Lifestyle Design is a notion that has helped me change the way I view work and life and has had a direct effect on my YouTube channels. I want to show you how to do the same.
Lifestyle Design – as introduced by Tim Ferriss in the 4 Hour Work Week:
The New Rich (NR) are those who abandon the deferred-life plan and create luxury lifestyles in the present using the currency of the New Rich: time and mobility. This is an art and a science we will refer to as Lifestyle Design (LD).
The 4 Hour Work Week is a New York Times Bestselling book which has been translated into over 30 languages and has sold nearly 1.5 million copies worldwide. It’s author, Tim Ferriss, is an entrepreneur, teacher and freedom junkie who wants to utilise lifestyle design to free the world from the constraints of convention and for us to escape the 9-5, live anywhere and join the new rich.
Since it’s release in 2007, this bible for lifestyle design has helped countless people leave their full-time jobs or drastically change the way they work, allowing them more freedom to spend time on something they really want to be doing. Now who doesn’t want that? You do, right? I know I do.
The book and the ideas behind lifestyle design have had a hugely positive effect on my life and the way I approach work. It gave me the confidence and motivation to start this Blog so I’m sure it will help you too. When putting Ferriss’ ideas into practice I found that many of them can be applied to the running of a YouTube channel with great benefits.
This post will not teach you how to quit your job and spend your days in a hammock, I’ll leave that to Mr Ferriss, but what I have done is taken those ideas that I used to improve my YouTube processes and broken them down into 11 actionable steps. By following these steps you can run your channel (or start one, if you haven’t already) in the most successful and efficient way possible, freeing up time for you to spend however is most valuable to you.
All quotes are from the Expanded and Updated edition, first published in 2011
1. Factor in the cost of inaction
“Don’t only evaluate the potential downside of action. It is equally important to measure the atrocious cost of inaction”
Before reading this book I had never considered the cost of NOT doing something, but on reflection I can see how it has cost me dearly and I hope that you take this on board so as not to make the same mistake.
If you are sitting on the fence about starting a YouTube channel for your business, or for yourself, because of the costs (whether that be financial, time, or effort costs) you must also weigh up the cost of not doing it:
- Will your clients find a competitor’s product because you don’t have video?
- How much traffic and money are you leaving on the table?
- How could your life have changed if you had bitten the bullet and started that gaming vlog.
You’ll never know unless you just give it a try.
Closely related to this is my next point:
2. Surround yourself with brilliant people
“Poisonous people do not deserve your time. To think otherwise is masochistic”
If the reason you are yet to start a channel is because you’re worried about what others think of you then you need to shift that mind set and fast. How will you know until you put yourself out there? Yes, there will be trolls and criticism but if you make a video you can be proud of there will be an audience (no matter how small) that appreciates what you do.
If you fear the opinion of those people most close to you it may be that you are associating with the wrong crowd. It is widely said that you are the average of the five people you spend most time with, so if these five people are not supportive, understanding and inspirational make a change in your social circles.
Join online commuunities, forums, groups and dare I say it, get out in the real world and talk to people who have the same goals and ambitions so you can motivate eachother and hold eachother accountable. Surrounding yourself with such people will only push you on to successs and I am very thankful that I am surrounded by some amazing minds .
3. Niche down
“Don’t create a product, then seek someone to sell it to. Find a market – define your customers – then find or develop a product for them”
Maybe the most important lesson for a YouTube channel, or any business in fact, is to find a niche that you know and focus solely on that, because if you try to serve everyone you will end up serving no one.
Finding your niche allows you to speak to your audience with more authority and provide much more value to your viewer. And even though you may not get millions of views you will have a qualified and engaged audience that will help you reach your YouTube goals. It will also allow your passion for the subject to shine through as I hope my passion for YouTube comes across in my posts.
So you have your niche but worried you are not an expert in the field?…
4. Realise that you are expert enough
“It is not necessary to be the best – just better than a small target number of your prospective customers”
You don’t need a PHD in Neuroscience to teach people how to improve their memory.
If you have more knowledge than your intended audience then you are expert enough to teach them. There will be people out there with more knowledge and credentials than you but let them focus on the advanced topics and you can focus on teaching beginners in a simple and accessible way. You need to be honest though if you don’t have all of the answers, take your viewers on a journey if you are still learning and they will follow you to learn along the way.
I am not the world’s leading expert on all things YouTube but I do know my stuff and working on the platform every day has given me more knowledge than the average user and I feel comfortable in helping others by passing that knowledge on.
5. Do not give your audience too many options
“The more options you offer the customer, the more indecision you create”
Those loving viewers that do choose to follow you can be fickle characters and you want to make sure that you are doing everything you can to keep their YouTube session going. The temptation can be to give the viewer lots of options to click on at the end of a video with the aim that one of the options will stand out. This is fundamentally flawed.
It has been proven that when a person is given too much choice they can become overwhelmed and this leads to indecision and the person just walking away. With that in mind chose one (or two at a push) call to action, that is highly focused and relevant to each video and you’ll see click through rates start to climb.
