Starting an Education Revolution with YouTube - Hugo Lau, founder of Study Smarter Academy

Starting an Education Revolution with YouTube - Hugo Lau, founder of Study Smarter Academy

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Tell us a bit about yourself, what's your background?

My name is Hugo, I am a study performance coach, a doctor and an ex-pharmacist currently working in New Zealand. I currently run Study Smarter Academy where we strive to the be world's leading study performance coaching program - helping high school and university students get excellent grades in less time without the stress. We have reached over 6,500,000 students worldwide over social media last year, over 100,000 students from 30+ countries attended our free educational webinar with thousands of students' lives transformed on a daily basis. Our schools and education system failed to teach us how to learn properly and never prepared us for real life.

So it is my life's mission to start an "education revolution" - guiding more teenagers and young professionals to gain useful real-life skills and become empowered to seek mastery in health, wealth and emotional intelligence. The goal is to provide the younger generation with the mindset and framework to succeed in whatever area of life they wish to choose excel in and live an amazingly fulfilled life.

Why did you set up a YouTube channel? What motivated you to get started?

I always wanted to have a channel to share the important lessons I have learnt so far in my studies and life in general. The main purpose was to share the mistakes that I have made myself so others don't have to venture down the convoluted road to success.

My students' successes is the number one driving factor for my daily motivation. Like one of my students Toby who was struggling with his high school studies, studying 8-10 hours every day. With our carefully engineered Complete Study System, accountability program and personal guidance along the way, he completely transformed his way of studying - getting excellent grades and regaining his free time, social life and sleep time.

This amazing transformation would never happen without the trust built through many points of contact before he signed up to our program. As I started with zero followers, I have relied solely on paid advertisement at this point to reach all of my students so far. There is unfortunately a lot of scams and bad courses out there so understandably the skepticism on the internet is high. We strive to give the best value upfront but most students often remain doubtful - and it is definitely their right to be so! I see YouTube as a powerful platform to build rapport and trust with my future students. Most of my target audience spends heaps of time there and I have regretted not starting this 10 years ago documenting my whole journey.

Like a wise man once said - the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. From the lessons from PTYA, I can say I now have learned the proper way to water and nurture this tiny bean sprout of mine!

Tell us about your journey on the platform so far.

I started off on Youtube with zero guidance, I treated it as a place where I could place my regular live tutorials that I do within my Study Smarter Community Facebook Group. At the time, this was my primary "value-add" channel. I never put much thought into my YouTube strategy and just posted these videos on Youtube. With hindsight, this was a big waste of time because without a proper Youtube strategy, my videos were not gaining any views at all. My goal of "posting these onto Youtube to help more students" never worked.

Since joining PTYA, I gained tremendous insight about the Youtube platform. It all suddenly made sense! If you don't have a way to make yourself visible and get your video watched, there is no way that other people are benefitting from what you have to share. Following the teachings from PTYA, I had a solid content strategy and developed a consistent system. Instead of posting once in a while, spending hours on end on video editing, PTYA gave me a complete workflow so now I am sustainably putting out content weekly and have a system to reliably outsource the video editing so I can return to doing what I love - actually teaching and creating content!

It took me 12 months to grow to 500 subscribers. The path was gruelling, full of uncertainty and there were barely any views on my videos. Now after applying the system taught in PTYA, my channel grew by 200% in 3 months - the results speak for themselves. You can really see the graph taking off even though I feel like I am still doing a lot of things wrong despite these results!

What's been key to your growth?

The key to my growth has been down to two main things.

First is consistency. Regular weekly content has primed my current subscribers to come back and expect new content each week. It also forced me to actively review what worked and what didn't work over the past few weeks to constantly focus on aspects that my audience cares about. From PTYA, I understood the power of consistency.

As the wise Ali keeps on telling us:

"Making 1 video a month is better than 0 a month."

"Making 1 video a month is better than 0 a month."

"Making 1 good video a week is better than 1 average video a week."

Again, balancing between quantity vs quality is another big topic but being consistent has definitely contributed significantly towards my accelerated growth!

The second main thing is focusing on what drives attention. This only came to light after I took the PTYA course, making me realise that no one will hear your message if they were never enticed to click on your video. This means that I need to work hard on a title and thumbnail combination that is attractive yet delivers the value that it promises. It is always a delicate balance between lending towards clickbait versus an unattractive title with no clicks!

