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Charli Marie

What does it take to run your own YouTube channel? According to Charli Marie, putting in the work is a good place to start. By day, Charli is Creative Director at ConvertKit. A creative marketing platform made for creators. And also by day, she is a YouTuber on a mission to help designers improve their worth as professionals.

How to run your own YouTube channel
How to run your own YouTube channel

How to run your own YouTube channel

Ep
155
Sep
22
With
Charli Marie
Or Listen On:

So you want to start a YouTube channel.

What does it take to run your own YouTube channel? According to Charli Marie, putting in the work is a good place to start.

We know that’s not the advice you wanted to hear. But that’s the practical truth. You have to do the hard work.

By day, Charli is Creative Director at ConvertKit. A creative marketing platform made for creators. And also by day, she is a YouTuber on a mission to help designers improve their worth as professionals.

It almost sounds too good to be true, but Charli has built herself what some may call a dream job. On her personal channel, she shares what she’s working on at her day job. The good, the bad, and even the financial aspects of it.

Which makes her content so fascinating. These are real projects with real stakes attached to them.

In this episode, Charli and Chris discuss how she balances these two roles, that can be at odds from time to time, and her strategy for doing so.

But most of the conversation centers around what it’s like running your own YouTube channel. The benefits, the frustrations, and the awkwardness of recording yourself.

If you aspire to start your own YouTube channel then give this episode a listen. It’s a long game, but you can learn from those that have played it.

Hosted By
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produced by
edited by
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Episode Transcript

Charli:
Honestly, and this is probably not good advice because it's not super useful, but it's just you've got to do it. You've got to make videos to get confident. That is the only way, I think, to get confident. There's no amount of preparation you can do before you hit record that first time that will stop you from being afraid. You just have to make some videos you're embarrassed about before you can get to the ones that you're going to be proud of.

Chris:
Charli, for people who don't know who you are, can you introduce yourself and tell us what it is that you do?

Charli:
Sure. So I'm Charli. I'm the Creative Director at ConvertKit, I'm a designer, I'm a content creator, I'm a writer, I'm a speaker, all of those things, but most of what I do on the side of my day job is making content to help designers improve their worth as a professional and progress in their careers.

Chris:
Okay. So I think I can at least hear two parts of you, maybe more parts. There's the part that you show up to work, you do your job and you earn your living, and then there's the part that you do in your personal life.

Chris:
Let's quickly get through the work stuff, because I think a lot of people are going to find what it is that you do and how it is that you do what it is that you do to be inspiring for them. So you're a creative director at ConvertKit. First of all, quickly for people who don't know what ConvertKit is, what is ConvertKit?

Charli:
Yeah. ConvertKit is a creative marketing platform. So you can use our software to build your audience, contact them through an email list. You can sell digital products through us. You can nurture that audience and pitch things to them when the time is right, get to know them better. That's what we do. Our mission as a company is to help creators earn a living. So yeah, all the decisions we make are around that.

Chris:
And how long have you been with them?

Charli:
I have been at ConvertKit for nearly five years, which is by far the longest job I've ever been in.

Chris:
And what do you do in a day-to-day role in your responsibilities as a Creative Director?

Charli:
Yeah. I lead our brand team and that team is made up of a marketing designer, a filmmaker, videographer, a storyteller who writes these beautiful profiles of creators, and also works on our films on the story side and a content producer who produces Creator Sessions, which is a tiny desk meets masterclass that we produce. So all of our work is about building the ConvertKit brand and getting it out there to creators.

Chris:
Does everybody work remotely?

Charli:
Yes. We are a fully remote company. There's no head office anywhere in the world and I will say that we were like that before the pandemic hit. So just saying. Most of the teams-

Chris:
Was it always like that?

Charli:
Yeah. It's always been like that. We did at one stage have an office in Nashville, but it was never an HQ or anything like that. Most of the team's in the US, but there's a few of us in Europe as well. We got one in Thailand, one in Nigeria, one in New Zealand, so yeah. Global company.

Chris:
Wow, fascinating. I worked in production for over two decades? I'm having a hard time imagining how all you and your team get together to do things and especially your videographer, who are they shooting and how is that happening?

Charli:
Yeah. So they didn't for a while during the pandemic. They weren't shooting a lot. And now that things are back together, we're sticking to the US for the stuff we're shooting because that's where our filmmaker is based. And yeah, the team has been getting together without me. So that's been sad for me, but good for them. They've been making things together.

Chris:
So is the pipeline that the writer and your producer and you get together and talk about what stories do you want to make and how you want to make it, and then turn it over to your videographer content creator. Is that how that works?

Charli:
Not really. Really, the content producer who owns Creator Sessions, her name is Haley, she leads the vision for that. She decides which artists we're going to book and when we're going to shoot them, arranges the shoots, things like that.

Chris:
I see.

Charli:
And then I would say the filmmaker and our storyteller definitely collaborate and both own together the vision for our film series, which is short films, telling the stories of the creator journey, profiling creators in a film.

Chris:
Where do you come into this?

Charli:
Where do I come into this?

Chris:
Yeah.

Charli:
Good question on those sides of things, I feel like I'm mostly there to be the person connecting things to the bigger picture, connecting things to each other and really just making sure they have what they need to do the work that they're great at. I'm there to give feedback and help them work through problems, but really they own it and they do a great job of that.

Chris:
Okay. What else do you do in your time then?

Charli:
At work, do you mean?

Chris:
Yeah.

Charli:
At work?

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Charli:
I'm still a hands-on designer, which was really important to me in moving into a creative director position that I'm still designing because that I feel like it's part of who I am at my core. It's just, I love designing and I've come to love art directing as well, and directing design more, but I do still love executing on things myself.

Charli:
So each cycle, we work in six weeks cycles, I'll have a project of my own that I work on. The most recent thing I designed was a new homepage. That was really fun because it was communicating a new visual direction for our brand, a new messaging that we have for our product and communicating that through the homepage. It was really a fun project because that's just what I thrive on.

Charli:
I also work with our marketing designer and the front end developer who is actually on the marketing team along with a product marketer as what we call the Site Squad. So we're the people in charge of our marketing website and increasing its conversion rate, and making improvements, making new pages when needed. So yeah, a lot of strategizing and looking at research, looking at data behind that.

Chris:
I see. So there's a big part of your role in your everyday life which is to optimize the site and also to build new pages for the company.

Charli:
Exactly. Yeah.

Chris:
So strategy, information architecture, wireframes, UX/UI, and then working with the development team to see it all the way through.

Charli:
Yap. Exactly that.

Chris:
And then probably some part of optimization, just making sure that the conversions and the bounce rate are what it should be.

Charli:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). And looking at ideas of things we can test as well. That's one of my favorite things. I'm a big nerd when it comes to this stuff is testing things we can change about our site to make those numbers even better. For example, a recent test we ran was should we be leading people to a free account or a free trial when they click that Sign Up button? What's going to do better.

Charli:
So yeah, I love having an idea or a hypothesis like that, that I felt like leading to a free trial would lead to more people trying those premium features and sticking around as a paid customer. Then as a free account, they don't get easy access to those premium features.

Chris:
I see.

Charli:
So we tried it and seems to have worked out, early results. You heard it here first.

Chris:
Okay. I'm glad you explained that because I couldn't figure out what's the difference between a free account and a free trial.

Charli:
Yeah. That's-

Chris:
Free trial is all the features, but for a limited time.

Charli:
Yep, exactly.

Chris:
Free account is-

Charli:
And then you can default to a free account, which is completely free to a limited set of features forever.

