mailer Lite and eventually moved that over to Mailer Lite. I liked what I saw, that the product team is helping newsletter writers actively grow their platform. It speaks to the broader nature of what beehiiv is trying to do. I have a large following on Twitter and it continues to be a driver of growth for World Builders. That beehiiv has a subscribe button integration for Twitter feature, it’s another example of the beehiiv team supporting growth.

Tell me more about Twitter as a tool for growth for World Builders.

Twitter threads are my number one driver for growth. I do one per week, I just crossed 11,000 subscribers and I’d say that Twitter threads are probably responsible for 9,000. A Twitter thread is a great example of a long form opinion, and a newsletter is a natural extension for that. If I follow some who puts out thoughtful stuff, I’m going to want to read more about them. Newsletters are the natural next step.

Where do you turn for inspiration?

I read Steven King’s On Writing every couple of years. I’m constantly reading and listening to podcasts. I have a Notion Board with ideas I want to explore. If I’m reading or listening to something and there’s something I found and want to explore later on, I’ll make a note on where I found it.

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