Brian G. Johnson is an entrepreneur and a seasoned pro at leveraging the power of video. The last time he graced us with his expertise, he had just hit over 10,000 YouTube subscribers. Now that he's crossed the 150K mark, what new lessons has he got for us?
Tune in as we talk brand identity, YouTube live stream, why you should be yourself, and more.
In the podcast:
01:50 – What branding identity is and isn’t. (Hint: it’s more than your boring marketing message).
07:20 – From 10,000 to 154,000 subscribers. And why Brian no longer cares what the number is.
09:07 – What’s setting YouTube apart from other platforms. James and Brian measure YouTube against the competition.
15:23 – Why “pilot” sounds better than “beta”. One is actually just code name for sh*t, says James.
19:27 – How now is different for Brian than before 10,000 subscribers. Brian discusses the challenges, the pleasures, and how to stay motivated
22:20 – Plans to get serious on the world’s biggest video platform. James is looking to up his YouTube game, and this episode is inspiration.
25:37 – So what’s the skinny on shorts? What makes a YouTube short different from a TikTok video and the like?
27:52 – Instagramming a routine life. If you think your life is too boring to warrant a video, see what Brian has to say.
34:50 – When work is passion. If you’ve ever worked for the man, you’ll know when you’re living the dream.
41:56 – Where to find Brian G. Johnson. Check out Brian’s genius and his occasional YouTube live stream here.
43:11 – The equipment behind the engaging videos. It’s not wholly about the tools, but sometimes they help.
46:05 – Purpose and future plans. Where is Brian G. Johnson headed? He lets us in.
Brian G. Johnson, entrepreneur and successful YouTuber, has been on SuperFastBusiness thrice before. In Episode 492, he and James talked about the concept of video marketing. In 499, they tackled branding and making a statement. And in 538, they discussed the evolution of a 10,000-subscriber YouTube channel.
James kicks off this episode, 817, with the question that has to be asked: How is Brian’s poodle?
Ah, the poodle. Brian had two of them. Sad to report, the male, Otis, died a week before this recording. He had, however, according to Brian, the most spectacular life that any dog could really hope for. And he gave so much joy that he became a part of Brian’s personal branding.
“Branding ain’t about the color of your logo.”
What branding identity is and isn’t
While on the topic of branding, Brian has this to say: branding isn’t about the color or shape of your logo, or how pretty your website is. It’s about:
1. Understanding how to tell a story that matters to the audience.
2. How to subtly add little bits of flavor from your personal life, so it becomes unique to you.
That’s what his poodles were, he says, a bit more fun to the brand, and a little distinction from everyone else. But besides that, Otis was a being Brian cared deeply about for 13 years. As a memorial, he has a painting of him and Otis, done by Ori Bengal of Facebook fame.
From 10,000 to 154,000 subscribers
Getting back to business, Brian has made some strides since James last interviewed him. The 10,000 subscriber count of Episode 538 has since burgeoned to 154,000, with over 10 million views. He had to look it up before the call, says Brian, because he’d stopped caring about the number.
He realizes, though, he wouldn’t have reached it had he not cared tremendously when he started. He’s trying now, he says, to strike a balance between being happy with where he is and still wanting to find the next level.
“Always question who you’re getting advice from.”
James asked for the number, he says, to give the listener some comfort – the assurance that Brian knows what he’s talking about when it comes to video and YouTube.
What’s setting YouTube apart from other platforms
As a coach, James has observed some interesting changes in relation to YouTube. Some of his very successful clients have video and YouTube in common.
One doubled his business, from three or four million a year to six or seven, just by figuring out how to make YouTube work. Another serves his clients via YouTube, and has also doubled his multi-million dollar earnings. There’s obviously a huge proportion of paid activity going on on the platform.
Google and YouTube are getting stronger, while Facebook seems to be losing some favor with users, getting dragged down in politics and the like.
Right now there’s a huge opportunity, he says, for anyone with passion and desire to jump in and make good videos, make better videos over time, and grow a business, reach a fan base, spread a message, amplify their message, stand up for what they believe in, and be heard. And when it comes to being heard, he thinks it’s a platform that is head and shoulders above anything else.
A big claim, but he makes it because no other platform can boast the longevity of content that YouTube can. That, and it scales like nothing.
Brian himself has had a lot of growth. He got his first 10,000 subscribers in a year, which was his goal, and he admits it was challenging and hard. He then plateaued for about two and a half years, after which he vowed to a friend he’d triple his results in 12 months. He missed it by a month, but went from 47,000 subscribers to 100,000 in a year.
There’s so many levels to YouTube, he says, and always a new plateau if you’re willing to dig in.
Is there any merit Brian can see to TikTok videos? asks James. There is, Brian answers. In TikTok he sees short-form video content, of which YouTube is rolling out their version, called shorts. Shorts have got him excited because they’re so simple. He’s been doing experiments, writing and coming up with ideas.
