Transcript of Interview with Aaron Marino
Dan: Welcome to another episode of Shoulders of Titans. This is Dan Lok, and today, I have the privilege of bringing you a YouTube superstar, men’s lifestyle expert, image consultant, and a successful entrepreneur. He’s just one hell of a nice guy in general, a man who’s helped millions of men around the world realize their true potential and feel great about themselves. Aaron, welcome to the show.
Aaron: Dan, oh, my gosh, with that intro, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to live up to that.
Dan: Aaron, take us back to the beginning. How did you get into what you do today?
Aaron: Basically, it all started when I owned a fitness center. Long before I ever did video and YouTube and the businesses I have now, I owned a small fitness center. The fitness center was not successful, but one of the things that actually was successful during the process of owning the workout facility was, a guy came up to me, one of my clients, and said, “Hey, I don’t know what to wear on a date.” I said, “All right, why don’t we go shopping? We’ll go see what you have and what you need. We’ll go shopping and fill in the pieces that need to be updated, and while we’re at it, let’s go to my stylist, and we definitely need to trim your nose hair.”
Lo and behold, he goes on a date, it’s successful, and I get a call about a week later from a female coworker of his. She said, “I saw what you did with Steve. Would you take my husband shopping?” I said, “Sure!” Then, she said those incredibly important little words: “How much do you charge?”
That’s when the light bulb went off that hey, maybe there’s a larger market out there for a regular guy like myself to give basic, practical advice to other guys on how to look great. At the time, I did some looking around online, and I realized that the only resources out there for guys were things like GQ and Esquire Magazine. This was just not my reality. This is something super-foreign to me. I wasn’t into high fashion. I didn’t care what they were doing on the runways of Milan and Paris. I just wanted to look good, and I knew my friends were in the same boat. They just wanted to know, “Will chicks dig it?”
So, fast forward–my fitness center is incredibly horrible and, basically, burns. I was at a crossroads. It was, What am I going to do now? I had been doing a little bit of image consulting on the side, and I thought, Let me see if there’s a business in this.
So I had my assistant create a website. She worked for me back in the fitness center. I said, “Hey, will you build me a website?” She said, “Sure.” This was back in 2006. We were off and running.
I started advertising with Google AdWords. I started diving in headfirst to men’s style, going in and talking to tailors, learning everything I could that I didn’t already know about fashion, clothing, grooming, etiquette, all these things. In 2008, I was given a gift of a video camera from my wife. Being that I’m an only child with a big mouth, it was only logical that I started making videos and posting them on YouTube. So that’s how we got started.
Fast forward to today, and I’ve made over 3,000 videos. I’ve helped a bunch of guys, and I have the best time in the world doing what I do.
Dan: So you found a need in the marketplace. Most guys, we don’t look like the people from GQ Magazine. Let’s just face that first.
Dan: If I looked like that, I could wear anything, and I would be fine!
Aaron: Exactly! If I looked like that, I’d go around naked. I’d join a nudist colony and just do that. But we’ve all got unique bodies. We’ve got problem areas. We’ve got different things that we want to change or minimize–any perceived negatives–and maximize our positive attributes.
Yes, there was a need, and there was a void in the market. So I stepped in and decided to try and fill it.
YOUTUBE IN 2008
Dan: I know you launched your channel July 6, 2008. Back then, what was the internet like? YouTube wasn’t as big as today. What was that like?
Aaron: Back then, YouTube was in its infancy. For me, it was something where I had no idea what to expect. I had been on YouTube probably twice before I actually uploaded my first video, which subsequently was 2 minutes long and took about 3 hours to load, because at the time, I was on dial-up. It was terrible. The quality of the video was like 180 pixels. It was terrible. So back then, I didn’t know what to expect. I uploaded a video, and I got a comment. Then I got another comment. Then I was like, “Hey, this is pretty cool.” There was interaction. So I posted another video, and I got another comment, and that’s all it took. I’ve been hooked ever since.
In those days, it took a lot longer to gain subscribers, because in those days, they didn’t necessarily recommend channels and other popular YouTubers and videos. So back in 2013, there was a shift where YouTube started really pushing and promoting its popular people in specific segments. I was lucky enough to get in before that happened.
Dan: So what was it like in the beginning? Were you shocked that someone actually watched your video?
Aaron: Yeah! I’m like, “Wait, somebody subscribed! What does that mean?” I remember I got a subscriber, then another day went by, and i got another two. Before you know it, I had a hundred. It was fascinating to me. But what I realized right away was that there was a larger audience than I realized. There was a larger community of men looking for some basic, solid advice all around the world. It wasn’t just a U.S. thing. It wasn’t just a continental, North America thing. It was all over the world. Guys were hungry for this type of information.
