SEP Episode 43: From Passion Project To YouTube Influencer with Austin Dunham

Graphic Image for Podcast From Passion Project To YouTube Influencer with Austin Dunham

 

Hello and welcome to The Story Engine Podcast. My name is Kyle Gray, and today on the show we have Austin Dunham. Austin has built up a YouTube following of over a half million subscribers, documenting his journey learning and mastering calisthenics. He’s turned this from a part time curiosity into a full time, thriving business, and is growing a team of creators to help him share his story and create more content and drive his business growth.

 

Key Takeaways


  • [4:03] Austin Dunham’s YouTube channel and what it’s about
  • [8:59] How to Make Money with YouTube ads, Online Programs and a Great Backend Model
  • [15:55] How to Set Up the Backend to Drive People to Your Email Lists and Paid Programs
  • [25:16] How  to Build your own Niche on YouTube
  • [25:16] Austin’s Advice to You:  Press Record, Create Content and GET IT OUT THERE!

SEP Episode #43 Austin Dunham Tips : Be passionate about your topic Get obsessed and practice within your niche Document EVERYTHING Create Content with value that helps people, especially beginners Create videos in multiple platforms (Youtube & Instagram) Provide a service or backend product Share your story, who you are and mix it with information

Links and Resources Mentioned in this Episode


YouTube Channel

ClickFunnels

Austin’s Instagram

Austin’s Website

Free E-Book

Fiverr

Upwork

Selling with Story

 

Transcription


Kyle Gray:

Welcome to The Story Engine Podcast, where we teach you how to make marketing easier, more powerful, and fun through storytelling. I’m your host, Kyle Gray. Each week we learn from top entrepreneurs, influencers, and world changers on how to share your story through content, copywriting, and speaking, and how to make your message your most powerful marketing tool. Let’s get started.

Kyle Gray:

Hello and welcome to The Story Engine Podcast. My name is Kyle Gray, and today on the show we have Austin Dunham. Austin has built up a YouTube following of over a half million subscribers, documenting his journey learning and mastering calisthenics. He’s turned this from a part time curiosity into a full time, thriving business, and is growing a team of creators to help him share his story and create more content and drive his business growth.

Kyle Gray:

Today we are going to learn about how he grew this channel, this following, how he developed a business around it, and we’ll get a peak into his creative philosophy. I particularly love how he views sharing on social media, and building communities through sharing. So, without any further ado, let’s turn it over to Austin. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Austin Dunham:

Thank you for having me Kyle. So excited to be here.

Kyle Gray:

Now Austin, you’ve created an incredibly huge YouTube following, built up around your journey through discovering calisthenics. I am so excited, I don’t think we’ve had many people on this show yet who are really large YouTube influencers, and so I’m really excited to explore how you got to where you were. But, I want to open this up like we usually do and give you a chance to share your story with us. So, tell us about a moment in your life, in your journey, that has led you to become who you are today.

Austin Dunham:

Got you. So, if you guys don’t know, I have a calisthenics YouTube channel that I’ve grown over the past three to four years. What really I guess made me, if I can take out a moment in my life, was that my freshman year in my college, I joined the Air Force ROTC program. Within that program, we have fitness tests which we have to do every three months or so, and I remember doing my first fitness test and I didn’t max out my pushups, my runtime was horrible at the time.

Austin Dunham:

I just wanted to be better, so just from I guess not doing so well in my military fitness tests, that’s when I decided to search online. I literally searched “how to get better at pushups” and just from that single Google search, I guess you could it’s almost like the butterfly effect, that’s how I’ve gotten to where I am today, by doing bad in my fitness tests, and searching that, and doing some research and then getting started.

Kyle Gray:

Yeah, and the fitness test improved after the Google searches?

Austin Dunham:

Oh yeah, for sure. About three months after that, I started doing more pushups and I ended up actually maxing out my military fitness test, and then that’s when I discovered this whole calisthenics fitness world.

Kyle Gray:

Well, thank Google. And now you’ve gone from searching in Google to now being probably searched, having your videos appear as a big stream of traffic and collecting tons of subscribers. Tell us a little bit about your channel and yeah, what it’s about, who’s following you, and how you serve them.

Austin Dunham:

Yeah, so I have a self-entitled YouTube channel that’s named Austin Dunham. On that YouTube channel, I post tutorials, even vlogs, motivational stuff and just overall giving value and teaching people more about a style of training known as calisthenics, or bodyweight training, training with just you, your bodyweight, gravity, maybe some extra weight attached to you too, every now and then. But yeah, that’s pretty much what it’s all about, and I cater towards people who want to learn more about how they can build muscle without going to the gym, or maybe they just want a new sense of training and they want to get strong with their bodyweight. I like to coin the term of building real strength and real power by doing one arm pull-ups, muscle ups, and all that crazy stuff.

