Tutorials are BORING! @Justin Rhodes turns his into emotional stories.

The normal approach for most creators making educational content on YouTube is to just straight up teach the content. Provide the cold, hard facts and wrap up the video. After all, years of experience in the modern educational system have taught us to deliver information void of emotion, feelings, and sometimes even context.

While there is still certainly a place on YouTube for tutorials and educational content that delivers information in that way, there’s another approach to education that, when done well, many people don’t even notice that it’s actually education. That’s because the education is wrapped up in a story that captures the viewer’s attention, holds their attention, and actually makes them feel something. It gets the viewer’s heart involved and, before long, causes them to even build a perceived relationship with the educator. Those are the channels that often find the most success on social media platforms like YouTube.

@Justin Rhodes is a great example of this. As a homesteading channel, if his videos were strictly about how to raise chickens and plant a garden, he’d have some success, but he’d be at a much higher risk of blending in with literally thousands of other videos that essentially say the same thing as his videos.

Instead, Justin has quickly risen above the competition by wrapping engaging and heart-felt stories around the education he provides and, as a result, has grown a successful business that now supports his family and a small team.

In this episode, Justin will share his process for how he takes what most people would turn into a normal tutorial or educational video and instead wraps a story around it that captures not only your attention, but your heart, too, which more quickly converts viewers into subscribers, subscribers into fans, and fans into customers.

— Listen to the full interview with Justin here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/justins-process-for-turning-educational-videos-into/id1073455415?i=1000514835748
— Check out Justin’s channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOSGEokQQcdAVFuL_Aq8dlg

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— I had been in authority.

I had made this course
about permaculture chickens.

And now I’m gonna go through a challenge

and start showing our real life.

All of a sudden we had a sick chicken

and I remember posting this video

this very early on, made
me sick, made me so sick.

I had to take a nap.

The expert is not
supposed to make mistakes.

It blew up, and you
know what happened Tim?

That became our first viral video

and that launched our
full-time career on YouTube.

(upbeat music)

— So many of us will just
sit down, myself included,

we’ll just sit down
and we’ll just be like,

«Okay, here’s what you need to know.

Step one, step two, step three.»

And there is a place for that on YouTube.

It’s an okay way to make content

if you’re just trying to go after views.

It’s probably the most
competitive way to get views

’cause there’s a lot of other people

who are just doing the same tutorial,

how to content than you are.

But if you can take that
same educational content

and wrap it in an engaging story

that don’t only gives
someone the right information

but delivers it in a
way that actually start

to feel something and is
wrapped around the core beliefs

that make people really
revolve around community,

’cause the strongest communities

revolve around core beliefs.

Like shared beliefs that
we have in common, right?

Not just come interests.

It is so much more
powerful for your channel

and this guy does it amazingly well.

He has a homesteading channel.

His videos could easily just
be about how to raise chickens

and plant a garden and he
could have some success.

But instead he’s doing
something very different

where it is working for him to the change

of closing in on millions subscribers,

hundreds of thousands of views per video.

And he is rising above the competition

by wrapping his education
in a very warming, engaging,

heartfelt stories on the
education he provides.

And today I wanna dig into this with him

and hear his process for how he does that.

So people like you and I can
learn from him and do the same.

— I’m Justin Rhodes from
Western North Carolina,

happy family growing
a lot of our own food.

We’ve taught and inspired millions

of people at this point to do just that.

— So when you are making
some of your videos

what does that look like for you?

Are you intentionally
trying to craft stories?

Especially for this person
who’s like, you know what,

I’m just doing Photoshop tutorials,

or I’m just teaching people
how to change the alternator

in their lawnmower.

— When we came into this game

it turns out that
everybody else on YouTube

at that time in homesteading
was putting out instructionals.

We happened to end up
being the first bloggers.

We weren’t even on
YouTube, as we entered it,

we weren’t even really consuming it,

except find something out here and there.

You had consumed one
of our first products,

permaculture chickens.

We had produced this film

and we knew that to continue
growing our business

we wanted to continue growing our audience

and we wanted to nurture
who we already had.

And so I was blogging.

I was blogging to do that writing
and with our homesteading.

So yeah, homesteading, just
like anything can be very,

can a chicken lay an
egg without a rooster?

