Creative Sauce

How Age Doesn’t Matter When Starting A YouTube Channel.

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January 15, 2020

Who are you and what kind of content do you create?

Hi, I’m Mike Enjo, a YouTube creator from Perth, Western Australia. I teach people about all things related to recording music in a home studio. Many members of my audience are absolute beginners, and many also have a few years of experience but want to improve.

I’m doing this (almost) full-time, and I’m a one-man-band! I started a little over 13 months ago and currently have over 12 thousand subscribers.

My channel’s name is ‘Creative Sauce’. This partly came about because my channel was originally going to be about many creative endeavors (not just music). It only took me about 2 weeks to decide to focus on music production, but the name had already stuck, and I just kind of liked it! I think of it like ‘magic sauce’, but adding ‘creative sauce’.

Let's go down memory lane, tell us your backstory!

I’m in my 50s, so my back story is long! Over the years since I left school, I’d been a performing musician, songwriter, and had been involved here with the Australian Songwriters Association as State Coordinator. That in turn had gotten me involved with some local TV production about songwriters, where I picked up a few production skills.

At the same time, I had been a very early adopter of the internet - not just as a user, but also as a web programmer. I started working in this field, and before long I was not just a programmer but was leading teams. This ultimately led me to work in Hong Kong for what was then a large social media site, and there I became Vice President of that company. Of course, I was now being exposed to many aspects of business and gaining experience there. I returned to Australia and worked for a very large and progressive ISP, but ultimately decided the corporate life wasn't for me and returned to my roots as a musician.

You know, there is a saying “Jack of all trades, master of none”, and it's rather negative but true of me. However, I realised that because of my wide range of experiences, including creative, technical, and business - that I was perfectly positioned to be a YouTube creator!

How do you brainstorm ideas for your content and your advice in getting the creative juice flowing.

In the beginning, I thought I had lots of ideas for videos, and I did, but in reality, it was about 15-20 ideas! Luckily, as my audience grew and they asked me lots of questions, it became easier to know which topics to tackle. At times I’ve even asked them directly with questionnaires, and that has brought about great results.

Luckily I have been recording at home for over 20 years, and my passion for it as a subject seems boundless! If I have any kind of a mental block I kind of go through the process of asking “What have I been getting questions about?”, “What do I think is often not explained well?”, and slightly as a  last resort “What new products are out there that I could try?”.

I would never leave making a video up to inspiration. I committed to making at least one video per week, and I’ve never skipped from that - even in weeks where I had been hospitalized, or busy in other ways. There have been many occasions where at the point of hitting the upload button, I felt “Oh dear, this isn't gonna be good”, only to be surprised that it ended up being a high performing video!

What are the tools and platform you use to help with your brand?

I use DaVinci Resolve for my video editing, and Photoshop for graphics, both on Windows and Mac.

As well as YouTube, I have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, and well as a few web forums specific to my genre. These other platforms have been important to me, as early on they provided most traffic to my videos because it's hard to get found on YouTube itself when you start out. This was especially true on Facebook and Reddit. I think the type of interaction I was having on Facebook groups was conducive to my channel - now that has changed as YouTube itself noticed me more, so about 70% of my views came from YouTube itself.

Like many YouTubers, I make a fair amount of use of TubeBuddy. I research all of my video titles and tags using this, a great tool!

What were your fears starting out? How did you handle it?

My main fear was my age. I just had this idea that all YouTubers with more than 100 subscribers were below 30. Then I realised that there were some people in my chosen genre who were doing well because when you are educating people, experience counts. Honestly, at the time of launching, I was still a little nervous about this but decided just to give it a try. In honesty, I think it made no difference. Around 50% of my audience is 18 to 34 and don't seem to care. It may even be an advantage.

My second fear was harsh criticism. In fact, this has been an area of personal growth to me, as I think for much of my life I have not handled criticism well. Starting the YouTube channel was partly to challenge myself in that area - so that I could develop myself in that area. To be honest, though I get 98% positive feedback, 1% constructive criticism, and less than 1% abusive trolls. I have developed a strategy that seems to work for me. When criticism is constructive, I interact and discuss, because I need to learn and improve, and that person is taking time to help me, which is amazing. If it's full of swear words, personal attacks, and all caps - I often don't read it all, and just delete it. One of the blessings of some success is just that I'm very busy, so I just don't have any spare time to deal with trolls!

