You started a YouTube channel. And you uploaded some videos. But you haven’t gotten much traction. Wanna know why? It’s because You’re Doing It All Wrong. And YouTube guru Steve Dotto will tell you exactly how to fix it.

Tod Maffin: What is the biggest thing that people are doing wrong when they try to build a YouTube following?

Steve Dotto: I think not paying attention to what your community is and, and, and growing the community. And, the way it manifests itself is by trying to get ahead of yourself. For me, you know, when I go in to a channel and, and, and scan a sea crickets, you know, see those 25 or 30 subscribers and they’re obviously try to get it going. And, I look at their videos and they got 20 to 200 views on a video. And, I mean, not, I’m not scuffing at those numbers. Don’t get me wrong. Because if it’s the right 20 people, 20 views could be awesome.

Tod Maffin: Yeah. And, that’s about triple what I get. So, it’s good to know.

Steve Dotto: But, what bothers me when I go is when I see them running ads.

Tod Maffin: I don’t know.

Steve Dotto: You know, they’re getting way ahead of themselves by, you know, saying that their, their content is with advertising and then they’re gonna generate revenue from it. And, all it does is basically push people away there. You knew it’s to try hard. You just don’t get it. Now, I do run ads on my channel, but I’d, but my channels reached the point where it’s actually making a difference on my bank account. So, there’s, there’s a, there’s a reason, a rhyme and a reason to it. But, when you’re just starting out and growing, you know, build a community, build a reputation, doing… I think we are very instant gratification society today. We want everything right now. And, it certainly, you know, with viral success is that do happen on YouTube. Some people do get absolute instant YouTube fame. But, that’s, that’s, you know, that’s they far and away the exception not the the rule. The biggest thing that you, the biggest mistake that people make is not slowly and building their community by earning it, by creating great content.

Tod Maffin: It, it sounds like it’s such a basic thing. I hear that all the time with blogging. I hear with podcasting…

Steve Dotto: Yeah.

Tod Maffin: …you know, produce good content, produce it regularly and people will come. But, that, that’s highly subjective, what is good content. So, what, like, what are we talking about? By good content, do you mean, do you mean like, like, like a well-produced videos. I mean, do you have to have the perfect camera? Do you have to have…

Steve Dotto: Yeah.

Tod Maffin: …an $800 lighting setup? I mean, all of that?

Steve Dotto: I love that question because, when I started to grow my channel, I didn’t know when I kinda started to double back in YouTube, that I was going to ultimately focus on YouTube as my social networking delivery platform of choice. It was a curiosity to me when I started. So, I invested nothing in the beginning. So, I came to YouTube from a background at network television, similar to yours. I mean, you know, you walk in to a building and there is millions of dollars with a gear.

Tod Maffin: Yeah.

Steve Dotto: There is multiple camera guys. There’s, you know, switchers and audio guys and specials in every area. Then, I produced video showing people how to use computers. And then, a couple of years after I stopped doing that, I sat down in my office one day and looked at my, you know, ancient Mac and well, with the camera and the best, then I went, hmm, and then, I started to play with an application called ScreenFlow which allowed me to do screen, you know, capture the screens which was very similar to what I’ve done on TV. I had no lighting. I had not bothered combing my hair. I don’t think. I think… You saw some of my first videos and you said, “Dude, wear a collared shirt, at least clean up a bit.”

Tod Maffin: [laughter]

Steve Dotto: You know, and but, but, but, but, what I said is good. You know, the content, the, my delivery, my energy, my [inaudible], my pace, the quality of content that I delivered over those first, even those first videos was something that had a certain value. So, nothing of that stuff matter. People started to watch it. Now, as they started to watch it, they started to look in. So, I’m a big fan of Tim Ferriss. Do, do you know the 4-hour body, the 4-hour work week, that stuff taught?

Tod Maffin: Yeah. Yeah.

Steve Dotto: So, he talks about the minimum effective dosage which is the absolute minimum that you can get away with. That’s gonna have the maximum impact. So, when I started to produce the YouTube, when I started to, you know, kind of concentrate more and more on producing content on YouTube, I, I took each, I kinda took each layer, “What’s the worst part of my video?” Let’s start with the first thing that was audio. I had to get audio nailed. And, once I got audio nailed, then I had to deal with lighting. Once I had lighting nailed, then I had to deal with the office environment and the background and all of that sort of stuff. So, layer by layer, I slowly improved the quality of my video until today. And, I was embarrassed by the staff at the beginning to a certain extent. And, if you look back, I think almost every YouTube content creator will say the same thing, “Don’t look at my first videos, but look at them to see how far I’ve come. But, but, don’t judge me for them.” So, by, by that, by that whole, by that journey took, it’s the point where it’s a product that I feel now has, you know… I’ve, I, I have invested enough in all of the different pieces that I don’t feel that I have to necessarily up the quality anymore, you know, because you constantly try and improve a little bit. But, it’s been, it has kinda reach the good solid baseline. So, you know, the bottom line is, the content was always good. I always delivered content that my audience was interested talk and listen into. And, and so, in the actual delivery vehicle could improve.

