How to get a million views per month
by Jay Hunter
Do you really want to know? Create a video and include the words "Top 10" and "Lesbians" and put it on YouTube. You're welcome!
Helloooo! I'm Jay Hunter, creator and host of OSW Review, a web-series which chronologically critiques Old School Wrestling events. Yes, wrestling, the one with spandex-clad, oily men. We just wrapped up a 134-minute video review of a Pay-Per-View event from 2001. Who would watch such a thing? Back in 2011, not many, but thankfully in 2015, our videos are viewed over a 1.3 million times each month across YouTube and Vimeo! I wanted to have a quick chat about how to improve your work in this post October 21, 2015 world (the date Marty McFly went to the future in Back to the Future II) and share what I've learnt about media since we started.
A little bit about our show: My co-host described us as a niche of a niche of a niche, which I think is fitting. OSW is a 3-man roundtable podcast, which is painstakingly synced to video footage of the event/movie we are reviewing. The latter part takes an average of 50 (to sometimes over 100) hours to complete, due to the volume of spliced-in footage and visual gags! It means the show's schedule is roughly every month, time-permitting. The basis of this article is born out of being recently interviewed on Canadian wrestling podcast ‘Keep it 100’ and being asked “what’s the secret to my success?”. I was a bit embarrassed at the question (I don't consider our show to be that popular!) but here's some insight I’ve gleaned over the last 4 years which I hope will be of use:
How do I become famous?
Kill and eat a celebrity. Seriously (!), it's extremely difficult, especially as today's online celebrities established themselves years ago. But there is always, always a place for well-made content. I cannot tell you how to make a popular blog, because this is literally my first ever blog - today I learnt what keywords are - so I can only related to podcast and video production.
Much like the nobel prize (where it's preferable to research in the field which has won the most nobel prizes - Particle Physics with 34 btw!), it's much easier to stand out on the internet if you're approaching something from a rare/unique perspective. Be able to answer the question “we’re the guys who ______”, so when something in that field happens, people immediately think of you. YouTube is the 3rd most popular site in the world (after Google and Facebook) so I’d recommend starting a YouTube show with a unique take on a relatively popular topic (sports, videogames, TV shows, films etc). Having a YT presence is always preferable to no presence at all.
Do what you know, and love what you do
I can't stress this enough. Even with an excellent show, you may not become famous. And if becoming famous is your goal, you'll never be satisfied. Your show needs to be a selfish endeavour, to make yourself happy, and if it catches fire, then great! But if not, to be happy with your show because it’s your show. It took us 18 months to reach 400 fans, but that didn’t matter as it makes me happy! I also produce less popular works just because it interests me, such as the videogame music show Super OSW 64 for Dublin City FM, and regular horror film reviews.
Be proud of your show, and be able to stand behind the work you put out i.e. Quality over quantity. Hopefully both, but quality is more important, as once an episode/blog/show is out, it becomes part of your body of work, and new fans will be exposed to that general level.
Where to draw Inspiration
What’s your favourite TV, radio show, podcast or blog? Find the elements you like most from as many things and incorporate them into your own. OSW was created because I wanted to do my version of my favourite shows, directly inspired by the excellent weekly historical wrestling podcast, Review-a-Wai from Live Audio Wrestling. Other influences include the videogame roundtable vodcast Epic Battle Cry (which showed videogame footage of the game being discussed); Botchamania (videogame chiptune music) and even my presentation is based on the dulcet newscaster tones from GameTrailers’ Brandon Jones.
What about Social Media?
In execu-speak we’ll talk about social media marketing/content marketing, which just means that everything you post online is basically advertising for your show. Your facebook/twitter etc. should be basically an extension of your content, and a place where you can chat directly to your fans. We have a segment on our show called “What Bar?”, where we liken a wrestler’s garish attire to candy bar wrappers. I get people playing What Bar/tweeting me pictures of candy bars whenever they’re watching wrestling, it’s awesome. However, it’s also important that it’s not exclusively used to pimp your content - put up things you find to be funny/interesting, just for the enjoyment of your followers. That’s probably not the best plan for digital marketing and that kind of thing, but letting people know there is a person/personality behind your show’s account is paramount. I recommend having a twitter (not facebook, as they hide roughly 80% of your posts unless you pay them) and setting up a website early on and establishing that. Buy a domain/unique URL, so people know you're serious about your work. Depending on your wanted audience you could use instagram/pinterest/tumblr but I prefer not splitting up our fanbase.
2 men, 3 men, the more the merrier!
It's dangerous to go alone! People like seeing others being personable, and personality shines brighter when two (or more) people are in conversation. Talking/explaining/presenting to someone else (preferably in person) makes a world of difference in energy and performance, which can be easily felt. It's possible but extremely difficult to be personable whilst talking into to a camera, or by yourself, congratulations if you have this skill!
Do things for other people
A nicer way of saying 'network', a horrible, soulless business term. Do you want to collaborate with someone? Create a relationship with them. Don’t think of it as a venture to extract something from them. Make some fan art, or something similar to let them know you care. Let them know about you and what you’re trying to do. A large factor for collaboration (besides the details of the project) is if they know you/like you already.
Appreciate your fans.
It's a small thing, but don't focus on the fans you don't have, but look to maintain the ones you have. Tell them you appreciate them. Treat your fans time as more important than yours. Time is precious, and if they choose to dedicate small portions of their life to your content, make it worth their while. Keep to a schedule so fans can come to depend on your content as part of their week. I can’t do this as our videos take so long to produce so I post something on FB & twitter every day at the same time.
At some point, sell out.
By this I mean cover something timely or popular that will attract the casual fan, as a gateway to your actual show. I found this out when we covered a Scooby-Doo/WWE crossover (I completed the episode in 20 as opposed to 50 hours) and the video now has over a million views. I think that's crazy but it serves as a way to reach new fans.
Create something because you enjoy creating it, do it for yourself, and be proud of what you created. And talk about candy bars whenever possible.
I don’t recommend my show but if you wanna watch along and listen to us giving out about one of the worst films ever made, check out our Samurai Cop review http://oswreview.com/media/movie-samurai-cop/ ... And remember, a winner is you!