For the past 985 days I have created a new video every two weeks (each fortnight, not Fornite). Along the way, I’ve learned a ton, grown significantly, and enjoyed thousands of insightful comments and responses from so many of you. *Thank you for that. It’s been a fun ride, but what surprised me is: The most important lesson I’ve learned from YouTube wasn’t how to create great videos.

General advice for growing on YouTube recommends posting a new video each week. This advice is sound, it generates predictability and gives you more opportunities for growth by creating often. By creating often, you increase your odds for success, and you also plow through your first thirty [bad] videos quickly. During those first thirty videos, you figure out what works by creating plenty of things that don’t. A weekly video is a great recipe for success if it works for you, but I learned fairly early on that it wasn’t right for me. I felt like I was rushing around and life became a constant deadline. I felt like I was constantly sprinting. To quote an old Alabama song, I was: “in a hurry to get things done, I rush and rush until life’s no fun.” Write, record, edit, render, post, share, repeat. I would finish the cycle just in time to start the whole process over again for the next week. It was exhausting.

Why was I rushing? I knew from the beginning that mass market appeal and a Silver Play Button (100,000 subscribers), were not my goal (Much to my ten-year-old daughter’s chagrin). Instead, I was trying to find people who were interested in the same niche, quirky things that I was and generate shared conversations and shared growth. I realized that the rush was unhelpful and perhaps more importantly it was unsustainable. Producing a video each week wasn’t going to be the difference between winning or losing this game. I would win through sustain and by playing the long game. This is a career, not a single season. I adjusted my cadence to what worked for me and my family and optimized for long-term organic growth through creating honest, authentic content for real people instead of mining the algorithm.

Over the course of two years, I stayed in the game, I published regularly, I monitored what worked, tweaked many, many things that now make me cringe, and slowly grew an audience one video at a time. I found what worked for me and my scenario. So, while others produce videos weekly or even multiple times a week, I stuck with one video fortnightly.

Views per day

Subscribers per day

Enter Email Newsletter

Six months ago, I added a weekly newsletter, Finding Focus, to the cadence. Similar to the YouTube advice, the idea of a weekly newsletter is a good one. Having a cadence and showing up regularly is critical, but I’ve come to realize that weekly is not sustainable [for me]. It’s not for a lack of ideas, we’re good on that front. The challenge is I don’t [currently] identify as a writer, so the process of authoring, editing, and delivering an email newsletter is much harder than it likely should be. It’s not of the same difficulty as creating a YouTube video, but it is enough effort to block the creation of YouTube videos.

That’s plenty doom and gloom for one sitting. Don’t worry the newsletter isn’t going anywhere, but instead of sprinting to create a newsletter weekly, I’m again adjusting the cadence for sustainability. Instead of reflecting on the past week and sprint to delivery my thoughts, I’m shifting to a reflection of the past month.

So what did I learn?

The first thing you create (or thirty) isn’t going to be a banger, but they will come if you stay in the game.

View counts over the past 2 years

Remember, you can jog forever, but only sprint for a few moments.

— Brandon Boswell

Set up a workflow where you have a quality standard that you can achieve reliably. By picking the correct pace, you will be able to sustain it, your quality will grow, and over time you’ll have some bangers along the way. You will win through sustain, while others burn out. To be clear, I’m not saying don’t sprint. You will need to, but only for short periods of time. If you find that you need to sprint for more than a week or two. Something isn’t right. Reflect and revisit.

The next step to sustainability

I took another step on the path to sustainability this week with Membership. As much as I love creating videos, and chatting with so many of you, YouTube doesn’t pay the bills, and at the moment it’s not close. Last year, the YouTube channel made one twelfth (0.08%) of my annual salary.

Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for the growth the channel has enjoyed and what it does bring in, but I am a bit torn about the time it consumes. The qualitative benefits are huge, but I’m not in a position where I can reduce my hours at work to create better or more content and 1/12th of my salary doesn’t feed my growing ten-year-old.

A New Experiment

One of my core tenets with the YouTube channel is to be honest and authentic. For the most part, that means I don’t take on sponsors. I’m not saying I will never take on a sponsor, but the current belief is to only accept sponsors for products I currently use (Hey Readwise, you have my email). The other path to sustainability and higher quality content is through Channel Memberships. Instead of augmenting my motivations and messaging, I want to have a way to allow people who are enjoying the content to show their support (and gain additional benefits along the way). My goal is to keep 90+% of my content still free and available to the public, but give behind the scenes access of work-in-progress content to those who are most interested.

Thanks for indulging me while I get membership airborne. Consider this my initial pledge drive. Can we find 30 new members? That would be amazing, and a great indicator that being authentic on YouTube, instead of playing the algorithm and sponsorship game, might just work.

Speaking of work-in-progress. I have the reMarkable Made Simple Course, 30+ lessons to get the most out of your reMarkable recorded. I’ve been planning to release it for quite some time, but I don’t [currently] have the time to edit it, and spending thousands of dollars to hire an editor for a free course is a bit hard to justify at the moment. If you are in a position to support the channel, become a member over at Patreon. When we get to 30 paid subscribers, I will begin releasing reMarkable Made Simple lessons weekly to channel members.