HOW YOUTUBE CAN CHANGE LIVES
Dan: Fast forward to today. You’ve made thousands of videos. You have more than a million subscribers, more than a hundred million views. What was it like when people said, “Oh, Aaron, you’ve made it!” How has it changed your life by making that decision to be on YouTube back in 2008?
Aaron: YouTube has changed my life. That single decision was the most important decision that I’ve ever made. My life, my career, everything has blossomed. I owe it all–well, not all, but I owe a large part of it–to the community that YouTube has facilitated. My life is incredibly rich with just feeling good. Here’s the thing: I’ve started making videos. I was a personal trainer. Everything I’ve done my entire life has been focused and geared towards helping people. There’s nothing that makes you feel more fulfilled and more satisfied than getting acknowledgement for a job well done.
When I started posting YouTube videos and putting myself out there, that was the point at which I realized that this was sort of my calling. I had the ability to affect people in a much larger scale than I previously had known and experienced. So my life is incredibly fulfilled and rich with just love and just this incredible community. I’m so lucky and grateful every single day that I get to do this.
Dan: For our listeners–we have thousands and thousands of entrepreneurs listening to our show–they might be thinking, “But Aaron, you are an image consultant. You teach men how to dress and how to communicate, how to have more confidence. But I’m in the fill-in-the-blank business. Is YouTube a valid business strategy for what I do? Is it a good platform?” What would you say to that?
Aaron: What I would say to that is, if you’ve got a business, if you require customers in order to make money, you should really seriously consider being on YouTube. It exposes you to an audience and a potential customer base like nothing you’ve ever seen. The other upside is, it’s completely free. The other bonus is that people connect with you on an entirely different level through video than they do the written word or any potential advertising platform that you could think of. YouTube puts you in somebody’s home, in somebody’s office, in front of them, and they get to know you. And if you give them value, if you basically let them into your world, it doesn’t matter what you sell, it doesn’t matter what you’re promoting, it will open up so many doors and opportunities for you.
When I started this, I had an image consulting business. Today, I own 7 different businesses as a result of this audience. A lot of them have absolutely nothing to do with what I set out to do, which was to be an image consultant. So you never know. As long as you’re open to new possibilities–and here’s the thing, and it’s funny, that people are so scared to put themselves out there. They’re so scared to suck. I’m here to tell you that you are going to suck, and suck super bad. But the people that are successful, and the people that make it, are the ones that keep sucking. Each video you do will suck a little bit less, and you will start to get the hang of it.
I still am tweaking, after 3,000 videos and almost 8 or 9 years of doing this. I’m still trying to do it better. But the hardest video to make and put out is that first one. It’s getting past your fear, getting past your insecurities, and just doing it.
Dan: For most people, I think they are afraid of putting themselves out there. Or they might think, “I’m not as good looking as you, Aaron.” Or, “I’m camera-phobic,” or “It’s just not for me.” I do all my marketing–social media, Facebook, Twitter, blog–everything else. But you’re absolutely correct. There is nothing as powerful as YouTube, in my experience. For example, I can see that people can consume the content from the comfort of their own home and also at their own time. It’s working 24/7 for you anywhere in the world.
You must have experienced this–the other day, I was actually in a restaurant, and someone came up to me. I don’t have as many views as you currently have–a few hundred thousand views–and a guy walked up to me and said, “Are you Dan Lok?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “Oh, I watch your YouTube videos!” I said, “Great!” He said, “You teach business and stuff. I subscribe!” And we talked and connected and took a picture. And I thought, I’ve never experienced this through my blog. Probably the only thing that comes close to it is a speaking engagement. It’s extremely powerful.
Aaron: It’s powerful, and it never gets old. It never gets old. And you’re right–putting yourself out there on a platform like YouTube–you know, YouTube isn’t going away anytime soon. People have gotten to where they want everything now. So if given the opportunity and the choice, somebody most of the time will pick to watch a quick, 3-minute, 5-minute video, as opposed to read a 500-word article or a post.
People want it fast. They want it now. They want to watch it on their phone. They don’t want to read it. They want to put their headphones in and lose themselves. It’s an incredibly powerful platform.
Dan: The first few years, what was it like? Do you remember how many views and subscribers you had the first year, second year, third year?
Aaron: I don’t remember that, but I will tell you this: It took me up until 2014 to hit 100,000 subscribers.
Dan: That’s what I noticed. I saw the growth was incredible.
Aaron: About 16 months after that, I had a million. I gained 900,000 subscribers in that 16-month window. And it took me 6 years to gain 100,000.
Dan: Was it because, like you said, YouTube featured you as the expert in certain categories so that you got more views?
Aaron: That’s part of it, but the other thing with YouTube is putting out content. They like YouTube channels, and they promote YouTube channels, that generate content. One of the mistakes that a lot of YouTubers make is that they’re too sporadic with the content that they put out. If you are going to commit to being on YouTube, you need to commit to doing at least 1 video a week. Not a month, not one video now and another one in 3 weeks. Every single week, you need to be generating and putting out content. By doing that, you’re conditioning yourself, you’re conditioning your audience, and you’re triggering and letting YouTube know that hey, I’m serious about this. They will start to promote you and rank you. You’ll start showing up and gaining traction that way.
