Not Blowing Up on YouTube? BE PATIENT! with Hayley Akins

Sponsored by:

Lots of people look at the overnight success of creators, and wonder why it’s not happening for them. But the truth is…it wasn’t overnight. There’s a lot of trial and error, learning, and adjusting until you get it right. And that’s what Haley Akins is here to talk about today. She’s had quite a journey as a motion designer, surviving the death of Flash to emerge as a course creator and educator showing a new generation of motion designers how to be successful. And she does it with a little help from YouTube.

Top Takeaways

  • Play with gateway videos. Look for popular topics on YouTube, and make a video about them to get people subscribed. They give them lots of value.
  • Looks like VidIQ and TubeBuddy can be super helpful. Be sure to look at the analytics and see what’s working for you and what isn’t YouTube loves consistency and predictability.
  • It takes time to become successful on YouTube. Be patient, and keep going.

Show Notes


Joe Casabona: Lots of people look at overnight success for creators and wonder why it’s not happening for them. But the truth is, it wasn’t overnight. There is a lot of trial and error, learning and adjusting until you get it right. And that’s what Hayley Akins is here to talk to us about today.

She’s had quite a journey as a motion designer, surviving the death of Flash to emerge as a course creator and educator showing a new generation of motion designers how to be successful freelancers. And she does it with a little help from YouTube. And that is what we’re going to dive into today.

So have a listen for these top takeaways: to play with gateway videos and looking for popular topics on YouTube to introduce a new audience to you, leverage analytics and tools like vidIQ and Tube Buddy to understand what’s going on and what’s working, and what’s not working. And remember, it takes time to be successful on YouTube. Be patient and keep going.

This is a great episode for anybody who is still looking for that success on YouTube, which is why I had Hayley on because I am still looking for that success on YouTube. And I’m definitely implementing the advice that she gives.

So thanks to our sponsors. You’ll hear about them later on in the show. But for now, let’s get to the intro and then the interview.

[00:01:36] <music>

Intro: Hey everybody, and welcome to How I Built It, the podcast where you get free coaching calls from successful creators. Each week you get actionable advice on how you can build a better content business to increase revenue and establish yourself as an authority. I’m your host Joe Casabona. Now let’s get to it.

[00:01:59] <music>

Joe Casabona: Hello, and welcome to Episode 309 of How I Built It. Our sponsors for today are Gap Scout, Groundhogg, and LearnDash. You probably already heard me say that in the cold open. I am here with Hayley Akins, CEO of Motion Hatch and compatriot in the Creator Science Lab. That’s what Jay’s calling it nowadays, right?

Hayley, how are you today?

Hayley Akins: Yeah. I’m very good. It’s great to be here.

Joe Casabona: Thanks for coming on the show. I’m excited because your area of expertise is one that I’ve always, aspirationally, wanted to learn, but also never wanted to take the time to learn it. So Motion Hatch, you do like motion graphics, right, and sort of stuff like that? Do you want to give us a high level overview of your day-to-day work before we dive into YouTube?

Hayley Akins: Yeah. So it’s quite interesting, actually, because I don’t actually animate anymore.

Joe Casabona: Interesting.

Hayley Akins: I was a motion designer for around 12 years. I started off full time and then I went freelance. And I started Motion Hatch, because a lot of my friends in the industry were struggling to get clients. They didn’t know what to charge. They didn’t know how to email their clients. And for some reason, I was doing okay. I was doing pretty well. I mean, I think it’s mainly based on the fact that I’d already been in the industry for seven years working full time, I made a lot of contacts and stuff like that. And I saw them struggling, and this is kind of where Motion Hatch came in. I actually started my podcast in 2017 called Motion Hatch.

Joe Casabona: Nice.

Hayley Akins: It was helping motion designers with the business side of things, which at the time, there was absolutely nothing online about that. So it was very exciting to start that. Everyone got very excited. And then now that is my full-time business.

Joe Casabona: That’s super cool and really interesting. Because I come from the web design space and I feel like resources for helping freelance web developers have existed almost as long as freelance web developers have. I’ve been freelancing since like 2001. Let’s say my church came to me and asked me for a website. And that was my first gig, and also first paid gig.

And then Freelance Switch came around in like 2007, like Freelance Switch from Envato. And that was like a message board essentially designed to help web development freelancers. Essentially. They built it as anybody but it was mostly web developers and web designers. So it’s really interesting that it wasn’t until 10 years later that something for motion designers… Do you think that’s because most motion designers genuinely have a full-time gig somewhere?

