This week, Jonathan Denwood interviewed Adam Preisler of WPCrafter about building one of the largest YouTube Channels covering WordPress topics.
Adam creates in-depth tutorials about WordPress aimed at a non-technical audience. With over 31,000 subscribers and videos that get thousands of views, he must be doing something right.
Adam is also a frequent member of the WP-Tonic Roundtable shows.
Adam was running a call center business when he heard about WordPress. He says he has a tinkering gene and has to play with things, so he started learning WordPress and transitioned his business into online marketing.
He says the key to success on YouTube is to be yourself, be fun, and be willing to open yourself up to criticism. And when you get negative comments, don’t take them too seriously.
Here’s a Full Transcript of Our Interview With Adam Preisler
Jonathan: Hi there folks. Welcome back to the WP-Tonic show. It’s episode 236. Yeah. They’re going quick. I’ve got a real great guest for this Wednesday interview show folks. He’s a member of the WP-Tonic Round-Table. He’s always a laugh. He always provides good content. He’s the founder of WPCrafter. One of the largest YouTube channels that specialize in giving advice around WordPress with over 30,000 subscribers. That’s Adam Preisler. Adam, would you like to give an extra introduction about what you do and what you’re about.
Adam: Yeah. Well, first I’ll say thanks for having me on the interview show here. For people that listen to the Podcast, you might have heard or seen me on the Friday Round-Tables. Those are actually a lot of fun to do. I hope you tune into those. If you’re listening to these, you should really listen to those because that’s where people, I guess the filter. There’s no filter going on there. We’re all just who we are. Yes. My name is Adam from WPCrafter.com. You can also see me on YouTube where most of what I do is I create video content for YouTube around WordPress, I like to say, to help people get better results faster with WordPress. Yeah. So thanks for having me on.
Jonathan: Oh, no problem. Kim, my co-host, cannot join us today. She’s still sorting out some personal problems around the hurricane and some other issues. But she’ll be on the Friday show. And she’ll try and be more regular. She’s getting there folks. But she’s had a lot to deal with recently. So she won’t be joining us. But I just want to go straight into it Adam. Basically, you’ve been involved in technology for quite a period, haven’t you, before you got a bit engrossed with WordPress. Would you like to give some details about some of the things you’ve done in the past?
Adam: Absolutely. I’m just one of those really curious people that like technology. I mean, I love technology, especially these days with all these open source projects. I’m not talking about just WordPress. WordPress is obviously open source. But you have so many other open source projects that you could do the most amazing things. For example, say you’re a business and you need a phone system, there’s an open source program you can install on your computer. You’ve got a $10,000, $50,000 phone system. All kinds of open source software. Actually, it was my love of open source software, I think it was 2009 I opened up a, I was really into open source telephone technology, something called. I opened up a call center and it was all around open source technology. It was a telemarketing room pretty much. And we had employees that were making outbound calls. We weren’t cold calling.
People were asking us to call them for the product and service that we were offering. And we scaled that up using open source technology that cost nothing. We scaled that up to making 26,000 phone calls per day. And using the same technology for another call center making 100,000 phone calls per day. So we were really really killing it with the technology front. So I’ve really just that technology can allow you to do anything like that. So that’s just kind of what’s driven me. I just really like things like that. And so WordPress was a natural fit after that. And it’s just amazing how you can use this free open source software and build an entire platform for yourself on the Internet and it doesn’t have to cost you anything. It’s just a little bit of time.
Jonathan: Yeah. I was thinking about if there’s any linkage to the people on the panel on Friday or a lot of the people we interview on the Wednesday interview show. I think there is one characteristic that links a lot of them and that is they’re lifetime learners. They’re interested in things. Would you classify yourself like that really?
Adam: Absolutely. I mean, here’s a perfect example. I know this goes out over video and over audio. If you’re watching the video, you see this kind of a purple light behind me and that’s because my latest thing that I’m into is those Amazon, I can’t say her name devices because mine will turn on, Amazon Alexa. Okay. She just turned on. And the Philips Hue lights. So I’m now fully automating my entire house. And it’s so affordable to do these days. But, yes, absolutely. I’m always getting into something new. And right now it’s been these really cool Philips Hue lights. So, yes, absolutely. Absolutely. We are technology addicts. That’s a good way of putting it.
Jonathan: So what led you to WordPress then Adam?
Adam: Well, actually, I had, in that prior business I talked about, the call center, that’s when I first used WordPress, heard about WordPress. This was way back in 2009 though. And so when that closed up around 2010. 2011, it was short lived because some laws had changed. The business was doing amazing. But then some laws had changed and we had to stop business which was fine. My transition was getting into Online Marketing, marketing myself or writing reviews online. And that’s what led me to WordPress and there is that tinkering gene in me where I’ve just got to master something.
