There has been a rise in successful channels that many would consider “unoptimized.” Have you noticed this? One example of this is Sam Sulek. He is a fitness creator who is blowing up even though he breaks all the rules of YouTube with his thumbnails, video length, and low production value. It’s leaving so many people to wonder, “How is this working for him?!?”

Recently, VidIQ put out a great video on this. But, I wanted to share more thoughts around the topic because this is a pattern I’m seeing with many types of channels and there are some great lessons that can be learned and applied to us all.

Who is Sam Sulek?

Sam is 21 and runs a fitness channel that is just under a year old. His content consists of vlog style workouts. Most of his thumbnails are just still shots from his content without any editing. His titles are mostly just a count of what workout he is doing. And, some of his videos are as long as an 90 mins! He’s going against all the typical “optimization,” yet he he picked up over 1 million subs in two months! – on LONG FORM. This is amazing.

Sam may be ignoring all the typical growth elements, but what he is nailing are the most important things. And that is the fact that he is authentic and because of his transparency and consistency, he is reaching the exact audience that he is wanting.

Shift to Slower Pace

The slower, vlog style pace has been making a comeback over the last year and Sam’s success is proof of this. People are exhausted from the highly edited, over produced content and are really craving the slower pace. The slower pace is of vlog style content is beginning to feel like a breathe of fresh air. People just want to be there to work out with San and watch his story. And that is exactly what he’ is offering.


One of the contributing factors to his success is his consistency. He is always showing up, doing his workout and posting it for others to do along with him. It’s easy to post a daily video when you aren’t putting much time into your editing and packaging. I’m not saying that editing and packaging aren’t important. But, he found what he can consistently do and does that. His viewers can rely on the fact that his content is waiting for them. Many of us felt this when we watched along with Ryan Trahan and the penny series. We knew, no matter what was happening in our day, that we had an episode waiting for us to enjoy every day. Sam is also super consistent in the topics of his content as well. His channel is all about his workout routines, with a couple videos of him going to the grocery store to talk about foods he is going to eat as well. A lot of creators are all over the place in their content and because of this, their target audience has a really hard time finding them. But because his content is so consistent, his exact target audience has found him and has thoroughly enjoyed his content.


The value Sam is bringing is also very high. It’s so simple, but who doesn’t want a buddy to work out with? And who wouldn’t want a high performing body builder to be that buddy? Having a list of what to do for a workout routine is good. But, having someone show you what to do and sweating along with you is of great value.


How do you learn to be authentic on camera? And why is this is so hard for some people? My suggestion to learn to be authentic is practice, practice, practice. The more you film yourself, the more authentic you will be. If you really struggle with this, film yourself with no intention to even put it in a video. Just film yourself and talk to the camera for practice’s sake! It’s only going to help you. Or maybe bring someone on the camera with you so that you have someone you are interacting with. This can be a huge help as well.


There is a personal story of transformation in every episode. We are invited alongside Sam as he drives to the gym and talks about what he is feeling and what obstacles he wants to overcome. He, then, shares how he feels as he is working out. And at the end of each video, we see him transformed now that he has overcome these obstacles and met his daily goal. This provides an intentional structure and story in every video. Plus, we get to root for him as he works towards an overall goal for that season. Structure is key in any storytelling. Daily vlogging without any structure can lack the storytelling that we see here.


Again, I am NOT saying that titles and thumbnails don’t matter. I am not saying that your editing doesn’t matter. They do matter! But there are a lot of things we can learn from Sam and so many creators like him. One being that authenticy trumps production value or SEO optimization Every. Single. Time. Also, being consistent (in your posting, as well as the target audience you are trying to reach) is vital in your growth strategy.

If you struggle with finding the balance between production and consistency, ask yourself, “What level of production can I do and still produce consistent videos?” Once you find the level that you can consistently produce content, stick to that. That may mean 2 videos a week or that may mean 2 videos a month. But focusing on consistency, authenticity and the value you are bringing to your target audience will always lead to the most growth.

Power Tip

Bard is a google extension that will watch YouTube videos for you and answer your questions about the video. How is this useful? Let’s say you have a cooking video that has a recipe that you like to make, but the ingredients list is not included in the show notes. You can copy and paste the link to the video into Bard and then ask for the ingredient list. Another way you could utilize this as a creator is to look for feedback on your own videos or have it analyze other video’s in your niche. Play around with it and see if it is useful to you!

Keep Changing Lives!

Tim Schmoyer

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