My Blackjack Side Hustle Turned into 450k YouTube Subscribers and a 7-Figure Business
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Today on the podcast, founder of Blackjack Apprenticeship Colin Jones shares his journey from being a professional blackjack player to building a successful online brand.
He's built both a popular website and YouTube channel for his business and combined, they help him bring in 7 figures per year.
He joins us to share a ton of actionable tips based on his own experience.
Initially, he focused on search engine optimization (SEO) for his website, but soon realized the power of video in boosting traffic and engagement. So he began creating high-quality videos for his landing pages, resulting in increased traffic and click-through rates.
Over time, Colin realized he'd have to approach YouTube differently, shifting his focus from ranking in search results to creating content that would engage and retain viewers.
Thumbnails and the first 30 seconds of a video capture viewers' attention and encourage them to continue watching. And to attract viewers, Jones split tests thumbnails, comparing the process to marketing a movie, with the thumbnail acting as the movie poster and the first 30 seconds as the movie trailer.
But he also emphasizes several times - the importance of watch time and delivering value throughout the entire video.
And maintaining quality and value throughout the entire video is essential for retaining viewers' attention.
Understanding the audience and their interests is key to creating compelling video content. Researching successful YouTube videos in the same niche can provide insights and inspiration for creating engaging content.
And Colin shares a bunch of great tips, some of which may surprise you.
For instance how audio quality and lighting trump camera quality.
Short-form content, such as YouTube shorts and TikTok videos, can also be a valuable addition to a video strategy and attract new subscribers.
Monetizing that audience isn't always easy though.
And Colin emphasizes the importance of having a valuable product and creating content that speaks to the ideal customer. Video is found to be more effective in building trust and likability compared to written word alone.
The goal is to provide value through YouTube videos and gradually lead viewers to the website (in a non-salesy way). On the website is where the more sales-focused videos can be found. Even showing how embedding videos have helped his SEO with an increased time on page and EEAT.
Colin even shares how camera-shy people can make use of YouTube to grow their business, such as using voice narration with B-roll or partnering with experienced YouTubers.
Overall, Colin Jones shares a masterclass in how to leverage video to boost traffic and engagement with your business. By focusing on watch time, delivering value, and understanding your audience, you can create compelling content that grows your audience and business.
Watch The Interview
Topics Colin Jones Covers
- What got Colin in Blackjack
- Making millions counting cards
- Starting his blackjack site in 2008
- Brand building from the start
- His current numbers
- Implementing videos for SEO
- Creating videos for landing pages
- Video CTAs vs website CTAs
- Creating for audiences, not algorithms
- Watch time
- Split testing thumbnails
- How to find the right topics
- Recycling topics
- Importance of b-roll
- How to leverage YouTube shorts
- Using videos on your site
- How camera-shy people can still use video
- And a whole lot more...
Links & Resources
- Card Counting Training - Counting Cards - Blackjack Apprenticeship
- Blackjack Apprenticeship - YouTube
- Youtube isn't the Problem, IT'S YOU. - YouTube
- Video Creators - YouTube
- Primalbranding: Create Belief Systems that Attract Communities
- How to Generate Leads on Videos with Email Capture Forms - Wistia Blog
- World According To Briggs - YouTube
- Get SEO Consulting from the Niche Pursuits Podcast Host, Jared Bauman.
Jared: All right. Welcome back to the niche pursuits podcast. My name is Jared Bauman. Today, we are joined by Colin Jones with Blackjack Apprenticeship.
Colin: Colin, welcome. Thanks for having me.
Jared: I'm excited for today's conversation. We are talking about your website, but really more from the perspective of video and video is a topic that we dance around so much here on the podcast, but we haven't had a video centric, a video focused interview in quite a while that I can remember.
So welcome on board. I can't wait for you to, to, to, you know, educate us here today. Yeah, happy to
Colin: share whatever is
Jared: helpful. Um, hey, so before we get into the nuts and bolts, why don't you give us some backstory on yourself? I know you have a cool story that, um, that, uh, that you can kind of give us a little insight
Colin: Yeah, the backstory is I graduated from college with a math degree and was waiting tables at Red Robin. And a friend mentioned that he was reading a book on card counting and loaned the book to me. And it was written by a PhD in mathematics. It all seemed to make sense. And I thought I could probably do this.
I live in the Seattle area where there's a tribal casinos and these little mom and pop casinos. And so me and me and this, uh, friend got into it. And what started out as this little side hustle to kind of fill in the income gap, uh, within a few months, we were making a couple hundred dollars an hour playing, playing blackjack professionally.
That turned into, uh, doing that. We ended up running a team that beat Casinos for about three and a half million dollars. There's a documentary on the Blackjack team called Holy Rollers, if people are interested, but, uh, you know, that was not the goal. The goal was not to be, you know, running a million dollar card counting team.
That was just kind of where we ended up. And we were trying other business models the whole time from. Little e commerce websites back in, in 2005, we started our first e commerce and those failed. And we tried other things and somewhere along the line, it was like, you know what? We're really good at teaching people card counting.
What if we make a website about that? And that's how Blackjack Apprenticeship started back in 2008. And, uh, that's been my main, my main gig kind of, uh, yeah, for, I mean, I started taking it seriously over a decade ago and that's been what I've been doing.
Jared: Are you still heading into the casinos and, uh, uh, you know, uh, kind of rolling out with a hundred dollars an hour, a couple hundred dollars, a couple million?
Colin: Uh, you know what? Yeah, I've got six kids. I like working from home. Um, but I do find myself, uh, around casinos here and there. And yeah, I, I wouldn't go into a casino if Wasn't expecting to generate, uh, at least a hundred dollars an hour for my time.
Jared: I mean, there's also a very popular movie, right? I can't remember the name of it.
I should've looked it up before we started 21. That's the one. Yeah. I mean, uh, I have to say I, I was a math major in college. So, um, you know, watching that movie certainly got my wheels spinning and got me excited. I never did anything with it, but I felt the same kind of like, I feel like I could do this.
