How it feels to reach 3M subscribers

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Hey friends,

The channel hit 3M subscribers a few days ago. I got a few messages from friends and the team saying congratulations. Someone asked how it feels. And it feels like nothing.

Not because I knew it was coming - YouTube analytics makes that obvious. But because I’ve tried my best over the years to innoculate myself against caring about numbers.

Don’t get me wrong - I super appreciate every one of the 3M subscribers and 4-7M viewers each month. It’s incredible that so many people seem to want to listen to the random shit that spews out of my mouth on video.

But I’ve found that the less I actually care about numbers, the happier I seem to be. The more I focus on the journey, and less on the destination, the more fun I have doing this thing I love.

There’s another part of it too - looking at numbers makes comparisons way too easy. Yes, I’m on 3M subscribers, but MrWhosTheBoss is on 10M. Yes, I’m on 3M but Jack Edwards just hit 1M, and he's often getting more views per video than I am. Am I fading into irrelevancy? Will I become one of those has-beens who have millions of subscribers but tiny views on their videos? Would my business crumble around me when that happens?

It probably seems absurd to you that I’d be worrying about that stuff. As my friend Paul Millerd recently wrote about me, “He’s killing it by all traditional metrics”.

It’s very kind of Paul to say, but metrics are a double-edged sword. While the audience looks at the numbers are thinks “whoah”, the creator looks at the trend. Half the time we think “phew, we’re still going up”. But the other half of the time, we think “oh shit, the trend line is sloping downwards, the numbers are grey or red, am I becoming irrelevant, will I lose everything and end up broke and homeless and alone?”

This is my complicated relationship with numbers. Having been in this game for 5 years now, I’ve tried my best to dissociate my self-worth from the numbers. That’s helped me care less about putting out videos that don’t perform well. But it’s also helped me not believe my own hype, and shrug when the numbers are high, or hit a milestone.

Maybe there’s a healthier way of dealing with this. Maybe there’s a way to genuinely feel joy and gratitude as the numbers go up, and simultaneously not feel deep sadness when they go down. If there is, I haven’t figured it out yet.

Anyone got any ideas? Please hit the <reply> button and let me know - I read every email, although sadly I can only reply to a few 😢

Anyway, have a great week!

Ali xx

📸 AppSumo + My New Course

My friends at AppSumo (who are kindly sponsoring this newsletter) have just released a YouTube Starter Pack with some very cool tools for starting your own channel. 🥳 Including my new course YouTube For Beginners - How to Start & Grow Your YouTube Channel, which covers video scripting, cameras and lights, and how to speak confidently to camera.

The course is normally $500, but AppSumo have it on sale for just $149. Their starter pack also includes things like Noah Kagan’s YouTube growth hackings ebook, and a telepromoter app from BigVu. Check it out here. The first 100 people to use the code ALIABDAAL20 get 20% off 😉

♥️ My Favourite Things

🎧 Shortform Summary - How to Read a Book, by Mortimer J. Adler And Charles Van Doren. This is the classic guide to reading books quickly. Basically, should get the basic idea of a book within 15 minutes, skim the rest, and then decide if you want to invest 5+ hours into reading the whole thing.

📝 Article - How to Level Up Your Weird Internet Career, by Gretchen McCulloch. A series of articles on how to start and grow your weird internet career. “The cornerstone of a Weird Internet Career is that you a) make a thing on the internet that people value and b) provide a way to convert that value into money.” Super interesting summary of how to build a portfolio career on the internet.

📝 Article - Helsinki Bus Station by Oliver Burkeman. Great article about how to be original. The basic message is that you need to wade through the ‘meh all my work is unoriginal’ phase, before you actually start producing original work. The trick is to just stick it out.

🎬 YouTube Video - Tips for Video Journalists, by Johnny Harris. The ultimate guide to making engaging videos. It's all about leading with visual anchors, and giving context second. I took copious notes while watching, and I'm going to try and do this in our videos as well.

✍️ Quote of the Week

Audacity is key. In a networking context, “audacity” means being bold enough to network with total strangers. If you limit yourself to networking only with people you’re already somewhat familiar with—for example, people who work at your company, or friends of friends—you shut yourself off from the opportunities and insights that strangers can provide.

From the Shortform Summary of Never Eat Alone, by Keith Ferrazzi. Resurfaced using Readwise.


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