206: YouTube for Food Influencers with Tim Schmoyer

An image of Tim Schmoyer and the title of his episode on the Food Blogger Pro Podcast, 'Youtube for Food Influencers.'

Welcome to episode 206 of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork interviews Tim Schmoyer about creating, delivering, and capturing value on YouTube.

Last week on the podcast, Bjork wrapped up our Projects series and talked about building a Personal Board of Directors. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.

YouTube for Food Influencers 

While we know that “hands and pans” videos perform well on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, are they really the best types of videos to share on YouTube?

Tim Schmoyer is here today to talk about the nuances that go into creating a powerful presence on YouTube. If you’re already making food and recipe videos, you’ll love learning about how you can create, deliver, and capture value on YouTube in this interview. If you’re not already creating content on YouTube, this episode should shed some light on the many positive outcomes of sharing videos on this platform.

A quote from Tim Schmoyer’s appearance on the Food Blogger Pro podcast that says, 'I just try to blow away people with value.'

In this episode, Tim shares:

  • Why YouTube is important for creators
  • When he realized he could make a career out of YouTube
  • Why you need to fail
  • How he monetizes his channel
  • If it’s too late to start on YouTube
  • The characteristics of successful accounts
  • How YouTube prioritizes videos
  • Why YouTube is different from other social media platforms
  • How to deal with haters
  • His advice for creators who want to rely on YouTube for income
  • What UTM parameters are and why they’re helpful

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Alexa Peduzzi: In this episode, I talk about hashtag recommendations for Pinterest, and then Bjork interviews Tim Schmoyer about creating, delivering and capturing value on YouTube. (singing) Hey, hey, wonderful listener. Alexa here, and you are listening to the Food Blogger Pro podcast. How are you doing?

Alexa Peduzzi: It’s been a few weeks since I’ve done the intro to the podcast. I took a break while we were publishing our project series, and I’ve missed you. It feels so good to be back, and I’m thrilled to ring in this new episode with you.

Alexa Peduzzi: But before we hop into the interview, I’d like to thank our sponsors for this episode, WP Tasty. WP Tasty is our sister site for WordPress plug-ins and food bloggers. And if you’re on the hunt for SEO-friendly, lightweight plug-ins, head on over to wptasty.com to learn more.

Alexa Peduzzi: And for today’s tasty tip that is a helpful, actionable piece of advice we like to share at the beginning of the podcast episode, I’d like to chat about hashtags on Pinterest. As you probably know by now, hashtags are acceptable and searchable on Pinterest. But do you know how you can incorporate their use into your overall Pinterest strategy?

Alexa Peduzzi: Well, some of the questions you may be asking yourself are, how do Pinterest hashtags actually work? Do they work the same way as they do on other social media platforms like Instagram or Twitter? How broad or specific should my hashtags be? Should it be just hashtag food, or more like hashtag breaded chicken salad? How many hashtags should I actually use on each pin, and should I update my old pins to use hashtags?

Alexa Peduzzi: Luckily, all those questions, and more, are answered in WP Tasty’s newest blog post, titled Pinterest Hashtags in 2019: Best Practices and Simple Tips. You can get that by going to wptasty.com/hashtag, that’s the actual word hashtag, not the icon. And as a little teaser, here’s a little takeaway.

Alexa Peduzzi: So, while you can use up to 20 hashtags on each pin, it’s recommended that you actually use three or four. This is to ensure that your hashtags stay relevant, concise and non-spammy. Again, you can get there by going to wptasty.com/hashtag to learn more. (singing)

Alexa Peduzzi: And now, the episode. We are so excited to welcome Tim Schmoyer back on the Food Blogger Pro podcast to chat about the state of YouTube for food creators in 2019. It’s an awesome conversation if you’re a content creator in the food space.

Alexa Peduzzi: In this interview, Tim shares why YouTube should be treated as a unique social platform, how YouTube prioritizes videos, how to deal with haters, how to monetize and so much more. If you’re making food and recipe videos, you’ll love hearing about how you can create, deliver and capture value on YouTube in this interview. So, without any further ado, Bjork, take it away.

Bjork Ostrom: Tim, welcome back to the podcast.

Tim Schmoyer: Thank you. It’s been a little while. It’s good to be back here.

Bjork Ostrom: It has. And believe it or not, some things have changed with YouTube. You would find it hard to believe, but after a couple years, there’s some things that are different. So, we’re going to talk about what some of those things are, kind of the state of YouTube.

Bjork Ostrom: But before we get into that, I want to let people know, number one, we’ve done an interview before, so we’ll link to that in the show notes. People can check that out. And number two, I’m going to let people know that we’re talking all about YouTube today.

Bjork Ostrom: But before we do that, why YouTube? Why is it an important thing? I think we should really start at the base level, and discuss the power and the significance of YouTube for creators. So, I’ll start with that and then we can go from there.

Tim Schmoyer: Yeah, there’s a lot we can talk about there. I started on YouTube back in 2006. And I was a full-time blogger at the time for a few years, and so, I loved the blogging world. I loved being able to sit down, write out content, publish it, and it would take me, I don’t know, a solid afternoon to write a 600-word post and get… And I really liked it because I could see that what I was doing was making a difference.

Tim Schmoyer: Well, this thing called YouTube came along shortly thereafter, and that was back in 2005, by the way. I started WordPress 1.5, so-

Bjork Ostrom: Nice. OG.

Tim Schmoyer: Yeah, yeah, totally. I remember those days were fond memories of trying to figure out how to make it work.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. That was WordPress before it was cool.

Tim Schmoyer: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: It was, what, 33% of the web now, and it was probably 3.3 or .3% of the web at that point.