I’ve got to figure it out. I’ve got to use it. I’ve got to push it. I’ve got to see everything I can with it. That’s probably exactly when it started. And then right after that in 2012, I think that’s the year I uploaded my first video to YouTube and it’s the same motivator, right? I could buy a webcam for 70 bucks, a mic for 50 bucks and now I have a video production studio. So let’s see where this goes. And that’s kind of how it all kind of came to be.
Jonathan: So how long did it take before, I think in previous discussions on the Round-Table show you said you, almost straight away after the first few videos, got feedback that encouraged you to continue. But when did it really occur to you that you were probably building a real business here with your YouTube channel and your affiliates and everything else?
Adam: Well, I think that this actually might shock you. That actually, switch flipped in my head, Summer of 2016 I was in Las Vegas, your part of town. I was staying at the Red Rock Casino, chilling out at the pool. And I looked to my wife and I say, “You know honey, I think I’m going to stop everything I do and just pursue this WordPress YouTube channel”. And she’s always been an amazing support to me. My wife has always believed in anything that I want to do. That I could be successful at it. And that’s really when this shift happened, for me to stop doing everything and focus on it. And then I think what it was, was that, well, obviously the channel was getting traction. It was starting to get some real traction.
Jonathan: Sorry to interrupt. How long had you been running it before that moment?
Adam: The way it started was I just threw up a couple and they were kind of unfortunately low-quality videos. Everything’s a learning curve. You just get better over time at anything, right? And so I threw those up in 2014. It was in 2014. I threw a couple of videos up. But then I didn’t pay attention. I wasn’t consistent. But then I went back and I thought, “Oh my gosh. Wow. People actually are watching this and they’re commenting on that and they like it. Why don’t I just make another video and make another video?”. At that point, I never thought that my main primary focus would be to create, to training in tutorials for people on YouTube. I never really started out thinking I would do that. And transparency, I did want to somehow create a platform for myself, whether it would be a blog or this or a Podcast. It just so happened that this is what really took off for me.
Jonathan: So I think you said and you have to correct me because you told me that you’re involved with this company that you were co-founder and owner of. That in the end for government meddling you had to close down. But I think you said then you were doing some IT consultancy. Is that correct?
Adam: Yeah. So after that, well, actually, I’ve always been really good with technology obviously, right? Because to make videos you’ve got to have a desire to figure out how to make it all work together. You’ve just got to be willing to learn these things. And I’ve always had this willingness to learn something new. And actually, a satisfaction from it, learning new things. You know what it is? The life of an entrepreneur is, a smart entrepreneur that hasn’t found their path, is you’re constantly reinventing yourself
You’re constantly flexible enough to shift gears or you just get stuck with something and it becomes a dead end and you end up in an unemployment line or welfare line. That’s the life of an entrepreneur, unfortunately. I mean, that’s the reality of it. So for me, yes, I did do some IT consulting. Had some clients. It was always very easy for me to find clients because I, gosh, not to toot my own horn. I’m actually very analytical and I’m very good at figuring things out. Cause and effect type of stuff. So I was always great at setting things up, fixing things. I’ll go in. Someone might take 10 hours to fix something. I’ll fix it in 10 minutes because I’m able to quickly figure things out. It’s just one of my, thank you Google, by the way. I’ll give some props to Google because that’s how you fix everything these days, right? Google and now YouTube.
Jonathan: Yeah. That’s true. So you decided to concentrate on the YouTube channel. What were some of the early lessons that you observed and learned around growing basically your YouTube channel?
Adam: Well, I’ve definitely learned a lot. I’ve learned a lot of the things you shouldn’t do. I learned through mistakes. Because I tend to be a jump in feet first type of guy. And anyone that’s an entrepreneur, you really need to be willing to make mistakes. And be willing to have things not be perfect for the sake of getting it started, right? I’m sure you can relate to this and I’m sure many of the listeners can actually relate to this. So my first couple of videos, I actually didn’t have my face in it. There wasn’t like a live video of me in the video. And I think pretty early on I thought, “I want to be able to make a connection with people”. And I think being able to see them in the camera can kind of help that. I’m willing to put myself out there. And that’s actually, I’ll be honest, was a very real fear for me and I think for a lot of people. This willingness to put yourself out there like. To not only put your name on something, but then to put your face on it. Because what ends up happening is you open yourself to criticism, right?
Jonathan: Ohhh, yes you do.
