In episode 375, Megan chats to Tim Schmoyer about expert strategies to optimize our YouTube channels for easy discovery and growth in 2023.

We cover information about what YouTube’s goals are and how to align your channel with that, how content on YouTube is customized, learn to prioritize sparking curiosity or intrigue and how important creating a title and thumbnail ahead of the content as you get ready to publish new content.

Listen on the player below or on iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast player. Or scroll down to read a full transcript.

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Guest Details

Connect with Video Creators
Website | Instagram | Facebook


Since 2011, Tim Schmoyer has been one of the leading YouTube strategists in the online video industry. His company, Video Creators, has been featured by FOX, Forbes, BBC even YouTube themselves as his team trains creators and brands to master YouTube and use it as a place to spread messages that change lives. Their clients have organically grown by over 20 billion views and 100 million subscribers under their guidance.

On September 1, 2022, Video Creators was acquired by vidIQ, giving them an opportunity to coach millions of creators on YouTube and spread even more messages that change lives.

Today he works as the Chief Creator Coach for vidIQ and lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with his wife and seven children.


  • Youtube is based on signals to figure out how valuable content is.
  • The former way YouTube determined content being showed was time spent on a video shows the value of a video and time spent on Youtube overall.
  • Like, comment and subscribe does not impact your views. Ranking is gone.
  • Optimize video for people. Elicit emotion, pair two things that don’t go together, draw out curiosity or educate your audience on YT.
  • Create your thumbnail title first, then determine how to answer that right as the video is begun, not repeating information that got the viewer to the video.
  • Connect known to unknown for the viewer.
  • Title/thumbnails – determine how performing by looking at impressions and click throughs.
  • Watch time – check this statistic in audience retention graphs
  • End screens – click through rates
  • Pitch the next video to watch at the end of a video so that’s the only call to action vs good luck in preparing this.

Resources Mentioned

Book: Primal Branding by Patrick Hanlon


Click for full script.

EBT375 – Tim Schmoyer

Intro: Food bloggers. Hi, how are you today? Thank you so much for tuning in to the Eat Blog Talk podcast. This is the place for food bloggers to get information and inspiration to accelerate your blog’s growth and ultimately help you to achieve your freedom, whether that’s financial, personal, or professional.

I’m Megan Porta, and I’ve been a food blogger for over 12 years. I understand how isolating food blogging can be at. I’m on a mission to motivate, inspire, and most importantly, let each and every food blogger, including you know that you are heard and supported. You guys, this episode is so good. I have a chat with Tim Schmoyer from Video Creators. He is a YouTube strategist and he presents YouTube in a way that I’ve never heard it presented. He has so many great ideas for us as we dig into YouTube and start to grow our channels in order to grow our businesses. You are going to love this episode so much. This is episode number 375 and it is brought to you by RankIQ.

Sponsor: Hey, awesome food bloggers. Before we dig into this episode, I have a really quick favor to ask you. Go to your favorite podcast player. Go to Eat Blog Talk. Scroll down to the bottom where you see the ratings and review section. Leave Eat Blog Talk a five star rating. If you love this podcast and leave a great review, this will only benefit this podcast. It adds value, and I so very much appreciate your efforts with this. Thank you so much for doing this. Okay, now onto the episode.

Megan Porta: Since 2011, Tim has been one of the leading YouTube strategists in the online video industry. His company, Video Creators, has been featured by Fox, Forbes, bbc, and even YouTube themselves as his team trains creators and brands to master YouTube and use it as a place to spread messages that change lives. Their clients have organically grown by over 20 billion views and 81 million subscribers under their guidance. He lives today in Cincinnati, Ohio with his wife and seven children. Yes, you heard me write seven children. That’s a lot of children, Tim. How are you today? 

Tim Schmoyer: I’m great. Yeah, how are you? 

Megan Porta: I’m good. I’m so glad you’re here to talk about YouTube. This is a topic we haven’t covered in a while, so this will be something that people will just really dive into, I think. Before we do that though, what is your fun fact that you wanna share with us? 

Tim Schmoyer: Yeah, the seven kids in eight years usually does it for people.

Megan Porta: Oh gosh. 

Tim Schmoyer: When they hear that you’re like, you’re in a blended marriage? Like, Nope. 

Megan Porta: Are you Okay? Is that a follow up question? Are you guys okay? 

Tim Schmoyer: I’m fine. Might wanna ask that question to my wife. Yeah. No, yeah we’re good. We didn’t plan it that way, but we didn’t not plan it that way. That’s what we got. So yeah. Seven kids in eight years. It helped that we had identical twin girls there towards the end. 

Megan Porta: I was just gonna ask that. Any twins in there?

Tim Schmoyer: Yeah. When the twins were born though, we had four kids, ages two and under at that point. 

Megan Porta: Wow. Oh my gosh.

Tim Schmoyer: So it was a pretty intense season for sure. We hired a nanny, who lives across the street from us and just helped my wife be able to relax and rest and sleep. It was very definitely needed during that season of life. So now our oldest is 13, just turned 13. We have a teenager now. Our youngest is almost five years old.

