Jennifer Tribe, host: Joining me on the show today is Samir Chaudry of The Colin and Samir Show, which is both a podcast and a YouTube talk show. Colin and Samir also have a newsletter called The Publish Press, which comes out three times weekly. It’s a great way, by the way, to stay up to date on creator economy news because that’s what Colin and Samir cover.
But it’s not always what they covered. Back in 2014, the pair built their YouTube cred with a lacrosse network, which they grew to 60 channels before it was acquired by Whistle Sports. They stayed for a time with the network after it was acquired but in 2018 decided to head in a different direction.
They weren’t quite sure what direction but they landed on talking to and about content creators because it was something they did almost every day anyway and something they really loved. And so the Colin and Samir Show was born.
Today, their YouTube channel has over 730,000 subscribers, their podcast gets 100,000 downloads a month, and their newsletter has 30,000 subscribers. All of those channels are growing very quickly as well.
Samir and I sat down to talk about the trends in popular YouTubers switching to podcasts and podcasters moving to YouTube. What’s behind these trends, what are we going to see more of, and is YouTube really a great place for your podcast?
In the extended episode for Premium subscribers only, Samir and I talk about how the pressure of being a content creator is never greater than when you succeed, and how to deal with that. It’s free to become a Premium subscriber to get that extra content. Just go to premium.supercast.com and click the free signup link.
Why did veteran YouTubers Colin & Samir launch audio first for their new show?
Jennifer: Hey, Samir. Welcome to Supercasters.
Samir Chaudry, guest: Thanks for having me.
Jennifer: You and your co-host Colin are YouTube veterans. So it’s interesting that the Colin & Samir Show, which is both a podcast and a YouTube channel, actually started audio first and then spun into YouTube, and now a newsletter as well. Why in that order if your experience was as video creators?
Samir: The Colin and Samir Show was largely inspired by the fact that we really enjoyed podcasting and we found ourselves able to produce a podcast even in our most busy and stressful weeks. And what we were looking for was a sustainable format that we could do week in and week out. And what we started to realize was if we filmed ourselves doing the podcast, then we could actually build something that we felt like had longevity, had sustainability, something we really enjoyed doing, and that allowed for growth.
And that's kind of the birth of The Colin and Samir Show. It was a rebranded effort from the Colin and Samir podcast to calling it The Colin and Samir Show so we felt like it could exist on YouTube as a talk show, but also exist on RSS feeds as a podcast. And then building into a newsletter was kind of the same thought. How do we build more sustainable content products that can scale. We do the newsletter three times a week and we have an amazing writer who works with us, and we have a team that helps curate stories. So it's all for me, all the decisions that we make on our content have to do with sustainability.
Why are some big YouTubers shifting to podcasting?
Jennifer: We're seeing some big YouTubers shift to podcasts. Emma Chamberlain is one recently a big announcement and you actually did an episode on Emma Chamberlain, so maybe you can just give us her story in a nutshell.
Samir: Emma is like a classic YouTube story. She started vlogging and creating content at the age of 16 and it really took off. I think her authenticity, her style of editing, her ability to connect with a large audience and be herself was really intoxicating and really amplified and accelerated her growth. I think as any creator on YouTube goes through four or five years of growth or of this what we call the cycle where you have this fear of being irrelevant if you don't put out a YouTube video.
It can feel very overwhelming that there's no end in sight, that you put out a video on Monday and right when you press upload on that video, you're already working on the next one. Creating video is very hard. Creating good video is even harder, and creating a good YouTube video is the hardest. To have to do that week in, week out for five years is incredibly taxing. And I think a lot of creators, Emma included, are recognizing that audio is a great solution for them to actually have deeper connections with their audience and to have a more sustainable format. When you're recording audio, you know, we recorded a podcast yesterday that's coming out today. That never happens with YouTube videos, right?
A YouTube video takes us a week, sometimes 10 days to make. And so your production cycles have to be more significant. We have a team of four people who work on our YouTube channel. To do what we do on YouTube it requires a lot of effort. When we were first starting out, we were recording a podcast. No matter what, we could get the podcast out. And so again, it's about sustainability, longevity as a creator. So I think that's where we're going to see a lot more creators turn to podcasts as YouTube becomes increasingly more and more challenging and as podcasting offers an opportunity to build more depth with your audience. The last thing I'll say is I think podcasting is almost occupying the space that vlogging was occupying in 2016 with this, like, let me bring you into my world, into my life, because YouTube has become more well crafted, high touch video.
