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Diego Liu

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Back in 2020, I desperately wanted to make enough money for myself so I could drop out of Dentistry. After trying out many things online (mainly action-fakes), I wrote this email to John Sonmez from Bulldog Mindset (I actually found out about MJ and his books through this interview John did with him):

Subject line: Get WAY more out of Bulldog Mindset YouTube Channel (Proposition)

Screen Shot 2022-03-22 at 9.12.35 AM.png
Long story short, after making a video for fellow fastlaner @Private Witt (shoutout to you, mate!), I leveraged this first gig I'd done to propose to John that I'd like to insert some animatics in his videos to make them more engaging and hopefully boost the views (I saw that he had 250k+ subscribers and golden content but low average views and therefore wanted to solve his traffic problem).

He gladly accepted my offer, and a week later, I dropped out of Dentistry, moved out, and have started working for him full-time remotely since then (you can read my full 6-week crazy transformation story here (Insiders only)).

Some people did like these inserted animatics:
Screen Shot 2022-03-22 at 9.47.20 AM.png
Screen Shot 2022-03-22 at 9.47.28 AM.png
However, several months into it, we saw no major difference in the view count and decided to drop it and go back to normal editing.


Meanwhile, I also uploaded videos onto a second channel: Bulldog Mindset Clips.

At first, I took segments from the main channel and made cringy animatic videos out of them as well. Like this one:

Animating turned out pretty time-consuming, and since they were only 1-3 minutes long, the average watch time was low and unfavorable for the algorithm. So, 10 videos later, I dropped that too and pivoted the channel to JRE Clips-style, clipping out mainly interview segments and just slapping a click-baity title & thumbnail onto them:
Screen Shot 2022-03-22 at 10.23.32 AM.png
Screen Shot 2022-03-22 at 10.23.50 AM.png
Screen Shot 2022-03-22 at 10.26.47 AM.png
If I didn't promote a clip on the community tab on the main channel, a typical clip would only get a couple hundred views. Even a promoted clip that got 1k+ views and had a very good click-through rate (over 10% in the first 24 hours) would eventually trail off.

The channel was growing pretty slowly as a whole, and I kept banging my head against the wall (sometimes literally).


Finally, in June of 2021, I found 3 instances where John talked about why you should stay single in your 20s and posted them as a 3-part series of clips:
Why You Should Stay Single in Your 20s (Pt.1)
Why You Should Stay Single in Your 20s (Pt.2)
Why You Should Stay Single in Your 20s (Pt.3)


Then a lightbulb popped in my head:
"Hey, why don't I synthesize them into a single video?"

The turning point came after I made this video:

Although this video only got 3-400 views in the first 24 hours, I knew I was onto something.

I pivoted again and renamed the channel to "Bulldog Mindset Highlights." I continued making similar videos where I clipped out segments talking about a common theme and turned them into a single curated, higher-quality video with B-rolls and background music.

A typical highlight video would take me 40+ hours to make, but putting in that time and effort has paid off and made the channel gain consistent traction. The channel has only 5.1k subscribers as of the time I'm writing now, and a video I made a month ago already has 13k+ views and continues to grow:

The highlights channel got 90k views in the last 28 days, around one-third of what the main channel got (302k views) with only less than 2% of the number of subscribers. It's on a decent trajectory, and I believe it's only the beginning. By tweaking a few more things and implementing the right strategies, I see it's totally possible for the channel to surpass 1M views/month this year.


I want to use this thread to...
1. Document my execution process
2. Clarify my thoughts
3. Share what I've learned along the way & provide value to other fastlaners looking to get traffic from YouTube
4. Stay accountable


Also, a few notes and disclaimers:
1. Although now the highlights channel is more focused on mindset, Bulldog Mindset has some content related to the red pill, pickup, and dating. While I mostly agree with John's views on those topics, I'm only concerned with doing the best job on delivery & packaging and serving the audience the best videos they'd want to watch. So please don't make criticisms or comments on the content itself. Thank you.

2. This isn't exactly a fastlane business.
However, since I get 50% of the ad revenue the channel makes, I see myself taking on a role of a linchpin/intrepreneur, figuring out how to maximize YouTube traffic for a business owner with some incentives & skin in the game, different from most freelancers & editors performing a designated task.

3. This violates the Commandment of Control. I'm totally aware that YouTube can change its terms & algorithms, take down/demonetize the channel, or get shut down any second. Nevertheless, I don't believe that's likely to happen anytime soon because YouTube gets 1 billion of watch hours every day and just gets bigger and bigger every year. Plus, I'm not making particularly controversial or graphic videos either.

It's a chance I'm willing to take since I need focus at this stage. Moreover, I know the skills I'll have learned in human psychology and making great content people want to consume can be applied onto other platforms.

4. John Sonmez has personally approved of me writing this thread and sharing the inside content production process.



Other than monetary incentives, I'm grateful that while in a JOB, as a 23-year-old who hasn't achieved much in life, with a successful boss/mentor having made all the content and done most of the heavy-lifting, I'm contributing to making a positive impact in other people's lives:

Screen Shot 2021-10-30 at 12.39.18 AM.png
Screen Shot 2021-12-08 at 12.09.49 PM.png
Screen Shot 2022-03-01 at 1.47.02 AM.png
Screen Shot 2022-02-28 at 2.40.16 AM.png


More posts coming soon.
 
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Last edited:

Private Witt

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Looking forward to this thread! Glad you are still going at it with the Bulldog. After almost two years I will finally be using that video for the division marketing campaign it was designed for and get it over 10k views, goal is to launch by summer.
 

