From Fund Manager to LinkedIn’s Premier Finance Influencer – How Sahil Bloom Built His Personal Brand

Who is Sahil Bloom?

Sahil Bloom’s journey began at Stanford.

Starting as the pitcher for Stanford’s baseball team, he later emerged as LinkedIn’s most sought-after finance educator – a truly unlikely twist.

During his time at Stanford, Sahil led the Stanford Baseball Team to two regional championships and top-5 rankings. He was a two-time winner of the Bruce Cameron Memorial Award, an honor bestowed annually to a Stanford student-athlete who best showcases brilliance in athletics, academics, and leadership.

After his Stanford years, Sahil dedicated seven years to managing a large investment fund, where he handled >$3.5 billion in capital and served on the boards of four consumer industry companies, including Fox Racing and Brixton. He has also privately invested in over 30 companies.

The most intriguing entry in his resume to date involves his 280,000+ LinkedIn following and 400,000+ newsletter subscribers All united with a common goal of gaining financial knowledge.

Joining The LinkedIn Arena

When the pandemic struck, Sahil found that he didn’t have to devote time to travel for meetings, which left him with more free time. However, he couldn’t pinpoint exactly how to use it.

Upon noticing that many were confused about the state of finance, business, & markets, Sahil saw that they had limited options for guidance. Their choices ranged from Tiktokers encouraging risky investments to institutions issuing incomprehensible reports filled with jargon.

Identifying an opportunity, Sahil chose to steer a middle course between these extremes, aiming to be the ‘Toyota Camry’ of financial insights – conveying complex financial matters in a comprehensible manner.

In May 2020, when he crafted his first post, Sahil only had 500 followers on LinkedIn. After considerable efforts and shares by notable individuals like Mark Cuban, his popularity surged. Hundreds of posts and 200,000+ words later, his following had swollen to 280,000+.

5 Key Concepts

Sahil’s content creation and audience engagement methods set him apart from many creators.

Here are 5 key ideas and strategies you can learn from Sahil to build your own engaged and valuable LinkedIn network:

#1 The Power of Community

“The opportunities in my inbox have been immeasurable.”

Sahil, like many others, holds that the network built during your university years can be more valuable than the actual education.

Such a network extends beyond your closest circle of friends. Even the mere association with the same university can help establish valuable connections over time.

LinkedIn and other virtual communities provide similar value. You can create and nurture meaningful relationships with individuals you’ve never met in person, paving the way for remarkable opportunities over time.

For this reason, Sahil always keeps his profile and messaging open.

#2 The Significance of Writing

“Reading and writing are the keys to growth.”

Sahil has always enjoyed narrating intricate tales but didn’t consider himself a writer. Now he channels his storytelling into his writing.

He views writing and storytelling as essential life skills. It helps him think more lucidly and uncover any shortcomings in his thought process.

“The amount I learned about investing by writing about investing was insane.”

He began his writing journey with a monthly newsletter that he sent to his close circle. He is an avid reader (4 – 5 books a month), and he would summarise his learnings in his newsletter.

He continues to do this on LinkedIn, sharing his learnings in simple terms to enhance his understanding of a subject. He sees himself as a student, learning along with his audience.

Sahil never envisaged becoming a writer or deriving value from a creative process. His creativity in writing, however, is what now sets him apart as an investor.

#3 Audience Trust is Key

“It takes 1000 days to build that trust and 1 day to lose it.”

Sahil frequently discusses the importance of building trust with your audience. It takes considerable time to establish and is easily destroyed.

He utilises a few strategies to build this trust:

  1. Deliver value before expecting to receive it.
  2. Consistency is key, keep showing up.
  3. Establish authority in a specific domain first.

For a lengthy period, Sahil only posted a few times a week. These were mainly discussions on foundational knowledge related to finance.

#4 Audience Engagement Yields Tremendous Opportunities

Writing and audience-building come with numerous benefits. It brings Sahil business opportunities and introduces him to a variety of interesting individuals.

“Building an audience can give you remarkable leverage.”

#5 Finance is Fundamental

Sahil believes that understanding finance is a fundamental life skill.

People aspire to support their families and friends, to provide for their children and offer them a life better than their own. All this comes down to financial wellness.

Define what it means for you, then create a life that matches that definition. Sahil often uses the parable of the fisherman and the investment banker to introduce people to this idea.

“Think about your own personal brand and what problem it’s trying to solve.”

Grow Your Brand Using Sahil’s Model

#1 The Sahil Bloom Content Flywheel

Sahil publishes more than 100,000 words a year, with even more remaining unpublished. Here’s a look at the engine behind his content creation.

