How Family Vloggers Can Get Millions of Views on YouTube: TubeTalk 170 with Jase Bennett

Family vlogging content is a crazily competitive niche on YouTube, but on this week's TubeTalk we explore the opportunities for massive success on the platform.

Vlogging is arguably one of the most difficult niches on YouTube. You really, really need to be able to bring it in order to stand out above the rest and make it. Now, family vlogging, that's a whole different ball game. So, how do you stand out? How do you get YouTube to love you, and show your content, and build your channels to millions and millions of subscribers?

If you've got those questions, we've got answers for you on today's episode of TubeTalk, the YouTuber’s podcast. If you’re an aspiring family vlogger on YouTube, or are already uploading content but want to know how to get more views and subscribers, you’ll learn:

  1. How to set yourself up for vlogging success on YouTube
  2. Why including all the family in the programming and content schedule is vital
  3. How to create family vlogs your audience will watch and engage with
  4. Why merch and personal brand building are the keys to success on YouTube

This week's guest is Jase Bennett, video creator, entrepreneur, and the dad in the The Ohana Adventure, a family vlogging channel which has to date generated 2.7 million subscribers, and 719 million views. We've featured Jase and his YouTube Creator Journey before on VidIQ, and now he lets us into the secret of success with family vlogging - and beyond.

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Get More Views on YouTube as a Family Vlogger: Full Transcript

Liron Segev: So, family vlogging has always fascinated me. It's always been one of those spaces that is seems really impossible. I mean, you've got to get the entire family involved, everybody's going to be on board, everybody's going to be producing content; and wow, it is difficult to be able to get yourself out there. You're putting your whole family on the line, essentially, for everybody to see all the madness, all the fun, sometimes the heartache as well. YouTube kind of loves this content, but only if you do it well. So, I get together with my good friend, Jason Bennett. He's literally one of my favorite YouTubers. He understands what YouTube wants, and he's going to share all this information today with us. Jason, thanks for hanging out, man.

So Jay, let's wind the clock a little bit back. Give us like a two second overview. What is your channel about, The Ohana Adventure? So, Ohana means?

Jason Bennett: It means family, and our family is all from Hawaii, and we’ve always had crazy adventures. Finally, on January 1st, 2016, we decided to start uploading some of the madness to YouTube. We have six kids, but I'm worse than the kids because I'm older and I should know better, but I still don't change the way I do.

LS: All right, so let's talk about your channel for a second with how did you get there? Look, you're doing one of those crazy, core fan starting stuff. Would other people like to see it and decided to just let you share it and see what happens?

JB: I had a skateboard channel for a couple of years, and I sponsored a YouTube event in 2015, and I started meeting with family vloggers. I had no idea what that was. So, I started talking to them and they started telling me what their income was like, what happened, and working with companies, this and that. I thought, "Honey, come here. Can I show you something?" I showed my wife a whole bunch of stuff on YouTube. I said, "I can teach you to edit, I can teach you all that. I can do all the the businessy stuff of it." Then she got started, and then I totally backed off because I wanted to see if she would keep it going or not. She blew it out of the water. She was crazy. It was amazing.

LS: So, your wife's all in? I mean, this is a whole family affair? Everybody's in, everybody is committed, everybody loves just doing this?

JB: We have family goals around the channel. We have family goals around if we can do this, we can all go do this. We try to get the kids really involved with. First, it was to pay off our debts because of some of our businesses, we had some debts leftover. So, we had a whole bunch of goals about that, and the kids were all in. It was amazing to see them like, "What can we do, what can we do to do this better? How are the views, dad?" They really were very interested in it. It was amazing.

LS: Just tell us your kids' ages, just so that we have an idea.

JB: 6 almost to 16.

LS: Do you have family meetings? Do you have like a YouTube or family get togethers?

JB: We do. We have a super intense thing called Family Council, typically once a week, sometimes not that often. On Sundays, we'll actually have a little counsel, crank out the whiteboard, put down ideas, what are your ideas, what do you have this week, what's your schedule, what's our schedule, how are we going to fit these videos in? And we organize it all.

LS: So, do you have one channel? Do you have multiple channels?

JB: As a family, we have five channels, and then I have a couple of my other channels I've had for a while. I still have the skate channel. I have a fly fishing channel that's about to go crazy again. I took some time away from it, but I need to hear the rustling of the waters again. But still, I have to turn it into a business and make a channel out of it.

LS: When you guys plan like whiteboard sessions in your council sessions, so each kid basically has their own goals, their own channels?

JB: They do.