Jennifer: Is this something you think will see more of YouTubers switching to podcasting exclusively or doing it in addition to their video?
Samir: I think likely it will be in addition to. But over time, I think podcasting, talk shows, long form, that's going to become increasingly more popular. Early on, you saw Logan Paul, who was going through a lot of controversy. Arguably one of the most hated people on the internet, if not in the world, shifted to a podcast format, which actually opened up the opportunity for people to learn about his personality. For him to build a new audience or rebuild that audience who was like, Oh, you know what? Actually, I like this guy. I watch him twice a week or once a week and he's got interesting things to say. So I think that it's so different because you actually get to get closer to who you actually are.
When you're making a YouTube video, of course, a lot of people are authentic, but there’s no way to be 100% authentic in front of a camera. You're putting on some type of act, some type of performance. You're thinking about the editing, thinking about the storytelling. But with conversation as content, it offers this opportunity for you to be yourself, for you to potentially be able to do that thing for years and years and years to come. Whereas some of the competition on YouTube, if you have to continue to raise the bar week after week, it's unsustainable. So I think without a doubt we're going to see trends moving into different types of content and audio I think is the best option for creators to build relationships with audiences.
What can creators take away from YouTube’s news that they’re leaning into podcasting?
Jennifer: YouTube, of course, has just recently announced that they're going to be leaning heavily into podcasts going forward. Adding some sort of RSS feed ingestion, audio ads, better metrics for audio creators. What do you think that signals for creators and what they can expect from YouTube?
Samir: YouTube doesn't want to miss what's next. And I think although podcasting, it's funny to say that's next, but it kind of is the natural flow of what happens on YouTube. Even for me as a consumer of social media in my thirties, I'm watching and listening to podcasts. That's what I'm doing. And I think when you see some of the biggest creators on the platform: Emma, Dobrik, Logan Paul, some of these massive creators or even other creators like Tom Segura or other comedians who are launching podcasts and uploading long-form 50-minute, two-hour videos to YouTube and people are watching. You go with the way of the platform and you say, okay, audiences are reacting well to this.
Creators are reacting well. And this is likely the evolution of where YouTube is going. Similar to when YouTube launched YouTube music recognizing, wait a second, I think we're a music platform because people are listening to music on YouTube, then they launch YouTube Music. The benefit of these tech companies is that they can actually just look at what's working in the data of how are people using the platform and then react to that. I think the challenge with YouTube is historically, when YouTube launched YouTube Originals or even when you look at the past and some of the other features they oftentimes don't prioritize homegrown talent.
I think likely what they'll do with the podcasting initiative in the beginning is try and get NPR style podcasts or Gimlet podcasts and get them to join YouTube, add a video component or be a part of YouTube's podcasting ecosystem rather than launch original podcasts with creators or support creator podcasts. I think that likely will come in the future. But typically their effort is to bring more traditional media onto the platform rather than focus on homegrown talent, at least in the beginning of their new initiatives.
Should podcasters also be moving to YouTube?
Jennifer: Podcasters who are audio-only right now, they’re constantly hearing you need to be thinking about YouTube, you should be on YouTube. Second largest search engine. But the thought of starting a YouTube channel when you’ve never done that before is quite intimidating. So what are your thoughts on whether podcasters need to be on YouTube and on spinning out an audio-only podcast to video.
Samir: You have to live and breathe YouTube to do it. You can't throw content up on YouTube. It's not like a place that you can just say, Oh, I'll upload it there and see how it goes. You do have to live and breathe the platform. You do have to look at how the algorithm works, you do have to look at what's working on the platform. You have to be very empathetic to the audience and say, How is the audience reacting? It has to feel like a YouTube video.
It can't feel like repurposed content on YouTube. If you are a podcaster and you're interested in YouTube, it's ripe for long form content. It's ripe for podcasters to come on to YouTube. But you need to look at what's working and go all in on what's working. Not necessarily just say, okay, I'll just throw the podcast up on YouTube. And again, your title and your thumbnail is everything. If those topics aren't interesting or aren't searchable or aren't catching audience, then you need to rethink how you're going to do YouTube. And maybe it's going to be short-form clips that you can title properly. Maybe it is long-form episodes, but I think you have to live and breathe it. You have to be in the data, you have to understand it to actually do it.