Firstly, he categorises his content into two main buckets:

  1. Education – Mental models, finance, business & decision-making frameworks.
  2. Stories – Wiki style narratives about interesting historical figures or business leaders who are relatively unknown.

He doesn’t stick to a content calendar.

Much of his work happens in real time. For instance, he penned a widely-read post on GameStop when the story hit the news.

Rather than just adding to the news cycle with commentary on current events, Sahil adds value by explaining the reasoning behind the headlines.

The secret here is that you already know people are interested because the topic is in the news and being discussed on social media.

This approach gives Sahil around 10 content ideas a day. He records these ideas as they occur, using tools like Notion. At any given time, he has hundreds of ideas ready to be developed.

He then tests these ideas by engaging in LinkedIn comments. For example, if a post about network effects goes viral, he will comment ‘time for network effects 101?’. If that comment gets a lot of likes, he knows it’s a good topic for content.

He applies the same approach to ideas about people. He maintains a list of individuals he finds interesting to write about and who are not widely known. He acknowledges that a post about Elon Musk would likely gain traction, but that wouldn’t be interesting for him to write about.

These posts then become newsletters, which then evolve into podcast episodes.

#2 Creating A LinkedIn “Blog”

After about 15 posts, he realised he was creating a valuable body of knowledge that should be consolidated in a central location. So he started a pinned post that links out to his other posts. It now links to over 100 other posts.

He was inspired by bloggers like Ben Thompson, who inter-link their blogs to create a content ecosystem. Sahil refers to this as creating content loops.

#3 Writing Posts

Writing a post takes between 4 and 8 hours, depending on the amount of research required.

He applies the Feynman Technique for learning and writing. He begins by writing what he knows about a topic, then engages in reading, learning, and researching to fill the gaps in his knowledge.

If he doesn’t think his take is unique, or he isn’t communicating his point effectively, he won’t hit publish until satisfied. This flexibility is a benefit of not adhering to a strict schedule, allowing more time to produce high-quality content.

Before publishing, he drafts his posts and shares them with a friend to ensure there are no obvious gaps in his thinking.

In the saturated realm of LinkedIn posts, quality writing is essential. The introduction needs to be compelling.

It must hook readers and draw them in. Just posting encyclopedic threads doesn’t cut it anymore – they’re no longer valuable and have become a bit of a meme.

#4 Going Viral

To understand what works and what appeals to a specific community, you need to spend time on the platform and observe what others are doing.

Sahil spent hundreds of hours testing and learning, figuring out how to write for LinkedIn. He honed his understanding of hooks, style, format, and so on.

Initially, you lack distribution, so you have to hustle for distribution.

Sahil shares his posts as comments on relevant content from others with large audiences, sometimes up to 50 times per post. Each time, 2-3 people share his posts, netting him millions of extra impressions.

#5 Capturing Value

Capturing attention and mindshare is a powerful asset that you can utilise to achieve whatever you want. Sahil refers to this new wave of influencers as the ‘creator capitalists’, meaning you build audiences to gain new opportunities.

Many creators monetize their audience by gating their best content behind a paywall.

While Sahil strongly believes in capturing the value you create, he doesn’t advocate for charging for the content that boosted your popularity.

Instead, he partners with brands that add value for his audience. He runs a job board via his newsletter and capitalizes on the business opportunities his audience brings him.

“If you have an audience, it’s a no brainer for startups to bring you on as an investor, especially if the startup is D2C or the product/service it offers aligns with your audience.”

Startups are increasingly rounding out their capital funding rounds by bringing on ‘creator capitalists’ for brand and product exposure.

However, the ultimate goal is to build equity in businesses like Mr. Beast’s Beast Burgers, fueled by the attention you can generate.

Would you rather have a $10,000 brand sponsorship or $1,000,000 in business equity? Building equity is the smart move.

A Summary

Overall, Sahil Bloom’s transition from a Stanford graduate to one of the most influential voices in finance on LinkedIn offers a comprehensive blueprint for audience building on digital platforms.

His strategies emphasise the power of creating educational content, weaving engaging stories, fostering trust, and maintaining consistency. These methods have not only nurtured a highly engaged community but have also positioned Bloom as a trusted financial educator on LinkedIn.

Moreover, his innovative approach to capturing value underscores how one can monetize their digital presence beyond traditional methods.

By aligning with brands that add value for his audience and capitalising on business opportunities that come his way, he has demonstrated a sustainable monetization model for content creators.

Bloom’s LinkedIn success serves as a testament to the transformative power of high-quality content, trust-building, and strategic monetisation in the digital age.

As always, remember that building a personal brand is not an overnight task. It takes time, effort, and perseverance. But with the right strategy and mindset, you can become the next big personal brand in your chosen field.

With me by your side to guide you through the process you’ll reach your personal brand goals in no time.

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