Kyle Gray:

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I went on your channel and I saw this three year transformation, which is your story, building a bunch of muscle, and becoming really, really strong with calisthenics, and similar to what your opening story was. But alongside this, this was also when you started building your YouTube channel and growing that, and I want to hear about your process from maybe just first discovering YouTube, “I’m just going to try this out,” to, “Oh, maybe there’s something here” and how have you grown it into the entity that it is? What’s the three year transformation process look like as far as your marketing and your knowledge of YouTube and social media?

Austin Dunham:

Yeah, so YouTube has always been interesting for me. Being that if we rewind time, I’m 23 right now, but back when I was like 14, 13 years old, I had a YouTube channel and I posted videos on it involving whatever I’m doing. At the time, I liked online video games, so I would create just online content of me playing video games and showing people tips and tricks regarding that video game or whatever.

Austin Dunham:

That’s where I learned to video edit, that’s where I learned more about YouTube politics and SEO and stuff like that, as a teenager. But then I fell off, and fast forward when I was 18 years old, if you look back on my channel now, my old videos actually made technology based YouTube videos. I thought I wanted to be a tech reviewer, so I gathered my mouse, my keyboard, I would talk about it and very, very geeky stuff like that.

Austin Dunham:

And that goes to show again, that I’ve always been into just making YouTube videos, whatever I’m into at the time, just as a hobby, and as a creative outlet. Then, my freshman year of college I got into fitness, and so that’s when I decided to make a transformation video, my very first one, so four month transformation video. Once again, that’s because I’ve always been into making videos of what I’m doing at the time.

Austin Dunham:

But for some reason, this one was different. So, everything else was almost like a fad or a temporary thing, but fitness in itself is a lifestyle and plus that video did very well, unexpectedly. I’ll be honest. I gained a few thousand subscribers off that video and that small amount of subscribers who were following me at the time kept asking more questions. “So, what is your diet like now? How do you work out? how do you target this muscle?” I was like, “Okay, I guess I’ll keep making videos.”

Austin Dunham:

From there, over time, after creating hundreds of videos, that’s where I slowly started to learn about even more just SEO rules on YouTube and how you can get discovered. Two, engaging with your audience and building this cult-like very niche following on YouTube, and three, also building a business behind YouTube and the backend of it so that you can do it full time. Because when I started, I had no idea you could make money off YouTube just through Adsense. Had no idea. And two, I had no idea how lucrative it can be from a business standpoint if you leverage your following the right way.

Austin Dunham:

All that was learned within the past few years of me doing it. That’s my transformation and story with YouTube.

Kyle Gray:

Yeah. So, it started it sounds like as something that wasn’t taking too much time, maybe it was something you were doing even between classes, and then just cultivating the following, just as more of a hobby, and then you started to see that potential. Is ads your primary source of income from your YouTube channel, or do you have other products and services that you help people with and coach people on?

Austin Dunham:

Yeah. So, out of the revenue pie of the business I would say, the ad revenue is actually one of the smallest percentages that I get. Honestly, still not even that bad. I make most of the business money is through our online workout programs that we have, merchandise. I private label some workout equipment. I was involved in a startup which actually was on Kickstarter, which did 100,000 within the first two months or something like that, and other ventures are starting up, too. I built a whole backend model based around my audience and YouTube channel.

Kyle Gray:

That is incredible. How long did it take for those things to start happening? I think a lot of people want to get into YouTube, they want to get a following, and they want a lot of these things to start happening. I think too often, I think often times it’s this unexpected hockey stick. All of a sudden you’re getting a lot of traction, but there was also these years, almost a decade of you experimenting with YouTube, learning how to do it, learning how to create, involved in it, right?

Austin Dunham:

Yeah, so I guess you’re talking about the growth chart and trajectory of it?

Kyle Gray:

Yeah.

Austin Dunham:

Yeah. I’ve never been really into my numbers and stuff like that. Like I said, it was always a fun hobby for me to do but then every now and then you’ll have this video blow up and all of a sudden you’ll get like 20-40,000 subscribers within a month. You start looking at your numbers more closely and you start setting these mini goals for yourself. I want to reach 400,000 subscribers in the next six months, or a million by 2019, which is one of my goals right now.

