Pokemon Go

The Trainer Club

How the Talented Former Skateboarder Found Inspiration And Share Tips, Tricks, and Updates About Pokemon Go.

Pokemon Go
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November 12, 2020

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

My name is Billy Lutz, or better known as The Trainer Club on YouTube. I have a Master’s in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine and personal training certification. I am a full-time Pokemon Go YouTuber. I have been full-time with YouTube for about a year now. Going full-time took me approximately a year of hard, dedicated, and persistent work to transition. I was working in the health field while Pokemon Go launched in 2016. 

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

At first, I was hesitant to try it out because I know I have an obsessive personality, but I was utterly in love with how the game interacts with the environment once I did. The experience of playing Pokemon outside and physically walking your character to catch more Pokemon was all I needed to hook me in. After getting hooked, I was completely obsessed with the game for about a year and a half before I heard about Pokemon Go on YouTube. 

It was about the same time that raid bosses first started coming out around go fest 2017 when my good friend Kelvin mentioned he followed YouTubers. I was like, what in the world. And I was utterly intrigued. So I watched Mystic 7, Trainer Tips, Reversal, PkmnMasterHolly, and Zoe Two Dots. I saw that they were making videos on Pokemon Go, hunting, and giving tips. I wanted to do this, but at first, my belief was super low. At the time, my girlfriend, Melea, acted and modeled and pushed me into becoming more comfortable in front of the camera. Because, boy, my first video was pretty rough:

So after being talked to and helped, it still wasn’t enough. I was on for a few days and then off for a week or two. I visited California in April of 2018 and came back with a lot of inspiration. I found something that I don’t even know to date what it was on that trip, and it kicked me into motion, and the momentum has never stopped. I discovered my drive again. 

When I say again, I was also a very talented skateboarder when I was around 14-20. When I say expert, I say that humbly because I worked hard to get to where I was. Thousand and thousands of hours beyond what anyone else knew I put in because I would do it alone. After I went to college, got a girlfriend, and started to do the whole college party life, I let that passion diminish in me to become a professional skateboarder, and it took a toll on my psyche. I lost myself in losing my love, and it took all this time up until my YouTube channel to get myself back. My first sponsored part and my last one are below. I worked my way to skateboard with some very talented skateboarders and was riding for a few companies, including Adio Footwear, Planet Earth clothing, and received some free skateboards from Element and other board companies. It was an absolute blast! 

And back to YouTube, I have had experience making clothing and doing logo design, so I knew what I wanted from a structural standpoint, but I didn’t realize my logo. But I knew that trainers would go to gyms to train their Pokemon and against other trainers, so I knew I wanted that concept since my goal was to teach people to play Pokemon Go better. I thought about it and tried to make it more of a club type feel where people elect to come together to learn more about Pokemon, and that gave birth to The Trainer Club name, and the logo was made from a Pokemon gym render. The whole process took me about a week, I would say, granted as I said, I have done this process for many companies and myself and had all the contacts to make this happen quickly. 

So after my rocky start, I committed to doing a video per day because I saw the direction I wanted to go and knew that only that type of work consistency would yield my results faster than I would be willing to wait at a slower speed. And here, we are starting at 0 subscribers in 2017 October and now 184,000 subscribers in October 2020 and working full-time on my channel. At first, I was not making enough to support myself by any means, so I was using a few jobs and eventually moved in with my parents to speed the process up because I realized that I didn’t have the subs to move my content. Hence, the only thing I had was speed, and to have that consistent speed, I needed to be available anytime to make the videos as fast as possible. So that was the only way to make it work because making $500 / month on YouTube was not going to provide me a means to take care of myself.

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

Most of the videos that I make revolve around the game and help people understand new Pokemon that come out (how to catch them) and understand dynamics that allow the game to be more fun with less effort. I know that this isn’t everyone’s full-time job; however, I know many people enjoy the game. So if I could help people understand more about the game and what to focus on, I could create enough value to allow people to keep on the path with me. It worked out pretty well.

Beyond that, eventually, I made a dent in my vlog content. At first, they were my worst performing videos. On average, I would say they would get about 10% of the views and took about 5x the amount of effort. It was a diminishing return. However, I was lucky enough to travel to Japan when my channel was starting to grow. The vlogs on the opposite side of the world took my 2-3,000 view vlogs to 20-30,000, and they’ve maintained that much more to date. Super grateful for that international leverage to make my content more desirable. 

