Learn how to create more income, impact, and influence for your online courses and personal brand with professional self-made YouTuber Sean Cannell in this episode of LMScast hosted by Chris Badgett of LifterLMS.
Sean’s YouTube channels have over one million subscribers, his videos have been viewed over 43 million times, and he has been featured as one of the “20 Must Watch YouTube Channels That Will Change Your Business” by Forbes. Sean and his team are on a mission to help 10,000 people quit their day jobs to do what they love. He is passionate about giving tactical, practical advice about using video to spread your message.
In this episode Chris and Sean dive into how you can use YouTube to build your tribe and build free content that attracts more leads for your course or training based membership site. The best way to market to people is by helping them solve problems when they come to you in their time of need.
Know, like, and trust are the three major pillars of marketing and sales. YouTube is the second largest search engine online, so it is a place where a lot of people go to get answers to problems. If you can position yourself to help them out when they are looking for those solutions, then you have a great position to build that relationship and the know factor of marketing.
Sean shares a great analogy you can take with you when building a sales funnel. In his analogy he compares sales to dating. We have all had an experience in sales where someone has come on too strong and it is off-putting when what was needed is a nice, cordial introduction.
Starting a conversation on a date by proposing marriage is similar to pitching your $10,000 program to someone who doesn’t know, like, and trust you well enough to commit to something like that yet. There is a process of commitment, and a customer journey you’ll need to take your customers on. And by relating to Sean’s analogy you may be able to answer a few questions about what you should include in that journey to keep leads engaged.
Sean is a best selling author, YouTuber, international speaker, and business coach who specializes in video equipment and successful marketing on platforms like YouTube. You can find Sean’s book YouTube Secrets on TubeSecretsBook.com. He also runs three YouTube channels: Video Influencers, Think Media, and his personal channel Sean Cannell.
Sean also lays down some great advice for thumbnails in your YouTube videos, such as images where the eyes direct focus and thumbnails that include people’s faces. Also adding words to the thumbnail in a way where the thumbnail complements the title rather than restating it. He also share a piece of YouTube knowledge that applies heavily in the course creation space, which is that your videos should be as long as they need to be, but as short as possible.
At LifterLMS.com you can learn more about new developments and how you can use LifterLMS to build online courses and membership sites. Subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. If you like this episode of LMScast, you can browse more episodes here. Thank you for joining us!
Chris Badgett: You’ve come to the right place if you’re a course creator looking to build more impact, income, and freedom. LMScast is the number one podcast for course creators just like you. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I’m the co-founder of the most powerful tool for building, selling, and protecting engaging online courses called LifterLMS. Enjoy the show.
Chris Badgett: Hello, and welcome back to anther episode of LMScast. My name’s Chris Badgett, and I’m joined by a special guest, Sean Cannell. Did I say that right?
Sean Cannell: Sean Cannell.
Chris Badgett: Cannell.
Sean Cannell: Pumped to be here.
Chris Badgett: All right. Shean is somebody I’ve been following for a while. He has a passion and obsession with YouTube. He is a marketing person. He’s a book author. Check out his new book, YouTube Secrets.
Chris Badgett: You wrote that with Benji, is that right?
Sean Cannell: Correct.
Chris Badgett: I actually did a video review of that book on my personal YouTube channel a little while ago. I got a lot out of it. I got to say I only came across Sean about less than a year ago. No surprise to you, I was shopping for a better camera and audio setup. Like right now, I am broadcasting to you. My friend Johnathan Farley recommended the Panasonic Lumix G7 I believe it is. I was just looking at all the different mics and stuff to go with it.
Chris Badgett: Of course I ended up smacked down in the middle of your content and then not just on the tech side also, I have a software company I work with, of course creators who are developing their own personal brands and all your video influencer content I became aware of and I just went all the way down the rabbit hole, bought the book, loved it.
Chris Badgett: I think you’re a great teacher, but I’m going to shut up for a second and just say thank you and welcome to the show.
Sean Cannell: Chris man, I appreciate it. Thanks for the respect across kind of our body of work and just super pumped to be hanging out today.
Chris Badgett: Yeah. So the body of work, YouTube Secrets, the book, go check that out. Sean has three YouTube channels that I’m aware of. Video influencers is more on the marketing and using video for influence and impact. Tech media, is that what it is?
Sean Cannell: Yeah. Think media.
Chris Badgett: Think media is the gear one. So in course creator land everybody gets obsessed with which camera, which microphone, am I an entry level, mid level or advanced Sean is the guy. Just trust me on that. And then you have your personal channel on that goes by your name Sean Cannell, right?
Sean Cannell: That’s right.
Chris Badgett: Awesome. And Sean is also of course creator, which is one of the things that makes this interview even more interesting and it gives us a lot to talk about. You can find Sean’s courses over Seancannell.com. And for example, video ranking academy 2.0 that’s one of his courses.
Chris Badgett: If you want to use YouTube to build your tribe, build free content and attract more leads for your course or your training based membership site, you’re probably going to eventually want to know how to rank high on YouTube. But that’s just touching on the surface of Sean’s body of work. For the course creators out there, the membership site builders out there. I just kind of described how I fell into your funnel or your just content universe and then I ended up buying something from you, your book in this case. But what advice do you have for course creators? I think YouTube is a brilliant place to focus your marketing efforts on. How can a course creator leverage YouTube to attract people and ultimately some of them become customers.
Sean Cannell: Yeah, I think youtube is the best place for course creators to be thinking of. And the reason why is because of course creators are solving problems. They’re helping people get a better fade in their hair, save money on taxes, learn online marketing, get six pack abs, get the biceps, whatever. YouTube is the second largest search engine online. And that’s almost become a cliche, but it’s still a fact today that people are going to Google number one and YouTube number two to look for answers to questions and you’re then able to position content that it’s perfect. It’s absolutely perfect for course creators because you’re able to then and meet someone at their point of need, help them with some information, help them with some free value, build that relationship and then ultimately lead them in the journey of wherever they can go deeper with you through a course and a million other things you could do through events or masterminds or coaching or anything like that.