Austin Dunham:

But yeah, my growth chart has been up and down. So, just like any business or YouTube for that matter, you’ll have good months, you’ll have okay months, you’ll have bad months, but as long as I’m growing and as long as I’m consistently putting out content, that’s all that pretty much ever matters to me in that sense.

Kyle Gray:

Yeah. What is important to you as far as metrics or engagement and the content you’re creating? Are you hoping for more emails from people, more of these venture opportunities? What are you looking for that’s driving these results?

Austin Dunham:

Yeah, so I’m looking for what’s called hard numbers, or just total revenue or email, people opting into the email list, or just genuine comments. I used to be really into the number of views and even today, if you post a video and it doesn’t have a certain amount of views, it hits your ego a little bit. Because you might have worked hard on that video and people may not just engage with it.

Austin Dunham:

But at the end of the day, as long as business is doing well, we keep progressing in that hard numbers, and that’s doing fine, then I tell myself that I’m still making an impact, I’m still making a purpose and I read all the genuine comments. Actually, I did a meetup in New York, this is off the ball, but I did a meetup in New York and about 150 people showed up.

Kyle Gray:

Wow.

Austin Dunham:

That made me think this one person told me how they’d been watching me since I had like 5000 subscribers, and I’m over here getting bummed out because a video only got 30,000 views, you know? So, I try to see it like that, and it motivates me in a way to not look at just those soft numbers as much, and realize the impact that I’m actually making in people’s lives, and also in my life for that matter. I get to live a life of freedom.

Kyle Gray:

I mean, I have to say possibly the potential impact you could make, because if you can get 115 or 150 people to show up right now, just off the cuff, I think there’d be lots of opportunities for you to have an event where maybe people have to pay to attend, but you work them through programming, you work them through a process, you help them get results.

Austin Dunham:

In person, yeah.

Kyle Gray:

Yeah, and combined, one of the things which is one of the interesting things, it seems like you’ve done this naturally, but how have you differentiated yourself? Sometimes you say you would do motivational and different elements in, when I can imagine, in a nice event or something that you could put on. How did you combine your other elements with fitness?

Austin Dunham:

Yeah, so just making myself different I would say. I was definitely more relatable and I am relatable in that sense, so I just graduated college a few months ago, in December, and I would vlog and make videos about my college experience and how I’m training my calisthenics movements and skills while being in college and managing that time. I would say that’s one way a lot of people related with me and what made me different than everybody else.

Austin Dunham:

And two is that I actually taught how to do these things. I noticed before I got on YouTube, a lot of these people just show off what they’re doing, but they never actually teach how they do it. I was like I’m not going to be that guy and I’m going to teach how to do it once I get to that point. I documented my journey up to that point and then I taught how I actually did it. So, I felt like that’s how I make myself different in this space.

Kyle Gray:

I like it. I like it because your approach was very humble coming from, “I’m interested in this, I’m just experimenting and I’m just creating and let’s see what happens” and just your curiosity led the creation and then it informed itself over time, which naturally goes to serve who it can serve.

Austin Dunham:

Exactly.

Kyle Gray:

Yeah, I think is a great way to start any kind of business. But with the knowledge you have now, and you mentioned you have email lists, you have a website, there’s more than just a YouTube channel here with this. Can you tell us a little bit about what does your whole setup look like? Are you trying to drive people more to your website from your YouTube channel? Is that where you would rather be people consuming content? How does that look?

Austin Dunham:

Yeah. So, my backend setup, we drive people to the email list and also to paid programs through funnels. We use ClickFunnels, and we have free opt-ins, free eBook offers that people are genuinely interested in and that will help them out. Then from there, they will get on an email list or they will be taken to some type of tripwire offer or a paid offer where, yeah that free information is good, and even the free information on YouTube is good, and it drives the audience to the backend.

SEP Episode #43 Austin Dunham backend tips : Email Lists Free Opt-Ins Free eBooks Paid Programming utilizing ClickFunnels

Austin Dunham:

But if you want to take it to the next level and want me to literally hold your hand in this process, then here goes another offer to take it to the next step. So, basically a funnel is the biggest thing on the backend, what we do.

Kyle Gray:

Did you create those funnels yourself or have you built a team around you to help you with those?

Austin Dunham:

Actually, I do have a team, but it’s only one other person and he’s a genius. He’s smart. He can create a funnel in probably 30 minutes if I asked him to. I’ve learned a lot from him, too. He definitely helps out. There’s no way I could do all this by myself.

Kyle Gray:

When did he come along in this journey? How did your business change when you started getting somebody with a more funnel oriented, copy oriented mindset in your business?

