Scam-Baiting

Trilogy Media

How The Popular Duo Raises Awareness on Scams with their Comical Videos on YouTube.

Full-Time Creators
November 5, 2020
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Who are you and what kind of content do you create?

We are Trilogy Media, Ashton Bingham and Art Kulik. We are Los Angeles based entrepreneurs, producers, and the comedic duo headlining our YouTube channel. We founded Trilogy Media Inc. in 2016 and are known as a comedic scam-busting duo, with our channel garnering over 20 million views and over 250 million lifetime views of our content online.

Our main purpose is to alert the public about scams in society and offer awareness with our comedic videos that shed light on detrimental scammers. In 2016, we took on the IRS Robocall Scammers, the relentless scammers that would call pretending to be the IRS to obtain personal information from vulnerable people. The video went viral, garnering millions of views within the first 24 hours. Our primary mission is to entertain the masses, spread positivity, and always continue to raise awareness of the sick, vile, and heartbreaking scams that plague our world.

 

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

Art and I (Ashton) come from drastically different parts of the world, but our paths crossed in 2010 after we both left our childhood homes and moved to Los Angeles to chase our dreams of being content creators. Sharing the same vision and drive for accomplishing our goals, we teamed up to create what would later become a life-changing platform for us to create content, live the dream, and entertain people on our terms, without having to wait for Hollywood to put us in a box. It would take many years of working jobs we hated and facing countless rejections, but everything changed in 2016 when I accidentally made a viral video.

 

After receiving numerous robocalls to my phone from IRS scam call centers, I decided to take a more direct and comedic approach to try to get them to stop calling me. What was intended to be a short funny video for my friends turned out to be a 45-minute phone call with a scammer that, upon realizing I was messing with him, went on a crazy, vulgar terrorist rant to conclude a video that would catapult us into the scambaiting space.

 

Not only do we have a rapidly growing subscriber base, but we've created a community where people message us daily, sharing their stories of scams past. Some share that their loved ones have fallen victim and even supply us with credible tips of active scams for us to pursue. Day by day, we help curate a society that is on higher alert and better informed, making it harder and harder for these thieves to prosper.

 

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

We’re firm believers that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Art and I built a brotherhood and a synergy long before Trilogy Media was ever created. I firmly believe that without our two forces combining early on, Trilogy Media would never have happened.

 

We get inspiration from each other. Our shared visions and equal, unstoppable drive to achieve our dreams keep each other motivated and focused. As much as we’ve tried to force ideas in the past, unfortunately, it doesn’t work. Long before we were business partners, we were friends and brothers that shared a dream. It’s about mindset, and when we’re able to relax, share a drink, and remove the stresses and distractions of the daily to-dos, and just focus on the work and the bigger picture, the ideas flow. Some are a dud, and some are a hit, but when you refuse to let rejection get you down, there’s no way you can fail. You just have to keep going.

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

Our primary base is YouTube. Weirdly, however, our initial viral hit was actually on Facebook. Since that first viral video wasn’t planned, and given our lack of experience in this space at the time, we sent the video to a licensor who promoted it on various channels. The video saw immediate success, which boosted us to officially start a YouTube channel and begin a journey that would eventually lead us to where we are today. Since then, we’ve spread out to Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, while keeping YouTube our main hub of content.

 

In regards to content creation, I (Ashton) am the video editor on our team. Stemming from a childhood hobby of movie-making, I’ve been editing videos using Adobe Premiere for over 15 years. It’s a skill that I developed and self-taught, and one that I’d eventually use as a source of freelance income into my 20s. I’ve since been able to transition my editing abilities to service the Trilogy Media brand exclusively. Shoutout to my parents for encouraging me as a youngster to pursue my passions and always providing me the tools to do so without hesitation.

 

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

Speaking for myself, especially as someone who has dealt with anxiety all my life, there have always been fears, and probably always will be. But I can say that by having the right people around me, I’ve grown SO much about my confidence, mindset, reaction to rejection and pushback, and my overall approach to a lifestyle with no guaranteed stability. Being in front of the camera was never really an issue for me. I’d been making movies since I was old enough to hold a camera, and all of my childhood dream careers had to do with performance. I would get nervous at big-ticket opportunities just as much as the next guy, but it never held me back.

Transitioning to YouTube, however, has its own set of fears and self-image difficulties. The feedback on online content is instant and mind-numbingly honest. Finding that balance between taking criticism and improving but not letting negativity and hatred destroy your mind can be a challenging thing to do. I’m so glad that our success was not “overnight” in a sense. I’m pleased I’ve been able to grow into this, and I’m happy I had to work so hard to get here. Without having a resume of miserable jobs in my past, I wouldn’t have near the motivation that I do now.

 

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

Getting the 1st 1000 & 10,000 subscribers has definitely been the hardest. We’ve heard from many other content creators that it gets more accessible in a way, the bigger you get, and we’ve definitely felt that so far. Our content was kind of like a stalled car sitting on a flat road that we’re trying to push forward. It’s really hard at first to get it going, but it eventually picked up its momentum, and at a certain point, we have to run to keep up with it.

 

We’ve hit many roadblocks and made many mistakes, just like anyone else, but we take each step with the best mindset and decision to stay positive the entire way. Initially, on our channel, we were posting very often to jumpstart our presence. At a particular time, we were uploading five videos per week, which is a lot. Lately, we’ve been uploading less often but only doing videos with much higher production quality and effort. Quality over quantity. That’s been working for us quite well, and paired with our widespread live streams on our channel where we get to interact with fans directly; we’ve been able to grow an online family organically.