Um, but it's amazing. What was the. Maybe like the, just one really like hilarious story that comes out of all your card cutting days and, and, and all the kind of experiences you have.
Colin: Oh, one, one story. I don't, I don't know if I could think of, well, I mean, uh, yeah, I can't think of one story, but, uh, You know, beating a casino for 50, 000 and I'm having no idea who I am or what I'm doing.
That's, that's the most thrilling part, but I've been, you know, asked to leave countless casinos, uh, bumped into celebrities like Mike Tyson or some of the, uh, Los Angeles Lakers in high limits rooms. Um. Those, those are some of the fun, thrilling things, but then it's also like, you know, they're, they're the awful parts of it getting thrown out of my hotel room in the middle of the night because it gets, you know, finally figured out who I was and what I was doing.
And, and, uh, you know, I don't, I don't know. That's what comes to mind. Yeah,
Jared: well, we can transition from the thrilling to what probably most wouldn't consider an adrenaline rush, which is building an online brand, but thrilling in a different way. I suppose you could say, um, you started the website in 2008, like maybe just give us some timeline in terms of where that was with what you were actually doing at the time.
Was this something that you just started to have like a landing page or was this when you started in 2008 really becoming your sole focus of where you want to put your time and energy?
Colin: So we had friends that were in the e commerce space, a friend of ours, he had started like the number one fan site for Tolkien.
And this was like before Lord of the Rings movies came out. And so that led him into SEO because he w he was just a Tolkien fan started a website. And then before he knew it, he was making a killing. Uh, you know, as an e commerce guy in the early 2000s. So he was a good friend of ours and he was like, Oh yeah, you could do this sort of, um, membership site around your stuff.
And, and they kind of showed us a simple path. Well, uh, we want to have it ready for 21, the movie, which came out in 2008. And we barely did, we, we had it up there and it was. You know, pretty simple, but it was not our main thing. It just was sort of, we're trying these side hustles cause we knew we didn't want to be in and beating casinos, you know, full time forever.
It was about four or five years later is when I decided to stop running this blackjack team. I I've been running it through my, all of my twenties and. But I don't want to do this forever. So I transitioned out of that and just said, I'm going to figure out this website. Um, I had a couple other e commerce sites and so I was working on those too, but this was the one that really, you know, um, had a brand behind it, to be honest.
That was when penguin and panda came out the other way. I had a website that I was making a few thousand dollars a month off of selling shower curtains. It was like, it was just like total niche, you know, and then panda and penguin come out and the thing went to making 0 a month. Whereas Blackjack Apprenticeship, it was a brand.
It started as a brand. Um, and so that was the one that, you know, was less of kind of a hack and less of an SEO hack and really around creating true value for people. So of course that was the one that, uh, you know, was a real business.
Jared: We're in that stage right now, where a lot of the emphasis in recent Google updates has been on real businesses.
E com is certainly something that seems to be rising and Google is in favorship of, so you, you know, you might've been ahead of your time on a couple of different levels
Colin: there. All trial and
Jared: error. Fair enough. Fair enough. You know, um, Hey, so let's talk about how you, uh, grew the website to where it is and the brand, I know we've got a lot of video topics we're going to get into, maybe I always like to ask before we get into some of the nuts and bolts, like, can you tell us a little bit about where, you know, the, the brand or the website is at today, whether it's videos and traffic, whether it's earnings as a collective whole, whether it's the website you want to do, but just to give people an idea of the scope that we're talking about as we kind of proceed to the rest of the conversation.
Colin: Yeah, I, uh, I should really know our numbers better, but, uh, the YouTube channel as of today has like 450, 000 subscribers. Um, the, the website is really strong on traffic. I don't even know what it is. Um, but, uh. Yeah. Anyway, it's, I could look it up, but, uh, good, good traffic. I really worked on SEO for those first four or five years.
Um, but have really primarily focused on video since then, as far as earnings, uh, you know, it, uh, It brings in seven figures. Um, I don't really like talking too much about that cause that's not really the goal. I didn't set out to make seven figures. I set out to build a good business that provided a lot of value, but the more value we add, the more, uh, you know, value it captures as well.
Jared: Yeah, no, that, that's plenty. I think hearing 450, 000 subscribers, um, puts your video, uh, chops in perspective and, you know, the website. As a business, you're generating quite a bit. So I think it just gives people the ability to kind of hear what you're saying. And from someone who started in 2008, who didn't have a clue what they were doing with all this stuff now to see where it is today, like there's a lot of value we'll get out of hearing about, about your journey.
Um, you know, I mean, I think that the premise of the conversation today, at least, at least what I know, and tell me if I'm wrong, but like. Basically you turned a video and high quality videos to as an effort to boost SEO, like, uh, especially around your landing pages and you started getting a good feedback loop.
Like when did you approach your website from that perspective? When was that first started? And maybe walk us through some of the details that went into those first few videos.
Colin: Yeah, so like I said, I really focused on SEO. We actually, we had a YouTube channel from the very beginning, um, and we actually got lucky.
When, when 21, the movie came out, we got lucky with the, the number one video for how to count cards. Um, but if anyone, for anyone that knows YouTube, you can get lucky with a video and it's just going to die off over time if you don't continually kind of stay in, um, you know, in YouTube's good graces as far as providing quality content regularly.
So that, that died off and I didn't know how to replicate it. We tried some other videos, but. We didn't know what we'd done right there and we definitely weren't, weren't repeating it. So I focused on SEO. It felt like what I could wrap my head around and control just creating, you know, maybe we wanted to rank for how to count cards on Google and I would just kind of skyscraper technique, just say, Hey, how am I going to build the very best page on the internet around this?
And would do that and then sit back and, you know, keep doing that with page after page, but it reached a point where I was reading about how websites that were adding video to their landing pages were getting better rankings in Google. So I decided, well, let me try some video, not for YouTube, but really just to try to get more traffic to our top landing pages.