When I first started, I didn’t really understand that. So I messed around. I would put out a video now and then two weeks would go by. Consistency is king with YouTube.
Dan: Do you also recommend to upload a video certain days during the week? Say, every Sunday or every Thursday?
Aaron: I’ve tried to play around with all different days, all different times, and what I’ve settled on is that I put out 3 videos a week. I put out a video Monday, Thursday, and Saturday. Saturday traffic is the highest, generally; Fridays is the worst. Sundays and weekends are great because people are there. I upload my video and put it out there at noon so that people on the West Coast have time to wake up. That’s sort of what my schedule is. I put it out at noon Monday, Thursday, and Saturday.
Dan: What are some of the strategies when it comes to uploading videos? What about the title, the key words?
Aaron: That’s key! And this is something that people don’t quite understand, that the titling of your video and the thumbnail of your video are super critical to your video getting views and traction. Here’s the thing: Say I’m doing a video about a mattress. Say I sell mattresses. What am I going to do? What are you going to watch? Are you going to watch a video where I say, “Review of the Most Amazing Mattress Ever”, or are you going to watch a video that says, “6 Tips to Get the Best Night’s Sleep Ever”?
You see it on Facebook. You see it on social media. You see it on every home page of MSNBC and all these different things. It’s all about getting people enticed to watch and to want to consume your content. The thumbnail also is incredibly important. Having something that is interesting, that sort of sparks somebody’s curiosity, and that really paints the picture of what the video’s going to be about. A lot of times, when somebody is surfing, and they type in something, they look at the thumbnail, and that’s going to be the video that they’re going to watch. The thumbnail that resonates with them or that catches their attention, that’s going to be the one that they watch.
Dan: I also noticed that most of your videos are about solving a problem for men. It’s not so much “blogging.” Some YouTubers make videos about what’s happening in their lives, what they’re eating, and that type of stuff.
Aaron: I am not a blogger. Blogging, in my mind, is turning on the camera and just talking about nonsense or your day. You really don’t have a purpose. All of my videos, every single piece of content I put out, there’s a specific reason I’m putting it out. It is helping somebody do something or solve a problem. It’s a lot of how-to videos.
SEARCH TERMS AND KEY WORDS
Dan: Do you do any research for key words from Google or YouTube so that you’ll know what kind of videos men are searching for?
Aaron: You know what’s funny? I would love to. I don’t know where to go to get that information.
Aaron: Everybody’s like, “This term is searched more,” and I’m like, “I have no idea where to even go.” You have to send me an email, Dan, and give me your secrets.
Dan: For example, I uploaded “How to Start a Business.” People are searching for that on YouTube. Sometimes, on YouTube, they give you suggestions. Then I do keyword research on Google to see how many people are searching for that.
What’s interesting is that a couple other friends who are YouTubers, what they’re talking about now that Google owns YouTube, that also sometimes how you search Google, not just websites come up, but videos come up as well. That’s interesting.
Aaron: I’m going to you give you and the people listening another interesting and exciting bonus tip. Because I’ve built this audience, the way that Google ranks things in the organic search results is, how many times somebody has searched something and clicked on that video to watch or that article to read it. The higher the traffic to a specific article, the higher up on Google it’s going to be. You’re going to get traction. Everybody understands that.
What I have the power to do with a video, and with my audience, and if you have an audience and develop a subscriber base is, you put out a video. Say I’m putting out a video about tweezers. Within 24 hours, a hundred thousand people are going to watch that. In a week’s time, I will not only be on the first page of the organic results, chances are, I’m in the top 3. In a week. And that’s how powerful the immediacy of posting a video is to getting your traction and your name and your business out there.
Dan: It’s almost like a way of YouTube saying, “Aaron, you’ve done a great job. You’ve produced a lot of relevant content that helps people. Let me reward you. You have a new video? Bam! Let me get you more viewers. Let me get you more subscribers. Because you’ve taken the time. It’s amazing how fast it gets ranked. It’s almost immediate.
For people thinking about doing this–“Yeah, I want to do this; I want to upload videos”–what’s the mentality they need? Should they be thinking, “I’ll just kinda try this for 3 months or 6 months or a year. I’m not seeing results. I only have 100 subscribers.” What would you say to them?
Aaron: What I would say to them is, if you’re looking for quick, immediate gratification, you’re probably going to be seriously disappointed. It’s a long tail. You really have to focus on putting that content out there, not just once, not just twice, but commit to it. Think of it as marketing. Think of it as something that is critical to the success of your business. Add it to the marketing strategy of your business or company. Set a specific time, say, 6 months, where you’ll upload one video a week for 6 months. Or if you can’t do 6 months, go for a smaller goal. Start with that first one. Commit to 4. Do it for a month, and then extend it to another month. But really understand that it is going to take a little bit of time for you to get use traction and to see results from your efforts.
