When I decided to start making videos for the internet, I didn't have an amazing plan in place. In fact I had no plan. Other than the video production side of things, I really had no idea what I was doing. But I was fascinated by the possibilities of creating videos for YouTube.
So we went for it. We figured things out as we went along. We made lots of new friends. It became our full-time job.
Now, we've been making videos for YouTube (primarily) for over 5 years. Pretty crazy. This anniversary made me realize that I've been making Hilah Cooking videos longer than I've actually held down any of the "real" jobs in my career.
The anniversary also drove home the fact that I was feeling a little bit burned out. So was Hilah. As of January 1st 2015, we had made 375 videos for the Hilah Cooking channel. That doesn't include all the videos we've made for companies like Tastemade and Ulive.
Since the beginning, I had been obsessed with creating the perfect show...
Things have been a little quiet here since the launch of YouTube Black Book. That’s because I have been on “paternity leave.”
On October 28th, we welcomed our first child – Flint Dryden Sharpe – to the world. He is a healthy and happy little guy and aside from sleep deprivation, the whole experience has been amazing.
For the most part, Hilah and I have both been camped out at home. Our days have pretty much consisted of: staring at the baby, changing diapers, binge watching TV shows, taking long walks in the neighborhood and drinking occasional margaritas on the back deck while Flint takes his afternoon nap.
We’ve also welcomed a lot of visitors over to meet Flint for the first time – including a lot of friends we haven’t seen in far too long. It’s been great to catch up and get reacquainted. But, when the conversation eventually turns to how we’re spending our time these days and the fact that...
2014 may be another personal record-breaker for me as far as the number of videos I produce. It will definitely be a record breaker when it comes to the number of minutes produced. Even though I am producing more, I have started to downsize the amount of gear I use.
Last year, I went a little bit overboard. I had been using nothing but consumer camcorders for years. As soon as money started coming in from my various projects, I did what any self-respecting video geek would do - I started buying gear! It was fun but I ended up with too much stuff that ended up bogging down things when it came to production. There were too many options and too many things to think about. I am still a micro-budget producer and almost always a one-man crew. Time is always of the essence and I already have too much on my mind. So I started to downsize.
My production set-up is now what you see in the photo above. For outdoor shoots, that is the whole thing (except for a collapsible bounce-card...
In January of this year we launched the first Yoga With Adriene product. It was called REBOOT and it was a 4 video online class designed to help people get over their "holiday hangovers" and establish a consistent at-home yoga practice. We had no idea what we were doing. It was the first online video product that I had ever launched and everything that could go wrong pretty much did.
Despite the chaos, REBOOT was a huge success. With the help of the REBOOT community, we gradually worked through the technical issues and polished up the class. It was a significant turning point in the Yoga With Adriene project. In addition to the videos and instruction, we created a closed Facebook group for people to share their experiences.
It was in this group that all the elements came together and a thriving community started to take shape. This group allowed Adriene and me to communicate directly with people from all over the world who were fans of the show and liked it enough to invest their...
Last summer, YouTube asked Hilah and I if we wanted to take part in a top-secret program. The program involved three trips to LA to go to workshops and shoot collaboration videos with other YouTubers at YouTube Space LA. It sounded like summer camp for internet video creators. Of course, we said yes.
I've alluded to my recent batch of LA trips, but because it was a top-secret program, we couldn't talk about it or even say what it was called. Until now. YouTube has finally spilled the beans with the video above and I'm happy to report that we were participants in the first ever YouTube Creator Accelerator -- and that it was an incredible experience.
There were some really great workshops, but - just like summer camp - the real lessons were things I learned from hanging out with other YouTube Creators (and pestering YouTube staff with questions about my analytics).
Here are my 5 big takeaways from "YouTube Camp":
In case you're not familiar with...
It's been a little over a year since we launched Yoga With Adriene. I figured it was time to finally update you on how things are going.
Right now we’ve got almost 40,000 YouTube subscribers and our daily video views are consistent and trending upwards. Our email list is healthy and growing (despite a lot of neglect). We also just had a very successful product launch. Despite some really bumpy spots in 2013, I think things are actually going really well.
I knew YWA had a lot of potential, but I had always planned on using it as a case study. I had learned a lot through the creation and production of Hilah Cooking and I wanted to implement some of those things and launch a new project. Yoga seemed like the perfect fit and I knew Adriene would be the perfect host.
When we were in the early stages of developing the show, I had planned on writing an in-depth blog series about this. I got totally overwhelmed in the production of almost 200 videos last year and the blog series never...
After an incredibly busy year of non-stop travel and work, my body has finally succumbed to some kind of virus. So, I've been drinking glasses of effervescent cold/flu medicine and slowly but surely wrapping up the last bits of work for the year. We're launching the first Yoga With Adriene product on January 2nd so there is still a lot to do.
So far I've done a pretty good job at staying in "the zone," but it's the end of the year and my thoughts keep reflecting on the past 12 months. 2013 was a blur filled with a lot of big milestones that I don't want to forget. This year was also filled with some pretty intense emotional stuff that I would prefer to forget (but Hilah has already documented it in detail here). We all cope with things in different ways, and I definitely coped by throwing myself into work.
So here's a quick recap of the highlights of 2013.
This is probably the big one. I left my super-stable, ultra-cushy government job and started concentrating on the...
As I've already mentioned, YouTube is the #2 search engine in the world, following it's big brother Google. It might seem like if you rank well in one, you'd rank well in the other, but that's not the case. I still don't know why some of our videos rank so well in Google and others are nowhere to be found.
When it comes to optimizing your content for search engines, we're all playing a guessing game. Google offers the occasional hints about what works, but the algorithm is top secret. All we can do is experiment, share the knowledge and guess some more. There are some great resources on Google SEO and I'll list them at the end of this chapter. But our focus is on ranking well in YouTube.
The YouTube search engine shares some characteristics with Google, but the current YouTube algorithm seems to be a lot more simple and much easier to crack.
Before we can move forward, it's important that we nail down the concept of **keywords**....
I spend a lot of time (probably way too much) thinking about the difference between directing for film/television and directing for a web series. My background and education is in motion picture and narrative directing. In my previous work, I worked hard to create for the audience something that worked like a “vivid and continuous dream.” Now, I am using the same tools and techniques but actively working to create the opposite effect.
(Since I am currently focused on producing non-fiction work, this post won’t concentrate on narrative series, but there are a few takeaways at the end of the post that could be helpful for scripted web series producers.)
We are still in the very beginning stages of this medium and we haven’t established a terminology that we can all agree on yet. So let’s work with what we’ve got. For the sake of this post we’ll use “the internet” to describe the network that can deliver any kind...
Since starting up Hilah Cooking, we’ve been very careful about keeping our production costs low. I am a firm believer in low-overhead and zero debt, so we try to keep our gear as minimal as possible.
We started out with a camcorder we had laying around and our only real upgrade was gear we won from YouTube. But when we lined up the deal to do Hilah’s Texas Kitchen, I knew it was time to (hopefully wisely) invest in a little more gear. This is still a micro-budget project, but we needed a little more firepower. I would be a one-person crew, and we would be shooting in awkward situations with very tight time frames.
My goal was to put together a run-and-gun travel video kit that would be easy to transport and allow me to shoot really fast whenever the opportunities presented themselves. This is the package I put together and it’s worked really well for me so far.
I wanted something that could hold safely...