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Cutting-Edge Web

How to Build an Audience on YouTube Without Spending Money on Ads or Fancy Production

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to get my YouTube channel reviewed by Evan Carmichael.

He has 2.45 million subscribers and gets more daily views than Gary V and Brendon Burchard combined… without spending money on ads. 

Evan Carmichael channel growth

In other words, he’s a master at using YouTube to build audiences organically. And organic audience growth is the holy grail of personal branding.

So you better believe I listened… and I’m completely changing how I do YouTube.

In fact, it’s inspired me to double down on YouTube since I feel like I’ve finally found (and understand) the social media channel that works for me.

And I always tell my students,

“You don’t need to be everywhere. You simply need to be somewhere all the time.” – Marisa Murgatroyd

So you’re going to start seeing a lot more of me on YouTube. And I’m following in some pretty big footsteps. Entrepreneurs like Marie Forleo, Gary V and Tai Lopez all built their careers and their audiences on YouTube.

So if you suspect that YouTube might be the right channel for you to put yourself out there, read on. Because today I’m going to give you the dish on everything Evan told me, so you can get in on the action and leverage the world’s second largest search engine to grow your audience…

Tip #1: Grab ‘Em from the Get Go

Right out of the gate, Evan wowed me with this brilliant insight:

“Marisa, think of the start of your video like it’s an advertisement for everything after that.” – Evan Carmichael

You’ve probably watched some of those ads on YouTube where the first 5 seconds kind of “sells” the rest of the ad. 

Basically, the advertiser tries to make things as captivating and interesting as possible so you don’t click the “skip ad” button.

This works for all kinds of ads and it also works for videos.

making youtube work for you

So when it comes to your YouTube videos, your only objective in those first few seconds is to get your viewers to watch the rest.

This is incredibly important because most people lose their audience at hello.

And it means you need to think about the “opening scene” of your YouTube videos like it’s a commercial for everything that’s coming next.

So the first thing out of your mouth matters. Say something surprising. Voice a powerful opinion. Don’t welcome people to your video or you’ll lose them instantly.

You can also do something expected. Evan loved that I started one of my videos wearing a “cheese hat” (check it out here) because it got people’s attention, it got them curious and it inspired them to stick around.

When I did my Facebook Live Challenge a few years back, I came up with a list of fun, quirky, attention-grabbing ways to start each of my videos and you can get the full list in this post. I like to call this the Art of the Start!

Tip #2: Forget Fancy

forget fancy when recording a youtube videoConfession time…

I’ve been sharing videos on YouTube and doing video blogs on my website for years now but I’ve been caught up with getting the production and the set and everything else just right.

And more often than not, I get so distracted with props, and scenes and all the other fancy stuff, that I haven’t always been as consistent and committed, as I could have been.

I was only filming once a month and that went down to zero during the pandemic when I didn’t have access to my video team or my hair and make-up artist… so my channel went radio silent.  

Evan reminded me that audiences on YouTube are not tuning in to watch a highly produced video but to get ideas, teachings and stories. 

After that conversation, I sat at my desk, switched on my camera and recorded my first “in the moment video.” And I posted it as an experiment with no music and no editing.

And guess what?

People loved my raw, in-the-moment video just as much — or maybe even more — than my highly produced videos.

And it’s because I’m speaking from the heart and I’m sharing high value content that helps them get to their goals. Not because I have perfect lighting and perfect hair.

Speaking of perfect hair…

Tip #3: Get Real, Get Messy

Marisa Get real get messyNobody gets out of bed in the morning with perfect hair and makeup. Nobody looks and sounds amazing all-the-damn-time.

We all have great hair days and disaster hair days.

We all have “sunshine and rainbow” days and days when we feel like we’re in the middle of a thunderstorm… minus the umbrella.

That’s life, that’s what’s real and that’s what people can relate to.

And it’s my next, big takeaway from Evan…

Focus on being super relatable, real and as authentic as possible, as much as possible.

So I’m not saying you have to film your videos 5 seconds after you’ve rolled out of bed but it’s important that you show up as yourself and find the courage to let people see the real you…

Sometimes this means giving them a sneak peek or a behind-the-scenes look at your messy desk and your messy hair and that’s what they want.

I’ll never forget what Evan said to me…

“Marisa, your best qualities are your authenticity and your groundedness. You’re not like a lot of other thought leaders… you’re accessible. So play to your strengths by just being you.” – Evan Carmichael

That helped me let go of the hair and make-up artist, let go of getting dressed up, and just make videos… 

On good hair days and bad ones 😉

Here’s a comment I got on my very first attempt

Enjoyed seeing your unmade for camera face. Beautiful face and soul Marisa. Been a fan since I heard you for the first time and your intelligence. Interesting (as usual with you, ma’am!). Many thanks!

