Sean Cannell

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O: Hello! Did you know that 55% of people watch videos online every day? You are probably one of them. Video is the way of the future. Video consumption is increasing and it’s spreading across all social media platforms. This is why I have my guest today. His name is Sean Cannell, he is a YouTube expert. He helps and teaches influencers how to go further faster with social media and video. Sean has built multiple successful brands online. He is a best-selling author and creator of Video Ranking Academy. He will teach you all about video. You know, there is so much knowledge and information. I highly recommend you follow him and learn from him. And now, without further ado, onto the show. Hi Sean and welcome to Stellar Life Podcast! How are you doing today?

S: I’m doing awesome, Orion. I’m super pumped to be here and to be talking about video.

O: I’m so excited to be talking to you. I found you on, guess where, YouTube. I thought you were amazing. I just think that you’re brilliant and I think that everybody that is listening to this show is going to learn something really important to their business, for their business.

S: I appreciate that. It means a lot to me. My passion is to help entrepreneurs crush it in every area but especially leverage video to really grow their influence, their income, and their impact. I’m excited to be hanging out with you and your community today.

O: Something that we both have in common is that we both like The Flash.

S: Yeah, that’s true. The show, right?

O: Yeah, the show.

S: Absolutely. I guess we’re getting really honest and transparent right away but that’s one of the only shows that actually makes me cry. I don’t know if that ever happens to you but for real, it causes me to tear up. It’s not that emotional really, or it’s kind of comic book-y but for some reason, that show really pulls my heartstrings.

O: That’s amazing. Well no, it doesn’t make me cry but I just like it. I like anything superhero. I’m obsessed.

S: As far as a masculine opening, that one will take the prize right there.

O: What do you mean?

S: Sean cries during The Flash.

O: It’s a good opening. Tell me a little bit about yourself. I know that you have a very interesting story. I know that life wasn’t always easy and it’s almost like you have your own hero’s journey. Why don’t you share a little bit about that?

S: Absolutely. I think probably a lot of times, where I pick up is where I start when I got into video, and that was in 2003. Of course, around that time I was about 20, 21, and I was volunteering at my local church. The youth pastor handed me a video camera and some editing software and said, “Hey, start making videos.” Orion, I hope you never see these, maybe for some comedy, but these original videos are so bad. But I always encourage people because your first videos are always going to be your worst videos. That’s true for anything. Day one, walking into the gym, you don’t have the results yet. It takes time. But I got started with video then and what I actually did was I was doing weekly video announcements and learning the discipline of doing that. That was one of the big life-changing things that happened to me in 2003. Now, it’s what I do today full-time and what I help entrepreneurs do. But the other life-changing thing that happened to me then was I also met my wife Sonja and she was a Starbucks barista. True story, I actually realized she was into running. At that time, I wasn’t at all into running. What I did was once I knew that fact, I got an idea. If you ever get an idea, I definitely had one. I thought, “What if I walked in with some running clothes on perhaps that would trigger some conversation.” Sure enough, it did. She sees me walk up to the counter and she goes, “Oh, you’re into running?” I was like, “Clearly. As you can see, I am.” She goes, “We should go jogging sometime.” That was actually our first date. The rest is history. We got married in 2005. When we actually got married, I think I was much younger then. We got married around 21, each 21. When you’re young, you’re dreaming big. She was working multiple jobs to help support the dream because I wanted to do some stuff on the side plus I was doing ministry volunteer. I wasn’t making much there waiting tables and just kind of getting into things. But two years later, she went on a trip to the Philippines with our church and got very sick. We actually didn’t know what it was. In fact, for two years, she started dropping weight. She started actually throwing up multiple times a day and dropping weight, eventually dropped to 82 pounds. She almost died. She had to get jejunal feeding tube to try to get her weight back up but the other thing we’re going through was just this mystery of what’s happening. Talk about an emotional roller coaster. A lot of doctors even were saying, “Why don’t you just eat more,” and kind of accusing her for being anorexic, bulimic.

O: That’s horrible.

S: It wasn’t actually until 2007 that we actually got some answers. We were going to hospitals that were in rural areas and eventually, we made it into the heart of Seattle. We’re living in the northwest at that time to a specialist, gastroenterologist and had her eat some radioactive eggs to watch her digestion and saw, “Oh sure enough, you have slow digestion. It’s called Gastroparesis, paralysis of the stomach.” Today, she actually has a pacemaker, it’s called a gastric stimulator but it’s for your stomach, not your heart. It stimulates your stomach with electrodes. It’s just a crazy season. You mentioned, that hero’s journey, when that was hitting us, so was everything else. It was around 2007 that we got those answers and we’re going through these health challenges. She is progressively losing energy. She had those multiple jobs she was working. It is not happening anymore. I’m wondering how I’m going to provide for my family. The housing crisis was also happening. We had actually bought a couple of houses because we had this dual income thing going we thought would be a good investment. That crashes, tenants can’t pay rent, they’re losing their jobs so we default on a house. The house we’re living in, we can’t afford, there’s the health challenges, the job challenges. Actually, some stuff happened with the senior leadership in our church. People you trust, people you looked up to, people you respected, that you’re like, “Whoa,” and everyone’s flawed but you never want to see leaders fall if you will, there’s some financial issues of mishandling of money. We’re literally in this season like, “My gosh. Why is this happening in our life? What are we going to do?” Especially as a leader myself, it really caused me to be like, “How am I going to provide for my family? What am I going to do in the future? Our family dynamics are changing now. How are we going to raise kids?” It was actually really out of that time, I’ve learned. I’m sure you can relate to this, that often times it’s at the hardest seasons of our life that some of the greatest things can happen.