Dan: After you upload a video, do you integrate it with your social media? For example, do you upload a video, then post on Facebook and let people know, or tweet about it? What’s your social media strategy overall, integrated with YouTube?
Aaron: Social media–and everybody who’s listening knows this–it’s overwhelming. There are so many platforms that you really need to decide which ones you’re going to commit your time and your energy towards. Trying to do everything means that you’re not going to do any of them particularly well. For me, I engage on Facebook. I engage on Twitter. But I’m not big on Instagram. I do Instagram now, just because I was told I had to, so I’m starting to try and grow that, because it is an incredibly engaging tool. But Pinterest, sites like that–every time I post a video, I post it on all the different social media channels. That way, you’re increasing the likelihood of your friends’ sharing it and of them helping you market your content without your having to actually do it.
DEALING WITH HATERS
Dan: Another question I have is, as you put yourself out there–and definitely you’ve experienced this; I’ve experienced this as well–how you deal with haters.
Aaron: They’re out there. They’re everywhere.
Dan: The harsh, mean comments. They don’t know you, and they just hate your guts.
Aaron: This is the analogy that I always use. You could have a video teaching blind kittens how to read, and somebody’s not going to like it and let you know about it. If you have very thin skin and your feelings are hurt very easily, you probably want to seriously rethink posting videos. Because here’s the thing: no matter how much you’re conditioned, no matter how much you’re prepared, you’re trying to do something good. You’re trying to put your best self forward. You’re trying to help people. Even though you understand that it is a fickle community and that people can be absolutely, horribly nasty, it still hurts sometimes when you get those negative comments. You really just need to compartmentalize it and understand that the good that you’re doing and the love and the benefit that you’re providing the world far outweighs the negativity. I’ll tell you the truth: It still hurts. It still bothers you.
Dan: After 8 years, it still bothers you a little bit.
Aaron: Yeah. If I put out a video that I think is really great, really helpful, and in 30 seconds, somebody will give it a thumbs down. I always think to myself, “If I could just meet that person….” You’re not going to satisfy everybody, and there are some real jerks out there.
Dan: I always say in marketing, if you’re not offending somebody, you’re not marketing aggressively enough.
Aaron: Then I must be doing a good job.
Dan: Sometimes, I notice people who criticize people who hide behind computers, who leave negative comments. Very often, it has more to do with them than with us.
Aaron: Of course. They’re not the ones putting themselves out there. They’re not the one taking the risk. Most of the people that are leaving negative comments are incredibly small-minded, horrible people who are miserable with their life. You know what? Let them be miserable. Let them post their comments. To be honest, you now have the ability to block people. So if you don’t like their comment, you can remove their ability to leave a comment. I actually like doing that. It’s like, “Yeah, you’re not bringing any value. You’ve gotta go.”
REPLYING TO COMMENTS ON YOUR VIDEOS
Dan: Now, you have a million subscribers. Do you still reply to people’s comments, or do you reply initially to get more activities on YouTube? What did you do?
Aaron: I used to try and comment a lot more. But what I found was that I might pop in when a video first goes live. For the first 12 hours, I’ll go in and check out the comments just to see what they’re like, because that really helps me gauge if it’s a successful video or not. The community is really going to help you dictate what content they like, what content they don’t like, when you’re doing too much advertising. They’re going to let you know.
So I get in there. I never respond to the negativity. That’s something that I learned the hard way. You think to yourself, “I’m a rational person; I’m sure that if I just explain myself, explain why I’m doing this, then everything will work out.” Well, that is the absolute worst thing you can do. I’ll get in there and respond to some people, just let them know that I am looking, but I don’t spend too much time on the comments. I have too many other things to do.
But I will say this, Dan: When you’re starting out, and you don’t have a large amount of comments, it’s incredibly helpful to get in there and engage and interact with your community. So do as I say, not as I do.
Dan: Also, you might see what other content they want, or what other questions they might have. You might turn that into the next video.
Aaron: Exactly. That’s the other thing about it, that with YouTube, you may think something is a great idea. You may think something is a great topic to talk about. You do it, and it falls flat. You’ve got to be open to keeping your eyes open and looking at what people want, because they will tell you.
You were talking about the key word searches. That is going to tell you what people are interested in. Trying to the best job you can titling and coming out with an engaging video and topic is critical.
Dan: Have you done any YouTube advertising to drive more views to your channel?