And I tried it with two pages, our how to count cards page and our blackjack strategy charts page created these two videos. And I was lucky that I had a friend that was a former videographer turned. Seven figure card counter. And he said, Hey, I'll, I'll help you, you know, lighting video. But to be honest, you don't need a videographer to do this.
You just need to know how to, how to craft a high quality video. Just like you can craft a high quality page for SEO. You craft a high quality video. That's going to be compelling from start to finish and call someone to action. So I did that and it just, the traffic to those pages went. You know, doubled or five X.
Um, and the click through rates doubled and that led to saying, okay, well, I did with these pages. Why don't I do this for the home page for the sales pages? And we actually changed our lead magnet from an ebook to a video mini course because we're selling our main product was a membership, which most people bought for the video course.
It was like, why use ebook to get people to buy video? Let's use video. So we made it. This new mini course that was six videos and it took me a week to create. It wasn't this huge, difficult thing, but that I think forexed our, our, uh, conversion rate. And so then it was like video, you know, people were saying, Hey, the internet's moving video first.
This was, you know, six, seven years ago. It has absolutely, if you look at the statistics, it is absolutely moved video first. But, uh, it was like, okay, well let's figure out YouTube as another. Uh, you know, piece of the funnel to get more people to the website because, Hey, the video is working for SEO, but man, if we could not have all of our weight on just SEO for all of our traffic, then we've got a healthier business, you know, not a one legged stool, but you know, adding more legs to the stool is the way I was thinking about it.
Jared: the, you said you switched to making video that wasn't trying to rank in YouTube. Like what were the, what were the switch? So that gives someone an idea. I'm trying to think in my head of how I would make a video, not to rank in YouTube, but to just kind of live on its own, on its own, um, on a, on a
Yeah, it really has to do with what's the, what's the next step. So if someone's coming to a landing page, that means they, they got to Google that they want a question answered. So that video should answer the question very well in a way that gets people to know, like, and trust you and calls them to a very specific action.
So if it's the basic strategy charts page, it's saying, Hey, You know, Hey, here's what basic strategy is. It's the optimal way to play blackjack, blah, blah, blah, blah. And then at the end to download our chart, click below or to join our free mini course, click here, whatever the call to action is. YouTube is a different thing.
YouTube. Um, most YouTube traffic isn't search. So that was a big switch. I needed to flip to not think of YouTube in terms of search, but think of it in terms of what's called discoverable content. YouTube knows everything about everyone on YouTube. They know what content you're going to like. So as a YouTube creator, you're trying to create content that your audience that doesn't even know about you will like.
And so that could be, you know, um, the five most commonly misplayed blackjack hands. Well, that is not about how to count cards. However, I'm going to, from the first second to the last, I'm going to provide as much value as I can. That, that is both entertaining and educational. And the call to action is not the website.
It's not to download something. It's to watch another video. That next video will be like, Hey, and if you want to learn how to play better, watch our video on basic strategy. Then you get them to watch that video. And then at the end of that, you say, Oh, basic strategy is great, but you're not going to beat the game with that.
You need to learn how to count cards. Watch our video on how to count cards. So they're, they're to a website. It's to get people to that next step, which is probably email list, you know, a product, whereas YouTube, the call to action. 99 percent of the time is watch another video.
Jared: We had somebody else on prior who talked about how for them, the key to unlocking succeeding in YouTube was to really understand the algorithm.
And I'm hearing you kind of talk a bit about how like, Hey, calling people to move away from your video. Isn't necessarily the best move because it pushes the bulk of people away from YouTube, which is not what YouTube wants. And you say like, no, the call to action should be watch another video. So. Um, what other like YouTube algorithm type things did you learn in the process of almost making content that wasn't for the algorithm?
Colin: There's a really great video that Peter McKinnon just put out that is about YouTube strategy because people are saying, you know what, it's called something like, is YouTube the problem or am I? And in it, the guy that he interviews says, replace the word algorithm with audience. So we're not trying to beat an algorithm.
We're trying to reach an audience. And when you really understand that you say, you know what? My ideal customer is out there. If I create content for them, that gets them to watch as much of my content as possible. YouTube is going to find them. They're going to serve them my content. And so, yeah, watch time is really important.
It, you have to trust, you have to trust that not selling is the best thing to do 90 percent of the time. The best thing to do is watch time because. Uh, how do you tell the, the algorithm what's good? Well, it's what people watch. And so if, you know, if Jared comes across my video because YouTube suggests it, he, he watches it, gets to the end and watches my next video in YouTube's mind.
It is on Jared likes my channel. He likes my content and they're going to keep serving him my content. Until he stops watching it. And so that's where you want every video to be given credible amount of value from first to last second and, uh, really pitch watching another video. And then, you know, the 10 percent of it can be like, Hey, to learn more, you know, you got to go here, but, but again, that's all, that's 10 percent of your content tops.
Jared: A lot's made about the first 30 seconds of the video. Is it as important as people make out? And if it is, what keeps people, uh, engaged?
Colin: Yeah. I mean, the first 30 seconds is important, but I'd say every second is, is important. Meaning, um, yeah, if someone watches the first 30 seconds, but they drop off before you suggest they watch another video, then you're not going to get.
You know, that, that, uh, and, and that's very common is we're, if we're used to writing blog posts or that kind of content, then you summarize at the end, YouTube, you don't summarize, you are teaching, you're giving value immediately up to saying now watch this video. Um, but yeah, of course the first, I think of it like, um, movies before someone watches a movie first, they might see the movie poster or the thumbnail for a movie on rotten tomatoes or whatever it may be, if that.
If that thumbnail is not compelling, no one's going to watch the trailer. So that's where YouTube thumbnails are incredibly important. We split test thumbnails. Um, you know, we come up with two very different ideas, like completely different ideas. One might have my face on it. The other might, you know, be a picture of a blackjack table with something that's going to cause intrigue or curiosity.