6. Live by the Pareto principle
“Pareto’s law can be summarised as follows: 80% of the outputs result from 20% of the inputs”
Or in layman’s terms cut out all of the filler in your work and concentrate on the important stuff.
Now this one I like a lot and there is more than one application of this for your growing YouTube Empire:
1) What are the tasks that your channel benefits most from? If its comments and social media focus more time on that but more likely it’s content creation and cross promotion, so cut down the time you spend doing everything else.
2) Which of your videos are driving the most views? Chances are it’s a small percentage of your videos that account for the bulk of your views and subscribers. Double down on this type of content and scale back on the rest.
Rinse and repeat.
7. Work by Parkinson’s law
“Parkinson’s law dictates that a task will swell in (perceived) importance and complexity in relation to the time allotted for its completion”
This is one of those magical points that only hit you when you are made aware of it, but In basic terms Parkinson’s Law means that whatever amount of time you give yourself to complete a task you’ll fill it.
Give yourself two hours to sort your taxes for the month and It will take you two hours. But if your friends call you out for drinks in 30 minutes time, as if by magic the same work gets done in 30 minutes.
Give yourself strict time slots with tasks such as editing and answering messages in the inbox and watch yourself flourish under the pressures of time.
One technique that is sure to help here is batch processing.
8. Utilize Batch processing
“Batching is also the solution to our distracting but necessary time consumers, those repetitive tasks that interrupt our most important.”
There are a number of tasks related to YouTube that can be repetitive and it’s these tasks that should be taken care of in small batches for maximum efficiency. Answering emails, research, reaching out to other creators, and responding to comments could all be done in one focused session, limiting interruption and encouraging momentum.
You may have noticed that I said “small batches” and not just “batches” and that is because although it seems more efficient to work in big batches it can actually be counter-productive.
For example you may batch edit 15 videos to cut down on interruption and increase flow, but if you get to the end and realize that the branding isn’t correct or you’ve sent people to the wrong URL then it’s a lot of work to re-do. However if you cut only three videos in a batch you keep that flow going but mistakes will have a less profound effect.
Using batch processing has helped my productivity and focus and creates a momentum that can’t be achieved when multi-tasking.
9. Outsource tasks wherever possible
“Never automate something that can be eliminated, and never delegate something that can be automated or streamlined”
So by now you have taken the above steps which will help you systemize many of the working parts of your channel. These systems should be recorded, step-by-step in a standard operating procedure document so you can follow it to the letter each time. Once this S.O.P is in place it should be possible for anyone to be able to complete these same tasks in exactly the same way and in an ideal world that would be anyone but you.
At the start of your YouTube journey you may not have the finances to outsource tasks so you’ll need to put in the hours instead (There’s no shame in that – I fall into this category myself). However at some point it will be the case that the cost to your business of you doing these tasks is greater than an outsourcing costs because instead you could be creating new revenue streams or growing existing ones.
Simple tasks such as transcriptions or the topping and tailing of videos can be outsourced cheaply but I will hold back from recommending any particular service here until I have used one that I can recommend 100%. Before you outsource any task though, ask yourself if the process is necessary at all. Outsourced or not, doing work that could be eliminated entirely is a cost that you can do without.
10. Don’t learn anything you don’t need to implement NOW
“Its not enough to use information for “something” – it needs to be immediate and important. If “no” on either count, don’t consume it.”
This is a problem that I have historically suffered from terribly. Until now.
The human brain only has a limited amount of storage space and processing power so don’t over-burden it with stuff that isn’t needed in the short term.
Don’t start researching the endless capabilities of Adobe After Effects if you are still getting to grips with the basics of editing and forget about the intricacies of shallow depth of field, just pick up a camera and shoot.
You will pick up what you need to know in time and you will be able to focus more on matters at hand.
11. Know when to quit (or iterate)
“Just because something has been a lot of work or consumed a lot of time doesn’t make it productive or worthwhile”
Sadly not all ideas are home runs and I have personally walked away from ideas that initially I thought would be winners.
Unless your surname is Gaga or Bieber you are unlikely to be an overnight success, so you’ll need to consistently create fantastic content for your target audience, even if they haven’t discovered it yet. A small but engaged audience may be enough to sustain your channel and achieve your goals, but for others that require volume for their YouTube business model there is only so much patience you can have.
Using the Pareto principle (see point 6) you should be constantly reviewing your output and focusing more on what’s working and cutting out what doesn’t.
Listen to the feedback of your audience and double down on what’s working for them. There will be occasions where your initial judgment on what your channel should be will miss entirely and if the running of your channel becomes part of the 80% of your work or life that isn’t delivering than you may need to take the tough step of cutting it entirely.
I know that if you action even just a few of these step it can have a drastic effect on the running of your channel, I know because I have seen the results myself. I definitely recommend you read The 4-Hour Workweek in full, as its influence can be profound, but in the short term I want you to go away and just take one of these steps and make sure you take it today.
Time is too precious to waste.