Aaron: Here’s the deal: I have tried that, and what I’ve found was that the money I was spending was just money wasted. Yes, you can drive traffic and views to your video, but if you’re just trying to gain subscribers, it’s not worth it. You will gain subscribers just through being out there. But if you’ve got a product, if you’ve got a short little video and you’ve got a very targeted audience, I think Google advertising and video advertising on YouTube is sort of like the uncharted territory. You can really have a dramatic impact on your sales and your success to your business if you sell products, e-products, whatever it is, by advertising, because you can target your audience so specifically.
It’s inexpensive, as opposed to AdWords, which, when I started my image consulting business, I could advertise on Google AdWords, if I had a $500 monthly budget, I could get a ton of traffic using key words like “men’s style” and “how to look better” and all that. Now, it would cost $10,000 for the same key words. The competition has bid up the advertising so much. YouTube advertising with the video and pre-roll hasn’t been bid up. You can still get a view for approximately 8 cents.
Dan: To set up AdWords, anybody can set it up. You can type in some word, and Google even sometimes gives you coupons to set it up. $50, $100, free credit. I think making a video takes a lot more thought. It takes a lot more work. You’re absolutely right that for YouTube, it’s uncharted territory. You have very little competition.
So let’s say someone say, “Aaron, yes, I want to make the video. You’ve inspired me. What are the steps? What equipment do I need? What camera do I need? Can I do it from my iPhone?”
Aaron: Yes, yes, yes! That’s another thing that prevents people from starting, is that they think they need a bunch of fancy equipment, a nice camera, lighting, and all that. Get in front of a window, because natural lighting is the best lighting. Buy a tripod, and if you’ve got a camera or your phone–a lot of YouTubers are making amazing videos and movies just using their iPhone. There are inexpensive cameras out there that you can pick up for a few hundred bucks that take incredible videos. So you just need a window, a tripod, and a camera, and you’re off to the races.
One thing I will say is that if you buy a point-and-shoot camera like what I use, one of the Canon G20’s, which is just like the modern equivalent of a camcorder, they sometimes will come with remote controls, which makes filming videos for me a little easier because I can start and stop when I screw up. But a lot of people just press “play” and just recite what they want to recite, do the video, and then pull it into an editing software program and adjust.
Dan: What editing software do you use now?
Aaron: I’m old school. I use something called Power Director. I’m not an iMovie guy. I have not drunk the Apple Kool-aid. I’m a droid user, and I don’t use Window Moviemaker. But most Apple computers, I believe, come standard with video editing software.
Dan: Do you do the editing yourself, or do you have someone else?
Aaron: I enjoy editing. Plus, the way that I film is kind of weird, so for me to do what I do, I need to be very hands-on in the editing process.
Dan: I noticed even from the beginning videos back in 2008, it wasn’t HD, it wasn’t too fancy. That’s what I want our listeners to get. Just get in the game. Just start making some frickin’ videos, right?
Aaron: That’s it! Just start! Just start. You don’t need a fancy background. You don’t need a studio. Just start. You’ll get better, and you’ll change locations, and you’ll figure it out. But it’s that first video that is so difficult for people to make.
Dan: Now, I notice that on your videos, you usually use a background that’s a little bit darker. You do a lot of jump cuts.
Aaron: Here’s the reason why I do jump cuts, and this is just for the audience. In my old videos, when I first started, I tried to stand still in one place and deliver a message. I started doing research, and I was noticing that all of the popular YouTubers were using a lot of jump cuts. So I started moving in the frame or the view of the camera. What happens is, because you’re incorporating constant motion and movement, you are engaging people, and people are able to consume a 5-minute video and it not feel like a 5-minute dissertation. I do it to hold people’s attention and to change the mood of the video.
Dan: Smart. Do you script out your content, or do you kind of just have bullet points?
Aaron: I script everything. I write everything, because if I didn’t, they would be 20-minute videos, and they would be terrible. So I script everything, and then, a lot of times, I will go off-script. Every video I go off-script. But I just like having that flow and the security of a script if I need to fall back on it.
Dan: Then also, you can time your video a little bit better, because you know that a 5-minute video can be 2-3 pages of script, right?
Aaron: Exactly. And you know what’s funny, I just figured that out the other day. I swear to God, the other day, I’m like, “Okay, so a 5-minute video–oh, man, that’s 3 pages for me.” I just figured that out the other day.
INTERACTING WITH OTHER YOUTUBERS
Dan: Wow. That’s amazing. Have you had any opportunities to engage or interact with other YouTubers in the same community? What was that experience like?
Aaron: I’ve actually become very good friends with another men’s style blogger, Antonio Centeno and a few other guys that are making videos in the space of men’s lifestyle, fashion, hair, that kind of thing. I’ve done some collaboration, but not a whole lot. I know that a lot of YouTubers, a lot of the very popular YouTubers, they do a lot of collaboration videos. But my audience is kind of fickle and kind of unique. I collaborate where I can, but the majority of my videos are just me.
