🐧 Building a content engine

INSIDE: Notion Web Clipper, Swipe File, Content Matrix, Anatomy of a Post
February 18, 2024

If you want to grow your side hustle, this edition is for you.

Today, in 10 minutes or less, you'll learn:

  • What is Your Content Engine?
  • Capture Inspiration
  • Brainstorm Ideas
  • Write and Publish
  • Brainstorm Ideas


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In my 2022 filing, they helped me claim the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, Foreign Tax Credits, the Foreign Housing Exclusion, and more. ⚡

Aside from being easy and efficient, they even helped me get a tax refund worth thousands of dollars! (your mileage may vary)

That’s why it was a no-brainer to choose Stephen’s team again for my 2023 tax filing. 🚀 

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⚙️ Building a content engine

Many side hustlers I talk to struggle with generating leads.

They picked a growth channel. Now they want to attract attention for their potential clients and start building trust.

But they have no idea how to get started.

🤔 What is Your Content Engine?

In order to leverage your growth channel, you need to produce content.

But I see too many people bang their head against the wall trying to fill up a blank page (myself included).

Instead, use a systematic approach to generate ideas.

Here is the 3-part content engine:

  1. Capture inspiration from various sources
  2. Ideate on topics to write about
  3. Write and publish on your growth channel

💥 Capture Inspiration

The online world is full of ideas, resources, articles, videos, Tweets, etc that can serve as useful sources of inspiration.

In particular, research the content for leaders in your niche. What are they writing or talking about that you admire?

Collect these artifacts in a Swipe File for your future reference. (I use Notion for this.)

Use the Notion Web Clipper to save online articles to your Swipe File.

For example:

Ramit Sethi is one of the top leaders in my niche of money & entrepreneurship.

I’ve learned several lessons from how he approaches his content.

I also follow relevant writers like Morgan Housel and communities like r/FatFire and r/Expats.

Action Items

  • Find 5 people who already have the attention of your potential clients in your selected channel.
  • Save their content to your Swipe File

🧠 Brainstorm Ideas

Use a Content Matrix to ideate new post ideas.

Matrix Dimensions

  • Topic
  • Format

Generate ideas at the intersection of Topic (e.g. Investing) and Format (e.g. Actionable Tips) to execute idea generation.

Use your Swipe File as a source of inspiration as you’re brainstorming.


  • Listicals
  • Frameworks
  • Actionable Tips
  • Personal Stories
  • Other People’s Stories

Note: If you’re struggling with writing stories, Youtube Coach Tim Schmoyer’s 7-Question Model is my favorite storytelling framework:

Action Items

  • Choose your topics and formats
  • Brainstorm 10 ideas that you can write about using the Content Matrix

✍️ Write and Publish

Choose a topic you want to write about from your Content Matrix.

For beginners, I would suggest starting with educational posts to build credibility and trust with your potential clients.

Next, I want to share the Anatomy of a Post:

  • Hook
  • Context
  • Body
  • Call to Action

Here’s how these parts map to a recent post from Sahil Bloom as an example.

Note: This structure will vary based on your channel, but is roughly applicable across channels.

Now let’s get down to writing your own post.


Spend the majority of your time here.

Without a great hook, no one will read your post.

A great compilation of hooks is Neal O’Grady’s Hook Vault.


Transition between your hook and your body. Sets up additional context.


“Here are 6 lesson I learned from their journey”


The heart of your post.


  • List of my lessons
  • Continuation of a story I told in the hook
  • Explanation of a framework

Call to Action

Ask your reader to do something.


  • Like
  • Share
  • Comment
  • Sign up for your newsletter

Action Item

  • Write a full post for your #1 idea that you brainstormed with a hook, context, body, and call-to-action

📌 Summary

  • Content engine has 3 parts: collect inspiration, ideate, write and publish
  • Create a Swipe File and use Notion Web Clipper to save online articles to your collection
  • Ideate using a Content Matrix
  • Write posts using the Anatomy of the Post: Hook, Context, Body, and Call to Action

🌐 Beyond your borders

📱 Oldie but goodie: Early Retirement Calculator. Notice how increasing your savings rate results in exponentially lower retirement age. If your goal is financial independence, then increasing savings (and earning power) is more impactful than tweaking investment returns (link)

🇸🇬 r/SingaporeFI money nerds are getting heated over this debate: VWRA (All World) vs VOO (S&P 500) ETFs. Which side are you on? (link)

🏠️ r/FatFIRE guy wasted $200k renovating his home and hates the result. Entertaining thread. Surprisingly learned a few things about remodeling (link)

🛠️ Get interviews with successful side hustlers. 5 min read every week from The Five to Nine Formula (link)*

*this is a sponsored link

📆 How I can help

That’s all for today!

Whenever you’re ready, here’s how I can help you:

1. Join the Remote Side Hustle program - Get first dips when the next cohort opens up in Spring 2024 (last cohort sold out).

2. Work with my tax team - Get personalized guidance from a US expat tax professional.

3. Sponsor this newsletter - Get in front of over 5,000 professionals and business owners in the US and Singapore.

For daily insights, follow me on X (@dexteryz) or Linkedin.

Join my Free 5-Day Side Hustle Crash Course

In this free course, I'll help you step-by-step to setup your side hustle for success.

Get the lessons that helped me earn 5-figures annually on the side anddiversify my income.

Dexter Zhuang

Dexter is the founder of Money Abroad, a website and newsletter on building wealth for global professionals. Over the last 10 years, he's been a product leader, product manager, consultant and coach at companies like Dropbox, Xendit, and growth-stage startups across the US, Asia Pacific, and Latin America. His work has been featured in global publications like Business Insider, CBS, US News & World Report, and Tech in Asia. He graduated from Dartmouth College.

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