Tim Schmoyer: Yeah, back then it was like bbPress. Or, not bbPress-

Bjork Ostrom: Yup.

Tim Schmoyer: … It was… The other-

Bjork Ostrom: WordType was a popular one, and… I’m trying to think of some of the others. Yeah.

Tim Schmoyer: I kept going back and forth. Anyway, I settled on WordPress. Turned out, I made the right choice.

Tim Schmoyer: So, I was using WordPress to just kind of talk about things that I was passionate about, and then around that time I started… I was in graduate school halfway across the country, and I started dating this girl and I wanted to introduce her to my family back home across the country. And I just started putting little videos of us up on YouTube. First one was March 2nd, 2006, so way in… And YouTube started in 2005, September, 2005. So, it was really back in the beginning.

Tim Schmoyer: And started growing, and people were like, “Hey, how is this working?” And I’m like, “I don’t really know.” This is Myspace days, where you don’t use your real name on the internet, and if people find out who you are, they hunt you down and kill you for some reason, so-

Bjork Ostrom: Yes, for sure.

Tim Schmoyer: … I was a little concerned about why different people were commenting, why were they coming back, and how are they finding me. And other people were apparently asking that question too.

Tim Schmoyer: And so, from the very beginning, I kind of ended up as that guy on YouTube. This is the person you ask when you want to know how YouTube works.

Tim Schmoyer: But what I really loved about it was that… So, my girlfriend and I, we got married and started having kids and moved to our first house, moved jobs, and we kept putting those videos up on YouTube. And within a few years, we were reaching a million people a month.

Tim Schmoyer: And so, to answer your question why YouTube, one of the first things I saw that was different between what I was doing as a blogger than what I was experiencing on YouTube is that when we reach about a million people a month, it was great, but what I really loved about it was that we were giving these people a window into our lives, and having far more impact than I anticipated.

Tim Schmoyer: And I’m not saying because we were awesome or anything. It was just like people were just experiencing these stories, and their lives were being changed by people who weren’t committing suicide because of videos we made, and marriages that were about to go through a divorce and were turned around and healed because of videos of conversations my wife and I had publicly on our videos.

Tim Schmoyer: It was all sorts of stuff. And I loved them. Like, “Oh, man.” So, I saw this as an opportunity to reach people and change their lives, and it was faster for me than writing a blog post because it would take a whole afternoon to do that, whereas I could just sit down and say the same thing I was going to write but it’ll only take two minutes and I’d be done.

Tim Schmoyer: And so, I loved that. But I just felt like one of the main things with video was that I could actually make people feel something with video. I kind of “make eye contact with them.” And not just tell them about something, but make them feel like they were actually experiencing that moment with us, and that they were hanging out with us and that there was this relationship.

Tim Schmoyer: And I know really good writers can do that with blogging too. I just guess I wasn’t one of them. And I just really liked the human connection that we were able to build by not just telling people stuff, but showing them. That was one of the biggest reasons why I was like, “All right, I want to kind of go in, for me, go more in on YouTube because of that impact.” So, it was a couple of other things… the first thing.

Bjork Ostrom: That makes sense. One of the things that we talk about a lot on this podcast, and I actually use the podcast as an example, where it’s easier for me to do this podcast than it is for me to write blog posts, just because of the medium that I naturally go to, which is asking people questions and having conversations, and that feels like a really comfortable space for me and I really enjoy it.

Bjork Ostrom: And for Lindsay, she loves writing. And she’s one of those people like you talked about, where she loves the process of sitting down, writing and communicating thoughts and emotions and experiences through writing and she does a really good job with that, and isn’t super excited about being behind the camera and recording a video.

Bjork Ostrom: And the point is that there are lots of different options in the world, and just because somebody has success in a certain area, they’re a good writer, they’re a good photographer, they’re a good podcaster, doesn’t mean that you need to then try and replicate that if it’s not a good fit for who you are. So, it’s finding the medium that works really well for you.

Bjork Ostrom: And it sounds like for you, Tim, that was video. And you went all in on that. You doubled down on that and say, “Okay, I’m not going to try and do all these other things. I’m going to go in on video and go really deep with that experience and get really good at that.”

Bjork Ostrom: So, at what point in publishing those videos did you say, “Hey, this YouTube thing could maybe be something that I build a career around,” and now you have a business and a team. We were talking about that a little bit before I pressed record. But, if you zoom back, at what point did you say, “Oh, wait. I can create videos and this can be a job.”

Tim Schmoyer: Yeah. There’s a couple things that happened, actually, along the way. One, and to make it all really short, is I basically had a job, lost it, and then got another job and lost it, and I was like… And the first one was doing youth and family work, and that one ended pretty poorly. And then the next one, there was a company here in Cincinnati hired me to come out and they were making Explainer videos for their clients, and then their clients wanted to know, “Well, how do I make this video perform better on YouTube?” So they hired me to help start doing strategy with their clients, which went great.

Tim Schmoyer: But then after about a year, they’re like, “Hey, Tim, you’ve done awesome. We love you, but our company’s going in a different direction now and six months from now we won’t be supporting our clients in this way anymore.” And I was like, “Okay.”

Tim Schmoyer: So, they said, “We think you should start a business doing for other people what you’ve done for us. And so, we’re going to keep paying you full-time for six months. Use this as kind of like seed money and come use our office, come use our WiFi, and help us out with things as we need it. But take this next six months to get your own thing going.” And so, I was like, “All right. I’m going to start doing for myself what I’ve taught other people to do.”