MAKING YOUR VIDEOS POPULAR
Dan: I love how you say, “Hey, you can do it in your own way,” versus sometimes, people say, “Oh, pranks videos are very popular. I should do pranks,” or “Whatever videos are very popular, I should do that.” No! Do whatever works for you. It’s your channel.
Aaron: Exactly. Dan, if you want a million subscribers, just start a makeup channel. You’ll be ahead. Everybody has a million subscribers who does makeup. No, but here’s the thing, and this is what I have adopted as a mantra, and what I tell people: If you’ve got a message, if you’ve got a voice, and you put it out there, it will find its audience. You just have to give it a shot. For whatever reason, the cream has a way of rising to the top, and you will find the people that are meant to see your content.
Dan: I love what you said that it’s about consistency. You think long term; don’t think in terms of “I’ll do one video,” or “I’ll do ten videos.”
Dan: First, you have to be passionate about it. You listeners can hear that Aaron is passionate about the audience, about his subject. Let me ask you this question: Would you still make videos if you never got paid for it?
Dan: See, that’s the thing. That’s exactly what it is. You’re making videos; you’re helping people. That has to be your intention first. If you just want to say, “I’m going to load one or two videos and sell my stuff…”
Aaron: Exactly. “I’m going to make videos to get rich.” That’s the wrong attitude to have, and you’re probably going to fail. You start and you continue because you want to help people. Here’s the thing, though: You can look on YouTube and search anything, whether it’s cameras, lighting, bracelets–people are on there talking about what they’re into and what they’re selling and what they’re doing. It’s such a vast ocean of content and different topics that it doesn’t matter what you’re talking about. It doesn’t matter what you’re selling. You can talk about it there, and you won’t be alone. It’s really cool.
Dan: What about someone who has been doing it for some time now, let’s say they have uploaded a few hundred videos, maybe they have a couple thousand subscribers, and they’re getting a little bit of traction, but it’s still not even a hundred thousand subscribers. What growth strategies would you recommend besides “keep doing it,” “consistency”–anything else you have found that is helpful?
Aaron: Here’s one thing: Go to other popular people in your space, or people that you think are doing similar content to you, and go to their channel and look at what their most popular videos are. Then, do one on that same topic.
Dan: I love it! Spying on people.
Aaron: Why not? If bow-tying videos are what all these people are doing or searching for, you bet your ass I’m going to do a bow tie video, because that’s something that you’re going to see an immediate impact and spike, just from doing that. Because now, all of a sudden, you’re working smarter, not harder. You’re not reinventing the wheel. I don’t know how many other cliches I can throw at you, but yeah–go, spy, see what your competitors are doing and what they’re doing well at, and then copy it. Don’t copy the exact verbiage, but do topics and videos on that specific content.
Dan: I have an example here. A number of months ago, I made this video. At the time, I noticed that a lot of people are searching for “morning ritual.” And I do a morning ritual myself. Every morning, just like before this interview, I go through what I call an “attitude of gratitude” exercise. Then I listen to a piece of music, and I do some self-affirmation. I focus on what am I grateful for, what are the things in my life that I am grateful for. I made this piece of 15-20 exercise, kind of walking people through this process. Because I also notice that a lot of people are searching for it.
I uploaded it to YouTube. The first day, I got about a thousand views–just the first day. It snowballs and snowballs, and today, I think it’s up to 20,000-21,000 views. Now you get hundreds of thousands of views–
Aaron: But that’s the whole thing. 20,000 people have watched that video! When you really think about it and you sit down–in the old school of blogging, for 20,000 people to read an article, that’s humongous. That’s incredible. That’s exactly right.
Dan: People say they listened to that piece of music, or they watched the video, they went through the exercise. That brings tears of joy and fulfillment to me–it’s so touching. Wow! I made this piece of content, I uploaded it, and it’s impacting people 24/7. Some people say they listen to that every morning. To be able to be part of someone’s life every morning–that’s just incredible.
Aaron: It is incredible. Welcome to the addiction.
Dan: I totally understand where you’re coming from. Now let’s talk about the business side, because that’s interesting. I noticed you said you have 7 businesses. You have a very sophisticated business model. You have YouTube, which is where you build the community, and the audience comes from that. Then you have your website, you have your app, you have your media company, and you have your image consulting company, hair products….
THE BUSINESS SIDE
Aaron: Here’s how it all works. Do you want me to lay it out there for you?
Dan: Yes, please.
Aaron: Okay, so here it is. I started with the YouTube channel. From there, I started selling some e-products. So there’s that. There’s Alpha M, the YouTube channel, which is now in and of itself a business. There’s advertising that I earn through the YouTube advertising. There’s sponsorship opportunities where companies want me talking about their products because I have a large audience.
I also have a website where I post additional videos and additional content, where I sell advertising and my own products and accessories. I have a men’s hair product company called Pete and Pedro, where I sell hair product to guys all around the world. I have a mobile application and web development company called Squirrel Lab.