 

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

You’ve probably heard it before, but finding your niche is SO important. It’s okay not to know what it is right away. It took me 5+ years to figure mine out. But you’ve got to find it - and you have to be passionate about it if you want it to have longevity.

Find something, and dig 12 inches wide and one mile deep on it. And CREATE! Don’t get yourself hung up on everything being perfect.

My first viral video was filmed on basically a potato. Picture and sound quality were non-existent in that video - but it resonated with people, and that’s what mattered. If you stick with it, time, money, resources - all of that will come. But it comes later. You’ve got to figure out WHAT it is that you’re doing, and until you begin, there’s no way to know. Scroll back to our FIRST videos on our YouTube channel. I’m pretty sure you’ll find a drastic difference in quality. But had we not taken each step, each risk along the way - we wouldn’t be here now.

 

Another thing to remember - EVERYBODY has an opinion, and it’s impossible to please everyone. As long as you’re doing what you love, and you’re doing it with passion, integrity, and dedication, the haters can “shuffle off,” as we say. Nothing is more tragic than letting a dream disappear because of what “BigBrad997” on YouTube thinks about you. Do you - and do it proudly!

 

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

I moved to Los Angeles in 2010 and worked hourly jobs for my first four years of living here. I was met with the occasional acting job and dream opportunity, but I had to remain in my not-so-dream position to keep the bills paid much like many others. The thing is that not only was a miserable doing those particular jobs; it was even more challenging because I KNEW I had something more to offer, not only in the big picture but also in being a business owner. I already knew how to edit, how to build websites, and nothing more would have made me happier than to find a way to make money being my boss.

 

That finally did happen in 2015. As I was figuring out who I was and what kind of footprint I was creating in this town, I increasingly surrounded myself with the right people to put me in the proper mindset. Art was a huge part of that and a huge reason we ended up going into business together. I left the jobs I hated and pursued freelance work as a video editor and web designer. It was scary and slow going at first, but I quickly started gaining traction and ended up getting more job than I could handle. I never had to advertise and learned first-hand the power of word of mouth.

 

This, of course, made considerable improvements in my life and my mentality. I was happier, more creative, and freer to chase my dreams on my terms. The following year, 2016, is when that first viral video was born, and the journey of Trilogy Media began to take off.

 

Tell us your best milestones in being a content creator.

We have hit so many milestones and are so grateful for every single one. We proceed with the mindset that we can always do better - but without forgetting to acknowledge and celebrate the victories. Most recently, hitting 200,000 subscribers on YouTube was pretty awesome, primarily since we celebrated 100,000 not that long ago. Things are growing and growing fast.

 

But I have to say that the milestones with the most significant impact for us relate to the big picture. Art and I both moved to Los Angeles with dreams of being content creators, producers, actors, etc. YouTube didn’t come into the picture until much later - and while it’s something we’ll probably do forever, it’s not the ONLY thing on the radar. But what it has been a fantastic tool to grow everything else and expand opportunities vastly. Because of our content on YouTube, we’ve secured better representation, got featured on national news segments, and on the Wall Street Journal cover page.

We also did a collab with many other well-established content creators, signed a development deal for a TV show, and many more things in the works. YouTube has kind of become this tree trunk of content, with many branches growing off of it, all full of additional opportunities.

 

What are your marketing strategies to grow your brand?

Speaking specifically to marketing a YouTube channel, we’ve tried everything in the book. The most effective form of marketing and growing a subscriber base is a collaboration with other YouTubers. We’re approaching a quarter-million subscribers and have over 20 million views on our channel, which we are so grateful for. But speaking just to numbers, it doesn’t even compare to the number of views on our content that has been featured by other licensors across Facebook.

When adding up all the licensed posts and shares on third party Facebook pages, our videos have been viewed over 300 million times to date - almost all of which included promotion and links to our YouTube channel. But what we’ve learned time and time again is that it’s challenging to get an audience to “switch” platforms. Especially considering we’ve done over a dozen national news segments about our content and scam awareness, reaching tens of millions of people in a short amount of time - but met with similar results.

 

When collaborating with other YouTubers, there’s something magical that happens. If the collaboration makes sense, the partnership of brands and missions/content aligns. Not only are you reaching a whole new broad audience already interested in your niche, but you’re marketing your channel to people who are ALREADY on YouTube. The conversion rate and subscriber growth has been massively more immense than any other method in our experience, and not to mention. We’ve made some fantastic friends along the way.

 

How do you handle brand deals and sponsorships?

Art and I make an amazing team. We complement each other well. Our vastly different personalities and views almost always make for a perfect combination of skill sets and perspectives to make the best overall business decisions.

 

It’s important to us to make sure any potential sponsorship or brand deal applies to our industry or brand topic. Anything that involves cybersecurity, scam awareness, etc. is entirely up to our alley in our space. We’re in a fortunate position that we get many offers and have the luxury to be selective. As much as sponsorship for, say, a hair care product might be fun and lucrative, it just doesn’t feel like a natural fit on our channel.

 

Art and I also strongly value long-term relationships. We’ve had our channel for over four years and have made hundreds of videos, but the grand total of different companies we’ve integrated with is less than 10. We were fortunate enough to be approached by the app Robokiller (shoutout!) very early on in our channel. We were just starting, but they believed in what we were doing and saw the potential for integration.

They’ve been amazing to us ever since, and we still have the honor to be working with them up to this day. We’ve partnered with other companies like Spoofcard (an app used for spoof dialing - one we actively use to make content on our channel) and Multi-Visions (a North American cybersecurity software distributor).  Not only do we get to work with them in an enormous scope of work about our industry, but we genuinely believe in the products and the business ethics of how they run their companies.

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