Hayley Akins: No. It’s a similar industry and quite a lot of people are freelance. I don’t know what the answer is there. I think that the motion design industry is obviously a little bit younger than the web design industry. So potentially that has something to do with it.

There was lots of kind of online tutorials and courses teaching you the skills of motion design, but there wasn’t anyone teaching the freelance skills of motion design.

Joe Casabona: Tell me if I’m way off base here. But Flash was a thing online for a long time that kind of achieved the sort of animation stuff on websites that you no longer see today because Flash is dead. Do you think the death of Flash ushered in the need for motion design like freelance skills? You’ve been at this for a while. Was there an industry change when Flash died?

Hayley Akins: I think that how motion design kind of came about is because you had animators and you had designers. So you had the traditional animators like the Disney people and things like that and then you’ve got designers. And then everything kind of went online, and also with TV ads, and stuff like that, and the advertising industry was like, “Hey, we need animators, but not like these traditional people. We need animators who’ve also got a sense of design.”

Maybe I’m kind of wrong in that but that’s how I think of motion design, where I think of it as a cross normally between an animator and a designer. And it generally is commercial advertising jobs. Obviously, some motion designers do title sequences and things like that. But I think that mainly it was trying to get people to make things move for advertisements, essentially. And I think that’s kind of where it came out of. So kind of a mixture between like an editor, a designer, and an animator, and then a motion designer was born.

Joe Casabona: Wow. That’s so interesting. I think that’s super cool. So you started Motion Hatch to help freelancers, and that’s basically what you’re doing nowadays, which is awesome.

The other thing I wanted to touch on here was the path you took is the path that I really did not take in my freelance career that I absolutely should have. Like the best advice that I never took was after college, get a job in your field so that you can learn how the pros do it, and then you can make connections.

And I was like 24. I went to grad school, I was like, 24, and full of hubris and I was like, “I don’t need that. I’ve been freelancing for half my life at this point, or whatever.” And then like two years into being out of school and freelancing, I was like, “Gah, I definitely should have done that.” So I went back into that.

Of course, now, I’m making the same mistake with podcasting. I’ve never held a job in the podcast industry but I’m helping people podcast.

Hayley Akins: Does anyone really hold a job in the podcast industry? I mean, I guess like radio, right?

Joe Casabona: Well, you know, it’s really interesting. Maybe we could talk about this in the pro show. But I don’t know. The podcast industry is so young that it probably is mostly made up of independent podcasters like me and then radio people.

And then you have those networks that are getting bought up, right? Like Wondery. Art19 was bought by Amazon. Wondery I think was also bought by Amazon, maybe. Gimlet was bought by I think Spotify. So you have these like little podcasts on the outfits that are getting eaten up by big tech. So maybe not, right?

Maybe now, if I was starting like 10 years ago or if I was 10 years younger, maybe then I would get a job at that big tech. But I’ve been podcasting for 10 years. So interesting. Interesting thought and question.

Now you make I want to say heavy use of YouTube because that’s where I’m most familiar with your content. I know you’re also active on Twitter as we record this. Is that right?

Hayley Akins: Yeah. So kind of all the platforms which is bad. But what I would consider my main platforms is, at the moment, YouTube. My main platform or my main content piece before was the podcast. And then all of the other kind of social medias, we sort of just spread it all out between them, but in a unique way that it makes sense for that platform.

But me personally, not Motion Hatch, I mainly post on LinkedIn, and then a bit on Twitter. But I think LinkedIn is the place that I’m the most active because that’s kind of where my audience is right now. I think that’s partly my fault because I kind of told them all to go there to get clients. And then I was like, “Wait a minute, I should also be there.”

Joe Casabona: I’m sorry, you said LinkedIn is where you’re most active?

Hayley Akins: LinkedIn, yeah. Apart from YouTube. YouTube is a weekly video. And at the moment, we’ve kind of paused the podcast because I did 100 episodes and then I was like, “I really want to give this YouTube thing a go like seriously.” And at the time, I felt like I couldn’t really give them both my all. So I thought, “Okay, well, I’m going to pause the podcast for a bit and then go all in on YouTube, see how that goes, and then maybe bring the podcast back. So that’s kind of where we are right now.