Megan Porta: Okay. You probably are very sharp and on your toes because I feel like having kids makes you that way. You have to respond to all the needs and Yeah. That’s really cool. 

Tim Schmoyer: Yeah, there’s a lot going on. It’s fun. I homeschool them all and so they’re here all the time, which actually made things a lot easier, not that you want to turn this into a parenting podcast. We tried public school and it was too chaotic. We went to homeschool, we’re like, oh, finally. I know a lot of people think the opposite would be true, but for us, homeschooling has certainly been a way of bringing a lot of peace and structure back to our home. 

Megan Porta: Good for you guys. I love that so much. Let’s change the topic to YouTube because you clearly have so much expertise in this area, and food bloggers and YouTube go together really well. I know a lot who dig into it and some who avoid it. So we wanna hear your expertise today. Can you give us just a history of why you’re so into YouTube? How did you come to the place you’re at today? 

Tim Schmoyer: Yeah, so YouTube started in September 2005. So a few months later, March 2nd, 2006, I uploaded my very first video to YouTube. I was in graduate school in Dallas, Texas. I grew up in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area, and where all my family and friends were. I was dating this girl in Texas at the time, and I wanted a way of introducing her to my friends and family back home in the Philadelphia area. So I was trying to use WordPress and blogging and stuff, and then seeing YouTube came along, I was like, oh. I can just make a video of us going out, like on dates and stuff. So I tried it. My very first video was called a test video. I was just like, let me just see if I can get it off of this magnetic tape on my computer. After I did that successfully, yeah, I started putting videos of us going out on dates, going out to movies, going out to eat, going out to the parks, just hanging out, being goofy. I’d post those on YouTube and then send the links back to my friends and family so that they could meet this girl. It was fine for a little while, but then this weird thing started happening. Other people started watching these videos. Back in those days, you remember MySpace days? You don’t use your real name on the internet. If you do, people will hunt you down and kill you for some reason. So I was getting kind of nervous here. I’m like, why are these people watching me? These videos aren’t for them. How are they finding me? Why do they keep coming back? Who is Cat Licker72 and why do they keep commenting on my videos? So I started trying to figure out how this platform was working, and started digging around. It was so new. Like 2005. Nobody knew. There wasn’t even a partner program. It wasn’t owned by Google yet or anything like that. There’s two other guys I found online who were trying to figure this out. So the three of us started connecting and talking and long story short, they’re like, Tim, we’re trying to figure this out. We don’t know, but if you do, can you let us know? I was like, yeah. I like a good problem and jumping into it. So yeah, good challenge. I like figuring out systems and processes and things like that. So what is the system and process on YouTube? There wasn’t a very detail oriented one back then. Everything was done manually by people behind the scenes. So that’s kind of what started everything though. I was a youth pastor at a church and loved what I was doing at the time for my full-time gig because I really liked seeing people’s lives impacted and changed by what I was doing. But when we started reaching about a million people a month on YouTube, which back then was unheard of. 

Megan Porta: Yeah. That’s huge.

Tim Schmoyer: I was like, I am hearing more stories of life change happening through what we’re doing here on YouTube, my girlfriend and I, than I ever saw in 12 years of vocational ministry inside a church. I’m not trying to dog on the church necessarily. I’m just saying, we were hearing stories of people who are reaching out and they’re like, I just got married two months ago.My husband and I were already struggling in a relationship. I don’t know if we’re gonna make it but then I saw that video of you two talking about how you’re learning to love each other better. I shared that video with my husband and we talked about it, and just wanna let you know that we have hope again for our marriage. Just thank you for doing that. I was like, what? What happened from that video? 

Megan Porta: Wow. 

Tim Schmoyer: So we kept going. Everything from our engagement to our wedding, to our honeymoon, our first house and everything. We just kept putting these videos online and I just love the fruit of that. Long story short, we had enough people reaching out, about how we’re doing this, I ended up doing YouTube strategy, three different deals with Disney. I did Warner Brothers, I did HBO. I did Budweiser, Ebay, like all these big brands, YouTube themselves were contracting me to teach their employees how YouTube was working in the early days and stuff too. I just fell in love. I think this is an opportunity to reach people and change their lives at scale. That’s what I became all about. I was like, I’m reaching my million people a month. But what if I could help other people reach their million people a month with messages I don’t have and stories I don’t have to share that could really have a ripple effect in terms of the impact it has on this world.

Megan Porta: Oh my gosh. 

Tim Schmoyer: I got excited about that and the company, the agency for 10 years and I just sold it last month to VidIQ. They have some pretty big plans for what they wanna do with our team and our intellectual property and everything, which I am very excited about. We worked with 635 clients last year in 2021, and they have over 2 million weekly active users. We’re gonna scale our systems to now impact 2 million creators a week instead of 635 a year. So it’s gonna be awesome.

Megan Porta: That’s amazing. Wow. I love your story with it and how you got started and how you started during that sweet spot when it was unknown and nobody really knew what to do. The thing that I took away from what you just said that I really love is that you married opportunity with changing people’s lives. I think if we could all tap into that, that’s like the magic, right? That’s so important because we all want opportunity, but we also want to make an impact on people’s lives. So good for you for doing that. Oh my gosh, that’s such a cool story. 