Austin Dunham:

Yeah, so I’ve always been business savvy. I graduated with a business degree also, so before he got on the team I used to hire contractors from Fiverr or Upwork or whatever, to write some copy or manage this email list or whatever. Then, one day I got an email from him and he was like, “Hey, this is my services, this is what I do, you’re leaving a lot of money on the table. I’d be really down to help you out, here’s my info. Can we hop on a call?”

Austin Dunham:

I get a lot of messages like that now to be honest, but at the time I only had 150,000 subscribers, and he was the first one to come at me with that offer. We hopped on a call, we talked about what he can do, and I just went all in for it. I was like, “What’s the worst that can happen? If it’s bad then I’ll just end his contract.” So basically he came in and we shifted everything from just one time offer sales, I used to provide my courses in Teachable it was called, and they’d just buy it and done right.

Austin Dunham:

But I actually learned the whole funnelism strategy were upsells, downsells, written out copy via sales and all that from him. Once we started implementing that, it definitely grew a lot, revenue wise, consistently every month, and that was a year and a half ago.

Kyle Gray:

Awesome. So, you said he confronted you and said you were leaving a lot of money on the table. What do you think now? You’ve got funnels established, what are your long term goals and how do you help to fully harness the following you’ve developed and further serve them or yeah, growing your business?

Austin Dunham:

Yeah, so my goals right now is to add on new team members. Specifically, a creative director, somebody who can help me film, edit, pictures and all that stuff, because I still do all of that stuff by myself. I feel like that’s the next step, in regards from a content creator’s perspective. That will really, really help me scale, and then once I do that, I want to open up a space, a gym area basically, where I can film content at and I don’t have to go to a commercial gym and be told, “You can’t film, blah, blah, blah.”

Austin Dunham quote "I WANT TO JUST KEEP GROWING, KEEP POSTING CONTENT, AND KEEP DOING WHAT I'M DOING NOW"Austin Dunham:

Also, I want to just keep growing, keep posting content, and keep doing what I’m doing now, just really on a bigger scale, and provide more services, more programs, and also, a lot of things I want to do, and lastly I want to teach people eventually how to do what I’ve done. A lot of people approach me like, “Hey, how did you grow your YouTube channel in the fitness space? How do you get to do whatever you want every day?” People really envy my lifestyle and what I’ve created over the past few years. Eventually I want to get into teaching people how to exactly do that, and the steps to take. That’s my path right now.

Kyle Gray:

That makes a lot of sense. I guess looking back now, you’ve gained a lot of wisdom in building a following, creating a brand, engaging an audience. And you’ve started over many times, just out of your own interest. If you had to start over again, in a new area, how would you start? What would be important? What would you focus on?

Austin Dunham:

Got you. Based on the knowledge I know now, if I was to start over in a totally different niche, I would really make sure I have a passion in what I’m doing. I would get very skillful at by becoming obsessed with it and practicing whatever I’m doing. I would document me doing that and becoming good at it, and then once I get decent at it, I would create content giving value to people, or helping people out, specifically the beginner niche. Because the beginner niche, the beginner category within a niche is huge. Beginners to calisthenics or whatever you’re doing.

Austin Dunham:

I would just create consistent value that way, by creating YouTube videos, Instagram videos, whatever, and then from there I would provide some sort of service or backend product where I can help them in whatever they’re doing even more. Because by that time, I would have established myself as an expert and you do that by creating content and being knowledgeable on it. That’s what I would do.

Kyle Gray:

Yeah. I think that’s a perfect philosophy and yeah, one of the most reliable approaches to a good business.

Austin Dunham:

Exactly.

Kyle Gray:

As far as you mentioned the beginner categories, are you doing a lot to keep on top of searches? Do you now have more technical savvy approaches where you’re looking at keywords to see what people’s workouts they favor the most?

Austin Dunham:

Yeah. So, I do keep in mind SEO and how important that is, and to being discovered on YouTube, and just driving traffic for that matter. Because it’s so easy, especially in fitness, and I’m aware of that. But also at the same time, I’ve been trying to establish myself more as a personality too, and as somebody people actually know. That shifted my content a little bit. I’ve been doing more vloggy style content instead of direct how to do more pushups style of content.

Kyle Gray:

So you’re sharing more of your story and more of your personality and who you are, mixed with the information?

Austin Dunham:

Exactly, yeah. But at first I started with just purely information. That’s how I built my audience, but as you grow, and as people know you over the years, I feel like you can start to broaden a bit and showcase more of that. I’m still very aware of SEO and using that.