Adam: Oh, absolutely. And some of the most vile criticism actually is social media, but YouTube, which is technically social media, right? You throw up a video and someone will say, “You don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re a complete idiot”. And I have to see comments like this. But you know what? One of the things I learned is you can’t, just delete it. Just delete it. Don’t respond. Just delete it. Just ban them from your YouTube channel. You’re going to have all types of people see your stuff. And you’re going to get attacks. And some might be valid because I do make mistakes. And I’ll be the first to say I do make mistakes. Valid criticism’s always welcome.
Jonathan: Well, you do make mistakes. But also you have your opinions and other people have their opinions, don’t they?
Adam: And we all are entitled to those opinions. I actually have a comment I got today. Someone called me a complete idiot on this security review I did. I talked about 5 security plugins. A lot of times what it is . . .
Jonathan: All I can say audience is one thing that I know about Adam is that he’s no idiot.
Adam: Thank you for saying that. Yes. You just get these things. And there’s nothing you can do about it but just not take it and internalize it. But that’s one of the things I actually really learned, really was to be willing, to get through my fear of putting myself out there. Then putting my face on it and being willing to open myself up to the criticism where a lot of people, that’s a hard leap for them. Even today, I probably shouldn’t even bring this up, there was a big thing on Facebook. There was a Facebook group. And there was probably like 100 people trashing me in it. That’s okay. That’s okay. I’m willing to put myself out there. And that’s just part of what comes with it. But the most rewarding . . .
Jonathan: Sorry to interrupt again Adam. I’m not going to make a habit of it.
Adam: That’s okay.
Jonathan: But you’re in the media. You’re there. It’s partly education and entertainment. You do provide reviews. You’re not wishy-washy. That’s probably linked to your success, a part of your success. But it’s also, it is people that, I’m trying to struggle with the right words, don’t realize the game that you’re involved in. They over-respond in some ways, don’t they?
Adam: Yeah. I appreciate you bringing that up because that is the approach I try to make with my videos. To be honest, watching some tutorial videos can be the most boring thing on planet Earth if you can’t inject your personality into it and try to make it fun and be willing to take a position. And that is a pro and a con, right? I’m willing to take a position. If something’s crap, I’m actually going to say it’s crap. But I try not to make negative reviews. But if someone asks me, I will answer you because in my mind I feel like I’m looking out for you. Because there is a lot of stuff out there. But I do want to make my content enjoyable. Absolutely. And here’s the thing, I would never make any video if it was scripted. So if I’m having to sit there and do all this scripting, I’m not going to do it. But I will click record and I will have some loose notes of what I’m going to talk about. And I’m just going to say what comes to my mind and comes out of my mouth. And you get me. You do get me. And you’re right. Some people don’t realize what I’m actually trying to do with the content and they might take things literally sometimes.
Jonathan: Yeah. Well, I think we’ll go for our break Adam and when we come back we’re going to talk about some of the equipment, your processes. I’m fascinated by YouTube and to have the chance to talk to such a successful YouTube marketer is a great opportunity. So we’ll be back in a minute folks.
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Jonathan: We’re coming back folks. We’ve got Adam, the WPCrafter. So Adam, can you give some insight about some of the equipment you use. Let’s start with the editor. What editor do you use for the video?
Adam: Well, first, let me say something to the audience. I think everyone should give serious consideration into starting a YouTube channel, whether your video is face to video or just a screen recording. There’s this concept that’s floating around right now and I really like the simplicity of it. It’s just one simple phrase, “Share everything you know”. So if you’re a web developer or a web agency, a software developer, you have a plugin, make some videos, get on YouTube and show people how to use it or show people your knowledge or through case studies, if you’re a web developer. It goes a long way for people to feel a connection with you and actually want to do business with you. And YouTube’s free by the way. There’s no to upload anything and have a channel.
So absolutely everyone should give some serious consideration to it. Now the best part about it is the equipment doesn’t really cost much. So for video editing, actually the most expensive thing is a video editing software. So I’m on a Mac. I started using ScreenFlow. And ScreenFlow’s fantastic. A lot of people that Macs talk about it. But last year, Camtasia came out with a new version for the Mac and for the PC and they rewrote it. In December I switched to Camtasia because in my opinion it is far superior now and you can do a whole lot more. Now ScreenFlow’s like only 99 bucks. But I think Camtasia might be 199. But one of the neat things is it’s now cross-compatible which means I can record, if I had a video editor, I can record on the Mac and send it to them if they have a PC and vice versa.
Jonathan: What is one or two features that it has that you think makes it more superior than Screen Capture?
