Blogging Podcast, Interviews, Social Media, Video

278 How to build an Audience on YouTube – with Gabby Wallace

By Leslie Samuel

Episode: 278
Who: Gabby Wallace
Blog / Website: Gabby

Struggling to get people to subscribe to your YouTube channel?

Looking to branch out into video content?

Listen to This Episode

In this interview, I’m on the line with Gabby Wallace from, a blog dedicated to helping people learn English. She’s a TEDx speaker and entrepreneur who combined her years of classroom teaching experience with the power of YouTube video marketing to build her business. Her first YouTube channel for English language learners has over 200,000 subscribers and 10 million views. She has been featured in Yahoo! Travel for running her business while traveling the world and on several top podcasts for entrepreneurs. Video is a powerful medium, and YouTube is still a great way to get exposure, so Gabby is here today to talk about building your audience on YouTube.

Gabby’s Story

How to build an Audience on YouTube - with Gabby Wallace
How to build an Audience on YouTube – with Gabby Wallace

Back in 2011, Gabby was teaching English over in Japan. She had some free time during her work day, and she wanted to find creative ways of helping her students. She came up with the idea of video tutorials to answer their recurring questions.

Her students were mostly adult businessmen who wanted to learn English for business purposes. She found that different groups of students were asking a lot of similar questions. The videos were a solution because they were reusable and repeatable. They saved her a lot of time.

Gabby wasn’t thinking about the videos as a business opportunity. She was learning as she went, and she was absolutely terrified to see herself on camera at first! She was really out of her comfort zone. So how did she get over that fear? She just pushed herself to keep going. She felt that YouTube could provide a lot of opportunities for her, and so she kept at it until she started to feel more comfortable.

Does she still get nervous? No way. Now she feels totally comfortable in front of the camera.

Also keep in mind that your viewers are more interested in your content than in how you look on camera. Gabby’s most popular video, with about two million views, is obviously providing her audience with a lot of value. But she hates her hair in it and she thinks she looks awkward.

Gabby in Japan. Source:
Gabby in Japan. Source:

Content is king. You can provide great value even if you haven’t got perfect camera technique yet! There’s no such thing as a perfect video, but the more you work at it, the better you’ll get.

After a few months of making videos for her students, they started to get a little more traction, a few more views. At the point where the videos were getting hundreds of views, she knew that the audience couldn’t be just her students, friends, and family.

About six months in, Gabby started getting messages through YouTube asking if she was available to do online tutoring. People loved her videos so much that they wanted one-on-one coaching from her. This was the start of monetizing her YouTube channel.

Gabby initially thought that tutoring would be the core of her business. Once she crunched the numbers, however, she realized that there weren’t enough hours in the day to make tutoring truly profitable for her. In addition, she was more excited about creating content that could reach more people than one-on-one tutoring could. She also wanted more control over her time.

Let’s Talk YouTube

Think about what’s right in front of you
Think about what’s right in front of you

If you want to add YouTube content to your business, Gabby says to think about what’s right in front of you when you’re looking for content. What questions are getting repeated over and over? Which areas do people consistently need help in?

Remember that YouTube is ideal for short content. Videos should be no more than five minutes long. Focus on quick takeaway points.

You can have a variety of different kinds of content, too. Gabby says that her early videos ranged from answers to very general questions like how to seem more confident to really specific things like the difference between past tense and past perfect tense.

To keep things simple at first, Gabby didn’t attempt a specific progression or course structure. She took inspiration from what was in front of her in the classroom on a daily basis.

Technical Stuff

You don’t need fancy equipment to get started. Gabby started off using her smartphone, then she bought a fancy camera and lens, but eventually she just went back to using her phone. Why? Her iPhone 6S is way easier to travel with than a fancy camera. Plus, it auto-focuses, so you can work more easily on your own. With her camera, Gabby found that she had to re-record a lot of videos because they were out of focus.

Creating Your Own Video
Creating Your Own Video

You also don’t need to buy lighting equipment. Natural light is the best. Gabby just recently bought herself some LED lights, but finding a shaded area outside with great natural light is really all you need when you’re just starting out.

If you’re going to invest in any equipment, get a good microphone. When you’re just starting, even this isn’t really necessary. People expect and accept a lower sound quality on YouTube than they would on, say, a podcast. But once you’ve built up a little money, it’s worth investing in a good microphone. Gabby is using a RODE smartLav, which cost her about $80.

