Over the years I’ve rubbed shoulders and worked with a number of insanely successful YouTubers. This group of people fascinate me. Both in terms of the success they’ve achieved, and in some cases with the way YouTube ended up turning them into completely awful people. Haha. Like even bigger diva’s than the film stars I’ve interacted with.
Regardless, I can’t deny the jealousy sandwiches I’ve eaten on occasion being around these super special fancy pantsed YouTube folks. As I’ve mentioned previously, it can be a difficult endeavor to be in the presence of someone that is living the life you’ve dreamt for yourself, but have been unable to achieve.
The ideology of being able to live off of what I’m most passionate about (music, film, and helping people) is a disease I’ve been infected with for a very long time, way before YouTube existed. The trouble is I was ill equipped to close the gap and turn that desire and determination into results. I’ve created an unbelievable amount of stuff over the years. If you missed that one, I wrote an entire essay on some of my crazy ideas and how I lost $20,000 on one dumb idea.
Yes, That Mindset Stuff Again
Well, simply put, I wasn’t who I am now. “I Will Thrive” is my life now. It’s who I am. I’ll find a way to get the results I desire, no matter what it takes! It may seem over the top, but I’ve completely immersed myself in the “I Will Thrive” mentality. I’ve made t-shirts, stickers, posters, and song playlists.
I’ve blasted that message in every direction of my life. In my head, and physically around me in every way I can think of. I named my blog/podcast/YouTube project the same name! Wink wink. I have over thirty years of faulty wiring to overcome. The crappy default ways of thinking about myself that are severely limiting and untrue, they’ve got to get out and be kicked to the freaking curb.
The most interesting part of this is when you start changing your mindset, things start happening. You start seeing things you would have missed otherwise. It’s uncanny.
I have to admit I thought the law of attraction stuff was a little cheesy when I was first exposed to it about a year ago. Especially after watching the film, The Secret. I laughed out loud a few times because of how over-dramatized several moments of that production were. I highly considered finding a pirated version of the movie so I could create my own edit of the moments I liked, and also a version I could share with my wife. She wouldn’t last through 5 minutes of the hyper-drama stuff.
Even then, the day after watching it, I made a visualization board for myself, and I started implementing some of the ideas I liked. Seeing your future self as if you had already attained your dreams made sense to me. Being more mindfully grateful seemed like a good idea too.
The Pandemic / Get Creating!
Then, 2020 brought the pandemic, I was laid off from my day job, and I resolved to create businesses to attempt to never return to the corporate world again. As a quick side note, those of you that have lost your jobs be careful about how you phrase things. The other day I missed an important word in a Facebook post:
Seconds later I got this text:
Haha. I was laid… OFF on April 1st, 2020. I took a solid month off and just spent time with my family. Our fifth child had only been born three days earlier, and we were still trying to wrap our heads around all of the changes in our lives because of the pandemic. By-the-way, dear companies of the world – please find a way to terminate your employees on any other day of the year, except for April 1st. Pretty much the worst day in the history of mankind to do anything actually serious to people.
After the nice time with the family, I really started to have an itch to get back to doing something creative. Previously, I always managed to find time for writing scripts, music, or YouTube projects, and I needed to get back at it. The very first thing I did was shoot a music video with my son Abe.
He’s a talented little bloke. He was born an entertainer. I don’t know exactly how we landed on it, but I produced the music and recorded him singing a cover of Olaf’s “When I Am Older” song, from Frozen 2. We uploaded the video to the strange land of YouTube, told some friends and family, and that was it. It was way fun, and something I always wanted to do with Abe.
That video, like hundreds of others I’ve uploaded, and I mean hundreds – didn’t gain an overabundance of traction. YouTube is such a strange place. I’ve seen amazingly talented people get nowhere after years and years of posting, and then we’ve all seen the videos that explode and we question why in the love nut butter sauce anyone would waste their time watching something like that.
With my first video release after the lay-off, trying hard to step back and be as objective as possible, I really thought this video turned out great. It’s at least as well produced as some of the stuff I’ve seen explode in the kids music genre.
Are you wanting me to get to the point by now? The context and backstory of all of this really makes it all the more weird and interesting, so calm the heck right down. I’m getting there. 🙂
Persistence Pays Off On YouTube, Right?