But that's kind of like the movie. Yeah. But then someone usually then watches the movie trailer, right? Before they go and spend 17 bucks to see a movie. Well, that movie trailer is like the first 30 seconds of a YouTube video. That's where you've got your hook that someone says, Oh yeah, you know, the thumbnail and title.
Made me want to watch the first 30 seconds, but that first 30 seconds is where I'm committed to continue watching this video. So that's where you got to deliver the hook that says, why is this going to be a value? What they're going to get out of seeing it. Um, and, but then you, you do got to keep giving value all the way to the very end because people are ADD on, on YouTube.
There's so many other thumbnails to click on and so many things vying for their attention. You've got to be quality from first to last second. I don't
Jared: know if this is more of a, of a topical roadmap question, or if it's just a straight, you know, topics. And brainstorming question, like where do you, because you rattled off a couple of titles just off the top of your head a few minutes ago, you're like, they're going to watch this and they'll go to this and they'll go to that and, um, so you seem to have a really good understanding of like what your audience wants.
Um, I'm thinking of the person listening who doesn't. Really understand what their audience might want on YouTube, who maybe like you, they posted a couple of a bunch of videos and one really hit, but they haven't been able to replicate that, but they don't really have an avatar in mind when it comes to their audience, you know, and they don't necessarily, they're not able to rattle off topics that they might know.
Maybe they could do that in their blog. Maybe they can do their website or about their product. But when it comes to video content, they can't
Colin: do that. Yeah, I'd say two things. One, if you know your Avatar on on through your blog or through search traffic. You should know them. You should know it. You know, it's the same person.
It's just your ideal customer. But the reality is YouTube is the second largest search engine. So that same avatar is also on YouTube. Um, but the second thing I'd say is you can go to YouTube and you can search, um, topics that you, you think like, Oh, well I wrote blog posts about this. You can find other videos.
You know, from other careers that have done well. Um, so it's like if, if you've got five ideas and you search them and you can find, Hey, who did, who did this well on YouTube? And then you've got to watch their video. Well, why did it do? Well, what are they doing? Right? Um, and. Kind of reverse engineer. Okay.
This is, you know, this is how I could create in the same way, the skyscraper technique, look at the top 10 pages and say, what are they doing? Right. Well, you can do the same by watching the YouTube videos that have, you know, over a hundred thousand views or, or, you know, whatever that. And, uh, figure out what they do right with the title and thumbnail.
Um, you know, people don't know this. Mr. Beast has been a part since he was in like high school, Mr. Beast, the number one YouTuber. He's been a part of a group that daily discusses thumbnails and YouTube videos. He's analyzed all the YouTube videos over, you know, a hundred million views. This. It's, it's very mathematical, just like SEO, you know, or strategic.
I should say.
Jared: I like how you slipped the word mathematical in there.
Colin: That's the way I, you and I think Jared.
Jared: I, well, music to my ears. Um, Hey, so let's, let's track back to, to, to your progress and stuff. We kind of, uh, you know, took a little deviation there to talk about YouTube strategy, but, um, you know, you started doing this in bulk.
When did things, uh, sorry, what were the results from all this focus? I think you mentioned that it really had an impact on the business, not only in terms of kind of visibility, but also in terms of profit.
Colin: Yeah. So what was that roadmap? Like,
Jared: yeah, exactly. Like how quickly did you grow and scale the content?
How quickly did that have an impact on the, on the business? What sort of impact did it have?
Colin: So, so the, the video on the website worked right away. Um, I, you know, I had all these, uh, Spencer saw me give a talk at a thing and I had all the numbers in my talk. Well, I've forgotten them. Cause that was like a month ago, six weeks ago.
But, um, you know, it was like traffic doubled very quickly. Um, and then started adding it to the rest of the website. All of that stuff worked. And I'm like, all right. Now let's do it on YouTube and it didn't work it took for an entire year. So I put out, I decided to put out a video every two weeks in high quality, you know, got a decent camera and lighting and all that stuff, had an editor.
edit it together with B roll and stuff like that. After a year, the channel had grown from only 6, 000 subscribers to 9, 000 subscribers with, with all that effort. Well, at the same time, there was an actual scammer, like a guy that didn't know what he was talking about making card counting videos on YouTube that had grown to 50, 000 subscribers in that same time period.
And it was really frustrating, but kind of like that Peter McKinnon video, I had to ask, like, is YouTube wrong or am I, and I knew it was me. So I was like, what is he doing? And it was like, oh, he's really compelling. Even though he's lying, he's very compelling. My stuff is not compelling. And so, um, I dove into some courses and learned from some experts, got some really good feedback and decided to double down.
So the next year I'd said, I'm going to do a video every week. But we're going to up the quality, like the hook, I'm going to script. It's going to be a high quality hook, great thumbnail, give value from beginning to end, you know, just do everything right. And in that next year we got to a hundred thousand subscribers and then this, the scammer got banned from YouTube.
So it, it did pay off. It, it took a year of failing and then a year of getting it right. But getting it right really was understanding. Um, you know, what kind of content is, is interesting. Um, not from a topical standpoint, but from a delivery standpoint, uh, giving value from first to last second, you know, here's a suggestion.
Let's say it's a listicle of five things that you're going to talk about, you know, um, the top five misplayed hands in blackjack. I gave that example earlier. Well, I'm not going to say one, two, three, four, five. I'm going to say five, four, three, two, one, because people want to hear, well, what's the number one.
Hand misplayed. So I'm going to deliver it in a way where the ending is the, the, you know, the climax of the video and, and for more watch this video, you know, it's compelling from, there's no filler, there's no rambling, which I'll do if you just. Ask me a question. I'll ramble. No, I'm going to know my bullet points and we're going to edit down anything that seems boring.
Cut it out. And that's going to be the final YouTube video is, is as much value from first to last second.
Jared: How did you come up with the topics? I mean, is it, you know, we're used to, if you're a blogger and you're listening, you're used to keyword research, right? And you're used to. To understand the different types of keywords.
