5th February 2020
Who are you and what kind of content do you create?
My name is Dara Tah, I’m a nerd who thought life was about getting good grades and a stable job as a clinical neuropsychologist but instead, I make crazy silly videos on the internet.
I try to make the most craziest adventure videos for YouTube, I want people to watch my videos and say, “I can’t believe he did that!”. Creating videos on YouTube brought me to push myself to the limit and put me in extreme conditions outside my comfort zone whether that’s traveling all the way from Ireland to go to Area 51 in the middle of the Nevada desert, through to finding the most ridiculous way of sneaking into a concert.
My life right now revolves around making all kinds of videos and YouTube is only a small portion of that. I like to consider the personal brand I’m building on YouTube a passionate hobby. Currently, my main job is a freelance videographer and filmmaker as you can tell, I’m obsessed with cameras and video making of all kinds.
Having a freelance business that's closely linked to my YouTube in terms of equipment and skills is cool. Since I am slowly building a small team to help me with corporate videos which will be easier to integrate into what I do on YouTube.
I usually like to keep my professional side of what I do separate from the content I produce online. That’s how I started off my YouTube journey as “Dara Dara” then to “Dara Dynamite” and finally after 10,000 subscribers “Dara Tah” which is close to my real name.
Let's go down memory lane, tell us your backstory!
I have been a YouTuber since YouTube launched back in 2005. Once I found the platform, I fell in love with the idea of recreating what you see on the big screen in the cinema and doing your version of it. I began with a sketch comedy channel that I did with my friends. I only sporadically posted to YouTube as I found it challenging to get other people as excited as I was about creating videos. I was very young at the time and didn’t realize that if you wanted to get something done, you had to rely on yourself.
Back then, I didn’t understand or even care about the power of having an audience. I would post videos and not bother to respond to a single comment. I saw YouTube as a portfolio of stupid videos that my friends and I could enjoy. It wasn’t until I saw the rise of vloggers on YouTube such as Casey Neistat that I first realized that:
You can create incredibly entertaining videos all by yourself
You can create incredibly funny videos just by being yourself
and having an audience that loves your videos means that you could create videos and make a living from it
I went through university studying psychology, got the highest degree out of my cohort and had nearly committed myself to train for another 5-6 years to become a clinical neuropsychologist.
I continued working as a psychologist and became a research psychologist working in a hospital with stroke patients, then I became an assistant psychologist to a clinical psychologist, and doing all of that I wondered how I could make videos. I began with vlogs when I traveled around Europe for a few weeks, I tried creating adventure videos in Ireland but it wasn’t until that moment I applied for a clinical psychology course where I was the youngest by 4 years out of 200 applicants and got into the top 70 before being told I lacked life experience, that really hit me hard.
I needed to put being a psychologist to the side and finally give my life long passion for making videos a chance.
This new adventure of going all in started with me leaving Ireland and traveling for seven months. I left Ireland and went to the US, Mexico and traveled all over Europe. I intended on creating massive docu-series that would really show the good and the bad of traveling. I wanted it to be gritty and real. But when I came back 7 months later and looked at 700 GBs of footage I realized I had no clue how to use a camera, how to talk to a camera or tell a good story.
And so with almost throwing away the entire project, I had what some creators call their “pain period” in darkness. I was the only person who saw through many terrible videos that I needed to fix my style and so I started up my latest channel “Dara Tah” in 2017 and absolutely went to town.
I tried a lot of many videos ideas, I did vlogs, sketches, adventure videos, commentary videos, I made a video every day for 30 days. I genuinely love making videos so that alone didn't feel like I needed much motivation. I would probably make them anyways even if it was just for myself. I think that is what has made this journey so much easier, If I didn’t love creating videos, I would have given up years ago.
How do you brainstorm ideas for your content and your advice in getting the creative juice flowing.
I used to find idea generation and coming up with clickable titles and thumbnails difficult! Although the numbers may not reflect it just yet, I predict my future success will come down to how good I have gotten at this.
I love to provoke a little bit and so coming up with slightly shocking ideas has been quite fun for me. A good way to make a start would be to remix what you already think is a very entertaining video, recreating that video in your own way or with your own unique twist makes having ideas all the time quite easy. More often than not the problem would be having the passion at that moment to make that video.
I came up with the idea to try some crazy Korean cuisines where the fish is so fresh that its nerves are still twitching when it lands on your plate. I loved this idea since it was so shocking and provocative to Western culture but when it came down to actually making the video… It was a bit of a queasy affair. At the end of the day sharing my struggle with it or my reservation with the idea within the video of trying the fish probably made it a more entertaining video anyways!
My only real advice on idea generation is to look at what other people are doing and do your own version when you’re in the swing of making lots of videos you start to think of your own original ideas that drop out of nowhere. AND write all your ideas down. I now have a whiteboard where I write down all the ideas I’d love to shoot each month, and usually, I have too many ideas and not enough time.
