Categories: Podcasts

Content Creation and Building a Following: Lessons From a YouTube Star 

While YouTube is often perceived as a platform geared specifically towards aspiring performers and web series hosts, it can also serve as a valuable marketing tool for small business owners who want to reach a broader audience. So, what can you do to create a successful YouTube channel for your business? In this episode, Gene Marks and Daniel Coleman, Creator of the Danny Go! YouTube channel, offer practical advice on how to develop engaging video content that will help you build a following and grow your brand.

Podcast Key Highlights

  • What Do YouTube Content Creators Need to Know When They’re
    First Starting Out?
    • While both a production or a corporate marketing background
      can certainly help, there are no formal prerequisites to creating good YouTube content.
    • If your content is good, you don’t need to necessarily be worried about high quality production value and equipment. A strong concept and an appealing on-camera personality will often be enough to build a large following.
    • As with any business, you may have to spend a lot of time at the beginning just figuring things out and setting up your operations. This can be especially tiring if you’re not in a position to leave your regular job yet.
    • Because of how much time and work is needed for pre-production and post-production editing, it’s best to keep your first attempts at creating video content simple, both in terms of scale and frequency.
    • Make sure you’re celebrating everything that you accomplish so the process doesn’t begin to feel like a “rat race.”
    • Any initial income you earn should be invested back into your business, whether it be used to upgrade your equipment or hire more employees.
  • How Do I Build a Following For My YouTube Channel?
    • There are two main strategies for building a following: experiment and pinpoint reaction spikes.
    • Don’t be afraid to experiment with different approaches at the beginning until you find something that sparks your audience’s interests.
    • Take note of any positive responses and then, invest in the elements that are working. You can even ask friends and family for feedback.
    • You need to give all your content a fair shot; even if it doesn’t initially get the response you want, you can always return to it later.
    • To avoid taking comments and feedback personally, reframe it as “data” for optimizing your business.
  • How Much Can Algorithms Impact My Channel?
    • Content creators need to have a basic understanding of YouTube’s algorithms because no matter how engaging your videos are, you’ll never be able to build a following if they don’t reach your target audience.
    • While you don’t want to compromise your brand simply to hack YouTube’s algorithms, you do need to find ways to make the platform prioritize your content during viewer searches.
    • One way to increase your ranking during searches is to pay attention to what’s trending and capitalize on that. You can also use software that will identify these trends for you.
    • Although keyword and title tagging can help leverage the system in your favor, it’s not a particularly effective strategy.
    • You still need to create content that your audience will actually sit through and watch.
    • Paying for ads doesn’t necessarily increase viewership.
  • How Do You Sustain the Growth of Your YouTube Channel?
    • When the scope of your YouTube content reaches a point where it can financially sustain you, you need to start consulting with a business manager.
    • Consider adapting your content so that you can present them in live performances.
    • Because there are limitations to how much you can interact with your viewers on YouTube, you should also have additional websites and social media accounts for your brand.
    • Don’t forget to engage in activities that will enable you to replenish your creativity.



The views and opinions expressed on this podcast are for informational purposes only, and solely those of the podcast participants, contributors, and guests, and do not constitute an endorsement by or necessarily represent the views of The Hartford or its affiliates.

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Gene: Welcome to the Small Biz Ahead podcast. We interview great experts that offer advice and tips to help you run your business better.

Gene: Hey everybody, and welcome back to another episode of The Hartford Small Biz Ahead podcast. My name is Gene Marks. Thanks for joining me today. I am here with Daniel Coleman. Daniel is the creator of the enormously popular YouTube channel called Danny Go. This channel has 188,000 subscribers and tens, and tens of millions of viewers on Daniel’s videos. One of them, The Floor Is Lava, which is awesome, 22 million views.

Gene: Honestly, Daniel, I’m 58 years old. My kids are grown. This is like a channel for kids. I’d never heard of your YouTube channel before, and then I was obsessed with it for hours. It’s awesome. So, thank you for joining us.

Daniel: Thank you, absolutely.

Gene: I’d like you tell us a little bit, first of all, about yourself and how you got to where you are right now. Then for any of you guys watching or listening to this that want to go into YouTube, whether a full-time business or even just to expand your own business, I’ve got a bunch of questions to ask Daniel about what he’s learned and what advice that he must have. Daniel, let’s first start with tell us your story, because it’s a great one.