What are the key insights you've discovered since starting?

  1. Youtube is a long term game. the most insightful piece of information was the average videos needed to get to certain milestones. It really puts into perspective that it doesn't matter that our last video didn't do well in terms of views and subscribers gained. It is the compounded efforts and the act of showing up consistently that counts.
  2. Having a system is key. As we know in point 1 that Youtube is a long term game, we need to treat this as a marathon and have a sustainable system. There is no point spending 200 hours editing one video then get burnt out and not produce another video for another 6 months. There is also no point posting 5 videos in a day then burnout and stop posting for 3 months. It is the process of developing a system that can let you sustainably post 1-3 good videos per week - that is the key to "winning" the YouTube game. Also, the most important point as Ali says is also to enjoy the process along the way. This makes this marathon much more fun and enjoyable as we help people as a by-product 🙂

What are the biggest challenges you've faced?

The biggest challenge so far is overcoming the "bottlenecks" of producing content and posting on YouTube.

At any step of the process there is always a bottleneck but PTYA gave me the tools and methods to practically tackle each step along the way. Like what Ali said about the first hurdle being video editing - this is very time consuming indeed. I remember my first video took me nearly one month to edit because I didn't know how to use the program and I kept procrastinating because it wasn't "perfect".

Once I learned how to reliably outsource the video editing process, the next bottleneck for me was the content generation. I felt like I ran out of ideas all of the time, and I no longer have any creative juices left in the tank. Through PTYAs' content generation machine and using techniques like the songbird technique or coal mining method. This unlocked another whole new level of video idea generation - basically never running out of content ideas.

This then naturally leads on to the next bottleneck that I am struggling with right now - which is developing these ideas and find out how to prioritise "the best" videos to produce next. I see the process of developing a sustainable system to tackle these bottlenecks as a fun game and there is always a bigger challenge waiting for me around the corner! Everyone has the same 24 hours a day and for me, I find YouTube a fun way to apply the Parkinson's Law and squeeze more productivity out of me to ensure I add value to my audience on a consistent basis.

Have you experienced any second order effects from starting your channel?

Most definitely!

The main aim of my channel is to build better rapport with my future Study Smarter Academy students. I found that posting regularly is currently having massive positive effects on my business. My students who show up for our free study strategy session are much more engaged. This is because they have already consumed a lot of our material which makes it easier to help them with their study mindset and methods. This saves us time and we can deliver the desired transformation in less time as we don't have to start from ground zero teaching them the basics!

I have also noticed a significant increase in the amount of "organic" sales from Youtube that required no ads at all. Many students told us that the Youtube videos added a lot of value to their studies so they decided to join our course. This then in turn motivates me to produce more videos as I know that my time put in to produce these videos are valued by my students and this positive loop continues. This makes the process fun and more effortless as the journey is enjoyable!

By starting this channel and pursuing YouTube more seriously, this lead me to join PTYA. This subsequently gave me the opportunity to connect with Ali personally and we are honoured that he has reviewed our course and he decided that he would go into a trusted partnership with Study Smarter Academy. Together, we will be able to provide tailored help to students in need and deliver amazing transformations together. I am really excited about this and it would never have happened if I never started my YouTube channel!

What are your goals for the future? How have your goals changed?

Regarding YouTube - The next goal would be to reach the 100,000 subscriber mark. According to the "average" amount of videos required, it may take me 1-2 years to get to this point. At the moment I am really enjoying the journey and overcoming the challenge of producing consistent and good quality videos that can add value towards my future students.

My goals for YouTube have substantially changed. Before joining PTYA, I treated YouTube as "just another platform" to dump content on and hope someone will benefit from it. But after having more insight of the YouTube platform and taking YouTube more seriously, I wish to set the a realistic yet challenging goal to reach the 100K mark within 2 years of joining PTYA (June of 2023 here I come!).

Regarding Study Smarter Academy, we wish to continue to expand our enrolled students. We had over 1000 students from 30+ countries join in our first year of business. We now have support systems in place to accommodate 10,000+ students and be able to deliver the same transformations. It is now my duty to put this program in the hands of more students using a wide range of tools including paid advertisement, YouTube value-adding and other organic social media marketing.