Tim Schmoyer: And along the way, kind of going back a little bit to your question about why YouTube, a couple things I experienced along that, which wasn’t a surprise to me, but it’s always a little bit different when you’re experiencing it for yourself rather than something you’re teaching to someone else… One was, man, the conversions through my YouTube channel were way higher than they ever were on my blog. And I don’t know exactly what to attribute that to, but it eclipsed my blog revenue pretty quickly. And so now, clients we work with… I know several bloggers who actually used a YouTube channel to complement their blog, and then they ended up selling the blog and just keeping the channel because of that.

Tim Schmoyer: Two, I found that I was ranking way higher… Making a YouTube video about a topic was, at that time, 52 times more likely to rank on the first page of Google than an equivalent blog post would, just because there was so much competition. And then I realized at that time, I was tapping in, it still is today, the world’s second-largest search engine on the platform.

Tim Schmoyer: So, if I was YouTube, I was missing out on an entire audience of people who were searching for something that weren’t searching for it on Google. And so, that really helped my business get started at the beginning, and so I kind of had this aha moment when I was trying to deliver really good value through my channel, but then also trying to sell that value through different ways, and it actually worked. And so, that was kind of like when I’m like, “Okay. This could work.”

Tim Schmoyer: And so, I had six months to get this to be my full-time gig. And I started the channel in January 2nd, 2013. My last day of work was June 15th, 2013, and so, in that period I went from literally starting it from nothing to generating, it was, by the time I left my old job and that was over, it was generating $10,000 a month in revenue. Now, it wasn’t my first… I had the blog and other experiences too, but I was pretty happy about that.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. And I think that will be something that, when people hear that, they’ll be really interested in how you made that transition. Of that $10,000 a month that you were creating from your YouTube channel, could you do a little pie chart in terms of what that looked like and how that worked? Was that working with clients? Was that ad revenue? What did that look like and what would your advice be for somebody who wants to do something similar? Go from zero to… Or start, and in six months or in a year, build up something so that it is their full-time gig, it’s able to replace their job or whatever their situation is? How could somebody replicate or do a similar thing to what you did in making that transition?

Tim Schmoyer: So, I think the first thing is that you actually need to fail a lot. And so, I have failed previous… The blog was full-time income, and it was supporting our family. But it didn’t really take off, and I made a lot of mistakes with that. So that’s like two years of making-mistake experience, right?

Bjork Ostrom: Yup.

Tim Schmoyer: And I was also working with a lot of YouTube channels before. So it’s easy for me to say, “Yeah, it’s so easy, everybody. I just started from zero to $10,000 in six months. Here’s how you do it.”

Tim Schmoyer: But whenever we hear those types of stories, there’s always a backstory that actually made that possible, right? So, I don’t know… I don’t want to set anyone up with the expectation that going from zero to $10K is easy, or it may be even possible. I don’t know. It’s probably possible for someone out there.

Tim Schmoyer: But for me, it was all the lessons I learned about how to sell, and great product, and especially in branding and how to remove any confusion about who I am and what I’m about and how to communicate and articulate that stuff, because people only… They only give you a few seconds before they move on to the next link, the next video, or something. So, being able to communicate, those were all mistakes that took me years to get out of my system. And so then when I started Video Creators, it sounds like I went from zero to $10,000 in six months, but that’s because of all of the backstory.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. I think that’s so important. Even with our story, with starting the blog Pinch of Yum, there was a couple years that I had been working at a nonprofit and kind of understanding websites and working on WordPress.

Bjork Ostrom: And so, the same thing is true, where we started the site in 2010, but there was a backstory there of two years of kind of understanding the web and online publishing and listening to podcasts and books and things like that. So, it’s so valuable to have that perspective when anybody gives any type of timeline because I think naturally what we do is we compare ourselves to those people, and I think it’s always important, like you said, to think of that backstory.

Tim Schmoyer: Skip the backstory and go straight to thinking I should be successful right now. What am I doing wrong? Then you’re actually kind of short-circuiting the process, because we only look at people when they’re at the top of the mountain. But we all have to climb it to get there. And no one started at the top. We all started from zero. And I think that the climb, the struggle, for years and years and years, that no one else sees, is actually very, very important.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it. So, if you were to break up the… at that point when you had made the transition, what did that look like? When you were creating your new job, is that primarily consulting with other companies, or what did that look like in terms of the revenue breakup?

Tim Schmoyer: Yeah, so I’m not sure how deep you want to get into this.

Bjork Ostrom: I think just high level. I think just-

Tim Schmoyer: Yeah, high level, okay. So, there was… The pie chart was a few different things. A lot of it was… I had put together a thing called 30 Days to a Better YouTube Channel, and I hadn’t yet finished creating it, but I didn’t want to create it if no one was going to buy it.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Tim Schmoyer: So, I did a crowdfunding campaign, basically, for it, to see if people would buy it and kind of get myself an advance, so to speak. And the audience met the goal and I was like, “All right. I’m making this thing.”

Tim Schmoyer: And so, I launched with something, a product, which was a mistake I made in my blog, where it was all free content and all advertising supported. And that was a stressful game for me because it was all based on views and impressions, and I was always just selling someone else’s stuff.

Tim Schmoyer: So, I launched with my own product and set that expectation with my audience from the very beginning, that hey, you can pull out your wallet with me if you want. You don’t have to, but if you want to, you can. And here’s this. So, that part of it.

Tim Schmoyer: Another part of it was doing the consulting gigs, where people just wanted to work with me one-on-one for an hour to get some input and ideas and next steps on how to take their channel to the next level. And then another chunk of it was key partnerships and relationships I had built with some people, with agencies, who had a big group of clients who wanted to learn how to do YouTube. And so, I was subcontracted through a lot of their agencies to kind of work and do their YouTube strategy stuff for them.