LS: How much do you kind of push them to contribute or direct them into what they should or shouldn't be doing or is a lot of that left to free choice?

JB: That's an awesome question. The oldest two, they know how to do what they do. They know how to research, they know how to look up what's working, they know how to see the channels that refer to them, pivot off of those, create their own. The two younger kids' channels, we tried to let them be in charge of the creative. It didn't work at all. My wife said, "Okay, this is now my channel until you're old enough to know what you want to do with it," even though it's still their channel. So, she's in charge of the creative. All their videos get sent to our editors because they're little kids, but they have a really nice income for little kids. I'm super jealous of my own children, but that's okay because it means that they can pay for their own wedding.

LS: How are you guys finding this? Are things going well? Do you find that you have ups and downs because of YouTube.

JB: In the beginning, we really were true vloggers, and so it was just, "Oh I'll turn on the camera, catch that, catch that. Okay, okay. Well, catch this." But then we started finding ourselves trying to add more fun stuff into our day because our day competed with every other family in the world that had a camera's day. So, we started trying to one up our own days. We tried to, "Okay, well, let's go do this today because that will make for epic content. Tomorrow, let's do this because that's going to be even better content."

That's when we came up with our hybrid because there were challenge channels that would purely just challenge themselves and others, and this, that, and the other. Then, there were the vloggers. So, we started off with our morning and something, "Here's what's going on. This, that, and the other, but we're going to play this epic game in Costco." Then, we'd finish off, "Okay, guys. Thanks for watching. If you want to see us play more games, let us know."

Then we get 10,000 comments saying "Play, more games at Costco," and so we're like, "Oh," and then we started thinking, "Well, we don't have to compete with everyone else's days. We just have to compete with everyone else who's playing this game, but those people's videos are only three minutes long. Ours are 10 minutes long. So, YouTube hopefully going to like us because we're retaining people for a lot longer." So then, we got really specific with our games, and with our placement, and with our timing.

If we lost people a little bit early and our ad placements were right before we lose them, right before a cliffhanger, then we started filming a cliffhanger three and a half minutes into the video, throw an ad right there, and then we realized that we're doing commercial breaks, but we retained people. It blew my mind.

LS: I mean, it sounds like you're very involved into analytics. You really kind of deep dive into that to understand what's working, what isn't working.

JB: You saw The Matrix, right? When he's looking at the Matrix and you see all this stuff trickling down the screen and he's like, "All I see is blonde hair, blonde hair, Brunette, this, that." I really love the new Beta Studio and I'm trying to get used to that, but the old analytics, I could really, oh, I could spend four hours and lose myself inside of them.

LS: Do you think that's a necessary skill?

JB: You have to be able to audit your own channel. If you don't know the health and wealth of your own channel, you're not going to know when you're getting sick until you're too sick to recover.

LS: You need to find a way to be you, and something that your audience is going to love you for you, and therefore, keep coming back. Keep commenting, keep watching your videos. The only way to know this is to understand what they like and give them more of that. Do you find there's a lot of kind of "Me Toos" in the blogging world or maybe on YouTube as a whole?

JB: I think all of YouTube is Me Toos. I think because of how algorithmically driven it is, if something pops, you just know that if you put something else in there that's like it, it's going to do well. We try to work that off, make conversation we had about that subject. You're like, "Hey Jase, you should try this." We try to combine trends a little bit or take a trending video.

We have this one called the Spell Book. We've got a book off Amazon, it looks all creepy. We then did four videos on the top trending subjects for our channel with this, and now these videos pop and now we can do whatever we want with these ones. So, I'm going to take this one that now pops that we created that trend of. We've got four other YouTube channels that do these Spell Book videos with us that all kill it. Now, we've got other YouTubers, "Hey, could we do one of those Spell Book videos? Hey, can we do one?" We then created a new trend, and we love doing that.

LS: As opposed to kind of doing the same as everybody else?

JB: Everyone else. Now when somebody does a video and I see 2 million views overnight, I'm going to incorporate it, change it, try to do my own thing. I'll never copy somebody else's over, but I'll try to add it in somehow so that it can benefit us, and it'll benefit them. If it is a straight up, something like that, I will totally shout out the other creator.

LS: Do you find that because everyone's playing to the algorithm, are we not kind of compromising creativity at all because we are so busy trying to understand what YouTube wants, give YouTube wanted ones, let YouTube suggest us. Doesn't it hurt creativity then?

JB: I think it absolutely does if you don't put way more of your own spin. Like our spell book thing, totally creative, but people painted green, let's say was the trend going on? Well, our Spell Book is what turned us green.

