Making Your Podcast YouTube-Worthy 🎥
Jay Clouse on his pivot to video
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Over the past several months, there’s been loads of hype about the importance of YouTube for podcast discovery, so today, I’m bringing you a Q&A with a podcaster who is crushing his pivot to video. In March, Jay Clouse gave tips for creating community around your podcasts, and now he’s back with 411 on how to make a *good* video podcast (and some considerations to help you determine whether or not that’s the right move for you.)
You recently started releasing a video version of your podcast on YouTube. How long had you been doing your podcast when you expanded to YouTube, and why did you decide to make the pivot?
JC: We published the first video episode on July 12, 2022, and the podcast launched on March 24, 2020. So it was more than two years and 108 interviews later that we decided to go into video.
It became clear to me that one of the best ways to build new audience and get in front of new listeners (quickly) was to be on YouTube. There is just so much constant potential discovery when you’re tied to a search engine the size of YouTube. I’d always had the aspiration, but I also knew I wanted the video production quality to match the audio production quality — which is high. So it took finding a great editor with his own vision for the show to finally pull it off.
I love your video aesthetic. Any tips for setting up a home studio?
JC: I worked with Kevin Shen of Dream Studio Course to get my studio looking good — and it probably cost me $4K+ to get the equipment that achieves this look. I have a lot of lighting equipment, a Sony Alpha 7C camera with an f1.3 lens. I recommend working with professionals to get this stuff right!
What are your equipment recommendations to get professional quality video?
JC: This is not really my expertise — I just took good direction. But even that direction was tailored to my space (which I have a lot of). The Aperture keylight I use, for example, has a massive footprint. So I’ll share that I use a Sony Alpha 7C camera with an f1.3 lens, as well as an Aperture Softbox keylight. But, truly, I recommend hiring a professional like Dan Bennett.
What recording platform do you use?
JC: I use Riverside!
How do you prep your guests to try to get better remote interview video from whatever platform you’re using?
JC: Using Riverside, which records locally, I don’t have to give a ton of direction. Before we start recording, I will do some basic checks on whether they’re using their best camera, we’ll identify the best audio-in option for them, and we’ll also ensure they don’t have any feedback coming through. I’m just looking, listening, and then I’ll coach them on how to make things as good as they can be — but it really just comes down to equipment.
Any editing tricks for making the most of Zoom video in post?
JC: I really don’t recommend Zoom. I find that using a remote recording tool built for podcasting (Riverside, Squadcast, Zencastr) is a much superior option. As far as editing goes, we do a LOT of editing — and the magic there is that I hired an editor.
One thing we try to do is make full use of the video frame. When you use a side-by-side Zoom recording, there are tons of wasted space above and below the video. By actually editing the video, we can zoom and make a 2-cam setup that makes full use of the frame. We even zoom in and out throughout the episode to keep the viewer visually engaged. Pretty standard YouTuber stuff — just applied to a remote podcast recording.
What are your biggest learnings from your pivot to video thus far?
JC: The video show has definitely opened me up to a wider audience. Since publishing the video show, the audio show has even grown faster than before (coincidence?). One thing I really love is that people can comment on your video, and you actually know WHO is watching/listening. It’s such a mystery in audio.
I also learned that it’s hard to do 60+ minute interviews on YouTube. It’s definitely not the type of content that YouTube pushes the hardest. You need to take titles and thumbnails seriously, too — but the nice thing is, it’s kind of a solvable problem. You try something one week and see how it does via YouTube analytics. Oh, the Average View Duration is down? Let’s try something to improve that…the feedback cycle is really quick.
It’s also a bit of a challenge to make a video show equally good in audio. In video, you want to move through things quickly to keep the viewer’s attention. In audio, I find myself adding additional dead air between sentences to let the listener feel a little cozier. In video, you can add things on-screen that help the viewer. But if those things don’t have associated audio, it’s a confusing listening experience.
So it’s tough to do both. In general, we think of the show as video-first, but we have a lens to ensure that anything on video can still be understood in the audio-only version.
I imagine doing video well is a significant time and money investment. Can you speak to that?
JC: For sure — it’s the biggest investment I make in my whole business every month. Luckily for me, it’s actually reduced my own editing time; instead of editing audio, I simply write the (small) amount of scripting and then record that direct-to-camera. Then it’s over to my editor to take all the raw files and make a great video episode out of it.
Between audio, video, clips, transcripts, and thumbnails, I’m investing ~$4-5K/mo.
How has moving to YouTube impacted your reach and audience growth?
JC: It’s definitely brought me a new audience. Both the audio and video shows have grown more quickly since starting on YouTube. It’s also easier to market the podcast as a whole because videos are much easier to share and promote.
The flip side is that there’s no hiding on YouTube. Your subscriber and video view counts are very public. So you have a bit of a chicken-or-the-egg problem initially trying to get started because you have no social proof to get people to watch. Without people watching, there’s no social proof.
Anything else Besties should know if they’re thinking about whether or not to jump into YouTube?
JC: Riverside has a nice exporting tool that allows you to export a full video that combines the raw files into one single file and then switches between speakers using AI. In the beginning, this is minimally viable. But you can’t half-ass YouTube. You can certainly grow your show using it, but only if it’s a priority. So if you’re not going to take it seriously, it may not be worth the investment of time and money.
Thank you, Jay!
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So… ROLL CALL! 🗣
Are you publishing your podcast on YouTube? If so, what’s your strategy? If not, what’s your rationale for holding off?