Tim Schmoyer: Yeah. Thank you. 

Megan Porta: So you have three signals that you wanna talk through about YouTube search and discovery systems and what they’re looking for in videos. So can you talk through that for us? 

Tim Schmoyer: Sure. Yeah. So the question like, how do I get my videos discovered on YouTube. How do I get more people to find my videos to engage with them? What we’ve started doing the very beginning day, and the principal still applies today, but it’s like, what is YouTube’s goal? What are they trying to do, and how do we align our content with YouTube’s goals so that if our videos help YouTube accomplish their goals, then they’ll be more likely to surface our content to more people. So over time, this is changed. I’ll give you like a little bit of a history lesson here of YouTube, but I think it, it’ll make these three things and probably more than three make way more sense. Back in 2005 when I got started in 2005 to 2012, the way discoverability worked on YouTube was based on keywords, right? Every blogger is familiar with keywords, and it was heavily based on keyword matching, which is, if I put how to tie my shoe 15 times, the tags and the description and the title, and I say it over and over again in the video, then YouTube will be super convinced that this video is about how to tie my shoe or whatever. 

Megan Porta: They’ll get the hint.

Tim Schmoyer: Somehow because they’re like, wow, you said it 15 times. This must really be about that thing. That’s pretty rudimentary. So it served its purpose in the very beginning, but YouTube started bumping into this problem, which is, just because someone says something 15 times doesn’t mean it’s the best result to surface for that thing, for that query. Almost 10 years ago now, in fact, I think it’s October 11th, 2022. It was October 20, 2012. So I think tomorrow is the 10 year anniversary of when YouTube announced we’re not doing this based on keywords anymore. They switched to viewer signals in 2012, so it’s been a long time. I know keywords are still a big thing for a lot of creators on YouTube, but hopefully by the time of our conversation here, people will be like, Nope, don’t need keywords anymore. Because it’s based on signals that YouTube is collecting from the viewer to determine how valuable is this content. So in 2012, YouTube switched to primarily making it based on watch time. You can see this in your analytics. It’s the total amount of time someone spends watching a video. We’re pretty sure that if someone spends a long time watching video A versus a short time watching video B, all other things somehow being considered equal, that video A must be a more valuable video because it held their attention for longer. So YouTube started saying like what? Let’s look at the viewer to see how valuable this video is. So they looked at watch time and they also started looking at session watch time, which is how does this video contribute to the viewer’s overall viewing session on YouTube? In other words, does video A keep them here for three more minutes before they abandon YouTube and leave? Versus video B that keeps them here for 30 more minutes? YouTube’s wanting people to spend as much time here as they can, so if video B is keeping people here for 30 minutes and video A is, they’re leaving after three minutes we’re gonna surface video B all day long, right? So it was about how much time people spend watching each video, and two, how much time do people spend watching YouTube? So YouTube starts trying to predict the next video they think you’re gonna watch, which will be the next video on YouTube at the top of your suggested videos on the right hand side bar if you’re on desktop, and then predicting every consecutive video they think you’re going to watch thereafter. So they’re projecting if we surface this video, then they’re gonna wanna watch this video, then that video, like 10 videos in advance, and that should lead to a viewing session of 68 minutes. Whereas we surface this video, it’ll lead to a viewing session of 16 minutes or something. So these viewer signals and many more became really significant. Now, some of the viewer signals that people focus on today that do not have an impact, are like getting, maybe you’ve heard this and maybe you can roll your eyes if you’ve heard this, it’s ok, that’s fine. Like comment and subscribe. People like to watch, like my video. It helps it out in the algorithm. Make a comment below and subscribe. And YouTube’s like, no. We’re not gonna focus on those because those are too easily gamed. You can buy views, you can buy subscribers, you can even buy air quotes here, authentic engagement. None of that makes a difference because those are too easily gained. They vary significantly from niche to niche and audience to audience and things too. So they’re like, we’re not focusing on those. We’re focusing on how much time people spend on the content and on YouTube themselves. So does that make sense? 

Megan Porta: Yeah. I mean as you talk through it, I’m like, yeah, this makes complete sense. So they’re just getting smarter and they’re experimenting a little bit to see what’s working and what’s not. It’s the same thing we go through with blogging. The keyword stuffing was huge for a while. Let’s put chili recipes 92 times in the post just so Google understands exactly what my post is about. It’s the same thing, yeah. 

Tim Schmoyer: Yeah and your readers are like, why can’t they use it like just it? Why don’t they keep repeating that same title? 

Megan Porta: Yeah. Now you can get penalized for doing that, at least for blog posts. I don’t know if it’s the same for YouTube. 

Tim Schmoyer: On YouTube they will call it keyword stuffing. It is considered spam and grounds for termination if you do it

Megan Porta: Okay. Interesting that it’s the same there too. 