Getting students to study more efficiently to get excellent grades AND regain their free time is only the first step of the grand master plan. The next step is to "entice" my students to use their newly freed up time to start their own personal development. In turn, they will develop the mindset and skills required to achieve financial freedom, build better relationships, increase their emotional intelligence and ultimately live an amazingly fulfilled life! I am having goosebumps as I am writing this down because I share the thrill and joy of pursuing a better version of ourselves every single day. The even more amazing part is being able to see tangible results through the "blood and sweat" of compounding small daily efforts over time.

My wife and I have been pursuing F.I.R.E (Financial Independence, Retire Early) since almost 10 years ago. Each year I am honoured to be invited to give a talk at my medical school to share updates and lessons we learnt about personal finance, business, stocks and our $10,000,000 property portfolio. The goal is to raise the financial literacy of my colleagues so they could develop sound financial decisions and not fall into some unhelpful conventional wisdom or some big institutional money traps! We all have a bit of fun together to talk about this "tabooed" subject and have an open conversation about money. Money cannot buy everything but it certainly gives us a lot more freedom and choices in life. Much like my wife who achieved financial independence at age 32. She quit her job as an accountant because this was the cool F.I.R.E thing to do. 1 year later, she realised she really enjoyed her job as an accountant and decided to return to her day job. Except this time she is able to work on her own terms, start and finish work when she wants to, pick the ideal clients she wants to help and take a day off whenever she feels like she needs to recharge.

I did the same myself, I quit my job as a doctor and decided to do nothing much for 6 months. It didn't take me long until I realised life isn't about just sipping cocktails at a beach - I realised my brain was slowly rotting away because I wasn't using it to the best of its ability. That's when I decided to return to my full time job as a doctor, start Study Smarter Academy and continue all my investment projects. The moment I returned to the full swing of it, I felt the "grind" again but this time it's filled with joyful challenges that gave meaning to my life. As a healthy by-product I was able to help lots of patients as a doctor and countless students as a study coach. Being able to live a fulfilled life every day and being able to help others succeed is a great way of life and my goal is to inspire as many students to pursue this as they see fit 😇

One piece of advice for YouTubers just starting out?

There is one quote that Ali kept on drilling into us during PTYA

"Post a video 1-2 times per week for 2 years and you will change your life"

This struck me deeply as I have already seen the difference I have made just posting for 3 months consecutively.

The goal of achieving 10K, 100K and 1 million subscribers might be daunting.

These are indeed all just "vanity" metrics.

The most important thing is actually enjoying the journey and the by-products of making these videos

  • How much have you learnt and grown by posting these videos?
  • If you have made even just 1 person's life 1% better, isn't this already amazing?
  • If you have the opportunity to better yourself AND help other people, isn't this a great gig to have?

So the one piece of advice is to just start.

Just focus on the 1% improvements you can make to yourself, your mindset and your systems. If you just focus on taking care of your current daily habits, you will be able to achieve success in whatever area of life you wish to excel at and live an amazingly fulfilled life.

Where can we go to learn more about you?

If you are a student or young professional - make sure to follow my YouTube Channel for some quality study tips and useful skills that school forgot to teach us.

We also have a free online course at Study Smarter Academy to help you improve your study efficiency so you can Study Smarter, NOT Harder - get those excellent grades and regain your free time!

If you want to chat with me or one of my team members 1 on 1, make sure to book a time with us on our free study strategy session so we can help you address your study problems and tailor a plan of attack for you.

How did PTYA help you?

PTYA has indeed helped me tremendously as I have littered the significant changes to my own life throughout this post.

I have become a better version of myself.

I have been challenged to step out of my comfort zone and each time I end up doing this, I always feel grateful to choose discomfort over remaining stagnant.

Make sure to join the executive package if you can afford it because the support and insights you gain will give you more than 10x of your investment.


📚 Learn How To Grow Your YouTube Channel

If just like our almunus, you'd like to make YouTube your side business (or even a main gig) Part-Time YouTuber Academy is the best place to do it.

It's a 6-week cohort course where I and other professional creators teach you the tactics that got me from 0 to 2.2 million subscribers while doing YouTube part-time.

If that sounds like something you’d like to spend your next 6 weeks on, come and join us at Part-Time YouTuber Academy

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