Tutorials

Video Creators

How A YouTube Creator and Educator Transforms Other Creators' Presence on YouTube.

Full-Time Creator
September 29, 2020
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Who are you, and what kind of content do you create?

My name is Tim Schmoyer, CEO, and founder of Video Creators. I graduated from a school in Dallas, Texas. I create videos, podcasts, and content that help YouTube creators trying to grow their channel move to the next level. My content focuses on helping creators break past roadblocks, especially those looking to get a lot more traction considering the amount of time and energy they put into content creation. It's like that mid-tier creator who has had some success and is looking to reach the next milestone.


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

Back then, I was just posting stuff about what I was doing for family and friends in WordPress and Callaway, as Facebook wasn’t a thing yet.  Then, I saw this site called YouTube, and I'm like I could just create a video and post it there, and people would just click play without downloading it. All I had to do is email links to people, and that was great. So I started the channel on March 2nd, 2006. At that time, I was in graduate school, halfway across the country from my family, and tried to introduce my girlfriend to my family. I began making these videos with the girl I was dating (now my wife) of things we did together like going out to the park, eating, watching movies, hanging out, and other stuff. In other words, we were Vlogging, but the word didn't exist back then. We created videos on our engagement, wedding, honeymoon, and more and learned how to edit the videos through the Movie Maker. 


Other people started watching, which bothered me a bit because, in those days, you don't use your real name on the Internet. I became curious about why people watched and commented on my videos and why they kept coming back for more. In my curiosity, I started digging into YouTube to figure out how these people were finding my videos. This made me do it full-time for a couple of various agencies. In 2011, I became the first educator on the platform. 


I was amazed and blown away by the feedback I got just from telling my story. It was beautiful to see so many people’s lives changed simply because of what we were doing on YouTube. I thought if I can get my million views a month here, maybe I can help other people get it. I was inspired to believe the kind of impact we all have in the world if we could spread messages that reach people and impact their lives? So in 2013, I started Video Creators to answer people’s questions and teach them. I saw it as a way of helping YouTube creators learn how to master the platform, reach, and create reproducible results. They can use their channels to inspire more people, change their lives, grow businesses around it that make it financially sustainable, and have even more impact than ever before.

We've helped our clients generate over 17 billion views with 71 million subscribers all organically. I've done YouTube strategy for Disney, Warner Brothers, eBay, Budweiser, HBO, just like all the big brands, down to the new creators just starting. We have a client who has about 100 subscribers and 10000 to 20000 thousand views per video. A few weeks after working with us and changing some things, his subscribers doubled, and he now has over a million views per video. I believe that when you start doing the right things, while you are reaching the right audience, the message that you want to spread starts getting out there and impacting people's lives. 


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

I don't think there's just one way we do this. We brainstorm ideas based on things we're working on with clients, and sometimes we get ideas from comments on other videos. I think it all boils down to the principle of spending a lot of time with someone in the target audience. So it's not just trying to make videos about a specific topic. Still, it’s more about the YouTube algorithms, and systems are going to surface content that people engage in heavily. As creators, our goals should be to focus on those same things rather than optimizing for robots; we should be optimizing for people. The more time you spend with your potential viewers who are your target audience, the more you develop good content. I think that works for educational content like ours, which focuses on teaching people stuff. And we have a business that revolves around that as well. 


I also read typically in about a week. I’ll skim through it in my RSS reader. Probably about a thousand different headlines and titles of things are changing. Not just YouTube, but also Facebook video, TikTok, IGTV, and all these other platforms now, usually create some excellent content and discuss. My team and I typically do our brainstorming together, and we use Trello to track our video ideas. 


I have a producer on my team who takes the ideas, and then we discuss in our monthly production meeting. She goes forward and fusses those that I greenlight in a bit more detail. And then, she moves into the column that is ready for me to shoot in Trello. I will sit down and shoot a few of those and follow her notes. And then, I send my photos on Dropbox. She works with our editor to get them edited. She uploads them, does thumbnails, titles, all that kind of stuff. After I shoot it, I don't see the content until it's already published, typically. We don't use a third-party. Currently, there are ten people on my team. In our weekly meetings, we will sit, spend 15 minutes to half an hour. We discuss the week's video, thumbnail, and any ideas. We will test them on the video to see which one has the best impression, the quick theory, watch time, and stuff. 