Daniel: Yeah, sure. Thanks for having me on, by the way.

Gene: Yep.

Daniel: I love talking YouTube and content, and everything. Kind of the quick story of how I got to where I am is, I live in North Carolina. I’m here in the Charlotte, North Carolina area. I started working at Lowe’s Home Improvement. It’s kind of where my career started. I was there for a really long time, like 13 years. I got a basic marketing degree, did some product marketing there. Moved around into copyrighting, into some content strategy, and then ultimately into production. So, I was getting closer and closer to being around cameras and everything through the years.

Daniel: Through the work on the content team there, that’s really where I just fell in love with YouTube. That kind of ended up being one of my main things there at Lowe’s. I just really enjoyed it, and worked on building an audience and setting content strategy. I eventually got in front of the camera a little bit, which is kind of a cool story in and of itself. I had a great boss that I expressed some interest. I was like, “Hey, I’d kind of be willing to get in front of the camera.” He was like, “Take a camera. Here’s some editing software. Just go try something.”

Daniel: I ended up making a series for them just completely self-shot and self-edited and everything. It was a lot of fun. It did actually pretty well and was really a confidence builder for me, and what I was doing. A couple of years doing the content thing there for Lowe’s, I decided to leave and do some freelance stuff. That was actually all last year for me. A great friend of mine helped me make that leap. I owe a lot to him. And kind of got me some clients off the bat so I could really do that on my own. Then as of-

Gene: Freelancing… If I can just ask there, freelancing as in doing video work, production work, or helping people get onto YouTube?

Daniel: Kind of both. Mostly consulting, but then ended up doing some production help too, and some shooting. Yeah, behind the scenes YouTube work. A little bit of everything, just taking what I had learned there at Lowe’s.

Gene: Cool.

Daniel: All the while, at Lowe’s and during that consulting period, we had started the kid show channel. In 2019, me and two of my best friends growing up just got together one night. Actually, one of my friends had seen the videos I was doing for Lowe’s. He has young kids. I have young kids. He kind of knows how I am around kids, and I’m silly, and whatever. He’s watching stuff on YouTube with his kids, and I think he just connected the dots of, “You can do YouTube. In front a camera you’re good with kids. I’m seeing an opportunity in kids content, frankly on YouTube.”

Daniel: So, credit to him. He was kind of like, “Dude, have you ever thought about doing a kids channel?” It stirred around in my brain a little bit. We ended up just talking it out. These are guys that I had a lot of production experience with growing up. I was in a band with them. So, it was a lot of music-based stuff already, which is ultimately kind of what Danny Go is now, which is largely kids music. We just experimented. Honestly, that’s already, I feel like, a tip for anybody curious about YouTube, I guess video in general, but specifically YouTube, you just got to try stuff.

Daniel: That’s what we did. We knew we were able to do. We had a lot of great production capabilities, specifically on the music side. We learned more on the editing side. But nothing crazy, just started learning what it means to be a kids creator. Got better at it, followed what was popping. That kind of led us to where we were today, which the fun part is as of this year, January 1st, I ended my consulting gig and I am full-time for a kids channel on YouTube, which I never thought I would say.

Gene: That’s amazing. That’s amazing. There was no formal launch of Danny Go. There was no business plan, it sounds like. It just evolved organically. You just started producing stuff, throwing it out there, and then just getting better, and better, and better until you started to hit a groove as to what you want to do. You had spent all that time at Lowe’s and you would cut your teeth on in the video and the production world. When we talk about advice that we give, is what you do something anybody can jump into and do? Or do you think that it’s really helpful if… If somebody really wants to make a go at having their own YouTube channel, or creating a business on that platform, do you think it makes sense for them to maybe work in a corporate marketing department? Or do you think that’s not worthwhile?

Daniel: I don’t think it’s a prerequisite at all. I think you totally can. It worked great for me, again as a confidence thing. And also, I had access to equipment that I maybe wouldn’t have if I was just starting out. The beautiful thing about YouTube, what I love about it, is it really is a… They call it a meritocracy. If the concept’s good, you can do so much with your phone. You really don’t have to over-invest in the productions. Depending on the content, of course. If you’re trying to do films or something, that’s a different story. If you’re creative with it, the bar is really so low, and the best concept, the best personality really can build a following fairly quickly on there.