Chris:
Right. So you give them a taste of the good life and then hope that they'll stick around.

Charli:
Yeah. Hope that they find value in it and want to keep using it.

Chris:
I love that. It's removing the risk and saying, "You can try it and if you don't like it, don't worry about." Wonderful.

Charli:
We're not taking your credit card details or anything to try it so you might as well.

Chris:
Oh, really.

Charli:
Yeah.

Chris:
Wow. Okay. That's unusual. Usually people do require that just in case.

Charli:
Yeah. Well, that was a part of a test we ran several years ago was testing what led to better results in the long-term and the credit card free one out in there.

Chris:
Oh, interesting. Okay. So you remove pretty much all the buyer resistance, full access, no credit card, no worries, just try it.

Charli:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.

Chris:
You guys are very confident in your product.

Charli:
We are. We are.

Chris:
Yeah. Wonderful. Okay. Thanks for sharing that. Now, I think I'm going to spend the rest of the time talking to you about your other life.

Charli:
Yup. The other side of me.

Chris:
Yeah.

Charli:
I'm not sure if it's the jackal or the hide.

Chris:
So it's interesting because a lot of people do have their nine-to-five, but then they don't know what to do with the rest of their day and their life. They're always searching for something, but you seem to have figured out that balance between these two worlds. So, for people then now who don't know the second part of your life, it's not a secret. I can't call it a secret life because it's very public.

Charli:
[crosstalk 00:09:07]

Chris:
Tell us about the other thing that you do in your, quote unquote, free time.

Charli:
Yeah. So it's hard for me to sum it up as just one thing. I guess the best way I can say it is like I said in my intro, I'm creating content to help designers progress in their careers. It started as a YouTube channel about nearly eight years ago now, I started making videos on YouTube.

Charli:
And yeah. Making videos, talking about design, sharing my projects and things that I'm working on. It progressed to writing blog posts about that sort of stuff to writing a newsletter, speaking at conferences and right now the thing I'm working on is writing a book about marketing design as well. So yeah, just going wherever the gut instinct takes me.

Chris:
What was the motivation behind even getting on YouTube? And before you tell me that, how old were you when you started?

Charli:
Oh my gosh. I think I was in my mid 20s, that would be probably about 25. Yeah. And I started for two reasons. One, is my sister who is three years younger than me, started a channel and started connecting with people in the New Zealand YouTube community. And it just looked like she was having so much fun and I was a little bit jealous. [inaudible 00:10:16] part of it.

Charli:
But the other side of it is I was getting into watching vloggers on YouTube, people sharing their lives. And I think what a lot of us do when we get into something like that is try and find like-minded people to follow, right? And I wanted to watch other designers and see what they were doing in their lives, how they were handling projects, but all I could really find were Photoshop tutorials and Illustrator tutorials.

Charli:
"Hey, here's how you can make a logo," and I'm like, "Well, I know that stuff and I know I can find that if I need more learning, but I want to know about you as a person. What are you doing in your life? What struggles do you face? What am I going to face in my career? How can I learn from you?"

Charli:
And I just started thinking that maybe I could provide a little bit of that to YouTube. And that was one of the initial things that pushed me to actually take action and start is like, maybe that could be me then. Maybe I could be there for someone else in my position, looking for this type of content.

Chris:
So you were initially just searching for something and found that you couldn't find what it is you're looking for, then you wound up creating it for yourself and others.

Charli:
Yeah, exactly. Yep.

Chris:
Wonderful. And can you describe to me the feelings that you might've had to be on camera and to be recording yourself in those early days?

Charli:
Yeah. Okay. Well, it's so awkward to look back on. I don't know if you feel this from your early videos or if you've just always been this self-assured but yeah. I look back on my old videos and I'm like, "Who is that person?" I don't even recognize her. Why is she talking like that?

Charli:
Yeah. I was unconfident and trying to act confident so that I could do it, which I can't judge myself too harshly. I'm glad that I took the steps to try it because doing something new is always scary and I could have let it hold me back forever. The being afraid of how I'd come across on camera. But I did it anyway, but it was a struggle, I will say that.

Chris:
Could you give some tips or advice for people who might be feeling that anxiety? First of all, to respond to your question, for a year and a half, I could not watch any of the videos. I could just record them, but I can't watch it. Forget about it, right? So I just read the comments as a way to gauge if the video worked or not, but it's just a weird feeling to talk to yourself.

Chris:
Now, if a camera were not rolling, that's a sign of dementia or you going crazy, people who talk to themselves. So I get super hyper self-conscious when I do that. I cannot do that. I need to talk to someone. So how do you get over that?

Charli:
What helped me was, number one, making a really solid plan for what I wanted to talk about before I hit record, because otherwise I would turn on the camera and get stage fright in front of no one. And another thing, honestly, and this is probably not good advice, because it's not super useful, but it's just, you got to do it.

Charli:
You've got to make videos to get confident. That is the only way, I think, to get confident. There's no amount of preparation you can do before you hit record that first time that will stop you from being afraid. You just have to make some videos that you're embarrassed about before you can get to the ones that you're going to be proud of.

Chris:
Yeah. Okay. That's the real advice. Nobody wants to hear that, but that's the truth.

Charli:
Yeah. I know. That's why it sucks to give it out because I'm like, "I'm sorry, but this is just the way it's got to be." It's the same with growing YouTube channel as well. I think people make 10 videos and they're like, "Where's all those subscribers and ad money I was promised." And that's just not how it works. You've got to put in the work and make some shitty videos before you can get to the good ones. Sorry. I don't know if I'm allowed to swear on this podcast.

Chris:
You can say whatever you want. It's fine.

Charli:
Okay.

Chris:
So Let's just burst a couple of bubbles.

Charli:
Oh, no.

Chris:
One, it's going to suck. You're going to suck, but if you want to get good, you have to start. And two, you have to understand it's a long game. And a lot of people think, "I made 10 posts on Instagram. Why is my account not blowing up? I made 10 videos on YouTube, why does no one care?" So for you, how long did it take before you started to get some confidence and some traction?

Charli:
Yeah. I remember reaching 100 subscribers in my first month and I was so proud of that. That felt huge to me to have made it to triple digits within my first month of making videos. I have pulled up here, some stats, just if you're interested in other milestones.

Chris:
Ooh, I am interested. Yes. Please.

Charli:
I think it took me seven months to reach 1,000 subscribers, which was a gain. I felt really quick. Nowadays you see people having a viral video and blowing up way past that earlier. Within a year and 10 months, I was at 10,000. Three years six months, I was at 50,000. It took four years and nine months for me to reach 100,000, and then another three years after that to reach where I am now at 200,000.

Chris:
So it sounds like you're accelerating, right? It took you four years plus to get to 100 and three years. So to get to 300, it'll take you two years or one year or something like that.

Charli:
Hopefully. That would be very nice.

Chris:
Hopefully.

Charli:
Yeah.

Chris:
So it takes a while and people who are listening this are going to be like, "Oh my God that many months to get to 1,000," because we're so into this space where it's instant gratification, overnight success. And we see examples of that and we think that's the norm, that's the exception.

Charli:
Yeah. It is the exception, totally. And I think if the only reason you're creating and putting stuff out there is to get the numbers, you're going to be very discouraged and disappointed unless you are the exception to the rule, right?

Chris:
Right.

Charli:
So I think there has to be a different reason that you're creating because it's super unmotivating sometimes to see the numbers not be what you want them to be. And you've got to push through that.

