With more than 2 billion monthly active users, YouTube is a potent platform for content marketing. Discover how to create videos that get discovered, get clicked, get watched, and drive qualified leads to your website. YouTube expert Augie Johnston shares insider tactics to up your YouTube game and grow your business.
Rich: My guest today is a 36-year-old ex-YouTuber, ex-professional basketball player, and current entrepreneur. He’s making ways in the video editing industry as a result of his promising startup called Vid Chops.
Vid chops, his brainchild, assists video creators, influencers, and digital marketers by carrying out the hard work of editing their videos. This allows them to focus more on the content side of their productions and therefore help them create more videos and better videos for their channel or brand.
He now works with full-time YouTubers, online personalities, thought leaders, and anyone that creates online videos for their business. So today we’re going to be looking at how to make YouTube an integral part of your content marketing with Augie Johnston. Augie, welcome to the podcast.
Augie: Hey, I’m excited to be here. Thanks for having me on.
Rich: You played hoops in college. You played professional basketball, and you’ve coached basketball as well. And you even started Baller Bootcamp, a training program for basketball players. You obviously love basketball, and by the way, this is so painful to ask you this question today, because yesterday I watched my Celtics blow a 13-point lead with about seven minutes left when they could have closed out the Atlanta Hawks. And now we have to go down to Atlanta for game five. So it pains me to ask you this question, but I digress. Anyways, back to the question. You obviously love basketball and love helping teach others. How do you think that this has served you by becoming a YouTuber and now helping other YouTubers?
Augie: Yeah, well the game of basketball has just taught me so much in life about leadership, so that helps me now in running a company. And just about work ethic and hard work, which I think as an entrepreneur you have to have that kind of self-discipline. So all those great things that come with sports in general has helped me a ton.
But really it also helped guide me into the online business world. Because I did play basketball in college at some D2 small college. I then went and played basketball in Europe where I started out playing for basically peanuts, right? Like I was just looking for an opportunity to keep playing. I wasn’t getting paid a lot. And I was living in Germany overseas, didn’t have a job, and I was looking to make money online as a way to supplement my income.
And that’s how I stumbled upon starting a YouTube channel, and really just starting an online business. Believe it or not, I actually created a course before I ever started an online business that taught people how to get an agent and how to get overseas. It was actually called How to Go Overseas. But when no one came to purchase that course, I learned that I needed traffic and I needed to build an audience. And that’s what led me to YouTube where I started creating basketball training videos where people would click the link, head over to my website, enter their email for a free workout and opt-in form. And I built my email list to about 50,000 people in about three or four years. And I launched 11 products and really created an entire online and offline business where we ran camps. I traveled to other countries as a professional trainer, and that’s how I got started online.
Rich: Oh wow. All right. So although I’m sure there are some budding YouTubers who listen to the show, we really focus on owners and marketers who might want to include YouTube and video in their marketing campaign. So with that in mind, why should a typical business consider adding YouTube to their marketing mix?
Augie: Yeah, I already gave the answer, but the answer is traffic, right? So if you don’t sell anything online at all, if no one can book a call with you, if you don’t capture any leads, I guess I could say through the internet, then it’d be pretty hard to argue for a YouTube channel. But if you do want to bring in leads, if you want to bring in customers to your website, then you need traffic to your website.
In my opinion, and I’m a little biased, but I think most people could agree that YouTube traffic is the best traffic. Because number one, it’s warm, right? People watch a whole video of you, and they get all this value, and then you ask them to click a link to go to your website or whatever. Number two, it could be targeted through search, right? So people that are typing in, “how to grow my business” obviously have intent. That kind of traffic is super valuable. So there’s that as well. And also the YouTube algorithm in itself. Like the way it’s designed is if you create a really good video, it’s going to promote that video to other people that it thinks are interested in the same topic. And that’s how one of the ways the algorithm works.
So when you open up YouTube, you see all these different thumbnails and titles, they’re recommending you all these different videos because they think you’re interested in that. So with that said, it’s very good for discoverability. You can get discovered on YouTube through other people. So there you go. There’s a lot of reasons, but it’s a powerful tool for any business.