Diego Liu

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The Difference Between Flatlined and Breakout Growth
(Going from a Local Grocery Store to Walmart)


The channel currently has 5,339 subscribers. Of the 7 highlight videos I've uploaded in the last 2 months, the most viewed video now has 14,238 views, almost 3x the number of subscribers.

Screen Shot 2022-03-30 at 2.59.46 PM.png

The second most viewed video now has 7,527 views, only about half as many, but still pretty good, surpassing the number of subscribers (5,339).
Screen Shot 2022-03-30 at 2.59.20 PM.png

On the other hand, the remaining 5 highlight videos all have only around 2,000 views or less.
Screen Shot 2022-03-30 at 3.00.10 PM.png



Obviously, I know there are infinite factors involved in contributing to how many views a video gets, but I believe I've identified a major factor: the video's click-through rate (I'll call it CTR from now on for the sake of convenience) as it's exposed to a new group of similar audience.


Now, I'm not an expert in statistics or the "YouTube algorithm," but what YouTube wants is very simple: Make every viewer stay on the platform for as long as possible (to make the most money from placing ads).

And to do that, YouTube's job is to serve us the videos we're most likely to click on and keep watching.

Go on to your YouTube homepage right now. Not a single video appears there by accident. It is a curated catalog of videos that YouTube knows you're likely interested in watching based on your watch and search history (and other big data these big tech companies creepily collect as seen in The Social Dilemma).

Now, to illustrate it more clearly, I'll use the analogy of buying a product in a store:

- Local grocery stores
- Supermarkets
YouTube
Local grocery store customers- Returning viewers
- Small test group of new viewers (similar audience)
Supermarket customersA mass group of new viewers
New productNew video
EyeballsImpressions
Conversion rateClick-through rate (CTR)
# of items sold (eyeballs x conversion rate)View count (impressions x CTR)
PriceAverage view duration (AVD)
GOALMake the most money possible
(Eyeballs x conversion rate x price)
Gain the most watch time possible
(Impressions x CTR x AVD)

First, a new product is placed on the shelf of a local grocery store. After enough data is collected, 1 of 3 things could happen:
- The product sells terribly (low conversion rate x price) -> gets removed from the grocery store's shelf (fewer eyeballs)
- The product sells okay (average conversion rate x price) -> stays on the grocery store's shelf (stagnant eyeballs)
- The product sells phenomenally (great conversion rate x price) -> gets distributed & placed on the shelf of an international/global supermarket like Walmart (more eyeballs)

The same process goes for a new video. First, a new video is recommended to returning viewers and a small test group of new viewers. After enough data is collected, 1 of 3 things could happen:
- The video performs terribly (low CTR x AVD) -> Not recommended anymore, can only be found mostly on the channel page (fewer impressions)
- The video performs okay (average CTR x AVD) -> Gets recommended, but still plateaus over time (stagnant impressions)
- The video performs phenomenally (great CTR x AVD) -> Keeps getting recommended to similar audiences (until CTR drops significantly) (more impressions)

Simply put, YouTube decides how many impressions a video gets based on the amount of watch time it gets (CTR x AVD).
If a video doesn't perform phenomenally well, YouTube won't keep recommending it to new similar audiences anymore and will just replace it with what's been working. Otherwise, it's like wasting shelf space on a new product that doesn't sell well in a supermarket.



The Biggest Challenge in Breaking Through the Plateau

At this point, I've uploaded 29 highlight videos in the last 8 months. Of course, the videos themselves have way more room for improvement, but based on the comments and engagement, I know this highlights channel has given out enough "jabs" (shoutout to Gary Vee) and built up enough credibility to gain an engaged group of loyal, returning viewers.

(Note: subscriber count isn't that important of a metric anymore. Subscribing to a channel doesn't guarantee you'll see all the videos it uploads. The act of clicking the "subscribe" button only indicates to YouTube that you're somewhat interested in seeing this channel's future videos. What videos you actually click on and spend a lot of time watching matter much more.)

Getting 1,000+ views in the first 24 hours is no longer a problem, but of course I want to do better, especially now that I know the difference between a video that gets 1,500 views and 15,000 views with the same number of subscribers.

Oftentimes, even if a video performs well in the first few hours (CTR x AVD), this happens later on:
reaching a wider audience.png

While most people would be okay with it, it's not acceptable if I want breakout and consistent growth.

More on what I'm implementing to overcome this challenge...
 
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Diego Liu

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"Video Pre-launch" Fail

Getting 1,000+ views in the first 24 hours is no longer a problem, but of course I want to do better, especially now that I know the difference between a video that gets 1,500 views and 15,000 views with the same number of subscribers.
Well, the latest 2 videos don't even have 1,000 views now (vid uploaded 9 days ago: 944 views; vid uploaded 2 days ago: 735 views). Yikes

For the latest video, I did a little experiment:
First, I made the video unlisted. Then I posted the link to the video in a community post on the main channel:
community post.png

This unlisted video got 200+ views within around 15 hours. Then I made the video public.

I did this because I thought people seeing this would think,
"Holy crap, this video was just uploaded 3 minutes ago and has 256 views already! I must check it out!"
256 views in 3 minutes.png


Then, of course, based on what I'd learned in the previous post, the video would get a high CTR, more views, and get exposed to gain more impressions, and keep snowballing from there.

Well, it turns out this tactic of manipulating perception didn't work at all. The CTR turned out abysmal:

4.4% CTR in 39 hours.png
(note: it says 505 views because it doesn't count the views when the video had still been unlisted).

The biggest reason likely has to do with the overlap between the people who'd see posts on the main channel and the engaged returning viewers of the highlights channel. Therefore, when the video was published, those people had already watched it and of course wouldn't click on it, which hurt the CTR.