Joe Casabona: Nice. I mean, that’s really interesting. Because right now as we record this in early 2023, podcast discovery is tough.

Hayley Akins: Yeah, exactly.

Joe Casabona: Whereas with YouTube, discovery is the whole thing. You play the algorithm game and you could have a video get big, whereas there’s not really an algorithm game to play with podcasting. Like there’s no place like YouTube for podcasts despite what Spotify wants you to think. So yeah, that’s really interesting.

I would say, if you do go back to the podcast, you’d still probably want to use YouTube to funnel people to the podcast or have your podcast on YouTube.

Hayley Akins: Yeah. I think that what I would like to do is do the podcast interviews and then make kind of 10-minute little highlights or a really, really good full-length show. But then I just don’t really know how that fits in with my YouTube strategy right now of doing these kind of me-talking to-camera type videos. And we’ve tried a few out and they’ve worked quite well. We’ve only been doing it just over a year. So I’m still in the exploring phase of like, what is my voice on YouTube? What is Motion Hatch’s voice? That kind of thing.

I think it’s interesting. There’s definitely a way that we could do both. And I’m really excited about that because I have a lot of people being like, “Bring the podcast back.”

Joe Casabona: Nice. That’s awesome.

Hayley Akins: I really want to do that because obviously they’re our biggest fans, and I want to help them out. Right?

Joe Casabona: Yeah.

Hayley Akins: And I like doing it. I was looking forward to doing this today because I like to chat with people on podcast. It’s just fun.

Joe Casabona: Awesome.

Hayley Akins: So yeah, I would like to do that. But kind of seeing what happens, I guess.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Well, I mean, if you want to chit chat about that strategy, that’s where I live right now. So I’m happy to chat. Offline, of course.

I want to keep key in on something you said here, which is, you’ve been doing YouTube for just over a year, so you’re still in the exploring phase. I think that people say… Maybe I’m like straw-manning this argument, right? But it really feels like the mindset going into YouTube is like, “I’m gonna make YouTube videos. I’m gonna blow up, it’s gonna be awesome” in a very short timeframe.

So tell me a little bit more about… Are you purposely slow-playing YouTube? Or did you learn that you’re in the exploring phase the hard way, where you did like a month of content and you had like five years total or whatever?

Hayley Akins: Well, I don’t know. I mean, maybe the exploring phase to me means different to other people. So I think that I definitely took my podcast knowledge and strategy into the YouTube space. And I was like, “Okay, I know that I need to make this a big ol singing or dancing launch. I know that I need to do at least four videos to start with so that people understand what content is going to be on here.”

I mean, we did put some of the podcasts on there originally. So when I say we’ve been doing it for just over a year, I mean, dedicated weekly videos. But we were really wishy-washy with the podcast. We didn’t really do thumbnails or anything like that. But we did already have 2,000 subscribers.

So just by putting the podcasts up there audio only, we’d kind of just… people wanted us to be there. So I was like, “Okay, well, they obviously want us to be here. So I did a big launch. I did a live event. So I took some of that knowledge from doing the podcasts into that space.

But what I mean by exploring, I think, is every week, and I think all YouTubers do this… I don’t feel like we’ve got a set strategy where we’re like, “This really works. Let’s just do this.” It’s all about looking at the analytics and looking at what worked last week or what didn’t work or what your best-performing video is. And then it’s like, how can you improve on that? And I think that you always have to be thinking about that. So I don’t know whether it’s just always learning and always kind of trying to be 1% better each time.

Joe Casabona: So that’s really interesting. Because I’ve had guests on the show say, like, “Oh, I don’t play the… I never looked at my analytics. I don’t play the algorithm game.” And I really think it depends, right? Because I met with a YouTube consultant a while back. I got like a free hour consultation when I bought… I think it was vidIQ or TubeBuddy, one of those.

He basically said to me, “If one of your videos goes viral, like if one of these videos goes viral, are you cool just making those videos from now on?” And he said, “If you look at a video and you answer that question with no, you should unlist it.” Because that’s how YouTube works and the analytics work. So looking at analytics and saying, like, “Oh, man, this video got like 100 views and this one got 1,000, that’s probably going to push you in the right direction, right? Like, Oh, well, more people want to see this.

Hayley Akins: Yeah, exactly. That’s what I mean. I mean, we just look at like, Okay, this kind of brought more people in. And we have a strategy in the way that we have what I like to call kind of like gateway videos. So for example, in my niche, After Effects is really popular because that’s the tool that most motion designers use. So I might make a video about the top 10 free places to learn After Effects.