Chris:
I like to share something with people who are listening to this so that they're aware of something. Sometimes we wish that, "My God, I wish this video would blow up," but let's just play this fantasy out. Your video, for whatever reason, goes thermonuclear and millions of people look at it and you're like, "Oh my God, it's so amazing."

Chris:
Here's the thing. It creates an expectation now. So in your next video, if it doesn't hit, what do you feel? Depression, sadness and you're constantly chasing that. I think about bands who have that one hit, they're always chasing the hit and they never get back there and it's quite depressing.

Chris:
I would suggest, encourage everyone to just play the long game. And the game that you're playing is to be a little bit better than you were yesterday, to make small improvement. That's all you can do.

Charli:
Totally. To learn from the last video you put up or the last thing you created and do better next time, try something different next time and make sure that you're doing it for the sake of making it. And because you believe what you're putting out there is valuable and good for the internet and not for the numbers.

Chris:
So the kind of content that you create is a mix of a few things. Because I went back and looked at your highest performing videos. I remember the early days, Screen Printing, that's got 2 million views, right?

Charli:
Yup. That's the most popular video on my channel and I don't make anything to do with screen printing anymore.

Chris:
And I think your third or fourth or most popular video is you doing wireframing, right?

Charli:
Yup.

Chris:
That's got 700,000 views. So I'm curious about something. I'm a numbers person, so let's just talk creator to creator. When we have a hit, I start to think about, "Can we repeat that hit? And what is it about that that connected with people?" and we try. It's not always easy to get back there because you're like, "I just can't figure out the internet. It's so fickle." It's the timing, the title, something about it made it work. Do you go through those same things or you just don't even care?

Charli:
I do. So the most popular video on my channel, the Screen Printing one is actually my version too of an earlier screen printing video that I made. It's my fifth ever video, I think, that started getting traction back then, which would have been a few 1,000 views. And I thought I could do a better job of it and make it into something that directly offered a PDF opt-in that people would get by signing up to my email list. So I made it very consciously as a way that I thought I could grow my email list through that video and that's-

Chris:
[crosstalk 00:18:30].

Charli:
Yeah. It's worked out. The majority of my email list now comes from that video, which now that screen printing isn't my focus, may not be a good thing, but the idea worked out.

Chris:
So you figured it out then. You said, "Okay, this video worked. I'm going to do a more intentional version of this video." And you were able to exceed the success of the first video.

Charli:
Yeah. Far exceed it.

Chris:
[crosstalk 00:18:51]

Charli:
It took a while though. It wasn't an instant hit. It just, with my whole channel really, grew over time. I did the same with wire-framing. I'm not actually sure which wireframing version of the video is the one that's most popular right now. But I have an older one that has me wireframing on paper and I have a new one that's me wireframing on my iPad, which is my current process.

Charli:
So that's also the video where I'm like, "I know this is going to be the kind of thing that for example, teachers show in classrooms." That's a very common use of that video is education, educators using it with the students, which is really cool. So I do think about that sometimes.

Chris:
The one I saw was with you with a Sharpie, with a large piece of paper, folding it out.

Charli:
That's the older one.

Chris:
And I think you do a wonderful job of explaining the thought process and why you go this way versus that way.

Charli:
Thanks.

Chris:
And this is probably a common thing you hear, I wish I saw that video before I started to do wireframes, because I made all the mistakes. I did it digitally. I started aligning and just making it look pretty versus just get the idea down. And I got stuck on that and it wasn't until I asked my friend, Jose, "Jose, what am I doing wrong?"

Chris:
He said, "Chris, you're being too much of a designer right now." "Look, what do you mean?" So he's already telling me, "This is how you have to work. Just get the information organized. That's the stage that you're in right now. Don't try to design it because when you hand it over to a designer, they're going to want to design it just the way you did it and now they're locked into the design as well." So lots of things to learn.

Chris:
So I want to address a couple of different things. As an educator, the videos that you and I make, they're slow burns. They're not splashes. They're utilitarian. They teach things. There's no crazy bombastic hook and they just grow over time, but you don't get that high, that hit of like, "Oh my God, it's just blowing up. Everybody's talking about sketching on wireframes." People just don't do that.

Charli:
Wouldn't it be great though?

Chris:
Wouldn't it?

Charli:
Wouldn't it be great to be the world that we live in when people are going nuts over wireframes?

Chris:
Yeah. But what they do instead is go nuts over prank videos and mean-spirited comments and trolling videos. That's what the world, I guess, wants according to the algorithm.

Charli:
That's very sad for us, but yeah. I think we can take solace in the slow burn of it though. And especially, like you said, looking at the comments as a proxy for how good the video was. I definitely do that as well. It's my favorite thing to get comments on videos, especially from people saying, "Oh my gosh, this helped me figure out this."

Charli:
Or I've heard from people that my videos have helped them make decisions about their career. Make them decide they want to be a designer. Or I heard from someone the other day that they finally got this promotion they've been going after, based on things they learned in my videos. And I'm like, "That's the meaningful shit. That's why I'm doing this."

Chris:
So just a slight side tangent here because not everybody can see this. Charli's got purple hair, she's also wearing a purple shirt. It wasn't always this way because I went back to her old videos and it's just normal Charli. And then when did you decide, "I want to control my branding, my identity."

Charli:
That's interesting. So you're seeing my purple hair as, I made this decision because of my brand.

Chris:
I am. Yes.

Charli:
Okay. I guess maybe in a way it's more for me that dying my hair and, I don't know, expressing myself through fashion and things is just me becoming more and more myself, which is, I feel, what I've been doing throughout my 20s and now I'm in my 30s and feeling like I know myself better than ever and purple hair is part of that. It's very weird here in Spain. No one has colored hair here in Valencia, so I get a lot of looks, but it makes me feel like me and so I keep it.

Chris:
Well, something I do talk about with people who want to establish a personal brand is, just like in a visual identity that you design on a piece of paper or on Illustrator, you're also designing yourself. Who do you want to be? And I think you do tap into maybe some of your proclivities, eccentricities and you just allow those to shine. I love that you said, "It's just me being more me." And I think a lot of times we think we need to be like someone else, but that spot is already taken, right?

Charli:
Yup. Totally.

Chris:
So for me, when I started to think about what it is I wanted to do next to my former business partner, he was going to be the carefree burning man burner, if you will. Unshaven and just like, "Yeah, man, let's do this."

Charli:
It's cool.

Chris:
Yeah. So he leaned into that. I'm like, "You know what? I'm a business person. I'm going to wear a suit. I'm going to try my best to be sharp and to be on point. And so that starts to shape the identity and it evolves over time." But for me it was conscientious. For you it's just, "Hey, I'm just going to dye my hair because I want to."

Charli:
Yeah. And it does match my brand. My branding on YouTube visually is purple and that's because it's my favorite color, and so that's why my hair is that color too.

Chris:
There's no surprise there. There's a lot of purple. So we see it.

Charli:
Yes. Yes.

Chris:
Yeah. Okay. Getting back to you and living this split life, how do you manage your energy if you're giving yourself to work, presumably 40 hours a week or something like that. How do you even find energy to sit down and write? Because it is a chore.

Charli:
It is. You're right. And it's been a struggle lately because of the general situation of the world. I've been feeling more and more exhausted, but the main thing is I want to do myself proud, right? And for example, with this book that I'm writing about marketing design and I'm struggling with it at the moment, struggling to get the motivation to write.