O: I always say that. I look at my tough times and I’m like, “That was my greatest gift.” Without what I’ve been through, I would never be the woman that I am today, the leader that I am today. I would never be able to help people in that level.

S: 100%. It was in that moment when I also began to think, “Okay, I need to create a business around a lifestyle.” I was starting to read and study people who are creating passive income, people who are creating income online. And they’re creating income that’s highly leveraged, meaning you work once then you can get paid without working, passive income and things like that, multiple streams of income. Kind of desperation, vision, all of that was really being birthed then and now years later, that’s the reality we’re experiencing. I’m definitely experiencing the leverage of the internet, of YouTube. Even the simple fact that right now on THiNK Media, one of our YouTube channels, about 1800 people view our videos every 60 minutes.

O: Oh my god.

S: It’s crazy. The channel’s growing about 15,000 subscribers a month. It took a lot of work. It’s work that started back then at around 2010 but it’s so highly leveraged because whether we post new videos or not, we can talk about some of these tips later, we get views while we snooze. You get this passive traffic. It’s the same for any business. Of course there’s people who want to be YouTubers but every business needs traffic, every business needs awareness. These are people seeing strategic videos that then lead into our funnels and to other areas of our business. Anyways, it really was that season that there’s so many different challenges but also really forged in us a vision to create a business around a lifestyle as well as things like empathy, compassion. There’s so many different things that had transformed me just as a husband, as a leader. It made us stronger in our relationship and in our marriage. Also, it helped us just relate, I think, to the greater struggle that all of us as humans go through. When you’re 21, even when we got married or a few years later we’re like 23, you feel invincible. Most people do if you haven’t gone through anything major. You don’t expect something like that to happen in your life. But I feel like it aged us up pretty quick as far as wisdom and life experience because we got put into such a crucible of challenges for a young couple. But we definitely came out better on the other side.

O: You touched a little bit about how it changed you as a person. Maybe you can go a little deeper going from this super dark place to the awesome success that you’re experiencing today. Who you are today compared to when you were 21?

S: A lot of things. I would say humility is a major one. Again, all I knew was I, myself, have been relatively healthy throughout my life. And like I said, kind of feeling invincible. I feel like I couldn’t relate to people who have been through maybe whether that was health challenges, that have been through these things because I hadn’t really experienced them. In fact, we could even go into the fact that I didn’t experience much death in my life, I still really haven’t, a few grandparents who I’ve loved dearly. But I would just say that I was more or less shielded. Like you said, it’s our circumstances that shape us. I hadn’t experienced anything major so I really began to not just empathize with my wife but I began to see people and see other people, and see, if you will, people that are more marginalized, people that are going through whether that is health challenges and having a greater compassion for sure, greater empathy for sure. Sonja is my wife’s name and that’s one thing she’s noticed in me. I didn’t have that before. I’m, for sure, a better human being on the other side of that. The other thing I think is gratitude and the opposite of gratitude I think can be taking things for granted. Again, I think that generally, I thought number one, not only were we young but you also just feel like we’ve got time, we’re going to feel this way forever. Life surely will have ups and downs but these are the way things are going to be. Then you just realize that at the end of the day, life is really uncertain. We’re never really guaranteed tomorrow. It gave me a couple of things. One, we’ve been through such hard times that even just the reality we’re in now—of course my wife still has health challenges, we’re still working through issues that we want to have kids. Right now, we don’t have kids yet. There’s certain elements that are affecting us starting a family. We’re considering adoption, all these types of things like that. Gratitude, just immense gratitude where I just think what we’ve been through. Even Sonja will say it too. Gastroparesis is awful, it’s horrible. We just began to see some people maybe only have a few days to live. There’s a lot of people like that. Around the world globally, of course not all of us have the reality of course even close to what us in America, we live in Las Vegas, Nevada, of course it’s the reality right here, it just completely humbled us and forged a deep gratitude for just every moment, every day we get to spend together, every blessing that we have in our life, the opportunity to just live, just to go out and spend time together, watch Netflix together.

O: Watch The Flash together.

S: Watch The Flash together. Tomorrow is really not guaranteed and so I think, absolutely, gratitude was huge. A part of my journey too was being a pastor. Like I said, I was volunteering in church and then eventually was in ministry for many years and was overseen at campus for a while. I don’t actually think that that could have even been part of my story had it not been going through that because what’s a pastor job to be able to—

O: Relate and connect.

S: Relate with people, stand with people through grief, loss, through the dark times and not just the good times. Most people don’t start thinking about God in the good times, it’s actually in the hard times that you begin to have those types of deeper, spiritual questions and all these types of things. There’s actually a verse that talks about God works all things to the good for those that love him. I really believe that. Even though it’s crazy that the pain wasn’t there or that there isn’t present challenges and suffering that you still maybe going through, but that we can see God weaving his grace throughout the different seasons and stages of our life.

O: Amen! I can totally relate. We have similar values. I just came back from my trip to India. I was in the car, we were driving to the hotel. Just as we got there, there was this little girl knocking on the window and I’ll never forget that big, deep eyes. She’s knocking on the window and yelling for us to give her something, to give her money. But you can’t really give those kids money because they are employed by the adults. If you give them money, you just support the industry. Usually, you only give them food and if you give them food, like if you have let’s say a package of cookies, you want to open it because if it’s not open, they will go and sell it even though they’re hungry. Wow, I’ll never forget her face. After that experience, because we didn’t have anything to give her and it happened really quickly, I always carried some apples and food on me so I can give the children. It humbles you to go to those places and just see that we have so much abundance in our lives.