Tim Schmoyer: So, if you want to grow really fast, one of the quickest ways to do that is, rather than going after one customer at a time, form a connection or a relationship where there’s a whole pool of potential customers, and build a connection there. It gives you access to a whole bunch of people rather than just one at a time.

Bjork Ostrom: Do you have an example?

Tim Schmoyer: Yeah, in my case it was going after the agency. Or another example would be like maybe instead of trying to be on the street selling your cupcakes, you get placement inside of a bakery or something like that.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure, yeah, got it.

Bjork Ostrom: So, point being, if you are in a position where you are looking to work with other people or to partner in some capacity, try and find the hub as opposed to the spoke. Try and find the person who has some type of central role and is connected in some way. That might be an agency, that might be individual who has a Facebook group or is kind of a leader of a community of people. Get connected with those people because those people are connected to all the people you want to be connected with.

Tim Schmoyer: That’s right, yeah. And it worked out really well for me because those agencies, they were representing… I ended up doing YouTube strategy for Disney, for Warner Brothers, for HBO, Budweiser, eBay. All these big brands. And so that gave me a lot of credibility in the beginning too, as the guy who is kind of, quote-unquote, they came to me like, “Tim, thank you so much. You saved this client for us.” And they were really, really happy about that. So those are the kind of three chunks.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it.

Tim Schmoyer: It wasn’t ad revenue from YouTube or anything like that.

Bjork Ostrom: Yup. So, this is a question that we get a lot as it relates to blogging and building a following online, social media, things like that. I’m guessing it’s a question that you get as well, where you’re able to tell your story and say, “Hey, this is something I built in to a successful business. Here I am today. I have this traction, I have a team.”

Bjork Ostrom: But then there’s people who are just starting out today, and they say, “Did I miss the boat? Is this something where I had to have started in 2013 in order for it to work?” And it’s not 2013. It’s 2019, and there’s lots of creators online. And what do you say to the person who says, “Is it even worth it for me to start on YouTube? Is it worth it for me to put in the time and energy when it’s such a crowded and noisy place?” What do you say to that person?

Tim Schmoyer: Yeah, well, first of all, before I answer it, I want to hear a little bit more about what their goals are, and hear a little bit more about their story and things like that. But the general answer is always, “It’s not too saturated and you can absolutely get started.” In fact, I’d say that starting a blog in 2013 is like starting a YouTube channel in 2019. Now’s the time to do it, right? And five years from now, you’re going to be like, “Oh, I should’ve started it in 2019,” right?

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Tim Schmoyer: So, the best time to plant a tree was 100 years ago. The second best time is today, right?

Bjork Ostrom: Yup.

Tim Schmoyer: But I don’t think that it’s too saturated though, because it’s easy… Again, kind of going back to our other analogy, most people see, all they see is the people who are on top of the mountain, the people who have climbed it and achieved it. And what they don’t see are all the other people that are trying to get there. And so they’re like, “Man, it’s not worth it. It’s too hard.”

Tim Schmoyer: But what my team and I see is we see people all the time who are growing from nothing to 15,000,000 views a month, 16,000,000 views a month in… well, that one was about nine months. We took one client to 15,000,000 views a month in about six months. One went from 400 subscribers to 100,000 subscribers in less than a year. We took one person, within a few months, from 20,000 subscribers to 1.4 million subscribers, right?

Tim Schmoyer: So, we get to see the people who are starting small, who are starting at zero and growing and growing. And I know it feels frustrating to do that, but it absolutely is possible. Growth is still reproducible. And it’s just like growing a blog. It takes work, but it’s absolutely possible. But it’s still true that the sooner you get started, the better.

Bjork Ostrom: So, you have a really interesting look into lots of different businesses and specifically lots of different YouTube accounts. And you had just listed a bunch of different people who had some pretty cool success in a relatively short amount of time, a year, two years, maybe it’s three years. And we’re getting to a place where, for a lot of people, they’d be like, “Oh my gosh. If I had 500,000 subscribers, that would be so cool.” And the amount of impact that you could have, it’s such a large group of people and such a huge impact that you could have on those people.

Bjork Ostrom: If you were to distill it down to some common characteristics that each one of those individuals or channels had, in terms of when you say you can reproduce it, what were some of those things that were common that those people reproduced, that you said, “Hey. This is something you need to do. Here’s a strategy you need to implement.” If you were to take them all up, boil them down and then create the average of all of those, what are the success characteristics of those accounts?

Tim Schmoyer: Yeah, at the risk of not doing justice to any of them then, but the high level things are, one is it really comes down to how clear is your brand and your messaging, and how do you communicate that. So, on YouTube, people will only give you a few seconds. They’re not going to do their homework and spend the half hour watching your content to figure out if they want to subscribe or not. You get three seconds.

Tim Schmoyer: And so, really figuring out who are we and who are we not, and how do we communicate that, and how do we answer the fundamental questions of who’s our target audience, and then why should they care. So, the customer avatar and the value proposition. And then how do we integrate that into the channel and communicate that clearly so that there’s… The first thing we’re trying to do is reduce and remove and eliminate any type of confusion. And ambiguity? Is that the right word?

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, sure.

Tim Schmoyer: Any of that stuff. So, that’s number one. Number two, then, is, and it’s also on the branding side… There are certain elements that content needs to have in order to build a human connection with people, so if you just tell people what you do, on a cognitive level, they’ll be like, “Okay. I get it. That’s nice. You and a thousand other people do gaming videos. Or do food videos or do vlogs or whatever.” So, then it’s also, we have to start communicating, well, why do we do this. Why does this matter?

