When I first started seriously looking into the YouTube platform, there was a huge amount of misinformation out there. This wasn’t deliberately designed to trick you, it was more a case of YouTubers and video marketers not really understanding the platform. They shared their anecdotal evidence and formulated conclusions, but for the most part they tended to be wrong.
YouTube feels like it should be easy. You create some video content, upload it, and before you know it your video will be a viral sensation. Of course in reality, most people are left feeling underwhelmed with their views, and the more they try to understand the platform, the more daunting it feels as you realise what a behemoth it really is.
In 2016, I started to compile a short list of video marketers that I really respected, and as far as I could tell, really knew what they were doing. Among that list was Derral Eves, who I followed avidly as, like myself, he obsessed over data. I discovered that Derral owned a video marketing event called VidSummit, but unlike better known events like VidCon, this wasn’t an opportunity for fans to meet and greet with their favourite YouTubers; this was an event for video marketers and YouTubers to share their insights with each other, learn and grow.
He shared video access to some of the previous talks, and I was amazed by the quality. This was exactly the type of information I was looking for and it was all gold. When he announced the line-up for the 2017 event, I knew immediately that I had to attend despite it being a 3 day event in Los Angeles.
The event was amazing on so many levels. It wasn’t just the quality of the talks, but also the networking; picture late night sessions talking with the top 0.001% of the YouTube community talking all things data, strategy and more. I was basically a huge sponge at the event, absorbing every bit of information I could, and this really served as a major foundation for my knowledge moving forwards.
I returned again in 2018, this time with my wife and Falkon co-founder Sadie Sherran, and brimming with confidence that rather than just gaining knowledge from the event, I was keen to share my own insights with my peers too. At this point I had started doing more public speaking, presenting for events such as BrightonSEO, and I was keen to level up to the point where I may one day be considered good enough to present at VidSummit.
In the next few years I was having great success with the YouTube platform. Video creation and video marketing was becoming a primary service at Falkon, and my own personal channel was starting to grow nicely. Part of this was due to the fact that I was very good at identifying topics and predicting trends that had huge potential for views. Of course, identifying them is just one step. How you respond to these opportunities had taken me a few years to really refine into a something that I could replicate consistently across different channels, topics and audiences.
When I least expected it; I got the call to present at VidSummit Worldwide… and I nearly turned it down because I had just five days notice! The thing is, it’s not just the quality of the information in the presentations, but more often than not, the presentations are comparable to professional performances. The 2018 VidSummit opened with Jack Conte, the CEO of Patreon, who basically turned his presentation into a musical performance that ended with an incredible crescendo of information, music and visuals. I was on the front row and was just left feeling blown away. Definitely beats the PowerPoint presentation I had seen just a few days before at another marketing event.
Whereas I simply could not get close to anything like that level of presentation, I realised that what I lacked in showmanship, I made up for with highly practical advice that any YouTuber regardless of size could benefit from. At the time, videos using my strategy averaged six figures in views even for small channels (less than 1,000 subscribers). As of writing this, my most popular video using this technique on my personal channel has nearly 27 million views.
So I took my strategy and broke it down into a step by step guide that would be easy to follow. It was a completely replicable framework for predicting trends and identifying opportunities, from initial research and analysis through to how to create your content and publish them for best results.
I was probably the most anxious I’ve been presenting this, despite having spoken in front of thousands about YouTube in the past, knowing who would be watching this added a whole lot of extra pressure. But the feedback was incredible, and I’ve never had so many people contact me after an event to tell me how much they enjoyed and valued the information. I had owners of small channels share screenshots of their results using my strategies, and “big YouTubers” (greater than 1 million subscribers) message me for clarification and information on some of the techniques. However my favourite bit of feedback was when I heard Derral Eves tell perhaps the world’s best known YouTuber – Mr Beast – that I “knew my jam”.
VidSummit is still going strong, perhaps even more so now that the event is now co-owned by Mr Beast. It’s ordinarily held in Los Angeles, but this year it’s going to be Dallas, Texas.