Kyle Gray:

Okay. Here’s the question I had before. You have created hundreds and hundreds of hours of video content now. You’ve mastered it. Over the time in your journey, I’m sure you’ve learned several ways or several systems like what’s really important in a video, and how can people create a minimally viable video that’s YouTube worthy, but doesn’t have to have the most cinematogra, cinemagraphic setup or whatever?

Austin Dunham:

Yeah, so I built my channel to over 20,000 subscribers by just using my cellphone. I couldn’t afford a camera at the time, so if you have a cellphone, and in 2018-2019, everybody has some sort of HD cellphone, so honestly just use that. Get a tripod set up and at the beginning stages, it’s more about the value you give and the content than it is about fancy equipment and cinematics and stuff like that.

Austin Dunham:

People honestly don’t realize that and they start to overthink it, and then they end up never even making a video. At the end of the day, it comes down to just using what you’ve got until you can get something better, and just pressing record and creating that content, and putting it out there. Because you’re naturally going to evolve in your YouTube process, even though you don’t realize it now. I guarantee you are you make 100 videos, that 100th video is going to be totally different than that first one that you make. It’s just the way it works. Once you understand that and realize that, then that’s when you can really get it going.

Kyle Gray:

Yeah. What do you think it is about you that, or what kind of qualities keep you creating content like this? What’s really been driving this curiosity or just the desire to share naturally? Does that make sense?

Austin Dunham:

Yeah. I just feel like it’s almost boring if I don’t share what I’m doing. Because of social media has made it easy to almost find community in whatever you’re into, so if I’m not sharing what I’m into, I just feel like even though I have a purpose of doing it, I just don’t feel fulfilled all the way. I need a sense of community and I do that by posting what I’m doing and then people like what I’m doing and they follow me. That’s how I build that community. Otherwise, it’s just me working out it feels like, you know? I guess that’s why I’ve always been into sharing what I’m sharing again, also I just like being creative, too.

Kyle Gray:

Well, I love that, and what has been cool is you’ve used one passion to fuel another passion, and both harmoniously brought you more and more forward. I think that it’s really cool that you discovered that at a young age, you discovered it in college. You probably, though you’ve graduated, I don’t know if you, you probably would look back and be like, “Well, I just needed the YouTube channel, not as much the degree.”

Austin Dunham:

Yeah, I thought many times about dropping out while I was in there, but I really did it for my parents, if I’m honest with myself, and because it was just so easy for me. College wasn’t hard at all. I would just study a few times and pass the test, so I was like, “Oh, I’ll stay in.”

Kyle Gray:

Brilliant, you’ve found where to engage yourself and you’ve created something again, that fills your passion. I think that’s something that many people at many ages are, everybody’s looking for, and especially looking for a great way to harness it.

[bctt tweet=”Harness Your Passion – Kyle Gray” username=”kylethegray”]

Austin Dunham:

Exactly.

Kyle Gray:

Thank you so much for joining us. If we wanted to, well first I’d love for you to share just a closing remark or closing bit of wisdom with us, and then share where we can find you and follow you and subscribe.

From Passion Project To YouTube Influencer with Austin Dunham quote "Just go out there and do it. Just press the record button, put yourself out there, that's the biggest thing, and don't care what people think about you"

Austin Dunham:

Yeah, so in regards to wisdom and what we talked about, like I said, don’t overthink about it. Especially about creating content. Just go out there and do it. Just press the record button, put yourself out there, that’s the biggest thing, and don’t care what people think about you. A lot of people are scared about their friends judging them or whatever. Just realize that probably one day, if you keep up with it, you can literally transform your life and change your life for the better, and three, or two, those people will be asking you how you do it. So, start today and get it going.

Austin Dunham:

In regards to finding me, YouTube Austin Dunham, D-U-N-H-A-M. Instagram, austin_dunham. Just search my first/last name.

Kyle Gray:

Awesome. Thanks again. It was such a pleasure hearing your story-

Austin Dunham:

Thank you.

Kyle Gray:

For exploring your wisdom and curiosity.

Austin Dunham:

Thank you.

Kyle Gray:

Thanks for listening to The Story Engine Podcast. Be sure to check out the show notes and resources mentioned on this episode and every other episode at TheStoryEngine.co. If you’re looking to learn more about how to use storytelling to grow your business, then check out my new book Selling With Story: How To Use Storytelling To Become An Authority, Boost Sales, And Win The Hearts And Minds Of Your Audience.

Kyle Gray:

This book will equip you with actionable strategies and templates to help you share your unique value and build trust in presentations, sales, and conversations both online and offline. Learn more at SellingWithStory.co. Thanks for listening and I’ll see you next time.

Scroll to Top