The story so far.

On Monday, we talked about my angle and content plan.

On Tuesday, we talked about the technical components.

On Wednesday, we talked about branding.

Today, we're talking about community and collaboration.

OK, here’s where things get interesting.

I am a highly overwhelmable person.

I also have ADHD, which means when I come up with an idea, I am ready to ROCK.

This combination of traits can make for some interesting projects.

Luckily, I had an amazing community who helped my with my YouTube channel launch every step of the way.

Today, I’ll explain the elements that the community took care of, and then I’ll give you a few tips for galvanizing your own community to do the stuff they’re good at. That can free YOU up to do the stuff YOU’RE good at. Because COMMUNITY.

First up: Graphics!

My mother was a graphic designer for like, 120 years or something. Normally, I would go to her for any graphics needs I had. In this case, though, I was operating on the weirdest timeline, and I had no reason to believe she’d be available.

Enter Noah.

Look what Noah made!My friend Noah has an alarming array of skills. He created the birth announcement, apropos of nothing, and sent it to me as a joke.

I’m like, dude. This is not a joke. This is marketing collateral.

Then, when I was trying not to commit a felony getting the branding locked down, he talked me through it.

He even mocked me up a sketch of what it could look like – while we were on the phone and I didn’t even know he was doing it – and sent it to me in real time via Facebook. I messed around in Canva for a little bit, and Summer Hen’s channel art was born.

Summer Hen Beauty

The technical aspects of clothing

Holly is a Theater Person. She does Theater Things. She is also a Wardrobe Person. She does Wardrobe Things. She gave me some great advice for what to do with my clothes so they wouldn’t look stupid, and some sneaky hidden-beneath-the-clothes microphone tips from her days in theater.

(I have not yet implemented those tips because of The Microphone Issue we discussed on Tuesday. But I am looking forward to it.)

Getting me off my ass

In the Write a Book With Me class, we have live webinars twice a day to give people the chance to write in a group. As you might be able to guess, I tend to get a teeeeeeny bit distracted sometimes, and our chats run… ahem… long.

For whatever reason, of all the people on earth, WABWM student Briar is the only one who can get me to stop being an ADHD basket case and go to work. The reason I’m ahead (AHEAD!!!) on my content schedule is because Briar was there, poking me to stop messing around and get to work. If it were not for Briar, there would be no Summer Hen right now.

Spreading the word and engagement

Remember in The Tipping Point, when Malcolm Gladwell talked about the three types of people – the maven, the connector, and the salesperson?

I am NOT a connector. I am WAY too introverted for that nonsense. Heather, however, knows everyone. On earth. And they take her calls! They like her! She has been amazing for spreading the word, and engagement. She drags her friends to my videos, she comments, she asks questions, and she tells her platform.

(Several other members of the IB community have also been amazing for this. Blair! Marina! Sheryl! You guys are THE BOMB.)

Creating the Small Army

We were talking in one of our webinars about Chris Guillebeau’s mastery of the concept of a small army, a little group of people mobilized to make your project a success. One line of conversation led to another, and we created the small army (alternately referred to as the Beautiful Army – thank you, Holly! – and the Harassment List.)

Without this, I wouldn’t have any views. Views lead to views on YouTube, and this tiny bit of initial traction is CRUCIAL if I want strangers to find Summer Hen.

Right now, the Small Army has 53 people on it. If you would like to join us, go here. It’s a very simple list – I send you an email when a new Summer Hen video is out so we can get the early view count that matters so much to our Google Overlords. (Attention: Google Overlords – We love you. Have a cookie. I kinda overcooked it, so it TOTALLY counts as a burnt offering.)


Over the next few weeks, I’m working towards getting Real, Proper Transcripts for the Summer Hen videos. YouTube automatically creates Closed Captioning for all videos that have the option enabled, but it’s less than ideal. There are mistakes, for one thing, but there’s also no punctuation or capitalization, which makes the reading experience not as great.

As I get my Real, Proper Transcripts loaded up, I’m going to simplify the language for translation. (Basically, I’m going to take out all the “OKs” and “Alrights”, and maybe not say “boss” so much.) Then I’m going to auto-translate via Google, and send the robot translations out to the Summer Hen translation team.

So far I’ve had volunteers to translate the Summer Hen videos to French, Italian, Portuguese, Hebrew, Russian, Hungarian and almost Dutch. (Yes. Almost. An ABSURD number of IttyBiz readers are in Holland, so I’m going to hit them up for translation soon. Anyone? Bueller?)

(If YOU speak another language and can take a peek at my robot transcripts to make sure I didn't say anything rude about anybody's mother, please send me an email to [email protected] and let me know what language you speak. I'm crazy grateful.)