Tim Schmoyer: But even on Google, like they switched a lot of time on page as an indicator of how valuable this content is. So it’s very similar to YouTube. But then they ran into this problem with the watch time thing. What people started doing, they’re like, okay, if it’s about how long people spend watching YouTube, then you have to make really long videos. We saw a big rise in around 2016, 2014, that area of like live streamers, gamers, making just crazy long content. Family vloggers and vlogging really, because again, those people could crank out 20 minute videos every day but then you had to the detriment of these other creators who were like, it takes me a month to make a two minute animated video, right? Or music videos take a long time to produce. It was kinda like this unfair advantage that people who could create long quality and massive amounts of it, it was an unfair advantage that they had the people who still wanted to make valuable good content, but it was two minutes or four minutes long. It took them like a month and a half to make that two minutes or something. So those people started becoming discouraged and so usually were like, okay, we gotta become a little bit more sophisticated here. So in 2016, a team of engineers at YouTube released a white paper that started describing the role that neural networks are playing in their machine learning. Basically what ended up happening around 2016 is everything started becoming more and more personalized on YouTube. Machine learning got really good at personalizing every individual viewer’s viewing experience, showing them the right video to the right person at the right time in order to keep them on the platform for as long as possible. So around this time, the idea of ranking number one quickly started dissipating because there’s no two homepages that are the same.

Megan Porta: Interesting. 

Tim Schmoyer: Megan, your homepage, you compare it to mine, and we’re gonna have very different videos there. If we’re watching even the same video, the suggested videos of what we should watch next are going to be very different. Even when we type in the exact same search query, we’re going to get different results based on your viewing history, the types of videos you subscribe to and watch. The videos you’ve watched in the past. The type of content you tend to prefer over other types and styles and formats of content. I remember I was at a coffee shop with my daughter. She’s on the iPad. We have a thing with our kids, when you do YouTube, you’re not just gonna sit there and bug out what do you wanna learn about? So she’s watching these videos about coloring and stuff, and she’s Iike, I want to learn how to draw a Kitty. So I type in for her, you know how to draw a cat. The first video that pops up to the top of the search results is how to draw a husky puppy. I’m like, whoa. My daughter’s oh, that’s a pretty kitty. I wanna click. She clicks on that one immediately. I was like, oh, I see what’s happening there. YouTube just learned that, wow. They determined that there’s a kid in a viewing session in front of the iPad or device and they search for how to draw a cat that this is the right video, even though it has none of the right keywords in it. It’s about how to draw a puppy. So then I went home and I’m screenshotting all this cause this is my job, right? I’m super curious. I go home, I search for how to draw a cat from my desktop, different location, different device, different doing sessions and everything and I get a completely different set of videos. The ones my daughter got were more cartoony and cute. The results I got were more a realistic, like an adult wants to draw this, not like a kid, right? So I was like, okay, yeah, even search results. There’s no such thing as ranking number one anymore. Even if you do, I can promise you right now, it’s not worth getting there because there is so much competition and it’s the wrong viewer. You want someone who’s just killing time on YouTube, it’s gonna give you way more watch time than someone who’s searching for something. They’re in the kitchen right now, gotta make this recipe. The eggs are almost burnt and they gotta figure out how to save it, right? They’re just skipping ahead, as soon as they get what they want, boom they’re gone and they’ve forgotten who you even are three hours later, right? So everything became really a lot more customized. Suggested videos were not necessarily related to the content you’re watching anymore, but started turning into what video YouTube thinks you wanna watch next. Does that make sense in terms of personalization becoming a thing and ranking going away? 

Megan Porta: Yeah, it does make sense. So how does this affect us as foodie creators? 

Tim Schmoyer: Yeah. I think all that, we’re gonna answer all that when we get to the punchline here, which is so far, the way you dominate on YouTube has nothing to do with your keywords. It has nothing to do with how long your videos are, how frequently you publish your content, nothing. It all comes down to, if you wanna optimize your content, you don’t optimize for robots. You have to optimize for people. What’s going to hold their attention? What’s going to make them feel something, especially with food. Food is a very emotional topic, right? Then most of the foodies and the food creators I know on YouTube default to this educational mindset where this is a hundred percent about mixing this ingredient with that ingredient and here’s your recipe, and they try to do it as expeditiously, that’s an SAT word, I’m pretty sure, as possible. It’s all about, it’s very little emotion and all information and whoever presents the information the most succinctly, the fastest, with the best camera angles or whatever, wins. I can tell you, we work with a lot of food creators and food network personalities and cooking brands and stuff on YouTube. Let me give you an example here. So we work with the food brand. I can’t say who they are, but you would certainly know them if I said them. They’re a very well known big national brand. Think grills, cooking grills and skillets and cast iron and stuff like that. So I’m doing this session with them and they had this video like how to grill chicken on some model grill. I forget. It doesn’t matter, right? They had all the keywords in there, how to cook, grill, chicken, everything was in there. It got to like 2000 something views and it just kinda petered down. So I’m watching this video and there’s this moment in there. I’m sure like, to me, this was new, but I’m sure you’re familiar with Spatchcock Chicken. Okay. I had never heard of that before, but I’m just watching this video. I’m like, what are you doing to this? I’m like, you’re mangling this thing and you’re flattening it out, and oh, you’re breaking that bone. Doesn’t that hurt the, oh no, it’s just dead, type of thing. So that was the curiosity moment in that video. We just changed the title of the thumbnail. The content should have been better prepared, but it wasn’t. So we changed the title of thumbnail to the left side of the thumbnail is a whole chicken on top of a grill with a red X, and the right side is a spatchcock chicken flattened out looking mangled with a green check mark, and the title is just, you’re doing it wrong. No keywords in there. It was a hundred percent optimized to spark curiosity, to elicit emotion, and then it shot up to 60,000 views in the next two weeks after that. 