Rich: Yeah. I don’t think people realize how good the YouTube algorithm is. Just last night I was talking to a friend of mine and we talked briefly about YouTube. And he’s not really into internet marketing and he goes, “It’s funny how many Matt Damon videos are out there and how many of the online talk shows he’s been on.” I’m like, yeah, because you watched one, and then you watch the next one, and you’ll be watching Matt Damon videos for the rest of time. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Matt Damon interview in my feed at all.
So I guess, and you’ve touched on this, but what are some of the goals that we should have in mind with YouTube and how do we prioritize them? Because there’s a lot of things that we hear about YouTube, like should we be looking for views? Should we be looking for subscribers? For likes? Or is it all about driving traffic to our site?
Augie: Yeah, it’s all kind of part of the whole thing. You can’t just release videos on YouTube and then say, all right, they’re going to go viral, or they’re going to get a ton of views. So the whole thing about subscribers and likes and stuff, all that stuff does matter because you’re just trying to show YouTube that you create valuable content so that they will promote you out.
One example I like to give is a buddy of mine. I watched him grow start his YouTube channel maybe about a year ago. He’s publishing videos, they’re getting maybe 500 views, 1,000 views, 500, 200, 100, a thousand. And eventually one of the videos was a really good video that I guess a lot of people liked it, and all of a sudden, boom, 190,000 views on that video. And he’s not a YouTuber. He is a digital marketing agency basically, and he is trying to bring attention to his agency. In his videos he promotes it, “click the link, head over and book a call” and that kind of stuff. Just that right there drove a ton of business to him. And the way he was able to do that was by watching the, asking for subscribers, asking people to like.
And really those are great indicators for the algorithm, but not the main indicators. But I’m not going to get into that. If you want, we can talk more about that. But the YouTube for your business. It’s not about being a YouTuber, it’s about building a content marketing machine that’s going to drive leads to your business and traffic.
Rich: Okay. So it sounds like the way that you discovered that you have to build an audience before you start selling to them with your how to go overseas courses you’re teaching, sounds very similar to this. So even if our goal is to drive qualified traffic to our website, it does sound like we have to build up these signals that let YouTube know that we’re creating this valuable content.
You work with a lot of YouTubers. What are some of the pieces of advice that you give a typical YouTuber ,or somebody like your friend, who is using YouTube as a marketing channel? What are some of the things that you recommend either putting into the videos or putting into the channel that help signal to YouTube that you’re a creator of valuable content?
Augie: Yeah, so here’s the first thing you want to keep in mind is that you want users to click on your video. So when you create a video and you post it, it’s got to have a high click through rate. So the click through rate is the percentage of people that actually see your video, that actually click it. So the percentage that actually click it is, that’s your click through rate.
Here’s the three factors that kind of determine click through rate. Number one, and this is the one that’s overlooked often, and that’s topic. So what is the topic of your video? So if you’re a business and you’re like, okay, we’re going to try this YouTube thing out. You have to start to think in the mind of a YouTuber.
Here’s a quick example. How to do your taxes. There’s a video topic, pretty cut and dry, boring. Not a great topic, in my opinion. But if you were to change that to, How I Deducted $100,000 Off of My Taxes, that’s a pretty interesting topic. That’s going to create a little bit more curiosity and get that click. So there’s the topic.
The second factor is the thumbnail. So it’s the actual graphic that you see when you log into YouTube. Those need to also create curiosity. So you know, some best practices that you’ve seen a ton are faces, big faces with emotion. Maybe another object. You want to create a story with your thumbnail that creates curiosity.
And the cool thing about YouTube and really just anything online I feel is, it all comes back to digital marketing. If we were to talk about scripting your videos, I would talk about a hook. If we were to talk about writing a blog post, I would talk about starting your blog post with a hook, a sales page with a hook. So all these kind of things are related.
And the last thing would be your title to get people to click. So you have your topic, you have your thumbnail, you have your title. And those things should all play together and create a story that creates curiosity to get people to click. So that’s the first factor, click through rate.
The second I won’t talk as much, but the second one is average view. So of those people that click on it, what is the average length of that video that people are watching? If it’s a 10-minute video and they’re watching five minutes of it, that’s pretty good for the industry depending on what topics you’re talking about and what niche. That’s a good goal to have. Five minutes outta 10 minutes will give you a good chance with that video.