S: I totally agree. Life really is a gift. Every moment’s a gift. Like we said, we don’t know if we’ll have tomorrow. But if you’re hearing this podcast, we’re talking together right now. We do have right now. That’s probably the final thing too, I think it helped me be a lot more present and to slow down a little bit. Again, especially I’m 34 now, I just turned 34—

O: You speak like you’re 54. “When I was young…” Not that 54 is old. You’re referring to your 21-year old as so young.

S: That is kind of funny but it feels like we’ve been through a lot. What is funny is life is totally a gift. But when you’re young, you’re going so fast. We’ve all been around people who maybe, you’re at a networking party or something and they’re scanning the room, nobody wants to be around that person. They’re talking to you but they’re thinking about their next conversation.

O: Oh god, I don’t like those people at all. I’m looking at those people and in my mind I’m like, “If you just knew who I am, you wouldn’t scan the room right now. It’s your loss.”

S: You’re totally right. Every human being, I believe, deserves care, and respect, and to be valued in that moment. But, again, when I was younger, I was probably that person that was on a rush, just caffeinated, always onto the next thing. And again, when you really slow down to just be present, that is, I think, one of the greatest gifts, to be able to just take time and life to be present, be in the moment, be with the people who matter most to you, especially knowing that tomorrow’s not guaranteed but we have right now, and to really embrace and really love people moment by moment. Of course, I’m still a work in progress and we still have those times where we’re frantic, we’re selfish.

O: We all are. Me too, #metoo. I have a question, this is the last self-development question because you really want to dive into YouTube because I know you’re so freaking brilliant and I have so many questions that I’m sure I won’t be able to cover in this episode. I’m looking at you, your success, what you’ve been through, who are your teachers because we all had like amazing teachers that directed us?

S: So many I could think of. I’ll keep it brief because there’s kind of a list. The first teacher was back in 2003 when I got into video. It was Jeff Moors and David Luster were actually kind of the youth leaders, youth pastors at that time. When I was interning, I started spending a lot of time with them because I had work to do. We’d drive around and visit schools, work on projects in our community, and work on youth group. Just being around them, it was awesome to have mentors that were a few years older and just poured their life, not just life and principles but I do think there is something so powerful and I’m probably guilty of this. As adults, we get so busy and we get into our own world. But I’ve learned, I guess I wasn’t really a kid, but I’ve learned that the way that children spell love is time. Their time that they invested in me, listening to me, probably listening to me complain, complain about life, complain about being busy, of course no kids, single, 19-year old when I met them, tons of times on my end playing video games whatever else that I’m doing, telling them how I don’t have time. But just thinking about their patience, their mentorship, how they poured into my life, they absolutely shaped my life and then also, a lot of the leaders in the church over the years. I went to a bible college internship that was in our local church there but there were some sessions that were taught there, things like Strategic Advance, that was one of the courses. It taught us about strategy, about planning, about not just going for a project just haphazardly and shooting from the hip but really planning. I’ve learned that prior planning prevents poor performance.

O: There’s a lot of Ps in that sentence.

S: There was a lot of Ps.

O: It’s explosive.

S: Good thing I’ve got a pop filter on my mic here because all these explosives as well would be popping in people’s ears. All these Ps. But if you failed a plan, you plan to fail. Strategic Advance, that course, a lot of the leadership courses, those helped me. In present day, eventually I went to do a marketing director position. I did director of communications when I was called at a larger church in Vegas. The lead pastor there was Benny Perez. He’s actually one of, I would say, one of the top communicators especially in the faith world and even outside of that. He speaks around the world. Being there, I think sometimes, there’s things that are more caught than even taught.

O: That’s good.

S: Absolutely. When you have the ability to be in the presence of greatness or the presence of people that have mastery in their skill, they’ve done their 10,000 hours or their 20,000, 30,000 or 40,000 hours—that’s actually probably one of my principles of self-development was I was intentional to get into the proximity of people I wanted to learn from whether that meant working for free, doing internships, interviewing people. I’ve interviewed hundreds of people, I think over 400 people now. We’ve done different projects. Different like whether that’s authors, speakers, these days it’s YouTubers, video influencers. But just learning that when you get around people. That whole season there was massive and really caused me to level up and actually be a part of a larger organization and kind of getting out of a small town. I always tell people never let your small town make you small minded or never let your small business make you small minded. I’ve learned that sometimes, it takes a location change, an environmental change to get you into an environment that can really pull the greatness out of you and that next level out of you and being a part of, it’s called The Church LV in Vegas, being a part of that, working there and being on staff there, definitely did that. The final ones are more recent. This probably last season is, Chalene Johnson, Brett Johnson, pretty well-known social media influencers. Chalene’s a New York Times Best Selling author. She holds the world record for the most fitness DVDs ever sold, fitness infomercials. PiYo, Turbo Jam, Turbo Kick. You could see the PiYo infomercial on at night on your local cable station. She also teaches social media and business development. Over the years, learning from them. There’s so many, we can go into lists. But these are actually people who I ended up getting closer with in life. But always podcasts, books, the entire time, ever since the beginning, books, podcasts, courses, always investing in myself. Like Warren Buffett says, “The best investment you can ever make is actually an investment in yourself.” I’ve wanted the highest returns out of my life, and my skills, and personal. I’ve invested. But they have been mentors not just through their podcasts or courses but now, we spend time together and I can reach out to them. I’m also an ambassador in her Marketing Impact Academy as well, teaching business development and social media.

O: Lucky her. Let’s talk YouTube. Oh my god. I am personally trying to get on YouTube for the last four years. I didn’t get my ass on YouTube yet. I have a channel that is redonkulous, like there is no investment there. I don’t know why I am so scared of YouTube even though I do videos on Facebook and I feel comfortable doing them, I don’t know. YouTube seems like such a big world. I’ve heard your webinar and you’re talking about the cliché that people think that it’s too late. I still feel like it’s a little too late. I see the early YouTubers and now they have massive success. I knew that there are billions of people that are coming online but it just seems like, I don’t know, it seems a little scary. Can you help me with that?