Megan Porta: Oh, wow.

Tim Schmoyer: So all the main point for what this means for us as creators is really not about how we optimize something for an algorithm or for a robot. So how do we optimize this for people so that when they see our titles and thumbnails, it sparks curiosity, it creates interest, it creates intrigue. That and that giant question mark that pops up above their heads. There’s tension literally in their brain that they need to resolve and the only way for them to resolve this tension that they feel is to actually click or tap on that title of thumbnail to relieve the tension, right? But then creators make this next big mistake, which is let’s say you got a really good title of thumbnail. You’re doing it wrong, Right? What? What did they do to that chicken, how was that? So you, all these questions, you click on that and then you get into the video and then it opens up with, and I see too many food creators doing, Hey, welcome back to my channel. My name’s Tim, and today we’re going to make this your grandma’s apple pie. I just had apple pie last night. It was delicious. That’s my top of mind right now. Your grandma’s apple pie, blah, blah, blah, right? If the title of that video is How to Make your grandma’s apple Pie, the viewer is like, I know. Get on with it. You’re gonna see the abandonment rate be very high in the opening seconds of your video if you look in your audience retention graphs on YouTube. Because you didn’t take the tension, the curiosity, and create more tension and curiosity, you completely alleviated it. Now they’re like, ahhhh, okay. I’m gone. 

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Tim Schmoyer: So it’s better if, for as much as possible to create, think of your concept first and then think of your video and then brainstorm title, thumbnail ideas before you actually make the content so that you’re creating something that’s enticing. It’s sparking emotion and it’s something that is like curiosity. Again, nothing based on keywords which wanna keep going through YouTube’s history. We can see how that fell off even more and more with their AI stuff. But basically it’s like what makes the person you’re trying to reach your most ideal viewer slash customer slash subscriber slash whatever This person, what sparks curiosity for them makes them feel something. Craft the title and thumbnail first. Then you are crafting what are the opening seconds that pick up on the curiosity that was sparking the title and thumbnail, and how do we even create even more tension based on that? So instead of it being like, you’re doing it wrong and then it’s Hey, welcome today we’re gonna show you how to grill your chicken on this model grill. The only people who are gonna watch this video are the people who have that model grill and are frustrated because they don’t know how to grill chicken on it, right? So let’s not go after those keywords in the first place, even if that was a thing. But if it had opened instead with this like mangled chicken. I’m calling it mangled. I’m sorry, I don’t wanna offend anybody, but that’s what it looks like to a first time person like me. 

Megan Porta: I don’t think you’ll offend anybody. 

Tim Schmoyer: Okay, good. By the way, I cook my chicken and my turkeys like this all the time now on the grill.

Megan Porta: Oh good. 

Tim Schmoyer: Absolutely the right way to go.

Megan Porta: Transformed your life. 

Tim Schmoyer: It did. Our Thanksgivings have never been the same. So it should have opened with the crack of the breast bone. Couple quick shots. Opening up with that slap and being put on the grill and some sort of voiceover. I don’t know, I’m kinda making this up on the spot, but something about when you grill the whole chicken just on the grill, the outside’s gonna get burned, the inside’s gonna be raw and it’s all gonna taste like sawdust or something. So increasing the curiosity. So the only way you can make a title thumbnail and the opening seconds of the content all align with each other in creating curiosity, is to plan it out first and then shoot the content. Then when you have all those three things figured out, then hit record. Then create the content and deliver it in such a way that the viewer is now feeling something about this recipe. It would be kinda like me when I go to fix something on our lawnmower and I’m going to think, how do I replace the alternator in my lawn mower? So I find the videos exactly step by step, how to do it, but no emotion, no connection has been created. Three hours later, I can’t tell you whose channel that was on. I don’t remember that. It’s too forgettable. So creating that emotion is really important for connecting with a viewer, not the algorithms, but the viewer. Because the algorithms are designed to track how people respond and react to our content. Even up to the point. Knowing how satisfied they are, not just how they watch this for just a considerable amount of time, and are they personalized results, but does video A versus video B, which one leaves the viewer feeling more satisfied? So they are tracking emotion and how this content makes you feel too. If you wanna know how an algorithm does that, we can talk about that too. But there you go. That’s the overall version though of the signals that YouTube’s looking for. Do people watch, yes or no? If they do watch, how long do they spend watching and how does this contribute to their overall viewing session on YouTube, and how satisfied does it make them feel? So you can see what happens now if you’re trying to make content that’s trying to get everyone to your website. You’re always trying to get them to click the link of the recipe in the description below. You might be ending the viewing session and thus shooting your channel in the foot. 

Megan Porta: So this requires some forethought, and some planning ahead. Like you were saying, you can’t just step-by-step how to make chili in a crockpot. You’ve gotta think ahead and strategize a little bit about what is going to evoke emotion? What is going to pull them in? What’s going to create curiosity or intrigue and then create your content.