I haven’t gone into a mental block. It’s usually more content to talk about what we can produce. The techniques that I learned on our journey are collaboration and getting feedback. Three perspectives are always better than one before you even shoot your content. We almost always end up changing the title, thumbnail, and opening hook, sometimes tweaking the content based on what we can come up with together. Although it makes the process slower, you get a better product in the end. 


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

Internally, we use Trello, Zoom, and Slack, so we work virtually together. For video editing and photo editing, we use Adobe Suite, After Effects, and Photoshop Premiere. We capitalize on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok Snapchat, and Podcast SoundCloud, but our main focus is YouTube. I tried a few third-party software. We apply process strip for SOP stuff, Convert Kit for email marketing, Zoom for video conferencing courses. We use Trello for project management; Youcan Book.Me for our booking and scheduling system for consultations and clients. We make the most of Zapier for things to work together that are supposed to work together. We use Help Scout for our inbox, email management, customer support, and Youtube questions and inquiries. We maximize Stripe for processing payments for permits, Cipher for internal communication, Google Suite for our email calendar, Dropbox, Mighty Network for an online premium membership, and Expensify for our bank. 


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

At that time, I was doing a YouTube strategy for a Cincinnati-based video production company full-time. I worked for the clients, and I loved it! It's a good company, but they told me they would not be offering strategy to clients anymore after a year. They gave me six months. That was the second time in a row that I lost jobs. My fears starting YouTube was mostly like, “This has to work, there was no option, no Plan B, no safety net, and how do I make this work financially because I have no backup plan.”

Video Creators have to make money for us because I’ll not take another job if it doesn’t. I don't have any other options, and I was pretty much into a corner with no other options. As luck would have it, I started the channel in January 2013, and my job ended on June 15th, 2013. When my job ended, the Video Creators during that time was generating ten thousand dollars a month. I felt I should have quit my job a long time ago. And I think the common thing I see between people who make this thing work and people who don’t, is the people who make it work, WANT it. I feel like the success rate is higher among those people. That time, I felt the pressure like I have to provide, pay rent, and stuff. Thankfully, my wife is quite supportive, and she let me; fortunately, it worked out. 


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

I created the channel Video Creators, and I cheated a little bit in the sense that this wasn't my first rodeo. I have worked on hundreds of channels and was doing a lot of strategies. I have seen a lot of successes on the people’s channels, and behind-the-scenes where I was working. We'd already done it and had a decent level of success with their own families’ channel, even before that partner program was a thing. It was just something that was generating revenue for us. I figured out a few things early, so I thought I’m going to do for myself what I have been teaching other people to do, and I needed to do it in six months. For me, it wasn’t really about subscribers and views. It was mostly about feeding my family and doing something good that I enjoy. I just started posting on my iPhone every week. I didn't do anything special; there was minimal editing.  It was only a video of tips on how to solve the challenges they face in their channels. 


I was already doing YouTube education for people, so my target audience knew who I was because I was active in many forums and attended different events. So when Video Creators started, I had a network pretty quickly. I think I got up to 200 subscribers on my Day 1, and just with one video, announcing on my social networks of starting with the channel. I know it’s not very much, but back then, it meant more. Then I had 3,000 subs by the end of six months, generating 10k a month based on the work and the consultants’ and clients’ stuff that I was picking up from the channel. 


I had funds initially, but it wasn’t my funds, it was from the company that I was working with. One of the company partners said, “We think you start a business doing for others like what you have done for us.” The word business felt like it sounded strange and unfamiliar, and I must be super smart to pull this off. I just have to do what I have to do. I Grew a YouTube channel, but I needed to monetize this initially, so I launched my channel with the training products. They funded it, knowing that I had six months. I had a paycheck, but I knew there’s a date on the calendar on June 15th, 2013, that it would end, so it was like do or die. 