Brian has conceptualized and scripted a short, filmed and edited it. The outline took 90 minutes, and the production 15. His second short drove thousands of views and gained him subscribers.
Experiment/pilot versus beta
Brian doesn’t want to say you have to do shorts. What he would say is you should experiment. Most great marketers, he’s noticed, use that term.
James uses the word “pilot”. He relates it to TV shows, where the pilot is the rough version to win over the studio. It’s better than “beta”, he says, which in his opinion is just code name for sh*t. Experiment sounds good too, though. There’s that connotation of mad wizardry, white coats and formulas.
With a pilot, he says, there’s that acceptance that it’s not the end version. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and you don’t need to over-engineer the thing. It sets an expectation for both you and the end user.
How now is different for Brian than before 10,000 subscribers
So what has changed for Brian between pushing for 10,000 subs and passing the 150K mark? In life or business, how is it different?
“How do you stay motivated and excited when you keep talking about the same thing?”
There’s a commonly asked question, says Brian: How do you stay motivated and excited when you keep talking about the same thing? And his answer for the last year has been that, number one, he knows, at the core, his information is different than what it used to be, even though the fundamentals are the same.
And Brian basically makes small movies that are engaging and entertaining. He derives pleasure from his work, and so his goal is to continue to make money that he’s comfortable with, to continue to speak on stages, all of which is still going on, and to be able to support clients and help people on a constant basis.
“If you’re not engaging and entertaining, they’ll go somewhere, they’ll find that same information somewhere else.”
Brian’s also a creator, he makes art, and he wants to learn what that means. He likes to make different types of videos, some simple and straight to the point. At the same time, however, he’s acutely aware of the large number of people looking for entertainment. When you start providing how-to information, the lines really blur. If you’re not engaging and entertaining, they’ll go somewhere, they’ll find that same information somewhere else.
So what’s the skinny on shorts?
Coming back to shorts, what exactly are their criteria?
– It needs to be under a minute. Shoot for 30 seconds or less.
– Make it fun, make it engaging.
– Choose one specific thing and talk about that.
– Above all, know that you’re not trying to be polished, perfect. It’s more about the heart, the artistic, the creative.
– You want to film it vertical.
– Add #shorts to the title.
A short is very, very similar to an Instagram story or TikTik, short-form content in a vertical format.
Instagramming a routine life
James has been making short surf videos with GoPro, and putting them on his personal Instagram account. He doesn’t have a huge following, but gets lots of views.
It once occurred to him how boring his life might seem to people – having a surf, taking his daughter to the playground, eating something, answering forum posts. The surf videos, though, must be fun for some viewers, especially if it’s winter where they are. They’re certainly fun for him to make. And he himself enjoys his routine life.
Something Brian sees a lot of people mistaking, he says, is that they think their life is boring, so they never even try creating. Or they don’t do it enough times to understand the things you can play off of, the angles you can use, the crazy little things that can make a video interesting.
When work is passion
When someone asks Brian what he does now to move the needle, he replies it’s more on the passion side of things. He’s become really interested in the cameras and the filming and the settings, and creating something artistic. He’ll enhance his content with cool photography and videos, maybe take a camera to the sand dunes.
He shies away somewhat from the term “business”, because he sees himself more as a creative person trying to nail down how to make good money without having to work. Granted, editing a video can be work, but having worked for the man, what he does now is not that. Like James, he is living the dream.
What he loves is hearing, How do you continue in the same market, creating the same content, but yet it’s not the same content? And how do you inspire yourself? So often people ask, How can I get people to get really excited about me? Well, he replies, be really excited about yourself, and then others will follow. You got to lead the way, you’ve got to make it okay for people to get excited for what you do.
Brian recalls, when he started on YouTube, he was not for everyone. Vanilla ice cream sells, and he was not vanilla. But he had fun, and he had a following, which he springboarded into a bigger following. When he started it was all about entertainment, because that’s what he read people wanted. He wishes now someone had sat him down and told him to just “Be yourself”.
“There has to be some level of uncomfort. But we don’t want to take it too far.”
His quirky humor is much diluted now, he says, but it’s still there. And he adds new elements that inspire him, and that makes it fun. He thinks there’s some bit of truth in saying you need some level of uncomfort in what you do, but you don’t want to take it too far either. So most of the time, he’s pretty happy.
Purpose and future plans
As far as the future, Brian is on a mission to to really push himself, to create something that he’s super excited about, to take his business, and his marketing, and his creative side to the next level; and just get back with friends, too, perhaps see friends at conferences and hang out.
Where to find Brian G. Johnson
If you want more of Brian G. Johnson, he’s at Brian G Johnson TV, with his videos and YouTube live stream. He also has a group coaching program. Basically what he does is help people understand how they can amplify their message in a really busy space and be heard. You can look up his book, too, Tube Ritual, on Amazon.
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