It can be very, you just
wanna find the information.

But there is a lifestyle behind it.

There’s a story behind that answer.

And so we started just saying,

and I had been in authority.

I had made this course
about permaculture chickens

and now I’m gonna go through a challenge

and start showing our real life.

Incorporate Rebekah, incorporate the kids,

and taking blogging to
the homestead level.

And our goal from the very
beginning, we had two goals.

We want to make people laugh and learn.

And every single episode

we actually had an email
list going into it.

And we actually sent our email list.

Our first show, our pilot show,
before it ever went public.

Did you laugh?

And did you learn something?

Were the first two
questions on our survey.

And they happen to do that.

— Do you feel like that’s something

that any educator just like, hey,

just focus on making
someone laugh and learn

’cause some people are
funnier than others.

So is that something that you feel

like every educator to
just take and run with?

Or like the principle of having some goals

to the content beyond education?

— It’s probably gonna be personal

and I don’t want somebody to try too hard

to make somebody laugh.

I mean, I don’t want you to
try to be a standup comedian

and come up with a bunch
of terrible dead jokes

just to try to get-
— yeah, some people are like

you should just stop
that part right there.

— Our intention for people to laugh

isn’t even me trying to make people laugh.

— So when you are going
out, like through your day,

do you think like, «Okay, here’s
the video I’m gonna make,»

and you go make that or you’re like,

«Let’s just see what happens today

and then see if I can turn
that into an educational.»

Like what’s step one that
Justin Rhodes’ process

for making a video?

You start with a concept or
you just go through your day

and then figure out the concept at the end

or what does that look like for you?

— I do feel better the days that I can,

that we have something
that could be a story

almost in and of itself,
usually that’s a project.

‘Cause I mean on homesteading

we’re milking the cow every day.

How many times can I shoot that?

How many times can I make a story of that?

But if this morning, for example,

I can see that this morning

our little project was
replace these old gates

that just weren’t working
the way they were opening

and they weren’t allowing
animals to get around nicely.

And so we got ahold of some new gates

and we pulled those old gates off

and hung those new gates in.

And that is a story.

Now, if I just did that, that
might be a three minutes.

It might end up being
three or four minutes.

I could turn the camera on and say,

«Oh, here we got a six foot gate,

step one, step two, step three.»

I can do that.

Now that would take me back to blogging

and that’s just blogging,
that’s just not as fun.

And that you’re missing a
lot of the point of a story.

And I get tempted to do that Tim.

I get tempted to go out there

and just get the good bits
of me hanging on this gate.

And me just looking like a champion.

But to get this gate going, we
gotta get the measuring tape,

we gotta get to drill,
we gotta get the bit

and it turned into a whole drama.

It’s a mini drama.

I have kids, I have four kids.

And if ever I get organized,
and I’m not the best,

but if I have any organizational moment,

where I did good, I put the tool back,

the problem is my kids know that.

And then they know where that tool is,

and then they’ll put, they
get it and put it back.

So we document it, where’s this drill bit?

I had a nice drill bit.

Oh goodness, we don’t know where that is.

Okay, what can we do?

We’re gonna get this one
drill, but it’s not as long.

So it can’t go all the way
through the six inch posts.

So we’ll have to measure
on both sides and do that.

You’re attempted to leave that out.

But that’s the goal, that’s the obstacle.

— Yeah, Justin is explaining the story

but these principles do translate

into whatever content that you’re making.

Which is one who is a character.

Two, what do they want?

Three, why can’t they have what they want?

And then four, and you
didn’t tap into this one,

in this example, but I’ve seen you

and others in your channel.

Is four, what’s at stake

if the character doesn’t
get what they want?

If I don’t fix this, like
the cows are gonna get out,

we’re going to lose them

or like they’re gonna
wander into the street

or they could get hit by a tractor

or lots of other things.

And so you don’t really
have to be interested

in permaculture and in gardening
and animals and chickens

in order to start getting
engaged with this type of story,

which I think is part of what’s
contributed to your growth

of going from like you’re getting close

to a million subscribers,
800,000 or something,

last I checked.

And so I’m sure of that,
probably a small portion

of those people are actually homesteaders.

But you’re reaching a broader audience

’cause people are falling in love

with the stories and the characters

even though they’re learning
things along on the way.