Tim Schmoyer: Yeah. If there’s a really generic way of saying, talking about this for cooking channels it’s less about the here’s how you make this thing and more about hanging out with me in the kitchen while I cook or something. It’s more about getting the viewer to feel like I like just hanging out with this person. A former client of ours, I dunno if you’re familiar with them on YouTube, Pro Home Cooks Mike Greenfield. So he’s got two point something million subscribers and this, that’s what he does. At the end of the video, you’ll learn how to make the thing, but most people are watching not to learn how to make the thing, but to feel like they’re gonna hang out and have a good time in the kitchen with someone they feel like they connected well with. Now, that’s not to say every food blogger on YouTube has to become some sort of dynamic personality, but it is to say there should be some story, there should be some narrative. There should be something emotional to this besides just assembling food ingredients and being easily forgotten and blended into the rest of the food blogging community. 

Megan Porta: Yeah. So what are some other ideas to stand out? So giving it some thought ahead of time and curating a video based on everything you’ve just said, to create that intrigue. But what else can we do to make our video stand out? 

Tim Schmoyer: Yeah. Two principles that I think could be helpful as ways or methods or processes, whatever too to create content that could be more likely to spark some sort of connection or emotion with people. One is to connect, we call it to connect known to unknown. One way all food creators do this, which is you are unknown, but apple pie is known and so make the video about the apple pie, right? But that’s been done so many times that’s not really a great way to stand out anymore. So instead, what would be more, you gotta have to help me on this one, probably Megan because I’m like I’m not too familiar with to know what’s happening in the industry or things. But what would make someone in your target audience feel, if they’ve never heard of you before. They’ve never seen your channel, but they’re like, what? How, what happens? What happens there? I’m making this up. I’m not saying it’s true, but Gordon Ramsey’s recipes no one liked or something like that, and maybe it’s his top five worst Gordon Ramsey recipes. I dunno if that’s good or not, but it’s like, it increased a little intrigue and you might not know who Megan is, but you might know who Gordon Ramsey is. You click for Gordon Ramsey. And that’s in the process you get introduced to Megan. I don’t know if that makes sense. I just made that up. 

Megan Porta: Stirring up. We are familiar with this on our blogs, occasionall. Just stirring up a little bit of healthy drama. Is that kinda what you’re saying? 

Tim Schmoyer: It doesn’t have to be drama, but it certainly could be. Yeah. I’m just trying to think of what’s known. So it doesn’t have to be everything wrong with KitchenAid. It could be like, Three hacks you didn’t know your KitchenAid could do or something. The thumbnail is something like it’s, I don’t know, it’s twisting twine for you or something. This is a totally unexpected action. Because unexpected sparks curiosity too. So yeah. People know the KitchenAid is, but they don’t know who Megan is. So they click for the KitchenAid and then discover you. So it could be different things happening like Food Network personalities or different brands. It could be commonly held beliefs that people have about how you use certain ingredients, certain ways, but you use it this very different way and that can create curiosity because people are familiar with that ingredient and that process but not with how you’re doing it. Kinda like the example I just gave with this spatchcock chicken. That’s one principle, connecting what’s unknown to what’s known. Really good example of this, you wanna look one up is a person we worked with in the past. Charisma on Command is their channel. Almost every title of thumbnail is something about some Hollywood celebrity, how they win every argument or instantly get people to like them and so they’re not gonna tell you three bullet points in how you do this, but they’re gonna break down how Scarlett Johansen does this or how whoever, how they do it. So you click because you know the actor or the actress and you’re curious about how they do it, but then you get introduced to his channel.

Megan Porta: Gotcha. Yeah, that makes sense. 

Tim Schmoyer: Yeah, that’s the first one. The second one, an idea is to put two things together that don’t normally go together. This might not work for everyone’s channels, but one lady we did a session with, she builds computers on her channel and she built a computer, a working functional computer that looks like a treehouse.

Megan Porta: Oh!

Tim Schmoyer: Exactly. You had a reaction to that. 

Megan Porta: I had to think a minute. Like what? 

Tim Schmoyer: You’re like, why? 

Megan Porta: yeah. Interesting. 

Tim Schmoyer: So because you had that little curiosity moment, if you saw that title of thumbnail, you’d be like, why? What? Because it looks like a treehouse, but you can tell it’s a functioning computer. So there’s some curiosity like, but you don’t usually put treehouses and computers together, right? It’s a little bit like that, that’s weird. Another former client of ours did a video on, it’s a racing channel race car, not Nascar, like actual race car stuff. I hope I didn’t offend anyone with that; it wasn’t meant to be offensive. That’s more my experience of not knowing the difference between NASCAR and other stuff. But it was dragster tires and they were, they’re right off the line and they’re completely folded in on top of each other. It’s like, why is this so soft? So it creates curiosity like, oh, I didn’t expect to see tires that twisted, like right off the line, like you expect them to be solid. Another creator worked with an 18th century history channel, and they had maxed out, they pretty much had a hundred percent market penetration. Like anyone in the industry knew who they were and was already subscribed to their channel. So they needed a new strategy to broaden their audience a little bit to continue growing. So it was two things that don’t normally go together, like the tomahawk versus a chainsaw. That creates a little bit more intrigue than how to build a log cabin with the ax or something, right? So I don’t know. Those principles make sense? Questions?