I don’t teach After Effects myself, but it’s related to my content, because they’re my people. So I’d be like, Hey, you want to learn after effects. Here’s all the places that you can learn. But you know what you should be learning? You should be learning more about how to grow your career and the business side of things because that’s going to help you to make money as a motion designer. So then that’s kind of, in my eyes, how I kind of get them into my content. Because I feel like my content isn’t necessarily what people want, right? But it’s more like what they need.

Joe Casabona: Ah, yeah.

Hayley Akins: I think we’ve got a harder sell on YouTube because of that. Because I have friends in the motion design industry who teach After Effects tutorials, and they have hundreds and thousands, one of them has like 700,000 subscribers.

Joe Casabona: Wow.

Hayley Akins: But that’s because that’s what everyone wants to learn. But obviously, you’ve got a smaller group of those people who are professional and then maybe an even smaller group who are freelance, right?

Joe Casabona: Right.

Hayley Akins: But I think it’s like the quality of that audience is what I’m really looking for.

Joe Casabona: That’s a really good point. I mean, maybe you’ve seen, if you’re on LinkedIn, right… Justin Welch is a solopreneur guy and he talks about how he has like four hypothesis… hypotheses? Hypotheses? He has four hypotheses for—I’ve never said the plural out loud, I guess—pricing his course.

And the first one is like, “I want to get like beginners, so it has to be priced less than 300 bucks. I want it to be shareable and recommendable.” I want it to be an impulse buy, so that’d be less than 200 bucks. I want shareable, so it probably has to be less than 150 bucks. And I want it to go global so I need price parity or whatever.”

I’m just reading that going, I mean, I’ve never sold a million dollars in anything, maybe like lifetime for my web development career. Maybe. But it just feels that’s not the approach I would want to take. I am, as we record this, thinking of doubling the price of my playbook because I want the perceived value to be higher than that where it’s priced now because I think it is more valuable.

So I’m just reading that going, I mean, maybe that’s his audience, maybe I want the higher-end audience. I don’t really feel like I need to get beginners because every podcast host has a guide on how to start a podcast. I want the people who are ready to level up their business. So that’s a really smart way to look at it. But then the other side of it is that you have those gateway videos.

This is the thing that’s missing for me, I think. I’m like, “I’m going to teach the things that people need to know.” But if you’re playing the YouTube game, you still need to teach people what they want to know first to bring them in, right?

Hayley Akins: Yeah, exactly. So we’re trying to do a little bit of that. But then we’ll have our evergreen kind of videos where it’ll be a how-to sort of thing. And then we’ll have what we call our deep content. That’s more like, you know, maybe more of an in-depth story kind of thing or maybe longer interview or something like that. Then we’ll have our trend-type videos.

So they generally fall into those buckets, and we try and do about one a month. I’ve never actually spoken about this. So it’s really interesting because, you know, when you talk about it out loud, you’re like, “Oh, we do have a strategy. Cool.”

Joe Casabona: That’s so funny that you say that, because I have found the same thing with podcasting. Like when people were like, “How did you grow your show?” And I’m like, “I don’t know.” And then I’m like, “Oh, I guess I did these things.” Like I did have a plan and I just didn’t verbalize it. So this is cool.

Now that we’re touching on content, so how do you come up with content? How did you know that After Effects is a popular topic? And then, what made you think, “Yeah, I should show people where they can learn After Effects?” What’s that process like?

Hayley Akins: Well, because I look at other motion designers in my industry and people that I know really well, and they all teach After Effects and they all have huge channels. I mean, that’s pretty obvious, right? But if you just look at… You know, I do occasionally look on vidIQ. I mean, I think that we do that less and less as tags kind of become a little bit less relevant than they used to be, I think. That’s kind of what I’ve heard from all of these YouTube people.

Joe Casabona: That’s really interesting. I didn’t realize that vidIQ relied too heavily on tags, but that makes a lot of sense. And you’re right. I’ve read the same thing, I guess. We’ve probably read the same thing, that tags are less relevant because YouTube is like basically watching your video and transcribing it and it knows what your video is about already.

Hayley Akins: Yeah, exactly. So we rely much more on the actual content, on the title on the thumbnail. You know, everything that you hear everyone saying about YouTube, we try and do all of those things. In terms of how I come up with content, I have an editor and we have a monthly call every month, and we talk about the upcoming content for that month. And we discuss those different types of videos.

