Interview with co-creator of YouTube channel with over 1,6 million subscribers
Admitad Academy has conducted the interview with Stanley Sarpong co-founder and co-creator of Funfitt and the YouTube channel Susana Yabar. The creative duo Stanley Sarpong and Susana Yábar have built their YouTube channels for Spanish and English audience which jointly have over 1 950 000 subscribers. Recently the duo has launched two more channels in French and Portuguese to empower more women around the world. Stanley has shared their experience on how they have mutually created the channel and succeeded using just an iPhone in the beginning.
Could you please share what is Susana’s background?
Susana has been working on TV in Spain as a presenter, reporter and journalist for 20 years. She presented “Españoles en el mundo”, which attracted 3 million viewers. A whole generation of children has also grown up with Susana as she presented “Kosmiclub” a children’s program of the Television channel in Castilla la Mancha. The list goes on with the show “Hay una cosa que te quiero decir” presented by Susana together with Spain’s number one presenter Jorge Javier Vázquez for Telecinco. Susana also managed part of the content production.
When did you first get the idea of becoming a vlogger and what was the reason?
The idea to start a YouTube channel was born a long time ago, after I worked for Google and executively produced the global YouTube Street Soccer Tour 2010 — the key campaign for Google’s Fifa 2010 marketing effort. However, the idea and vision materialized when Susana and I met in Ibiza. Soon when we were both in Barcelona for work, I showed Susana what YouTube could do and how we could reach millions of people around the world. It was then when Susana realized that while YouTube seemed a small window, it could open the door to a huge audience, potentially even bigger than TV.
Susana’s vast background on TV and our partnership have proven a successful match as we have built the second largest YouTube fitness lifestyle channel for women within the Spanish speaking global market in less than 4 years.
How long has it taken to reach first one thousand subscribers and then 1.5 million subscribers?
First of all, we spent 6 months analyzing the market, exploring our target audience (needs, desires, lifestyle and so on) and developing a creative format together, which we felt as being truly authentic, reflecting our lifestyle and would have the potential to empower women around the globe.
We celebrated the first 1k subscribers after approximately one month. I estimated that we would hit 10 thousand subscribers after 6 months and 100k within a year, which we precisely did one year after we hit our first 1k. It was then that we realized we were relatively the fastest growing fitness and beauty channel for women within the Spanish speaking market. Now, after three years of hard work, the Spanish channel has over 1.6 million subscribers.
How much time do you spend on YouTube daily?
It’s more than a full-time job although this is a deliberate choice. YouTube can easily consume about 12 hours of our day. During film days we typically start our day at 7 a.m. then afternoons and evenings we spend on post-production and other business engagements.
Since we have viewers from Mexico to Asia, work can be a bit of a challenge and sometimes it’s already midnight before you know. It’s therefore really important to schedule free time. It’s not uncommon to hear from other colleagues that they feel overwhelmed and overworked. You really need to be disciplined and effective with your time as no one else will. The thing is that when you commit your life to social media especially YouTube and Facebook, they easily blend in with your private life. When you are going out for dinner with friends, you always think about the need to take pictures or record some Instagram stories for our community. We want to make sure that they are part of our journey. Of course, there are times when you have to tell yourself to get off the grid for a few hours and leave your phone at home, for example, and truly immerse yourself at the moment.
How do you think, what are five elements of a successful video?
It all starts with the content. It should be original, authentic, functional and or funny — any kind of content which captivates and brings out emotions always works best in my experience. People want something authentic that they can relate and aspire to.
Shareability. If the video you produce is worth sharing and spreading, you have more chance to be noticed. One of the most powerful ways to generate hundred thousands of views is to be in the suggested section of videos on YouTube. It’s important to optimize your videos for your impression, click through rate, i.e. how often viewers watch a video after seeing the video thumbnail displayed.
Relevance. Before shooting a video you need to understand the audience, their culture, desires and so on. The video should be relevant to the audience.
Mutual story. The topic of your channel should be understood and shared by several people. In our case, working out at home is for many people all over the world.
Understanding the market. It is necessary to conduct search analysis and make input to create relevant content. For example, as we target women, we need to understand how they want to see our content. Having spent much time on research we came to the decision that we will make virtual fitness journey for our viewers.
How many videos is it necessary to upload every week to not lose viewers?