I know like anything, sometimes you just have to be persistent. The odds of putting up a video and having it explode are stupid rare. It can take years to build up a following for anything. The thing is I’ve done that too.
To illustrate where I’m coming from: I’ve been posting videos on YouTube for a decade. Holy crap, I had to look – but it has seriously been a decade. Most of the videos have either been in the comedy or music space. I’ve always known the odds of having a hit video, but you try to be a hopeful creative person and keep thinking that someday something you’ve done will reach people.
In that decade, between Facebook and YouTube I’ve spent $9,578.76 on one thing. Any guesses? Every dime was spent trying to get my videos out to new fans to try and build up an audience. I know over ten years that doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you have a mortgage and new children popping up into existence faster than…. things that pop up really fast, any amount of money spent on extra stuff is serious. I’ve really worked and hoped that one of my projects could take off so I could make creative work my life.
In all the years, and after all the content, until the past couple weeks – I’ve only ever had one video that had some organic reach. It was from a comedy project I’ve been working on for 9 years with a homie – called The Fatty and Chubs Show. That video is all about two buddies joking around and trying to get in better shape, while trying DDP Yoga on camera. Within a day of uploading it, I could tell it has some organic reach that I’d never seen before. It was fun to see, and it’s still cool three years later that people are watching it, laughing, and seeing some value in what we did.
Yet, the Fatty and Chubs YouTube channel hasn’t even crossed the coveted threshold of 1000 subscribers yet. After 9 years of work, we still haven’t really reached many people, and our most engaging “fat guys doing yoga” video, as of today only has 53k views. While I do think it would have been cool to have seen more reach with this channel, I wouldn’t change a thing because the channel has given me more opportunities to do something fun and creative with a couple of my best friends. Also – in all fairness, we have definitely lacked the consistency that is vital to success on YouTube.
Enter Prioritize Your Life
So, back to getting canned and what I did: First was the video with Abe, uploaded on May 2nd. The next thing I produced was a video that if you would have asked me a few months prior if it would be something I would ever do, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. It is not comedy. It is not a music video. This goes right back again to seeing things differently when you change your mindset. I had a crazy experience and the universe lined up for me to produce a video sharing someone else’s story.
Scott Drummond, a great man and neighbor of mine was out on a nearby river trail one morning. We had a discussion which led us to work towards sharing his story. I stepped into the shoes of an interviewer, which I had never done before. I won’t go into any more details here as you can check out that channel if you want the full backstory.
I created a brand new channel so his story could have a home. The name of the channel was something that lined up in a crazy way too. A few months before I was laid off I really started thinking about my life and my family. I really don’t want to get to the end of this awesome ride of life and regret anything. While I know what I want to achieve and what’s most important, I can’t say I’ve ever really written it down in a digestible way. So I created an article that I called PYL, meaning Prioritize Your Life.
It ended up being a life plan of sorts. It really makes sense. How can we stay on track with building our lives if we don’t have a legit blueprint. I’ve already shared the “Financial Health” section of my life plan on a previous post.
So, I had the thought – “I should just call this thing Prioritize Your Life.” Scott’s story was a moment in his life where everything shifted and he started truly putting his family first in his life.
We shot the video, I edited it up, and we launched the story on May 27th, 2020. This is where things get very interesting as far as the mechanics of YouTube is concerned, as well as the idea that if you create content that is truly compelling it will reach people.
The very first day the video received 2,387 views. I was surprised as I had done nothing to tell anyone about the video. I later found out that Scott’s wife had shared it with some family and friends on Facebook. Even then, for me 2000 views in a day was pretty awesome. The next day it jumped up by thousands more, and it just kept growing and growing. As far as I could tell, it was all word of mouth and a little viral goodness that was pushing up the views. As we hit the month mark of releasing the video, we were at just under 50k views.
I was truly astonished. It took 3 three years for my silly fat guys video to get to 53k. I thought for a moment that Scott’s video might be my most viewed ever…until it flatlined. That was it. It was getting a few hundred views a week, but it stayed in the 50k range for 3 months. It was a different and great experience helping Scott. We did impact some lives in that month, and it’s a good feeling putting something into the world that can make a difference. We also pissed some people off, but that’s life.