And you know, we got the, the, the big header keywords, the cornerstone style content. We've got the long tail keywords that are less competitive. We've got the different styles. You got the versus and the listicle, like you mentioned. Um, you know, I've talked to people in the past about keyword research as it were for YouTube, but.
How did you go about finding this? And I'm particularly interested in what you did when you realized that it wasn't working very well. You know, um, you had only 9, 000 subscribers, but you had a lot of videos that you'd already completed at that point. Did you scrap those and just start over remaking it?
I'm just curious how you unwound all that. There's,
Colin: there's no reason to scrap old videos on YouTube. Um, you know, just, just leave it there. You know, um, there's some. Awful videos. I'm embarrassed to have, well, they're still up who cares. Uh, it's about creating quality content moving forward, but you know, there's a little bit of that, you know, if you've built a website, you know, that the top.
Things people are going to be interested in. Well, those are all YouTube videos, but you have to think of it in terms of, well, what's going to be the most compelling, intriguing title, thumbnail, and way to deliver it, you know, a blog post, people scroll, they see the, the, you know, subheadings. And so they might skip, they're like, okay, I'm going to skip past this.
Um, that's the way we read video. You don't want that. It's gotta be qual, every second needs to be worth watching. So, um, anyway, yeah, you, you know, your big topics, but I have a Google doc where I'm just always throwing in ideas in there, whatever it may be. And, uh, and then I'll pick, okay. And, and I always batched videos if I was putting out for.
In a month, I would outline, I pick four topics, outline four topics, film four topics all in one day so that I'm not, you know, filming every week, but, uh, but yeah, I just have this list. I'd say, okay, well, I gotta do four videos. What are the four that seem to me the most interesting? Um, there's a little bit of thinking.
With YouTube, you can go a little bit off of your key. So I I'll do, we just did a video about, um, cheating techniques from dealers. Well, that's not a thing that a card counter is worried about in 2023, but in the 1960s and seventies. You know, it was something you had to worry about the video. It's not relevant to today's card counter, but it is an awesome, really creative video, so you can go a little off topic as long as it gets people into the funnel that will add value to your ideal customer.
But yeah, I just always have a list that I'm adding to and. You know, brainstorming and just picking the best topics from it. And some of it's trial and error. Some of our things, people love the videos about backoffs, getting thrown out of casinos. Um, you know, and, and that
Jared: sounds intriguing to me, to be honest with you.
Colin: So we've done quite a few around that, just different. And there, some people say you could do the same topics every year, just a little bit different angle on it. You don't have to come up, you know, you can't say, well, I created this. We're actually right now, we're looking at some of the videos I filmed.
Five, six years ago that didn't do well and saying, Hey, how could we do these? Well, now, so, uh, I've heard of educational YouTube channels that do the exact same topics every single year. They don't say, Hey, I did this a year ago. It's just a new chance to create a really awesome video. That's gonna, you know, serve their audience.
I want to
Jared: ask you about the actual filming of the videos and again, um, I hope this would be helpful for a lot of people listening because you have a, uh, a YouTube channel that really, it seems to me being an outside perspective, you'd want to be maybe filming in a casino a lot, or at least setting up a stage of some sorts.
It seems like it's. Somewhat location specific. And again, I'm thinking about a lot of people who are like, I run a finance blog, like where, what do I, I run a travel blog, but I'm at home when I do, like, I'm trying to think about these people and trying to get in your head about how important the setup, the makeup, the location, the filming, the actual, everything except for what you say, um, in the video is.
Colin: Yeah. Makeup isn't a part of my process. Um, yeah, there's, there's a really, if people want to understand YouTube, it was Tim Schmoyer from Video Creators that taught me this, but there's a book called Primal Branding, and it gets into the really strong brands, the Nikes. The Patagonia is the Coca Cola's.
They're not really just selling tennis shoes or jackets or soft drinks. They're people are attracted to the brand because of, of some sort of values and beliefs around it. And even your set, you know, how you film is a part of that primal branding. For me, I would say 90 percent of my videos are at this blackjack table with the same backdrop and the same lighting, and people come to kind of expect and.
You know, no, like, and trust or, or, you know, it's like, um, it's the same with Joe Rogan's set, you know, people come to expect it and, and to feel comfortable there. Um, so, you know, you don't, you don't need to change. I actually probably wouldn't change my location all the time, unless, you know, unless you are Mr.
Beast or, or Mark Rober or something like something like that. But, um, yeah, I B roll is really huge. Really huge. It's called a visual interrupt. It could be a lower third graphic, you know, so if you're doing a listicle, it could be like number five. It could be adding text. It's just the right time in the video to emphasize what you're saying, or it could be B roll.
So a few things we've done. There's all sorts of, um, you know, like I stock photo type websites that have video, video B roll, um, Um, and you can sign up for it. You could download any B roll video you think you would ever use for your channel, and then you could cancel after a month and do that for five different B roll websites.
You could hire a videographer. Videographers are not that expensive, you know, maybe 40, 50 bucks an hour and say, you know what, I'm going to put together this B roll list. We did this where it's dealing. You know, hands of blackjack or we just came up with a list of anything we could ever want. Hired a guy for a day and it cost, you know, 300 bucks or whatever.
And we got slo mo. You know, four K B roll of anything we thought we would ever want. And then we've got that at our disposal for any video we do. Um, so there, there are ways that if it's a travel vlog, I'd find someone in that location or a travel YouTube channel, find someone in the Bahamas or Costa Rica that is a videographer and say, Hey, how much would it cost to get, you know, a day's worth of video shot?
It could be. You know, drone. And then, you know, I mean, a videographer knows, knows how to do this. I'm sure you have to pay a little bit of money, but you're going to have something that most other people don't, don't have. And all those visual interrupts, all those things are keeping people intrigued and, and enjoying the video.
Jared: So you're saying is that this podcast interview, that's going to go on YouTube, pretty much breaks every one of the important facets for YouTube.
