Marija runs a YouTube channel called ‘Deutsch mit Marija’ and has built an audience of 220,000 subscribers over the last four years. Together with her team, she helps German learners from all over the world to pass their exams and offers a variety of German courses. This means that ‘Deutsch mit Marija’ is much more than a YouTube channel. Rather, it’s an online language school! In this interview you will learn: – Why and how Marija got started on YouTube – The keys to building a big YouTube channel – Tricks to be better on camera – How the underlying teaching business works – How to hire people and build a team
From school teacher to YouTube teacher
Marija used to work as a German teacher at a language school. As someone who’s creative, she always felt that the school at which she was teaching was limiting her creativity. Her boss didn’t like the idea of teaching German through music by Rammstein (a German heavy metal band), for example. That’s why she decided to start a YouTube channel and teach her own way. She first launched a YouTube channel called ‘’Sprachen lernen mit Marija’’. The idea was to teach German speakers how to learn many languages. Marija speaks five languages herself and thought that there would be a big demand. For some reason, the channel didn’t take off. However, she noticed that the people who were commenting on her videos were asking for more videos about German grammar. She started making more videos about learning German in particular and they were very well received. She then changed the channel name to ‘Deutsch mit Marija’ and it began to take off.
‘’You can’t plan to become successful on YouTube. Instead, start with ten videos, read the comments and see what kind of audience you attract and adjust your content based on what people ask for’’
Building Deutsch mit Marija
After Marija decided to niche down and only teach German, she went all in. She read the book ‘’The Thank You Economy’’ by Gary Vaynerchuk, from which she learned that first you need to give away a lot of content for free before you can even start thinking about selling something. That’s something that most people don’t understand or simply are not willing to do.
‘’YouTube rewards patient and passionate content creators’’
Passion is the key
According to Marija, it’s crucial to create content around topics that you are passionate about. She says that instead of asking yourself, “what might work on YouTube?”, you should ask yourself what you’re passionate about. That’s the only way to build a business you can be proud of in the long run.
‘’There is space for any topic that you can imagine. You just have to believe in your message and you have to be passionate about what you do; only then will you attract a loyal audience’’
Deutsch mit Marija on YouTube anno 2020
Don’t fear competition
It’s important to keep in mind that YouTube is not about competing with other channels. Instead, look at what other winning YouTubers in your industry are doing and learn from them. Also, cooperate with each other and share your audiences. If people like you for your personality, they’re going to watch your videos no matter what, so don’t worry about the ‘’competition’’.
‘’YouTubers who create ‘dry’ content will never be as successful as people who are passionate about what they do and who are personal. It’s all about being authentic’’
‘’As soon as you start creating content about something you’re really interested in, you automatically become more authentic’’
How to be better in front of the camera
Marija ran a workshop for university students about creating an educational video. She asked them to create a video on any topic that they wanted. At first, the people had no idea what to say or what style to use. Then Marija said: ‘’Imagine that you have already created hundreds of videos and that you have one million subscribers’’.
The results were amazing. Now that the students were imagining that they already had a big audience, they were much more natural and authentic on camera. They also, all of a sudden, were no longer terrified to record themselves.
It’s all about acting like the person you want to become.
‘’If you feel like a loser, you will never be a winner’’
Marija’s followers on YouTube kept asking her things like how to write essays to pass their C1 exam in German. She noticed that there was a lack of good content for people who want to pass high-level exams for German, so she created her own course. That was when the business really took off. The courses that she offers today were all created based on the requests that people made. Her followers buy her courses, which range from 100 EUR all the way up to 1400 EUR. That demonstrates the power of having a YouTube channel with a loyal following.
Building a team
Marija has a team of 15 to 20 people that includes German teachers and people who help check students’ essays and other assignments. Working with a team is crucial if you want to scale your business. Unfortunately, many people are afraid to delegate because they will lose complete control of the business. The key is to hire people who are better at certain tasks than you, and let them take care of those tasks.
How to find team members?
There are several things that Marija has tried in the past when it comes to hiring teachers. She found that looking for teachers in Facebook groups wasn’t very useful. Traditional teachers are often not flexible enough for her business. That’s why she often prefers working with native speakers who are not necessarily teachers. The most important thing is their willingness to help her clients, she says. They have to be interested in people because a happy customer is one who walks away and tells all their friends about your course.
Marija’s final tips:
‘’Be happy to make mistakes in the beginning; they can save your tons of money in the long run’’
Marija also is a big fan of learning from the best:
‘’Surround yourself with people who are good at what you want to be good at’’