On September 15th I started thinking about the video and how it was the most successful thing I had ever put out. “If there’s more people out there that need to hear Scott’s message, what can I do to get it out there?” I wondered. Well, haha! I had $2 left in the world that I could spend. I have a Patreon account for the I Will Thrive project and for my music. My awesome patrons support art, and give to my cause – which currently adds up to $50 a month. I have been spending that money every month on marketing and to help build the businesses that I’m hoping will help “save” my family. Also – that will help save my soul’s very existence from exploding into a bajillion pieces if I have to return to a desk job.
I had spent $48 of the $50. So, just like I had done many times before – I jumped into my Google Ads account and I created a campaign to drive people to see Scott’s video. The budget being $2 a day, which I would turn off after a day.
What happened next I still can’t believe to this day. In three days the video had jumped up to 76,425. Woah. I guess my $2 was well spent. But then things really started getting nutty. Two more days passed, and on Sept 20th, we had 150,000 views. Ok, what is going on here?! How was this happening? As I dug in to try and learn where all the traffic was coming form, I found that “browsing features” was the reason for the big bump.
And it wasn’t done. It kept growing exponentially. On September 24th, we crossed over half a million views. On Sunday, Sept 27th the video passed the million mark, along with 10,000 subscribers. I can’t believe it. As of writing this post, the video is currently getting 150,000 views a day. Scott has been talking with people all over the world about his experience, and we continue to inspire and piss people off in higher numbers.
So what in name of Hugh Jackman’s back hair is going on here? Maybe nothing because I don’t know if he has any back hair. Ok, what was I talking about? Oh yeah, here is what I can deduce from all of this. YouTube is in the business of getting captivating content to the right people. If the videos are gelling with the viewers, then they’ll keep watching, and that means more engagement, and that means more ad revenue.
My cute little $2 dollars was just the little kick YouTube’s algorithm needed to see that our video was getting the kind of engagement they want to see. Outside of that, I have no freaking idea what is going on here. It’s unreal.
Compelling Content Is An Actual Thing
This has also led me to believe that to an extent, truly compelling content really does have a better chance of YouTube patting you on the back and pushing your content up in the algorithms. Either really bad, or really good content will win. As long as people watch it, and comment the pounded beef steak out if it, YouTube will be your friend.
It’s very different from how I ever expected to have content get to the masses. I always assumed I’d have to get lucky with a celebrity, or a news organization sharing something that I did. Or, that it would be the standard viral video notion of people just sharing it to each other and it snowballs. In my case, it was none of that. It was YouTube thinking of its own best interests and my video magically meeting the criteria.
Interesting to note, I recently bumped into an important man in my life: the father of my childhood best friend. I’ve looked up to him my whole life as an example of a good man. This was right before the big explosion of views, and he mentioned he thought I made the video as an attempt to make money after being laid off. It kind of caught me off guard.
I’ve never really created anything with the intent of making money. Though, I can’t say that I haven’t hoped that it could turn into money. Pretty much any project I’ve ever worked on, I had that hope. I just desperately want to live a life of creating art instead of having Blaine (my old boss haha) tell me all the crap I need to do a better job at next week.
However for the first time, in sharing Scott’s story, there was no intention of money at all in any direction. I was just led to share the story. Weird how things work out sometimes! The one thing I’ve done since getting laid off that wasn’t to make money – is the thing that is going to do just that.
This Is The Very Beginning
To my fellow struggling creative people, I just want to say, I’m here for you. I know what it’s like. Keep going! It took a decade of work to have one video finally truly reach people. Also, you’ve heard it before – you’ve got to start with your mindset. As cheesy as some of it is, go watch The Secret and start becoming who you envision. Join me and start to make the idea of “I Will Thrive” who you are.
I have a super long way to go. I’ve made a vow to not cut my hair until I make a million dollars from the businesses I’m building. I’ve got feature films to make, and songs to record. Most importantly, I need to be here to provide for my family and be the man they all deserve. But I tell you, I’ve never felt better in my life. In the middle of a pandemic and worldwide uncertainty, I’ve never been more certain in my life.
In the end, don’t be afraid to spend your last $2. It could turn into something amazing.
VIDEO version of this episode HERE
PODCAST version of this episode HERE