Daniel: Yes and no. I think you could probably make it work in a variety of origin states. It worked out for me that way, because again, I had some great people to encourage me there early on. I think you could do it as a moonlight thing on the side completely apart, too.

Gene: A lot of times, people ask me about starting up businesses. When I started up my business, I had a full-time job and then I just was doing it part-time. I was putting in 60, 70 hour weeks. I’d finish work, and then I went to work on my other business, until I got to a point where I could evolve. You said you just made this transition to full-time. Was it like that for you, like there was a period of time where you were doing the channel, you were also doing your video production? You were working a lot of hours, I’m assuming, right?

Daniel: Yeah. Yeah, that’s probably a pretty common story. If you’ve got a passion thing, you’re usually already doing something else. That’s the lovely thing about this year. It’s been so wild to me to fully be able to devote my mind to the kids show. It is so freeing. I’m still doing pretty large, especially on edit weeks for me, are still double weeks of what Lowe’s would have been. But it’s a lot different feeling when it’s your own thing. Any business owner would probably say that. It’s a different kind of investment level and you’re so differently passionate.

Daniel: I didn’t hate my job at Lowe’s, but it is different when it’s your own thing. There was some sweat equity in those, a lot of late nights when I’m doing the Lowe’s thing, trying to make sure I’m doing a good job there. I need to focus during regular hours there, but trying to build something. There’s kind of no other way to do it than redline for a while, I feel like.

Gene: How’d you sell this idea to your wife? She’s got to be all in on this, right? I mean, you’re working a lot of hours.

Daniel: Truly, I know. Yeah, it’s like you laugh at it, but then it’s true. It wouldn’t work. If you have a family or any kind of situation like mine, it wouldn’t work without the support of a significant other. She’s great. As it’s grown, the investment has grown too. And it makes sense. If nothing was happening with it and I was wanting to do 80-hour weeks every week, we’d probably be like, “Hey, probably not worth it, Daniel. Maybe let’s scale this back and be with your family or something.” I feel like it’s kind of naturally risen with, “Oh, this is getting viral. This is becoming legitimate.”

Daniel: I think again, this year has been a lot more fun just because my mind is not so scattered. I am able to take breaks. The nature of this is a lot different than the 8:00 to 5:00 I was at at Lowe’s. When I’m on, it’s crazy and I’m up until 3:00 AM editing, but then I’ll have times… We kind of split the editing work with one of the other guys I’m with, so I have some down weeks too where I can hang out around the house. I’m fully from home now too, so I’ll play Bananagrams with my wife in the morning and just hanging. I like that it’s a little more variety than that straight no block thing.

Gene: I’m a CPA, so I’m a financial guy. This is a startup story. Does your wife… Again, if you don’t feel like answering or whatever, it’s completely cool. Does your wife have a full-time job as well? Does she work elsewhere? A lot of times, people start up businesses, health insurance is a big deal. Usually, it’s one of the spouses has it through their company and then the other person can take a raise. Is that a similar situation with you, like you’re able to leverage…

Daniel: No, but I feel like… My story is a little unique. I don’t have to go crazy into detail, but I will say I have two boys, 11 and seven. My oldest son has had a lot of medical stuff in his life. I’ll leave it at that. He’s had a kidney transplant… tons of surgeries. He has a lot going on. That was a huge factor for me, staying with Lowe’s, because they take great care of you and it’s consistent. That’s one of the pros. A lot of people like corporations would cite that as a pro. You’ve got the consistency, you’ve got insurance pretty nailed down. I would be lying if I said I didn’t think about going off on my own a lot earlier than I did, but it was never the right time. There was too much going on with him, and that’s just what we have.

Daniel: That’s life. It was nothing we could do to change that. So, we waited. My wife was home full-time with them. She’s done some pretty cool side gigs, but it wasn’t anything where she was getting insurance, so it wasn’t something where I could lean on what she was getting there. Yeah, that was a timing thing. We’ve had a lot of discussions about it. It’s just kind of a weird thing that insurance is linked to your work.

Gene: Yeah, it is. It is.

Daniel: I mean, I get it, and there’s no easy answer, but I had a lot of discussions about, “Oh man, if we were in a different scenario in a different country,” there’s a little more of a different take on it where you’re not as dependent on staying at that place.