Charli:
But when I do make the time to sit down and do it, I feel good because I feel like I'm acting out on a promise that I made to myself. Past me decided that she wanted to write a book and so current me is living that out for her and making it happen. So definitely there's a lot of self motivation that comes as being a creator.

Charli:
But also in general, especially with my videos, I've found a way to turn my work into content, basically. That has been my approach. So instead of making videos that are very specific tutorial-based, how to do this thing, most of my videos are around sharing the work that I'm doing.

Charli:
Which I think is really good and useful because you're seeing real life projects, real life decisions that are being made in a real life company and so that's been really fun. To find a way to make my work into content has helped with that time balance for sure.

Chris:
I'm assuming everybody at the company is cool with you doing this.

Charli:
Oh yeah. Everyone at the company, not only is cool with it, but embraces it. My YouTube channel is often referenced in people's job applications that they heard about ConvertKit and working here through me, talking about working here.

Charli:
I know that it's led to people signing up for the product as well as a creator and we're a product for creators. So that makes sense too. ConvertKit itself was a side project for our founder back in the day. And so it even says in our company handbooks that side hustles are encouraged, not just allowed. So yeah, I'm at the right place for that sort of thing and I don't think it would suit me to be somewhere where that wasn't the case.

Chris:
Right. That makes a lot of sense. There's a lot of synergy there because they're for creators, you're a creator creating content about a company that's for creators.

Charli:
It's all very measured.

Chris:
Yeah, it is. So do you ever think about, "Well, if I share something like this and it can't always be good." I think you're a good ambassador. You're well-spoken, you're wholesome, all those kinds of things. You're not going to do anything crazy weird, but if you did, that would also affect them on a negative level because they're like, "This is the culture there."

Charli:
Yeah. You're right.

Chris:
So how do you wrestle with that?

Charli:
Yeah, I think part of that is, like we were saying, just being sure of myself and who I am and trusting myself. Something I started doing recently is streaming my design process on Twitch, which was very scary to start with because I was used to for years sharing a finished product, right? Or sharing the journey. But knowing that if I'm showing you something that was crappy, I already have the solution. So I'm showing you where I started and where I ended so I can feel confident in that.

Charli:
It's been scary to stream on Twitch designing because there's some days where things don't work out and you're just making some really crappy stuff. And honestly that has been a confidence booster in a weird way that I feel like I found myself in the situation, sharing my work in that stages just showed me how far I've come as a designer and evading imposter syndrome that so many designers talk about, that I feel confident enough now in my abilities that, "Yeah, I'm in this shitty place right now."

Charli:
But I trust that someday, maybe tomorrow, maybe the next day, maybe it won't be till next week, I'm going to break through and get to the right solution in the end. And I just think it's even more useful for people to see that messy middle, right? And maybe they'll feel less bad about their own crappy pixels on the page if they're seeing mine as well.

Chris:
Yeah. So you're talking about designing without a safety net, walking that tightrope. And I know exactly what you're talking about. So for people who don't understand, when you finish a design, you know how it ends. So no matter the bad parts in the middle, you know it's going to work out, because you already know what it's like.

Chris:
You've got the turkey in the oven perfectly cooked and so at some point you pull it out and you're like, "Here it is, everybody." But designing live, working through the problem can be nerve wracking. It really can. And then you become super self-conscious as people are watching you work live and you know it's bad, they know it's bad and that could really kill you, but you made it. You did it and it becomes a muscle.

Chris:
And I saw your latest vlog talking about it. Like, "Oh, it wasn't good. I knew it wasn't good and I wanted to make sure I put out good examples of how to get through this." But I think you're doing something even better, which is you're allowing people to see the realities of any creative person, in that you don't always have great days. It's not always home runs and working through the dark days when you're second guessing yourself is the part that I think is very empowering for people.

Charli:
Yeah. And I mean, it comes back to my original mission of starting the channel, right? That maybe it's really only been something of fulfilling in the past year or so in sharing this messy meddle of work. Because I know that myself, in my first job in tech, I would have loved to hear from a designer that they weren't proud of their work all the time and that they had days where they couldn't figure out the problem. That would've made me feel less like I was screwing up to hear that from someone. So I hope that I can offer that to people through my videos.

Chris:
Time for a quick break, but we'll be right back. Welcome back to our conversation. If somebody is listening to this right now and they're becoming very curious about this person with this New Zealand accent working out of Spain, living virtually, I guess you're a digital nomad. How would you describe the content on your channel? What categories are you hitting besides the vlog?

Charli:
I would say on my channel, you get to hear a lot about design process. Less structured teaching and more real life projects that have been worked on. And I would also say you get to hear about the things I'm learning along the way in my career and the way my process evolves over time and I share those things too.

Chris:
And it's mostly around web-based projects?

Charli:
Mostly around web design, but I guess another part that I didn't really address just then is the career side of things, which is more applicable to any type of design. I'm very passionate about designers being paid what they're worth, which I know you are too. And I talk money on my channel.

Charli:
A recent one I did was going through my income over the last year, which was a little scary, but also really fun to make and put out there and just be transparent with people. I make videos about how to help people get the job that they want to get progress in their careers and that side of things too.

Chris:
So a little bit of professional career development, a lot of transparency, and I love that you do that. I wish more people did it-

Charli:
Same.

Chris:
... but I think there's just a handful of people who actually really, truly talk about what's going on. Even when they're like, "Okay, this is a little scary to show, but I'm going to show it anyways." Of course, when you're a gazillionaire, it's like, "Y'all, let me show you how much money I'm making." It's easy to do, right?

Charli:
Yeah. I'm not on that side though. I will say that I'm not a gazillionaire. I do earn a very good tech salary, but not a gazillionaire.

Chris:
Not yet. Who knows? Who knows what's in the future for you? So let's talk a little bit about the benefits. You've been doing this for eight years and it's a lot of work and there's days where you're like, "I don't want to do it today," but let's talk about some of the benefits. What have you been able to get or doors open and opportunities for you as a result of you doing content?

Charli:
Yeah. The very first thing that came to mind, and this is going to sound like I'm pandering to you, but it's honestly connections in the community. Talking to someone like you, Chris, that wouldn't have happened if I hadn't started my channel. In New Zealand, we are a small country at the bottom of the world. People leave us off maps sometimes.

Charli:
We're nobodies down there. And I would look at the... I spend a lot of time online and just want to be a part of things want to know people and just break out of the small town feel that you get in really a whole country.

Charli:
And so doing YouTube has definitely enabled that to me and enabled a lot of community building, meeting people and building my own reputation as well as a designer for sure is one of the main benefits, I think, that I've gotten from it. I don't know if that's the answer you're looking for or expecting, but that's the first thing that came to mind.

Chris:
What about other things like supplemental income, speaking opportunities, all those kinds of things.

Charli:
Yeah. So along with building our reputation, I would say my channel has also helped me to build my career. I know for sure that this job at ConvertKit, I wouldn't have gotten without my YouTube channel because I got it after meeting our founder, Nathan at a conference where I was also speaking about my channel and making content consistently.

Charli:
So we probably wouldn't have met if I hadn't been making videos and gotten that speaking opportunity. And the job before that, I know that my channel had a big part in showing that I wasn't just all talk about my design abilities. The hiring managers could see that, "Oh, look, she's teaching design on YouTube. She's got design shops. She's confident in her abilities. We can see that in a portfolio too."

Charli:
And that it was a factor in me getting hired. So yeah, there's been career progression, which was an unexpected benefit and the money could have come later really only in the past couple of years, but that's definitely been nice as well to know that I'm building up my own thing, right?