We both do research and we look around at what’s popular. I look around at what’s popular in other niches. I rarely kind of look at my own niche, mainly because there isn’t really anyone else doing the same kind of thing on YouTube. I mean that there are a couple of people who are in vaguely similar areas. But in terms of like if I just [link?] to my niche, like I said, it would be mostly After Effects or Cinema 4D tutorials and stuff like that.

So I look to other niches to find ideas and then I think, Okay, how would that work in my niche and how can I make this the best most valuable video that it can be?

[00:23:12] <music>

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Sponsor: This episode is brought to you by LearnDash. Look, I’ve been making courses for a long time. I’ve taught at the college level and I’ve created curriculums for several different organizations, including Udemy, Sessions College, and LinkedIn Learning. When I create my own courses, there’s no better option than LearnDash.

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[00:25:40] <music>

Joe Casabona: So what you’ve intuited it’s really interesting, because Jake Thomas talked about this when he came on the show. He runs Creator Hooks, it’s a really great product, and newsletter. But he says like look at adjacent niches. You say niche. I say niche. I think I say it wrong. And then like things that aren’t even related to what you do to get inspiration for your own stuff, right?

Because if you’re looking at your own field the whole time, you’re probably in a little bit of an echo chamber, right? Every podcast is going to talk about The RODECaster too, and why you should use the Shure MV7 mic. That’s just like I don’t need to add my voice to that particular conversation. But maybe there’s other stuff I could talk about.

Hayley Akins: Yeah. And I think it’s just in terms of titles and thumbnails too, which I know Jake talks a lot about. Just having those ideas. And then once I see a great thumbnail, or a great title, I think, “Oh, this has given me a great idea for a video and how I can use that title and then make a really great video that’s going to help a lot of people. So I think that’s how I think about it.

I think it’s working. Okay, so far. You know, we haven’t got the biggest channel, but I hope that it grows because I know that I’m working really hard every week to get a great video out. I get a lot of good feedback and I think it’s a great channel. So I hope more people find it so they can enjoy it.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, that’s great. You get a lot of feedback, right? Do you get a lot of questions too that you kind of turn into videos?

Hayley Akins: Yeah. So, I always ask, do you want me to elaborate on this point? Do you want me to make a video about this topic? You know, if I mention something else in the video, sometimes people just say in the comments, “Oh, it would be great if you could make a video about this.” Like we just did one about cold emailing and someone was like, “Can you make a video on-

Joe Casabona: I was watching that one.

Hayley Akins: Oh, thanks. And someone said, “Can we make a video about email subject lines?” And I’m like, “Oh, that makes sense.” I didn’t think of that. But it makes sense that that could be like a followup video.”

Joe Casabona: Nice. I really like that. Because then you’re kind of answering… You know, it’s kind of common, like, talk to your customers, answer the questions they’re asking, don’t put words in their mouth, don’t do what you think they want, do what they actually want.

I know that can be hard at first if you’re not getting a lot of comments, right? And then maybe you look at other adjacent niches and see what people are commenting on those videos, and then come up with some ideas. But eventually, you’ll start to get feedback, which I think is really cool.

I just got a comment on one of my videos that’s asking me about if I think one LMS is better than the other. So really feels like I should do a versus video, like a vs video, like this one versus that one. Feels like good content if I want to do it.

So let me ask you here as we’re coming up… We’re not quite there but we’re coming up on time. I want to be mindful of that. How do you stay consistent? It sounds like you have an editor.

Hayley Akins: Yes.

Joe Casabona: My editor always did like… I felt like that was the hardest part for me was sending my video off for somebody else to edit. I was the bottleneck there. But what else do you do to stay consistent?

Hayley Akins: Well, I just want to say a couple of things about having an editor and stuff like that too. So when I first started my podcast, I started it because I met a podcast editor called Jeremy Enns, who’s also in Jay’s classes community, but we’ve known each other for a long time. And we met through this community called Location Indie. And I was talking about my idea of starting Motion Hatch.

But at the time, a lot of people were doing blogging, but I’m a rubbish writer because I’m obviously a designer. And he said, “Oh, maybe you should start a podcast.” And I don’t know whether he was doing it because he wanted me to be his client but I hired him basically. So I’ve never ever edited any of my podcasts or any of my YouTube videos. I feel like I’ve been much better off for it. So originally, my freelance business would fund my podcast, essentially.