Colin: Podcasts are different, you know, um, the thumbnail needs to. Make people know what they're getting into. And, and if the thumbnail says, Hey, oh, yeah, this is going to be a long form interview, then people know what what to expect for it.
And, uh, you know, yeah, Joe Rogan, he doesn't have all these visual interrupts. But if it's if it's something, you know. It's a different, I guess, kind of totally. And
Jared: I was being tongue in cheek by saying that. I mean, Spencer and I joke all the time that anytime anybody watches a podcast interview for an hour on YouTube, it's such a, uh, it seems to be anti YouTube platform in terms of what performs best on YouTube.
Colin: It does. But, um, you know, if. If it's an hour long interview and people are watching 30 minutes, that's 30 minute watch time. Yeah, it's a lot. YouTube likes that. Yeah, that's a good point. It'd be better if they watched the entire video, but you're getting 30 minutes of watch time. And you know what? We're about 30
Jared: minutes in right now.
So you got to say something really powerful to keep people around to the end here.
Colin: Really, uh, I mean, I, I was just going to say you, you totally threw
Jared: me off. I'm sorry. I couldn't help it. I was just looking at the clock and it said 30 minutes. So, yeah. Um, well, good. I, I, I will use that as a transition because this is my next question.
Um, you, you, you have in our notes, you said it a couple of times, maybe just from a high level, what are things? That go into a YouTube video being high quality and I'm, I'm using air quotes on purpose for those of you listening on the podcast, because I mean that, you know, you hear that and you're like, cool, but making a high quality video is so subjective.
Like, what are the things you actually have seen time and time again, trend out to making your video higher quality in, in both your readers, your, your watchers, your viewers and YouTube, um, uh, across the board.
Colin: Well, in a similar way that as an SEO, you're obsessed with analytics. As a video creator, you're obsessed with your audience retention graph.
The audience retention graph is our Google analytics of YouTube. You can see where people drop off. I had an editor that I used for a number of years that she was trained by YouTube. She'd go to YouTube's headquarters to learn from them. And she would tell me, stop using the word. So I would start. Every bullet point with, so if you want to, she said, every time you were used the word, so your audience retention graph drops.
Wow. My, my point is, as you look at the audience retention graph, you will learn what am I doing wrong here? Or what am I doing? Right? Another thing is look at other videos, become a student of YouTube videos. How are videos that you enjoy? They all share these primal branding elements. If you, if you read that book or, or just read the CliffsNotes version, have chat TPT, tell you a summary of primal branding.
You'll see every successful YouTube channel understands this stuff either intuitively or they've studied it. You could also say, yeah, what thumbnail, why did, what thumbnails attract me and why then put your own thumbnail. There's a service we use. I don't remember what it is, but it basically is a page of thumbnails, just like you're scrolling through YouTube and you put yours in the middle of it.
And you say, does it attract my attention? Cause you, as you're working on the thumbnail, you'll be like, this is great. Then you put it on a page of thumbnails and you're like, mine is very boring. Why would I ever watch that one? Um, so analyze the thumbnails, analyze the hook, um, and avoid anything that is going to drop off retention.
Also audio quality is more important than video quality. Right. So before I would get an expensive camera, I would get good audio. You know what? The audio I used for years was like a 12 lapel mic on Amazon, but it still was good quality. Um, you know, lighting is more important than the video camera. Um, just become a student of it.
Just like with SEO, you become a student of what kind of content attracts an audience.
Jared: Let's talk a little about short form content. Um, uh, and also, uh, any of the other things that are happening in YouTube nowadays and really in video content in general, so I could rattle off a bunch for you, you grab any of these, if you want, tell me about how you're engaging with them and maybe anything that we can learn from, um, short form video can mean a lot of things, right?
But maybe if it's vertical video, YouTube shorts, Instagram, Tik TOK, um, you know, you started off with doing. YouTube videos per se. And how have, how has your strategy changed at all? When it comes to some of the short form stuff,
Colin: this has been something we just kind of stumbled into this year. And to be honest, the jury is still out on the value of it.
But what we started doing it was actually, um, you know, a YouTube consultant, she, she kept saying try shorts. And I said, well, why? And she's like, well, just try them. So what we started doing is taking, um, sections of our videos that already existed. And editing them to be vertical format, putting the text of what I'm saying on overlaying it on the video and coming up with a good title and publishing it.
The beauty is, you know, if we've got a couple hundred videos at this point, well, then we probably have, you know, four or 500 good shorts of content if, if the content's good. So we started publishing those and, and we're getting more subscribers to our channels from these shorts now. Then from our long form videos, it's, it's been very interesting.
Uh, it's, it's very little effort. I don't have to come up with a new idea. My we've tried using AI to do the short, like grab shorts and those don't work. So it's actually my editor. Watching a video and grabbing the couple of sections that seem good. Coming up with a really good title for it and then publishing it.
We put two out a week. It's like Tuesdays and Fridays. We put out a short and it's really driving, you know, the important thing isn't views who cares, but it's driving subscribers. Now for me, the real question is, is it quality subscribers? Is it subscribers that are my ideal customer? That are going to become, you know, uh, by our membership.
And that's where I said that the jury is still out, but then amount of subscribers is driving for its effort. It is really, uh, kind of mind blowing. Well,
Jared: perfect segue. So I do want to spend the last bit of time talking about how this drives revenue, because. Um, and almost like the catch 22 of all this, I guess I'll use to set the stage for the last half for the last part of our conversation.
Like catch 22 is exactly what you said. The more that you succeed on YouTube seems to be directly related to how well you keep people on YouTube, right? Like. Your video success and your ongoing channel success has to do with keeping people engaged and bouncing from video to video, but yet to make money on YouTube, everyone says you got to get them off of YouTube because the only way to make really make money on YouTube is with their ads and they pay pretty bad, pretty poorly.
And I'm guessing you're not here to tell me that you're making all your money on YouTube ads. So how do we. How do we navigate videos contributing to our bottom line and contributing to the revenue of our website and our brand and our company, but also still fitting within the way that we succeed on YouTube?