And then the last one I would say would be just total watch time of the video. So average duration, right? You might have a video that is 10 minutes long and the average duration is five minutes, and then you might have a video that is 20 minutes long and only getting seven minutes. Average duration, that 20-minute video, although the percentage is less, will normally outperform the shorter video, even though that percentage was less. Because that watch time, the overall watch time is important.
So just to sum all that up, I know I’m talking a lot, I apologize. But get people to click, and then get people to watch your videos. And probably the most important part of getting to watch your videos is to create great content and have a great hook at the beginning.
Rich: Okay, I have more questions to go down this lane, but I want to circle back around to Vid Chops, which is your company. You’re working with YouTubers, so what exactly are the services that you’re doing for them that most people are just struggling with themselves?
Augie: Yeah. The main thing is video editing. We are a video editing service. Back when I was creating videos for my basketball channel, I felt the pain. I felt the pain of editing videos. And so many YouTubers, I go to conferences and stuff and it’s like the main question that people ask. I was like, okay, I’m going to try to solve that.
So we created a lot of systems and stuff, and we have a flat rate video editing service. We also have an add-on and stuff, do thumbnails,, and titles and tags, descriptions. We’ll take care of the whole A to Z process for you. And our goal is to use the best practices.
Rich: All right. You mentioned a few things in there that I did want to get to. Obviously, beyond the thumbnail. Which might have a face, and a lot of the good ones do have a face. Have something in there. Big arrow, easy to read text, there’s a title for the video, there’s a description for the video. What are some of the best practices when it comes to that? What’s going to increase our click through rate, or what’s going to just engage people to get people to watch our videos?
Augie: Yeah. As far as the title goes, it’s supposed to play off the thumbnail, right? The title and the thumbnail should work together to create a story, like I said. What I would recommend for titles, there’s so many different ways to do it. A lot of people will like to say, oh, just type in a few things into the search bar, it’ll auto populate a bunch of ideas. But those are not really great topics and stuff.
What I recommend is you go look around the niche that you’re in and see how the successful YouTubers are titling their videos. And you’ll get a lot of inspiration from that, and you’ll be able to see patterns that show up. Like for example, “exposed”, right? So many people will create a video, dah, dah, dah “Exposed!” There’s something “exposed”, that’s just like a common YouTube trick. So there’s those kind of things, those patterns that you’ll see. So I would definitely recommend that.
And then some people do create search-based videos, right? They want to put a keyword in the title, they want to put a keyword in the description, add all their tags, and that’s a great route to go depending on your content. Like if you are doing camera reviews or tech reviews. Then ranking for search terms and stuff is great. It’s just not the ultimate way.
The ultimate way is really to get that algorithm to recommend your video, and that’s how they go viral. With my basketball training channel, I used the search strategy. This was a long time ago. But my videos were ranking for how to shoot a basketball, how to cross over, and we were putting those keywords in the titles and the descriptions.
Rich: All right. So it seems like two of the big ways to get in front of people to get your videos watched, one is not necessarily outdated, but not what would be a priority this day and age, is the search terms. Like knowing what our customers are searching for if they go to YouTube, or Google actually, and making sure that we’re working those topics into the title, the description, and obviously to the script itself.
The other one is to have YouTube recommend us, which comes down to some of the things that you talked about earlier. So as we’re getting people, you talked a little bit about duration, you talked a little bit about percentage watched. Is there in 2023, is there a perfect length for a YouTube video or does it really depend?
Augie: Most people would say that the video should be as long as it should be. And that’s the cop out answer in my opinion. Because to be honest, your video should be 10 minutes. If you want to look around on YouTube and see how long the videos are that are really getting recommended, like with an unbiased viewpoint on it, they’re over 10 minutes.
And the reason that YouTube loves long videos and even 20 minutes, 30 minutes, is because they can show more ads, right? That’s YouTube’s goal. They need to make money. They need to show ads. And a little side note here, one of the things that YouTube is struggling with right now is the short form content, because they’re not making as much money on all the short form content. They’re called ‘YouTube shorts’, it’s a new thing. But the ad revenue that they’re bringing in from that is not doing very well. And that’s a problem because people are spending so much time in the shorts feed and not watching longform content. So anyways, that’s just a little side note of it’s an interesting thing, I think.