How did you build your brand to where it is now, take us through your process.

I literally started from zero, but my experience in business has taught me that branding is important. So even before I posted my first video, I had a logo, a color palette, artwork specific for the main social media platforms. I opened all the social media accounts and set them up, created my website, and even developed theme music and opening animation. I probably spent about 1 month on this before making my first video.

Because of my previous work experience, I had all the equipment I needed including an old DSLR camera and a few studio lights. A certain level of quality is important to me. That's not always a good thing, because it's time-consuming, but there was just a minimum level I have in my head in terms of sound and lighting, and it's not in my nature to go below that.

I started like anyone with zero subscribers, but I made an important decision that I think paid off. I didn't tell ANY of my friends and family on Facebook what I was doing. This may seem counterintuitive because it's an easy way to get your first 100 subs. But I knew that those subs would have no value. My Auntie Veronica would subscribe, but she wouldn't actually watch my videos (unless she has a secret desire to make Hip-Hop beats I don't know about). So I really had to earn my first 100 subscribers, and that took me 6 weeks! It was just pure grind and lots of posts in genre-specific Facebook groups! After 3 months I had gotten to 500 subscribers, and after 6 months I reached 1000. It got much easier after that! I think by not using existing contacts, I was able to build a community that is 100% authentic, centered around a specific topic.

For someone who wants to get into content creation, what is your advice?

My advice would be, focus on one specific topic, that you could talk for years about. Nobody cares about you yet, so don't make the topic you! Later, they care about you.

Be yourself - it's hard to maintain a persona. You are gonna be looking into that camera lens an awful lot, so don't pretend too much.

Don't think that spending days producing an epic, translates to views. Most views come from good marketing techniques, repeat views come from good content. I’d find a balance.

Make mistakes. It's the only way to improve. Luck may seem desirable, but it's hard to learn from. Success from effort and skill is repeatable. Luck is just luck.

If you want to make a living from this, think about how an advertiser or product friendly your subject is.

How did you finally commit to X platform rather than your regular day job?

I have some other income streams apart from my YouTube channel. I was lucky enough to have done collaborations with YouTubers much bigger than me early on. Actually knowing real people that were making some money from it made it seem more realistic to me.

Once I started making at least some money from it, I realised that not all things are equal on YouTube. In other words, the number of subscribers is not an accurate indicator of income level.

Tell us your best milestones in being a content creator.

  • Reaching 100 subscribers was such hard work, it was a relief to reach it!
  • Reaching 1000 subscribers was amazing since I knew I could start getting at least a small amount of compensation from it. Although it took me a little longer to get the 4000 hours of view time required!
  • Getting to 10,000 subscribers was crazy. It was my goal for the end of 2019, but at the beginning of December, I thought I wouldn't quite make it. Then one particular video took off and I flew through it and actually made 11,000 by the end of the year. I was away camping at the time with limited internet access, so it was kind of crazy. It only took about another 6 days after that to reach 12,000.
  • I personally feel that this has only reinforced to me that I can grow this as large as I want to. Perseverance and continually studying how to improve are the key.

What are your marketing strategies to grow your brand?

Collaboration is key I feel. I don't view others in my niche as competitors. This isn't like TV. Content on demand means viewers will watch many people in the same genre. And it's also much more fun to work with others when you can.

Likewise, working with companies who want to promote their products is important. They often have existing marketing machines which you can use to increase awareness of yourself. Where I can, I use these partnerships to give value to my viewers, such as giveaways or discounts. These were helpful in getting some of my early views.

How do you handle brand deals and sponsorships?

As my channel has grown, I get more and more offers from companies who want me to review products. Sometimes I don't even have time to look. When I do, I try the product myself, and if I think it's of value, I feature it.  If it's poor, I simply don't review it. I like my channel to have a positive, constructive vibe, and although bashing poor products can be compelling viewing, I feel it becomes fatiguing to viewers after a while.

My focus at the moment is in giving value to my viewers and building my brand, so I don't hunt for brand deals. I figured that when a brand approaches me because they see my value, then I’m in a better bargaining position.

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