So it was kind of annoying to pay for that. But also, it saved me so much time every week, and it was a much better job than I could ever do. The same with the YouTube channel. I always knew that I wouldn’t edit those videos because I’d just been so used to not editing the podcast. I mean, I technically could, because I have those skills from being a motion designer, but I just knew it would be better if someone else edited it. So I just made that decision from the start.

Joe Casabona: That was the hardest part for me when I hired a YouTube editor. I was like, “People hire me to edit videos, or make educational videos for them. And now I’m like outsourcing this?” But it really comes down to like, How much is your time worth? What is your time worth?

My podcast editor… Like it would take me two hours to edit my podcast probably. And like podcasts like this, like lining everything up, and cleaning it up or whatever. So even if he’s charging me like 100 bucks net, which he’s not, but if he is, is my time worth 50 bucks an hour?

Joe Casabona: Yes, my time is worth four times 50 bucks an hour. So like, thinking about what your time is worth, it really helps put into perspective, like, should I hire somebody to do this?

Hayley Akins: Yeah, definitely. And I think just also having that collaboration and those people on your team to collaborate with. You know, I get a lot of ideas from my editor. And also, he has an assistant to which I’ve now actually hired her to help me with some social media as well. So we’re kind of like a little team, which is really nice. I like them very much.

And it took a long time to get people that I really trust that I feel like are part of the Motion Hatch team. But I’m really happy at the moment. So it’s hard hiring but when you find the right people, it’s great.

Joe Casabona: That’s such a great way to put it. Because again, my video editor really focused on educational video, was not much of a YouTube editor. And they’re very different things. Which maybe you don’t know until you get into it. But that’s how I felt at least. I feel bad not sending more work his way. But also, you know, if I’m making content for YouTube, I want it to be for YouTube.

Hayley Akins: Yeah. Yeah. I think it’s a tricky one. I’ve done a lot of hiring and firing over the years. And I think that I’ve learned a lot, which I’m now trying to teach other people in my industry so they can scale beyond themselves, which is quite exciting.

Joe Casabona: Nice. So sticking with the consistency for one more minute, do you batch your content? Do you make a video a week? Like how far in advance are you scheduled? Things like that.

Hayley Akins: Yeah, it’s the hardest thing and I’m still working on it. It’s definitely a work in progress. What I’m trying to do is content Tuesdays. So every Tuesday I either write scripts or I film videos. And I’m trying to get into doing that every week.

So one week, I might be writing four scripts, and the next week, I’ll try and film four videos. I’ve never managed to film four videos in a day yet. So obviously, it’s not going very well. But sometimes I can get two or three done, which is good. So we can get like a few weeks ahead. I would ideally like to be a month ahead, but I haven’t managed it yet. It’s pretty tough.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, that is tough. So let me ask you now these two follow-ups based on that, and then we’re gonna move on to the last question, which I think is really good about how you’re using it to grow your business. Do you, when you record multiple videos in a day, wear the same clothes for all of those videos?

Hayley Akins: No. Well, I do wear the same clothes, but I changed my top or my jumper or whatever. It looks like I’m wearing different clothes, but I probably just got the same jeans on. Obviously no one-

Joe Casabona: Yeah. Yeah. That makes sense. That’s more effort already than I do. I thought for a while I’ll just always wear the same T-shirt in all of my videos and I’m like, now I gotta own like five of these t-shirts or make sure it’s always washed on recording day. That’s like-

Hayley Akins: Yeah, it’s hard. Because sometimes I think, “Oh, if I want to do four videos,” I haven’t really got four tops clean in one day that I like wearing for YouTube. So I feel like I need YouTube clothes also.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, absolutely. I don’t know, but I feel like as a dude, I probably have a little more slack. Maybe that’s sexist, but it feels like… No one’s ever commented on my appearance in one of my videos.

Hayley Akins: I feel grateful that no one really comments too much on mine, but I feel like that’s because we’re quite small right now. But I’m sure it will happen. Apart from someone said they like how my hair color changes a lot quicker. But that was nice.

Joe Casabona: That was nice.

Hayley Akins: I was like, “Thanks.”