Gene: Don’t even get me started. My wife is from England. We have conversations all the time. Their system is far from perfect, but there is a real strong argument to be made for national health insurance, which just gives people the ability to take risks and do things, and not have to worry. Health insurance is usually a huge factor for people that they have to consider when they start things out. All right, let’s get into the show itself. It doesn’t happen… You mentioned before, you can use an iPhone and… It’s not that.

Daniel: It’s not that.

Gene: I’ve seen your videos. There’s a ton of production that goes into this. I think there’s multi cameras that are being used. Then there’s got to be a ton of post-production in this. This is again, you’re talking to people that might want to go into this themselves. Talk them out of it right now.

Daniel: How bad is it?

Gene: Tell them what is involved so people know the facts going into something like this.

Daniel: Okay, yeah. For sure. The caveat at the top is though, there’s no one way to do it. You could do the cellphone, it’s just not what we’ve created as a brand. We boxed ourselves into this corner of being very extra for a kids show, and actually it’s kind of part of what we do. We take a lot more time than we probably even needed to at the beginning to get the songs well-produced, and the edits have become monsters for us. But you don’t have to do that. It really depends on what you’re trying to do.

Daniel: If you’re doing some basic instructional content, it could be in front of a camera. It’s just our stuff has taken on a form that is not easy to produce. We’re doing currently, it’s like a new video song, new video and song every two weeks. That is us really booking it to do it. It’s very difficult, but it’s what we’ve committed to. We’re having fun with it. It’s just there’s not a lot of… It’s like a video comes out, we’ll celebrate for a day, and then it’s like, “All right well, it’s time to get to the next one.”

Gene: And then you get right back to it. You know what it reminds me, is whenever I hear people that worked on Saturday Night Live, and they would be like they work all week, they do the show live on Saturday, and then that following Monday morning they’re back in it working on the next show. It’s like it’s never-ending.

Daniel: I know. Sidebar I guess, that kind of has its own… You have to make sure you’re celebrating what you’re doing because it is a little bit… YouTube can be a little bit of, whatever a rat wheel, of success. You do have to sometimes step back and be like, “You know, we’re doing okay. This is good.” You have to have a contentment in your heart. You got to keep the drive too. That’s it, it’s a balance of the two things, of definitely always wanting to keep pushing but sometimes taking a step back and enjoying what you’ve built and celebrating a little bit. We’re constantly trying to figure out that rhythm, making sure we’re doing both.

Gene: Tell me about the investment that you had to make in this. Again, you don’t have to give me specific dollars, but you leave the job, you’ve equipment that has to buy, there’s lack of income for a while. You said you have partners as well. I don’t know if you have any employees at this point. Tell me how that worked.

Daniel: Equipment-wise, I guess we did make some investment. We were fortunate early on that we got a good little lump sum of cash from… We got some streaming deals, so we made some episodes for a streamer, a smaller streamer. It wasn’t like “Everybody quit your job” money, but it was enough money for… A lot of what we used it for was equipment upgrades. Now, we’re still talking… Man, I don’t mind talking numbers just so people get it. Probably 10K in cameras.

Gene: Okay.

Daniel: When we started, I had a real basic camera. Again, it wasn’t a phone. It was a step up from a phone, but not much. We got some Sony gear and some decent lenses, but we’re still maybe 10 or 15K in. This is after we’ve been rolling for a while and had at least a little bit of capital from Danny Go. So, it wasn’t coming out of just my wallet. I don’t know if that range is helpful, if that sounds scary or not. I think that’s probably on the low end because you could obviously go invest a lot more, or less for sure.

Gene: You said earlier on in this conversation, “We started making videos,” and “It’s not too hard to build a following.” That is absolutely incorrect. It is really hard to build a following.

Daniel: Did I say that? Okay, you’re right. That is-

Gene: Yeah, it’s not like it’s no big deal. I see so very many people I talk to that are killing themselves making videos. They’re like, “14 people watched it.” Tell us, what’s the secret sauce? What’s the magic in building a following for a brand new, no one’s ever heard of you… I mean, you’re coming from Lowe’s for God’s sake. It’s not even you’re a celebrity or a singer, or something like that. What advice do you have for building a following?