I have an advertising agency called Menfluential Media, and that has started because I needed help handling all the inquiries from advertisers and brands about wanting to basically be on my channel. So it was one of those things where it’s like, “I just don’t want to negotiate. I don’t want to talk about this stuff. I want somebody to help me.” So I brought my best friend from high school, who was an incredible car salesman, and right away, he proved himself. So we decided that we were going to help some of my other friends. These other companies have other advertising dollars to spend, so let’s help them spend it. We then connect them with other influencers, YouTubers, bloggers, stuff like that.
I also run a men’s lifestyle conference with my friend and fellow YouTuber Antonio Centeno.
Dan: I saw the video. It’s great.
Aaron: Once a year that happens. Recently, I’m engaged in a new product called Tiege Hanley, which is a new men’s skin care company that I’m starting with two gentlemen and a chemist. So that’s hopefully going to be launching in May, but we’re still working through everything with that. I think that’s 7.
MEETING THE NEEDS OF THE MARKETPLACE
Dan: So you basically build this platform, and you basically find what people need and what are some of the problems they might have. And you help them solve those problems. As I always say, we entrepreneurs solve people’s problems at a profit.
Aaron: I like that. I’m going to steal that.
Dan: You can see how you branch out. You now have the skin care, hair products, everything. “Hey, you need this? Okay, I’ll build something that would serve that.”
Aaron: That’s it. And what happens is that you realize that okay, you build this community, and then there are all these little business verticals that you can create in order to help that customer base feel better, look better and be better.
Dan: It’s very organic. I love it, because a lot of entrepreneurs, I notice, fall in love with their ideas. “Oh, I want to sell this to these people.” Well, did they say they want it? “No, but I love it! My mother likes it. My wife thinks it’s a good idea. Let’s do it!” And it’s not quite like that. Your approach is more market-driven. It’s more customer-centric. Very powerful.
Aaron: It is. If you would have told me ten years ago that making videos for a living was going to be what I would consider successful, I would have punched you in the face, because at that point in my life, there was nothing that was going to satisfy that success tic that I had, like fitness centers. You just need to be open to opportunities and keep your eyes open. The universe has a funny way, if it closes a door, it does open a window. You just need to make sure that you’re not too focused and fixated on your idea and what you think you should be doing. Just keep your eyes open, because a lot of times, opportunities will present themselves if you’re receptive to receive them.
Dan: Exactly. Another question people always ask is, You see sometimes on the media how much YouTubers are making. A lot of it’s a myth. They think, “Oh, you have a million subscribers. It means you’re making millions of dollars from YouTube.” You don’t have to reveal your numbers, but what’s the reality?
Aaron: The reality is, it’s not based on subscribers. You earn money on YouTube based on views. There’s something called a CPM. How much per thousand views do you get paid? It ranges. It’s all over the board. But you can make $2 per thousand views; you can make $3 per thousand views. But that’s a lot of views, and it takes awhile to accrue any significant amount of money, unless you just get lucky and you have some type of viral video hit that just goes bonkers.
It’s tough to say. I would say that if you have a million subscribers, you’re making over $100,000 a year on your advertising. It’s one of those things where, “Why not? This is supposed to be helpful.” So last year, just from YouTube, I probably made around $130,000. Just from the YouTube advertising that they put on my channel. And it’s grown, so it’s kind of tough to say how much you’re making. It’s not necessarily subscribers, it’s how many views you’re actually getting.
Dan: I think it also depends on the sector, like makeup or fitness.
Aaron: It does. Some videos are going to do better on different channels. So for me, because it’s men’s lifestyle, I have a very specific and targeted demographic. If Jeep has a new automobile, it’s probably going to end up on my channel, because the male demographic between the ages of 25 and 45 are tough to get to. In advertising terms, they call them the “lost boys,” because advertisers want them; they know they’ve got money to spend; but they can’t find them. They’re not watching TV, they’re not looking at magazines. They’re not reading billboards. They’re online. So where are they? They’re watching channels like mine. They’re going to places like theCHIVE. They’re engaged in online content consumption.
Dan: For entrepreneurs, don’t think in terms of trying to make a living through the advertising dollars. That’s nice. It’s icing on the cake and takes a lot of views to do that. You don’t need to think in terms of, “I need millions or hundreds of millions of views to make a living.” Think of it as a platform to get your message out there, to connect with the marketplace.
Aaron: That’s it.
Dan: Don’t count on it.
Aaron: Don’t start posting videos because you think you’re going to get rich, because let me tell you, that is not the case. Think of it as bonus. It’s just the nice little bonus. Over the course of the first 6 years, I probably made $20,000. It scales as you grow. But it’s a long road to get there. So as an entrepreneur, you really need to utilize YouTube as a marketing strategy and tool to sell products, get in front of customers, and engage them in a way that you will never do in any other medium or platform.