I actually considered this point but thought that the omg-256-views-in-3-minutes halo effect would counter it when exposed to people who haven't watched it. Well, it turns out not the case.

Anyhow, lesson learned.

I did this experiment partly out of desperation too. Getting a high CTR in the first few hours to get that momentum going forward has just been so hard lately. Plus, this is sort of a catch-22:
The more views a video has, the more views it keeps getting.

Take the latest video from MrBeast for example:
MrBeast video.png

It doesn't matter how YouTube says how "more impressions will naturally lead to lower CTR" in this case. The omg-29M-views-in-3-days halo effect more than compensates for that.

I believe this hack I experimented with might still work to some extent. I just need to promote it somewhere else with people of similar interests.



However, I know that won't move the needle either.

Now, there are only 2 things worth channeling my energy towards:

1. Make better thumbnails (KPI: higher CTR)

It doesn't matter how much time I spent editing these in Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. YouTube analytics clearly indicate that these 2 thumbnails suck:
sucking thumbnail 1.pngsucking thumbnail 2.png
I just need to surrender to the YouTube marketmind. It comes down to the "would you rather be right or rich?" trap again.

Making better thumbnails & titles:
1. Implement the thumbnail strategies from a workshop I just took from
Film Booth (a pretty awesome channel too, highly suggested that you go check it out).
2. Get feedback from John personally and fellow Bulldog Mindset members before uploading a video.


A thumbnail and title are just an image and a few words, but there are so many layers of psychology underneath (will touch on this subject more in-depth with examples in a later post). Having uploaded almost 300 videos in the past 1.5 years, I'm still feeling pretty frustrated and can't quite pinpoint a pattern. It's time that I finally hunker down and master it.


2. Make better videos (KPI: higher retention percentage)
The only way to break through having a low view count is to make videos that are so good that the first few people who watch those videos totally rave about them and can't stop coming back.

For example, I can vividly remember discovering Leon Hendrix when he had only around 2k subscribers less than a year ago, now he has 263k subs (100X!!!)

Though it took him a while to take off, it was clear that he already had "videotocracy" long before then:
Leon Hendrix videotocracy comments.png
(FYI, he had only 1,350 subscribers a year ago (April 2021))

In fact, I believe I found his channel when the legendary James Jani @Valier gave him an Instagram story shoutout saying something like, "This Leon dude is doing YouTube right on so many aspects. Mark my words: this channel is going to explode!"

Success surely leaves clues.


Now, it's hard to define what a "good video" is, but numbers never lie, so I'm going to return to the analytics again.

The 5 most recent highlight videos all have around 40~45% (all over 8 minutes long). According to MrBeast in this interview, a video that has over 70% retention rate is pretty golden.

I'm shooting for 55% for videos longer than 8 minutes and 65% for videos shorter than 8 minutes.


Stay tuned for more progress and things I've learned along the way...
 
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Cameraman

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As someone else who is trying to improve their YouTube figures, thanks for sharing your experience.
For the latest video, I did a little experiment:
At the risk of giving you another idea, I wanted to share my own experience. I've been experimenting with my videos for over 6 months and I've watched my figures drop by around 50%. My CTR also fell in this period from around 4% to about 1.8% and the videos were getting fewer views. All the videos were still about the same subject matter but they didn't receive any interest and usually died at around 1,500 views.

What I came to realise after a few months of digging through the analytics is that I have several sub-topic niches in my subscribers. Whilst everyone is interested in photo editing, the people who use Affinity Photo don't want to watch videos about Photoshop and vice versa. When I looked at the videos in this way I could see a pattern where my videos are shown to existing subscribers on launch. If they didn't watch the videos then the videos died.

After this I did two things:
1. I ran a few polls on my channel to find out what software people were using.
2. I looked at which videos accounted for my subscribers.
The figures from these two backed each other up.

I now have two groups of subscribers (not mutually exclusive). I've then started making videos for those and bang - much higher figures (400% - 800% higher) with the CTR at 7-8%.

It may be something to investigate.
 

Andy Black

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Paddy Galloway has some good videos and podcasts about YouTube growth.
 

Diego Liu

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At the risk of giving you another idea, I wanted to share my own experience. I've been experimenting with my videos for over 6 months and I've watched my figures drop by around 50%. My CTR also fell in this period from around 4% to about 1.8% and the videos were getting fewer views. All the videos were still about the same subject matter but they didn't receive any interest and usually died at around 1,500 views.

What I came to realise after a few months of digging through the analytics is that I have several sub-topic niches in my subscribers. Whilst everyone is interested in photo editing, the people who use Affinity Photo don't want to watch videos about Photoshop and vice versa. When I looked at the videos in this way I could see a pattern where my videos are shown to existing subscribers on launch. If they didn't watch the videos then the videos died.

After this I did two things:
1. I ran a few polls on my channel to find out what software people were using.
2. I looked at which videos accounted for my subscribers.
The figures from these two backed each other up.

I now have two groups of subscribers (not mutually exclusive). I've then started making videos for those and bang - much higher figures (400% - 800% higher) with the CTR at 7-8%.

It may be something to investigate.
Thanks! Great idea. It's often easy for me to just focus on the number of views and forget that behind the screen of each ONE view is a REAL person. Understanding the audience avatar is surely important. I did some generic polls in the past but likely didn't dig deep enough. I'll look more into it.
 

Diego Liu

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Nice progress thread. Lots of details and analytics. You’ll succeed because of how you’re approaching this.

Added to the master thread:
What an honor. Thanks, @Andy Black ! I'll make sure that your prophecy come true as well haha.