You know, when it comes down to YouTube content, what we’re doing right now, audio is number one. You got to have great audio in your videos because people will watch bad video with good audio, but they won’t watch good video with bad audio.

Tod Maffin: Interesting. Yeah, right.

Steve Dotto: Well, often we, often we don’t even watch the video. You know, often, it’s kind of in the background and we only jump over to it. We, we treat it like podcast. So, so, I hope that, that kind of answered your question. But, the bottom line is that, you know, that, that the, that the quality of your content is far more important than your production values.

Tod Maffin: One of the things that I know that I screw up all the time that I always do wrong is in my promotion of the video, it’s in the what happens after I upload to YouTube because often what I do is nothing, right?

Steve Dotto: Yes.

Tod Maffin: I’ll get my video. I’ll put it together. I use ScreenFlow as well. And then, I will drop it on YouTube and I guess just kind of explain or, or hope that it will magically get out there and it doesn’t.

Steve Dotto: Why do you do that? Why?

Tod Maffin: Because I’m an idiot, Steve, that’ why. I’m an idiot.

Steve Dotto: You’re, “What? I’m an idiot.” But, you are not alone in that. You know, people seem to think that for some magical reason that the gods of the Internet and YouTube will honor the fact that you said something clever and witty and that people will flock to, to, to honor and to watch your content. It’s not gonna happen.

Tod Maffin: No.

Steve Dotto: There are, you know… I don’t know how many hours of video are being uploaded in YouTube every second. If you create good content, it’s your responsibility to promote that and to shine a light on your good content, to make sure that it’s seen. So, I go…

Tod Maffin: So, let’s go a case study with you though.

Steve Dotto: Okay.

Tod Maffin: So, what do you do? After you hit upload, what are the next two or three steps you take?

Steve Dotto: Okay. Well, first of all, before I hit upload, I make sure that the, that the video is packaged properly, that I got a good title that’s gonna rank in search, that I’ve done my cover art for it so that I branded it to a certain extent because so many views the videos will come from YouTube suggesting your video and people don’t look, you know. If you got a nice branded cover art as opposed to all of those just screenshots that are in the middle of the people’s videos, you know, you’re gonna, you’re gonna generate, you’re gonna generate social proof because, you know, you appear on search five or six times while people are looking at one topic. All of a sudden, they’ll go and say, maybe that Dotto guy has something to say. And, remember, we don’t watch video on YouTube the way we watch video on TV. We bend to watch. If you are looking for information on, on new microphones, you’re gonna watch five or six videos on new microphones, right? You’re gonna watch related videos. You’re not just gonna watch one.

Tod Maffin: Yes, right.

Steve Dotto: You’re gonna watch that. So, we bend watch. So, that search, been found in the search, is ever so important. So, I make sure that I package the way that I got some tags, that I got a good description, that I’ve done of all those things before I ever upload it. Plus, the most important part of growing your channel is asking people to subscribe. So, I use the YouTube annotations very early on in every one of my videos. I make sure that I, I don’t point it out verbally all the time in the videos, but I have a graphic that goes up and says, “Please subscribe to my channel,” and you have to ask. People won’t just… Again, people won’t just say, “Wow. He is awesome. I’m gonna subscribe.” They have to be reminded. We have to lead them down the path.

Tod Maffin: You know, it’s funny you say that. I watched a, a, a video streaming site called Twitch.

Steve Dotto: Yes.

Tod Maffin: The, the entire purpose of Twitch is people watching other people play video games.

Steve Dotto: Yeah.

Tod Maffin: This is video game I’m obsessed with right now called Watch Dogs and I, I tune in to Twitch more than TV in the last month, honest to God. But, it’s funny you should say that because every five or ten minutes or so, the little chat bubble will come on and say, “Hey, if you’re enjoying Jeeky Freaky’s channel, make sure you click the follow button.” And then, every hour or so, the person who is streaming will also say, “Hey, thanks. I appreciate every one. Just make sure that you click the, the follow button.” So, you really do have to remind them.