Joe Casabona: Somebody during one of my live streams was like, “You’re really cute.” And I’m like, “Oh, thanks.” And then they kept going and I’m like, “Now I’m uncomfortable. I’m a married person and I-

Hayley Akins: Obviously you don’t like it when that happens, do you? You’re like, “Don’t talk about me. You know, I’m trying to teach you something. It’s not about me.” You’re like, “I know, I’m on camera, but it’s not about me. I don’t know. And then my second follow-up question is, do you use a teleprompter or…?

Hayley Akins: No.

Joe Casabona: Okay.

Hayley Akins: Because I think it makes you look like you’re reading. I have tried in the past. But what I do is… what we found that works really well actually is doing a little read-through. Literally just recording it, and just reading it, but more as like a voiceover. Because then if you make a mistake, when you’re looking to camera, usually the editors can use a voiceover bit and put a bit of b-roll over or something like that and it makes it sound more succinct.

So we recently just started doing that, which really helps. But then I just usually take it in like two or three sentences and try and remember them, say them to camera, look back at the script. And I don’t really write scripts in a way that I need to say it word for word. Sometimes I’ll write rough stuff or I’ll write the intro word for word, and then I might write bullet points, or I might write a kind of a bit wishy-washy, and then I’ll just talk around it.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, hit the major points. That’s the thing I struggle with is if I write a script I feel like I want to say it exactly as I wrote it. For LinkedIn Learning courses, they want more on-camera stuff from the instructors. So I have a really good setup. They say I have a really good presence on camera and so they want me to do more.

And the first time I actually worked with a director from LinkedIn, I was trying to get… He was like, “You don’t have to get your script exactly right. Just make your points, we’ll record the VO,” like you said. And I was like, That is great and also like a mental hurdle for me. Like, I wrote it this way, I want to say it this way, even if I kind of say it, you know… I feel like I am a good writer and I want to get it right. But that’s like a mental hurdle I gotta get over.

All right, the last question I want to ask you. By the way, dear listener, in How I Built It Pro. Hayley and I both went through Justin Moore’s Brand Deal Wizard. So we’re gonna talk about YouTube sponsorship in How I Built It Pro, you can sign up for $5 a month, over at So you’ll get ad-free extended episodes of every interview I do and this one. So there you go.

I’m gonna make a strong assumption here that you’re using YouTube to grow your business and you’re not used… Like you’re not trying to make money from YouTube ads? Is that a fair assumption?

Hayley Akins: Yes, definitely.

Joe Casabona: Does that involve a call to action or are you promoting certain lead magnets? Can you take me through how you’re trying to grow your business with YouTube?

Hayley Akins: Yeah. So we have two courses right now. One’s called Client Quest, which helps you to get clients. And the other one’s called Balanced Business Bootcamp, which helps you to scale your business beyond yourself using systems or hiring or potentially building in alternative revenue streams. So they’re the two main courses that I have right now.

I want everyone to go into either of those, ideally. So what I do is I have a free five day course, which leads into Client Quest. And then we’re working on upselling from Client Quests into Balanced Business Bootcamp because that’s a much higher level.

But what we also do is we have a quiz to see if Balanced Business Bootcamp is a good fit for you, and then if it isn’t, we point people to Client Quest. Because we don’t want people going into that program if it’s not a good fit. It’s, you know, a more expensive program. There’ll be better off in Client Quest. They can get more clients. They can level up in that way and then maybe they’ll be a good fit. So I’m all about trying to get the right people in the right places. And there’s kind of different ways that I do that.

And we’re still sort of working out the systems because Balanced Business Bootcamp is just coming out of beta. But that’s how we do it right now. So we’re either promoting the free five-day course or the quiz when Balanced Business Bootcamp is launching, which is currently right now. We’re going to have a new cohort in March. So we’re kind of in that process right now.

But Client Quest is currently open on evergreen all the time. But we might close it. We’re sort of still experimenting a little bit with that. But yes, like you say, we have lead magnets. So sometimes we’ll have specific lead magnets for a video. So, for example, on one that I did about a statement of work, we had a free Statement of Work template. Sometimes you might have like a cold email template. We’ve got social media guides. If I’m ever talking about social media, I’ll just mention the social media guide.

What I think works best is having it integrated into the video. Like I do do a call to action at the beginning to download the free five-day course. But what I would probably recommend more to people, ideally, if you can make videos and then make a bespoke lead magnet, even though it is more of a pain, that always works better.