Sean Cannell: And I think the reason youtube is the best, there’s a lot of reasons, but one is that the disposition, the psychology of someone coming to you when it’s at their time of need is the absolute best way to start a relationship in the world. And when it comes to marketing and sales, it’s the best way. And here’s what I mean. You came to me looking for a better camera. I didn’t show up in your news feed with an ad, which would be pushing marketing on you. I didn’t get you to follow me somewhere and then all of a sudden be like, “Ha ha.” And then pushed out some new video. But literally you’re in a moment where you’re saying, “Okay, I need help. I’m looking for a camera.” And that’s where a lot of people meet me online.
Sean Cannell: And so if you think about it, the guards, there’s not, I mean you’re, it’s not an ad. It’s not pushy. It’s like you came to my door and knocked, like if we were going to do door to door sales, you came to my front door and said, “Hey, can I start a relationship with you instead of me having to go out and generate business or whatever it is.”
Sean Cannell: So I think that YouTube is absolutely quintessential, for course creators, especially too, in most cases, of course, creators are creating video. So it’s already up there. And then just from a practical standpoint, over 2 billion monthly active users logged in with Gmail accounts right now on YouTube. It’s in over 76, they have kind of the native languages. YouTube is accessible in different languages around the world and countries that are always adding more countries.
Sean Cannell: So a lot of course creators have international audiences. YouTube is free on top of that. So what we’re ultimately talking about is this tool that is free, that can build relationships with people, build your audience, grow a following, build goodwill, which is I can trust the way business happens all for free, but you have to invest the time, the strategy and the tips that I’m sure we’ll be talking about in this interview.
Chris Badgett: That it was awesome. We’re over at LifterLMS were community people. We operate in the WordPress ecosystem. There’s this whole connection of other companies and other products. But in the spirit of community, I just want to really recommend an interview you did on Pat Flynn, smart passive income podcast and you talked in there about the not going for the sale right away. And you also talked about for the power of like a series. Can you just kind of give us the cliff notes of your main thoughts there?
Sean Cannell: Yeah, 100% I think a big mistake course creators online marketers make and just people in general. I don’t even think it’s from a bad motivation. I think a lot of times we’re trying to pay the bills, we’re just trying to do what we’ve seen other people do. But I think that most people are going too fast at any point in time. There’s actually probably only about five to 10% of of your market that would actually be ready to buy a solution at that exact moment. But there’s always the other 90% that would love, they’re on the fence. They’re thinking about making a purchase. And even from a standpoint like if you look at a car you can go to a great resource for studying deeper is the Google conference data. They do these deep studies and there’s this Google study about all the touch points it took for this woman to buy a van.
Sean Cannell: And you learned about how many touch points there were in that conversation. Now mind you buying a van is alone probably 20 to $30,000 or whatever. And so there was a lot more touch points needed. But for those listening and course graders, you want to actually think about you. It’s like slow down the relationship and, or slow down your selling at all and build a relationship. And the analogy I like to is really dating and relationships. It’s kind of like a lot of women could probably relate to a guy that maybe was rude and came on way too fast and it would be, there are public and he’s like, “Whats up girl? Let’s make this thing happen.” And she’s like, “What? No Way.” She actually might’ve eventually liked that guy, but his approach was way too fast and came on way too strong and what was needed was a nice cordial introduction.
Sean Cannell: What was then needed was an invitation to a short date, not like can we go on three weeks of vacation? Meaning can we like do business or can you watch a four hour live stream? This is why I encourage people to start with shorter content, a short date early on because you’re just getting to know they’re getting some value. That could lead to maybe a longer date. That could be a webinar that could then lead to eventually engagement or marriage and that could be someone joining your community, maybe at a low level and then eventually maybe doing business with you and people listening. They might be doing courses that costs anywhere from $10 to 10,000 so if someone was going to do that higher ticket relationship with you? Well there’s going to be steps and building know, like and trust in the process.
Sean Cannell: And so I really view dating as kind of like your free content on the Internet. That’s people dating you and your audience. Engagement is someone that’s like, okay, I’ll give you an email, or watch a webinar or I will go deeper. And that’s a big deal. Especially as there’s more cynicism or just people have like seen sketchy people online. Is this the level of trust to say, “Okay, not only am I going to give you my email though, I’m going to give you my time.” To get someone to even possibly consider consuming a 30 minute to 60 minutes and 90 minutes sales presentation or a webinar or something is insane. So that is a whole another level of trust. And then eventually marriage, if you will, and quote, is when someone decides to do business with you. And so absolutely slow down the process.
Sean Cannell: And that was what I was kind of talking about with Pat Flynn. And part two of that is then when possible, see if you could go on a binge date. Just like you want people like Netflix wants us to binge TV shows. Imagine if you could go on like a date with, now we’re talking about relationships, I came from Seattle, grew up in Seattle with my wife and I. And so if we went to the Space Needle and Pike Place Market and the first ever started, we started in the morning, the bond that would be created from that, like if you will, extend the date with multiple touch points would actually be an acceleration. So we’re into some pretty deep stuff here already. But it’d be accelerating the sales conversation and I’ve seen this happen.
Sean Cannell: So someone’s like, “I met you with the camera, but then I had a question about lighting, but then I was wondering about my channel, but then I was like wanting about how to make money. And then I watched… ” It’s like all of a sudden we may be, they’ve spent the whole day with me. They’ve watched five YouTube videos, an hour long Webinar, and then they’re like, “Dude, you’re stuff’s legit. It really works.” And I’ve already gotten so much value. I’m almost like just reciprocity. I’m always just trying to pour back gratitude because I just got five hours of free content from you or whatever it is, and then they dive in. So I kind of unpacked a lot there, but I honestly think I kind of just broke down my whole business.
Sean Cannell: And that is what I think modern marketing is. And I mean it’s working really well and it’s a way of, it sounds weird to even call it marketing. It’s like selling without being sleazy. It’s not being weird, it’s just being transparent, adding value and giving people a chance to where your marketing is just education, it’s storytelling, it’s education, it’s getting people value results in advance and all those types of things.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. My YouTube journey started like, I’m actually here because of YouTube, so I run a remote software company. I built a agency. I no longer do client work, I have just product. But it all started when I went to YouTube and I typed in this into like how to build a website. And I started teaching myself through other people’s videos. How to use WordPress and now I’m just almost 10 years, maybe 11 years down that rabbit hole, but all started with going to YouTube with a problem. What was your YouTube origin story? How did you come into the fold?