Adam: Well, I’ll say for me.
Jonathan: ScreenFlow. Sorry.
Adam: Yes. Absolutely. Well, if you’ve seen any of my videos, here’s a perfect example. If you’ve seen any of my videos, you know I put me in actually a circle. So you’re not seeing all this stuff around the room. You’re just seeing my talking. Instead of a straight talking head, I’m in a circle. I put a little drop show in it. It’s up in the top right corner. So I’ve got this circle mask. So you could do some advanced things like put a mask on any of the video. There’s much more advanced animations than what you can get out of ScreenFlow. So there’s a whole suite of animations. So those are really the main things for me. It’s the animation. So you can make some really cool lower thirds if you wanted to with it and just copy and paste it across. In fact, on my other YouTube channel, I do have two. My other YouTube channel I actually have a video comparing ScreenFlow to Camtasia. It’s a very popular video. I kind of show why I like Camtasia now and why I switched.
Jonathan: Oh, great. Can you give some insight about your production flow then? Basically, where do you get the ideas and how long do the videos take and your basic production flow? Do you mind doing that Adam?
Adam: Yeah. And I’ll actually give some editing tips. Because when I got this editing idea in my head, this editing tip idea that I can of came up with but probably was out there anyway. I just think it was my idea. I actually fired my editor because I found out that I can edit faster than them now if I just do this thing. So this one little trick has saved me from having to have an editor. Well, I get the ideas, they actually come to me, people ask me for things in the comments section of my YouTube channel. I reply to every single comment. People are asking for things. I get ideas that way. I get ideas on social media. I try to follow what’s going on with WordPress and I get ideas from that as well. So there’s actually never a shortage of ideas on videos that you can make. As long as you’re plugged into whatever the topic is that your channel’s about. So for me, I try to kind of come up with the idea of the video. And then I’ll spend the day kind of thinking about it, not like I’m in some deep thought and it’s taking up all this time. But I really think about it. Now if I’m doing a tutorial, obviously I have to practice it. So I make sure I have the steps right. And then I literally just click on record. And here is that trick for editing. So if I make a 10-minute video, this is what I do. Inevitably when you’re making a video there’s going to be times when you’re drawing a blank. That’s a figure of speech meaning you don’t even know what you’re going to say next or how you want to word it, right? This is a very common thing.
And so, what I do is, so if I’m, say talking and everything and I don’t know what I’m going to say next, I freeze and I just freeze. And I sit there and I think about what I’m going to say next and then I make sure I leave like a 5 or a 10-second gap and then I continue on. And the reason I do that is later, whenever you’re editing, the audio portion generates what’s called a waveform. So you can actually visually see where these pauses are. So then I know I just need to jump through the pauses. And so now I can make a 30-minute video. It takes me 35 minutes to record. It takes me about 10 minutes to edit. And then I just export it. And then upload it to YouTube. So honestly, I spend more time probably making the YouTube thumbnail and writing the description and coming up with a title than I do actually editing it because of this editing trick.
Jonathan: Oh, yeah. I think what Adam just said is totally logical because the editing, when you’re learning just to stop not to panic and giving a long enough break. Because it shows up more effectively in the sound file where you have a break as long as you leave a reasonable gap. Spot on.
Adam: The reason that it’s a real big benefit is, so say you’re recording a long video. Say it’s an hour long video. It’s a little tedious to sit there and watch it from beginning to end. I actually don’t watch it from beginning to end anymore in editing. I just jump to these edit point. And if I say something the wrong way, what I do is, say I mispronounce a word. I’ll wait a couple seconds and then I’ll say, “Delete that last word”. And then I’ll wait 5 seconds and then I’ll just pick up. So what that means is I end up getting these real smooth cuts if I do my freezing my face. You can’t even notice I did a cut.
Jonathan: I’ve got to say that I think that, this is really high praise for you, Adam. I think your videos, I really enjoy them. I actually put them in the same league from themes. The actual quality and the consistency. How do you manage to be so consistent in the quality that you produce?
Adam: I think it boils down to having a system in place and you’re trying to constantly improve that. So one of the best things that I like to encourage people to do that might be interested in creating videos, you can come to my channel, watch the first video and then maybe watch a video 6 months after that and 6 months after that and 6 months after that. And you’ll see that there’s this constant constant improvement. In fact, to themes that’s actually one of his big messages, right? If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ve just got to get it out there and constantly make incremental improvements. And he actually knows this because I’ve told him this, that whole me in a circle.