EMAIL AS A MARKETING STRATEGY
Dan: How important is email to you as part of your marketing strategy?
Aaron: For me, it’s not very important. That’s something where I don’t sell a lot of info products. But there are a lot of online entrepreneurs that that’s where they make their money. So getting them to that squeeze page, getting them to download that free “10 Tips to Be the Most Successful Entrepreneur of All Your Friends” is critical. I decided that I don’t really like selling those products all that much, and I would rather incorporate other people’s products into my content, as opposed to selling my own products. But the majority, and by “majority,” I’m talking like 95% of the people that are online and creating content, do have a product of their own that they’re trying to sell. So email is incredibly important.
Dan: I want to share a story, because it’s a validation of Aaron’s strategy. It works. As I said, my channel only has a few dozen subscribers. I don’t make money from it. I don’t even turn on the advertising. I don’t really care, because I make my money through my companies.
Aaron: Well, that’s a mistake!
Dan: Yeah, I know.
Aaron: Here’s the thing: Turn it on, because your customers and people that are watching videos are already accustomed and expecting video and content or advertising. So turn it on!
Dan: I’ll do it right after this talk.
Aaron: Here’s a hundred dollars that I didn’t have to do anything for. That’s nice.
Dan: That’s true. I’ll definitely turn it on. I never thought about it beyond, “Maybe I should turn it on, but I don’t really care.” But I’ll do it today, absolutely.
Aaron: Turn it on, Dan, turn it on. So what was your validation?
Dan: As a speaker, I speak from time to time. An organizer found me through YouTube. He was looking for a speaker in Vancouver. It turns out he’s the organizer for TEDx. He watched my videos, and we talked, and he likes my style. He was looking for a particular speaker for a specific topic. I said, “Yeah, I talk about entrepreneurship in business.” He wanted something like that. Long story short, because of YouTube, he watched multiple videos, we got in touch, and in May, I’ll be presenting at a TEDx in Vancouver to an audience of 2,600 people.
Aaron: There it is. That’s exactly what I’m talking about. You don’t do the videos because you want an immediate payout, but the opportunities that arise and present themselves are opportunities that there is no way on God’s green earth that you would ever have gotten without that. Good for you, man! That’s exciting!
Dan: I would say I’m a proud YouTuber in the community as well. It’s kind of fun, and I like this channel. I only do YouTube, and I also do the podcasts. Those are the two things I enjoy. Those both, I consider passion projects, which, like you said, I would do even if I never got paid for it. Actually, I’m not getting paid for it, and it doesn’t really matter.
Aaron: You have the advertising off, Dan! Of course you’re not getting paid for it.
Dan: But I love it. It’s like through these podcasts, I get to engage and listen and connect with entrepreneurs worldwide. i get to have these fascinating conversations. It’s invaluable.
Aaron: You’re doing a great job. I’m just amazed at your success. You’re doing such an amazing job. Keep going, Dan!
Dan: Thank you. Aaron, any last tips for entrepreneurs? Last pieces of advice, or a call to action?
Aaron: I would just say that if you’re an entrepreneur, don’t be afraid of the hard work. Know that it is going to be hard, but if you can come out and weather the storm, you will make it, and you will be incredibly successful. Just make sure that you’re open-minded enough that if the universe and the market are telling you that you need to shift directions or change something, be nimble enough in your business and in your thinking to be able to make that shift. It’s when you’re too rigid that disaster strikes. That would be my parting words of advice for people.
Dan: For someone who wants to look good and feel good, where should they go?
Aaron: Go to YouTube, type in Alpha M, and you will find me.
Dan: For our entrepreneurs who also have products that may be a good fit for advertising on their channel, where should they go?
Aaron: They can actually email Terry. Terry@menfluential.com.
Dan: And definitely download the app. The app is fun. I like it, because you can watch something, and it’s quick and easy. You don’t always have to just log onto YouTube and try to find a video. The app is pretty cool. They can download your app on your website as well, correct?
Aaron: Yep. And in both Google Play and the iTunes store.
Dan: I would say look at everything Aaron does and how it integrates with all the companies and everything that he does. I think you’ll find it very, very beneficial how he integrates everything together–different companies and businesses. It’s horizontal, but you can see it’s all leveraging through his influence on YouTube. So check it out. And play “customer.” Buy some stuff and see. It’s kind of interesting.
Aaron: There you go, Dan. Well, thank you so much for having me today. It’s been an absolute pleasure. I love talking YouTube. It’s an amazing, amazing opportunity for all your listeners to really get out there and make something great happen.
Dan: Thank you so much for inspiring us today with your amazing story and sharing your ideas and thoughts. I appreciate it.
Aaron: Absolutely. Thanks, Dan.
Dan: Thank you.