By popular request and for your viewing pleasure I have transcribed the interview with Sarah Fit aka Sarah Dussault – Youtube Fitness video Guru and blogger, on how she uses video marketing to help grow her business and personal brand.
SN: Hey, this is Sara Nguyen from Social Media Rocketeer and I’m here with the lovely Sarah Dussault from the Sarah Fit channel and SarahFit.com. Sarah is a Youtube fitness video guru and blogger, and Sarah has agreed to an interview with us today to share with us how she uses video as part of her social media strategy to help her business. Thanks for joining us today, Sarah.
Sarah Fit: Thanks for having me.
SN: A pleasure. So Sarah, how did this all start? How did you get started with video?
Sarah Fit: It’s a long story, but I’ll shorten it as much as possible. I was working at TV production as a production assistant. I wanted on camera experience Craigslist post for a video girl at Diet.com. They wanted someone to come in and create videos for them and they really didn’t have anything to show for that. So I went in and started up their channel, got it going, that was in September 2006. About a year and a half ago I left them to do it on my own. I still do work for them part-time, but I didn’t originally go into this business thinking I’d be doing the social media. I wanted to be on camera, that’s how I got into the business and it didn’t hurt that I knew how to do everything behind the camera. In regards to social media video, I kind of taught it all to my self by googling things. So really, Diet.com and craiglist is how I got here, which is kind of weird to think since that was almost 4 years ago.
SN: Awesome. So, in terms of being in front of the camera, what are your videos actually about?
Sarah Fit: My videos are about health and fitness information. When I say health, we give details about recent studies that came about, Diet.com doesn’t do much of that anymore, but we did do a lot of that in the beginning, you know, our top five favourite electrolyte beverages. We’d also do recipes. More now, that we’ve always done a little bit, are fitness videos we have. People really search for them a lot, so even if you upload it and you don’t get many hits at first, you’ll continue to get views as time goes on because it’s something that people want, people are searching for it. We found that people were searching for study results, and when people want a recipe they’ll go to a recipe website. They’re not going to randomly type in “chicken recipe.” So that’s what our videos are about. Diet.com primarily focuses on fitness now. I try to do fun things, i’ll do a fitness music video, but everything is fitness related.
SN: Awesome, because you actually have a health and fitness and training background as well, don’t you?
Sarah Fit: Yeah. Growing up, I was an athlete. I played sports all three seasons in High School, I was captain of all three of my teams. Really, when I went to college, it was a decision to me. Do I want to go to a small school and continue being an athlete, or go to a large school and pursue a career in journalism, which a lot of the schools I was looking at did not have. I ultimately chose to go to a bigger school, and my one regret was not playing a sport in college, so it’s kind of hard to look back on that having regrets because i might not be where i am today had i gotten into a small school and played sport, but I missed the athleticism and I always stayed active in college. I even dabbled in taking nutrition and sports exercise classes, but I didn’t major in it. I actually didn’t get certified until a little over a year ago when I realized that if I wanted to be taken seriously as a fitness expert, I needed to be certified. Before that, I never claimed to be a fitness expert, I just worked with different trainers, I worked with different nutritionists, dieticians, different chefs. I was always just kind of a personality bringing talent to the table. By going and getting certified, I was able to be the face of my own videos, give people advice, and also train them on the side for additional income as I’m trying to make it on my own as a full-time “blogger” blogger.
SN: Awesome. So when you decided that you wanted to make a business out of this, make business out of professional blogging, specifically for the fitness industry, how did you start to use video to grow your business? Was it putting the first few videos up on Youtube that started it to grow, or was it going through other channels?
Sarah Fit: For me personally, I saw that I had a following with Diet.com, and how I started their channel versus mine are a little bit different because with mine, I would go in and write comments on Diet.com telling people “hey, I have my own channel now”. I started off, “hey, I’m Sarah from Diet.com, and I do other things than just fitness videos”, just trying to make it a little more personal. Then I realized people wanted fitness moves, and I said “hey this is what I do to stay in shaper for the Diet.com channel”. I reached out to one of the most popular Youtubers, Elle from All That Glitters, and it wasn’t until she gave me a shout out in February of 2010 that my channel started to take off. I got about 15,000 subscribers in a week. It was insane.
SN: That’s massive.
Sarah Fit: So right then and there, I learned the power of networking and collaborating with other Youtubers. With Diet.com I took a different approach, because I didn’t know any other Youtubers. I was so new in 2006. You could still kind of break the news, if you will. So that really took sending my videos to different bloggers to maybe feature on their websites. Diet.com had a little trick that was allowed to get on their homepage whenever they wanted to. They discontinued that once we had our first viral hit with”photoshop effect”. But mine was more groundroots, building relationships with people, commenting on the Diet.com videos, and trying to work with other Youtubers.
SN: Fantastic. What has the response been like? What have your fans been like? The take up been like and how’s that been for you?