Rich: Yeah. It’s interesting. And I’m wondering when you do your research into finding out like what the biggest YouTubers are doing, I know that my channel is very biased for me. If you went to my channel, you’d be like, oh, apparently you like comic books and woodworking and nothing else. So a lot of the videos I watch tend to be 25 to 35 minutes or longer because they’ve got to show you how to do a project ,or they need to break down the latest episode of the Mandalorian, which was actually longer than the actual show itself.
So I’m just wondering, when you do your research, are you going in clean? Do you keep like a clean version of YouTube so you can see what YouTube is showing the general public? Or do you just base it on your own personal channel and all of its quote/unquote “biases”?
Augie: Yeah, I do. I do log out, get into incognito mode and check it out sometimes. At this point, I’ve just been on YouTube for so long. When I started my first channel, it was 2009, 2010. And since then I’ve just been studying the game and I haven’t left YouTube since. I’ve just been watching it constantly since then. So yeah, it is true that they like the long form content.
One kind of interesting thing, and one thing that made me realize it, was kid’s channels. So a lot of these kid’s channels, I’m talking about videos that are about ‘wheels on the bus’ and this kind of stuff. They’ll go and they’ll take 10 of their videos, 10 ‘wheels on the bus’ and ‘five little monkeys’, and they’ll stitch them all together and create like a 60-minute video. And those compilation videos are the ones that do go viral on their channels. Those things got, and kid’s channels are crazy, those things have billions of views on a single video. So those compilation videos, I see those in other industries as well. And I wouldn’t go out and recommend everybody do that, but I’m just saying I’m seeing the proof that they do like to promote these long videos.
Rich: I could also see a lot of parents who have to make dinner and need to put their kids in front of a screen for a while going for those compilation kid videos rather than just the three minutes of the wheels on the bus.
So we talked a lot about getting our video seen and some of the content that goes into it. You mentioned calls to action, so let’s talk a little bit about that. If my goal is to ultimately get people off of my YouTube video or channel and to my website, where I can have more of a one-on-one conversation, what are you seeing that’s working today that’s really effective in driving that kind of traffic?
Augie: Yeah, so the great thing about YouTube it’s so business friendly. Instagram, you get one link in the bio. TikTok, you get one link in the bio. YouTube, you can put links anywhere, and people do. So the best practice is to not call people to visit your website until the end of the video. So just deliver your content. Because the truth of the matter is, if people click off your video, you’re losing a viewer there that’s hurting your view time, your average duration, all that. So at the end of your video, just on camera, “Hey, if you guys would like X, Y, and Z, click the first link into the description, head over there and you can get it for free.” And you can make your offer at the end of the video.
But also, you can put a link to your website in the first comment, right? You can pin that first comment with a link to your website. You can put it in your description. And some people put 30 links in their description. There’s no limit. You see all these affiliate links, you see all kinds of links in there. So description, first comment, and then actually YouTube has a feature called ‘end cards’.
So at the end of your video, whether you’re watching it on mobile or on desktop, little links will pop up on the screen and you can set those up to click to another video or to click and actually go to your website. So that’s a really cool feature that they include. And yeah, and on your about page on your channel, you can put a link in your channel art on the very top. Those are all good places to just put your link.
Rich: All right. One of the questions that came up, we were just talking about this before you and I jumped on the call, is using chapters. Do you tend to recommend putting chapters into especially longer form video, and what are some of the benefits of that?
Augie: Yeah. To be honest, I have no opinion on that. I’ve seen some people argue for it and some people argue against it. Me personally, I think it’s good because it improves the user experience, but I haven’t done any research or tests myself to personally say, oh yeah, chapters are going to get you more views. But me as a viewer, I just think about me as a viewer. I do appreciate them, so I do recommend them.
Rich: I do appreciate them, but I use them mostly to skip ahead on some of those longer videos. So I could see it could work both ways. But yeah, it’s definitely an interesting idea. And when I was prepping for the show, I was Googling you as I often do with guests, and there was a video interview with you. And it was interesting on the search and results page, it showed me all the questions that the interviewer asked you. So I made sure that I wouldn’t ask the same questions. But all the questions that they asked you as individual chapters, and I thought that was, again, from a user standpoint, great. But again, it might just cause people to skip over and just go straight to the content they want, which might have a negative effect too. I don’t know.
