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Charli Prangley is a designer by day and a content creator by… well, pretty much the rest of the time. In addition to her day job, she produces two high-quality Youtube videos and a podcast every week, and also runs an online apparel shop.
I was so impressed with the consistency and quality of her output that I knew I had to get her on the show to share how she creates so much while still working a full-time job.
If you’ve ever struggled with creating consistently or trying to get everything 100% perfect before shipping, you need to listen to this episode.
Highlights, Takeaways & Quick Wins:
- You don’t have to have the best camera or microphone to get started. Use what you have or what you can afford, and upgrade later.
- If you want someone to invest time in what you’re creating, show them a little bit of your personality but make sure you share content they’d be interested in.
- Sometimes you do have to “beat people over the head” to get them to check out a link. You might have to post a link multiple times in a week before someone actually sees it and clicks on it.
- Look for communities and people to collaborate and work with. It’s a great way to share and grow audiences.
- If you want to be successful in video or podcasting, make creating content a habit and not just something you do when you have “free time”.
- Don’t try to fine-tune your content to perfection; give yourself a deadline and ship it.
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- 3:04 Aaron: It seems like you’re constantly putting out content. I always see you tweeting about editing vlogs or your latest podcast episode. You post two videos to your Youtube channel every week in addition to your weekly podcast, Design Life. How do you manage to create so much while still working a full time job?
- 3:29 Charli: When you create a lot of content online (like I do), everything in your life becomes an opportunity to create content and tell a story. If I go to an event, I think about what I’m going to learn that I can share with other people. This provides a constant stream of ideas that I can share in my videos or podcast episodes.
- 5:03 Aaron: So you put a lot of content out consistently, and you’re seeing results; you’re almost to 25,000 subscribers on Youtube. Can you take us back to the beginning and share how and why you got started?
- 5:38 Charli: I started my Youtube channel back in 2013 because I wanted to see into the lives of other designers, but I wasn’t finding the kind of content I was looking for. There were a lot of tutorials, but I wanted to get to know the people behind those tutorials.
- 6:01 I decided to start my own Youtube channel so I could create lifestyle content from the perspective of a designer. Other designers discovered my channel because they were looking for the same thing. Having that unique point of view from the start really helped my channel grow.
- 6:26 Aaron: So you made the show you wanted to watch, and it turned out that there are a lot of other people who wanted that show as well?
- 6:39 Charli: Exactly. I try to think about what I would have found valuable in my early days of getting started as a designer, and then I create that content. It’s really rewarding when I hear from young designers who tell me how my content is helping them.
Charli’s Gear Setup
- 7:05 Aaron: What kind of gear were you using when you started back in 2013?
- 7:10 Charli: When I first started, I was using a Nikon D5000. It’s a DLSR but it can only record video for 5 minutes at a time and only in 720p. It didn’t have a flip-out screen or auto-focus in video mode, so there were a lot of challenges to overcome to get my video content made, but I stuck with it. It was about a year before I could afford an upgrade.
- Aaron: I started a video show recently, and I’ve been using my iPhone and a Shure MV88 mic, and I’ve already got better gear than you had (because I’ve got the front-facing screen to see myself). With smart phone cameras being as good as they are now, anyone can shoot video. What did you end up upgrading to?
- 8:16 Charli: I got a Canon 70d which I really like. It’s a great all around camera for the price.
You don’t have to have the best camera or microphone to get started. Use what you have or what you can afford, and upgrade later.
Charli’s Tips for Growing an Audience
- 8:45 Aaron: When you started producing video, did you have any kind of online following?
- 8:54 Charli: Not really. I think I had around 1,000 followers on Twitter because I was pretty active in my design and tech scene in Wellington, NZ, so I suppose that’s where my first views came from.
- 9:27 Aaron: Did you have a strategy for growing your audience?
- 9:40 Charli: I knew a little bit about search engine optimization (because I was doing it at my job), so I thought about how I could apply that to my videos, but it was mostly trial-and-error. I paid attention to what worked, what thumbnails people preferred and what content they were interested in. But something I’ve done from the start was to make sure my videos were tagged well so that they come up in search. Today, about half of my views come from people searching Youtube. Don’t underestimate the value of SEO.
- 10:23 Aaron: SEO is important. The way I like to explain it is just think about what people would search Google or Youtube for, and then use those words in your podcast or video title, or in headlines on your blog post. There’s a lot more to it than that, but that’s a great place to start.
How to Get People to Pay Attention to Your Content
- 10:51 Jordan Newhouse asked: I produce new content every week. How do I get people to realize the content is there and get them to check it out?
- 11:07 Charli: Start by looping in all of your social media to the content you’re creating. You don’t want to be talking about yourself non-stop online, that’s not the way to have an interesting account.
If you want someone to invest time in what you’re creating, show them a little bit of your personality but make sure you share content they’d be interested in.