LS: Do you find that the kind of the BS meter if people like really clued, if your audience really knows you so well that they know when it's not you?

JB: Yes, ours do. Comments are disabled now, but they'll come to our Instagram. We still tell everybody to comment below, put them below on the screen, our Instagram pops up. So yes, we do have people going off platform. Hopefully, they're not doing it right then and there, and it's just the marketing seven times, seven touches, and hopefully then they're like, "You know what? I should do something on that. Let me go to their Instagram and tell them that was cool." We're getting thousands of comments on our Instagram now, which wasn't a very valid platform for us. Between our eight Instagram accounts, thousands of new followers a day right now. It's crazy how it's helping us grow.

LS: So funnyily enough, YouTube, by disabling the comments, have actually forced you to to get a Plan B. Plan B is not just blowing up another platform for you.

JB: Our main channel in the last month has got 50,000 new followers on Instagram. But the interactions are going up. So, Instagram is now liking us; the algorithms are throwing us onto the explore feed more often, so it's helping. Our channels doing better than it ever has. So, people going off platform towards Instagram isn't hurting us right now.

LS: But I think that's what makes your channels so successful. All of them, including the kids' one is because you just don't follow, you're not a Me Too channel, and that's what I've always kind of connected with; where every time it's fresh, and it's a different spin, and there's something new, and it's something that your kids and your wife and you're always very, very much into because if it's not a good fit, you'll simply walk away.

JB: Yeah, we've stopped filming 10 minutes into a video before, and just "No, let's just scratch this. This sucks. We're out. I can't tell you how many times people say, "Hey, what happened to so-and-so?" And I've commented back, "They weren't feeling it, so we let them go read a book." There just out. They're out of the video, and it's not, "You're out and we're going to take away your toys." No, it's, "Okay. You're not feeling it? You're not feeling it. That's fine." Or it's, "Let's all take a moment, and we get a drink of water.” Let's work it through and come back to it. I think our kids would have had us shut this down a long time ago if I was a drill sergeant at it.

LS: That is such an important point because even here at this event, you can see people are filming everywhere you look. These people with cameras, they're vlogging, they're filming, there's full on productions going on, and you can see some of the kids have had enough. And yet, their parents kind of, unfortunately in my opinion, keep pushing and pushing and pushing because they've got quite set of film. Whereas I see on your channel, completely the opposite; where it's more of, "Hey, are we up for this? Cool. Let's do it. Are we not? Fine, we'll do this afternoon. Let's do it.

JB: Sometimes, we do buckle down and get it down. I mean, my wife's actually phrase is, "Bennets do hard things." She's like, "Bennet's can do hard things. Let's do this." But no, if they're really not feeling it, we're done. We're out because the audience can feel it.

LS: I suppose the weekly council meeting really helps a lot. Especially, because those weekly council meetings puts people in focus of what's expected this week.

JB: Before we started YouTube, we had four different businesses. Two were retail, one was manufacturing, one was real estate. We were trying to do anything we could to get out of this debt one of our earlier businesses had. We’re a Christian family and prayed to get out of debt. Our kids are fully vested into what we do because they've always been a part of our businesses. Our retail store, Clay was our oldest, was six months old sitting in one of those bouncy things next to the register in our first retail store. They've always been involved.

LS: Do you think that kind of having that transparency and openness helped kind of shape who they are?

JB: It has definitely shaped who they are and there have been long, hard conversations with my wife and I into how much do we let them know. Do we let them know what we're earning? Do we not let them know what we're earning? Well, if they know we're earning, that's going to totally mess up their minds' on what money is, and this and that. So, this is a hot topic between us because me, it's like, "Let them know."

They knew when we were $30,000 in the hole and we were trying to get out of it. Why not let them know how out of the hole we are now and how hard we're working for it? Actually, there was a story, real quick, in IKEA, checking out and I was filming it and I had told my daughter, I said, "Look at this lady. She's in her sixties, she's working at IKEA, she has to be there at this time, she gets these moments for breaks, she gets to leave at this time, and I'm sure she has grandkids, she has all that, but she doesn't have the freedom to go and do what she wants because of the choices she's made that led her to this point."

My wife elbowed me really hard and said, "That's being so mean." I said, "It's just being real." Like, we were $30,000 in debt. I was working my butt off, I was stressed out, there were tears, there were arguments. All of our decisions had led up to that moment and it was our fault. Nobody else did that to us. It was all of our decisions that led to that. I said, "So this lady," and so we were checking out and my daughter was looking at her, this is when she was deciding if she's going to start a YouTube channel or not, and she looked at the lady and the lady said, "Why are you filming this?"