S: Absolutely. People ask all the time, when is the best time to start YouTube? The answer to that is 2005, when YouTube started. I mean no question, you could’ve been there at the beginning. But that’s question irrelevant now, isn’t it? The second question is, when is the second best time to start YouTube? The answer is today.

O: Not now. Listen to the podcast and then start your YouTube.

S: Whatever now is for you, whenever you’re hearing this, now is definitely the best time. I grew up in Seattle as I mentioned, small town, an hour north but the northwest, home of Microsoft, Boeing, and Starbucks. I actually remember the first Starbucks. Starbucks used to not actually brew coffee, they just roasted beans and you just buy the beans. Downtown Seattle, there’s a store there, the original store. Now everybody knows Starbucks, global, this massive company. One question you can ask, well when Starbucks started was nobody else doing coffee? Is that how they did it?

O: Okay. That’s a good story. I get it.

S: Everyone was selling coffee. There’s Seattle’s Best and Peet’s, and all these other brands but they came out and they did it and that happens in every industry all the time. It could be retail, it could be food, services, it could be anything. Is there a point where markets get saturated and things can be more challenging? Yes. But as Gary Vaynerchuk says, “Cream always rises to the top, no matter how many cups of coffee you pour.” If you have your cream, whatever that is, that’s your content, your unique positioning. I think that anybody at any time can still rise on YouTube. Here’s the other good news, it’s still so early. At the end of the day, YouTube is about 12 years old, and if anybody listening is a parent, I think they would know that their 12-year old is not fully mature yet, is not fully making the best decisions yet, is not in that full state of maturity yet. YouTube is still growing, it’s still, I would say, getting its footing even though it’s a major player. It’s absolutely a great time to be on YouTube. The one quote that I think people should consider if they’re starting YouTube from scratch today is a quote by Sally Hogshead who wrote the book Fascinate. She said that, “Different is better than better.” That’s a good one to think about for social media, just for business in general. As entrepreneurs and business owners, you’re supposed to have your unique selling proposition. For Starbucks, was it that they had the best coffee? They might think so but most people that love coffee would agree it’s not the best. But how are they different? Well, they created the third place. They created a modern, hip, chic place that people would want to go to and hang out at that wasn’t a club, that wasn’t a bar but that was a place where you could get Wi-Fi, drink coffee, eat good food. It could be the same store to store to store. Whatever. It was different. It was still coffee but it was different. If you want to start YouTube today, what I’d be looking for is how can you be different. Different is better than better. What you don’t want to do is look at someone on YouTube and say, “That’s the show I want to start. I want my content to be like that. How about I just do what they’re doing?” Number one, they’re already doing it. Number two, they’ve already been doing it for a while. And number three, you’ll be the worst Marie Forleo, you’ll be the worst Oprah, you’ll be the worst Mel Robbins, whatever female media entrepreneur. But you’re going to be the best you. There is no other Orion that can be as good at being Orion as Orion.

O: That makes sense.

S: It’s a fact. You’re the greatest.

O: It’s a fact. I am. And you are the greatest too.

S: And I’m the greatest Sean.

O: You are the greatest Sean.

S: I can’t be Gary Vaynerchuk or Casey Neistat or some of the people that I look up to say in the YouTube space, but I can be myself. That’s probably one of my biggest tips. That at least from this foundational point, different is better than better. How can you be you times two, be you all in, and really share your voice, your unique perspective. Here’s a small tweak to sometimes how that could look, it does not have to be this profound difference. We started sharing YouTube tips and to be honest, we’re not the first YouTube teachers on YouTube or online, Benji and I, who started Video Influencers, one of our projects. But what we saw was we saw a couple of gaps in the space. All of our competitors are also our friends. People like Tim Schmoyer, Derral Eves, Owen Hemsath, [00:28:40], we know them all. They’re friends of ours but they’re also our competitors. But what we saw was a couple of things. Number one, nobody actually has an interview show of video influencers. No one is interviewing the YouTubers and the entrepreneurs that are using video whether that’s Instagram, Facebook Videos, stories on Snapchat and Instagram.

O: That’s brilliant for JV in marketing also.

S: It wasn’t even a really new idea. I knew people like your show. The interview model had been done for years on podcasts, even other YouTube shows but no one had started a weekly interview show of video influencers. This is crazy. The small tweak in our industry has not happened but if we plan our flag and say, “Hey, this is what we’re doing. We help you build your influencing company and impact with online video and you can expect a weekly interview show of today’s topic in Video Influencers.” Not only did that help us grow because of the association and a few tweet and retweet and all those types of things but also it’s just a little bit different. And also subtle things like a lot of people that are creating content didn’t have our same background. The style, I would say, of at least some of our content is influenced by kind of a west coast, the music is sort of a hip hop. The kind of music were alternative or even EDM, subtle tracks that you would maybe hear in a skateboarding video or snowboarding video, and things like that. That’s what I grew up with, definitely more of an L.A. or even a coastal influence. Some of the other creators didn’t have that same style. Even though we were doing similar content, it had a unique vibe to it. I’d like to say that your vibe attracts your tribe.

O: I knew it because it rhymes and I’m good at rhyming.

S: You are a rapper. That’s what’s exciting. You have this whole rap career that you haven’t tapped into yet. Maybe that’s your YouTube channel that you should start. Maybe it’s hip hop. I’m just kidding. Unless there’s something I don’t ultimately know about you secretly that you have a mixtape that’s about to come out.