Charli:
And that I think if I wanted to now I could easily go and do this full-time and take on more sponsorships and monetize more in different ways. And that just gives me a lot of confidence in, I don't know, feeling of freedom in life, knowing that I'm in control of that.

Chris:
I love that. So there's something that I talk about as an idea that in life, if you drive a car, you need car insurance. And if you live in a country that doesn't have universal healthcare, you need health insurance. But the insurance that most people need to get, which very few people actually get is job insurance.

Chris:
Today you're employed, tomorrow the company could hit hard times. You can have a falling out with your boss and then you're out on the street, and then you panic and you say, "Now what? WTF." But what you've been doing is you've been building what I think is the ultimate resume-

Charli:
I like that.

Chris:
... which is hundreds of videos on YouTube. So people know who you are. And so when the day comes, when for whatever reason, whether you initiate it or the company initiates and you're like, "Okay guys, I'm just letting you know on YouTube, I'm out of the free market. I'm a free agent and I'm looking for this kind of opportunity." And then your network starts working for you.

Chris:
But you also have options to be completely independent of any boss, any company, because you've got a Google ad revenue, you've got sponsorship deals, potentially launching products and kits and things that are related to what it is that you want to teach and share with the world.

Chris:
And that's what you're doing. And if you're young, if you're middle age, if you're old, I don't think there's ever such a thing as it's too late for you to start. But it's been a wonderful thing for me, at least, when I started to do this thing almost by accident, and then it creates all these opportunities and you're not even aware of it.

Charli:
Totally.

Chris:
And it's really awesome. Yeah.

Charli:
Yeah. And there's a lot of freedom in it, right? And feeling like you're not chained to a job and that you're a little bit more in control of how you want to be spending your life because for better or worse, the work you do is a big part of how you spend your life and it's a big part of how you spend your days.

Charli:
And that's what's important to me, more important than any title or that sort of thing is just, how am I spending my time? What am I doing every day? And am I enjoying it on the whole? There's always going to be bad days, but that's what's important to me, is how I'm spending my time.

Chris:
For people who aren't aware, because, I'll mention this from time to time. There are four pillars to happiness. One is purpose, which makes a lot of sense. We have to be connected to something much bigger and then connection so we don't feel alone in the world. And then the other two are quite interesting. Perceived control and perceived progress.

Chris:
And so then you think, "Oh my gosh, no wonder there's so many people trying to create stuff and to be a part of the creator economy, because Charli gets to decide what she wants to make when she wants to make it, how she wants to make it, which sponsorships she wants to take or turn down for a number of different reasons."

Chris:
And then every day your sub counts goes up, your cumulative views go up. So you're making a ton of progress. And so it's, for me, the closest thing that I've ever had in my life to being an artist, because nobody tells me what to do. I'm going to make a video, if it sucks, that's on me. If it's great, that's on me.

Chris:
And I'm not trying to make a committee happy, I'm not looking for the approval of an ECD, who might be like, "No, that's not going to work, Chris." You just get to make it. Do you feel this way, Charli?

Charli:
Absolutely. I feel this way. And I feel like some of the decisions I make in my business on the side are perplexing to some people because of that. Recently there's been a lot of people being like, "Charli, why don't you have a course? You should just put this video, this video, this video package it into a course, maybe film an intro and an outro. Boom, money." Like, "Why aren't you doing this? You're leaving money on the table."

Charli:
And I'm like, "That's not something that I would feel proud of." And I want to make sure that... I don't know. As cheesy as it sounds, I feel like everything I'm putting out there and everything I'm building is my legacy, right? And it's my personal reputation. I'm making videos under my own name, not a business name. And so it's important to me that what I put out there is something I'm really proud of and I know is my best work.

Charli:
And doing a course that way, it's just not me. That's not how I want to do things. And there's other things that I want to be focused on right now instead of making a course in my ideal way. And so I don't know. I've had people trying to convince me, especially course platforms wanting to partner and things like that. But I'm like, "Not right now. Thank you. But not right now."

Chris:
Well, I think you take your reputation very seriously as one should. You don't want to attach yourself-

Charli:
Maybe a little too seriously sometimes, but, yeah. I hear you.

Chris:
You don't attach yourself to something that's... You're like you phony it in, right?

Charli:
Yeah. Yeah. Exactly.

Chris:
Because eight years of goodwill might go away pretty quick.

Charli:
Yeah. And I think that I have a lot of freedom to do that because I am not relying on the income from my side hustles right now to pay my bills.

Chris:
Right.

Charli:
They are more than covered. I'm doing just great in my job in tech and so I feel like that's really enabling me to build a business in the way that suits me best and is the way that the business I want to exist in the world as well. So I feel very grateful for that.

Chris:
Yeah. That's wonderful. Let's talk about future Charli, because you talked about the Charli of the past has made promises that you have to deliver on-

Charli:
Yes. Oh, she's a hard toastmaster.

Chris:
... but let's look forward into the future. Tell her to give you a break, will you? Okay. Five years into the future. I don't want to talk about work. I'm just talking about your YouTube channel. You as a creator. What do you see for yourself? Let's make a promise that you have to cash five years from now.

Charli:
Okay. Five years from now, I want to have, first of all, finish the marketing design book that I'm working on.

Chris:
For sure.

Charli:
That better bloody be finished within five years. But also within five years, there's another book that I really want to write that is a guide to life as a designer and it touches on more of the existential side of our careers and what it is to be a designer and earn a living from creativity essentially.

Charli:
And that is a book that I want to be traditionally published. I want to go into a bookstore and find it. And so within five years, if that could happen, that'd be pretty great. I don't know. That might be too short a timeline, but let's say I'm high and have that happen.

Charli:
I don't know how much bigger I can grow my channel because it is such a specific niche, but I would love to get that gold play button one day. With my growth being slow and steady, again, five years might be too short, but okay. We can aim high. And I don't know, I think I want to still feel passionate about it all as well. That's the thing.

Charli:
I think the day that YouTube and anything that I'm doing just becomes a chore and something that I feel like I have to do, that won't be adding up to a very good life for me. So I want to still be enjoying everything I'm making, even if that means changing directions slightly and I mean taking that risk. That's the situation I want to be in.

Chris:
You just reminded me of something I need to ask you. I was reading in a book, when Coca-Cola launched new Coke, the fans let them have it. Like, "No." And then the CEO of Coke said something, which was quite interesting, which was, "We thought we owned the brand. We don't own the brand, the customers own the brand." And that's a powerful statement.

Chris:
So when you talk about like, "I still want to enjoy what it is that I'm doing," it made me think, when is it not enjoyable? Here's the question for you? Do you feel like you own your brand or do your fans, the people who show up, are owning your brand now?

Charli:
Good question. I feel like they own more of it than maybe I would realize or want, but you accept it. Sara Dietschy has a really great way of describing the content she makes in that she does one for me, one for them. Where it's one video she'll make, because it's what she really wants to make and feels cool to do. And the other one is the video that the audience has been asking for and wanting.

Charli:
I feel like maybe I do three for me, one for them, but in a way, definitely what the audience thinks and what they want plays a big part of it because when we make videos on YouTube, our success is due to our audience, right? They're the ones following and telling their friends about it and recommending the videos, enjoying it so that they comment and that helps the YouTube algorithm and all of that.

Charli:
So I'm really grateful to anyone whoever does that sort of thing. And even though I'm all about making sure that I'm passionate about things, I want to be helping people at the end of the day. So if there's something that I need to make because it's going to help them, then I want to make that too.