Tim Schmoyer: And I’ve already done that with you guys. I said. “For me, I do this… I help you master YouTube so that you can spread a message that reaches people and changes their life.” And I told a little bit about that story. It provides context and meaning to the brand when people know your backstory.

Tim Schmoyer: And so, we talked about, then, how do we integrate… There’s seven different things, signals, that people really need to really grow, and I will, suffice it to say, for our time here, read a book called Primal Branding. The author is Patrick Hanlon, and he goes into all seven of those. And it’s how brands develop cult-like followings.

Tim Schmoyer: It’s why some YouTube… This is an actual true story. I did a consultation with a channel that had seven full-time people working on this channel. They were putting hundreds of thousands of dollars into their production. They all had television studio backgrounds, using $20,000 Epic cameras and Red Epics and everything. And they were like, “Tim, how come our… We published one video a week for a year, and we’ve put hundreds of thousands of dollars into this, and our top video only has 24 views?” It was a vegan channel. I’m not vegan, but it looked amazing. I was like, “I would eat that.”

Tim Schmoyer: But their frustration was, “But there’s this guy in his basement with a webcam getting million.” Right? What the heck? Why is that?

Tim Schmoyer: And it’s all the Primal Branding stuff. I told this guy. I was like, “I watch your videos. I know your host’s name, but I don’t know why she’s vegan. I don’t know what this means to her. I don’t know…” There’s one video, her daughter was in it, but her daughter didn’t say anything. That was kind of weird. Are they estranged? Are they talking? It’s like all these other questions go through your head that have nothing to do with vegan food, but the viewer just needs these subliminal questions answered. So anyway, the Primal Branding elements is a big thing.

Tim Schmoyer: And then probably the next biggest thing is how well can you hold someone’s attention. And that’s a really big metric on YouTube called watch time and session watch time and things like how much time do people actually spend watching your content. Probably, like blogging world, you kind of similar with page time and stuff like that.

Tim Schmoyer: So, the thing that it really comes down to is how well can you tell a good, meaningful story that connects with people on a deeper level. And the better the story, the longer they’ll spend watching.

Tim Schmoyer: So, it’s a combination between branding and storytelling, if I was going to boil it way down to its most basic fundamentals. I mean, there’s a lot of strategic things in terms of titles and thumbnails and stuff like that too, but the content has to win. It doesn’t matter how well you dress it up with titles and thumbnails if people don’t watch it.

Bjork Ostrom: Point being like you could have, in the case of really high production value, something that visually looks really good but if it’s shot with nice cameras, edited really well, but there’s no story behind it, it’s not going to be engaging for people to watch. And the important point, and I think this is important to point out on YouTube, and something that I’m continually learning, is that watch time is one of the important factors that YouTube uses in terms of prioritizing your videos and giving you exposure.

Bjork Ostrom: So, if we think of Google as a search engine, YouTube is that as well, and they’re going to prioritize content that they know people will watch for a long time because YouTube wants you to stick around. They want you to watch as much content as possible, so they’re going to reward you for that.

Bjork Ostrom: So, one of the questions that I have is what about people that want to repurpose their videos? In our space, it’s really common to do what some people call hands and pans videos, right? So, it’s a video that would work really well on maybe Facebook two years ago or a year ago, not so well now but will still maybe work well on Instagram, where it’s visual but there’s not a huge compelling story behind it. Does that break down on YouTube, where it’s harder to have success with, let’s say, a one-minute, or two-minute hands and pans video, and you need to really consider being in front of the camera and having somebody that is kind of the personality behind the brand?

Tim Schmoyer: It certainly makes it easier. I don’t know that I would say it’s absolutely necessary to have to be on the camera. Coming back to the principle, the story is what’s most important.

Tim Schmoyer: So, for example, we work with Kristen over at Six Sisters’ Stuff. And when she was getting started on YouTube, it was just a lot of that hands and pans type of stuff.

Tim Schmoyer: And so, one little tweak that she made that made a really big difference, not necessarily repurposing content, but maybe along those same lines, is she now opens the video on camera, and she’s just doing it on her cell phone. It’s a 720P, front-facing camera. It’s not like high-tech equipment.

Tim Schmoyer: And she’s just smiling and she welcomes people, like, “This is what we’re going to do today,” and she just maybe spends 20, 30 seconds talking and setting it up. You get to know her personality a little bit. She tells a little bit of a story, usually, and then she cuts to the normal hands and pans type of thing. But she’s doing a voiceover over the whole thing that’s telling the story and explaining what she’s doing, and then sometimes at the end she’ll come back on camera then and do a little clip that just kind of explains what happened, wraps it up and next steps and stuff like that.

Tim Schmoyer: So, you could use the same footage, possibly, and just think like, “What’s the story here.” And by story, I don’t mean like it has to be this huge, three-act structure or anything like that. Sometimes it just needs to be like, “Guys, my kids come home in a half hour and I need to have something on the table. This is what I’m going to do. Let me show you.” Right?

Tim Schmoyer: And then the question is, “Will she do it? Can she pull that off in 30 minutes? I don’t know.” Right now there’s a sense of intrigue. There’s a sense of, “I need to stick around and see how this plays out.” Because all you do is a tease. A basic story structure is about a character who wants something, overcomes conflict to get it, and is transformed by the process.

Tim Schmoyer: And so, it would be like, yeah, she got the character wants to make dinner, she’s got a obstacle to overcome, 30 minutes before the kids come home. Will she do it? That’s the whole story. And then at the end, it shows the family just quickly grabbing the food and eating it and having a good time. Like, “Okay, there’s the transformation.”