What’s more important than your technical equipment is your content, your consistency, and your ability to listen to your audience.

That said, you’ll know it’s time to update your equipment when you’ve outgrown what you have. If the stuff you’re using is holding you back, and you can’t do the things you want to do because your equipment isn’t capable of it, it’s time to upgrade.

Gabby says it’s a good idea to reinvest money that you earn from side jobs like tutoring or consulting into equipment purchases to avoid building up credit card debt.

Building an Audience

YouTube Channel Stats
YouTube Channel Stats

Gabby has 200,000 subscribers, so she must be doing something right! How does she do it? She had two big tips:

1. Make it easy on yourself.

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. If you’re already blogging, you can repurpose some of your blog content as YouTube videos. Just record yourself talking through some of the highlights from each of your posts. Gabby has a new strategy that she’s been trying out: she takes new blog content and does a weekly Facebook Live post, then uploads that video to YouTube.

2. Make it easy on your viewers.

Tell them what you’ll be talking about at the start of the video. It’s important to bring LOTS of energy to your videos. You actually need to have more energy on video than you do in real life, even if you’re normally a very upbeat person. Smile, laugh, use hand gestures. Pull them in.

You should also link your videos to each other. Make it easy for viewers to consume more of your content. If you have a video that does really well or goes viral, put a link in it to a less successful (but still great!) video to balance out your views. You can also create a sequence of videos.

This is important because you want to create loyal viewers on your channel. You can’t rely on YouTube’s suggestions at the end of the video to lead people to your content. You’ve got to be sending people there yourself. The more people view your content, the more YouTube boosts you when people search for content like yours.

What else can you do to get more support from YouTube? View time is really important. The average view time on YouTube is 2.5 minutes. That’s actually a lot of time. But it also means that your videos should be no more than 5 minutes long. Keep them bite-sized.

You can also make use of the titles and descriptions. These are how people search for you, so think about what people will be looking for and mimic their language. Gabby’s audience are looking for videos on how to speak English, so those words should be in her titles and descriptions.

Building Subscribers

How do you turn your audience from viewers into subscribers? You just have to ask them.

In every single video, ask your viewers to subscribe and say why it’s important for them to do so. And then remind them on a regular basis. Put the subscriber link in the video itself and in the description. Use your subscriber list from your blog to encourage people to subscribe to your YouTube channel.

Links in Video Description
Links in Video Description

Gabby includes a call to action at the beginning AND end of her videos. It just takes two seconds at the start to say, “Hey, you can subscribe to my channel by clicking here. Now let’s get on to what we’re going to talk about…” Then at the end of the video, she can say, “If you enjoyed this video, remember to subscribe by clicking here.” Why does she do it this way? It works. It might feel awkward at first, but she really has gotten more subscribers this way.

Calls to Action mentioned at the beginning and end of video.
Calls to Action mentioned at the beginning and end of video.

You’ve also got to make use of social media to promote your videos. It’s not enough just to uploads to YouTube every week. Your videos will get lost in the thousands and thousands of videos uploaded every day. So do a little heavy lifting on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and email. You have to push it out there (but not in a spammy way!).

Make sure you think about where you want your audience to end up, too. If you want to drive traffic to your blog, embed your video into a blog post and then share it that way. If you just want to build your YouTube channel, send them to YouTube.

Monetizing on YouTube

Gabby has three main revenue streams from her YouTube channel: sponsorship, YouTube ads, and online courses for English learners.

How do people get to her courses? Gabby takes it slow. People don’t go to YouTube looking to buy something. It isn’t Amazon. So you’ve got to appreciate that they’re there to be entertained, or maybe to learn something for free.

From YouTube, Gabby invites people to her website to sign up for free training. To get the free training, they have to sign up to her email list. Once they’re on the list, she can put her courses in front of them.

Invite Your Viewers to Sign Up for Your Free Course
Invite Your Viewers to Sign Up for Your Free Course

What’s Next?

Gabby is putting together a new YouTube training course designed to help you get the most out of YouTube. Keep an eye on her website for details coming soon!

Resources Mentioned:


How to build an Audience on YouTube
How to build an Audience on YouTube
  1. It’s unfortunate that videos are best left at 5 minutes or less, and yet YouTube rewards you if you make your videos at least 10 minutes long. It’s only resulted in a bunch of overly long videos!

    Ah well, great interview Leslie. I’m certainly feeling a bit more inspired when it comes to finally creating some nice video content – I just gotta work up the courage to put my mug on film 😉

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