YouTube Secrets with Dylan Johnson

10 Feb
10 MIN

Dylan Johnson is a racer and cycling coach—but he’s also a YouTuber with 141 thousand followers. So, how does he make content that has so many people tuning in? Short answer: He’s answering questions about training, his racing, bike tech, and other seriously nerdy cycling topics in great detail.

As a content creator, you do do these YouTube, where you're talking about past races. So how do you how do you prep that content while still focusing towards the next race?

The YouTube channel is a surprising amount of work. I think there are some people who realize how much work running a YouTube channel is, but I do run into people that are like, 'Oh, these YouTubers,  they have it's so easy.’ I have so much respect for the YouTubers who put out daily content: I don't know how they do it, to be honest with you. It blows my mind. My YouTube channel is is a second job and putting out in between racing is a lot. I used to do weekly content, but weekly content is just  not feasible with a full race schedule. But just because a race is over, doesn't mean I can't tell people about what happened. And I'm analyzing the race myself: I'm looking at the power file, trying to see if there's something I could do better. If there's a story to tell, I'll tell a story about it on YouTube.

What is your process for your more training-focused YouTube videos? They have a lot of research behind them!

First, you have to come up with an idea, which can be surprisingly hard when you've had a YouTube channel for a number of years. You seem to have all the ideas in the world when you first start your channel. You’ve got a list of 100 ideas. You're like, 'I'm never gonna get to the end of this list.' But when you've been doing YouTube for a couple of years, you're like, 'Alright, I have touched on all these topics.' So coming up with a good idea takes time.

And then, I have to research the topic. And that can take that can be take quite a lot of time. I'll read research articles, and I'll try to see where the balance of evidence is lying on whatever topic I'm talking about. I put the research articles into a document that becomes the show notes, and I take screenshots of relevant parts of the articles.

Once I have an idea of where the research is pointing, and I know what articles that I want to include in a video, then I have to start writing a script. Some people think that I just do these videos off the top of my head. But that is definitely not the case. There's a script there: I don't physically read it while I'm talking to the camera, but I do have the script there. I’ll look at it, read a sentence or two in my head and then say it back to the camera, and I often do multiple takes to get it exactly right. The script writing can can take a lot of time with a research-heavy video, because you're including the research in the video and you have to get it exactly right. So you have to go back and you have to read the research, you have to make sure you've got the right screenshots, you have to make sure you've got the right quotes, and put it all together.

Then I film the video, and usually takes an hour to two hours. That’s the easy part!

And then the editing process is quite intensive as well. And I do all my own editing. Maybe at some point, I'll hire an editor. After that, there’s the upload. Uploading a YouTube video is actually a lot more time intensive than uploading an Instagram post, for example.

People often ask me, 'How much time do you spend on a YouTube video from start to finish?' I would say for my average research-heavy video, it's probably 15 hours of work, split into multiple days.

What apps do you use?

I use Google Docs to write the script. And the editing software that I use is iMovie, which blows people's mind because it's just the free editing software that comes with an Apple device. It's not a fancy editing software at all. I've tried to use the fancy fancy editing software, but my videos are not super complicated with the editing. And I know iMovie like the back of my hand at this point.

What gear do you use to film?

I'm not really a videographer at all. I film with my phone, and a microphone to improve the sound quality. When I first started doing videos people were like, 'the audio quality is horrible. You need to fix it.' So I got a microphone. It sounds a lot better. And then I think probably what made the biggest difference this year is my lighting. I got studio lights and I watched some YouTube tutorial about how to set up studio lights. It made it look a lot better without having to get some sort of fancy camera.