Sean Cannell: Yeah, so for me, I got into YouTube really early. First I got into video in 2003 and that was a huge advantage because obviously video is king now of the internet truly is, right. It’s the preferred content format of choice. Cisco said that by 2020 90% of the internet’s going to be video or whatever.
Sean Cannell: So knowing video is a quintessential skill for entrepreneurs, business owners, independent creators, hobbyists like video needs. So all that to say, I’m just considering how blessed I was to be hands on with video in 2003. And the way I got into it was I was volunteering at my local church. The youth pastor handed me a video camera and said, “Hey, start creating video announcements.” And there’s this is a big advantage because one I was getting the skills and I’m self taught. I mean your first videos are your worst videos.
Sean Cannell: These videos were terrible, but I had to do them every week. And so every Wednesday night for youth groups, so that was 52 videos the first year. One of the muscles I think people need to develop just in modern marketing and entrepreneurship is the ability to create content on a consistent basis that’s quality, quick, valuable.
Sean Cannell: It’s almost like it needs to become like breathing. And it can be intimidating because when you first tried to ride your bike, you fall over and scratch your leg. Like I did once my dad took off the training wheels. But you got to get good at content. So that’s what I was doing. After the year 2004 the senior pastor was like, “Can you make these videos on the weekend too?” And I was like, “Okay. So that’s 104 videos a year as a volunteer in a few extra ones.”
Sean Cannell: So again, I’m getting a little faster I’m using Adobe premiere back the day, no idea what I’m doing. And then in 2007, two years after YouTube started, the first YouTube channel I managed was for my church. And so again, super crazy because to be at a small church, a few hundred people hour north of Seattle Washington. You did not expect it to be a progressive place where we’re thinking about social media, Twitter and YouTube.
Sean Cannell: But we were and so I was just kind of doing thumbnails and titles. And so by 2009 I started a business all self taught called clear vision media, video production, doing some website building for people. Because I was like, I become as that church communicator, a little media shop myself. I built the church website, did the videos, did all the graphic design, did like I did all the tech.
Sean Cannell: I mean I was just learning everything, just bootstrap. And to this day I still do all my graphic design and things because it’s like just Photoshop and whatever. Even though we have a team of 10 people, my hands are in a lot of the creation still. And so I was just learning it all. And that was kind of my genesis into YouTube.
Sean Cannell: And so now, and Benji and I eventually met up and we did YouTube secrets. This started 10 years ago. We met in 2010. Right as I was kind of coming on in the church world, I started working with different speakers and helping them with SCO and the back end, he was coming on with his wife and they’re doing YouTube and now we’ve been on this journey together. So our roots go super deep and we made so many mistakes along the way. So many detours, so many things that didn’t work out. And that’s what’s been our passion. Video has changed our life, both Benji and I in my life, obviously if so many different ways and we want to pass that along. And that was kind of a synopsis of the journey.
Chris Badgett: As a course creator, but also as a video marketer, we have to get comfortable with video. Most of the time video is going to come into play and I’ve heard, I think I’ve heard you say punch fear in the face and I was just actually interviewing somebody else about the reason people kind of self sabotage mostly subconsciously. And she was saying it has to do around three areas. She said love, security and self esteem. There’s issues around all of that. When you kind of come out and say, “Hello world.” And you start teaching something or start blasting your face and your message all over YouTube, how do you punch fear in the face? Like let’s imagine a new course creator who’s made the decision like I’m going to focus on this topic, this niche. I’m going to serve this type of person. I’m a little uncomfortable. How do I get the ball rolling?
Sean Cannell: I mean I think a couple things. Number one, and this might seem overly simplistic, but I mentioned my roots growing up in church and I heard a quote from an international traveling preacher once and he said this. He said, “The best way to teach a preacher is to preach a preacher.” And he said he speaks in stages of just massive thousands to 25,000, 35,000 which is terrifying to me too. It’s funny because you might get online and there’s, but like my gosh, you can just imagine. And he was like, you don’t just go from zero to that. There’s a billion steps in between. So many little things that have to happen to grow your confidence brick by brick. It’s really just like growing a muscle. If you go and you do the repetitions in the gym today of the bicep barbell, you could go all day long, your arms would be super sore and you’ll see no results.
Sean Cannell: And then you could do it every day for the next couple of weeks and you’ll still see really no visible results. But if you keep doing it, then eventually that muscle gets stronger. And so I think it’s identifying, one of the most important questions we all should ask as course creators is what skills do I need to survive and thrive in the new economy? What skills do I need to survive and not just survive because that’s bare minimum but thrive actually excel at. And if I do, then I will win in the new economy. Online video is just one of those. There’s just no way around you. Unless you’re going to be the CEO and have someone else on camera at some point you have to get over it. But I’m empathetic. So if you can now fast forward back, it’s 2019 and I was telling you I’m getting on video in 2003. So never compare your beginning to somebody else’s middle.
Sean Cannell: There’s some natural gifting. I think people should acknowledge that or match real propensity, I should say if you’re more extroverted or introverted. But I started getting up and doing announcements at youth group, terrible. I wasn’t a clear communicator. I’m on video. The video’s ran long. I’m long winded. I say I’m all the time. I have put out more reps, not bicep reps because there’s no results there, but I’ve put out more reps in video than probably anybody listening may be combined. The master has failed more times than the amateur has even tried. I’m being a little hard, but I’m trying to say like you just got to do it and use your season and obscurity to prepare you for popularity. Because thing number one, let’s get really practical. You need to just start doing video today. Like you’re listening to this show and started video.
Sean Cannell: Grab your freaking phone and post a video. Well, what if someone sees it? Your number one problem is no one’s going to probably see it. That’s the blessing. Use Your season and obscurity security to prepare you for popularity. So just post your first video number one or go live.
Sean Cannell: Number two do it every single week. And if you can do it multiple times a week. Number three, commit to it for the next 12 to 24 to 36 months. Just like a small business takes about three years to be profitable and keep showing up. Keep pressing record. He hitting that record button and you’re going to grow in confidence over time and your first video will be your worst video. So it’s almost like, “How do I not suck on camera at first.” NO you will, you’re going to suck, accept that fact.