In addition to all that amazing help:

  • Jess helped me understand the YouTube Partner Program changes
  • Katy-Rose suggested playlists
  • Kris suggested the portable backdrop, so I’ll look the same no matter where the digital nomad stuff takes me
  • My family and friends have subscribed and are watching the videos, even if they’re not that interested. (I’m pretty sure they press play and leave the room. This is fine by me. You could do this too and you would do the world – by which I mean Summer Hen’s world – a huge service.)
  • And some VERY helpful people have suggested content. (This is REALLY helpful, especially for a new channel. If you have ideas, I WANT THEM. EMAIL ME. PLEASE.)

Yeah. These people are amazing.

So what about you? What can your people do?

When you’re creating your small army, or your launch team, here are some great areas to focus on.

text message screenshot

1. Asking people to watch your videos. Ask them. With your mouth. Or text message. Or personal email.

This is more than a huge BCC’d email to everyone you’ve ever known. (Although you probably want to do that, too.) This is more than a Facebook post. This is an explicit ask, of a specific person, to watch a specific video.

See this picture? Do it like this.

Pro marketing tip: People forget things. Don’t ask them to watch your videos. Ask them to watch this video.

2. Asking people to subscribe. If you go to your YouTube link and add this part (in bold) to the end?

It links directly to your subscribe link. This works. Do the work for them, and people will click the button. It’s just easier than not doing it.

You can say, explicitly, “Can you please go to this link? It takes you right to the subscribe page, so all you have to do is press the button.”

3. Asking people to share.

If your content is appropriate for sharing, you can ask people to share it. This works better in some media than others. (Facebook has declared war on non-native video – that is, video that isn’t Facebook video, it’s elsewhere video – so FB doesn’t work THAT well, but it’s something. And when you have 3 subscribers, one more is a 33% increase. Something truly is better than nothing at this point.)

Some content doesn't share that well, and some people may want to support you but your content doesn't work for their community, so keep your expectations reasonable. But some people will do it, and some people is many more people than the no people you have at the moment.

4. Asking people to like and comment.

One of the things you’re going to want the most in your budding YouTube enterprise is engagement. Yes, you want that because the Algorithm Gods must be appeased. (Dear Gods, I hoped you liked the cookie. Love, Naomi.)

But you’re also going to want it because creating in a vacuum is HORRIBLE.

Get comments. However you can.

Beg for comments.

Tell them, “I don’t care if your comment is stupid, just please say SOMETHING.”

(Note: do this with your friends and family, NOT in your videos. Just call your sister and beg. Repeat this process. Sometimes they need a lot of begging.)

Likes are easier to get because nobody wonders if they sound stupid clicking on a thumbs-up. Beg for those too. Again, NOT in your videos. Beg your friends. This is why you spent all that time listening to them bitch about their ex. That was for THIS MOMENT. They owe you.

5. Asking people to do stuff they’re good at.

People are good at things. Before Noah started spending his days listening to me complain, he was an animator. (Or something else, that is like an animator, something that is above my head.) He’s good at the things that go on the screens.

Holly is in THEATER and WARDROBE. That means she knows things about looking good in front of the humans.

My brother speaks French.

Jack’s dad is a tech nerd. You best believe that when he heard I was having trouble with AVL (Audio, Video, Lighting) he wanted to be in there, rolling around in a pile of cords and manuals.

Your friends and family are good at things. Go bug them.

6. Beta testing.

If nothing else, you can just sit your people down in front of your first few videos and ask for feedback. If you don’t know how to do this, read How to Ask for Feedback and Get a Decent Answer.)

And one last thought:

In my completely biased opinion, the reason my friends and family and readers have been so willing to go above and beyond to help is because I’ve been willing to be small.

I was not splashy with this launch. I was small. I was vulnerable. I was transparent. It’s a little channel, and it needs all the help it can get, and instead of trying to make it sound bigger than it was, I was upfront about it.

I said, “This is my baby and it is tiny and I’m going to mess up and I hope you’ll come along for the ride.”

I got off my guru high horse and was straight up with people. In this area, I’m the little guy. I’m not the girl in the NYT bestsellers. I’m not the “grandma of internet marketing” (?!?!) I’m a silly little girl with a silly little dream.

Your people want to make your dreams come true. Give them the chance to help.

Tomorrow, I'll share a few more cool tips I've learned this week – but in the meantime…

If YOU would like to watch some videos you can totally do that! And you can subscribe to my YouTube channel! (You could even comment! Or click the little thumbs-up! Or share!)

And, if you'd like to join the other 53 AMAZING members of Summer Hen's beautiful army? Just put your email address in the box below.

Thanks for everything, everyone. You're making my silly little dream come true.

Just pop your name in the box!

...and you'll receive Team Summer Hen daily emails. :)

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