M&M 61: Creating Content for YouTube with The Financial Diet’s Chelsea Fagan

Whether you are a YouTube noob or a video veteran, this episode with Chelsea Fagan is all about creating content for YouTube. It has something for every level of video content creator looking to grow their subscribers and increase their reach.

Today, we speak with Chelsea Fagan of The Financial Diet. In addition to running The Financial Diet and authoring a book by the same title, Chelsea has also grown her YouTube channel to over 500,000 subscribers. Here she shares techniques to get camera ready, ways to deliver value to your audience, and all the need-to-know details regarding analytics, editing, and more. If you are interested in learning more about creating content for YouTube at any stage of the game, make sure to give this episode a listen.

Time Stamp

Intro Chelsea Fagan – author, entrepreneur, YouTube content creator
2:35  From day one to 250K subscribers
7:30  Techniques Chelsea Fagan uses for feeling comfortable in front of a camera
14:00  How to make your videos a natural conversation instead of a formal interview
16:50  Why you should probably hire a video editor and how to get the best audio and video quality
23:00  Growing toward the future with her website and YouTube channel

Building a YouTube Channel from Zero to 250K Subscribers

While many people start a YouTube channel just to see what happens, that was not the case with Chelsea Fagan. From the beginning, Chelsea made her show polished and professional thanks to having a professional production company involved.

The Financial Diet​ received a grant when it was in its infancy from YouTube gurus Hank and John Green. After a few months, the Green brothers suggested that ​The Financial Diet create a YouTube channel. The brothers sent members of their team to teach Chelsea and her team all the ins and outs of video production.

But while the videos were of superior quality from the start, they had no audience. After initial discouraging results, YouTube featured a couple of their videos, and that really started the ball rolling. They went from 25K subscribers to 250K in a matter of about 3 months.

Since that time, growth has been slow but steady. They recently passed 520K subscribers, and they have been growing their content alongside their followers. They recently went from 2 videos per week to 3 and plan to continue to increase that number.

There have been some hard lessons along the way for Chelsea and her entire team. When you have someone else investing money and time into your project and you aren’t growing as quickly as you would like, there can be a huge pressure to perform. And while Chelsea never felt pressure from their investors, she did feel a tremendous sense of embarrassment that things weren’t growing as rapidly as everyone had thought they would.

Getting Comfortable in Front of a Camera

Chelsea Fagan seems like such a natural in front of the camera. As such, it makes sense that she has tips to share about how to get comfortable in front of the camera.

  • Chelsea has a background in theater which she greatly enjoyed as a youth. She says she “failed at almost everything else but excelled at that”.
  • She believes the ability to improvise is key to being successful. There are certainly many on-camera opportunities that don’t require a conversational style of audience interaction but YouTube isn’t one of them. You definitely need to prepare an outline in advance, but it shouldn’t seem like you’re reading from a script.
  • Get comfortable with yourself and stop obsessing over how you look and what people might say about you.

You can greatly benefit from having a small group of people who will give you honest feedback on your content. Chelsea and her team continue to work with the production company, so she has other eyes to keep major blunders at bay.

Additionally, Chelsea encourages you to look at your number of “likes” and “dislikes” on your videos as your real feedback. If a viewer feels tricked by your video or like you wasted their time, they will click that “dislike” button. That can do a lot of damage to your channel as a whole, not just that one video. Consistent dislikes prevent you from being shown on the YouTube homepage and hurt your chances of ranking high in their algorithm.

Making Your Interviews Feel Less Staged

If you watch some of Chelsea’s interviews on her YouTube channel, one thing you notice immediately is just how casual they feel. They don’t feel like one-on-one interviews at all.

One thing the team isn’t afraid to do is to have a glass of wine or a beer in hand while shooting videos. If it’s late on a Friday afternoon after a long week and Chelsea’s guest is game, they will grab a beer. This comes across more as a chat between friends than a formal interview.

Another thing that contributes to this casual feeling is something she mentioned earlier—not working from a script. They do have a basic outline that forms the basis of the video. Otherwise, it truly is like a conversation between two people that an audience just happens to overhear.

There have been guests who aren’t comfortable with the more relaxed style of YouTube and who make their appearance a bit awkward, but Chelsea always tries to keep the conversation flowing as naturally as possible.

Video Production For Beginners

Even though Chelsea Fagan has a production team working with her content, she does have to approve the final product that goes out. We thought it would be great if she shared some tips for beginners on cutting your videos and making them as smooth as possible.

  • If your goal is to grow more quickly and to have a professional show, consider outsourcing the editing from day one. If you aren’t experienced in video editing, this could quickly become a second full-time job. Don’t be afraid to find out how much video editing costs. The market is fairly saturated, so it can actually be very affordable.
  • Have you heard that all YouTube videos have to be short for anybody to watch? I think we all have. But Chelsea and her team have found the opposite to be true. Longer videos have a place on the platform much like long-form written content has in the blogging space. Don’t feel like you have to cut so much of your content out that your main point is lost. YouTube seems to actually be favoring longer videos.
  • Another reason to create longer videos is related to the way that YouTube ranks its users. You aren’t ranked only on the number of views but on how long people watch through your content. Chelsea’s videos are watched on average for 6.5 minutes. If you only make 3-4 minutes videos because some “guru” told you to, how can people watch for longer?

Two Essentials to Polish Before Publication

When it comes to the final product you are putting out there, Chelsea says there are 2 things that you absolutely have to pay attention to before publishing anything.

  1. Audio quality is more important than video quality. The most-cited reason for someone clicking away from a video is poor audio quality. Invest in high-quality audio equipment before worrying that your video equipment isn’t good enough.
  2. When it comes to video quality, lighting is more important than what kind of camera you’re using. You could just be using your iPhone camera, but if you have a high-quality microphone and the lighting is great, your video will be great. Shoot with light from in front of your face or invest in a simple ring light so that you are in control of the lighting.

Chelsea Fagan Looks to the Future

Chelsea Fagan’s team at ​The Financial Diet ​currently consists of 7 women and is about to jump to 8. They are expanding their YouTube channel to 3 shows per week. Ultimately, their goal is to be at 5 shows per week by summer of 2019.

One interesting thing that Chelsea shared is that their audience doesn’t switch back and forth between the website and the YouTube channel. The website visitors stay on the website, and the YouTubers keep watching the videos.

For that reason, it is imperative that both the website and the YouTube channel continue to grow simultaneously. Also, Chelsea stays committed to remaining debt-free as a company, and she plans to keep their growth slow, steady, and manageable.

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About Our Host

Joe Saul-Sehy is the co-host of the Stacking Benjamins personal finance podcast and operates the Stacking Benjamins blog.

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