Paddy Galloway has some good videos and podcasts about YouTube growth.
Definitely. I haven't watched his videos for a while, but this guy is surely walking the talk and knows what matters:
  • He has only 31 videos on his channel (as of April 2022) but 26M+ views already
  • His title & thumbnail pretty much all follow the same format:
    • A large famous YouTuber's face
    • A similar thumbnail title: "The guy/gal who beat/broke Youtube"
    • A similar title: How (YouTuber) Gained (X Millions of Views) in (a short time)
Screen Shot 2022-04-23 at 12.54.45 PM.png
 
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Diego Liu

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The Value of Feedback & Iteration

I was staying in my little bubble for a long time.

However, for the recent video, I sent John the first draft of the latest video's title & thumbnail before releasing the video:

First drafts:
thumbsup1.pngthumbsup2.png

John said that's too generic and doesn't have enough mystery or spark enough intrigue, which I totally agreed with. Then, based on his suggestion, here's the second draft:
Thumbsup.tv.png
I also did some Photoshop tricks to make the "after" picture stand out. I used to repel spending too much time on "art" and "aesthetics" and just went for sufficiency. But as far as the thumbnail goes, it seems just a little tweak does play a huge effect.

I thought this was the best I could do, but here's John's feedback again:
Screen Shot 2022-04-23 at 1.22.20 PM.png

So I spent another whole afternoon squeezing every ounce of my brain's juice to come up with every possible title I could think of. Here are all the ones I jotted down in Notion:

cropped.png

Finally, I narrowed it down to these final 3:
Thumbsup.tv2.pngThumbsup.tv3.pngThumbsup.tv4.png

John liked the first two, and so I finally went with the second one, and this video has the best CTR the channel has had in over a month:
7.4% CTR.png

It's easy to look at viral videos and say, "Obviously that thumbnail & title work! I could make them too if I wanted to!"

But when it comes the time to make them yourself, you realize how much work actually goes behind and how many drafts have to be discarded to finally get to one that works.

In fact, in Film Booth's thumbnail workshop, he stressed the difficulty of making the title & thumbnail and how much he got frustrated with them too. He even went on to say that knowing what title & thumbnail combo would grab a viewer's attention and make him click on is sometimes harder than knowing how to make a great video.

This is also a great lesson on the 80/20 rule. I clearly haven't paid enough attention to the videos' titles & thumbnails. It's time to turn that around...
 
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Diego Liu

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April 2022 Report

- Total views: 194,239
- Watch time: 12,774.9 hours
- 1,580 new subscribers
- 4 new videos

Screen Shot 2022-05-04 at 4.08.55 AM.png

Screen Shot 2022-05-04 at 4.09.54 AM.png

The channel almost doubled in the number of views compared to March (100,679) even though the 4 new videos didn't receive that many views. This happens since 2 clips with Andrew Tate uploaded a year and a half ago (Nov. 2020) blew up, accounting for half of the total views the channel is currently getting on a daily basis.

Screen Shot 2022-05-04 at 4.22.00 AM.png

In fact, as you can see in the first graph above, they actually blew up back in Dec. 2021. Then, they dropped right back down to only 27k views in January this year.


Takeaways:

- YouTube operates on an exponential scale.
- Hang in there. Be patient.
A piece of content you uploaded a while ago may just blow up tomorrow. You never know. Conversely, it may take a long time for the content you make now to get noticed.
- That next "hack" isn't going to be the game-changer. In many cases, they may actually backfire, as I found out with this experiment. Once I shifted my focus back to the main things - title & thumbnail and video content (specifically way more on the title & thumbnail), the videos performed so much better:
Screen Shot 2022-05-04 at 5.15.37 AM.jpg
 
Last edited:

Mister

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Love it!

Do you think you can / want to expand so that you can help more people in growing their YouTube channel ?

I think a good source of information is Mr. Beat, he said in a interview (Joe Rogen podcast) he gives advice / coaching for free, that might be a good chance to go after.

I also looked in the market of mindset, motivation & start ups, i found some channels that blow up in a year or so from just already existent content from events and so on. For example "MotivationHub" (Bad example for blowing up).

I noticed the difference in the design of words/ test (idk how to call in in English) that you used in the thumbnails from #11 screenshot and the ones #10. Eventually, that cloud work and is worth trying out.

Im looking forward to more updates
 
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Diego Liu

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Get More Views AFTER Upload (WITHOUT Promotion!)

I watched these 2 videos by Film Booth and implemented some changes:


First, I did 2 thumbnail A/B tests with TubeBuddy last month (actually before the video above came out, but regardless, it's still an awesome refresher. Go watch it. I guarantee it'll help you with your channel tremendously).
Screen Shot 2022-05-04 at 5.51.03 AM.png

Now, around a month later, here are the results:
Screen Shot 2022-05-04 at 5.55.28 AM.png

Screen Shot 2022-05-04 at 6.20.20 AM.png
(Note: The impressions & views are lower than the "previous 28 days" since that period included the day of the upload (this video was uploaded on March 10), which is obviously when a video gets a boost in impressions & views.)
Screen Shot 2022-05-04 at 6.21.39 AM.png

It works! It's amazing how much just an image can so strongly influence the trajectory of a video's traction. This is definitely the 80/20 principle at work here.

All the previous videos on the channel are hidden goldmines that I can do more A/B tests on, especially the ones with great feedback but low CTR. These seemingly minor changes will compound the channel over time. Plus, they're great for me to practice making more clickable thumbnails for future videos.