Steve Dotto: Exactly. We have to be led down that path by… We just can’t expect that people are going to choose to hit the subscribe button. We have to, we have to remind them of it. But then, you ask what the process is once I got the video uploaded. So, I do all of that, make sure that it’s all packaged up for success before I upload it. Then, the first thing that I do is I cross-post it to my own blog because I, well I appreciate all of the traffic I get from YouTube, I really want people coming to my site because ultimately, if people are subscribed to you in YouTube or in Facebook or in any social network, your customers, your potential audience is being held hostage by the provider of that, of that content. YouTube knows who my subscribers are. I don’t. So, I need to get you over to my site where I can get you enrolled in my own auto response or my own newsletter, right, get on to my mail list. So, the best place to do that is getting you over to my site where I can invite you to sign up for my newsletter and those sorts of things. So, that’s, that’s number one. It’s cross-posting it to your blog. And then, from your own blog site, then you spread it to the social media. And when you share your video in to Twitter, in to Instagram, in to Facebook, you share you blog post not the YouTube neither of url.

Tod Maffin: Interesting. Okay. So, which drives traffic back to your site, which means that you can put all the strategic stuff you around, you want around that. But, doesn’t that mean though that you are losing actual native YouTube subscribers? Like, if people are seeing it embedded on your web page, I get that there’s all the strategic stuff around it, you know, follow me here, her is my bio.

Steve Dotto: Yeah.

Tod Maffin: But, but aren’t you losing that, “Click here to follow my channel,” isn’t that important?

Steve Dotto: Well, that’s still embedded in the video. So, when the video plays on your channel or on your web page, any annotations that you’ve added to the video play through or carry through, so they are still invited to subscribe at that point there. But, I would far rather have an email subscriber or somebody looking down just beneath that chat, video box seeing my opt in form for my newsletter and signing up for that than having a YouTube subscriber. Then, YouTube subscriber gives me social proof and, you know, having… You know, I’m just closing on 50,000 subscribers now, that, you know, that number which well it doesn’t mean anything and also means everything. Because, when you go to a channel and you see 35 subscribers, you go, “Mhm, does that person really have anything of value to say?” When you go to one that says has 40,00 or 50,000 subscribers or 500,000, yeah, at that point, then you say, “Oh, that person does have a following not many people have, have decided that they’re valuable, so therefore, they must be valuable.” It’s, you know, it’s… It doesn’t do anything for us, but it does everything for us in the end because we need to establish credibility because you only have a heartbeat to establish any credibility with people in, in the online space. Our attention span is so short.

So, you know, yes, if they watched seven minutes or five minutes, a few minutes of my video, they’ll probably get that I know what I’m talking about and that I create a good compelling content, but I gotta get them to watch that first three to five minutes. So, seeing that badge that says 47,000 subscribers helps cause you to click play.

Tod Maffin: As you know, Steve, I run my own digital marketing agency called engageQ. I would love to have a viral video that costs me no more than $20 and reaches about 5,000,000 people and makes my business blow up. Please now tell me how exactly to do that in 60 seconds or less. Go.

Steve Dotto: [laughter]. Well, Tod, I feel like some ice cream. Do you want some ice cream?


Steve Dotto: Yeah, that. You know, it might happen. You know, it could, anyone said… You know, it could happen, but it’s not gonna happen. Relying on viral growth, those explosions, is just an… It’s falling for anybody. It’s, it’s a keen to win in the lottery. You know, my most successful videos have a couple of hundred thousand views. You can grow and build a successfull following on YouTube strategically rather than through viral growth by following good basic business principles, but it’s gonna be slow. It’s gonna be steady. Now, I think I’ve had a fairly good run at it. I… In the last year, I had grown from 3,000 or 4,000 subscribers to somewhere around 50,000, but I have worked my tail off to do that. I have… You know, and I haven’t made much money at it in that, you know, not in the YouTube space. You know, there is ancillary revenue that you always have to concentrate on. Anybody that’s gonna be a YouTube content publisher better have multiple pillars of income that they think that they can leverage from that, from that, that channel which is what I’m doing in order to make a living.

But, I have worked very hard. As you said, I pretty, you know… You, you… There’s the illusion that I produce a video every day. I’m producing an awful lot of content. I’m spending a lot of time growing at creating a content, and working the subscriber base, you know, going in to chat and talking to them on an ongoing basis, making sure that I’m in my, in, in my comments forum all the time. It’s, I think, an incredibly important part because people wanna engage with you. And then, vastness of the internet in, in the YouTube universe, having the content creator who you’re following and you like reply to your comment in there, in, in the post, that’s create a really awesome level of engagement. You come from the broadcast world as do I. We always had a intermediary between us and our audience. You… Did you… When you did radio, did you know who listen to your show?