Daniel: You’re right. I will redact that, because it’s not easy. I would have been mad at that guy if I watched this three years ago. I think the advice is to experiment and look for reaction spikes. If I had to boil it down, you got to be willing to just try some stuff, have the time, equipment, space, whatever. It doesn’t have to be much. Try some stuff and just look for those early signs of anything. It’s not going to probably be a million views. It’s not going to be that big of a spike. But even just a couple of people saying, “Whoa.” I mean, our kids, “My kid really enjoyed that part,” or whatever. Just little nuggets to hold on to, or even people around I guess. You don’t have to wait for online comments. Just ask people around you and you might get an idea.

Daniel: I think that was something good I learned at Lowe’s because we tried a lot of stuff in developing that content strategy. I think a big takeaway was invest in the things that are working. It sounds simple, I guess, but that was kind of a constant thing that we were trying to educate around the organization a little bit of you don’t want to just do a scattershot. I mean, maybe at first to see what comes back, but if you see a little spike here and a little spike there, really, really build on that. Take it to that next step. See if that keeps spiking. It’s just a little bit of a test and learn philosophy, I think.

Daniel: It’s like you said, it is magic. You used the word magic, and it kind of is. Honestly, it is a lot of luck. There’s definitely a lot to learn of the algorithm in YouTube. I feel like a student of it still even after years at Lowe’s trying to play with it, and now years at Danny Go. I know it pretty well, but-

Gene: A couple of questions on that as well. First of all, you say getting feedback is super important, and I’m assuming you look to the comments, but you’re also asking other people. So, you have to grow a little bit of a thick skin because I’m sure some people will be like, “Well, that kind of sucked, but that was really great.” You’re like, “Okay, fair enough.” Then also, I guess you had to put your emotions aside a little bit? Because there are probably some stuff that you were doing that you were like, “Oh my God, I love that, and I can’t believe people are saying that wasn’t working.” Did that happen too?

Daniel: Yeah, and honestly there’s a scenario right now where that’s currently the situation. I told you we worked with a streamer and we did 22.5 minute episodes, which all three of the… Me, and two guys that are kind of the main partners, they’re close to our heart because it’s a lot more storytelling. What you’d see on YouTube, you probably saw is songs.

Gene: I see.

Daniel: Yeah, that’s what’s been rewarded for us. The episodes haven’t, to a greater degree. They do take a lot more out of us production-wise too. I think looking at both of those factors, it’s like we may love this. We love what it is for the brand. It takes us five, six times as long to make one, and it does easily six times worse, way worse, even after trying a few. So it’s like, who are we doing this for? I guess there may be some scenarios where you just want to make it for the library or whatever.

Daniel: In our case, we’re trying to get to sustainability, and paying bills, and making this a valid thing. So, you can’t hold on too tight to those. I mean, you want to give it enough fair shot. I guess that’s the caveat. There’s caveats to all this. You don’t want to quit after one maybe if it didn’t work. You do have to give it a fair shot, but then you also have to be honest with the data. Even if it’s doing okay, it takes us way longer to do and we can do way better and grow way faster in this other medium that still is our brand.

Daniel: It wasn’t us giving up and doing something completely off. It’s hard. There’s something in me that wants to return to those, so maybe if that applies to somebody else, it’s like that content, just maybe not right now. Maybe just shelf the idea. If it’s a great idea, you love it, maybe some people dig it, but it’s just not getting that scale, you don’t have to trash it. Just hold on it. Maybe you just need a broader platform to launch it from. Maybe it’s just not one of those fast starters. So, do something else that maybe has a quicker take-off, and you could come back to it later.

Gene: Literally Daniel, I was listening to this interview with Bari Weiss. She’s in the media. She was interviewing a guy named Rick Ruben, who is this super famous record producer. He’s produced everybody from The Beastie Boys all the way through Taylor Swift. He’s been whatever. I have to say this, because it was the opposite of what you were just saying now, but it’s important. I know. He was like, “No, you don’t listen to your audience.”

Gene: She was asking him, “How do you pick the music? You want to make something that people are going to buy.” He’s like, “No, I always go on my own instinct. If I like it, that’s all that matters.” Okay, I get that if you’re some kind of an artist and you’re at that level. I get that. But could we all agree that what you’re doing is entertainment and it’s fun, and it’s content, and it’s a business. I think that’s the message for people watching or listening to this. If you’re going to be putting content out there, unless you’re Shakespeare or you’re so pried into your art, you’re running a business. You’re trying to provide.

So, you have to listen to the feedback and make adjustments to what’s going to sell, right?

