Behind The Curtain: Everything I Learned About Video Was from ReelSEO

Behind The Curtain: Everything I Learned About Video Was from ReelSEO

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Back in 2011 when I first started writing for ReelSEO, I had one problem: I knew nothing about video.  I do have a background in radio/TV production: I did funny videos in high school and was interested in them enough to get a degree in Mass Communications back in the 90s.  But I sort of gave up–there was no YouTube back then and getting a job in video was tough.

Forwarding to 2011, I didn’t watch YouTube on a regular basis and I didn’t know there were other platforms out there.  I knew that I could write (although, reading an occasional comment, you’ll find those who disagree–you actually always find people who disagree no matter what you do, so it’s shruggin’ time), and I was appreciative that former ReelSEO editor Jeremy Scott, whom I’ve known for 14 years, sought out a writing opportunity for me, and this site’s founder, Mark Robertson, allowed me in.

Chris AtkinsonI kicked off writing about things that I was “closer” to when it came to video.  As a long-time movie theatre projectionist, I tended to know a lot about movies and TV, and so my first articles were about web series, or web “shows,” or “multi-platform content.”  I watched a whole bunch of web series back in the day, including getting rather obsessed with “We Lost Our Gold,” which came from the creators of the great Glove & Boots channel.  I tried to get interviews with them–it didn’t work.  They weren’t talking.

I also wrote a ton about Revision3’s “Film Riot” (read my posts on Film Riot here).  It was worth a couple of articles a week, and I even got to interview Ryan Connolly even though I had really no idea what to ask that hadn’t been asked before…and it was through e-mail.

Anyway, I tell you this because last Friday, was my last day as editor of this site.  I have only done it for a few months, actually.  But over those few months, a crazy thing happened: my friend Jeremy and I began a successful YouTube channel.  For various reasons, I’ve never revealed the name of that channel here.  I don’t like self-promotion under these circumstances.

cinema-sinsNote from Publisher, Mark Robertson: – While Chris is very modest, I have no problem pimping out his incredible channel on YouTube – It’s CinemaSins.  I highly recommend that you subscribe to the channel and join the other 750K+ subscribers – Yes, 3/4 of Million subscribers in less than a year… Pretty amazing.  Congrats to Chris and Jeremy!

I knew that I was officially living in a “meta” world when two things happened: I saw one of our videos being pimped on the recently-shuttered New Media Rockstars and it showed up in ReelSEO’s news feed.  The other was when I was prepping a Fun Video Friday, and an unaware Carla Marshall, ReelSEO’s new Managing Editor, submitted one of our videos for me to include in the roundup.  I had to tell her I was a part of that channel and felt uncomfortable putting it in my weekly FVF.

How did we become successful?  Pretty much everything we learned from writing on this site.

youtube-playbookThe YouTube Creator Playbook, which was my first serious delving into a “how to succeed on YouTube” series of articles, is a major tool in YouTube survival.  And from what I hear, the Playbook was constructed in many ways from the goldmine of nuggets on ReelSEO.  We follow that (always updated) gift from the YouTube gods a lot, whether it’s consciously or unconsciously.  We also experienced a lot of failure before then.  We knew what it was that made them failures, and we moved on.  We also got very lucky.  I think luck is underrated when people talk about their successes.  But once we got that luck, the knowledge we gathered while writing for this site kicked in in a big way.

So, when I wrote about YouTube trolls, or whether YouTube actually pushes channels that they have deemed worthy, or figuring out the intricacies of submitting videos to influencers, those were personal eyewitness accounts.  I had to be a little vague so as not to pimp my channel, but in those instances, I can say without a doubt I know what I’m talking about.  The “push” article came from this comment, which still is the top comment on the “YouTube Pro Series” announcement video:

youtube supportsAs you can see, this kind of thinking permeates YouTube.  It’s a common sentiment to think YouTube is just going to pick out what they like and then promote it on their own.  I can tell you from experience, the only reason YouTube now pushes us regularly is that we have high watch times and we showed we could help ourselves when it came to coverage.  It didn’t have much to do with what they thought of us personally–whoever “they” are.  We certainly didn’t start out being pushed by YouTube, that’s for sure.  And that’s the point.  You have to earn it.

Our channel was “average” for awhile.  We started from nothing.  What we did was release content every week, interact with fans, sent our videos to relevant websites looking for content–we’re absolutely HUGE at tent-poling (which will be the subject of a future Tim Schmoyer video that I don’t think I did very well with), where you find an event happening on a particular week and you create content around that event–when you do that, it’s much easier to get blogs and websites to say “yes” to your video because they too will benefit from the tentpoling.  That is: if your video is also entertaining.

After awhile, editors and writers enjoy the traffic your video sent to their site, they publish you more, and others come knocking.  Your “watch time” starts to skyrocket.  And watch time is very important in this day and age of YouTube.

Probably the most popular article I wrote on this site was called, “How Much Money Do YouTube Partners Make?  We Might Be Able to Do the Math.”  It still gets a lot of “hits” to this day, even though a lot of what is written there is outdated now (It was written in October of 2011).  The figures from that article came from deriving what the “David After Dentist” dad said he made on the video (in a New York Times article) and dividing it by the amount of views the video got.  Since then, YouTube has introduced TrueView (skippable ads), which pays off quite a bit more than your average ad, and the amounts one makes outside of merchandising, sponsorships, and regular ads has changed dramatically since then.  I find it funny when I still get comments on that post in 2013 and people say, “That doesn’t seem right!”

vsummitAnyway, I would like to thank Mark and Jeremy for giving me the chance, and I got to meet a lot of the experts and fans of this site when I went out to the ReelSEO Video Marketing Summit–there are a lot of people who read this site sort of anonymously.  I wasn’t expecting people to react when they heard my name, but they did, and they made me feel like I was doing something that was good when they told me they “read me all the time.”

In the future, I’ll likely pop my head in now and again.  But that’s what I want to leave every reader of this site.  I started knowing nothing about video, and now I know a lot, but there’s still a lot more to learn.  And everything I learned, I learned from ReelSEO.

mark-chrisNote from Publisher, Mark Robertson:  I want to personally thank Chris for all the wonderful work he did to help make ReelSEO what it is today. Chris – I wish you nothing but the best as you move on to focus on your dreams.  Thank you for everything and as we discussed – hopefully this will be a “see you soon” vs. “goodbye.”

Lastly – Here’s one of my favorite CinemaSins video so far (again, I highly recommend that you check out the Channel):


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