Sean Cannell: Well then how can I be great five years from now when my destiny really needs me to show up? It’s going to be because you punch fear in the face today and you suck for a while and you get fired, you don’t make it on your high school basketball team. Like Michael Jordan, one of the great basketball players of all time, literally got rejected off his high school basketball team only later to have been keep practicing, keep showing up, keep shooting the reps, keep shooting the baskets, keep doing the routines, and he didn’t give up when he sucked.
Sean Cannell: And so you got to get through that. And so you got me in a sassy mood today for some reason, but ultimately you got to just do it. It’s like Nike and when you do it over and over and over again you’ll be better.
Sean Cannell: And even, let me just say one other thing. Right now, there’s Heather Tourists on my team. If anybody follows our movement. She has natural gifting. I’m sure she’s kind of, she’s been an entrepreneur. She’s a homeschool mom, so she’s practiced teaching, but she just spoke on stage last week and just destroyed it. Like we’re here in Vegas. I spoke right after her. I was terrified going up after her. It was her second time ever speaking on stage and, but why? So I just know her life. Why? Well, she’s been going live in our membership site, which I’m sure we’ll get to. She’s been training in our membership site for 16 months and having to show up monthly to do that. She’s been doing short videos in our Facebook group and whatever for four years since we’ve been working together back when we originally created our signature course video ranking academy, she’s been putting up videos up.
Sean Cannell: She practiced on Snapchat first and then practice on her YouTube channel. So all that to say is there’s a lot of people listening to really believe in themselves, to not like count yourself out, comparing yourself to somebody and feeling like you’d never get there. No, you’re actually probably more talented than them. You’re probably more capable than them, but you’re just not doing the work.
Sean Cannell: And if you sit back and analyze and just wonder why you’re not getting better, who cares? Post the videos and do it bad a hundred times, practice in public a thousand times and then all of a sudden you’re this. So someone might be like, “Wow, that was your second time speaking.” Well yeah, except that you’ve been secretly practicing massively week after week for the last four years.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, that’s awesome. And I think as teachers, coaches, mentors, leaders, we have to take a little bit of our own medicine and do the raw part of teaching is repetition and practice. It’s just, we need to just take her on medicine and you should go back and look at Sean’s first video. You should go back and look at my first video. I just have a lot of fun when I find the YouTuber to go back and look at their original videos. You can tell they’ve learned how to speak and communicate more effectively.
Chris Badgett: Let’s talk about YouTube and making courses. You said you have a membership site.Sometimes YouTubers monetize and lots of different ways. There’s many different ways patrion or they sell services or coaching on the back end or whatever. But if we look at creating your own training products and memberships as a way to kind of have a business around your content, Can you give us the short version of like how that evolved for you and what worked, what didn’t work, just give us some of the highlight reel.
Sean Cannell: Yeah. So I think what would evolve for me is it started actually back, and not to go too deep into the story, but it started back in really 2009 in a story that I shared that was sort of our genesis of entrepreneurship. And that was, we hit the hardest season of our life, my wife and I. We don’t have kids. We have two Chihuahuas and we live in Vegas now. And we coming up on 14 years of marriage in a few months but back just two years after we got married, she got very sick and turned out it was a chronic illness, but she was undiagnosed for years and we went from doctor after doctor and it was just, it was the most incredibly hard season we could have ever gone through, especially as a young couple. We got married at 21, this happened at 23 and it lasted for the next few years.
Sean Cannell: On top of that, it was the housing crisis in America and we were losing our homes. We actually had a rental property also the tenants were losing their jobs. So that’s falling apart. And the church I mentioned working at was also falling apart because some of the senior leadership stole some money and some stuff got weird. So I was a part of watching it kind of grow and also kind of fall and being in the midst. And that all happened at once. So it was absolutely crazy. But what the reason I bring that up is what it was. It came to a time where my wife almost died and I found myself in the hospital with her for six days. And it was like those six days, it was like God was just speaking to me, kind of like was being challenged and stretched and scared, but as my wife’s recovering, I read a book called crush it during those six days.
Sean Cannell: And that was by Gary Vaynerchuk. And it basically talks about why now’s the time to turn your passion into profit, to cash in on your passion was the subtitle of that book. And for me though, I got so crystal clear on wanting to create passive income.
Sean Cannell: And so my original target was, I was like, “Okay, how are, it’s started to trigger questions. How are people working for themselves on their own terms from wherever they want, and creating income and passive income. What are the ways of doing that and who are the, you know, how does that working?” Because I’m seeing people, I don’t know who I can trust on the Internet. Some people seem great, some people seem scammy. What is going on? And this is 2009 but what I knew was I 100% wanted to do that and my motive was fiery strong because of what was happening in our lives.
Sean Cannell: Because I was like in the motive is so strong, I didn’t want to just build wealth, which we all do. And of course that’s fine, that’s great. And I didn’t want to even pursue fame or something. I wanted to just figure out how to… it was for my family. I wanted to figure out, “Okay like shoot, we were dual income.” I need to make a lot more money because now I just need to think about paying the bills a. B, I want to be able to work from home because I don’t know what this is going to mean for our kids, our family, our future and all that to say I bring that up just because I really believe reasons come before results and there was just such a deep passion.
Sean Cannell: I’m sure people listening could probably resonate with that because maybe you do want to work on your own terms for fame and fortune and followers or maybe though it’s so you have freedom because you’re dealing with a chronic illness or you want to be able to travel and do things on the road or you just want to be able to fire your boss.
Sean Cannell: So I got super clear on that and then I dove in basically at that time as deep as I could into learning everything about this. So when you say, what’s my journey? I was still in the church space and I was doing a couple of YouTube projects, but I started getting hit with Facebook ads and this is like the early days of Facebook ads too. And there was a guy named Frank Kern who hit you with an ad.
Sean Cannell: And eventually I got on his email list and he mailed out a, uh, an email promotion for Brendon Burchard, who’s launching his book, Millionaire Messenger. And then I entered a video contest because I was broke, but I was good at video and I got an all expense paid trip to experts academy it was a $2,000 ticket event, tickets, meals, hotel. And there they are Brendon Burchard, major mentor.
Sean Cannell: I just shared the stage with them a week and a half ago, talked to him 15 minutes behind. One of the most surreal moments in my life years later now. And I was studying his content and he was breaking down this industry. And then on top of that though I’d say just started and I started real ugly.