What are the tools and platform you use to help with your brand?
I use Adobe for all my editing. Investing in this software makes sense for me as a freelance videographer and so now I have all these tools ready for my YouTube adventure.
I am completely self-thought on all these softwares. Learning to edit is a fun process and the more videos you make the quicker and better you get at it. Even the more you watch other videos you’ll continuously be wondering how other people shot something or edited and then it’s such a fun task to try to recreate something you really liked in your own video. Getting creative is a great way to learn a lot really quickly.
It also might sound really basic but one of the most powerful tools I have found for creating videos is simply having a small weekly planner that you take everywhere. I write down when I’m going to do a shoot and try to have it in my weekly planner as much as possible. Whenever something pops up in my planner to be done, I get it done. It keeps you disciplined and busy creating.
What were your fears starting out? How did you handle it?
I grew up in a part of Ireland that would have quite a “small town” mentality where people can be quite nosey and look down upon people who outwardly show their ambition to create something of themselves. Judgment was certainly a fear of mine however I think I found a quick fix for that when I was a kid and really threw my friends under the bus by making them do the stupid things in my videos and I didn’t like any of the attention back then as well.
When I wanted to kick start my content creation, I had already matured quite a bit and didn’t care as much what people thought. I did get a lot of hate for certain videos, I had been incredibly harshly criticized in certain forums online and though that would take a toll on me a little bit at the time, I now know that getting hate is always like practicing how to not let hate affect you. The more you get it, the stronger you become! I’m very happy with how far I’ve come in this and really feel like no one is going to get in the way of me making videos that make me happy.
How did you build your brand to where it is now, take us through your process.
When I truly started trying to make a successful YouTube channel, I just went nuts with posting on YouTube. I thought consistency and quantity was the way to go. My brute force method probably got me to around 600-700 subscribers but that was genuinely very difficult. Every single subscriber was hard-earned.
I had a feeling like there had to be another way. I was trying to calculate when I could consider myself successful by the growth in subscribers and realized I need to do something different. I needed to go viral was the answer to that question.
I moved over to a method of creating content with each video being built in a way that it had a much higher possibility of going viral. That meant the video needed to be really good, it needed to be shareable and it needed to be relevant to a lot of people.
So that’s when I started putting about 30 hours into each video. And suddenly a commentary video of mine just absolutely blew up. No one had seen this kind of commentary video before and I thought I had found my niche. I followed up these videos with more provocative titles and thumbnails and then two years ago I had my most successful video to date that got over half a million views. This blasted the channel from around 1,000 subscribers to 12,000. That’s when I discovered two things.
If you want real growth you need viral videos
I actually didn’t like making commentary videos
From here on I still build my videos in a way I think could make them as shareable as possible but I am not as passionate about creating videos that talk about other people. I prefer to take my viewers on a unique adventure. Having the determination to make this a viable to make a channel a success has been very difficult but at the end of the day, my love for making videos helps me push through all my doubts.
For someone who wants to get into content creation, what is your advice?
My advice would be...
"Try a whole lot of different things but always keep in mind that you should be making videos that a stranger would love.
When you create content online, you’re not exactly creating it for yourself, you’re creating it for all the viewers and the potential viewers.
You need to find what you are passionate about and what kind of channel you want to have then create the best possible videos for the people who watch that kind of thing. How can you surprise people with your video? How can you make yourself so unique that there is no one else on the internet quite like you? That is the kind of mindset I think a creator needs at the start to really do something that gets thousands of people excited.
How did you finally commit to X platform rather than your regular day job?
I’ve found myself in a unique position where I’ve built a small business around my constant want to make videos online. A 9-5 job wouldn’t suit me in this respect since my videos usually require full days and nights of shooting and being able to drop everything at once to go to some event to create my video.
That’s why building a freelance business has afforded me the flexibility to work when I want. That doesn’t mean I don’t work much, it actually means the complete opposite but knowing that if I really wanted to push off a client edit to do a YouTube shoot I could do that and do an edit at 3 am if I had too.
Tell us your best milestones in being a content creator.
Getting onto American TV for some of my stunts has been amazing.
Being head-hunted to create videos for a weekly online talk show brought me into the professional world of publishing online.
Creating a YouTube event in Ireland where we bring loads of Irish creators under the same roof to entertain their fans has been a hugely rewarding achievement for me and this year has grown into its own brand called Vlogger Conf.
What are your marketing strategies to grow your brand?
Being provocative and shocking people definitely helped me get a start. Particularly with the commentary niche, I would fool people into thinking I have created a toxic hate video on their favorite creators and when they would click into the video to give me hate they were pleasantly surprised if they actually listened to what I said.
Playing with very polarizing opinions allowed me to see my most success. And creating videos that are somewhat ridiculous in nature gave online publishers a reason to write blog posts on my videos. Creating content around relevant topics and having my own ridiculous twist on it have made my videos so much more shareable.