Today we’re talking to Paul Jorgensen, founder, and creator of Langfocus, a YouTube Channel with over one million subscribers.
Langfocus isn’t about just one language. It’s not a polyglot channel either. Instead, Langfocus videos are about the history, culture, spread, and linguistics of the world’s many languages.
In this interview, you’ll learn:
How and why he began Langfocus
How much work it takes to make a documentary-style video
Valuable lessons YouTube lessons learned
Paul’s number one YouTube fear
How to deal with haters
Monetising with Patreon
The importance of building your email list
Paul’s Tips for Langpreneurs
A background in linguistics
Originally from Canada, Paul’s been interested in languages and linguistics ever since he started his first degree where he majored in English and Linguistics.
At the time, it seemed like an excellent choice for someone who intended to finance his overseas travel by teaching English as he went. But, more than that, linguistics and the study of what makes a language became Paul’s passion.
Starting Langfocus on YouTube
Paul travelled in the Middle East, which gave him the chance to practise his Hebrew and Arabic but eventually, he settled in Japan and began to teach English as planned.
That turned out to be fun, but frustrating and left Paul looking for alternative ways to add to his income. He dabbled in creating micro-niche websites but soon realised how much work it takes to maintain even the most passive of sites. So he decided to combine his real passions — language, linguistics and education — in Langfocus.
“If you’re making a business about something you’re not really in love with you’re just going to give up every time it gets difficult.”
Videos take a lot of work
It took a while for Paul to find a point of difference for Langfocus. But that individual style developed as he began to make documentary videos, delving into the history and structure of different languages.
When you see Paul’s videos, it’s evident that a ton of work has gone into them. From graphics to research to the presentation, everything is detailed and meticulous.
Each video takes a deep dive into a particular language, and Paul spends three or four weeks — and hundreds of hours — researching and perfecting each one.
But, Langpreneurs can take heart, because Paul readily admits that you don’t have to make perfect videos to have a successful YouTube channel.
Lessons Learned on YouTube
Get over the fear and get started
Paul says that perfectionism holds many would-be creators from even getting started on YouTube. That’s a trap he avoided thanks to reading “The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon” by Brad Stone.
“The idea is that you put out a product as soon as you have the most basic product you can put out and don’t worry about it being perfect. Then you create a new version and a new version and a new version and get feedback about each version so you can put out a better version each time.
View your progress with pride
Creators often look back at their early work and cringe. But, when you look through the lens of iterations, you see them as a progression. Without taking those first, tentative steps, you won’t develop a channel to be proud of.
Have blind faith and stick with it
Many creators give up early on because new channels get very little attention at first. You need to know that your first videos won’t get many comments.
Paul’s attitude is this:
“If I can get one comment, I can get 1000. I just need more people to see it, I need to do more of the same. If I can make $1 this month from Adsense revenue I can make $1000. I just need to get more attention to it.”
It would have been easy for Paul to get discouraged. After six months he only had about 50 subscribers. But, blind faith that he would eventually succeed kept him going. Now, five years later, Langfocus has a million subscribers and a hard-core base of fans.
Subscribers vs Engagement
Paul accepts that he spends far too long making each video. The process doesn’t work in his favour when it comes to capturing engagement from his audience because he can only post a new video every few weeks.
It means that often the channel doesn’t get as many views as those who put out new content several times a week. A large number of views is essential if you’re relying on Adsense as a revenue source.
Paul’s number one YouTube fear
In a word; criticism. People love to point out imperfections in videos, so he spends many hours trying to weed out even the slightest flaw. Despite that care, inevitably, something will touch a nerve for some viewers, and they’ll leave negative comments. Negativity comes with the territory when you own a YouTube channel.
How to deal with haters
Negative comments are one thing; haters are another. Haters tend to attack you personally, commenting on your appearance or your delivery style.
For Paul, the ones that hurt the most are accusations that he hasn’t researched the topic and doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
He has some tips for dealing with hateful comments.
“If you ignore the comment it will disappear, it will just get lost in the mix. If you respond to them, it gets worse because then there’s more attention on your comment. It rises to the top; more people will notice it. If you just ignore it then it tends to go away.”
Keep your perspective real.
Your inner circle; your family and friends are the ones whose opinions matter. Everyone else is outside and doesn’t matter so much.
Remember that social media is not the real world.
He may have a significant presence online, but Paul says he is rarely recognised when he goes out and about in Japan. It reinforces the fact that most people on social media are more concerned with themselves than with others.
Those Twitter comments might seem like everyone’s out to get you, but in the real world, they don’t matter at all.
Monetising with Patreon
Many people understand that you can make money on YouTube by having advertisements on each video. They also know that YouTubers can be paid for recommending certain products — otherwise known as affiliate marketing.
Paul has both streams of income on Langfocus, but he also uses Patreon to give his superfans another way to support him even though he doesn’t yet have any products to sell.
Patreon allows subscribers to pay a few dollars a month to the creators of their choice. Paul currently has about 500 supporters and says he could have many more if he offered bonus Patreon-exclusive content.
Langfocus Patreon supporters can pay $1, $2, $5 or $20+ per month. The larger supporters have their names featured at the end of each video, while anyone paying $5 or more can also join a private, Langfocus forum.
Connect with fans by building an email list
Paul offers a free, downloadable video course with vocabulary-building tips as an incentive to subscribe to his email list.
He also asks new subscribers what language interests them most. That simple answer gives him plenty of data which lets him target affiliate offers to specific groups on the list.
And, when it comes to building his products, Paul heads to his list for inspiration. Simply asking a focused question like, “what frustrates you most about language learning?” has given him plenty of ideas for future courses.
Paul’s biggest tip for Langpreneurs
Get started and keep going.
Ignore that initial lack of engagement, and conversely, don’t chill out after you’ve had a big success. Just keep going, and after a while, things will start to snowball.
“The main thing about building a successful channel is to be consistent and never stop. Make a video every week if you can. Make one video, start the next one. Make it part of your routine, a thing you do and don’t stop.”
Get a FREE copy of our quick guide:
’7 Mistakes that will Kill your Language Business and How to Avoid Them’