I said, "Oh, I wasn't getting you on camera. I was just filming the stuff. Go through the check, it's good B-roll." She goes, "I know. Why are you filming this?" "So, it's for our YouTube channel." She goes, "Can I ask why you do that?" I said, "Because it paid off all of our family's debts while we played together on camera," and she said, "Man, I wish I would've done something like that because then I wouldn't be here," and my daughter's jaw dropped.

The lady heard her and she's like, "What did you say?" I just said, "No, just all of our choices lead to certain things," I said, "and what I meant by that is we should look at the end from the beginning, and look at the end and go, 'I want to be there. How do I get there? What choices am I going to make that take me there?'"

So, our family channel will create these little trends hoping that if we can get this one to hit, then we can have this one a month later, get this one to hit, so we can start doing this kind of content. Because we did all those parodies, we were a teen channel. Teens don't have a lot of runway. Right? After about a year of a teen, they then get their license and you've lost your subscriber.

If you can get eight year olds, they're very engaged, they're very active, the algorithm loves it. You've got them until they're 14 or 15. So, it took us two years to age down our channel. It was working wonderfully, but we knew it didn't have a lot of runway with it even aging down our channel for two years, and it has been painful. All of our friends' channels blowing up. They're about a million subscribers ahead of us. Now finally, we are now just rocketing. It's doing amazing.

In our YouTube life, we don't want to be at the check stand in our sixties. We want all these brand deals and all this stuff, and so what we're doing now is kids' content. We started all our new kids channels. Now, we have an agreement with our children with percentages and everything, is that maybe in the next couple of years, we can stop ours and their channels are all going. So, we can calm it down, they can keep going, and everybody's still happy.

LS: Yeah. Because again, they've got the energy, they've got the time, and they've got all of those. You still have your other priorities, other things that you want to do. You don't want to be locked into this vicious cycle, and we've seen that with a lot of YouTubers where it became a job and they cannot get off this wheel. It's the same as having a regular job in a regular firm. Well, you still can't get off the wheel.

JB: Yup. What's your end game? But, the checks were still great. We just knew what they could be once we got that more targeted audience that would watch through more ads that had the time to chill.

LS: Well, okay. That's a great lesson. It's more of a short term yes, and the numbers are great, and the ad check that comes through is amazing. Is this going to last forever? That's the question; and darn, we know it's not.

JB: None of us are getting out of here alive, and no businesses get out of here alive. Like, they all transition whether they're acquired, they're merged, they're something. I talk a lot at business conferences, and nothing I say is very popular. This is a very unpopular one, and I say there's a difference between business owners and entrepreneurs. A business owner owns a business. An entrepreneur starts a business with the intent of something. So, you can do another one and then another, whatever it is. These YouTubers, what is your purpose? Why did you start this? Because once you stop, you've got about a year until those checks go back down to zero. When you stop, what is your end game? Do you want to get into TV? Do you want to get into a radio? Do you want to become a model? Do you want to do feature films? So, ours is, we wanted to create this for our kids, and so we've created all their channels. We're going to grow theirs, and then we can back off, and they can drive the train.

LS: What has got you really excited right now?

JB: The wow is all the YouTubers that I am speaking with right now about creating product lines, legit product lines. Like me helping other YouTubers create physical products that their audience is dying to swipe a card for, that has gotten me pumped. I know that's out of my channel. That's just what I'm so pumped about right now. Here, I'll say it differently. I'm pumped that YouTubers are becoming entrepreneurs, not just artists.

LS: Do you think people are finally getting the message that it's more than just the platform, it's more than just an audience?

JB: Yes. If you'd have asked me eight months ago, I would've said no. Honestly, as recently as the last eight months, because my email's off the hook from all these different YouTubers I've never even met saying, "Hey, I hear you're the guy to talk to. I've got this widget that I need to make." It's not just, "Hey, can you do hoodies and shirts for me?" It's, "I've got this character on my channel, I need it to be in people's homes now, not just on their screens." That gets me so pumped.

LS: Wow. Do you find that's happening more and more and more?

JB: So much more. Even our own channel. My daughter just got back from a trip to China with me making her jewelry line and her hair accessories line. The stuff on our site is, even though we're not pushing our products, we're selling tons of phone cases, and tote bags, and adventure bags, and all this other stuff. So, I think it's amazing where it's going right now. I'm so excited. My thing is, become your own brand. Brand deals are wonderful with other companies, but if you can become your own brand, do a couple of brand deals to fund your own. Specifically, take that money, don't touch it, and make sure it goes into investing into your own entrepreneurial venture, into you.