I actually got that idea from them. If you notice, they do the same thing, their editor. I’m more than willing to say when I get inspired by someone. And I’ve definitely told him that I was inspired by that. But I think when you can boil your video process into an actual process, it’s not really hard to make the video. Because what happens is and you know with having a Podcast, with anything in life, you just get better as time goes on. So in the beginning, I don’t know what to say. I’ve got a lot ums and ahs and the editing and all that. But the easier you can actually make it, the whole thing from A to Z, the more likely you are to do it. But I will say with YouTube there’s this metric where you kind of have to create, if you want YouTube to promote your videos for you, you have to create three pieces of content per week, whether it be a video or creating a new unique playlist. So I kind of have to do three of something per week or YouTube’s going to start promoting my content less for me and I don’t want that to happen.
Jonathan: I didn’t realize that. All right. We can discuss that in the bonus content in more detail. So basically, when you were starting, did you promote it? Did you have an email list? How did you, or was it just organic people finding and you just producing more and more?
Adam: I’m actually very proud of the fact that I, I want everyone to know that I started at zero. No email list. No nothing. No Facebook. No social media presence. Literally zero. Not a subscriber. Not an email. Not anything. I literally started everything at zero. And over time, I haven’t done paid traffic. There are a couple channels that maybe have grown faster in terms of subscribers, but it’s because they’re paying $4,000 to $5,000 per month to advertise their video in front of other videos on YouTube. I never did that. And actually, that could be to my detriment. I do think I should be looking into it. But I literally started at zero. For YouTube, it really just boils down to the right title, the right thumbnail image. And you also need to have that kind of a call to action. So if I can get someone to come back, that’s what you’re after. Because realistically my channel receives about 200,000 views per month. But my subscriber increase, actually, there’s some really cool YouTube metrics, right?
Only about 9 percent of those views are from subscribers. So I’ve got this huge room for growth, right? If I can kind of tap into that other and that’s actually a good statistic in the sense that I’m actually doing pretty good. But if I could just get the other 92 percent of the people to click subscribe and turn on notifications, I’m going to do a lot better. I did start at zero. And there’s room for people, the listeners, anyone that wants to start a YouTube channel. There’s total room to start from zero without an email list. Obviously, there’s things you could do to help yourself along the way. And I think what’s good is if you create content for certain audiences and you know where those audiences are on the Internet. You create it. Put in on YouTube. And then share the video with that group of people. But, yes. I definitely started at zero and everything was organically grown.
Jonathan: All right. Thanks for that. I think we’ll wrap it up for the Podcast part of the show folks and we’ll go into bonus content. Adam’s been generous to say he’ll stay on for another 10, 15 minutes. And we’ll go into more the nitty-gritty about how you get an audience with YouTube and some of the other things that he does to prepare each show. So Adam, like to tell the audience how people can get a hold of you and learn more about you and the things you’re up to?
Adam: Absolutely. I would encourage you to just, you can come to my website at wpcrafter.com or it might be more current to just jump on the YouTube channel. It’s youtube.com/wpcrafter. That’ll take you straight to the YouTube channel. Go ahead and click on subscribe and there’s a little bell off to the right of the subscribe button. When you click on that, YouTube will send you a friendly email when I upload a new video. You’ll get an email notification. You could decide if that is a video that might bring some value to you. But I’d love to have you visit the channel, ask a question. I respond to every question, comment, literally everyone. I spend a lot of time doing that because it matters to me. It matters to me to create a connection and interaction and provide value to you. But I’d love to have you on the channel.
Jonathan: Oh, thanks for that Adam. And if you need to get a hold of me, and I love feedback folks, it’s quite easy. Go on Twitter @wptonic or my own personal choice of feed @jonathandenwood. Our Facebook WP-Tonic or you can email me at email@example.com. We love your comments. We love your feedback. Guests you would like on the show. Anything you would like us to cover. It’s fantastic to get feedback. And if you get a spare moment and you can leave us a review on iTunes, it really really does help. Another thing I’d like to point out is that you want to listen to the bonus content is go to the WP-Tonic website and you’ll be able to see the additional bonus content on the show notes. And we normal, for our interviews, we do a full transcription and have all the links of any products or services that we’re discussing. So do go to the website to find out more. And just to finish off folks, remember we do our Round-Table show on Friday. They’re a blast.
We normally have a guest and our normal regular panel. And it’s unfiltered like what Adam said. And we normally, I think we cover some great content in that show. So we’re wrapping up folks and we’ll see you next Wednesday where we’re going to have a business person that utilizes Facebook for their business, an entrepreneur or just a Facebook, Facebook? WordPress. I’ve got Facebook on my mind. WordPress. WordPress junkie. We’ll see you next week folks. Bye.
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