Joe Casabona: I’d say the same thing for… I mean, that’s the advice for blogging, that’s the advice for podcasting, too. Amy Porterfield perfected that, right? She’d have an episode about how to do Facebook ads, and then her lead magnet would be like, five mistakes that you make with Facebook ads or whatever.

Hayley Akins: Yeah, exactly. So we just do a similar kind of thing like templates and downloads. And then we have a newsletter. So you know, I’m trying to provide a lot of value in there. I’ve started doing like… not just having it as a notification system. Because someone said that to me once and I was like, “Oh, that’s so right when you just get a newsletter every week, and it just says, ‘Here’s the video’.” People don’t care about that. They’re like, “Why am I here? I want more content. So I’ve started writing a mini essay or a story-type thing to go along with that. And sometimes including job ads and stuff like that.

Joe Casabona: Nice. Nice. I like that strategy. My Monday email is like a digest.

Hayley Akins: Yeah, exactly.

Joe Casabona: But there’s some new content in there. But then my Thursday newsletter is brand new content, like just for the newsletter, quote, unquote. It’s just for the newsletter, but it was like on LinkedIn probably two weeks ago. Trade secret, I guess.

Hayley Akins: Yeah, yeah.

Joe Casabona: That’s great. One follow-up here. You specifically call out the [inaudible 00:42:41]. I had Marie Poulin on the show last year and she blew my mind because I was like, “Oh, so you have a call to action for your course?” She’s like, “No, I just put it in the description and people buy it if they like the video.” And that was absolutely bananas to me. But it sounds like you’re calling it out, it’s irrelevant. Do you link it in the description or pin a comment or whatever?

Hayley Akins: Yeah. We usually put it at the top of the description, which I don’t know whether is right. But I’m just like, “This is where I want you to go next.” So I put that and then I put the description underneath, and maybe that’s wrong. So if anyone’s listening to this, and they’re like, “Oh, she’s making a bad mistake, right there,” then let me know. I think that’s just what we’ve been doing because we’re like, “This is the most important thing, and also, it’s valuable and helpful so you should download it.”

Joe Casabona: That’s really interesting. I mean, conventional wisdom is that 80% of people are clicking because of the title or the thumbnail anyway. So you might as well use the most important description in real estate, which is the top of the description for the thing you want people to do.

Hayley Akins: That’s my thinking behind it. No one’s ever told me to do that. I think I just assumed that which is why I think maybe it’s wrong.

Joe Casabona: Well, I mean, if it’s working for you, then I’d say-

Hayley Akins: That’s true.

Joe Casabona: Right? If it ain’t broke, don’t break it or whatever. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it is what it actually is. Again, trouble speaking today. Hayley, this has been great. I’ll ask you two final questions. One is, do you have any other advice for people who are trying to leverage YouTube?

Hayley Akins: I think that my advice would be give yourself a time on YouTube to really try it out because I don’t think you can go on there and expect results straight away. What worked well with my podcast is I felt like I said to myself, “Even if nobody listens, and everyone thinks I have a rubbish voice, I’m going to do this for a whole year and see what happens.” And that’s exactly what I said with YouTube. And it’s worked out pretty well for me so far.

So I think if you’re trying out LinkedIn or Twitter or something like that, you could probably do it for about three to six months. But if it’s a bigger content piece like YouTube or a podcast, I would commit for a year no matter what.

Joe Casabona: I like that. Something that stuck with me is I heard someone say, when it comes to starting a business, if you’re not willing to do it for three years, then you shouldn’t do it at all.

Hayley Akins: I think that’s good advice.

Joe Casabona: You shouldn’t expect to be successful in three months or six months. You got to build your business. So I like that a lot. This has been an absolute blast. If people want to learn more about you, where can they find you?

Hayley Akins: Yeah, so if you want to chat to me, I’m @HayleyAkins on Twitter and you can find me Hayley Akins on LinkedIn. But if you want to check out Motion Hatch we’re on all the social medias and on YouTube and everywhere, and you can go to as well.

Joe Casabona: Nice. I will link to all of those things and everything we talked about in the show notes, which you can find over in So we’ll have the show notes there, we’ll have our sponsors, Gap Scout, Groundhogg, and LearnDash. And of course, you can become a member of How I Built It Pro there as well.

Hayley, thanks so much for joining us. I really appreciate it.

Hayley Akins: Yeah, thanks so much for having me.

Joe Casabona: And thank you for listening. Until next time, get out there and build something.

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