Megan Porta: Yeah, they do. I’m just trying to think about how that specifically can relate to cooking. Like the things that don’t go together. Do you have any ideas for how that could come into the cooking scene a little bit?

Tim Schmoyer: So that’s a good question. The process is not a, I have an idea, let me go make it. The process now becomes, I gotta sit here and stew on this for a little bit. Most of what goes into a really good video is everything that happens before you hit record now. It used to be like, who could just make the most video content the fastest and the best? But that’s no longer the case. It’s definitely quality over quantity now. So the processes, and I’m not gonna leave you hanging on your question. Maybe we’ll workshop it together here a little bit. But the process is, and this is what I’d encourage anybody to do, is take this video concept you have and you should come up with at least 20 different title and thumbnail combinations for that content before you hit record. So it’s not as simple as oh, how to do this thing. If you guys want different results, you gotta do something differently, right? If you keep doing the way you’ve done it, you’ll get the same results and you know what that’s called, right? So the part of this process that is going to be different is spending a lot of time up front. A lot of the top creators that we work with, they might have a really great video idea, but if they can’t come up with a really good title of thumbnail for it first, they’ll even bother putting the time into making that video because they know that it doesn’t matter how awesome or amazing the content is, if no one’s enticed to click in the first place. What most people would consider a disproportionate amount of time into the title thumbnail and opening seconds first. So all that to say, to your question of, do you have ideas for this? Yeah, but we’d have to sit here and brainstorm on it for a while. Which I’m happy to do if you wanna do, but I don’t know. I’ve worked with some cake channels that make these like really realistic looking things out of cake and you couldn’t tell that it was edible. It looked so real. That’s been done before too. Oh, one lady we worked with, she did something that was unexpected. She put two things that don’t normally go together. She made a cake toilet that you could sit on. 

Megan Porta: Oh my gosh, what? 

Tim Schmoyer: Exactly right. So you got a reaction to that too. So the thumbnail is someone, if I remember correctly, it was a few years ago. She’s sitting on it, it’s a toilet. Someone’s sitting on it. But the title thumbnails cake and someone else is taking a bite out of it so that might not be aligned with everyone’s brand of course. But that scratches the itch. I don’t want people to feel like it, you mean I can’t just I just want people to make the best dishes ever. I don’t wanna resort to this type of cheekiness and this type of is this what I have to do to win on YouTube? I don’t wanna do YouTube anymore. That is certainly not the case. You can certainly grow by just providing high quality content, but I will say you can’t grow without some level of curiosity, of intrigue and especially some sort of emotional connection, even if your face isn’t on it, even if it’s just your hands, it’s the stories you’re telling in between. It’s the repeated things you do in every video that people grow to love. It’s the names you give to your audience. It’s your backstory of how you got started with cooking that people love. It’s some sort of creed or belief that your brand revolves around, like for us to video craze, reaching people to change lives. Actually I gave you guys a lot of those signals in the very beginning, just in telling my story of what I believe and why it matters and how I got started. Those things go much further in creating an emotional connection than just kinda like making content. It doesn’t have to be a five minute story like I probably did here. It could just be oh, this reminds me of that time. Or every time you drop the spatula in the video, there’s something you say, you pick it up and it becomes a thing that your audience just does. Now they drop the spatula on purpose so they can say that thing or something. It’s just those type of human connection things. There’s a really good book. We don’t have to get into it now, but I would just suggest a book called Primal Branding. The author’s name is Patrick Hanlin, and what he does in that book is he just looks at all the top brands that develop cult-like following and audiences and just asks, what did each of these brands do that made it easy for people to fall in love with them? He breaks it down into seven elements of what he calls a primal code and the channels that are just killing it on YouTube, whether they’re primarily entertainment or educational, have almost all seven of these signals squarely ingrained in their content. So people quickly feel something about their brand and who they are. 

Megan Porta: Oh, wow, that’s interesting. I would definitely be interested. 

Tim Schmoyer: That could be a whole nother conversation. But yeah, it’s a very predictable process to get people to quickly feel something about you and your brand. 

Megan Porta: With food, there’s so much opportunity to evoke emotion because people think of their childhood. I do this all the time. The things my mom used to make for me, or maybe it’s a grandmother or something that’s been passed down generation to generation. I don’t know, there’s so much opportunity there.

Tim Schmoyer: Totally. 

Megan Porta: So just giving that a little bit of thought, like you’re saying beforehand, can go a long way. 

Tim Schmoyer: For me it’s when I eat, when I shouldn’t be. There’s usually emotions tied to that too. I’m discovering. There’s a lot there. It’s deep. There’s a deep rabbit hole right there.

Megan Porta: Yeah. No, that gives me a lot of food for thought, for sure. I just have one more question for you. How do we track all this? So we’re experimenting, we’re going through this process of thinking beforehand what to create, and we’ve got some good catchy titles and thumbnails. How do we track if it’s working or not?