O: I have a lot of secrets Sean. I have so many that if I’ll tell you some of them, I’ll have to—Let’s talk about my YouTube channel. How important is the channel’s name? When you just start a YouTube channel, how do you plan? You talked about planning and strategizing. How do you even plan to start? Where do you find the content? How do you make your cream the best? There’s so many questions. There is the SEO of the YouTube channel, and then there is the editing, and then there is the creating of the graphics. It just seems so much work and there is so much it has to go into it.

S: I would agree. There is a lot that goes into it. But there’s a lot that goes into accounting, that’s why people go to school for it, and they learn it, and they eventually do it. I think it’s just chunking things down, doing them one by one. It is a skill set. That’s why I’m in business. It’s because people are like, “Whoa, I need to learn this skill set and the different nuances that go into the video.” But let’s go back to your question. How do you name your channel? There’s really two options. I honestly think that you should name it your first and last name. It depends. It depends on your vision. If it’s not your first and last name, in my opinion, it’s a project. If it’s your first and last name, it’s a personal brand that’s going to live with you forever. I look at YouTube channels, Chalene Johnson, Tony Robbins, Eric Worre, he’s in network marketing, Casey Neistat, Gary Vaynerchuk, Lewis Howes, Marie Forleo. First and last name, personal brands. Whatever they do, wherever they go, what they know is their first and last name will go with them. The content that they put out there, even if it changes over the years—I think about again, my mentor, Chalene Johnson, she’d had fitness content, she teaches social media, and she just launched a revolutionary diet called the ONE3ONE Diet, it’s actually a non-diet. Anyways, the ONE3ONE Diet, that’s a project. That YouTube channel is her first and last name. She can talk about her fitness projects. She could talk about business development, personal development. She can talk about this new diet. It’s all underneath her name. Now, if you were to launch the Stellar Life, you could do that but it’s going to be a little more narrow. It’s going to be a project. That YouTube channel is maybe defined with it’s a weekly interview show or weekly videos from you. That’s your option.

O: Right now, my channel is Orion’s Method.

S: Okay.

O: Does it have to be Orion Talmay?

S: That’s fine. That works too. At the end of the day, I think we can overthink some of these things but there is something about starting with the end in mind. That’s just like Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. As being one of those habits is really, where do you want this to go? What do you want it to do for you? What would winning look like at the end of it? Besides maybe making money and driving business results, and even potentially gaining a following, what would actually the work look like? What mature, completed channel YouTube channel, and the library videos that’s there, what would that look like? Spend some time thinking about that. I think Marie Forleo is a great example because she’s been doing MarieTV for five years. She’s been doing this weekly show, she’s kind of like the Oprah of YouTube, she started and she stuck with it, and now, she’s built up a body of work, a body of episodes, a lot of influence. That’s actually kind of a hack that I like to do. It’s either pick a person, or pick three people and say, “I’m not really sure where I’m going but where I want to go with this is as if these three characters had a child.” That’s what I hope my YouTube channel’s like. I’m mentioning Casey Neistat, kind of a creative vlogger, filmmaker. I like his vibe. I don’t want to be a vlogger. But if my YouTube channel eventually was a hybrid, as if Gary Vaynerchuk, Casey Neistat and Chalene Johnson or Lewis Howes, some of my business mentors, Brendon Burchard, if they all had a child then that’s where I want to go.

O: It would be a good looking child.

S: It’d be a great looking child. But at least it gives you a north star. I think that’s a great tip. Then the second thing is at the end of the day, and this is true for any social media platform, I think you should just have a napkin content strategy. Some people start talking about content strategies and content calendars, and it’s crazy. They’re like, it needs to be this 10-page business plan. You could do that but let’s just actually flip to Instagram for total simplicity. Instagram’s a great place to be building your influence right now. Here’s my napkin strategy for Instagram. My Instagram account, @seancannell, is going to be 90% business-related content meaning, tips about video, things that are related to our tribe that we’re serving, anybody that wants to learn how to build their influence with video. 10% personal content, and the goal for right now is to post at least once a day. Done, write it on a napkin. Your YouTube channel, who’s it serving? How often are you going to post? I suggest once a week. What kind of content, at least generally, is that going to be? At this point, your channel, it could be life transformation, it could be fitness things, it could be whatever. But you actually have a ton of vision even with this show. So if it’s just along the themes of the show, then you pretty much have clarity. You’re like, “Okay, here’s what the channel’s called. I need to post a video a week because that’s my content strategy on the napkin and this is the type of content that is going to be included in that video.” That’s enough to get started. Yeah, there’s other questions, but so much happens. We learn by doing, we learn as we go. It’s never going to be right at the start. You’ve got to start before you’re ready. Done is better than perfect. And you just tweak along the way. Small tweaks lead to giant peaks. You’ve got to just get started. I’m kind of like a meme with all these rhyming and phrases on this podcast. I’m on a roll.

O: That’s great. You know what? This makes you a really good speaker. It’s one of the tips that I got for speaking. You have to have those little anecdotes, those little sentences that people remember forever. You do it all the time. You’re great. Keep going.

S: I appreciate that. I would do that. Then the two things that you want to find, and this is for any YouTube channel, is number one, who is your target audience? This also can really go back to different is better than better. Here’s why. You’re helping people with personal development, one of the aspects. A lot of people are. Let’s be real, there’s a lot of people that are in that space. But one thing that immediately makes you different is—I think about a friend of mine, Caleb Maddix. I’m not sure how old he is, he’s very young, a speaker. He’s speaking all over the world, travelling, crushing it, built a six-figure business. I actually want to look up how old he is. He wrote a book though, Keys To Success For Kids. He’ll speak in a lot of different events and he’ll speak to adults too. But he, specifically, 14-year old entrepreneur, maybe he’s about 15 right now, he’s been on shows, he’s been on, I think, Good Morning America, all these different things, but he wrote a book and it’s like success tips for kids. His target audience is a certain age, certain demographic, it’s keys to success for kids. Even though he’s teaching success tips, his audience is different. I’ve seen when people say, “You’re helping a lot of female entrepreneurs. Well, that’s different. You just cut off half the population mostly, with that target.” That’s a good thing. If you try to reach everybody, you’ll end up reaching nobody.