One of the things that happened pretty early on is I figured out that I know YouTube well, but I don't understand business or internet marketing or sales. I had no experience, and you have no business if you don't know how to do deals. The most formidable challenge I faced when starting had to do with the business side. I knew YouTube earlier before this time, I had a contract with YouTube and was part of the onboarding for their new employees way back in the beginning days. Many people there are hiring for YouTube components, and no one fully understood the big picture of the whole platform as well as I did. So now, they don't use me for that anymore. They have their systems in place already.

My challenge was not how YouTube works, but how I would turn this into a business that I want to do for people. The internet marketing, sales business development side was the challenge. So how do I create something and sell it to get back? How do I manage all the different things that I could be doing all at once? There’s no one else to do them besides me. It felt like a lot of really high urgency, high priority, stuff all happening at the same time, pretty fast. But that’s a huge challenge I’ve overcome. I think what helped me with that was the book, Pumpkin Plan by Mike Michalowicz. It helped me figure out how to grow these things, so I'm not running around like a chicken, with my head cut off. I don’t know how it looks, but that’s what I felt like. 

So I had to figure it out real quick. Since I didn't have money to pay someone to teach me, I started listening to many audiobooks on sales. But in terms of the mentors, someone reached out to me asking if I want to grow my YouTube channel. She was a former branding expert who has made a million dollars through online marketing already. We met twice a month. One of the sessions we dive into her YouTube channel, helped her with the coaching thing. She then dives into my brand and allows me to put together a marketing system for the other meeting.  I didn't know what sales funnels were.  She taught me the basics of sales, selling, and internet marketing stuff. She guided me through so I can get that stuff started. So we did that twice a month for about a year and a half. It was beneficial for her, and it's a fair exchange for me, so it was helpful for both of us.


Now, there’s me plus ten other people, probably more depending on how you count contractors and part-times and stuff like that. There’s a small team of us here. We primarily work with clients, and we do training. We sell some online courses, but they tend to be like, “I’m on the phone online courses, just tell me what I need to do.” So we do a lot more of that group coaching and training sessions through video labs and things like that. Sometimes we work for this guy who is going to double this couple hundred thousand a few weeks and go to 1.4 million views in a few hours. We’re working with that guy directly, so just going to the highest white glove type of service was just one-on-one with them doing other strategies to tell them what to do next, and hitting them checklists on what they need to work on.


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

Most creators start with just creating content. It’s an excellent place to start because it helps you determine why you’re doing this. But the mistake that creators are making is people start there, and they get agitated and disappointed. They feel like they started, worked hard, and spent all this money but not gaining traction. They jump straight to SEO and discoverability and fail to answer the questions like, “Who are you? Who exactly is your target audience?” 


When you want to get started in content creation, you have to give the audience a story—answers to questions like where are the roadblocks, their desires, and what they want. People can see your content because it’s helpful for them, whether that's a relationship or an entertainment style, or education or more like a teaching/training/tutorial type of channel. It’s about like you quickly introduce the branding, so that’s a whole big conversation. If you want to grow, you have to focus on that first-time viewer who has never heard of you before and frankly doesn’t care. The only reason that they are clicking on that title thumbnail is that it pitches some sort of value or story that interests them. And then that content has to give them what they want, but then transfer the attention that you have to have the brand. They think that they like you; they even want to hang out with you. Then they ask themselves what else they have or what you can do to keep them interested. All they want is there’s a bigger story that’s introduced.


When we do consultations, we tell the creators to ask themselves the fundamental questions their audience asks. The questions like who they are going after here, who are the ideal subscribers, why they should care, what keeps them coming back, why subscribe and watch more, what they need and want, and then crafting content that provides that thing to them. You need to answer them immediately if you’re going to convert that person pretty quickly into a subscriber and an engaged viewer. So you need to know your audience’s story, not just demographic info. 