- 11:50 You have to share your content more than once. You can’t send out a tweet and expect everyone to notice. Some people might not be paying attention or they might be half-asleep; you have to share it anywhere and everywhere you can, in different ways. Try different titles to see what works.
- 12:14 I create so much content so often that by the time I’m finished with a video, I’m already thinking about the next one, but I should be thinking about how to best promote the video I just made.
- 12:36 Aaron: I used to feel weird about sharing links to my content more than once. I used to think people would be annoyed if they saw me post multiple links to content. I finally realized that most people just aren’t paying that close of attention to their social media streams.
Sometimes you do have to “beat people over the head” to get them to check out a link. You might have to post a link multiple times in a week before someone actually sees it and clicks on it.
How to Promote Your Content
- 14:25 Charli: One of the best ways to promote your content is in response to questions you see your audience asking. If one of your followers is discussing a topic you covered on your podcast, send them a link to that episode if you think they’d find it valuable.
- 14:38 Aaron: I love doing that. Some of the podcasters I follow have their own hashtags, so I’ll use Twitter search to find people who are asking podcasting questions and send them links to my episodes where I answered their questions. If someone wants to learn, you would be doing them a disservice by not sending them a link to your content if it answers their question or would help them in some way.
Participate in Your Community
- 15:32 Aaron: I talk a lot about the importance of participating in your community, inviting guests on your podcast and collaborating with other people. You participate in an active Youtube community, right?
- 15:44 Charli: That’s something I love about Youtube, there’s a very active community there. Everyone’s very collaborative, it’s easy to create video with other people and combine your audiences.
Look for communities and people to collaborate and work with. It’s a great way to share and grow audiences.
Create Content in Multiple Mediums and Build a Creation Habit
- 16:20 Aaron: You started a podcast recently. Did you find it easier since you’ve been creating video for a couple years?
- 16:32 Charli: There was definitely a learning curve, just like getting started with video. There were all these new things to learn like what kind of microphone to buy, how to record and edit, and how to get your show into iTunes. It seems like it should be easy, just hit record and make a podcast, but it’s really not that simple.
- 16:56 Aaron: One of my friends wants to start a podcast, but he wants to get everything perfect right away. That’s just not how it works; you have to be willing to jump in and create something, give yourself a deadline, and ship it. Otherwise you’re going to be talking forever about how you want to do something but you’ll never actually finish anything. You have to be ok with not being awesome at something for awhile. You’ll get better over time.
- 17:45 Charli: That’s really the key to producing content consistently; get used to not being perfect and learn as you go. You could wait until you know everything and get everything absolutely perfect, but then you wasted time you could have been building the habit of producing content.
If you want to be successful in video or podcasting, make creating content a habit and not just something you do when you have “free time”.
- 18:11 Charli: People ask me, “You’ve put out a video every Saturday for two and a half years, how do you do it?” I don’t even think about it anymore; it’s non-negotiable. A video will go up every Saturday because it’s just a habit.
- 18:29Aaron: Do you find yourself getting faster and more efficient as time goes on?
- 18:34 Charli: Definitely, but you don’t want to settle in a rut. Your audience will get bored if they see the same thing every week. When things are getting too easy, that’s when I try to learn something new to add to my process.
Tips for Getting Started with Your First Videos
- 19:31 Aaron: We got another question from Jordan. She asked, “I’m about to make my very first video ever (it’s going to be part of my product launch). What are some things I should keep in mind?”
- 20:12 Charli: Think beforehand about what the content of the video is going to be so that you can get all the right shots for it. You might even want to make a storyboard.
- 20:30 You might end up needing to reshoot a few scenes because that’s just how it goes. You might get to the editing part and realize that you need another shot or you need to re-record something. That’s ok, it’s just part of the process.
- 20:46 Aaron: Do you create storyboards for your videos?
- 20:54 Charli: Not all the time, but sometimes, usually if I’m doing a fashion video that requires a bunch of different angles, I’ll just draw some rough sketches on a notebook to help me make sure I get all the shots.
- 21:32 Aaron: I saw my friend Alex Cespedes (sorry I butchered your name in the show, dude) post a really interesting picture on Instagram showing how he outlines his podcast episodes on paper. I think that’s a great way to plan a show or podcast episode.
- 21:58 Charli: People plan in different ways. I create a rough script or outline for my video in the notes app on my phone and that’s enough to get my mind thinking about what I’m going to say and how I need to say it.
How to Create Consistently
- 22:27 Aaron: What are your biggest struggles with creating consistently, and how do you overcome those?
- 22:36 Charli: Time is always going to be a struggle. Even if you want to put something out every week, not every week is the same. In my life, I’ve got my day job, but that’s also things to do in the evenings and I travel a lot, so I have to make sure I make enough time to create a video I’m proud of. It’s always a struggle, but that’s where building the habit comes in. Planning definitely helps with the time constraint as well; I break the process down into little steps so I can get things done whenever I have time.