O: By empowering this half of the population, I’m empowering the other half even more.

S: 100%.  Not just you but anybody listening, who is your target audience? You want that to be narrow. On my team, Heather, she does operations for our business shows. She runs a YouTube channel on the side and she’s crushing it. It’s growing like crazy. It’s a homeschooling channel. The target audience is homeschooling moms. Not is it only just females, but it’s also moms because I guess you can’t really homeschool kids, it’s harder to do if you don’t have kids. So it’s a mom, it’s homeschool. It’s also going to be around her age. I think 25-35, maybe 40. You can see a lot of those demographics usually in your analytics. What we see from social media analytics is a lot of times, the people we influence the most are the people who are most like us. Of course, we will impact the fringes, but I see that 25-35-year old males are who seem to resonate with my content the most. Even while across the board, we definitely probably serve all ages, genders, etc. That’s where the strength is. When you really hone in on a target audience, people sometimes makes it feel like you’re being limited, but it won’t end up actually limiting you. But what it does is it helps you make sense in the world. You really want to say, “Okay, I know who my target audience is.” Then you know a lot of things. You know who you’re speaking to in the videos. Not only who you’re speaking to on the other side of the lens but even how to speak to them. I think you should say it at times especially if it’s appropriate. “This channel is all about helping female entrepreneurs or maybe millennial, female entrepreneurs live their best life and grow the best business they can.” Now we’re getting somewhere. Really, number one, define your target audience. And then number two, define your value proposition for that audience. Then on this channel, you can expect weekly videos to help you do this. The value proposition could also be weekly videos to help you forget about work and laugh a little bit, dependable comedy or something. Just consistent. What is the value proposition of a sitcom or a drama series on TV? That’s an entertainment. Is it to inspire people, is it to give information, education, motivation, inspiration, maybe a mix of all the above? What’s definitely popular these days is a term called Agitainment, realizing that because of how much content there is in the world, it’s not good enough usually to just educate, you also want to entertain. What does that mean? Just put your personality in there, think about illustrations, think about what you could do with video editing. But even if you start simple, really think about what kind of value are you going to deliver. Value is what wins. You want to start putting out consistent, strategic, valuable content. If you can do that on YouTube, you know who your target audience is and you know your value proposition and you just put out consistent, strategic, valuable content over the long haul, then you will build a brand that makes an impact, makes a difference, and grows.

O: It makes sense. How’s your team right now? Do you have a very large team? Do you still edit your own videos?

S: Our team’s been growing. Our team’s about three main people, then we have an intern and then a couple contractors. It’s still is a small team.

O: Very small.

S: About 90% of the editing is done by one of the team members, Omar. I still do about 10%. At the end of the day, I was doing all the video editing through all the side hustle season, full time jobs and clients, side work or like side projects, and then trying to just grow my YouTube influence on the side. It wasn’t growing that fast. When you only have a few hours a week, and not even every week to do it, you just do what you can when you can because it’s always good to be working on your dream job even while you have a day job. THiNK Media started in 2010 but it took off pretty much in 2016, at the beginning or towards the end of 2015. One of the reasons it took off was a, because I did prime the post. I didn’t start from scratch. I had been spending years just doing it whenever I could. They didn’t even give me numbers. From 2010, to October 2015, THiNK Media had grown to 16,000 subscribers. Pretty good. But from October 2015 to the end of 2016, in about a year’s time, it grew to about 150,000 subscribers.

O: Mindblowing.

S: It was a 10x year.

O: That’s amazing.

S: A part of that was also just going all in though. It’s at a point where I jumped off. The reason I had to jump off time though was because I was always working on my dream job while I had a day job. Shipping away, getting some momentum, proof of concept, earning a little bit of income online so I thought, “Okay, now I’ve got proof of concept that I can earn $100. If I just did this all in, a little bit of serendipity, a little bit of hustle, a little bit of let’s see what happens, then I could scale this up. One of the biggest mistakes I see entrepreneurs make when they want to make that jump is sometimes, they could be working on their side thing while they have their other main thing and getting it to a place where jumping off, still takes faith, it still has a risk but it’s not irresponsible because you’ve proved it out and you have proof of concept about your idea for when you launch.

O: Let’s talk about ranking for beginners. What are some of the most important tips for ranking?