LS: Wow. Okay, so if you have a YouTube channel, stop thinking, "Adsense, Adsense, Adsense only." Could you test this? I mean, could you do a small run of something?

JB: 100%. With YouTube's little Teespring banner at the bottom, take your three favorite designs, a couple of colors, put it on there. After a month, a week, whatever, until you get at least a hundred sales. Then whatever sold the most, physically make that because you will make 500% more making it yourself than just print on demanding it through anybody else. It's not a risk anymore. You have the data to look at and go, "Oh the pink shirt is the shirt.

LS: So, use Teespring, use the platform that you have because you've got the tools, give it a bash, and see what happens.

JB: Shopify sites have four different print on demand companies that you can test out. If it works, awesome, then do it for real. Don't make a dollar or $2 a shirt, make $11.

LS: In the last six months, eight months, ten months, what's something that's nice and cheap that made you really happy?

JB: A meal with one of my kids, just a lone meal with one of my kids. We call them just a date. Honestly, that's what I live for.

LS: Doesn't that just embody your whole channel? I mean, that's just your channel, your family values.

JB: I hope so. We're trying to share that big families can have a blast. Everyone sees us come to the airport and literally, I'm Moses - I part the waters and everybody moves like, "Oh my gosh, look at that family. Oh, my gosh, I can't believe they are ruining the planet and all this stuff." That was our goal in the beginning, was just to show that big families have fun, big families are cool, big families are a party.

LS: I must say, that is one thing I really love about Jason and kind of his family and what they do. It's just what you see is what you get. Everything's above board, everything is just as good and wholesome as can be. There isn't this whole fakeness of, "Oh, I'm a TV star. I'm a celebrity." And to be clear, they get mobbed by hundreds of people when they go to a Vidcon or something like that. They don't believe the right PR, so to speak.

LS: As far as that goes, they'll hang out with anyone. Jason will often walk up to someone and say, "Hey, what do you do?" Not, "What is your channel size"? Therefore, I'm willing to talk to you. That is never been kind of your style at all. Do you find that really makes you kind of unique and kind of stand out? Because let's be honest, this is a bit of a world all about numbers.

JB: I know everyone's numbers. I have my app and I scroll everyone's numbers every day. Too many times seeing where it's all at. But since where am I, I mean, I don't care. The algorithm loves you this month. It's gonna love meeting next month. It's gonna love them the month after that. So what?

LS: There's enough to go around. This is kind of the big thing, is that YouTube views are finite. In other words, we don't get a thousand views a day and now we have to decide who to distribute them to. I can watch 10 of Jason's videos and 10 of somebody else's videos, and everybody gets a view. We don't take away of you from someone because you've watched somebody else's. So, who cares about the number? Are you a good person? Do I want to hang out with you? Do we get along?

Those to me are much more important. And by the way, when you do those collabs, those are much more organic. The audience loves those because now you're collaborating with other people. What are some good tips for us to grow a channel?

JB: Work with other creators, small, big whatever. But we've had people on our channel that had 2 million subscribers less than us and we collaborated with them. They had a great idea. So, let's do it. That's going to be fun. It's going to be real, so let's do it. But, don't come up to me and say, "Hey your channel's huge, let's collab." There's nothing there. Say "Hey Jase, my name's so-and-so. I've got this epic idea. Your family would be perfect. Do you guys want to go and do this weird thing on the staircase that's this, this, that, and the other?" Sure. I didn't look at my phone, I didn't see how big their channel was. I didn't care. That sounds like an awesome idea, it's your idea. Let's do it.

LS: Brilliant. If more and more people took that attitude that YouTube will be a different space as a whole.

JB: I think it would be. Because I've gotten up and said hey to them and they like, I don't know. It's interesting. They do have more subs, but they're getting half the daily views. So, which is more relevant? If you have 3 million subscribers and there's a guy with 500,000, but his last four videos were a hundred percent viewership and you're at 10% right now. Right? 2 million channel, you're getting 200,000 views. He's got a more active audience. Do something, he'd be stoked to work with you because you look bigger. You should be stoked with them because they've got the more relevant active audience.

LS: All right. So, as we wrap up, if you could have one message on a tweet or an a video that everybody would watch, what would be that message?

JB: Man, I'm all just about be real. Honestly, just be real. If you've got an issue with me, come and tell me my hair sucks. I am totally okay with that. Then, allow me to tell you that your ear lobes are super weird, you know? But, that's okay. We can hug it out, and move on, and then become friends. I don't know. I just love, I respect people that are real so much because real isn't popular.

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