Don’t try to fine-tune your content to perfection; give yourself a deadline and ship it.
- 23:37 Aaron: One of my struggles is that there are always more projects that I want to do. I shoot myself in the foot by taking on too many things and not giving any one thing the focus it needs to be as successful as it can be. I try to do six things in a week and because I’m trying to work on all of them, I don’t make much progress on any of them.
- 24:01 Charli: You have to pick which thing is most important to you and make sure that one gets done. Then you can worry about the other things.
Collaboration Can Help You Produce Consistently
- 24:12 Aaron: You’ve got a co-host for your podcast. Does that help you get the show done every week? You do a lot of videos by yourself, so you’d probably be ok on your own, right?
- Charli: I don’t think I would, no. I would not have a podcast if it wasn’t for my co-host Femke. Since I do two videos every week, we split up the duties so that she does the editing and I do the show notes and our newsletter. But she does a lot more work than I do, which is really helpful.
- 24:58 Aaron: It is really helpful to have someone hold you accountable and help you do the work that it takes to put a show out every week. Podcasting is a lot of work and there’s nothing better than having a co-host who is really invested and willing to help with the work and keep you on track with producing.
- 26:03 Adina asked: How do I avoid looking awkward or sounding boring on camera?
- 26:12 Charli: That’s a question that everyone asks and something that everyone goes through.. The answer is just practice. You’re going to make a lot of awkward videos before you start to feel comfortable.
- 26:42 I don’t know if I can pinpoint the exact moment where I started feeling comfortable talking to the camera, but it happened. After I made enough videos, it stopped being a weird thing. Vlogging really helped for me, just picking up the camera and talking to it as I went through my day. It felt more casual and less stressful then sitting down in front of lights to film.
- 27:17 Aaron: It’s the self-imposed pressure, right? We want to be as good as someone else we’ve seen. We see all these people making videos and podcasts and they always seem so fluid and cool and they’ve always got funny things to say. They’ve got 600,000 views and 300,000 likes and we think that’s the level of quality we have to achieve, but it doesn’t happen overnight. You won’t get there in the first couple tries.
- 27:55 Also, being a better speaker and communicator is something you can teach yourself. Unless you slow down and think critically about the way you talk and how you can improve, you won’t improve. You can improve the way you talk. You can change the way that you talk and it will start to become the natural way that you talk with practice and time.
- 28:41 Charli: When you first started podcasting, did you find listening to your own voice awkward?
- 28:50 Aaron: Definitely.
- 28:51 Charli: When I started making video, it was hard for me to watch and listen to myself, but now, I feel like I sound exactly like I do in my head. I don’t know what changed, but it’s not awkward anymore.
- 29:00 Aaron: Part of it is just getting comfortable hearing yourself on recordings. You just get used to it after awhile. But I listen back to old episodes I’ve done and there are things I don’t like about the way I sound, so I think about what I could have done differently to sound better. I try to learn from my mistakes and improve, and I have, slowly over time and with practice.
- 29:53 Charli: When I listen back to my first 6 months of video, I don’t sound like me; I sound like someone trying to make a video. Now I feel like I just sound like me, like I sound when I’m having a normal conversation.
- 30:15 Aaron: We got a followup question: What about filming in public? I feel painfully embarrassed when I shoot video in public.
- 30:29 I absolutely know what that feels like. I feel super weird about holding a phone or camera out and shooting a video in public. I don’t even like people seeing me taking pictures of other people or myself in public. But I’m going to let Charli talk about this since she’s gotten comfortable with recording video in public.
- 31:23 Charli: I still feel awkward sometimes, like if I’m going to be sitting on a train with people on the way to work, I won’t pull out my camera and talking to it. But if I’m walking down the street, I’m probably never going to see any of those people again. If I know I need to get a shot to explain something in my vlog later, then I just have to get over feeling weird and get the shot that I need. And it comes back to practice.
- 32:49 Aaron: And really, what’s the worst thing that could happen? Someone makes fun of you or looks at you like you’re an idiot?
- 32:57 Charli: Exactly, and don’t think of it as you’re talking to your phone or camera, you’re talking to the person on the other side who is watching you later. You’re not really talking to yourself, even if it looks like you are.
- 33:20 Aaron: Now I’m thinking about how funny it would be to make a show where you just walk around in public all day, talking to yourself and catching people looking horrified or disgusted in the background.
- 33:58 Charli: Even if you do feel self-conscious, do it anyway and at least you’ll have all the shots you need.
You can find Charli online at CharliMarie.com. Her Youtube channel is Charli Marie TV, and you can find her on Twitter and Instagram as well. She is also the co-host of Design Life, a fantastic podcast about design and side projects for motivated creators.