— I think it comes up naturally

’cause I’m thinking about it.

I didn’t have to think
through my head this morning.

Oh, I should make sure I tell them,

what’s gonna happen if I don’t do this?

Because it naturally occurred,

we got the first gate off
and now we have nothing.

So now we’re like, and
I said it to the camera,

now we’re committed.

Now we have to get this new
gate up and it’s gotta work.

We gotta measure it right

or else we’re not gonna have a gate here.

— Right, it’s creating tension
in the mind of the viewer.

Will it happen?

Will they get what he wants?

And so now the tension in the brain

of the viewer is what’s
holding their attention

giving you that watch time you want,

getting them to the end of your content

to hopefully click can
watch another good story.

— People are learning something

they might not even know
they’re learning something.

It’s just classic immersion learning.

— What’s also happening

is they’re building a
perceived relationship.

In fact, last summer I had
to buy a zero turn lawnmower

to take care of some stuff on our property

and I needed to change
the alternator on it,

but I am not mechanically inclined.

And it took me a while to figure out

what was even wrong
with in the first place.

When I did, I went on YouTube,
I found the perfect video.

It was exactly undo this
bolt, undo that bolt,

take this part off, this part off,

and then, and I was exactly what I needed

for my model lawn mower.

And then I watched it in reverse

and put it all back
together and it was perfect.

But if you would ask me
about three hours later,

like, «Hey, Tim, whose
channel was that on?

Who was that guy in the video?»

I would have been like,
«It was a good video

but I don’t remember who that person is.»

There was no relational
connection that was established.

He gave me exactly the info I needed.

And, but he’s forgettable.

That is a really critical piece

that a lot of educators are missing,

is they’re trying to position
themselves as the expert.

And that doesn’t get people
to emotionally engage

with you because a character,

any hero that we follow in any story,

the hero has some flaw.

They have some weakness and
every single one of them

in a good story needs
a guide who comes along

and equips them with that proverbial sword

that they’re going to use to go finally

get the thing that they want.

And I think your business
is a great example

of show your weaknesses,
show your mistakes,

show your struggles, that
actually is what builds the trust.

I guess people would be like,

«I’ll make a transaction with
Justin because I trust him

and I identify with him, he’s human.»

— I hope somebody can
watch this and be like,

«Yeah, okay, I’ll be more
vulnerable, it’s gonna be okay.»

I was that lawnmower and
guy who knew everything.

And then we got into this YouTube game

and all of a sudden we had a sick chicken.

We talked to Mr. Google Pants,

finding out this this
chicken must be egg bound.

So harvest her earlier

than you might have
because she’s miserable.

And that was a tough decision.

We ended up putting her out
of imagery and we’re blogging.

This is what happened to us today.

Here’s the apron wearing
permaculture chicken ninja master

and a chicken dying
perhaps before it should.

And I remember posting this video.

This very early on, made
me sick, made me so sick.

I had to take a nap.

Why did it make me so sick?

Because apron wearing
permaculture chicken ninja master

is not supposed to make mistakes.

The expert is not
supposed to make mistakes.

I woke up from that nap,

way more comments than usual, thank you.

Thank you for showing that
it happens to you too.

That’s what it was, it blew up.

And you know what happened Tim,

that became our first viral video

and that launched our
full-time career on YouTube.

— Oh, awesome.

(laughs)

— I mean that replaced
average American income.

We’ve put the farm-
— So it’s from video.

— In our abundant history.

Because I was willing,

because the expert was willing
to swallow his pride and show

that we’re not perfect, that
we don’t know everything,

and we don’t always have the answer.

And that video did so well, I
ended up doing a sequel to it

after we knew more and
could speak to that.

— That’s great.

Yeah, so you’re regularly
showing mistakes,

you’re risking vulnerability,

that’s like when someone
wants to follow a hero

that is what gets us to care.

So one, who’s a character?

Two, what do they want?

Three, why can’t they have what they want?

Four, what’s at stake if they
don’t get what they want?

Five, who or what comes along

and helps the character do
what they couldn’t do before?

In your case, it was
Mr. Google Pants, right?

There’s someone who comes along

and helps this character and equips them.

And then six, how do they
ultimately get what they want?

And that’s where most people
then end the story as,

«Oh, the character got what they wanted.»