Sarah Fit: Now that I’m doing it on my own, my fan response has been so positive. I hate calling them fans, they’re more my viewers, my readers. It’s hard to be a fan of an educator, and that’s kind of how I think of myself. It’s been really positive for me, personally, because even I struggle with health and fitness. On Diet.com, a lot of the people would criticize me for my appearance, which was really frustrating because here I was, trying to promote a positive and healthy image and these people were tearing me down for being at a positive weight and a role model. So on my channel, I find that my viewers are highly, highly targeted. They’re watching my videos because they like me, they like what I’m going to say. On Diet.com, when they would get on the homepage and people were like, “oh, what’s this?”, and click on a random video, those were not who we were targeting. They were just these bored people watching random videos on Youtube, whereas on my channel, my subscribers are genuinely interested in what I’m going to be presenting to them, and very rarely do they have negative feedback, or do I get negative feedback. Most of the negativity comes when I work with a brand that they’re not a fan of. But then again, they do know that I have to pay the bills somehow. That’s how I made my business work is by working with brands that were consistent with my message. I found that to be really important. On the same side as business, I do drive my readers, or rather my viewers to my website if they do want to meet with me personally and train. I do do that. I used to do that a lot more, and I was surprised at how many people in the Boston area read my website, watched my videos, and wanted to train with me. So that was kind of exciting, and it was also pretty helpful in regards to my bank account at the time, which allowed me to put more time into my videos.
SN: Awesome. With negative responses online, it’s one of those things which is unfortunately just part of the game. How do you deal with negative responses and negative feedback?
Sarah Fit: I definitely take it as constructive criticism and I listen to them. I think that’s so important because if somebody says, “why are you doing this video again? We hate this”, I refocus what I’m going to be publishing. I listen to their comments, and if they don’t like the food videos, I’m going to stop doing them. In regards of negativity though, to be honest, if you work with a highly targeted audience, then your audience is engaged actively and opted-in to receive your emails, your newsletters. They’re not going to be as negative as the ones who kind of get sucked in to watching and taking in your message. When I do get negative comments though, I will address them. I struggle with being too defensive and that’s my personal issue because I want to write back, I want to write a response to everybody. Many times, the best thing to do is let it go and not address it if jus tone person. If it’s the same comment continuously, then I’ll address it. I recently had a bunch of people complaining that I titled a video the same as some of my friends on Youtube, and I did it unknowingly. I wanted to say, “I didn’t know! They’re my friends not my competitors!”, and everyone on Youtube thinks that we compete with one another. Some know that Katrina got her start with me on Diet.com. People who don’t know it sometimes say to me, “you’re copying them”, and it’s frustrating because in my head I want to go, “no, they’re copying me”, but they’re not. Everyone has a different voice, no one is going to tell the same story the same way. There’s plenty of room for everyone’s opinions, there’s plenty of room for everyone’s creativity. Katrina and I, we’re never going to create the same exact videos, so there’s no need to compete. So when I do get negative comments like that, it’s hard for me not to be in defense mode, but I do address the issues that are hurtful, and the ones that are not true. If they aren’t true, I try to take the steps to correct the action. I’ll personally write messages to a lot of Youtubers that write comments on videos that are pretty negative. Some people don’t see them, so I privately will respond to them.They usually write back saying, “I appreciate so much you writing to me. I really appreciate it and I’m going to continue watching your videos”.
SN: Awesome. So you were able to grow your business and brand really quickly through the use of video. What advice would you have for other small business owners who are contemplating whether or not they start up video and start to use it? What advice would you give them to get started?
Sarah Fit: To start, video has such a powerful effect on Google. For somebody searching for something, having a video out there, like on Youtube, really affects your placement. If you find five competing businesses that are all offering the same thing, if you have Youtube videos and the rest don’t, you’re most likely to compare higher than them. That’s really important. I don’t have the most views that other healthy living bloggers, but yet, I get contacted a lot more than those bloggers because I have video. For me personally, it’s kind of my niche, it’s my talent, so I separate myself from everyone else because I can do video. And I think it also helps because brands can actually see my personality, see how I am on camera interacting with people. I’ve just found that I’ve been extremely lucky in working with certain wardrobe brands because I do have video. It’s really opened up doors for a lot of opportunities. I also think that videos rate in that they are just a little more personal. Really professional videos do take that away, but something like Youtube where we are right now. You just open up your camera, and here I am, this is me. I think people appreciate the genuinity that people have on Youtube. I just think that it’s a really unique tool that more companies should be taking advantage of, just because of the doors it’s opened for me. It has driven people to my business with personal training. It just helps people find you.? There’s so much information out there and a video will definitely help people find you and for me, it helps people like me.
SN: Fantastic. Well thanks for your time, Sarah. I know you’re really busy, so I’ll let you go now, but just before I let you go, where can people find you if they do want to see your videos and contact you?
Sarah Fit: You can find me on Youtube.com/SarahFit. You can also find me at SarahFit.com and my Twitter handle right now is DietSarah because I used to work for Diet.com, but I’m in the process of changing it. Hopefully I’ll get SarahFit, but we’ll see. Right now you can find me on DietSarah. Thank you so much for having me, I love doing these types of things.
SN: A pleasure. Thanks for your time, Sarah. Bye.