Chris:
I'd love to just stay on this topic for a little bit. I know exactly which video you're talking about, Sara Dietschy. And correct me if I'm wrong, I think when she's doing those tech reviews, that's one for the algorithm and for the fans.

Charli:
Yeah. It is.

Chris:
And she doesn't love doing those, right?

Charli:
I think so. Yeah. And I think that for her vlogging, daily vlogging was becoming seven for them at a time as well.

Chris:
Right.

Charli:
I've heard her say that that wasn't what she wanted to be doing anymore.

Chris:
Yeah. So here's my question. And maybe I'm being delusional here. For people like MKBHD, he obviously loves tech and he's always tinkering around with stuff. So that's all for him and it happens to be all for his fans too, right?

Charli:
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. When it aligns it's great.

Chris:
Yeah. And that's ideally what you want. So here's what I think, because I get into arguments with our fans. I say, "You know what? If you want to make that video, you know who can make it? You can make it."

Charli:
You.

Chris:
You. Because I'm going to make the video that I want because, in air quotes loosely here, I've given up this other life so that I can do this thing. And I think ultimately people are going to tune in because I'm in my zone doing what it is that I feel most passionate about and connected to. If it doesn't hit an audience, so be it.

Chris:
I'm almost 50 years old. So it's like, "I don't need to be doing this for other reasons than what it is that gives me joy." And thankfully it also aligns with what the audience wants. So what do you think about that? I mean, do you want to just do more of what it is that you want to do and just say, "Fans, thank you for your support but I got to do me."

Charli:
When we talk about freelancing as designers, right? We know that the work you put on your portfolio is the work you're going to be hired to do. And I think it's the same with content, in that if you upload content that you don't want to be making, you're going to be attracting fans who are there for that content.

Charli:
And so if you're sharing things that you want to be doing, your audience, the only people who will stick around are the people who like that stuff too. And so I think that's where you build an audience like MKBHD has done, where you're completely aligned.

Charli:
My issue right now is there's the screen printing video that's popular, there's also some software tutorials that are popular and those are not my favorite things to do. Every now and then I'll make a 101 software tutorial because I know it's going to be useful. And that's just about the level of software that I want to teach.

Charli:
I want to introduce people to a product in a really easy to understand and approachable way, but I don't want to show you how to be a power user because I'm not. You can go to someone else for that. And I also think that sometimes I make videos that people aren't asking for, but I know that they need to see. And it's hard with the YouTube algorithm because sometimes they just won't see it.

Chris:
Right.

Charli:
But I just hope that it'll reach the right people one day or maybe it'll help a few people. And this is not a topic that anyone's thinking to search or anyone's thinking to ask about, but I know from my experience how important it is to learn this. So I'm going to make the video about it and just have hope that one day the right people will find it.

Chris:
Yeah. I like that. That's very admirable. This is the difference between giving people candy or medicine. Nobody wants medicine, everyone wants candy, but you, as a responsible adult, you don't want to be handing out all the candy, right?

Charli:
No.

Chris:
And I think true to your actions, if you really want to just blow up and get that gold play button, you would just make a lot of screen printing videos and crafty things, which there are channels out there on the internet that do that. But you're like, "You know what? Despite the success that I've had with that, that's not me. I don't want to be known for that. There's something else I want to do," right?

Charli:
Yeah. And it comes down to the way that I'm spending my time then, right?

Chris:
Yes.

Charli:
It wouldn't be fun for me to make those videos every single week. That's how I'd be spending my time and I wouldn't be enjoying it as much as I would, I don't know, sharing a web flow build that I did and talking through my decisions and how I made this thing happen. That's what's fun for me is doing a show-and-tell, not doing an in-depth tutorial. So yeah. I'm just going to do that. And what was the saying? Build it and they will come. That's what I'm hoping [crosstalk 00:47:19]

Chris:
That's what you believe, the Kevin Costner Field of Dreams?

Charli:
Yeah.

Chris:
Okay. I just want to let everybody know though there's a balance to all of this. There really is. Because we'd be lying to you if we're like, "I'm going to make video. I don't care if two people show up," because after a while, you're like, "I'm not getting good return on my investment because my goal was to help people to teach people and if no one shows up, it's just intellectual masturbation. It's not helping anybody but me."

Charli:
Yeah. And sometimes we might title it in a way that catches your eye, but isn't really the thing that we were supposed to get out of the video.

Chris:
Right. Charli, hush. Are you telling me you're doing clickbait.

Charli:
Maybe sometimes design clickbait.

Chris:
You're going to say something that's going to make the design elite get upset and then they tune in and you're like, "No, I'm just kidding. It's going to be fine." Okay. So let's talk a little bit about that. So you want to make things that are aligned with you, what makes you happy?

Chris:
How you want to contribute to the world and what kind of legacy you want to leave behind you? Yeah. We get that? But you also need to take that medicine and put it in a wrapper that feels like candy-like so that the kids can eat it. And so that's the trick of life, right?

Charli:
Yap.

Chris:
On the one end you can make candy and just give [Mapid 00:48:33] entertainment videos, which a lot of people do and consume. That's fine. Then you can make these super dense tutorials, which are great for society and culture, but nobody watches them. A hybrid somewhere in the middle is the key.

Chris:
So being entertaining and figuring out how to hook people with a great title and a thumbnail and then pulling them in so that they can actually receive the medicine that will be beneficial to them. Now, I'm curious about this. Your thumbnails look like they're actually pooled from the videos themselves or maybe... Yes they are, right?

Charli:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Well, they're pooled from me posing for a few seconds before I film the actual video. That's where they're pulled from.

Chris:
Right. But they're in the space versus generating a thumbnail.

Charli:
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. They're in the space.

Chris:
Okay. I saw something that penguin0, whatever his name is, he's got a gazillion followers on YouTube. He did something recently, which I'm like, "Oh, that's smart. That's so smart." He flexed. He actually has a muscle so he's bum. And I thought, maybe that's not in the video, but it's actually in the video.

Chris:
So he knew by doing that, it creates a pattern of disruption. The people scrolling through thinking he's a skinny internet kid, but he actually is pretty fit. So he shared that. So have you thought about like, "Hey, I need to do something that's going to catch somebody's eye somewhere in this video."

Charli:
Are you saying that I should flex my muscles in the thumbnail? Is that [crosstalk 00:49:55]

Chris:
Yes, you should. Yeah. No. I don't know what you do, but you do something where, in that video, there it is.

Charli:
Yeah. This is, I think a big area of improvement for me, is that what I want to focus on is making the content and the optimization side of it is not fun for me. I feel like I really enjoy doing that on a website, but I don't enjoy doing it on my content. So it's for sure an area of growth.

Charli:
Part of it is to do with my own ethics of making content in that I don't want to go too far into that route. I know we joked about design clickbait, but I would never actually title my video something that wasn't included in the video.

Chris:
Right.

Charli:
Maybe it's not the main point, but yeah.

Chris:
Yeah. You get punished for that, so don't do that. Nobody's telling you to do that.

Charli:
Yeah. Don't do that. Nobody's telling you to do that. But what you just said about having to wrap the medicine in a way that makes it palatable is a way that I've had to force myself to care about thumbnails and that sort of thing, because you're right. You can make the greatest thing in the world, but if no one's going to click on it and watch it, they're not going to get all that useful advice and inspiration.

Charli:
So something I'm constantly trying on is trying to title the video in the most engaging way, I don't know, pull a weird face in the thumbnail so that it stands out in the feed more than just a regular smile would. That sort of thing. Yeah. That's what I'm trying to do.