Tim Schmoyer: So, it doesn’t have to be super technical. It’s just some sense of intrigue. It makes people feel like, “Oh, I connected here. Not just I got good information, but I feel like I connected with somebody.” And that’s important.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. So, what I hear you saying is YouTube isn’t going to be the platform that you want to just take and repurpose a piece of content. It would maybe make sense if you’re publishing something to Instagram that’s a one-minute video that’s hands and pans, you could take that, you can put it to Facebook. But if you were to just take that, lift it, and bring it over to YouTube, it’s not going to work as well over there because of the culture around YouTube, the reason people go to YouTube to watch videos, and then also what YouTube rewards. So, you want to have some story there.

Bjork Ostrom: And it sounds like, ideally, you are going to be in front of the camera in some capacity. What about the people who are kind of shy and don’t want to be in front of the camera? What would they do? How do they approach that?

Tim Schmoyer: That’s everybody. I have almost, I don’t know, 4,500 videos or something I’ve made. And even still today, it doesn’t bother me as much as it used to, and I’m kind of like, “You know, I rather just talk to a person.”

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Tim Schmoyer: A friend of mine, Evan Carmichael, has a couple million subscribers. He said that it took… His first 250 videos, he wouldn’t even watch them back. He’s like, he was too embarrassed to see himself on camera. And it wasn’t until about video number 700 where he felt like, “Okay, that’s a decent video. We can publish that.”

Tim Schmoyer: So, that’s normal. Again, you look at the people at the top of the mountain and you think they just appeared there. But I think it’s normal to feel awkward in front of a camera. It is.

Tim Schmoyer: My very first video that I published on March 2nd, 2006, I even… It’s 30 seconds, and the main theme of that video is me sitting there… It’s so painful to watch. I literally said, “This feels really awkward. I feel like I’m talking to a fire hydrant.” That’s what I felt like. Who sits down and talks to a fire hydrant? Nobody.

Bjork Ostrom: Right.

Tim Schmoyer: Are you ever going to do that with a camera? That’s weird.

Tim Schmoyer: So, I think it’s normal. And it’s just kind of like once you start getting going, I think one of the main things that’s just helped me shift is that when you start getting some comments and engagement after a little bit, you’re no longer talking to a camera, but you’re picturing Susan and Mary and Emily, and you’re like, “This video’s for them,” and you’re kind of picturing them when you talk instead of the camera lens. I think made a big difference for me.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that makes sense, for sure. One of the things you said was when you start to get some comments… I think when I think of the possibility of me creating videos on YouTube, one of the things I really worry about is comments. I feel like YouTube is maybe different than a blog post, where people can kind of stumble across it and leave pretty much whatever they want to say as a comment.

Bjork Ostrom: Do you have any advice for people in regards… And I also know that comments, and responding to those, and engagement with an audience, is an important thing. So, do you have any tools in your tool belt that you use to help deal with people who are leaving not-so-friendly comments?

Tim Schmoyer: Yeah. It’s the internet. You’re going to get those.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Tim Schmoyer: There’s always some of that kind of person.

Bjork Ostrom: Right.

Tim Schmoyer: Yeah. And I know, as a creator, when you pour your heart and soul into making this piece of content and you’re emotionally attached to it, you publish it and you get 100 really positive comments and then there’s that one. And it almost like the other hundred disappear.

Tim Schmoyer: And it’s just like… And we have. My wife and I… There’s actually, to be totally honest, there was a point where I’ve… We got a series of kind of negative comments, and I felt like I was just going to quit YouTube. And like, “I’m done. This is not worth it. I am doing all of this for those people? No more.”

Tim Schmoyer: And so I’ve been there several times. And I’ve had people talk me off the edge of the cliff more than twice with that. I’m done. But I think the main thing that people bring me back towards, like, “Tim, you’re going to stop serving these million people over here because of those seven people over there or something?” And at the time, I’m like, “Heck, yeah. I am done.”

Tim Schmoyer: But you got to give it some time. And so, I don’t know that I have an easy way to just ignore people. Because it hurts. It does. And that’s kind of part of it.

Bjork Ostrom: And I think that maybe, more than anything, is what’s helpful, is this universal reality that for you, for me, for anybody that is creating, putting stuff out there, we all, together, experience this. And I think one of the hard things is a lot of times, as a creator, it can feel very siloed and it can feel very alone.

Bjork Ostrom: But then once you hear somebody else say, “Oh yeah. That happens to me too, and it’s terrible.” There’s a little bit of a weight that’s lifted because you know that you’re not the only one that is carrying that burden. It’s like, “Oh, this is something that everybody thinks, feels and experiences and so I’m not alone in this.”

Bjork Ostrom: So, I appreciate that perspective, and just the reality of it being like, “Yeah, that stinks, and it happens, and it’s part of the game.” It’s the part of the cost of entry in the creator space, is to have to deal with that.

Bjork Ostrom: And I think it’s true whether you are an athlete or an artist or a YouTuber. You’re always going to have people who are going to be weighing in and giving their insights and advice and comments, probably when you don’t want them.

Tim Schmoyer: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: So, I think that’s good perspective. So, 2019, and there’s still potential, huge potential, to build a following and to connect with people and to have influence on YouTube.

Bjork Ostrom: What does that look like in terms of the business mechanics of that? Is it realistic for somebody to build a YouTube channel and to expect to get to the point where they could_ create an income from just the ad revenue? I know if you do a comparable to blogs and content, it’s hard to get to a point where your site has enough traction and viewers and page views to create a substantial income just from ads. And so, a lot of people talk about complementing that with services or a product or things like that.