Daniel: Yeah, I’ve never subscribed to that mentally, truthfully.

Gene: Yep, neither have I.

Daniel: I get it. I get the phrase, “Don’t read the comments,” but I’m always like, but I am in entertainment. I felt the same at Lowe’s and now at Danny Go. It’s like, I get you got to have thick skin, and comments can make you feel wacky, and you lose confidence. So, you got to know what you’re doing and know it’s good or whatever, but you got to know how people are reacting. It’s data. It’s qualitative/quantitative stuff. It’s numbers and it’s looking at how people react. I don’t know how you could ignore that, unless you’re just-

Gene: I agree, and it’s-

Daniel:… at this level where you’re killing it and maybe whatever you put out is just going to do good. Maybe there is an echelon that you could get to, but I certainly don’t feel that way. I feel like… We have videos that will do far worse than others and we examine that. It’s not like we’d be like, “Yo, we’ll just make it again because we want to.” It’s like, “Why are we feeling that? Was the intro three seconds too long? Do we need a logo in there? Oh, we’re losing retention there. It’s too much.”

Daniel: We go deep on why something may be under-performing, because I don’t know, that just makes sense to me. If you want to optimize, I don’t see how else you’d do it.

Gene: I agree. You’re running a business. You’ve got bills to pay.

Daniel: Oh, yeah it’s not hard… I mean, it can be hard, but paying the bills.

Gene: You mentioned earlier, when we were talking about growing your audience and how the challenge in doing that, you mentioned you could spend all day on YouTube’s algorithms because they’re so complex.

Daniel: Yeah.

Gene: What does that mean? What are YouTube’s algorithms? Why would that be important for somebody like yourself? How are you using these algorithms?

Daniel: Because, at least on YouTube, you’re dependent on them to a pretty large degree of serving your video up. Even we saw that at Lowe’s. Lowe’s had over a million subscribers, but it’s like if it’s not the right video… If you put out a video that just isn’t right, it’s not to the right audience, it’s not going to get served to those million people. Even though these hand-raisers saying they’re in there, you could still get 5,000 views if it’s not the right topic, not the right video. It’s like you can build an audience, but you don’t always have access to that audience if you’re just doing whatever you want. We always just say we got to think like Google. We got to think, “Okay, they’re in, for better or worse, in the business of selling ads.”

Daniel: So you can start there, try to think like them. What’s going to make them serve this video up over another one? First off, retention. Is a person sticking around on their platform? The last thing I want is someone leaving YouTube. So, if my video makes them click away and go do something else, it makes sense why Google would be like, “Eh, I don’t want to serve that anymore. That is sending people away from our website.” There’s just some basic stuff of getting your mindset into that. I guess it could feel slimy if you’re just purely playing that game. You obviously have to balance it with your brand. You’re having fun. You’re making fun songs. So, it’s a balancing act, but it’s a big factor in what you do at least.

Gene: Just taking that, you have a video called The Floor is Lava. There’s 22 million views. I checked, I’m not seeing a lot of searches on YouTube for lava or floor. So, when you talk about algorithms, why would a video like that do you think be so popular and even get YouTube’s attention to serve it up? You probably don’t know for sure, because who does, but theory do you have as to why videos like these that you do, do get run by YouTube so popular, so frequently?

Daniel: We have theories, you’re right. They’re always theories. Sometimes they’re a little clear theories, and sometimes we have no idea. I think with that, in the kids space, I will say that actually was a pretty… The term, The Floor is Lava, was a term that was out there, be it from the show. I mean, the game is kind of a child’s game that’s been around anyway. We’ve got some basic plugins, some software that we use, that does kind of tell you some of the trending topics for kids stuff. So, we’re looking on there a lot of times to see what kind of… Not to copy stuff, because our heart is to make original stuff, so we don’t want to go the route of just purely playing that system. But also, just seeing what’s doing well, general dance, things like that, topics, ABC, whatever.