Tip #4: Consistency Over Perfection

 Consistency Over Perfection on Youtube videosWhen it comes to videos, a lot of people get stuck on the “how long does it need to be?” question.

Evan recommends doing long-form videos especially if you want to establish yourself as a go-to expert or thought leader.

YouTube likes long videos — at least 10-20 minutes and you can even go a lot longer because people are on YouTube to watch and learn. It’s not like Instagram or TikTok where they’re swiping for the fast dopamine hit. Evan has 1-3 hour videos that do really well.

He also suggests sharing new videos at least 1 to 3 times each week.

I’ve found that a lot of people don’t get on camera as often as they should because they’re waiting for the “right time and the right place.”

But don’t sacrifice consistency for perfection.

As Evan says the frequency and quality of ideas that you present on your video are far more important than how things look on camera.

So if you happen to get a brilliant insight out of the blue and you’re out with friends on a Friday night, don’t wait until Monday, 10am when you have “create new video” scheduled on your calendar.

Just find a quiet corner, whip out that phone and hit record.

High-production is great but only if it doesn’t get in the way of consistency. You’ll have much more success in growing your audience on YouTube if you’re posting 1-3 videos a week than waiting to make the perfect video.  

Tip #5: Impactful + Emotion-Driven

My last couple of takeaways from Evan cover some of the more technical aspects of creating searchable, shareable videos on YouTube.

So two of the most important pieces you need to focus on are your video title and thumbnail.

Let’s break this down, starting with titles.

Creating titles that match what people want is a simple, effective way to gain a ton of views, comments and subscribers for your videos.

First thing to do is to think about the keywords you want to own. Then search for other popular YouTube videos with those keywords and create your video title based on the most successful videos you find.

For instance, if I want to own “course creation” as a keyword, I need to go look at some of the most highly viewed course creation videos on YouTube, before coming up with a title that’s similar.

So rather than guessing with your titles or trying to “get creative,” use angles that are already proven to get a LOT of views! As they say, “success leaves clues.”

Youtube thumbnailNext we have thumbnails…

So this is basically an image and it includes the title of your video and it’s what people see before they hit play.

And when it comes to video thumbnails, there’s an unbreakable rule you need to live by: optimize for mobile first.

Most people access YouTube on-the-go and on their devices and if you don’t grab their attention with a simple, impactful, emotion-driven thumbnail, you’ll lose them for good. 

So go with a few key words in a large bold font that’s easy to read for your thumbnail title and choose a close-up screenshot of you from your video that triggers interest and curiosity so people want to know more.

Make everything big, bold and bright. Use eye-catching colors for your text. Zoom in heavily on your images. Because these thumbnails are really small when you’re on your phone. 

Something else to keep in mind… no black and white images or text allowed!

As Evan puts it, you wouldn’t pick a black and white cereal box from a shelf full of colourful, attractive options and the same applies to your video thumbnails.

It Isn’t Rocket Science

When I viewed some of my videos through Evan’s eyes, it was clear that I’ve been putting a distance between myself and my audience with high production and fancy effects.

creating youtube videos is not rocket scienceI’ve also been putting hurdles between coming up with ideas and actually making the videos because I was focused on creating perfectly-produced masterpieces.

And while I’ve always known that people come to me for what’s in my head and what’s in my heart, I didn’t hold on to that truth, when I was creating my videos. 

So here’s what I’ve learned…

Creating kicka$$ YouTube videos that grow your audience and attract lifelong subscribers and customers isn’t rocket science but it does take conscious effort and intention.

And you don’t have to be a YouTube expert to create shareable, searchable videos that get a ton of views and comments but you do need to do your research and consciously create high-value, long-form content your audience wants.

You grow your audience when you use YouTube as the search engine it is — where new people go to discover you through intentional searches.

And of course, you need to find the courage to show up as who you truly are and put yourself out there so people get the chance to know the real you and connect with you in a way that leaves them wanting more.

If you want to dive deeper into the art of creating impactful, transformational videos that inspire people to connect with you and buy from you, I’d like to invite you to check out my Videos That Sell starter training.

videos that sellYou’ll learn exactly how to: 

  • Create simple, powerful profit-making videos for your business
  • Dazzle, delight & deliver likes, shares, opt-ins (and sales :-))
  • Infuse powerful storytelling into your sales and marketing videos
  • Know which stories will ignite interest (so people watch your videos the way through)
  • Catch and keep your audience’s attention minus a big budget… and so much more!