Bjork Ostrom: Is the same true for YouTube? What is your advice? Obviously a lot of it depends on the goal of the person, but what is your general advice for people who want to approach YouTube as a business platform?

Tim Schmoyer: Yeah, do not depend on advertising revenue. And I’m not just talking about AdSense in general. Well, let me rephrase that, I guess. There are plenty of people who depend on advertising revenue, and they do great. And they’re basically creating a media company business model. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I mean, YouTube itself is a platform that runs on advertising revenue, so there’s nothing wrong with it.

Tim Schmoyer: But the reason I don’t like that game, I guess, is because it fluctuates so much. And now I have to work really hard to keep my views up, now there’s an algorithm change and all of a sudden my views are in half, and now I can’t sell… I got to lay off these two people because they can’t sell the advertising they used to sell because people only want to be in front of eyeballs and then it’s like, “Well, should we advertise with you or your competitor who has more numbers and cheaper rates?” And you’re like, “Ah.” It’s a game, and we can go that route. It’s just not one that I enjoy personally.

Tim Schmoyer: And I usually recommend that people do a few things, like they actually create a sustainable business where it’s like, one, I know what value I’m providing to my viewer through my free content, and so I’m delivering good value. So, let me back up, I guess, a little bit. A business model is a rationale for how one creates, delivers and captures value, right? So, I’m creating good value, I’m delivering good value for free through my YouTube channel, and then I want a way of capturing good value.

Tim Schmoyer: And I like it when I’m just delivering 10x the value that I’m delivering for free in my videos. And when I deliver that in a form that people are willing to pay for.

Tim Schmoyer: And so, the way that math works for me, in terms of comparing it to revenue, and this is my actual math here, my actual numbers… is, if I do a video that teaches people, I don’t know, let’s say, how to craft an engaging thumbnail. And at the end of that video, I’ll say, “Hey, if you really want to grow your channel, I got this ebook, it’s called 30 Days to a Better YouTube Channel. Every day it’s going to give you one, a lesson, something you need to learn, two, it’s going to give you a task, something you need to do right there on your channel, and then, three, it’s going to give you links for the resources. If you’re interested, check out the link in the description.”

Tim Schmoyer: And that’s pretty much all I say. That was like 10, 12-ish seconds, something like that. I don’t do a hard sell or anything like that. Whenever I do something like that at the end of my videos, I’ll convert about 1% of the audience into a sale, and so, it’s a $30 product right now, and so, at 1% of 1,000 views is 10 sales, so that’s $300 per 1,000 views, on average.

Tim Schmoyer: Whereas if I’m going just based on the advertising revenue, YouTube, it varies very greatly, depending on your audience and where they’re located and a lot of factors. But on average, say I get around $2.50 per 1,000 views. So, we’ll get $15, $20. Some people get 75 cents, so I guess that is a pretty wide range. But either way, the advertising revenue’s not getting close to $300 per 1,000 views.

Bjork Ostrom: Right. That’s really interesting. So, for that YouTube… Let’s say that kind of, call it a funnel, for lack of a better word, so you have people coming in top of the funnel, this is free content. After that, it funnels down and you know that it’s that 1%. Do you know that just from comparing like, “Hey, here’s our ebook sales this month contrasted against our total video views?” Is that kind of how you crunch those numbers?

Tim Schmoyer: UTM strings and the URLs they click.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it.

Tim Schmoyer: So, you can just Google.

Bjork Ostrom: And for those that aren’t familiar with that, can you talk about what that is and how you use those?

Tim Schmoyer: Yeah. If you just search Google for… What would you search for? UTM strings, maybe?

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Tim Schmoyer: There’s a little generator. Yeah. UTM parameters. So, you can kind of just customize your URL a little bit. The URL stays the same, but you’re adding these little tags to it. And so, when someone clicks it, your Google Analytics is tracking those in campaign metrics, and you can see like, okay, this person came from YouTube, and they clicked on it on the end screen of the video, because that’ll have a different tag than the description, for example. And you can see, hey, people who clicked on the end screen, that got this number of people, and they converted at this percentage. And I can see how many views a video got and compare it to that, and figure that out.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it. So, it’s a great way… So, it’s essentially adding a little… It’s not URL shortener. It’s a URL lengthener. But what it does is it allows you to put information in that URL that Google understands. So, what I hear you saying is you use that URL at the end of a video so when somebody clicks on it, Google is then tracking and saying, “Okay, we understand this, Google Analytics, specifically, here, we understand this person is coming from this video.” And you can see then, “Okay, great. They’ve actually purchased this product,” so you can see that it’s all hooked up and tracked.

Bjork Ostrom: So, would that be a recommendation that you’d have, even for somebody, let’s say, in the food space? If somebody’s creating food and recipe content, would your recommendation be to, at the end, have some type of call to action towards a product that somebody can kind of have a 10x value experience with?

Tim Schmoyer: Yes and no. So, the yes part is, the way advertising works, I think as we all understand, is someone pays us $5,000 to promote their service to our audience because they’re banking on our audience converting to $25,000. So, if it doesn’t, that math breaks down, advertisers will stop paying us, right?

Tim Schmoyer: So, the way I think about it is if my audience has $25K, I would rather just deliver something to them directly and cut out the middleman, and create something that I’m passionate about, that I know is going to serve them exactly the way they need it, that’s going to change their life, and that I’m really excite… I sell way different than when it’s my own thing because I know what it’s going to do for them. And just take the $25K myself. And then I don’t really have to worry as much about flexibility and views and traffic and stuff like that.