As far as retention goes, I followed this video's advice and used the YouTube Editor to cut out the last part where there was a steep retention drop-off in the end. There's no actual content there, either just end screen videos with music in the background or John pitching the Bulldog Mindset Membership (we've decided to focus exclusively on the traffic first for the time being).
Screen Shot 2022-04-23 at 3.23.52 PM.jpg

Screen Shot 2022-04-23 at 2.48.21 PM.jpg

Screen Shot 2022-05-04 at 6.58.03 AM.png

So far I haven't seen any major difference in the number of impressions these videos get, but I know I'll just have to wait that out and check back again later as it's only been 11 days. As you can see, from the time I made those changes with the thumbnails, those 2 videos didn't pick up steam until at least 10 days later.

YouTube is truly a game of patience and endurance. However, patience doesn't mean passive. I used to check the analytics multiple times a day without doing shit or making any changes in between. Results won't magically come simply because of "how bad I want it." A bias toward action is key.
 
Last edited:

Andy Black

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I'm marking this Gold for the ridiculous amount of detail included.

Good work @Diego Liu
 

Cameraman

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@Diego Liu thank you. You've included some great resources here but it's even more inspiring to read your progress. Your latest video numbers seem very close to my own so I'm watching for your updates, especially with the older videos.

Have you seen any seasonal variations?
I seem to experience a drop in views at the end of April each year and views are then low until it picks up again around the end of September. This has happened for the last few years and mirrors traffic on my website. A friend with a YouTube channel of a similar size and niche also sees this. It may be related to the photography niche but I was wondering if you've noticed anything?

Thanks again for sharing so much.
 
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Diego Liu

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I'm marking this Gold for the ridiculous amount of detail included.

Good work @Diego Liu
Wow! What an honor! This is insane. Thank you so much @Andy Black !

I've felt myself being pulled to a higher standard since you marked this thread GOLD.


Actually, I wouldn't even have started this thread at all had I not come across your thread: Don't Lurk, Do This Instead
Thanks a lot @Andy Black

I’d long held the belief that I’m not “qualified” to post here since I’m not banking millions, but enough with that limiting belief.

I have a lot to offer simply by documenting my journey and how I overcome obstacles similar to the ones that others here (will) face.

I have some value bombs coming for y’all. Be prepared! ;)
I made this comment in November last year and didn't take action right afterward, but it surely planted a strong seed.


Try it and see what happens.

Come back and thank me later.
Thank you again, Andy.


This works, guys. Wherever you are, there MUST be something tiny you can do to start contributing. Start by giving thanks:
If you read something you like then don’t just hit the Like button.

Quote it, thank the poster, and explain why it helped you.

Here’s what’ll happen:

1) You’ll help the poster realise they’re not posting to the void.

2) You’ll encourage them to post again.

3) You’ll help them keep going, possibly through dark times.

4) You’ll get into the habit of “giving thanks” where you explain how it’s helped you.

5) You’ll start being seen as someone who appreciates and supports others.

6) You’ll slowly move from team consumer to team producer.

7) You’ll start making friends, building relationships, and creating win-wins (the essence of business).

Then, start documenting your journey. In fact, I just talked to a mastermind friend about this yesterday.

He's currently learning to code and wants to switch to a software development job. However, he's felt unmotivated by all the interview rejections he's gotten. Though not building a fastlane business, he was definitely stuck in the desert of desertion.

I told him about the palpable difference I've felt since documenting my YouTube journey on this thread and suggested that he start making YouTube videos or writing blog articles about what he's learning.

Then he came up with the objection of not being an "expert" yet. He was having imposters syndrome.


Long story short, another mastermind friend and I DESTROYED every possible excuse he could come up with. By the end of yesterday's call, he told me, "I hate you, man." (LOL)

And lo and behold, today he uploaded his first YouTube video solving a Leetcode problem.


Here are some notes I jotted down while DESTROYING his objections and why he should start right away:
  1. You’re always one chapter ahead of somebody else.
    (In Catch Me if You Can (starring Leonardo DiCaprio in the movie), When Carl Hanrattythe FBI agent questioned con artist Frank Abagnale Jr, “How were you able to teach sociology at Brigham Young University? How were you able to become the teacher when you don’t know the material?” His replied, “Easy. I always read one chapter ahead of everybody.”)
    (
    Not suggesting that you become a con artist too, of course ;)
  2. “Experts” have long forgotten what it was like to struggle as a beginner

  3. You gain a way better understanding when you have to verbalize in your own words

  4. Some people may just find it easier to connect with your personality even when you aren’t the best (yet) at what you do
    • “Escape competition through authenticity.”
      -Naval Ravikant
  5. You’ll feel more accountable

  6. That piece of work now exists permanently on the Internet

  7. You’ll be able to look back on where you were at years later and be proud of how far you’ve progressed

  8. You’ll become more articulate & charismatic (moreso for YouTube)

  9. Nobody really gives a shit about you. While you’re worrying about, “What do people think about me?” Everyone else is obsessed with the same thing. Get out of your own head and you win.


Some more recommended books & videos on this topic if this is still not convincing enough for you to start:
  1. Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered by Austin Kleon
  2. Creating Value & Wealth: The 70/30 Rule
  3. By @Andy Black
  4. Jordan Belfort x Mark Lack interview [01:04:00-01:09:22]
  5. Gary Vee x Simon Sinek interview [27:24-30:33]
  6. The "Expert" Lie That's Holding You Back: Why You Don't Need To Be An Expert To Get Paid In Business

*I went on a little side tangent from YouTube here, but I hope this inspires anyone currently feeling paralyzed, not knowing where to start, to finally get out of their own heads as @Andy Black helped me do the same.
 

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The Value of Feedback & Iteration

I was staying in my little bubble for a long time.