Videos that Sell  also gives you access to one of our Business-Building Mentors so you can get expert feedback and guidance before you create your video (value = priceless!)

Check out Videos That Sell here

And before you go…

What are some of the topics you’d like me to teach or train on video (I’m about to start creating 10-20 minute long-form videos on my YouTube channel :-))? 

Share your requests, ideas, and burning desires in the comments… I’d love to know!

Love it? Hate it? Let me know...

  1. Janine Gregor

    A beautiful, bright, short-statured coach once told me, “Done is better than Perfect.”

    Thank you for the video insight and tips. I do a Gratitude and Accountability video each
    week for “Awaken the Legend Within” for one of your NL students and it has been
    a real lesson in what works and what doesn’t…just by making so many mistakes.

    And I’ve learned that what I perceive as a ‘mistake’ is the key point people remember;
    albeit tongue-in-cheek sometimes.

    I’ve learned recently it is the first 7 seconds that really grab the audience
    and I’ve not been fully utilizing that precious time.

    I’m glad I came upon this blog today for a dose of inspiration to make that
    7 seconds count. Today is video day and I was already belaboring the details
    that frankly, don’t seem to matter.

    Thank you.
    Janine

    Reply ·
    1. Marisa Murgatroyd

      Lol Janine… and yes absolutely! Keep shining!

      Reply ·
  2. Evan Carmichael

    Marisa is the real MVP 🙂 <3 #Believe

    Reply ·
    1. Marisa Murgatroyd

      Yeah baby! <3

      Reply ·
  3. Law Nnaji

    Hey Marisa, aren’t you the real deal? You never fail to enchant your readers with your posts. Thanks for your ideas and insights on how to create great and intentional YouTube videos that can grow one’s audience and business. Just an idea: repurposing this post for YouTube might gain some traction in tapping from Evan Carmichael’s huge followership on that platform: How to grow your audience on YouTube: The secret things I learned from Evan Carmichael or Want to grow your audience? What I learned from YouTube 2.5M subscribers Influencer. You get my drift.

    Thinking of producing long-form videos for YouTube? Look no further. You already have more than enough contents for this. Just an idea: most of your previous posts are phenomenal and should be repurposed for YouTube. Some, I dare say, excellent for even TEDx talk. Continue to be the unapologetically authentic You!

    Reply ·
    1. Marisa Murgatroyd

      Thanks Law! Yes I’m in the process of identifying what videos we want to create for YouTube and have started setting aside Friday afternoons to record!

      Reply ·
      1. Len the aussie

        Sounds like a plan for sure BUT I do like a little make up and presentation on the Image . I definitely will look and watch longer when you are looking your best 🙂 When you have the skills in presenting then why would you put up an inferior product and look like so many others ( just out of bed) . I thought the idea was to stand out and Image is a long way to being up front. Your content is always right up there but please keep the “look” going and don’t be a dag … hugs still

        Reply ·
        1. Marisa Murgatroyd

          I’m certainly not suggesting no make-up or image consciousness. Just not waiting to get a stylist and make-up artist and only shooting when everything is perfect. 🙂

          Reply ·
  4. Jesse Krieger

    Fantastic post and share, will definitely be putting some of these tips into practice on my YouTube 🙂

    Reply ·
    1. Marisa Murgatroyd

      Thanks Jesse! I’ve just started putting these into practice and it’s gangbusters.

      Reply ·
  5. Gila Levitt

    omgoodness Marisa1 this was SOOO good. social media is just soscary to me and YOUTUbe in particular. this actually makes it seem…doable. Thanks.

    Reply ·
    1. Marisa Murgatroyd

      It is doable Gila and I’ve started – FINALLY!!!

      Reply ·
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About the Author Marisa Murgatroyd

Marisa is the founder of Live Your Message, where she turns entrepreneurs into Online Superheroes, and the creator of Start With You where she helps people just like you to discover the business they're meant to build, not just the business they can build. At 4’11 and a quarter, she’s called the shortest woman in marketing — and that doesn’t stop her from having huge ideas. She’s the “go to” brand builder for industry luminaries and heavyweights such as Justin Livingston, Callan Rush, Danny Iny, Alexis Neely and Susan Peirce Thompson. Marisa helps entrepreneurs create a business that is authentic and aligned with who they are, to empower them to turn up the dial on their “inner superhero”, so they can be the superhero to their tribe, as well as in their own lives.

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