Tim Schmoyer: But on the other hand, though, the reason I say no is that there are some people who just don’t want to make a product, and they just don’t want to have to deal with customer service and they don’t want to have to deal with deliverables and refunds, and maybe even inventory or, depending on the product, things like that. And so, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with doing the advertising revenue. I just think as long as you understand that you’re basically selling other people’s stuff. And if you know how to sell other people’s stuff well, then you might as well just sell your own thing and not have to go from brand deal to brand deal to brand deal.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. That’s really interesting, and I think really fun for people to think about. Not that the numbers will be the same for them as the example you gave, but I think to have that as kind of a framework to use, to say, “Oh. I can get to this point where I can really control and understand my business because from start to finish, I kind of own that process. I know if I can get 10,000 views and 1% convert, and the product is $10 or $30, I can start to see how valuable that is.” And that’s where business becomes really fun, is when you can start to understand those numbers really concretely.

Bjork Ostrom: So, do the products you have then impact the content you create? Or, is it the opposite, where you know content that’s going to work well so you create products around that? What does that look like in terms of strategy around creating something that will work well on YouTube for a product?

Tim Schmoyer: That’s a good question. I don’t think I think about it in either way, actually. I think I think about it in terms of what does my audience need right now? What questions are they asking? What problems are they trying to solve?

Tim Schmoyer: And for my business, that changes over time, as YouTube evolves and people get better at certain things or certain things that people used to do don’t work as well anymore, right? And so, it’s kind of like I want to… I try to serve people the best I can through my free content on my YouTube channel, and really master YouTube, spread a message that reaches people, changes their life.

Tim Schmoyer: And so, the way my business has kind of worked, which I know is going to sound kind of like, “Okay, Tim.” You roll your eyes, but it’s kind of true. It’s just like, I just try to blow people away with value. I don’t try to hold anything back in my videos. It’s not like, “Ooh. This part, people need to pay for.”

Tim Schmoyer: No, I want to give away as much value… And people are like, “Man, this is what I get for free? What would I get if I sign up and pay for a one-hour session?” And at the end of the one-hour session, people are typically like, “Oh my gosh. How do I keep working with you?” And I don’t even have to sell it. They just ask.

Tim Schmoyer: And I know, maybe that sounds a little bit, I don’t know, but I just try to focus… Again, maybe coming back to that before we started to hit record, we mentioned the book called Thou Shall Prosper. And in that book, he’s just like, “Just give freely.” And the people who win are the people who aren’t just trying to extract value from people. They’re the people who are genuinely try to serve the best that they can. And the better that works for your business, so-

Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome. And what I love about that is it applies whether it’s YouTube, a podcast, whether you’re publishing content to a blog, in relationships that you have with people you care about. It’s this universal principle around this idea of giving and the importance of giving, and how that is a smart and generally, not just smart from a business perspective, but it’s smart and right, I guess is what I’m trying to say. And a bonus that oftentimes it results in you being able to build the thing that you care most about.

Bjork Ostrom: I think a big reason for that is because in giving, there is also inherent trust that is passed along. Like, “I’m not going to hold back and I’m going to give you everything that I can, and I want to help you,” which is such a core foundational thing that relationships are built on.

Bjork Ostrom: So, Tim, we’re coming to the end of the podcast interview. I know there’s tons of stuff that we could hit and we could talk for hours, but we have to wrap it up.

Bjork Ostrom: I would love to hear where people can go to follow along with you, to continue learning. Maybe you can mention your site. I know that you also have a course specifically for people who create food and recipe content, and that’s a free course, which ties into what you were just talking about, which is delivering a lot of value. But share a little bit about where people can find you and where they can check out that course as well.

Tim Schmoyer: Yeah, so I put together… It’s a free one-hour course. It’s called youtubeforfoodinfluencers.com, and it’s about an hour. You just go through, where I’m showing you how to set up your YouTube channel and how to optimize it and position it so that some of the things we talked about earlier, in terms of branding and things, are clear, how to integrate that into your channel so that when people find you, they want to subscribe and follow along very quickly. And so, that’s totally for free. youtubeforfoodinfluencers.com.

Tim Schmoyer: I also have a weekly podcast show on iTunes, where I talk about how to master YouTube and spread your message and you can just search iTunes for Video Creators, and that should pop up for you. So, either of those places.

Bjork Ostrom: Awesome.

Tim Schmoyer: Great.

Bjork Ostrom: Great. And we’ll link to those in the show notes as well. Tim, so great to connect again, talk about YouTube in 2019, what’s happening and how people can create incredible channels. And we just really appreciate you being on the podcast, so thanks for coming on.

Tim Schmoyer: Thanks for having me. It was fun.

Speaker 4: (singing)

Alexa Peduzzi: And that is that, my friend. Thank you so much for tuning in to the Food Blogger Pro podcast this week.

Alexa Peduzzi: And before we officially wrap up this episode, it’s time for our reviewer of the week. It’s been a few months since we’ve shared reviewer of the week, but we’ve gotten some new reviews recently on iTunes, and we are just so, so appreciative. Bjork and I read every single review that we get, and the reviews really help the show get in front of others.

Alexa Peduzzi: So, today, we’d like to send a special thank you to smallfarmbiglife, who said, “I get so much helpful information from this podcast. I’m constantly pausing to take notes or look things up. I’ve gotten so many helpful tips for my food blog. I can’t recommend Food Blogger Pro enough.” Thank you, thank you, thank you for your review.

Alexa Peduzzi: And if you would like to be featured in an upcoming episode of the Food Blogger Pro podcast, you can search for this show on iTunes, and let us know what you think of the show. We can’t wait to read it.

Alexa Peduzzi: Thanks again for tuning in to the podcast this week. And until next time, make it a great week.

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