However, for the recent video, I sent John the first draft of the latest video's title & thumbnail before releasing the video:

First drafts:
View attachment 43113View attachment 43114

John said that's too generic and doesn't have enough mystery or spark enough intrigue, which I totally agreed with. Then, based on his suggestion, here's the second draft:
View attachment 43115
I also did some Photoshop tricks to make the "after" picture stand out. I used to repel spending too much time on "art" and "aesthetics" and just went for sufficiency. But as far as the thumbnail goes, it seems just a little tweak does play a huge effect.

I thought this was the best I could do, but here's John's feedback again:
View attachment 43116

So I spent another whole afternoon squeezing every ounce of my brain's juice to come up with every possible title I could think of. Here are all the ones I jotted down in Notion:

View attachment 43118

Finally, I narrowed it down to these final 3:
View attachment 43119View attachment 43120View attachment 43121

John liked the first two, and so I finally went with the second one, and this video has the best CTR the channel has had in over a month:
View attachment 43122

It's easy to look at viral videos and say, "Obviously that thumbnail & title work! I could make them too if I wanted to!"

But when it comes the time to make them yourself, you realize how much work actually goes behind and how many drafts have to be discarded to finally get to one that works.

In fact, in Film Booth's thumbnail workshop, he stressed the difficulty of making the title & thumbnail and how much he got frustrated with them too. He even went on to say that knowing what title & thumbnail combo would grab a viewer's attention and make him click on is sometimes harder than knowing how to make a great video.

This is also a great lesson on the 80/20 rule. I clearly haven't paid enough attention to the videos' titles & thumbnails. It's time to turn that around...
Hey man! I'd like to share something Paddy Galloway said when I was on a group call with him a couple weeks ago.

I've got a channel of my own that hasn't necessarily "blown up" yet (2.2k subscribers in 3 months), but using this thumbnail advice from Paddy has been helping me a lot:

He basically said that there should only be 3 elements for the viewer to focus on in thumbnails. It shouldn't be crowded or anything.

Something that stuck with me is when he said "people are not analyzing the thumbnail. They see it for a split second. They don't care about everything happening in the thumbnail." They see something interesting, and it's clear to what is being shown in the thumbnail, so they click.

When I saw some of these thumbnails you've posted, there's a lot going on in some of them. Maybe try fewer words, and use brighter colors instead of using the black in the backgrounds.

Paddy said vibrant colors + brightness are important.

Also - I forget the statistics, but using a black background may also make your thumbnail not stand out because something like 80% of YouTube viewers watch youtube on dark mode.

Hope this helps - I'm also on my youtube journey, it's been great reading this thread so far!
 

bluffcatcher

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I just realized that your titles are too long.
They should be maximum 50 characters long. The shorter the title the better the results. Most of MrBeast's titles are shorter than 40 characters. Also you might want to add some neat subtitles to increase watch-time. And one more thing; do cuts every 2-3 seconds. People get bored when they watch the same clip for 10 seconds. If you're using a clip from JRE, keep the sound in the background, add subtitles and add frequent cuts, you can use free stock footage. You can check MrBeast's videos to see an example.
 
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chuckstar_za

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Simply put, YouTube decides how many impressions a video gets based on the amount of watch time it gets (CTR x AVD). If a video doesn't perform phenomenally well, YouTube won't keep recommending it to new similar audiences anymore and will just replace it with what's been working. Otherwise, it's like wasting shelf space on a new product that doesn't sell well in a supermarket.
Bit late to this post, and I've not read the full thread yet, so it may be covered in the replies somewhere.

Whilst this IMHO is reasonably true and the analogy is nicely put, it's also important to consider, that just like a shop, your video is also competing against others. You may have the most spectacular CTR or AVD, but if another video comes along in a similar vein/niche to you that is performing even better, it will knock your content down the ladder as it were.

Anyway, back to reading your thread...
 

chuckstar_za

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I just realized that your titles are too long.
They should be maximum 50 characters long. The shorter the title the better the results. Most of MrBeast's titles are shorter than 40 characters. Also you might want to add some neat subtitles to increase watch-time. And one more thing; do cuts every 2-3 seconds. People get bored when they watch the same clip for 10 seconds. If you're using a clip from JRE, keep the sound in the background, add subtitles and add frequent cuts, you can use free stock footage. You can check MrBeast's videos to see an example.

I agree with you regarding the title thoughts. Keeping them 50 char or less is a good way to learning being succinct and on point. The rest of your post I'm not 100% on point with.

Subtitles do nothing to improve watch time. This was confirmed by the gent who does retention analysis for Mr. Beast.
https://twitter.com/RaptorDaRaptor

This idea that every video needs to look like it was edited by someone with the worlds shortest attention span is nonsense. What matters is how the ideas in the video are presented. Not everyone is creating content to an audience of 20somethings. Look at a channel such as Veritasium. The cuts aren't hyper OTT, but the information itself presented in varying degrees of pacing.

The number one problem with retention isn't editing, or lack of sexy b-roll, but poor scripting. A lousy script is a lousy script, not matter how much you try and salvage it using cuts.

Looking at a Mr Beast video is great if you want to create content like him, and there are useful bigger picture takeaway's but it's not the definitive way of 'winning' YouTube.
 

bluffcatcher

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Dec 5, 2021
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I agree with you regarding the title thoughts. Keeping them 50 char or less is a good way to learning being succinct and on point. The rest of your post I'm not 100% on point with.

