19 Aug

Lessons from building a blog to 10,000 subscribers in a year (video course)

This blog now has 10,000 email subscribers. In order to celebrate I’d like to try something a little different: a free video course.

Inspired by my friends over at Fizzle I’ve been wanting to start recording videos for training. I’ve done a little bit for Authority, but that was just using an HD webcam. It wasn’t the best quality.

At BaconBiz in the beginning of the summer I met Chris and Brendan from Wistia. Their video hosting platform is fantastic, but how they use video to promote, market, and teach is even more inspiring. When they offered to give away a free lighting kit I was sold. It was time to setup a home studio.

My studio

With the lighting kit coming from Wistia, I asked Caleb Wojcik about other camera gear. After discussions with him, here’s what I ended up with (affiliate links):

Total cost was under $2,000 for the entire setup. For a backdrop I bought a piece of hardboard from Home Depot (had them cut it down to 6″ x 4″ to fit my room), then primed and painted it with chalkboard paint. I like the slight texture it gives the background over a flat black or grey color. For future videos I may draw on it more.

Overall the setup has worked great, though I did make a few mistakes.

Caleb told me to use the stock 18-35mm lens I already have to determine which fixed zoom lens would work well in my room. I ignored that advice and just bought a 50mm lens. Oops. In order to get the right framing at 50mm I have to push the camera all the way back against the wall. That means that my camera mounted shotgun mic is further away so the sound quality isn’t as good. Moral of the story, figure out which lens works best for your room before purchasing (and listen to Caleb).

It would be better to record the audio on a separate device, then use a boom to get the microphone at the right spot. Oh well, I’ll improve the setup later.

Also I am recording at home—with a 2 year old—so recording has to be timed to when he is sleeping or out of the house. Since I’m recording short videos it hasn’t been an issue, but a separate, quieter location would be nice.

For more on setting up your own studio check out the Wistia Learning Center.


The format

At a previous software company I worked at we built a tool to deliver video courses in short 2-3 minute videos, one per day. I loved it. You could learn about something new (photography, health, business, etc), in just a few minutes a day. Unfortunately the platform never took off (long story), and I eventually quit.

I still loved the idea of video training dripped out in small chunks, so when it was time to shoot some video, a series of short lessons was where I wanted to start.

Best of all, ConvertKit has the functionality to power this. Subscribe and each day morning (11:00 AM EST) you will get a new video lesson delivered to your inbox. Each one is short (between 2 and 4 minutes) and packed with the most important ideas I’ve learned.


The Lessons

Enough about my setup, on to the actual content. These are the 10 most valuable ideas I’ve learned in building my blog and email list to over 10,000 subscribers (now 10,274). Here are the video lessons:

  1. Teach everything you know
  2. Average speed
  3. Use email, not social
  4. Price based on value
  5. Use tiered pricing to triple revenue
  6. Establishing expertise
  7. Be definitive
  8. Real feedback requires a credit card
  9. Launch sequences matter
  10. Be personal and authentic

You’ll receive one video each day for 10 days. To sign up for the series, and get the first lesson instantly, sign up below.

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17 Responses to “Lessons from building a blog to 10,000 subscribers in a year (video course)”

  1. Very cool, can’t wait to see all the videos!

  2. Thibault says:

    Nice video, but the sound is not so good as you pointed out ;) I like this kind of format, I can just watch it anytime during the day when I have 2 minutes. Thanks !

  3. Awesome quality of the featured image, Nathan. If videos are the same quality – it will be an amazing information product.

    One downside of DSLR cameras is that they can’t record for more than 10 min. If anyone out there consider shooting interviews or simply long videos, a camcorder would serve better. Trade off of a camcorder – quality.

    How about the lightning kit that you got for free? Can you name model and brand?

    • Nathan Barry says:

      I got the lighting kit as a gift from Wistia. They may sell it in the future. My Canon t5i will record for at least 30 minutes. It just writes to a new file every 12 minutes or so.

  4. Thanks for referencing Fizzle. I didn’t know about this. I love your content. Keep up the good work.

  5. Thanks for inspiring me to work harder at achieving my goals. Hoping to make it back to Boise to hear you speak at IBE this fall.

  6. Hey Nathan;

    What about lighting? What kind of lighting are you using, and how hot does it get under the lights? At work we have some fluorescent lights for lighting video, but I recall those being quite expensive.

  7. Thanks for the inspiration. I have trouble staying focused on my online property while I am still working full time. Thanks for sharing. I love the simplistic design of your website. I am going to have to incorporate that as well. Thanks…PAT

  8. Thank you, Nathan, for sharing this. It is very inspiring.

  9. Mike says:

    Great post, thanks. A couple questions for you. First, do you know if Wistia is going to be selling that lighting kit? And second, what theme are you using for your blogs/sales pages? I really like the flat look and the single page design of your sites.

    • Nathan Barry says:

      Not sure. I bet if you ask Wistia how to get it they will let you know if they plan to sell it.

      As for the theme, it’s all custom designed.

  10. Hi Nathan – Just found your website and it’s really interesting reading about your experience blogging.

    Just a heads up – I signed up for your email course and only received the first email and somehow never got email #2 today.

    I hope I don’t miss anymore because the first lesson was just what I needed to hear to stay motivated while growing my blog and online authority.



  11. Nathan, you should probably get a lavaliere mic, since the camera’s location is so far back. Just a thought. Your site looks great.

  12. Hi Nathan, these look great. I’m curious, where do you get the background music for the videos?

  13. Great Vidz Nathan!

  14. Nathan,

    Last week, I finally launched my blog that is aimed at helping aspiring designers reach their goals. The purpose is to share with them insight that i’ve learned while being in the industry. I’m pretty stoked for the feedback that I have received already from it, as well as the amount of subscribers who have already signed up to follow along every week.

    I just signed up for this lesson as I can already see some huge value in growing that email list. I appreciate you sharing your tips with the world and can’t wait for the next video to hit my inbox.


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