By John Eberhard
There is a relatively new phenomenon in the last 2-3 years that I wanted to comment on – which is the personality driven business. You see this primarily on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook, where you have one person who is the public face of the business and their personality and charisma is the main component of its success.
The personality driven business is largely driven by photos and videos of the focal personality, usually giving tips or advice of some kind. The content is almost always free. But then the business monetizes the content in these ways:
- The content is free but the business offers some kind of service or product that they charge for, such as consulting or other services, books, or online courses. In this case the free content creates and establishes the personality as a credible source of information.
- YouTube allows video makers to have ads display on their videos (through Google Ads), and the video makers earn a certain amount of money by viewers watching the video ads for a certain amount of time. If the videos are longer than 10 minutes, this allows you to have multiple ads appear throughout the video.
So to make this type of approach work, it is necessary to put up a lot of content, usually videos. Most successful personality driven businesses have hundreds of videos on YouTube.
Examples of the Personality Driven Business
Dr. Eric Berg
3.63 million subscribers, 3,090 videos. Dr. Berg has a website selling nutritional supplements and is known as the keto doctor. I’ve heard this website makes a killing though I don’t have any exact sales figures.
225,000 subscribers, 116 videos. She is a business coach, coaching people on starting a new business and quitting their jobs. In her early videos she talks about how she established herself, then started offering consulting and was making $250K. Now she offers online courses and makes the majority of her income that way.
Sarah Outlaw is a client of a company I do marketing for, Ulan Nutritional Systems (UNS), and she is a master at promoting herself via social media. She is a nutritionist and has two million-dollar per year practices, in New Jersey and Iowa. Notice how often she does videos and Facebook Lives.
351,000 subscribers, 388 videos. Dr. Ekberg is also a client of UNS, and is a chiropractor and nutritionist. He doesn’t really sell anything on his nutrition oriented information videos but I have heard that he makes a good income just from the ads within the videos.
1.46 million subscribers, 706 videos. Beatto is a music producer and became popular on YouTube for his “What Makes This Song Great?” series, where he breaks down popular songs and analyzes them, playing different parts of the song. He makes money from this from the ads within the videos but mainly from selling books and merchandise.
Is This Approach for You?
I’m sure you’ve seen many other examples of this type of approach to running a business and making a living.
The question is, would this approach work for you?
I think the main aspect of success for all these people is that they are interesting to watch, are charismatic, and they give great information that other people are interested in. Part of that of course has to be looking good on camera and being able to speak well, intelligently, and professionally on camera, without a lot of “er,” “ugh,” “well,” and “you know” thrown in. Not everyone can do that right off the bat, but it is a skill that can be learned and improved upon.
You don’t have to be young and really attractive (though it helps). Rick Beatto is an older guy with gray hair for instance.
So how do you get to the point where you can speak intelligently on camera and without any appreciable lags, for 10 minutes or more?
Vanessa Lau describes her unique approach to this. She says that she creates an outline of what she is talking about in the video. Then she takes the first item on the outline, plans what she is going to say, speaks 2-3 lines, then stops the camera. Then on to the next point, plans what she is going to say, then starts the camera and gives the next few lines, stops the camera, etc. She then edits it all together, with jump cuts (where it jumps from one segment to the next without any video transition). I personally don’t like jump cuts myself, but she does it really well and the final result is a video that really moves along at high intensity, has no lags at all, and keeps you interested the whole way.
Some people can actually just talk for 10 minutes or more and keep it interesting and high intensity and remember everything they were going to say with no lags or dead spots. My hat’s off to them. But the Vanessa Lau method is a good one if you don’t have that ability or are just not up to that point yet. You will need to hire a video editor or learn to edit yourself. There are a number of software programs out there. I like Adobe Premier Pro, but before that I used Adobe Premier Elements which costs only $99 and does a very adequate job.
You will need to get a decent video camera, and some kind good microphone. A number of still camera today take very good quality video. The Canon Rebel series is a very good choice.
Your lighting is very important. I would recommend watching some videos on how to do this on YouTube or with LinkedIn Learning (used to be Lynda.com). What they say is if your lighting is good, you can look great recorded on a smart phone, and if your lighting is bad, the best camera won’t make you look good.
I recommend getting a camera which allows you to plug in an external audio source, preferably a lapel microphone. For example the Canon Rebel series cameras allow you to do this, but strangely, the Nikon D3500 does not. The internal microphone on most cameras is not very good, and it is much better to have a mic on your lapel 8 inches away from your mouth which will capture the best sound quality.
I also recommend setting up a space to use as a studio for your videos that is clean and uncluttered. You can use a green screen for a background that then allows you to drop in a still image or video for the background later. But this is not necessary and a clean, uncluttered background will do fine.
If this approach seems right for you, go for it. Good luck with personality driven business.