Subtitles do nothing to improve watch time. This was confirmed by the gent who does retention analysis for Mr. Beast.
https://twitter.com/RaptorDaRaptor

This idea that every video needs to look like it was edited by someone with the worlds shortest attention span is nonsense. What matters is how the ideas in the video are presented. Not everyone is creating content to an audience of 20somethings. Look at a channel such as Veritasium. The cuts aren't hyper OTT, but the information itself presented in varying degrees of pacing.

The number one problem with retention isn't editing, or lack of sexy b-roll, but poor scripting. A lousy script is a lousy script, not matter how much you try and salvage it using cuts.

Looking at a Mr Beast video is great if you want to create content like him, and there are useful bigger picture takeaway's but it's not the definitive way of 'winning' YouTube.
Interesting... MrBeast uses subtitles in the hooks of some of his videos.


TommyInnit uses subtitles in all of his videos.


Even if it doesn't improve the watchtime, I think it makes it easier to follow along. Especially for non-native English speakers like myself.
 
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Andy Black

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Interesting... MrBeast uses subtitles in the hooks of some of his videos.


TommyInnit uses subtitles in all of his videos.


Even if it doesn't improve the watchtime, I think it makes it easier to follow along. Especially for non-native English speakers like myself.
Do subtitles help YouTube SEO?
 

chuckstar_za

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Do subtitles help YouTube SEO?
There was a theory floating around about 6 months ago that it helped give YT context.
TBH their machine learning IRT to understanding your content is so advanced, I don't really feel IMHO that it would make any difference.

If it did make a marketable difference, you'd be seeing it everywhere by now.

Aside from fashionable styling elements for the sort of crowd who watch that sort of video, the only reason I can see it include it is for people who watch on mute - especially given that these days a hover over the thumb, shows a short preview clip.

Ryan Holiday also uses subtitles, most likely for this reason.

I still stand by my point that from a retention POV, they don't really a serve purpose.

For SEO, I would spend far more time on creating useful chapter titles instead. Put text on screen at those points if you must, bc YT shows smaller thumbs of the chapter breaks under the main video.
 
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Cameraman

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There was a theory floating around about 6 months ago that it helped give YT context.
TBH their machine learning IRT to understanding your content is so advanced, I don't really feel IMHO that it would make any difference.

If it did make a marketable difference, you'd be seeing it everywhere by now.

Aside from fashionable styling elements for the sort of crowd who watch that sort of video, the only reason I can see it include it is for people who watch on mute - especially given that these days a hover over the thumb, shows a short preview clip.

Ryan Holiday also uses subtitles, most likely for this reason.

I still stand by my point that from a retention POV, they don't really a serve purpose.

For SEO, I would spend far more time on creating useful chapter titles instead. Put text on screen at those points if you must, bc YT shows smaller thumbs of the chapter breaks under the main video.
I agree that it doesn't matter for SEO these days. At one time when the speech recognition was poor, it may have helped but not now. The speech recognition is very accurate. I have had quite a few people comment that it helps them because English isn't their first language - I also have a pretty strong accent so I guess they need it.
 

Vinz

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Wow! What an honor! This is insane. Thank you so much @Andy Black !

I've felt myself being pulled to a higher standard since you marked this thread GOLD.


Actually, I wouldn't even have started this thread at all had I not come across your thread: Don't Lurk, Do This Instead

I made this comment in November last year and didn't take action right afterward, but it surely planted a strong seed.



Thank you again, Andy.


This works, guys. Wherever you are, there MUST be something tiny you can do to start contributing. Start by giving thanks:


Then, start documenting your journey. In fact, I just talked to a mastermind friend about this yesterday.

He's currently learning to code and wants to switch to a software development job. However, he's felt unmotivated by all the interview rejections he's gotten. Though not building a fastlane business, he was definitely stuck in the desert of desertion.

I told him about the palpable difference I've felt since documenting my YouTube journey on this thread and suggested that he start making YouTube videos or writing blog articles about what he's learning.

Then he came up with the objection of not being an "expert" yet. He was having imposters syndrome.


Long story short, another mastermind friend and I DESTROYED every possible excuse he could come up with. By the end of yesterday's call, he told me, "I hate you, man." (LOL)

And lo and behold, today he uploaded his first YouTube video solving a Leetcode problem.


Here are some notes I jotted down while DESTROYING his objections and why he should start right away:



Some more recommended books & videos on this topic if this is still not convincing enough for you to start:
  1. Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered by Austin Kleon
  2. Creating Value & Wealth: The 70/30 Rule
  3. By @Andy Black
  4. Jordan Belfort x Mark Lack interview [01:04:00-01:09:22]
  5. Gary Vee x Simon Sinek interview [27:24-30:33]
  6. The "Expert" Lie That's Holding You Back: Why You Don't Need To Be An Expert To Get Paid In Business

*I went on a little side tangent from YouTube here, but I hope this inspires anyone currently feeling paralyzed, not knowing where to start, to finally get out of their own heads as @Andy Black helped me do the same.
I hope this post doesn't get lost in the thread, because it is a value bomb.
I struggle with this, but you are convincing me to finally find a way to get started !

Like your friend I'm thinking of switching to an IT job, and I already started thinking "I need a certification to get the job!"
But realizing that in this area I already know more than average people honestly, I want to apply Andy's method and find people I can help right away so I can have practical experience in the meanwhile.
 

Ernman

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New to the thread after finding Andy's list of YT progress threads. As a YT creator I'm very interested in all these threads but it will take me some time to read through. Looking forward to learning and sharing.
 
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Modeling - Don't Reinvent the Wheel, STEAL What Works

I'd been struggling with thumbnails for quite some time, but I finally got out of my own head and became more "extrospective" - looking beyond my little bubble. And man, it has worked wonders.