First Japan vlog :

Second Japan vlog:

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

Funny story, all of my photoshop skills, with which I make all of my thumbnail graphics for my videos, is from one class in high school. It was probably my most valuable class to date because it taught me how to use photoshop. Once I understood the mechanism behind that program, I was able to pick up an illustrator to work on logos and premier to edit videos. So I use all of the adobe suite products for all of my creative production on my content. I taught myself how to edit just by watching my buddy edit a video and then YouTubing any concepts I didn’t get. Basic editing is super simple. It’s pretty much just cutting and gluing paper together and then layering images over the top. As you progress, it becomes more about the camera shots and your interaction with the camera from what I’ve seen instead of post-editing. I always use the editing process to become better, more interactive, and fluid with the camera, translating to my audience.

As far as other tools, I am on pretty much every main platform except TikTok right now. My main source is YouTube. Then I have an Instagram and Twitter. Twitter is super big for gaming communities to talk about, celebrate, and such. It’s always been important in all games I’ve been a part of. Even when we were doing a competitive Halo league called Arena Gaming, Twitter was huge there for interaction, and it has maintained that through Pokemon Go. 

And Discord is enormous now. It wasn’t a thing back when we did Halo, but now, it’s massive for me. I have a 46,000+ member Pokemon Go Discord that is super robust. I didn’t intend to do that with it. It was more of a sacred space to hold Patreon chats for my exclusive private members who support me monthly and are on my friends’ list. However, I teamed up with Chris, who was good at server design, and I just started promoting it, and now we are here. Crazy.

Suppose you want to join, go to discord.gg/thetrainerclub to check out what we have going on in there. It’s quite fun.

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

Fears are always a massive hold up for people starting on any endeavor. We can manage or appropriate the fears that will allow us success or failure in anything new. You have to have the belief strong enough that no fear will stand in your way. This goes for anything we do in life. I was slightly fearful about other people’s opinions but more of myself for starting something and not seeing it through again. I was sick of starting and stopping, and I think during that California adventure, I realized that enough was enough, and it’s time just completely to commit and move forward on something, which was the most exciting thing in front of me.

When doing anything new, it’s scary, but that can excite me. One of the processes that took me the longest to get comfortable with was vlogging out in public. Just being your complete self when people are around was hard, and too, talking aloud about a video game while everyone is walking past can pull on the nerve strings. But after doing anything enough, you will conquer it and move on.

There is still a little hesitation, but it subsides when I start and is now a concentration zone because I always live by the mantra. Get it done.

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

Building a brand is a significant process. I used to be someone who would go out and buy all of the bells and whistles before trying the project, and I would just waste money when I realized I didn’t like the activity. So now, I go by the MVP, and demand produces upgrade motto. We will touch on those in a moment. 

As mentioned, I started not posting very often, it was sporadic, and then I reflected and realized that this was my pattern with all new endeavors. The only reason I was so successful with a skateboard was because of the massive effort I put in daily, and there is no way around the hard work needed to build anything. After I realized that and let go. I grew and committed to a video a day, and I’m still doing that. 

I saw how much money I was making and how much I needed to live full-time realistically off YouTube. I asked the old content management company how many subs I would need to make x dollars, and they told me 800k. My math told me otherwise. So I ditched that company after my contract, and now I’m beyond that number at 184k subs…. Trust yourself and your inner guidance. 

So starting, I had a camera, a cell phone, and a tripod already. I only really invested in Adobe Creative Suite, which is $50 per month, which game me all of my editing programs. Then I was committed NOT to make the same mistake I had always made. Hence, I started doing the Minimum viable product (MVP) model, meaning producing the most value with minimal investment. So I would just put my phone on a tripod and film, and that’s what I did for over a year and a half. It wasn’t until my channel demanded the upgrade, as mentioned, that I upgraded my camera to vlog in Japan. But Japan was a MUST at that point with 50k + subscribers and a need to vlog. 

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

Here are my rules of engagement:

  1. Start local, as I just mentioned. Get your local following to support your online following and PROMOTE yourself as much as possible but do it with respect and approval. You want to be integrity with your brand, not seen as disrespectful. The more local you can get to follow your online, the faster you online will grow.
  2. Invest in yourself. You are your asset. You need to take care of yourself but most importantly, be honest with yourself. If you suck at something, admit it. Either find someone to learn from or teach yourself and move onwards and upwards.
  3. DO NOT join an MCN company on YouTube. These companies approach smaller channels to get them into ad revenue splits with promises to help you grow. I joined and luckily was small enough but received little to no value and was paying 10% to a company for nothing. It was pretty disheartening. Luckily I only paid them some decent money in the last month of my contract when I started earning enough traction to make money. 
  4. Sacrifice will be a must. You most likely won’t be making money for at least six months on your channel so figure out a way to make that feasible for you.
  5. BE CONSISTENT. The worst thing to do is to start and stop. Your viewers deem you unreliable, and that kills momentum and their trust in you. 
  6. There are neat tricks, but those are my secrets. :) I’ll be making a course on this all if you want to take your channel to the next level but remember, MAX OUT what you have until you NEED more resources. You have more to use than you realize. 