I suggest minimum one video a week. We upload a new video at 6 p.m. Madrid time on every Wednesday and recently we have introduced a second video every Friday at 6 p.m. Madrid on our main Spanish speaking channel. We have never skipped uploading but noticed that other channels had bad experience when they uploaded less frequently. Now we are moving to uploading two times a week.
Do you prefer live streaming or regular videos and why?
We like live streaming as it requires less work, but we prefer to keep the balance.
We usually go on live once per two weeks. We use live stream to show our audience different events like presentations, we have a monthly calendar with scheduled events. Plus, of course, during live streams, we talk to our audience what’s also important.
Which ways of interaction do your use to communicate with viewers?
Being engaged is really important as it helps to learn what our viewers care about. We do our best to make them feel that Susana is their friend who wants to help them. We daily spend a few hours on answering comments. We also send emails to our subscribers with newsletters, articles or invitations to try our mobile app or any other new feature.
And the best kind of interaction is “meetings and greetings” which we sometimes hold. For example, we arranged mutual work out session with our subscribers in Mexico City.
In addition, as we mentioned – live sessions.
What do you do if you run out of creativity for your videos? Does it happen?
To be honest, it never really happens as we always have inspiration to create new videos as we carefully listen to our audience and come up with new ideas. Plus we are fortunate to travel around the globe, triggering new insights.
One more thing that helps us is sharing opinion with professionals in our field. For example, we had some meetings with Olympic athletes.
What keeps you motivated?
Helping more than two million women and their families to increase their confidence and health is the most important fact that makes us remain motivated.
What’s the best part of being a YouTuber?
Freedom. You decide where and when you want to be. You can work in Spain today and tomorrow at the other end of the world.
Is YouTube an effective way of generating traffic to your website?
Definitely YouTube is a subsidized marketing engine if you use it properly. If you have loyal audience and interesting content, you’ll get much traffic. If you add to your channel and videos direct link to your website, it will surely drive much traffic.
Which promotion channel is your favourite — Facebook, YouTube or Instagram and why?
Obviously, it’s YouTube because it’s our biggest channel. But it depends on what you trying to do. For instance, if we talk about promotion, we advertise premium products on Facebook. Moreover, it will also depend on what demographic kind of audience we target. Talking from the technical and analytical point of view, Facebook is the best for understanding what exactly people view as it has many features.
Which ways of making money on YouTube do you use?
Sponsorships (cosmetics; sport clothes, luxury hotels; jewelery, healthy products).
Do you get many products for review?
We have lots of offers for reviews but we are always very selective as we advertise only products and brands of high quality.
Examples of brand deals and sponsored videos:
Adidas Runtastic, Ibiza
Anyway, we are always open to test new products and work with the best brands fitting our audience and our lifestyle. We have to stay very selective as our audience places high trust in our recommendations.
How has your YouTube business changed since you started?
Now we devote all our time to YouTube. I mean Susana used to work at the show as a reporter and shooting videos for YouTube at the same time, but now everything is YouTube. It’s the core center. And we are also developing a mobile app and other new lines of business. Plus it used to be just two of us but now we have a small team of 7 members.
In your opinion, is influence marketing prospective?
Yes, people need a trusted friend who will have expertise in some field.
Do you use any online services/programs for creating or editing videos?
We use editing programs for the videos and we also edit pictures for Instagram. But to be honest, all our videos are filmed with iPhone and we have never used any expensive camera. So we can assure you that with minimal things you can achieve great results. For more advanced editing we use Adobe premiere and final cut editing programs.
Recently we have also been experimenting with mobile editing programs such as Videoleap. It’s amazing how much work you can get done with mobile apps. Especially as we travel frequently, it is great to be able to work on the plane and get work done.
For editing pictures we use apps such as: Snapseed and VSCO.
I also make the music occasionally and or add my vocals to a beat with the help of Ableton Live and Apple Garageband.
What tips would you give to anyone who wants to become a YouTuber?
Find your passion — it is the most difficult but the most rewarding.
Work hard and keep being passionate, other way you and your viewers will get bored.
Believe in what you do.
Be real you, don’t try to create any fake image.
Start simple. As we have said, you don’t need expensive equipment to break through, iPhone or any other phone with a good camera will be enough.
Learn how to edit videos and how to monetize it.