Sean Cannell: I put a little ebook together for to start getting, I didn’t have anything so I put a little ebook together called Get Notice and to get some emails because I’m supposed to build an email list and that was kind of convoluted. But I’m doing my best and I’m using mail chimp and I don’t even want to pay for it because I don’t got the money. So I just use the confirmation email is my deliverability of the PDF.
Sean Cannell: And so I’m getting that going and I don’t really know about branding or even my niche, but I just started. I actually wrote an ebook called YouTube For Churches because now I’ve been doing YouTube for churches and I made a free video series that didn’t lead to anything except the ebook.
Sean Cannell: Partly because I didn’t know the technology and probably what you help people with it, all this stuff, like I didn’t really even, I was like, “How do you host these things? How does this stuff all work?” And I did a free video series, but that was good because I was like delivering one email today. Now I’m paying for an autoresponder, one video a day and it only led to our $7 ebook.
Sean Cannell: But all that to say is there was these different projects. And then eventually I knew I wanted to take what I learned on YouTube, which just to close the loop on this part is, the original passive income that I discovered though was affiliate marketing and YouTube. And as a tech guy video since 2003 I started figuring out you could do tech reviews and Amazon affiliate links basically.
Sean Cannell: I built a six figure income and I got really good at ranking, really good at kind of spotting trends and topics good. Because I had real depth of knowledge around cameras and this stuff. So it just worked. And so that generated money. So then since then a lot of what we’ve taught on is how we’ve done that, how to make money with affiliate marketing, how to get started, how to rank videos, but had a master YouTube and analytics and it’s evolved and then now it’s even online business.
Sean Cannell: So the way our journey compressing story, once again, once we, we didn’t start a membership site until very recently. We went Beta for actually a year. But it’s all, it’s been, I think at I think patients and timing, at least for me, because I wanted to make sure that each thing I started, I started at the right time and not really half baked, but I wanted it to be really dialed in.
Sean Cannell: I wanted to have real results. I didn’t want to be the guy who made money. The way he made his money was selling courses about courses on courses. I’m not even putting that down. It was just important to me that I had YouTube affiliate marketing and I really had roots in that and generate a real income and then I had something and I think that’s also why we’ve had such a big impact because there’s some real nutrients in the soil of our history and we really care about quality along the whole way. So yeah. Then we have about probably 15 different skews right now. Like they’re not skews, I don’t know what the units in our different courses in our that are available a couple of main ones at our membership site now. And that has been evolving. Just that journey has been four years. That started at the beginning of 2016. And it was all affiliate marketing youtube before that.
Chris Badgett: Really cool. I got to say, I really resonate with your story. I remember watching the experts academy launch back in 2009 whenever the first one is, I personally at that time was not going to buy a $2,000 course. I probably was in the same contest that you won that I did. But it was through that I think I, I kind of got the confidence or the direction to, well I’m really, you don’t know this about me. I used to live in Alaska rant sled dogs for like 10 years and I managed a company out on a glacier that you only get to by helicopter and we used to take people on sled dog rides.
Chris Badgett: I became, I learned like my business skills like leadership and management and when risk tolerance and all these things I actually learned in the outdoor leadership world. So I started a blog about leadership. It’s not around anymore, but that was that first website I built that I went to YouTube. I’m like, “I’m just a low tech, no tech guy, but I have a message, I’m really into leadership and I want to talk about that.” And that’s what pushed me into becoming a technologist. But a lot of similar thing to the tie your timelines and stories.
Chris Badgett: Part of the thing with course creation is you’re an expert in something or you have your passions or things you’re good at, things people pay you to do. You mentioned affiliate, you mentioned courses, you mentioned speaking, which I imagine you’re getting paid for, but on another’s reasons to speak, not to do that, not to get paid or whatever, but you got into passive incomes, beautiful thing. What is in your constellation of multiple streams that the help diversify you and perhaps which one’s are like that you focus on the most?
Sean Cannell: Yeah. It started for us, me personally just as a solo creator would be YouTube ads, which would not be a focus, was never a focus but was turned on. I remember early in the game, one month I made 60 bucks on YouTube ads and 260 off the Amazon affiliate program. And so originally it was as YouTube ads. Then it was affiliate marketing. We did $20,000 in March profit on Amazon affiliates, which is staggering, but it’s also, that’s a huge blessing, but it also is completely limited meaning to take that from 20 to 40 would take a herculean amount of effort. It would not, because we’re talking four to 10% percentages on those transactions. But, and that’s the beauty of it is it’s really passive.
Sean Cannell: There’s no customer service, there’s no shipping, there’s no, there’s nothing. But it’s also, if you’re not in the trenches doing that work, you’re not getting as much as the upside. So when, that’s another reason that drove us to our own products. And that’s what’s great about a digital course or anything you own yourself, especially when it’s digital, is you’re talking about margins that are astronomical, man.
Sean Cannell: I mean, it’s just crazy. My grandfather was a dentist after he was a pilot in World War II, and he had a brick and mortar business and I just can’t, I mean they had rent and yet marketing and he had staff and he had electricity and all this stuff. We just have to consider how blessed we are. I heard that right now in the next five years, Forbes are saying that the elearning space is going to just continue to explode and it’s right now it’s about a couple, two quarter million to 350 million a day is being spent on elearning.
Sean Cannell: Its is going to be a billionaire in a few years, a day. That is a big opportunity for everybody listening. And so I don’t even know what I’m talking. Oh yeah. So Amazon, as well, and now we’re about a part of about a 20 different affiliate programs, software, Adobe, B and H photo, but stuff like Invitae, like video, like plugins, just different things.
Sean Cannell: And then we also, I would say another arm would be if we do JV promotions, which is not even really part of our business, but we have just, we keep a tight circle and the people we work with, we promote some stuff that as like a joint venture. So then our own courses that by far would be the biggest. And if I was to separate courses we don’t have any reoccurring offers. The courses, if besides payments, they’re all just kind of went off. And then we have our inner circle program and that’s our, that would be separate since that’d be like a membership site. So then we got that…
Chris Badgett: Is the inner circle like a mastermind, like live coaching?