Augie: Yeah. One thing I want to say on that is, okay, so somebody is going to skip ahead to watch a part, right? If they didn’t have those chapters, what would they do? They would be watching and just waiting and waiting for what they want and then they would leave. So, absolutely. I can also argue that will actually help your watch time because people will actually click ahead, get to what they want, and then hopefully watch another video. But yeah, there’s that.
Rich: Or watch that one part that shows how to apply the varnish five times. That’s how I usually use my woodworking videos.
You also touched a little bit on YouTube shorts. So this is a relatively new addition to YouTube. Relatively, I say, obviously in reaction to TikTok and Reels and stuff like that. What are some of your best practices around using YouTube shorts?
Augie: So first of all, it’s all about just optimizing the edit and the video for a short. You want to make it full screen. A lot of the old school ones are kind of like a rectangle with a big black bar on top, black bar on bottom, maybe a headline. What we do is we recommend full screen, so you would cut crop in on the face or whatever captions on there as well. And then you should cut it to be a complete thought. Sometimes you’ll watch one and it’ll cut off before the complete thought happens or whatever. So just chop it up. If you can add a little hook at the beginning, maybe you take a little piece from earlier in the video or whatever to create a hook, then that’s all good. Because you want people to watch it over and over again multiple times.
And there’s so many, I guess you could say black hat or gray hat tactics, where people will put some text on the screen that’s really small or something, or it’ll be really quick, it’ll disappear and then you have to watch it again. And so there’s little tactics like that. But yeah, that’s not important.
Rich: Do you find, personally, that you’re watching more YouTube on your phone, on your computer screen, or on your TV?
Augie: Man, I would say it’s pretty even, honestly. If I’m going to sleep at night, I’m watching YouTube on my phone until I start to get sleepy, and then I’m going straight to a podcast, and then I’m going to sleep with just my eyes closed, listening to a podcast. I guess that’s bad. People don’t recommend that. But so there’s that.
And then we watch it on our TV a lot of times. I’ll click over to YouTube, especially when I want to show my wife something I want to buy or whatever. And then when I’m working on my computer, I’ll often find myself getting distracted and watching YouTube there. So yeah.
Rich: I mean, I split it up, too. But I guess I’m surprised at how much YouTube I watch on my smart TV now. And it’s like very often I’ll just, if we don’t want to watch a full show, if we don’t want to get too absorbed into something, we’ll often watch it. And I wonder if when people are creating videos, if we should consider… because one of the things with the TV version of YouTube is, there’s really not those links that you see. And even using the remote to try and get to it is usually a hassle. And I just wonder if there may be a different approach or psychology that you could use knowing that a certain percentage of your audience is going to be watching on TV. I have no idea.
Augie: Yeah, I would just relate it back to like TV ads and how all that works, right? If you head over there, enter the promo code, that’d be a way to track it, right? You could say, “if you enter the promo code watching on tv.” Or I don’t know, there’d be different ways you could do it, I think. But that is definitely a challenge, I think, for marketers that are posting on YouTube as more and more people watch it on TV. But nonetheless, you’re getting eyeballs on you, on your brand, so it’s a win-win.
Rich: Absolutely. This has been great and very helpful. Augie, if people want to learn more about you or your company, where can we send them?
Augie: Yeah, if you want to learn about our company, it’s vidchops.com. And like I said, we’re a video editing service. We can take that off your back. But if you want to connect with me personally, I’m big on Instagram or I’m more of an Instagram guy than a Twitter guy. So @AugieJohnston, feel free to shoot me a DM or just say ‘hi’.
Rich: Awesome. Augie, this has been great. And of course everybody listening, we’ll have all those links in the show notes. Thanks for stopping by Augie, definitely appreciate your expertise.
Augie: Yeah, thanks for having me.
If you’re looking to create quality video content that gets clicks, but don’t have the time or skillset to dedicate to editing them, Augie Johnston is the person to call! Check out how he’s helping others unleash their inner “YouTuber”. Connect with him on Instagram and Twitter, and let him know you heard him on The Agents of Change podcast!
Rich Brooks is the President of flyte new media, a web design & digital marketing agency in Portland, Maine, and founder of the Agents of Change. He’s passionate about helping small businesses grow online and has put his 25+ years of experience into the book, The Lead Machine: The Small Business Guide to Digital Marketing.