My life hack is the mantra that we say a lot to video creators.

If you want to dominate on YouTube, you have to optimize for people, not for robots.

So many creators are focused on the algorithm. The algorithm is just a surface content that people engage with. They don’t care about your expert, proper, exact keywords. Go after the thing with the algorithm, which is the people. The better your content entices people, the better the story is. The more human emotion it elicits from the viewer like all that stuff is way more important than keywords, titles, tags, and smashing them the “like” button to get people to subscribe.  There’s no one video creator with lots of traction; it’s just like small steps in the right direction. 


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

I lost a few jobs, and I am not going to go through that again. Instead, I would do my thing and control my schedule, and I don’t want someone telling me what to do. When I have to be in an office, I can leave whenever and go back to my family and manage how much vacation time I get. 


Tell us your best milestones in being a content creator.

One of them was when I had the “Aha moment” that the YouTube channel is in the correct position. I realized that YouTube is a place where I can reach people and change their lives at scale. The second milestone was when I started making YouTube educational content because I tried to figure out if the platform worked where no one knew. People were trying to figure it out, so I started making videos, sharing what I learned. The first video was for a brand that doesn't exist anymore. Mark Robertson, who owns the Hitmark Robinsons now the industry track leader for VidCon, hired me to start making videos for his brand because he didn't like doing YouTube, like blogging. 

That’s why I said I kind of cheated when I launched Video Creators because I had some people who already knew me as a YouTube educator. Launching the Video Creators in 2013 was also a milestone. Going on a full-time six months later, 10K a month was a milestone. I don't keep track of views or subscriber metrics anywhere, and we’re half a million now. Every hire is also a milestone. I hired a tax person to do all the accounting stuff, and then quickly after that, the video editor because editing took a lot of my time. 


There are some things that people would consider milestones, like speaking at different significant events. Last year, I spoke in 15 various events in 20 other states in about four weeks. That was ridiculous. I’m speaking at 30 plus different events every week. It’s not a milestone for me; it’s kind of actual work. I don’t mind traveling, but having seven kids in 8 years and leaving my wife behind is pretty costly for my family, so trips are not excellent for my family or me.  Maybe another milestone would be the hundred thousand subs, silver play button, half-million subscribers, which I kind of knew was coming.


What are your marketing strategies to grow your brand?

I got a few. The first is the YouTube channel. It’s how a lot of people find us. We create content our target audience will be looking for; they find it valuable, and then start following that content to engage with us, growing that and trust factors and just good old-fashioned content marketing for YouTube. Also, our podcast is pretty well, actually compared to what I was expecting it to do. It does better than our YouTube channels. Some lead magnets, free guides, and things I get through people’s email lists send them down to the funnel to a sale for our course- 30 days for the YouTube channel. 


Doing something unethical to go ahead of my niche is a big no-no for me. I do have a sales guy now, but I very much want to stay in the way.  I have found that anything as great a black handling unethical range like almost always backfires much later. I just don't feel like my business’s success comes from a guy who knows YouTube, but who knows nothing about business or Internet marketing, and how to make it profitable. That was the skill that I had to develop. Part of the reason is that good people trust me because they feel like I’m not just trying to extract money from them, or I’m just doing this because of what benefits me.  I think people will genuinely, hopefully, realize, and tell me they think I care. Yes,  I do! It is imperative to me. I just try to stay in the way. We under-promise, over-deliver anywhere we can. 


I have hired someone to handle my marketing stuff last year. I was doing most of it myself, but I bumped into the limit of my skills. One of the things that I have learned in business is that you need to work on your business, not get stuck working in your business. I knew I was working too hard in the industry when people out there had more skills better than I do.  It costs the company too much to spend my time doing it when they’re all these other things that would generate more revenue and make our company more sustainable if I spent my time doing those things instead. I still create the content, but he turns to the sales pages and lead magnets and landing pages, email funnels, and product tweaks. Unless it’s the marketing of the YouTube channel, we do that ourselves.  