S: It’s a great question. The first thing to step back is to define a few things, what even is ranking? Fact number one that people need to know is that YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world. Most people don’t know that. They don’t view it that way. You would think, “Okay Google is usually where I go for information if I have a question.” Well people around the world are, second to Google, they’re going to YouTube. This is growing more and more because, I don’t know, maybe we’re lazy, maybe videos are just awesome. I know, it’s true for me too. Right now, at the time we’re recording, it’s kind of around the holidays, around Black Friday. Ten years ago, I probably would be reading blogs, looking for the latest Black Friday deals and these types of things here in the U.S. Now I’m watching videos. I’m doing it as I do other things, Sonja and I are eating or I’m just sitting down for lunch or something and I’m catching up on some content on video. Video is people’s preferred content format of choice and it’s very, very powerful. I think that number one, YouTube’s a search engine. Number two, for entrepreneurs, your target audience is asking questions. They’re typing things in. How to save money on your taxes, how to stay motivated, what’s the best camera for YouTube, how to do meal prep on a budget, how to lose belly fat without dieting, and a million other questions, the same as people go to Google. People ask, “Is my target audience on YouTube though?” Susan, the CEO, just announced that YouTube has over 1.5 billion active users that are logged in every month watching over an hour of content per day. That’s crazy. YouTube is alive and well. Half of the internet, half of the active people on the internet are using YouTube and in a major way. Your target audience is there, your potential customers, fans, and audience is there. The way you want to get in front of them is you want to know what is it they’re searching for, what are the questions they’re asking, what are those terms that they’re typing in into that search bar? That comes in to where if someone types in that question, and your result, your video shows up on the other side, that’s a ranked video. What you want to do is you want to rank on the first page of YouTube, hopefully the top spot but any of those spots, that is prime real estate. Every business knows that if their website ranks on Google, that can be life-changing and it’s similarly can be life-changing on YouTube as well. Ranking for beginners, it probably goes to maybe just the biggest mistakes that I see. Number one, it’s just not labeling and titling your videos in a way that humans would be searching for it. To be honest, here’s a bad way to title your video. If you titled it, “The Stellar Life: This is the episode that gets real,” that’s the title.

O: That’s horrible.

S: Nobody knows that. If they already know you, and sure you can grow your subscribers and if you have an email list on social media, there’s plenty of people who maybe are celebrities already and they can grow their channel by just sending traffic, they have traffic for other reasons, then, you could throw out a title like that. But that title is not what people are searching for. Better would be things you’re already doing. I mean some of your past episodes, “How to turn your low carb, gluten-free diet into a delicious lifestyle?” You could start searching for entitling your videos like that. When people are searching gluten-free, low carb, then your videos can show up in the other side. But you really want to make sure that you title your video right, you fill out the description with similar, searchable, they’re called keywords. These will be the things people are typing and then the tags. Then the other, mistake number two—number one, the mistake is just titling your video completely wrong making it basically impossible for anyone to ever find—the second big mistake people make is they actually shoot their video first and then, they try to optimize it later.

O: That’s a big one. I do that sometimes.

S: It’s huge. It’s like, “What am I going to talk about today?” You talk about it, and then you sit down to YouTube and you go, “What am I going to title it?” The reverse is start with YouTube and start with what does my target audience want? What are they searching for? A power tip here is if you go to the YouTube search bar and you just start typing, everyone’s probably seen this before, same thing happens on Google, which by the way, YouTube is owned by Google, they finish your sentence. Have you ever seen that before?

O: All the time.

S: If you type in low carb for instance. I just typed in low carb but now, I’m going to see a couple predictions, it’s finishing my sentence. It’s saying, “low carb diet,” “low carb meal prep,” “low carb recipes,” “low carb breakfast,” “low carb vegan.” These are ideas. Those predictions that are showing up in that YouTube search bar, those are in order of how popular they are. Low carb diet or low carb meal prep is very popular. What’s crazy is if I type that in, and I’m putting another space after it, now I’m finding even more predictions. Now, I’m seeing, “low carb meal prep for the week,” “low carb meal prep for weight loss,” “low carb meal prep on a budget.” Now, we’re really getting into some strong video ideas.

O: I like the idea of adding the space. I just did that. It’s cool.

S: It shows you more stuff. You could do this just for a second. Even if you spend five minutes doing this, you’ll be ahead of 99% of the population. It doesn’t know this even if they’re approaching YouTube. But now, you have shot a video that is just random and trying to make it fit into that exact phrase, what you want to do is then create a video that is exactly that. I would recommend that in the beginning of the video, this was the idea, you might say something like, “Are you looking for low carb meal prep ideas to help you lose weight? Well awesome, because in this video, I’m going to be sharing my three favorite recipes coming up.” Right at the hook of the video, right at the beginning of that video, you now think through the logic of what a human would be doing, your target audience who doesn’t know you yet, and you’re in this journey of developing, know, like, and trust with them, they’re discovering you, they’re getting to know you. They sit down, they type in, “low carb meal prep for weight loss,” your video ranks, they click on it. Now still, they haven’t bought in yet because now they’re going to watch it for a few seconds to see if they’re in the right place. That’s where a lot of people lose and why their videos don’t stay ranked because again, they shot their video first without actually knowing how it should be positioned exactly the nuance thing that it’s going to be about. That’s another power tip. If you’re just trying to rank for low carb, good luck. It’s really vague. What does that even mean? It could go in different directions. But low carb meal prep for weight loss is now a better title and we call that long-tail keywords or ranking for long-tail titles or headings or headlines. Now, you could come up with a list of ideas based on research first and then shoot your videos, and you’re going to be a lot further ahead.

O: Do you know of answerthepublic.com?

S: I don’t actually.

O: It’s a cool website.

S: What’s it called?

O: Answerthepublic.com. You enter a keyword, and then you get the questions. If you go over right now, you go to answerthepublic.com, and you type in, let’s say, carb and click get questions, I can get all the questions in graphic or in data. Okay, it doesn’t make sense. Some of the questions here don’t make sense right now. Who carb loads? Who carb diet? Who should carb cycle? Who is carb cycling for?

S: I love that, more ideas. Tools like that are so good to get on, to really get into how people could be speaking, what words, what languages they’re using, all those types of things. The third tip is knowing some of the things that YouTube values the most. One of the big mistakes I see people make on YouTube is they think views matter most, or subscribers.

O: What matters?