Colin: Yeah, I mean, really two things. One is having a product that is valuable. If the product off off YouTube, the product on your website is a value that if it fills. Uh, a need that your customer has, you know, that's, that's the most important thing, but the, the second part is really. When I create a video, I'm thinking of my ideal customer.
I'm thinking of the people that have come through our training that have made six, seven figures from card counting. Who is that person before they know about our business and how do I create content that's speaking to them? And, uh, really the goal of YouTube is know, like, and trust. Get them to know who you are.
The problem is before we had a YouTube audience, no one on YouTube knew. Blackjack Apprenticeship. But the next step is to get them to like you. And what I've found is that video Like and trust you. Um, video is far easier to get someone to like and trust you than written word alone. A podcast, you know, they get to spend that time with you where like, Oh yeah, I like this guy.
I trust this guy. I would purchase from this guy. Um, that's a lot easier in video than it is with, with written word. And so the goal is to create really good content that's providing value on YouTube. And, you know, I say, I give the hook. And then we got our little intro slide and I say, Hey, I'm calling from blackjack apprenticeship.
I've been a card counter for over 15 years or whatever. I've, you know, I've, I've made over 600, 000 counting cards. I ran blackjack teams that beat casinos for roughly 4 million. And now I teach others through blackjack apprenticeship. That's it. But people know there's this thing. I'm not saying go to Blackjack Apprenticeship.
I'm just in 10 seconds saying who I am, why they should trust me, and I get into giving value. And I trust that over the long haul that will get people over to the website. There are times where in a video the best thing, the best example of what I'm talking about could be In our membership, where if I'm saying, Hey, you need to know how much to bet.
Well, we have this betting, you know, here's our betting software. You know, I'm not selling it. I'm just letting them know, or you need to train till you're perfect. So that could be training software. And it's a B roll of our training software. There are those little things. If it's creating an adding value, I've basically never sell, but people know, they know that.
You know, I can't say never, I would say 1 percent of the time I say, and if you want to take this really seriously, we have a membership that teaches you nuts to, you know, soup to nuts, how to become a winning card counter, watch this video, you know, whatever. Um, but selling is, is very, very secondary trusting that if I provide value and people know that I have a valuable product, they'll make their way over there.
Jared: Yeah, we talk about a lot, right? You hear mentioned a lot like product market fit, you know, and it almost seems like. Uh, videos for you are so closely aligned to what you're selling at the end of the day that maybe I would even go a little further than what you said and say you don't need to sell because the fit is so apparent that if, if, if someone's ready to make a purchase and they're watching that video, they're so closely aligned that you don't even really need to sell.
A subtle mention is all it needs for someone who's ready to kind of pull the trigger.
Colin: Yeah. And there could be a subtle mention if you do have an ebook or. Some sort of lead magnet, you know, but I still would have the call to action. You know, you could say we have a lead magnet in the description, but when you get to the end of the video, 90 percent of time, you want to be calling them to watch another video and just trust that getting a larger reach more time with that person will be more valuable than sending them to the website as, as tough as it is to not try to send them directly
Jared: to the website.
No, I think you kind of sent around a point that I've been fumbling with my mind for the last hour, right? As we've done this interview, like it just feels more and more that the best sales tactic is almost the anti sales tactic and the best strategy you can have is keeping them engaged with your videos on YouTube, keeping them watching, hopefully subscribing, hopefully coming back, hopefully continuing to engage.
And during that process, trusting you more so so that when they're ready to make that purchase, instead of you kind of giving them an offer, it's more about them than taking the next step forward.
Colin: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, you could step back and say, what is my business model and how does YouTube fit into it? Um, again, video, maybe it's, maybe it's not primarily for YouTube.
Maybe YouTube is the way to build trust in terms of E E A T. You know, you have a YouTube presence and it, it proves you're a real authority in this. You're not, you know, just someone playing the SEO game, but figure out how it fits into your model and you know, kind of how to get people to know that next thing without sending them away from YouTube because it's, how do you get momentum on YouTube if you're constantly sending people away from
And I got to tell you, Colin, you're a podcast hosters dream here. You just teed me up again. My next question was going to. B to kind of bring it full circle and go back to the website and talk about how you're using these videos on your website. You just kind of teased me there. Um, you have this very successful YouTube channel today.
How are you using these videos? Are you embedding them in your content? Are you putting them on product pages? Are you just so curious? Like, how are you using all this back now on your website? That's also growing very successfully. Yeah,
Colin: we don't have all of our YouTube videos on the website. I it's probably time to take a look and say, is there some content we should create on the website around some of these?
Videos, but if there is a good fit, if there's a landing page or a, you know, a blog post where a video would be a natural fit, then of course I want to add it there because it's going to add more value to the customer, you know, um, it's something like something like 90 percent of people say they want more video.
From brands on online. So yeah, if I have a video that can help answer a question as well as written word, I should absolutely put it there. But then I'm going to think about, well, what's, what's the call to action. Maybe I film a separate, a different call to action than the YouTube video. That's getting them to take a next step on the website.
Not watch another YouTube video, right? So I'm going to think through, well, how does this fit in the funnel on the website? And the videos, the sales page videos on our website, those are not for YouTube. Those are, hey, someone's gotten to the website. They're interested in the product. Hey, how do I, you know, let them know the value they're going to get if they sign up for our paid product or whatever it may be?
Jared: I think that's an interesting distinction you're making because most people, when they hear video, they're thinking, I'm going to embed my YouTube videos, which are designed to keep people on YouTube onto my website. You're creating either the same video with different hooks and different call to actions, or you're creating entirely different videos and then you're putting those videos as standalone on the website.
Is that right?
Colin: Yeah, exactly. Uh, very little sales videos on YouTube, but we have sales videos on the website that we filmed separately and, and yeah, it's, it's very easy to have a different call to action. Yeah. Um, or we'll use Wistia that has a pop up at the end of the video to give their name and email to get our, you know, lead magnet.