Part of what I did to get started was interviewing industry leaders. It's more common than it is today, now more people call on the back then.  People will liberally share content that they were featured in, so if I interviewed someone who had a successful blog or did a marketing space, they would more than likely write a blog post, embed my video, and share it with their audience. It does not happen to us today. 


I did collab interviews with other creators. Most of them are from prior relationships and knew them in networking at events. Then a lot of referrals, they will introduce me, tell the people. They post on pages. It is working, I guess, because I don't tweet my videos. We're just now starting to put little clips of them on Instagram. We've only been a hundred percent YouTube for so long, but I don’t think I need to be more present in other spaces because my target audience used to be on YouTube by default.  But that doesn’t happen anymore. People are like, “I’m going to go to iTunes. I’m going to search on Instagram.” I don’t understand why, but my target audience’s behavior lately is trending more that way. 


How do you handle brand deals and sponsorships? 

We don’t do many of them because it’s like I am selling someone else's thing when I do them. That’s fine, I like doing that, but the way a brand deal works is a sponsor will pay me $5000 because they expect that my promotions will generate about 25,000 for them. I’m okay with that. But if my audience is at 25k, I would instead promote my own thing. So I don’t do many brand deals. I have my own business that I can improve, and that generates far more revenue, and that's just taking a small sliver of someone else's ad budget or promotional campaign budget. I like it better because I know my product is what my target audience needs. I'm a hundred percent confident that it generates results if you do this, and that sells differently.


I believe in how we're doing, and I see the results as generally for people. I sell it because I am passionate about it. We have brands reaching out to us; my assistant can attest to this, but we turn down most of them. I just turned two of them down today. It is not because it didn't fit with our target audience, but because of the amount of work it takes, the contracts, the back and the forth, and the opportunity it takes. I can at least have some options to sell my stuff. So I’m taking an opportunity away from selling my things to selling someone else’s stuff.  It has to be worth it for me, and most of the time, it’s not. The number of hassles and contracts, revisions, and approvals doesn’t pay nearly as much. So we accept brand deals, but it has to be the right deal, with the right company, at the right time, of the right amount of revenue to make it worthwhile. 


I base most of my deals on personal relationships. We just got one this past week. It's a legit company, but I just don't use them. I think one of the reasons why my pitches sell is that people trust me. We worked with one campaign, and they came back and told me that they had worked with a lot of creators, but mine was 18 times higher. I think it’s because if I sell my products to my audience, I pitch it like this, I converse it like that, I have some data behind my sales, so it’s not like a hard left turn. And what I do is more closely aligned with what they need. It will be a shady deal if it does not align with my target audience's wants or needs, or not something that I use. I promoted something I don’t already use, and the only case that happens is because I’ve used it in the past, but now I’ve outgrown that product or service whatever.

For example, I shoot on a camera that does 4K, but I would promote a Canon camera that doesn’t shoot 4k because I’ve used it before, and I like Canon. I don’t use a Canon camera now. So that’s fine. But if it’s like I have never heard you before, I don’t want to put the time or figure out if I want to do this deal or not; then I just turn it down. And it’s the best thing to do. If you have other businesses besides selling people’s stuff, then you can do that. 


I never take the first offer and almost always negotiate the pay. I have a minimum, and if I have to go through the work of making all the contracts to make the piece of content for you, that's going to take away a sales opportunity for my own thing then, I give it to you instead, like this is my minimum of what it's worth to me. I know if I took that opportunity for myself, which approximately will generate, I’ve got to come at least higher than that. That CPM is so high; it’s like $300-400 CPM. No one pays that. I know that if I do this in a video, it will generate this much revenue for a thousand views with my own thing. So take it or leave it. Most of them leave it. What matters is the relationship I have with the audience, the product aligns with the audience’s needs, how good the creators are selling, how much trust they have with this person. So I don’t do brand deals because my rate is pretty high, and I’m not motivated to do that. I don’t try too hard. I got plenty of things to do. I’ll just start with something instead, to myself.

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