Chris:
Or maybe you eating a bowl of pasta or something crazy like, "What? What's going on here?" Right. Who knows?

Charli:
Yeah. Okay. I like that advice more than the flexing the arm. That seems more on brand for me eating pasta. Yeah.

Chris:
Or maybe doing like sun salutation pose when you're doing your yoga. Who knows?

Charli:
Yeah. Well, Yeah. I don't know about that one so much. We'll go back to the pasta.

Chris:
Okay. Before we wrap up, I want to talk about one other part, which is public speaking, because you said you were also a writer and a speaker. And it's interesting because I ran into you at [Epicurrence 00:52:00] and I looked at you as you were sitting in the lobby as we're checking in and I'm like, "Wait, I know you, how do I know you?"

Chris:
And you were like, "Oh, maybe on YouTube." And it's like, "Yes. Because I remember early in those days I used to watch a lot of YouTube videos to see what creators are doing, what's their style, what's their vibe. And of course I'm looking at you like, "I know you."

Chris:
So it's one of these things where by creating content, your reputation precedes you in a very good way. And for a nerd like me, where I'm very uncomfortable talking to people, it helps to break the ice because someone will come up to me and he's like, "Hey, have I seen you?" I'm like, "It depends." And then a conversation happens.

Chris:
Tell me about you and potentially random sightings in the world, the good ones, not the crazy ones, where somebody says something like, "Oh, that's cool. I can't believe the reach that YouTube has."

Charli:
Yes. This has been one of my favorite parts about building an audience on YouTube is when I'm at a design conference and I'm there by myself and I'm like, "Well, I don't have any friends here." I want to connect with people. I'm introverted. But I still like connecting with people. I just prefer to do it on a deeper level than just talking about the weather or something.

Chris:
Right.

Charli:
And so if someone comes up to me and is like, "I watch your videos." I'm like, "Great. You know a lot about me already. So we can just talk about you, tell me all about your life and what are you aiming for? What are you working on?" And it's just a really great start to a conversation. So maybe that should be my answer to benefits of YouTube, is better connections and conversations with people makes that easier for an introvert, for sure.

Chris:
Yeah. It's the most painful way to have a great conversation starter because it's a lot of work, but [crosstalk 00:53:40]

Charli:
It's a lot of work.

Chris:
It's pretty awesome.

Charli:
Yes. Agreed. For sure. And you're right, what you said about reputation proceeding you. That's, I think again, where I try and make decisions based on things I'd be proud of because it does follow you and affect you and things you say matter to people or stick in their mind, so you got to believe in the things that you're saying.

Chris:
Right.

Charli:
Yeah. And speaking on YouTube has led to a bunch of conference speaking opportunities for me, which has been fun. I was terrified of public speaking when I started all this and I didn't want to be afraid of public speaking. I was like, "There is literally no threat here, right? I'm not going to die from getting on the stage and talking, why am I scared of this?"

Charli:
So I push myself to get over it, again with making videos, just by doing the thing. And YouTube has been one of the main reasons that I've ever been invited to speak at a conference really. So yeah. It's been good for that too.

Chris:
Wonderful. I'm glad you shared that public speaking is something that you were afraid to do. So I got to ask this question now, are you still afraid to do it?

Charli:
I think I will be the next time I do it again because now it's been so long since I've spoken at an in-person event. I'm worried that all my progress that I made over the couple of years proceeding will have diminished. But the last in-person event that I spoke at, I remember really noticing that I had butterflies, but it was more like a anxious energy than it was a deathly terrified as it might've been in the past.

Chris:
Maybe it was excitement versus, "This is horrible."

Charli:
Yeah. Maybe it was excitement. Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. It was like, "I'm going to do this thing. I'm going to be brave and get on stage and talk to people," rather than, "Oh my God, can I be brave and get on stage and talk to people."

Chris:
Right. And where was that the last time you spoke?

Charli:
I think it was at How Design Live, which was a conference in Chicago and I talked about how to succeed as an in-house designer.

Chris:
Oh, good topic.

Charli:
Yeah. It was a fun topic. It was a new talk that I hadn't given before and sadly haven't gotten to give again since because of the state of the world.

Chris:
Right.

Charli:
Yeah. I think that was the last one. I've also done a couple of meetups and things, which I think they count as public speaking, but for them, I feel like I didn't feel any scaredness.

Chris:
Yeah. So meetups are with your fans, right?

Charli:
No. Design meetups, so not necessarily with my fans, but it feels more like you're just up here speaking to people than being on a stage. If that makes sense.

Chris:
Now the last big conference is how... Was this in 2020 or 2019?

Charli:
It might've even been... I think it was 2019. Yeah.

Chris:
2019. So right before the world shutdown.

Charli:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris:
Okay. So 2019. How Design conference is ginormous, right? Or is this a different one?

Charli:
Yeah, it was a pretty big conference. Yeah.

Chris:
Yeah. So how many people were you speaking in front of? Do you know, roughly?

Charli:
There was only a few thousand in my room. It was one of the smaller rooms compared to...

Chris:
Hold on. Rewind the tape. She's like, "Only a few thousand." I thought she was going to say a few hundred, but a few thousand, that's a lot of people.

Charli:
Maybe close to 2000. I don't know. I'm also not very good at estimating crowd size.

Chris:
That's a lot of people, Charli. You're just throwing that out there like it's nothing.

Charli:
It was one of the biggest in-person crowds that I've spoken to.

Chris:
Okay. So you're backstage. You're like, "I can do this. I'm excited to do this." And you go out from backstage and you hit the stage and how does that feel?

Charli:
I feel like I go into, not autopilot, but that I become a more enhanced version of myself. Because I think you learn to do this on video as well, right? That if you don't smile while you're talking, you're just going to come across as sounding super angry.

Chris:
Right.

Charli:
And so I feel like I've just slowly learned to talk while smiling more naturally from editing videos and being annoyed at myself that I hadn't done that.

Chris:
Right.

Charli:
And I feel like it's the same thing on stage that gestures are bigger, you take a pause longer for a joke than you would if you were just having a conversation with someone. And that that's the mode that I go into onstage and it really fuels me when people respond. Like, I don't know, you make a joke and people laugh.

Charli:
I had this one part in my talk, talking about wireframes and the fact that you have to set expectations with your team of what feedback you want to receive and what they're looking at. I shared a wireframe with my team and their expectation of that stage is to give feedback on the overall structure of the design. We're not talking about visuals here. It's just the content.

Charli:
And I had to show up on screen some feedback from a teammate that said, "Is this shade of gray a little bit sad?" And the joke landed. And I was really proud of myself for having made that happen.

Chris:
Nice. And it's good to get that feedback. You're like, "Wow. That's why we do live things."

Charli:
Yeah. Exactly. I've been missing that for sure. I've done a few public speaking events through live streams throughout the pandemic, and it's cool to see the chat and all, but it's just not the same as seeing people in person.

Chris:
And what's the best part for you when you go to speak? Because it's sometimes painful to prepare. You're writing, you're designing and then you do the performance and sometimes you hit the notes, sometimes you miss a few notes, but that's okay. What's the best part for you?

Charli:
The best part for me is probably the conversations that you can then have with people afterwards. I know that I've done well at a talk when people want to come up and speak to you after it happens. When something you said made them think of something or it connected some dots for them and they want to tell you about it.

Charli:
To have connected some dots in the first place is great, but to have done it in a way that made them want to tell you about it as well and share that with you is another level. And so that's my marker of success really for a talk is like, "Okay, does just one person even care enough that they want to speak to me after it happens?" And that's when I can feel proud of it.

