80th Edition: Getting Started With YouTube & My Course-Building Sprint Starting May 1st
My 80-week writing streak has inspired a bold new (publishing) goal
Two Thursdays ago, I was digging out flannel sheets I had packed away thinking Winter was over after an ice storm barreled through Montreal knocking out power lines left and right. This past Thursday, I was wearing a tank top and sipping a cocktail brimmed with ice at Bar Henrietta with its street-facing window wall pulled all the way open—as people perched on its dividers and tabled their wine while others stood about chatting and chilling on what felt like a quintessential summer night.
The takeaway is it may be Spring but much like our province’s wild child nature for not conforming with the rest of Canada, our weather overlords tend to go rogue as well. So who knows what else this season may bring? I’ll be sure to report back on anything noteworthy.
In the meantime, here are three things I want to cover:
Getting Started With YouTube
Lessons From My 80-Week Writing Streak
My Next Course-Building Sprint (Starting May 1st)
Getting Started With YouTube
In celebration of this newsletter’s 80-week publishing streak, I’ve decided to set another bold publishing goal for myself: publishing weekly YouTube videos.
Ali Abdaal says “Post weekly for two years and your life will change.” I believe him given he’s amassed over 4 million subscribers and now makes millions teaching others how to get good at YouTube. So I have the two-year mark at the back of my mind but to start with, I’m committing to one.
That's been my mentality with every serious pursuit I’ve made from my first overseas move in 2014 to diving into self-employment (and simultaneously launching this newsletter) in 2021. Give it at least a year to really give it a shot. Anything shy of that would mean quitting too soon.
Here’s my formula to succeed in publishing weekly videos for a year—in terms of learning and improvement (because I can’t control anything outside of that):
1. Ship weekly and remember, practice makes progress
Story: A mentor of mine told me a story called “Parable of the Pots.” A professor wanted to identify the quickest route to progress so he divided his pottery class into two groups. Group A was instructed to produce one flower pot over several weeks and do their best to make it perfect. Group B was instructed to produce many pots in that same timeframe and work on getting better each time. In the end, Group B significantly outperformed Group A. Because they practiced, got feedback, and iterated with each try.
Takeaway: I’m going to use the same approach to YouTube. After all, my first newsletter was sloppy and so were many after it—but 79 weeks later? I see a marked improvement. And that’s the compounding effect of gradual progress from week to week.
On that note, here’s my first YouTube video with zero edits and plenty of rambling (I also forgot to add a thumbnail). I look forward to looking back on it a year from now and seeing a marked improvement in value and quality. Until then, I’m pushing through the cringy feeling of getting started in the name of growth.
2. Get feedback and iterate from week to week
Story: When I lived in Paris, a Danish friend told me she was desperately seeking a French tutor. I immediately thought of a woman who worked with Ubisoft (the company where I worked) and offered to reach out to her. I thought the tutor would be thrilled to gain a new client but she told me she wasn’t a good fit. She explained that one-to-one tutoring is intense and given this friend was starting from scratch, she would be better off starting with a beginner French class. Her rationale was my friend would otherwise be frustrated and paralyzed by too much information too early on.
Takeaway: As a new YouTuber, if I were to get hung up on all the dos and don’ts of a pro-YouTuber, I’d never get anything shipped. Perfectionism would become an excuse to hide behind. Instead, I’ve joined Ali Abdaal’s course and I’m committed to shipping a video each week and then getting some general feedback from the team—who appreciate I’m a beginner—on how to make my next video better. (Note: This is the same approach that proved fruitful in the pottery class example.)
3. Keep it simple, creative & fun
Story: When I took Write of Passage for the first time in Fall 2021, one of the first essays I peer-reviewed was by Azul Wells. Azul is a serial entrepreneur, financial whiz, and spirited advocate for how to thrive in retirement. I was hooked immediately by the energy that shone through his piece on Utah’s entrepreneurial scene. But oddly Azul had been struggling to grow his audience on Twitter. And recently during my community office hours, he shared that his problem was he struggled to convey his personality through the platform (something I relate to).
So Azul decided to focus on YouTube instead. And it will come as no surprise to anyone who knows him (since he’s charismatic as hell) that within a couple of months, Azul went from 0 to 6K subscribers, and then spiked to 20K in two short weeks. He crossed 23K yesterday and will likely be at 24K by the time you read this. And you know what the kicker is? The sudden spike from 6K to 20K happened when he stopped formatting his videos with graphics and B-roll and started cranking out videos in selfie mode as he walked around outside. He was 100% in his element and it was captivating.
Takeaway: Different platforms work for different people. In my case, I love doing workshops and tutorials, and verbally sharing my thoughts and experience so I’m excited to start using YouTube. I want to experiment with different formats and creative ideas (but to start with I’ll keep it simple to get comfortable talking on camera). My prediction is YouTube will be a better fit for me than forcing myself to write Twitter threads, which I’m not good at and don’t enjoy. Instead, I can share my videos there and continue posting shorter Tweets and LinkedIn posts.
Based on Azul’s story, if you’ve been giving a platform your all and it’s not working and your heart’s not in it either, consider experimenting with a different platform. One that excites you. Then give yourself permission to feel cringeworthy as you crawl through the early stages of learning and eventually, you’ll be walking and running. That’s my plan anyway.
P.S. If you get on YouTube, comment with your URL and I’ll be glad to be one of your first subscribers. You can subscribe to my channel here. And if you have any questions or topics you’d like me to cover in a video, comment below and I’ll do my best to get to them.
Incentives For (Course) Creators
A big incentive to use YouTube is the possibility of earning from your creations. Most platforms don’t offer that, so it’s an interesting prospect that has a commission-like motivating power. It feels like a win-win.
Also, if you’re a course creator or an aspiring course creator, YouTube is an excellent arena to get comfortable teaching online in a low-stakes environment (since you can edit and re-record as many times as you like). Think of it as a building block to run a live online course.
You’ll build confidence, improve your public speaking, finesse your setup, and get good at explaining things you would cover in your course—on top of a bunch of other transferable skills. Not to mention, your videos will become great marketing content that shows your competency rather than just stating it. That means you’ll earn trust faster. Also, the energy you bring to online teaching is a big factor in whether or not people want to learn from you so by showcasing your vibe, the right people will be drawn to you.
Course-Building Sprint Beginning May 1st
If you’ve been thinking about creating a cohort-based course or holding yourself back out of fear, I have great news. I’m running my next sprint within my course creator community beginning May 1st. Here’s the rundown of the 12-week schedule:is a course creator who joined the last sprint and successfully ran his first cohort in March (HUGE congrats, Charlie). Here’s how Charlie described the experience in his latest newsletter:
Charlie was smart about starting small and keeping his first cohort intimate with nine students—most of whom knew him already and thus he didn't have to stress over marketing components like “having the perfect landing page.” By keeping his pilot cohort exclusive, Charlie over-delivered and refined his course concept before promoting his course to a wider audience for cohort two.
If you’re keen to follow in Charlie’s footsteps but a small audience, fear of putting yourself out there, a lack of direction, or any other hang-up has been holding you back, join us for the next sprint starting May 1st. We’ll help you launch, build, and scale with confidence.
Thanks for reading and have a wonderful week,
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💻 If you want to build a cohort-based course, join my Community of Practice/Course.
☕ If you want to grab coffee in Montreal, hit reply to let me know when you’re in town.
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