Sean Cannell: It’s just kind of what it is it’s $50 a month and the promise there was like, “Hey, one way to summarize it, if you’ve been watching what we’ve done over the last three years and this is what you want to do, join this.” Like if you’re wondering, okay, but now you went from six to seven figures and you built courses, where did you host them? How did you do them? How did you market them? How do you do Facebook ads? How to even structure a webinar, how do you do sales?
Sean Cannell: So it’s online marketing and social media training for smart entrepreneurs and that’s going phenomenal now. And I think it’s also, we’re really big fans of Beta. This is a big tip to any course creator. Shalene Johnson, my mentor really taught me this. We’re very big proponents of test groups, Beta, Beta one, two, three before you get to the actual thing.
Sean Cannell: Sometimes selling before the things created, never with a lack of integrity but selling because you know, you can create it, but you could do it one week at a time and deliver the training one week at a time. So you know that people are even interested in it. And then you could get like Q and A during the first version through and be real hands on with people. It’s going to make version two better. Too many people are waiting way too long for perfection, but I’m getting ahead of myself. So JV promotions courses, inner circle. Speaking, yeah, we’ll get paid to speak. And I guess selling on stage is kind of a thing of its own too and how that…
Chris Badgett: You’re a book author too, right?
Sean Cannell: Yeah, I guess books and audio books and kindle books that one…
Chris Badgett: I see you sometimes on your videos. I don’t even know what it is. What’s a super chat? Is that where somebody gives you money for going live?
Sean Cannell: Yeah, when they go live, you can get super chat that then it just goes into your YouTube ads. But you’re right. Super Chat. There’s a lot of streams of income,
Chris Badgett: And I was going to ask you do a lot of like, you’re there and you, people can ask you stuff and they’ll hook you up sometimes with some super chats. Its pretty cool.
Sean Cannell: So I just wrote these down. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. It’s like YouTube ads, affiliate marketing, JV promotions courses, inner circle speaking books. We did an event last year. Maybe it’s not an income stream because we lost money.
Chris Badgett: Yeah. So its like 10 years to overnight success.
Sean Cannell: That’s right. Yeah. And by the way that’s actually a good thing you kind of brought up too, because multiple streams of income. I do think on a small level, this is what I’d say. My friend Evan Carmichael suggest against multiple streams of income. He says master one.
Chris Badgett: Focus, right?
Sean Cannell: Because you don’t want to get spread too thin too soon. However, where I disagree is that a YouTube strategy, the multiple streams all are woven together. So for example, this actually I got a video coming out on this. If you look at the model, think media, which I just made this thing up as I go, like what do I don’t even know what I’m doing? You know what I mean? I started going to CES, it’s a local tech show years ago. And because I was working at Church, I moved to Vegas and I was like, let me get my eyes on the latest cameras.
Sean Cannell: And then I was like, “I could create content here.” So then I would go down by myself with a monopod and a camera in my own little zoom H1 I shoot videos. I would shoot him all day, edit all night. But what I learned was when I released these new tech videos, I got a free ticket cause I worked through some vendor, just drove down here in Vegas, parked in self parking for $10, walked my little self inside with my gear. But as I was with, I would cover this new tech, I could monetize it in four ways. I could turn on the YouTube ads, I could link to it as an affiliate and if I could then talk to the brand and set up a brand deal for the future, that’s, oh I didn’t even talk about brand deals. So like we’ve personally worked with like skillshare and cannon and just different people.
Sean Cannell: Amazon, so brand deals and sponsorships. That’s kind of traditional YouTuber stuff. And you could do a brand deal and then they might send you the stuff for free. So I think about, that’s like multiple streams. If you’re getting like gear for your business for free and companies pay you and I’m making making affiliate money and you’re doing YouTube ads, those are like that for that a YouTuber can really tap into and they’re all off the same video, the same relationship. And then subscribers could come and you could go merge and you could go patrion or your own course and it could just, it could evolve from there. But that’s just the initial kind of income streams.
Chris Badgett: That is awesome. Well, I appreciate you breaking that down and talking about the importance of doing Betas and testing. I want to do a quick lightning round with you and then I want to get to the final section where I just have some question to ask you for advice in terms of YouTube. I told my audience and that you were coming and I got some questions in advance they wanted me to ask you. And if we could do just like a bunch of short tips here.
Sean Cannell: For sure.
Chris Badgett: Thumbnails, top tips, video thumbnails. And by the way, I just want to say I heard you say thumbnail, title and topic are really important to get people to click straight out, but thumbnail specifically top tips.
Sean Cannell: Yeah. So, less is more, some thumbnails are too cluttered so just don’t put too much to too much clutter. If you confuse, you lose. So you really want it to be clear. Color pops, you know, usually the whites of human eyes, it’s a lot of thumbnails have become the ridiculous YouTuber face and I’m guilty of that myself. That’s not necessarily needed. But you can take images that are maybe not as wild, but where the eyes dreck focus, the whites of people eyes smiles faces has just been proven to perform well and it’s YouTube.
Sean Cannell: So lot of times people rather resonate with people. And then big mistake people make is echoing the title on the thumbnail. If your title is 10 ways to boost energy and productivity, then you don’t need to put the texts on the thumbnail that says 10 ways to boost and repeat the whole title. So that’s an exact video I released today. It was 10 ways to boost productivity and energy and the thumbnail says 10x your energy. Got It?
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Sean Cannell: So much less. And because they’re complimentary, they don’t need to echo each other. They should compliment each other or it could have no words at all. There’s a few tips.
Chris Badgett: What video or what length of video are best for what purpose? And I actually get this question a lot as a course creator and someone is like, “How long should my lesson videos be?” And always like, “It depends.” But what’s your advice about video length, let’s say for what purpose?
Sean Cannell: So, well, if we’re talking about YouTube, that would be a little bit different. I would defer to you for course video length. I know that there’s some number in adult learning theory that bite size is better. Meaning early on in our courses, I was doing like 45 minute videos or like you could be like an hour long video and even if it’s that long, you need to break it down because what can happen is, adult learning theory, someone is there at minute 25, you got to be empathetic.
Sean Cannell: They’re taking notes but then their kid comes in and throws like a bucket of hot fudge on their lap and they were like, “What are you doing?” And then like they don’t know whether there’s chocolate all over their keyboard, you know what I mean? And then they don’t know where they left off and they may never return because there’s like, “I’m on that video, do I start the video over shoot.”