Tod Maffin: I, I knew the people who were like sort of frequent fliers who would always call to talk back line, but it would be…

Steve Dotto: Okay. Because you had…

Tod Maffin: …[inaudible].

Steve Dotto: You had a little bit of engagement. But, when you’re walking down it, but did you… But… So, you had a little bit more engagement because of the interactive nature of your show. My show, I didn’t know.

Tod Maffin: Yeah.

Steve Dotto: You know, I didn’t know who it was. You know, I would get on the plane, then somebody say, “I watch your show.” It’s cool. It’s a guy of my age or it’s a woman at some age or it’s a young person. I didn’t anybody that age watch my show. Like, I had no idea.

Tod Maffin: Yeah.

Steve Dotto: You know, they gave me demographics, I didn’t know who they were. Even though it’s a small audience on YouTube, I know exactly who watches my stuff now because they post in Google+ in the, in the comments area on, in, in YouTube, they post and they stay, “Steve,” and, and, you know, sometimes, it’s just, “I like the, you know, thanks for the video,” and thosesorts of things. But, everyone is, well, you get the ones, “Wow, that really resonated with me. Perfect timing. That’s exactly what I’m looking for. Well, what do you think about this, Steve? I’m looking for the information in this area. Or, have you looked at this?” And that dialog, those comments coming in are just golden because, now, I’m creating content based on what my audience tells me. On my first course, that was a successful sales effort out of this whole, with whole new process, came as a direct result by audience responding every time I post anything I’d ever know. My numbers would blow up and the comments would blow up and people would say, “Hey.” They would talk about how they were enjoying using it, how much more than they want to learn. So, I developed the course I never know. I thought it was a busy space. I thought everybody, you know, there are ton of courses and books that I’ll never know, but my audience seemed interested, so I did it and we sold really well. We got… You know, we’ve had, we made a really successful product as a result of the feedback from the audience.

Tod Maffin: What is the one thing that you wish you could go back and do differently whenever you, from the, from the day you started, not the channel, but the strategy toward building toward hundred thousand subscribers. Well, well, if you could go back…

Steve Dotto: Oh, Jesus.

Tod Maffin: ..what is the one thing you think you were doing all wrong?

Steve Dotto: One thing I was doing all wrong?

Tod Maffin: Other than occasionally taking my advice.

Steve Dotto: [laughter] You know, I think, I think the thing that I keep coming back to is, is, is pushing when you have momentum. I wish that I attacked stronger when I was doing well and I didn’t rest on my laurels. Like, when I video does well, throwing more energy behind it rather than congratulating myself on how well it’s done. You know, the, the whole idea that you said of you created a great video and, and, and then you post it, you pat yourself on the back a little bit and then you expect the world to come, we have to keep pushing and momentum is a very powerful force. And, if you get momentum growing and you throw more energy behind that momentum, I think it’s well with the extra effort. So, when you… So, when I found different avenues that my audience was interested in, I wish I pursued some of those channels more aggressively right at the beginning.

Tod Maffin: You got a couple of webinars and courses coming up. You’re doing a lot with Mike Vardy, a great productivity guy. What are the one, yeah, in, in the near future and how can people find out about them?

Steve Dotto: Well, if they’d visit, we have, say, if you happen to be listening to this podcast, after the, after these webinars are on, there’s always replays available. So, Mike… So, I have a, for my existing Evernote course, I got Evernote Made Easy which is a, a discover… Sorry. The Secret… Solving Evernote Puzzle. I do remember the name. Then, I got a three-part little tutorial on a free course that’s available to teach people exactly what Evernote is. Mike Vardy and I are about to launch as we’re recording this a very cool webinar on choosing the perfect task manager. I don’t know if you… But, I don’t know how many you’ve gone through in your life, but most people go through a cyclical nature of trying to go about 14 different task managers to try and get efficient. In the end, they spend so much time trying task managers and never end up being productive. We’re gonna look at the four archetype task managers and, and teach you how to implement them in your life, so that’s gonna be solve, choosing, choosing the perfect task manager. And then, I got at the end of November, I’m gonna do it a webinar teaching how I screencast, teaching how I actually create my videos which is I’m surprised how many people asked me the question, but there’s usually lots of interest in that.

Tod Maffin: Steve Dotto. You can find him at, which is D-O-T-T-O-T-E-C-H, and the YouTube channel, of course, Thanks, Steve.

Steve Dotto: Thank you Tod Maffin.

Tod Maffin: I will see you in the interwebs my friend.

Steve Dotto: Yeah. You will.