Chris:
I spoke to Aaron Draplin about this and he has a very interesting strategy. I think we're all very similar, in that we want to just make sure we connect with people and for a person who's afraid of public speaking like myself, the reward really is in the conversations that you get to have afterwards because the ice has been broken, you shared something and people feel encouraged to speak to you.

Chris:
Now, there are a couple of factors that will determine if somebody is going to come up to you afterwards. One, if you're approachable and relatable or you're intimidating and aloof. So how you appear, the stories that you share, how vulnerable you are, how goofy you are. It actually lets people know like, "I can talk to her afterwards," because there's already a status difference, right? You're literally higher than them as you're standing on stage. And so they feel like, "Oh, this is weird."

Chris:
And I know an older version of me, even if I was dying to speak to the speaker, I'm like "Who am I? No, there's so many people here. It's just..." And it's very discouraging. So Draplin does this thing where he has the Merch Table. So the Merch Table gives you a reason to approach him. And then he can just give you a big hug. He could say something to you. And I thought, "That's pretty brilliant." And then he says, "It's also nice to make some money and some coins-"

Charli:
Right. Right.

Chris:
So I'm not telling you it's altruistic, but it's a nice ice breaker. So maybe you can think about things where there's something for you to do afterwards so that you're sending the signal to them like, "It's okay. I'd like to talk to you."

Charli:
Yeah. Totally. I think the last time we met in person was at Adobe MAX where you had a booth and you were doing live streaming-

Chris:
Oh, yes. I'm sorry. You're right. Yes.

Charli:
... and you were selling merch there too. I'm wondering, did it come from that conversation with Draplin.

Chris:
No, because we hadn't spoken. We were just booth babes.

Charli:
Okay. [crosstalk 01:01:38] You had a great idea.

Chris:
Yeah. I had something on my bucket list like, "I want to have a booth because I just want to speak to people," but we hadn't spoken at MAX and the booth is a great way to just chat and it worked out pretty good. It wasn't perfect, but it was really nice to be able to do that. So people would come by, they didn't really want to talk to you. They'd be like, "Chris Do," and then they just walk away and that's good enough for me. Okay. We see each other.

Charli:
That's funny.

Chris:
It kind of nice. Okay. So the question I want to ask you here is, people don't understand this. There are two different art forms, learning to speak in front of a camera by yourself. That's difficult and that's weird. Learning to speak in front of a live audience is difficult and it's weird. They're not the same skill set. They're not.

Chris:
People need to understand this because people are like, "Well, what's Charli talking about? She talks all the time and why is being on stage different?" If you grab someone who's a professional speaker and you put them in front of video, they don't always perform well either. So it's a different skillset, especially when you're doing it by yourself. The energy's different.

Charli:
Absolutely. I totally agree. I do think that learning to speak on video has helped me with my public speaking, but for sure they were both different mountains to climb. Yeah, definitely.

Chris:
You get practice and it's good practice, but it's not the same practice because you know you can use a teleprompter if you need to, you can edit it, and if you don't like it, you just destroy the video. There's no real pressure. So I have this question for you, when you're on stage, have you ever thought of this? When you're getting nervous, did you ever sit there and pretend like, "It's just like YouTube, it'll be okay?"

Charli:
Honestly. Yes. I feel like my way to get over the fear is, some people say, "Imagine the audience naked." For me, it's, imagine the audience is just a camera. Imagine that they're watching it and they're your viewers who are watching a video that's already been edited and just do that. I feel like that's a mental model that I use to get over the fear early on.

Chris:
I do that sometimes too. I just pretend like it's a black screen and I'm just going to do my thing. And it is oddly calming. It's really strange. I know people are like, "What the heck are they talking about?" I remember when I spoke-

Charli:
Yeah. I know we're coming across really weird right now.

Chris:
Right. It's just like, "I can't hear your feedback anyways. Don't worry about it. I'm just going to do my thing." And then I've done that hundreds, maybe thousands of times at this point. So it's just falling into default mode and it just allows me to relax. And then if I want to, then I could see the audience, mentally see them.

Charli:
Yap. I think the hardest part about that is, usually when we're making a video, you're seeing us from the shoulders up. And so you've got to remember your whole body's on show. You're going to move around the stage a little bit more than perhaps you would if you were just talking to a camera.

Chris:
Yes. You just gave me an idea. I might do this next time. I might go out on stage looking proper torso up, and looking improper torso down-

Charli:
Just [crosstalk 01:04:44].

Chris:
I just walk out there in my boxer shorts and slippers and say, "Hey everybody. Oh, this is live? You're actually here? This is not YouTube?" Just to break the ice. Who knows?

Charli:
That'd Be very memorable. Yep. People would for sure come up and talk to you afterwards after that.

Chris:
It'd be awkward. It's like, "It's breezy here. Isn't it?" Okay. Well, Charli, it was wonderful to chat with you. I'm glad we got to do this. If people want to find out more about you and what you're doing, where should they go?

Charli:
I think heading to charlimarie.com is the best place. That's Charli spelled without an E on the end, just with an I. That's where you can find links to the YouTube, to my writing, to social media or stuff like that. Another thing that I would say that I'm working on at the moment is a interview series called Inside Marketing Design, where I interview designers working at tech companies about how they get their work done and season two is coming out soon. So I'm excited about that. That's at insidemarketingdesign.co.

Chris:
Insidemarketing-

Charli:
Design.co.

Chris:
... design.co. That's a long title.

Charli:
Couldn't get the .com.

Chris:
Oh my gosh. Insidemarketingdesign.co, not.com.

Charli:
Yep.

Chris:
Any final thoughts? Any pearls of wisdom you want to throw at the audience?

Charli:
No, no. Thanks for having me on here, Chris. I think I love the work that you and The Futur do. It's providing so much value to people. And for sure very aligned with my mission of helping designers to believe in their value and their worth. And thanks for all the work that you do there-

Chris:
Oh, thank you.

Charli:
... because there's a lot of stuff that people need to know and you're giving them the real talk.

Chris:
I feel like we're kindred spirits because we're both educators. We want to give some insight into what it's like in the real working world and also to lift other people up so that they can charge what they're worth and to adopt professional practices. And it is a long grind.

Chris:
It'd be much easier where we're like doing that super entertaining stuff, but I'm glad that there are other people out there who believe what we believe in and they're trying to do what they do and it's wonderful since I don't know much about web design. It's great to see what you're doing and that you're helping so many people.

Charli:
Oh, thanks, Chris.

Chris:
Thank you.

Charli:
My name is Charli Marie and you're listening to The Futur.

Greg Gunn:
Thanks for joining us this time. If you haven't already, subscribe to our show on your favorite podcasting app and get a new insightful episode from us every week. The Futur podcast is hosted by Chris Do and produced by me, Greg Gunn. Thank you to Anthony Barro for editing and mixing this episode and thank you to Adam Sanborne for our intro music.

Greg Gunn:
If you enjoyed this episode then do us a favor by rating and reviewing our show on Apple Podcasts. It'll help us grow the show and make future episodes of that much better. Have a question for Chris or me? Head over to thefutur.com/heychris and ask away. We read every submission and we just might answer yours in a later episode.

Greg Gunn:
If you'd like to support the show and invest in yourself while you're at it, visit thefutur.com. You'll find video courses, digital products, and a bunch of helpful resources about design and creative business. Thanks again for listening, and we'll see you next time.

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