Sean Cannell: Like it’s just a friction. So that was a tip I learned when possible to try to do a smaller hits. And if someone wants to binge the whole thing, great. But it gives people, it can help them in the course. If we take it public on YouTube, here’s the quote. Your videos should be as long as they need to be, but as short as possible.
Sean Cannell: And I would say tip two is you really want to think about intent of the viewer. So if the top for ranking for example, if all the top videos, like today’s a good example, I was like how to be more productive? 10 tips, but it’s a 30 minute interview, it’s not going to be a high performing video. And the reason why is because all the top videos that are like 10 ways to boost energy are eight minute videos.
Sean Cannell: So it’s not that the video I did was bad. I just have to recognize that it was a longer interview. It’s going to go deeper in our audience and some other things. But if you’re thinking about the perfect video for the platform, it should be as long as it needs to be, but as short as possible.
Sean Cannell: And so if the intent of the viewer is to learn how to build something in WordPress and the quickest you can do to the tutorial was 90 minutes, then it should be a 90 minute video. Because the intent of the person going to look for that is like, I want to build and do this one specific thing. This is how long it takes. You’re solving their problem. But if it’s a 20 minute WordPress build and you take 45 minutes to do it, it’s too long cause it’s too much fluff.
Sean Cannell: You’ve got to trim the fluff. And I think that’s kind of, and then I’d say avoid dogma. I know everyone wants an answer, but I just want like that definitive answer. It’s test, it’s experiment, it’s knowing your niche, your audience its knowing their entertainment level. You don’t compare yourself to a top teenage vlogger, you’re doing something entirely different and things can always evolve. So I would say if any expert ever stands out in any industry and makes any kind of definitive statement without saying, but test everything I would ever trust in that person because you always got to test and experiment.
Chris Badgett: Right on. Well, I’m going to ask you my last question for you to run with and then we’ll wrap it up. So my question for you, which is for me selfishly, but also I know it affects course creators when they’re trying to decide where to focus, how to pick their niche. I’m streaming this right now on the LifterLMS YouTube channel. I also have a personal channel that I play around with. I recently did a 30 day video a day challenge on my personal channel. And so I’m going to frame this question for me, but it applies to any expert out there that has multiple interests that may or may not overlap. And I’m actually gonna share my screen with you if that’s okay, Sean.
Sean Cannell: Yeah.There you are.
Chris Badgett: I have a lot of different interests. I am digital entrepreneur. I’m really into intentional family design. I’m a homeschooler. We have an organic farm. We just put a lot of intention into how we raise our kids. And then I have a wilderness side. I’ve spent a lot of time in the wilderness, rock climbing, mountain climbing navigation, wild edibles.
Chris Badgett: I have, if you were to draw three circles, there would be like this online business guy, this conscious parenting guy and this nature connected guy and I really want to just have one channel for my personal stuff, but should I separate? I have three interests that don’t really overlap unless you happen to be this weird combination like me. So I’d just love to hear your advice of if we’re like a multi passionate person and we’re coming to YouTube and the goal of what we’re doing, I guess that’s part of it.
Chris Badgett: But yeah, I’d love to throw some leads to my business, but I’m also just trying to build my personal brand and just share what I’m passionate about and connect with people outside of just business or just nature stuff. How do we deal with this multi passion thing? And I look at you, you’ve done like you have your gear channel and then you have your video influencer channel and they’re separate. But so how do you know when you should have a separate channel or not? I guess that might be the the button and on it.
Sean Cannell: This is a a fun question and it could go a lot of ways. I think there’s a few different levels. I think, let me start from the last question. How do you decide if you should have multiple channels? I actually don’t think you should.
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Sean Cannell: Coming from the guy with multiple channels. But I would say that even video influencers and think media are ridiculously aligned and they’re both going towards the same north star. And so what I would say for you as some personal advice and I think will serve your audience too, is that if you try and chase two rabbits, you’ll end up catching neither of them. And if you try and chase three now you’re in real trouble. And I think, well the way I would look at some of your YouTube channels is kind of like this.
Sean Cannell: I think you want to, I would want to unpack what’s the most effective place, because this is kind of my journey too, I’ve got multiple YouTube channels. Think International. This ones you don’t even know about that still out there, a clear vision media, my video production channel. And then Sean Cannell, which is kind of abandoned and even has a lot of subscribers, but it’s kind of stagnated and algorithmically dead.
Sean Cannell: And then you’ve got think media and video influencers, the strong ones. I have gone through the process of having these various things, but man, focus is power. And the reason, I just think this is almost more of a business conversation to be honest. I feel like there’s a verse that nobody knows about it in the Bible, in Ecclesiastes that actually says money solves all things.
Chris Badgett: The Bible says?
Sean Cannell: It actually solves all things and we know it’s not the, money is not the key to happiness. But I think if you have enough money, you can get a key made. I’m just joking. But it is a tool. That’s what it kind of means. It’s a tool. And when I would think about it, I would think what is most effective because, and I would almost think from a profit standpoint, okay so I’m just taking it to a high level first and because when you have that breakthrough idea, and this will be true for everybody, this is like the 80 20 rule or let’s call it the 90 10 rule.
Sean Cannell: It’s identifying the most, it’s the bright spot in your business, your life, your passion, your course. If I got 15 skews, but I got one major signature course, like one of our courses, video ranking academy dominates all of the other ones. And so instead of getting distracted on the lesser streams, I got to refocus on the bigger thing.
Sean Cannell: So from a business standpoint, I would say which one is getting the most traction? Is producing the most stuff? This goes to your priorities in life too. So I would be assuming there’s… you want to activate a level of financial freedom. Why? Because it’s real freedom. Because what happens when you have freedom, you get a team, you start hiring more people. If that’s your vision.
Sean Cannell: Now running multiple channels or projects is actually much easier and practical, but you have to have a breakthrough project that let’s you do all of the above, if that makes sense. So I eventually, from doing interviews with leaders in the faith space to creating vlogs, I vlogged with my wife for a while and we, our friends, Benji and Judy shouted us out. We started with a couple thousand views for a while, but it was like not enough. And I was like, okay, I had to play this out, this and even passion wise and even editing every single day and all this stuff from being daily vloggers. I was like, this is not it. This is not a business that maps to my future 10 20 years where, what is the shortest path to freedom? And then freedom unlocks every other path.