Daniel: We did see that that term was a high one, and there was volume there to justify it. I think we use that as more a checkbox on our ideas. It’s not like we sit there, but it’s like we have an idea for a cowboy song we did. We’ll go and be like, “Wait, does anybody care about cowboys?” If not, then it’s like the giant thing, because sometimes you go to do stuff that’s a little farther down the funnel to keep your offering nice and wide. But at least, see is there some volume there. Is it worth the time to produce the song, make the video, all that. And there was, and that was the smaller one, The Floor is Lava, if you were looking at it. But we justified them both because we’re trying to make a…

Gene: That makes complete sense. It’s very much keyword-driven on YouTube. It’s the second most searched platform other than Google. It’s all about keywords. You use certain tools, and there are plenty of them that are out there that can help you search for keywords that you think would be popular, and then now I guess you build that into your content as well. That is super helpful. Before you even leave that topic, when you do choose topics that might be of interest, that you think would garner some attention on YouTube, is it enough that you have it in a title of your video, of if you’re saying those words during the course of your video does YouTube also pick that up as well?

Daniel: Yeah.

Gene: Does it know that you’re saying these things?

Daniel: Yeah, this is relevant. We’ve been having these talks a lot. The algorithm is ever-changing.

Gene: Yes.

Daniel: A couple of years ago, I don’t know when, but I just know it’s not this way now, but back in the day you could really game the metadata. So, the tags, the titles, all that stuff. If you did it just right you could really go crazy. They, YouTube, I think wanted to make the content the thing that makes it do well, not just because somebody could adjust the right tags. They’ve said this. This isn’t just conjecture. They have updated it so you can’t really game it. That’s not to say titling and tagging doesn’t matter at all. It totally does. We take a lot of time on that. But it’s purely positioning, making sure YouTube “You guys know what this is, right? It is, The Floor is Lava,” you’re thinking of I’m telling Google what this video is more than I’m sneaking into the algorithm.

Daniel: Because they’ve really worked on the factors I think being retention, they tell us that, that if you can keep somebody in there, if you can keep them even in the first five, 10 seconds, again so they can sell ads, then they’re going to reward you. And so, that speaks to quality because you can’t really game that. You can play around with the tags, but to keep somebody on a song for even three minutes is kind of no small task, in the kids world at least. You got to make sure it’s interesting. The pace as to be… We can’t really have a lot of down moments in there. I like that as a team, that really is trying our best to make higher quality stuff. It’s kind of just part of what we’re trying to do.

I feel like it helps us because I think that’s honestly a higher bar for competitors versus just if it was a tagging war. It’s like, well I don’t know, I’m guessing a little bit and you may have better tools. But if it’s truly about the better video, being the one that keeps people around and keeps them on the platform watching more videos, then it’s like oh, okay that seems like almost purer method of rewarding a video.

Gene: It does.

Daniel: We see that as a positive. But yeah, don’t hear me saying it doesn’t matter. We definitely take our time with it, but I don’t think it’s the end-all-be-all, and I don’t think you have to go crazy comparing, especially with tags in particular, they even have that on their now when I upload a video. I forget what it says, but it’s basically like, “Don’t put all your stock in this,” like literally just tag it so people can find it if it’s spelled weird or something like that. I think they’re trying to keep people from wasting their time gaming it down there.

Gene: Listen, the AI and the transcription tools are so advanced right now that there’s no question if they’re able to extract the content from the video itself and then use that as part of it’s algorithm.

Daniel: Yeah.

Gene: That makes a lot of sense. Okay, we’re almost out of time here. You’ve been awesome. Just two more questions for you. You’ve been focused. You’re doing everything right, and you focused on Google’s algorithms and getting the content right, and listening to your audience, and getting the feedback and making your adjustments. Have you promoted your videos at all on YouTube? Have you spent money with YouTube?

Daniel: A little.

Gene: Yeah, a little bit. Everybody does. Everybody does.

Daniel: Again, I guess we could do it now. Now, we’re at a scale where it doesn’t feel like we’re having to… like, “Nobody’s seeing this. We love this video, but nobody is seeing it.” I feel like in that phase, I tried just a few little campaigns, not much money at all. Just see and watch what happens. See does anyone even care? Is it getting outside of the target at all? I’m such a content and organic guy. I’m probably the wrong guy to talk to about ad stuff. I knew very basic what I was looking for there, but honestly for me I didn’t see it performing so we kind of stopped it after the first year and just focused on “Let’s try to build up the true audience here,” the unpaid audience.

Gene: Final question for you is, you’ve crushed this, and this has been like a year would you say that this has been going on? About a year or longer than that?

Daniel: The kids show?

Gene: Yeah.