But you do actually
number seven too, Justin,

which is really important.

The difference between
a story that people like

and a story that people
love, is they like a story

where the character gets what they wanted.

But they love a story where number seven,

how is the character
transformed by this process?

They wanna see that transformation.

The character at the beginning was like,

«How am I gonna do this?

I’m stressed out.

I might lose my cow tonight if
I don’t get this gate fixed.»

And at the end, they’re
like, «Oh, I’m satisfied.»

And it’s you with your wife.

And you can see that all
is right in the world.

There’s one thing, mistake
a lot of educators make,

they think it’s actually
about the lawnmower

or it’s actually about the
thing I’m trying to teach.

But it’s actually what people really want,

is to experience transformation
in their own lives.

That’s why they’re coming
to you for education

in the first place.

And that’s what people will
say, «Oh, he makes good videos.»

The words we would put to that

is it made you feel something.

— You hitted the nail on the head.

It’s about the transformation.

I didn’t know it at the time.

I didn’t know the art of storytelling

and I know the words for it,

but I think I remember
right in that video,

it’s been so long, the fat hen video,

at the end, I think Rebecca
and I are sitting on the swing

just giving our best
guess at what happened.

That little recap was that.

I think it was, you can see
our transformation in that.

In the least you see that we’re learning.

And that’s the transformation.

— Wow, thank you, Justin.

I had so many good takeaways

from that conversation with Justin.

Number one, show the
human side of yourself

and what you’re doing,

don’t make it just
about the how to process

for bringing other elements
outside that process as well.

Number two, he does a
lot of risk vulnerability

and he’s not afraid to show
that he’s not an expert

and sometimes does get something wrong.

And in fact, that actually
increases the human connection

that people feel with him and his content

and they will with you too.

Number three, he’s talked
about just starting his content

in his videos straight with
the desire and the obstacles

and then getting into those stakes

like as soon as possible.

Now we didn’t about this with
Justin in my conversation

but one thing that Justin often does

is he teases the desire and the obstacles

of the story inside his
title and thumbnail.

So people are already
feeling that tension.

They’re already curious,
that element of tension

in the brain is already there
even before someone clicks.

And then when they click,

they may all get right into the story

as already right into the obstacles

that he is a character is facing.

Number four, is follow a
proven storytelling structure

like Justin did to make this up.

I didn’t make this up.

This has been something

that’s been effectively
holding people’s attention

for hundreds and hundreds of years,

maybe thousands of years.

So see if you can answer
those seven story questions

in order, even before you
hit record on your camera,

if at all possible, if you
can’t at least start the process

and look for the opportunities

to record the obstacles as they pop up.

And now hopefully if you
follow that framework

you’ll know what to look for

and how to craft a better story

from your content as a result.

A little tip for me also

that goes a little bit beyond all of this

is to take your education
and turn it into a challenge.

Instead of it just being
how to build this dresser

maybe instead of make it,

my wife thinks our
current dresser is really

outdated and old.

She showed me this picture

of what she wants our
new dresser to look like.

And I just wanted to see
if I could build it, right?

So now you know who the characters are.

The wife, there’s
transformation that she wants

in her bedroom or wherever this thing is.

And now you see, like, this is
what the guy is trying to do.

The husband is like now
you know what he wants

and he’s teasing like, «I
don’t know if I can do this.»

And now you’re more curious
to see how does this happen.

And you might, you’ll learn
how to build a dresser

in the process, but turning it

taking a normal, how to build a dresser,

and turning it into,

let me see if I can do this.

It creates a lot more intrigue,

a lot more attention to hold
people’s attention better.

A great example of this
would be the channel,

Fix This Build That.

Justin is a great example of this too.

And just thinking about more,

like not just straight up the facts,

but how do I humanize this so
that people actually connect

to me and the story
that we’re telling here

through our educational content.

If you wanna see more of that,

how Justin does this,
there’s a link to his channel

in the show notes of this podcast episode.

Go down there and click it
and learn a lot from him.

I know it will blow you away

even if you’re not in the farming

you’re gonna learn a lot about
how to crack good stories

and how to turn education into amazing

engaging stories that
actually engage people

and converts in his case, my
case, and other people’s too,

into good transactions that
grows a business as a result.

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