Chris Badgett: That is awesome, man. I really appreciate that. You’ve given me something I’m going to take with me and really work on, so thank you. That was a lot of value really quick.
Sean Cannell: Well, let me add just one thing. On a practical level. Now this one I’m seeing right here and you could show me the other ones too. So this, one now if you would say…
Chris Badgett: Well right now I don’t have other ones. I’m just wondering if I should focus on have a business one of parenting or family one and then a nature one.
Sean Cannell: so then I got just a couple of other practical tips. Secondly, then I would say looking at this one that you have, it’s also just about intent. Because if you want business results then you need to really look at it through a lens, not being romantic about it, what you hope it is. But look it through a real businesses like math.
Sean Cannell: The business has done best with low emotions and like high logic because if you’re romantic to your accountant, well he doesn’t care. He’s like, “Look this is what the book say.” So if you look at it from a business lens, but if you look at it from like, it’s a creative outlet, it’s joy. You would do it no matter what. And you don’t care, you hope even a few people, they might not get the multi passion, but some will and it’s for them.
Sean Cannell: Well then that’s fine then do it to your heart’s content. But what I’ve learned is that man, energy is scarce. And when you’re trying to do, especially when it comes to putting out video content and content in general. So I’ve tried to narrow it down. And then the last thing I would say is there’s a good YouTube channel out that’s launched recently called Little Monster Co, Matt Geelan, who’s one of the smartest guys in our space. And so there’s the other guys, there’s Roberto and Tim and all those guys, but Matt runs an agency and he’s coming with some fire from… they look deep in analytics. And so it’s some unique content. And he audited Evan Carmichael’s channel and it’s a must watch episode. And Basically Evan broke down that he had an episode that was basically all guests, like all, all the pupil he features.
Sean Cannell: He had a middle one that was him and the person. And then he had one that was just him. And what Matt said was, “Look, these are three different channels.” And he said, because on YouTube more than ever before, you need to have one value proposition. So think media right now actually is weekend. And sometimes people wonder, you got all these subscribers, where are the views? Well a lot of what I do, and this is I’ve learned this the hard way, I’ve built up with one hand, I tear down with the other because you can look in your analytics.
Sean Cannell: A lot of people, they’re like, “Well I met them for cameras, well then why is he talking about productivity? I met him for cameras. But then why is he talking about even YouTube tips?” And so focus is even more important if you really care about crushing it on YouTube.
Sean Cannell: What he mentioned was the death, not that full on death I’m sure, but high frequency channels and variety of channels are struggling. And I used to teach, still kind of mentioned it, that you should treat your YouTube channel like a TV station. It could be AMC. Some people watched the walking dead, but not everyone watches comic book men. That’s actually not true. If anyone’s ever heard me say that, I have to scratch that out now because it’s actually, no, you’re using channels, not like AMC, your YouTube channel now. It’s like the walking dead YouTube channel and it’s only the walking dead.
Sean Cannell: And nobody wants comic book men. And they also don’t want black summer because that’s the prequel to z nation. And it’s a whole different world. And some people don’t like that. What it’s got to be just the fricking walking dead, you know what I mean?
Sean Cannell: Just cameras. And I would probably be dominating at another level, at least in the micro or just views and YouTube algorithmic. And so I still make a decision to say, well, this is my brand. I’m going to post the videos I want to, but we cannot be ignorant of the fact that someone subscribes for a reason. They want a certain promise. And if you can crack the code of having a broad enough value proposition, but a narrow enough value proposition that your content is no miss and they connect with you and they show up actually, that you become predictable in an predictably unpredictable that you show up and they’re like, that’s my guy. Like if Tony Robbins do, that’s my guy for motivation. Like Benji Travis, that’s my cooking guy, Benji man food. But, but if I’m Benji man food, he throws out WordPress plugins, you’ve just violated the veil bro.
Sean Cannell: And even small variations of that focus is more important than ever before and that’ll really unlock YouTube growth when you dial that in right.
Chris Badgett: Sure gold. I’m going to have to watch that again after we get off. Sean, I really appreciate it. Thanks for going a little bit long with me. I’m just going to share my screen again. I have this video review I did of YouTube secrets on my personal channel, if you just look for Chris Badgett, you’ll find it. The book was awesome. I mean, there was, I think what I loved about it most was the the sheer lack of fluff. It was just and it’s one thing to throw around ideas, but you’re also giving case studies of this work, this and you’re also giving very specific like go do this. Great book, highly recommend it. Do you have a URL for that specifically or what’s the best way for people to get ahold of YouTube Secret?
Sean Cannell: So yeah, tubesecretsbook.com, and I appreciate your kind words and thanks for doing the video review as well. Yeah, we’ve been getting some great feedback and the audio book is literally just out Benji and I recorded that in the studio in Seattle, in the woods. It’s kind of cool.
Chris Badgett: Oh, nice. Cool. Very cool. And on your youtube subscription list, I would really recommend you add Sean’s channel video influencers and also think media. As you know your level and then when it’s time to upgrade, you’re going to end up in Sean’s universe. And it’s just a really good example too. You can look at Sean as a case study, as an expert and course creator, online business owner, how he does free YouTube videos that ultimately lead to sales and just kind of follow his channel and stuff like that. Sean, I really want to thank you for coming on the show. I really appreciate it. Any final words for the people?
Sean Cannell: Chris, I just want to say, thank you so much for having me on and love what you’re doing as well. I mean, I love Heather on her team that she homeschools as well, like conscious, kind of just your or your whole vibe. I really appreciate you and what you’re doing in business and how you’re helping people create more freedom in their lives, businesses and revenue. So I appreciate being on the podcast. Yeah. If anybody has any questions, I’m really active on Twitter and just reach out. But yeah, I hope people got value today and look forward for some time when we can meet up.
Chris Badgett: Awesome. Well, thanks so much.
Chris Badgett: And that’s a wrap for this episode of LMScast. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I hope you enjoyed the show. This show was brought to you by LifterLMS, the number one tool for creating, selling, and protecting, engaging online courses to help you get more revenue, freedom, and impact in your life. Head on over to lifterlms.com and get the best gear for your course creator journey. Let’s build the most engaging results, getting courses on the internet.