Tim Schmoyer: Yeah. That’s a whole, like a whole nother episode too. But when you’re trying to craft, let’s walk through the data and your analytics from each step of the viewing journey. The first step of the viewing journey is the title and thumbnail, and so you can determine how well your new titles and thumbnails are performing by looking at the impressions and click through rate data in your analytics. In other words, how many people had an opportunity to click because at least half of the thumbnail was visible for them to click on versus how many people actually clicked. That’ll give you a percentage rate. And it varies significantly from channel to channel, niche to audience and so it’s really about how do I improve my game? Not like what other people are doing is good or not, but let’s just say you’re at like a 3% click through rate. Okay, how do I get to three and a half percent? And this one, four. And a lot of these creators, they’ll make two or three, sometimes five different thumb title thumbnail combos for a video. If it knows approximately what a good rate is for them and they publish that video, and if it’s not getting that, they’ll switch it to a different title, thumbnail combo and see if they can get that rate up to where it normally is or better. So impressions, click through rates first, and then after that you wanna be looking at watch time. How much time do people spend watching this content? I found the most valuable place to evaluate that is inside the audience retention graphs on YouTube. Because there you can see a little bit better at what point in the video are people abandoning this content. Having worked with a lot of food channels before, I’ll make a prediction here and say that the average channels on retention graphs looks like a slow decline over time. There’s not like a moment where everyone can point to and be like, oh. Like one guy we worked with, whenever he would say the word ‘module’ there was a big boop. People fall off. 

Megan Porta: That’s funny. 

Tim Schmoyer: Yeah. It was like, just stop saying the word module. It’s not always that easy and clear. So if it’s just a slow, gradual decline over time, what that likely means is, there’s not really anything here holding people’s attention. I would just give yourself permission to reinvent your format, your process, what does version 2.0 of your content of your brand look like and reinvent with that. That doesn’t mean you have to give everything up, but yeah, you probably need to try something different. Then I would look at the end screens in terms of what’s the clickthrough rate on these? Cause remember we said session watch time is important. How long does this video contribute to keeping people on YouTube? One easy way to measure that is looking at the clickthrough rate on the end screen. So I would just encourage you guys at the end of your video to pitch the next video you want them to click and why? Point to that area on the screen. Have it right there. I would avoid any ending language like, hope this was helpful. Let me know what you think. Nothing like that. You’ll see quick audience abandonment and your retention graphs at that point. So just content and then your only call to action is, now my favorite dessert that goes with it is actually this apple pie from my grandma. I know normally it takes you five hours to make it, but we’re gonna show how you do it in two or something

Megan Porta: So ending with more curiosity as well, like oooh. 

Tim Schmoyer: Exactly. 

Megan Porta: What’s that about? 

Tim Schmoyer: Yep. You opened up the curiosity of the title of the thumbnail they’re on, and now by the end of the video they should, that tension should be gone. So you gotta quickly create tension now for the next video. 

Megan Porta: Create more tension on a new topic.

Tim Schmoyer: That’s right. 

Megan Porta: Oh my gosh, Tim, this has been super helpful. I’ve just been sitting here completely absorbing everything and I see YouTube in a new light and I know this is gonna be an awesome episode. People are gonna love this. So thank you so much for all of this. It’s been amazing. So do you have either a favorite quote or words of inspiration to leave us with?

Tim Schmoyer: I’ll leave it to you to judge how inspirational it’s, but a saying in the Schmoyer household with our kids is, good work brings good reward. That is something our kids roll their eyes when they hear it, type of thing. But we try to live our lives in such a way. That’s true because it usually is. So I would just say, for food bloggers and people trying to grow on YouTube, it is work. It is hard work. It’s frustrating, it’s disappointing work sometimes. But I think at the end of the day or at the end of the year, whenever, however long it takes, it ends up being good work. Good work brings good rewards. That’s what business revolves around. Doing good work for others that serves them and their families really well, serves your family really well, and their audience really well. It’s just like a win-win-win for everybody. 

Megan Porta: Oh, I love that. That’s a good family motto. I’m sure they’re rolling their eyes, but inside they’re retaining that. They’re hearing you, so that’s awesome.

Tim Schmoyer: I’d like to think that. 

Megan Porta: Yeah, definitely. We’ll put together some show notes with everything we’ve talked about today, so you can find those at Tell everyone again where they can find you on YouTube and anywhere else you wanna mention, Tim.

Tim Schmoyer: Yeah. We have a weekly podcast ourselves, so search anywhere. Any of the podcast platforms for Video Creators. We should pop up there. That’s where we go into more in-depth topics and tactics and strategies for growing a channel, beyond the basics of, how do I make a custom thumbnail and more in terms of how do I tell a good story and how do I engage my audience, and how do I increase sales and things like that on my YouTube channel. So yeah, every Monday a new episode. Check it out. Be a good place to start. 

Megan Porta: Awesome. Thank you again for being here so much, Tim. Thank you for listening today, food bloggers. I will see you in the next episode.

Outro: Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Eat Blog Talk. Please share this episode with a friend who would benefit from tuning in. I will see you next time.

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