These last two weeks have been some of the darkest in recent history for me and many others.
After 75 consecutive weeks of writing this newsie, I had to skip last week to care for those close to me impacted by the horrendous terror attacks in Israel. My brain just wasn’t here.
I spent four years of my life working and living in Israel, met my wife there, and have my in-laws and hundreds of friends still living there.
It’s my home.
Things are still not okay, and I certainly can’t make believe they are.
I wanted to share with you Casey Neistat’s thoughts on the current events, as I feel like I am still somewhat lost for words of my own.
In an effort to get some more time to process all of this and continue to be there for my friends and family, I brought a great writer and friend to guest-lecture our class this week.
Class, meet Jason Levin.
Jason, it’s all yours.
Hi, I am Jason, the author of Memes Make Millions, a book full of interviews and case studies featuring memelords making serious money from funny memes.
Today, I wanted to talk all about meme marketing:
How can brands and creators use memes to make money and make their audience love them?
Before we get into it, I wanted to shout out Insense for sponsoring this week’s newsie.
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Why Memes Make Millions
“Most businesses get zero distribution channels to work: poor sales rather than bad product is the most common cause of failure. If you can get just one distribution channel to work, you have a great business.” - Peter Thiel
In a world of no-code apps and website builders, it’s increasingly easy to launch a product.
At the same time, in a world where everyone is making content, it’s increasingly harder to get your products the attention they deserve.
Enter meme marketing.
Companies have been doing humor-based marketing for hundreds of years. We’ve all seen funny advertisements during the Super Bowl, on billboards, or whatever. Doritos commercials are legendary, right? Well, memes are just the latest form of humor-based marketing.
Memes get attention online, and attention equals dollars.
Seven hundred years ago, the funniest person in a medieval town would become the King’s jester. It’d be quite the honor, but if you told a joke the king didn’t like, then you’d get your head chopped off. And it certainly didn’t pay the big bucks.
Fast-forward to the 1900s, and you could become a cartoonist or a comedian. That’s when monkey business first started to become big money business. Jerry Seinfeld is almost a billionaire. Same with Larry David. Having a great sense of humor became more valuable as media became more universal.
Enter the internet. Same trend, whole new level.
MrBeast is rumored to be on track to become the first billionaire YouTuber. Joe Rogan inked a $200M+ deal with Spotify. Even Elon Musk is posting dank memes and dick jokes.
Funny gets attention, and attention gets dollars. It’s as simple as that. There’s a lot of money in being funny on the internet. And that’s the point of my book.
You see goofy meme accounts pop up on Instagram and think nothing of it. No one realizes that some of them are making millions. It’s a subtle reminder not to underestimate the jester, because he may be a king in disguise.
Let me tell you about one of them, and a few of his strategies you can steal.
Litquidity: Everyone’s Favorite Finance Memelord
No one knows who Litquidity is, but the finance world loves his dank memes.
Known simply as “Lit” to his business associates, he is the incontestable king of the finance memelords. A quick walk through the Financial District in New York will lead you to see at least one of his brand’s signature hats or t-shirts. And you can be sure that any investment banker or hedge fund bro is familiar with Litquidity’s content.
“Litquidity’s viral posts are comedic cocaine to banking executives and trading floor interns, hoovered up by those who love Wall Street and those who love to hate it,” wrote Madison Darbyshire wrote in her profile on Litquidity for The Financial Times.
Lit is an ex-banker and used memes and witty observations on the market to grow his audience to 1M+ followers across platforms. “My vision is building out a Barstool Sports, but focused on Finance,” he told Fast Company.
There’s no doubt he’s done it. And although he keeps his financial success private, there’s no way to mistake it—Litquidity runs an empire, including:
A merch shop with satirical finance clothes. His clothes can be spotted across NYC, featuring defunct institutions like Lehman Brothers, Silicon Valley Bank, and Debit Suisse. And oh yes, he even has a Country Club line of hats, crewnecks, and mugs.
A venture fund called Litquidity Capital. Litquidity invests in early-stage startups at the pre-seed, seed, and Series A stages focused around fintech, consumer, and digital media. He’s been a co-investor alongside the best of the best from Andreessen Horowitz to Founders Fund and Y Combinator.
A daily finance newsletter called Exec Sum with 250,000+ subscribers. I ran the numbers—and at a 50% open rate and $10 cost-per-thousand, Exec Sum would be making $1,250 per day. This does not include sponsored links or paid subscriptions. Exec Sum money printer go brrrrrr.
A recruiting agency called Litney Partners. No idea about financials.
A content agency that provides content and Memes as a Service. There’s no way to know how much Lit is making from his agency. In my experience as a ghostwriter/memelord for startups, it’s very normal to be paid $3-5k/month for content. So it really depends on how many clients he has and the margins.
All of this money starting from a meme page. Crazy, right?
Hey, that’s why I called my book Memes Make Millions.
So, how do you make millions from memes? And develop a customer base of superfans?
Steal Litquidity’s Strategies
Don’t be afraid to post niche memes.
No matter what your niche is—finance or hamsters—there’s a community that needs your dank memes. Seriously, the Reddit community r/hamsters has 114,000 people on it alone.
The internet is so big there’s a community out there for any niche. And as the saying goes, there’s riches in the niches. Sure, some people won’t get it, but you’ll hit your target audience and they’ll love you for it. Be loyal to your audience and they’ll be loyal right back.
Lean into mystery, legend, and lore.
No one knows who “Lit” is. My friend Jack writes for Lit’s newsletter and doesn’t even know Lit’s real name. Lit is like some kind of comic book hero. He’s more than a man; he’s an idea.
You can do the same thing. If you have a brand page or want to start a 2nd account, consider building a legend around yourself and staying anonymous.
Meme The Current Thing.
If there were one rule to unite all memelords, it would be: capitalize on the current thing.
The public’s attention shifts like Charlie Sheen checking in and out of rehab programs. Remember him? Oh yeah, it’s been a while since he was The Current Thing.
See, with the rise of the 24-hour news cycle, there’s always a new current thing. And whatever The Current Thing is, people can’t get enough of it. Make memes about the current thing to hack trends and bring attention to your brand.
People like brands who’ve got something to say about current events, so say it! Take a stand and be willing to speak—or meme—your mind.
That’s it for this week!
Any topics you'd like to see me cover in the future?
Just shoot me a DM or an email!