Tell us your best milestones in being a content creator.

My favorite milestones are more experienced in person than what you would see as a metric, but there are also metric ones. My first is the first Go Fest I went to and handed out stickers. I had 5,000 subscribers at the time and made some really cool stickers. I had a blast handing out stickers and providing value to people with a subtle promotion. It was a blast. I also met Reversal, another much larger Pokemon Go YouTuber, who knew of me, which shocked me and told me to keep working hard. And I took that to heart.

My second time was at the second Go Fest. I had 34,000 subscribers, and I saw Reversal again. This time he bear-hugged me, told me how proud of me he was, and then we played the entire day together at the fest. It was the most surreal feeling for me after being a non-existent content creator to then meet and hangout with Reversal and Zoe Two Dots as well. Really great people! And on that same trip, I met Nick, Trainer Tips, for the first time and PkmnMasterHolly, another creator. All of the people who I looked up to starting were now colleagues. It was quite the experience. 

However, this was not the first time I had this experience. I did it in skateboarding, and I also did it in Halo. I watched Halo 2 and 3 through live streams of MLG. I was familiar with all of the pros of watching them, and then when we started AGL. These pros came to our first event and eventually all of them to 9 events we held. Ninja, yes, Ninja, the YouTuber, started his career with us. And all of the other Halo players become friends of ours and participants in our tournaments. It was another surreal experience. On Ninja’s profile, AGL 8 Knoxville was my event combine with my business partner, the main visionary, Brad. 

After the Go Fest in Chicago, Reversal hit me up and said, “Hey, man, I have a ticket to Japan. Do you want to go?” I was nervous, but I KNEW I had to do it. So I said yes and bought my plane ticket right then and figured the rest out later. I got to Japan with about 45k subscribers and left at about 55k. It was probably the most challenging yet unique experience I’ve had in a completely new country alone for 17 days. Reversal has always been a huge supporter and pushing me to keep going and growing. Eternally grateful for him.

And then hitting 100k subs in April of this year was super surreal. Getting my first YouTube plaque and then a few months later hitting 150k, we are now on the road to 200k. I read the letter from the CEO of YouTube stating that 1M is closer than you think. And I was like, no way. But now, seeing how fast I’ve jumped almost a 100k subs in 5 months and will hit that in 6 months, they may be telling the truth. ;) And not just trying to make me feel optimistic, which is also a great motivator. 

What are your marketing strategies to grow your brand?

As far as getting subscribers, I had started a local following because I was good at catching raid bosses. So when I took my content online, many people were eager to follow me for my tips to help them get better. So I was able to get to 100 subs pretty fast. And with that growth, YouTube picked up my videos on occasion and dumped them into the algorithm to get some good traction on a few videos and started to gain subs. It was relatively slow but somewhat steady, which I feel very fortunate about. 

The key is to START LOCAL. Online doesn’t just work. It starts which in person to follow your online, and then online will lead to online. But you have to advertise yourself. I use to post my videos on every Facebook and Discord I could find. I started without asking and getting kicked out of them but eventually lead me to ask for permission, and since my content was helpful, most groups were okay for me to share on occasion. 

How do you handle brand deals and sponsorships? 

For brand deals, I do them all myself. I am seeking companies out at this point to showcase what I can do for them. I have had a few interviews with companies to help me with this, but most of them are the MCN companies who want to take a % of my revenue right now, which doesn’t sit well with me. Work for your money. They don’t deserve what I have built already. So until I find that company that will base their revenue on their work, I will continue to work for myself on this one.

My brand deals HAVE to be harmonious for my viewers and benefit them and be congruent for me. I have turned down the candy companies and energy drink companies as I do not endorse them. I am not a proponent for them, and with my health background, I know they are not suitable for people, so money can’t buy my integrity for ads. I’ve done an LG phone ad, which was super congruent. I still use that phone to live stream with weekly. It’s a great phone called the Dual screen. Amazing concept and perfect for the Pokemon Go player to play Pokemon and multitask screens. 

I have one goal - it’s to make my end-user happy. I think about what they need in the game, out of the game, and ads fit into this category too. It’s all about project health, wellness, congruency, integrity, and positivity. If anything doesn’t fit into that, it has to go. 

Thank you for the opportunity, time, and experience. I appreciate you reaching out and hopefully allowing me to inspire people to pursue their dreams in any facet. You only live once.

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