I read Steal Like an Artist a while back and decided to apply this concept 3 weeks ago:

“Nothing is original. It says it right there in the Bible. Ecclesiastes:
'That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun.'
Every new idea is just a mashup or a remix of previous ideas.”


-Steal Like an Artist; Austin Kleon

Since I already spent way too much time on YouTube, getting started with this practice was pretty easy. I just needed to look deeper into the thumbnails of videos that got a lot of views.



This video talks about how most people bite more than they can chew and make little progress. Instead, COMMIT to just a few things that they'll ABSOLUTELY get done. Once they're done with those tasks, they can always commit to new ones and repeat the process.

Based on this core message, here's what I came up with for the thumbnail of a video that also talks about committing back in January:
Don't Try thumbsup.png

The click-through rate is 3% (3.1% on the first day). Yikes


So I knew I had to attack this new video from a different angle. But how?

Then I somehow saw these 2 thumbnails recommended to me:
Andrew Huberman.png

Then a lightbulb lit up in my mind:
"Why not reframe 'committing' as a daily habit?"

Finally, after quite some brainstorming time (take a look at this long list of ideas if you're interested in some of my brain juices), here are the final 2 versions I came up with:
v1.pngv4.png
(I did A/B Testing with TubeBuddy and the second version had a slightly higher CTR)

The CTR of this video was 6.1% on the first day, and now 5.5% after 22 days. It isn't all that great since I likely jammed too many elements into the thumbnail (I'll likely swap it out with a new one sometime soon), but still, that's a massive improvement from 3%.



Then I repeated the same process with the next video's thumbnail.

This video's core message is that if you think you “work too hard," feel "burnt out," and need more “breaks” or "work-life balance," you don’t. You’re just weak. Train yourself to a “new normal."

I was struggling to come up with a good hook. But this time, while browsing through the channel's catalog of videos, I saw this video that was doing super well (9.9% CTR after 87 days; 12.3% CTR on the first day), and I had that lightbulb moment again:
"Ha! This is a repeatable formula!"
  • Title: [(Why) (doing) something] is ruining your life/making you miserable
  • Thumbnail:
    • A sharp contrast
      • 2 successful persons on both sides
      • Loser(s) in the middle
    • Text
      • something positive in yellow text with yellow arrows pointed at the successes
      • something negative in red text on top of the loser(s)
Then here's the masterpiece:
v4.png

And voila, this turned out the best-performing video in the past 3 months:
CTR - work life balance.png
(11 days later, the CTR is now 7.3%)



And finally, for the latest video, which enforces the idea that self-proclaimed “introverted/laid-back alphas” or “sigma males” are just pussies making excuses for their fear of getting themselves out there and potentially getting rejected, I thought of Johnny Depp, which is a typical "sigma male" and pretty hot on the news these days.

And for exposing, I recalled another video with some slick Photoshop edits:
Chris Heria.png

After watching through some Photoshop tutorials and spending many hours stumbling through the edits, this is how it turned out:
v2.png

The CTR was 7.6% on the first day, and now 7.1% 2 days later. Not too shabby.

(I also started adding that bright yellow frame from this video on to make it stand out in dark mode, thanks to @mikecarlucci's suggestion:
Paddy said vibrant colors + brightness are important.

Also - I forget the statistics, but using a black background may also make your thumbnail not stand out because something like 80% of YouTube viewers watch youtube on dark mode.



Other than thumbnails, I also applied this principle to the video content itself.

As I was looking to step up my editing game to increase audience retention, I remembered watching this video that has some sick edits.

After I clicked on the video to watch it again, the first 10 seconds of the video got another one of my lightbulbs lit up again: "I can use this too!"

With each mouse-clicking sound, there's a new Twitter screenshot asking the same question about the subject of the video. The mouse-clicking pace goes faster and faster with impending, suspenseful background music.

So I did the same thing with the latest video, the only differences being "Sigma male" YouTube videos instead of Twitter screenshots and a different soundtrack.

The results came out really great: 76% retention rate 30 seconds into it, which is the second-best in the 10 recent videos.
76% retention rate.png


Fellow Fastlaners, whatever you're trying to do, someone else has likely already done it successfully in a similar context.

Still, I believe the time you spend on deep work, staring at a blank page, being bored to tears, and brainstorming every idea you can think of is extremely valuable. However, you can come up with something really good then only if you first build the habit of taking a closer look at what's already working.

Don't just blindly copy. Break down all the components, draw out the ones that you can steal, add your own unique twists, and experiment with them.

Don't limit the sources of your inspiration to the specific industry you're in either. I never would have thought that 2 random videos of all the thousands I'd watched, one of them exposing a fitness influencer, the other detailing the history of a pickup company, would help me craft high-CTR thumbnails.

Stay open-minded to what might work, make a calculated decision, and be single-minded in your execution. You never know what works until you put the stuff out there. Test and learn. You'll see a pattern...until you feel confused again. And keep repeating this process.


P.S. I'm writing this so that I can heed this advice myself too, possibly more so than anyone else on the forum.
 

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Ernman

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Don't just blindly copy. Break down all the components, draw out the ones that you can steal, add your own unique twists, and experiment with them.

Don't limit the sources of your inspiration to the specific industry you're in either. I never would have thought that 2 random videos of all the thousands I'd watched, one of them exposing a fitness influencer, the other detailing the history of a pickup company.
I like it. I wouldn't say you're "stealing" anything if what you're doing is learning from what others have done and improving it by adding your twists. If you blindly copy, then yes, you are stealing. But improving on what others have done is NOT stealing.

I couldn't agree more with the second para. Completely unrelated industries or professions may have an operational or philosophical approach that can vastly improve what you are pursuing.
 

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