Um, so just thinking about it. You just got to think about the funnel and
Jared: how it fits. Yeah. Um, you had commented I think during that presentation that Spencer saw a month or two ago that your website traffic grew quite a bit. When you really went all in on video, um, like just, just to, to unpack that a bit more, like what we sort of touched on the beginning, by the way, I realized that, but to, to, to circle back on now that people have the full scope and breadth of what you're doing on YouTube and how you're creating videos.
Like, what do you think were the compelling points about why your website traffic grew so much from video?
Colin: Yeah, I think time on time on page is, is important. Uh, I also think that Google is going to prioritize. Pages that do have video on it, especially YouTube, you know, uh, but I think it's the time on time on page, you know, and, and the click through rates it, that video people stayed on the page a lot, a lot longer, and we're more likely to click through to a next thing.
And those are all positive. Signals, uh, to Google. And then, you know, in a EAT world, you know, it's, it's a positive signal to Google that you are an expert, you've got authority, uh, you're trustworthy. Um, it's, it's harder to be what Google doesn't want when you're going through the effort of filming videos around your content, like videos that get good watch time, not just.
Video isn't the goal of videos that serve your
Jared: audience's goal. Yeah. Checking the box that you have an embedded video and moving along. Isn't the goal. The goal is to create a video that yes, checks the box, but actually engages them to your timeline page and all the other metrics that are associated with that go up exactly.
Um, uh, man, Colin, this has been great. Uh, So much for coming. And I know I am, uh, I'm inspired to double down on video after talking to you, which is one of those things where I think all of us know it. And I guess I'll finish by asking this question. A lot of people listening, not everyone, but I know there's a segment of the audience listening to going like, man, I would struggle so much on video.
I would really struggle to put my face in front of in front of a camera. And record and all that. Like, do you have any tips or just thoughts for them? Um, uh, because I'm hoping that, you know, some people listening to maybe previously had ruled out doing video content because of those types of components, maybe would be able to get over the
Colin: hurdle and start.
Yeah. There was a slide in that talk where I said, it doesn't have to be you doing, doing all the content. Um, I'm not a fan of. AI script, reading a script for, for your video, because I don't think you're going to build no like, and trust that way, but you know, there, there's a YouTube channel that I really like where it's the guy for the first 15 seconds.
And maybe the last 15 seconds where he's setting up, you know, the hook and then the call to action, the rest is all voice narration with awesome B roll. It's product reviews. And it's like, you know, the hero of the video is the product, not him. And so it's very little of him. That's one way to do it.
Another is if you can, there are YouTube content creators out there that don't have a business, they're creating videos and maybe they've got 5, 000 subscribers or 10, 000 subscribers, or maybe they have. 50, 000 subscribers, they're not making a living off of it, but they've proven they can create content.
You could partner with them and say, Hey, I want you to be the face of this channel. Clearly, you know how to make YouTube videos. And I've seen brands doing this where they don't know how to get, how to create good YouTube videos, so they will hire and they'll even let the person promote their personal YouTube channel.
Um, they're hiring them, maybe paying them 500 bucks to create this awesome video, but they know because they have a business that is driving people to. The YouTube ad revenue, it's, it's really, it's nothing to me. It covers the cost of making the videos. It's the business that makes all the money off of it.
So you could partner with someone else. You maybe have a business partner. That's more of an extrovert and they're willing to be the face of the channel. Or you suck it up. Like I do. I'm an introvert. I don't like being on camera, but I do like creating six and seven figure card counters. So I will get behind that camera once a month to, to film a video.
You know, I'm going to screw up so many times, but my editor will make it look good. And I know that then we're continuing our mission of, you know, building the business and creating people kicking casinos. But I,
Jared: uh, an example I always give as a channel, I like to follow a lot. Um, and it's, um, the world, according to Briggs, um, I don't know what he's up to, but I don't, I don't know.
He's probably shown his face at some point, but I have watched probably at least a hundred videos and never seen his face and his videos are killing it. And they get lots of watch time and stuff. And he's a very good. Or a tour and stuff, but you know, like to your point, like there's so many different ways to do this.
Right? So, um, well, good,
Colin: I'll say, I'll say this. Go ahead. Yeah, I now do a video a month. Um, I did a video a week for a year to get momentum. And then I backed off and did a video every 2 weeks for a year. And my question is, could I keep the same rate of subscribers with less content? And then after a year of that and saying, Hey, we're doing just as well with a video every two weeks.
I said, can I do a video a month? So there is the whole YouTube burnout thing. But if you get kind of that flywheel, just like with SEO, you know, you get that flywheel going of quality content. It's just keeping enough. To let YouTube know, Hey, you're still engaging people. You're still attracting an audience.
And then they'll serve videos that are five, 10 years old. If it's high quality content,
Jared: it's great. Yeah. It's, it's, it's got so much that mimics SEO, you know, in terms of, uh, you know, uh, Videos that will last will continue to drive traffic will continue to live in evergreen format. So, uh, it certainly has so many similarities You just got to nail the the production side It's instead of hiding behind a computer and I say hiding tongue in cheek But instead of being behind a computer you got to get out in front of a camera now So a little different there, but anyways Colin, how can people follow along with what you're doing?
Colin: Uh, I don't know why someone would want to follow along You could subscribe to our YouTube channel if you want to see how we're pulling it off. It's blackjack apprenticeship I think it's youtube. com slash BJA videos. Um, other than that, you know, unless you're interested in card counting, there's probably no reason to follow along, but hopefully this helps people think of how they could use video to build their, their niche website.
Jared: Well, careful calling. You might have a couple other math nerds like me out there that will will come follow along just for the math side of it. So,
Jared: thanks so much. We'll get those, uh, in the show notes for you, for you, but, um, Colin, thanks so much. I learned a ton about video. I appreciate you being on board today.
Congrats on your success. Appreciate you coming on and sharing.
Colin: Yeah. Thanks for having me. It's a lot of fun. All right. Talk soon.
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