Daniel: We started in 2019. I would say the turning point for us was last summer as far as actually getting scale and starting to really take off. It was bubbling for a few years, but now about a year of seriousness.

Gene: What’s your future? It’s a fickle world. Obviously people see your success. You’re going to have competitors coming after you. As smart as you are, the well runs dry for new… How many Floor is Lava videos can you do? What are you thinking about? Are you thinking five years ahead right now, or 10 years ahead? What’s keeping you up at night?

Daniel: We are. We are. Actually, it’s an exciting time for us because we are finally starting to… Because they’re seeing the scale there, we’re thinking this is viable. Where does that go? We actually just hired a new business manager just a couple of weeks ago, and she is incredible. She found us as a fan, which was super cool, so she kind of already knew at a base level from the get-go what we were up to, enjoyed it, kind of reached out, and it just worked. She has a lot of great experience that really fills the gaps of what we didn’t have, or full-on into production YouTube, making the videos. She kind of is everything else. She’s got plans.

Daniel: We’re talking live shows I think for us would be super cool. We get asked that a lot, and we’re always bummed to just say “Right now, we don’t have the time,” because we’re just trying to grow the scale to a sustainable place. We’re getting there, but it’s definitely on the horizon to be able to actually go and interact in real life. That’s the only bummer, I guess, about YouTube and especially Kids YouTube, is you’re really limited on any kind of communication with your audience. That’s why I have to look so hard at the data because I’m like, I don’t know, comment are disabled on every kid video, so I can’t hear there. We have our social accounts that we will hear from moms that kids are enjoying and stuff, see videos and dancing. That’s important to us.

Daniel: On the YouTube side, it’s pretty tricky to have any true one-to-one, but that’s where it’s very exciting to think about actually meeting the audience and getting to that point. That’s on the horizon not that far away, I think. I would say, to your question about how many Floor is Lavas… I get that question from my dad all the time in a very well-intentioned way.

Gene: It’s definitely a dad question to ask.

Daniel: He sees his son leave one steady corporate job to do a kids show, and he’s kind of like, “Are you running out of ideas?” That’s what I hear when he says?” The thing I love about kids stuff is you can just take two things and combine it, and be silly. There’s just so much fun silliness to it that coming from even an editing style too, I can just put crazy, fun, colorful stuff on the screen and it’s fun. Some of these backgrounds are so lush, and there’s stuff going on, and stuff I didn’t get to do as much in the corporate world that we just have a lot more fun with it and we try to remind ourselves that if we’re ever getting bogged down in an edit with a ton of layers to it.

Daniel: At the end of the day, this is for kids to have fun with. We should probably add an element in our editing, kind of smiling as you’re making the thing fly across the screen. I feel not too worried about getting to the end of the creative well for us, because I really feel like kids stuff especially is bottomless. You get to have so much fun forever with random topics, silly topics, everything. It’s kind of cool.

Gene: I have to tell you, I’ve interviewed and continue to interview a lot of startup founders, and two or three years into it they look like they had been dragged through the mud.

Daniel: Yeah.

Gene: You look great. You’re having a ball too.

Daniel: Yeah, it’s great.

Gene: You got to be doing something right, right?

Daniel: Thank you, yeah. I hope. It got to the point where it was draining. You got to follow the fun. I guess, not that it’s all going to be fun, but to a degree you’re following your passion, following the fun.

Gene: Sure.

Daniel: Thank you.

Gene: Daniel Coleman is the host, the founder, the man and the brains, and the energy behind Danny Go, a very, very popular YouTube channel. Watch it, check it out, particularly if you have kids. Even if you don’t, it is really a fun, fun channel to watch. Daniel, thank you so much for joining me.

Daniel: Thank you. It’s a pleasure.

Gene: That was a lot of fun, and everybody, you’ve been watching The Hartford’s Small Biz Ahead podcast. My name is Gene Marks. If you need any advice or help, or tips to help you run your business, please join us at SmallBizAhead.com or SBA.TheHartford.com. Again, my name is Gene Marks. Thanks for watching or listening. We will see you again soon. Take care.

Gene: Thanks so much for joining us on this week’s episode of The Hartford’s Small Biz Ahead podcast. If you like what you hear, please give us a shout-out on your favorite podcast platform. Your ratings, reviews, and your comments really help us formulate our topics and help us grow this podcast. So, thank you so much. It’s been great spending time with you. We’ll see you again soon.

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