How to break through a performance plateau with your show
Jennifer: What would you say to a creator who's been at it for a number of years? They've been in it for three or four years. They've hit this plateau. Doesn't seem to be going anywhere. What would your advice be on breaking through to the next level?
Samir: Are you making adjustments or not? If you're doing the same thing and it's not catching anything and you've been doing the exact same thing for three years or four years, then I think you want to take a hard look and say, What can I learn? What can I change? Because for us, failure is met with innovation, right? And reiteration. It's okay, this isn't working. So let me tweak this. Ooh, this didn't work. So let me tweak this. This didn't work. So let me tweak this. That's the constant evolution. We're still doing that. We do that every week. Every week we take a look at the content. We say, Where do people drop off? What were the comments? How did people like it? How did we like the process? Could we build that again?
And I think that comes back to a sustainable format because if you have a sustainable format that you can do week to week, you can change it. And changing that format is really important because you have a process to say, okay, I'm going to change this part a little bit and see how people react. Okay, that was worse. Now I'm going to tweak this and see how people react. You're engineering a format and you're playing with three different things. You're playing with what you want to make, you're playing with what the audience wants, and you're playing with what the platform wants that you're on.
And all three of those things have to work together. And so you have to keep tweaking and making sure you're at a place where all three of those lights are checked on and one of them might check off, like platform might change. And you go Oh shit, the platform changed. What do I do now? You have to put yourself in a position where you have a process that you can tweak it. We aren't living in a world where every platform stays the same, every audience stays the same, every creator stays the same. It's a constant evolution, and you have to just have a foundation of process that can allow you to tweak those three things.
Jennifer: This is a good segueway into a question that we got from one of our listeners. Lloyd G wanted to ask you, how do you stay on brand and so concise? Sometimes as a creator, I feel the need to pivot and try new ideas every other week.
Samir: Lloyd, I am exactly like you. I'm the same. If you looked back at our entrepreneurial journey in 2016, I think we launched four companies that year, and that's largely because of me. I am a ADD creative. The thing that you have to recognize, that I recognized is, I am a 0 to 1 guy. I like coming up with an idea and making it happen. You have to surround yourself with 1 to 10 people, meaning once you get it off the ground, how do you operationalize it? And for us, we were lucky enough to build a team around that. And also I'm lucky enough to have a partner in Colin who is like that, who can look at something and say over the next two years, let's make this the best it can be. That's an overwhelming thought for me personally.
I want to be launching new things constantly, but I've kind of learned through this process that focus on one content format, focus on one thing, and really see it through and make adjustments to try and make that work. And then also knowing when to quit, knowing when to drop things that don't make sense and that comes down to goal setting, that comes down to evaluating what you want to be doing with your time, the outcomes that you want. Josh, who's someone who works on our team and he's kind of on our operations side in business operations and he's stepped in to really help us stay focused and be held accountable to the goals that we've set out and say, I want this channel to reach a million subscribers.
That's one of our goals. So how do we get there? Okay, we got to focus on the show and make the show better every week. Okay. That's our number one goal. Everything else doesn't matter right now. So that's what's really helped us is finding people who do have operational minds to help us, to hold us accountable. And if you're not at a point where this is a business and you can hire people, think about friends. Do you have a friend who can sit and you guys can set goals together and hold each other accountable?
Jennifer [00:39:03] Thank you so much for joining us today, Samir.
Samir [00:39:05] Thanks for having me.
Jennifer: That was Samir Chaudry of The Colin and Samir Show.
Remember the conversation with Samir continues in the private interview room for Premium subscribers. If you’re not already a Premium member, go to premium.supercast.com to sign up for free. And I will see you in there to talk about handling pressure as a content creator.
Until then, this is Jennifer Tribe. Thanks for listening.
- The Colin and Samir Show (podcast)
- Colin and Samir (YouTube)
- The Publish Press (newsletter)
- Why Emma Chamberlain Quit YouTube, Again.
- YouTube’s plans for podcasting