S: Because that’s what we all want. We all want a million views, we all want to get all these big subscribers. YouTube made a change and you could actually see it a few years back in what they measured success by. If you go on your analytics, you can see it. Subscribers is the lowest metric, it’s important. The next one is views. But the highest one, this is the thing, this tip, is minutes. YouTube tracks minutes and the phrase to remember is that minutes matter most to YouTube. Here’s why. In the past when people are just about views and when youTube is just measuring views, you could do different things to gain the system. You maybe either just buy views or you could just put a celebrity on your thumbnail, trick people with the title and just get a lot of people there. Then what they do is they watch a few seconds and they go, “Oh, I was tricked,” and they leave. But you could still maybe get some awareness and get a lot of views. But what YouTube realized was that was meaningless. There is no connection there, there is no depth there, the viewer is let down if they were deceived in some way by just tricking people into getting views. But what they realized was that one view might only be one second but a minute is at least, of course, 60 seconds. One view in a minute could be 60x more impactful than just a trick view that only lasts for a second. The reason this is important and the reason why YouTube shows you that metric and wants you to get minutes is because, they’re in the business, they’re in business as well, they need to make money and they make money through advertising. They want to compete with traditional mediums like television, Netflix, whatever, where people are binging content, they’re watching long viewing sessions, hours content or an hour at a time or 30 minutes at a time. YouTube didn’t want to just be for cat videos and viral videos that are two minutes or 30 seconds, they wanted real substance. So if you could create compelling content that keeps people watching, you just need to remember that minutes matter most. When you create valuable content that people want to watch and you get those minutes going up, then YouTube ranks your videos, your channel authority grows, it all is affected because of those minutes. Then the last tip there is that the other thing that YouTube loves is when you start sessions. What does that mean? It means that if you can send traffic to YouTube from people who are not on YouTube and then people start watching videos on YouTube, YouTube will be in love with you. It makes sense. It’s kind of like anybody. It’s like a local restaurant, if they’re like “Hey, if you can bring us customers, we will give you a coupon.” You know what I mean? “You’ll be our favorite.” Because they want people to come to their platform. YouTube’s in the business of having people be on YouTube so they can have people watch more advertising. You can start sessions, how would you do that? Well, social media, by any means possible. Your email list if you have one. You definitely have an advantage if you’ve got a podcast, “Hey everybody, we’re launching a YouTube show. Go watch it this week.” Here’s what’s crazy about a session. How do you start a session? It means you send out an email to your latest video, YouTube sees, “Whoa, a lot of people came from wherever they are in the internet to a platform, to this individual’s video.” You could also do that through press and media, PR. If your video got featured on a blog, if they got featured on an industry related site, on a LinkedIn post, if you’re sending traffic from outside the platform, then YouTube rewards you. But, maybe that person watches your five-minute video, but then maybe, they fall into just a loop, we’ve all been there, and you start watching recommended videos, suggested videos. Maybe they’ll watch a second video from you, but then maybe, they’ll spend another hour on the platform watching other people’s stuff, a portion of that session is credited to you.

O: Oh my god. That’s awesome.

S: They call it your audience retention and actually, the viewer session time on your content but also just that total watch time in a session. What’s the point? The point is, if you want to grow your YouTube channel, start ranking videos, grow your channel authority so more of your videos show up in suggested videos in other places, you want to put out that consistent content. Position your videos right, number one, title them right. Then of course number two, actually research it first before you hit record. Then number three, start sessions. Use your influence in other platform, do whatever you can. Hustle, call somebody, text somebody. Depending on when you’re starting, get people to the platform and do that over the long haul and over a consistent basis and YouTube will reward you.

O: Guys, Sean is the real deal, honestly. He’s probably one of the best people out there that teaches about YouTube and has got amazing technical information and a big heart. If they want to learn from you and reach you, tell me a little bit of how can they find you.

S: A couple of places on YouTube. You can just type in the word THiNK Media. If you search that, you’ll see a lot of our content. That channel’s all about the best tools. We didn’t really get into it. Most people just need a smartphone. Your smartphone is good enough to start YouTube. Don’t overthink it. It’s really not about the production value, it’s about the content value. However, subtle things like investing in a $12 microphone that’ll plug into your smartphone, maybe a cheap lighting kit if you can’t shoot during the day, lighting really helps videos, it has a lot of tools there. Or if you want to get into different cameras, that channel’s all about the best tools for creators, entrepreneurs that want to be creating content. Then our other channel, Video Influencers, is that weekly interview show. If you want to hear more tips from different people in every niche, whether they’re brick and mortar businesses, whether they’re real estate, whether they’re actually YouTubers and they’re doing entertainment, fitness professionals and coaches, people from all different walks of life that have actually used videos successfully. We also touch on things like Facebook Live and just video of all kinds because really, it’s across the board. Cisco did a report that said by 2019, 80% of the internet is going to be video. This is absolutely an essential time to be learning videos, studying vide, yes YouTube, but just video in general, video marketing. Those two channel are really the best. Then I’m also very active on Twitter @seancannell, because you probably wouldn’t have figured that out. That is @seancannell on Twitter.

O: I wouldn’t. I can’t spell English ever.

S: Understood. Any people who can will not get that right. If people have questions, we’re always just down to help in whatever way. Probably the last thing is we do actually have, obviously, we cover a lot here, but we have a free master class that goes into depth about some of these things at tubemasterclass.com. That is a full training, hour-long. It’s like over my shoulder. You could see some screenshots, some real data, more depth. If you would say, “I do want to leverage the power of the second largest search engine in the world, the number one video platform in the world,” you should be. YouTube is definitely a place to have a presence for every entrepreneur. There’s a lot of great training that will get you a jumpstart and get you up and running quickly, getting results on YouTube at tubemasterclass.com. That’s totally free.

O: Wonderful. Sean, thank you so much! It was awesome. I appreciate it. Thank you so much for this great interview.

S: Thank you. The honor’s all mine. I love what you’re doing and how you’re inspiring people, helping people. Thanks for having me.

O: Thank you.