5Qs with…Matt Gielen, Director of Programming & Audience Development at Frederator Studios

/ Jun 30, 2014


After scouring the YouTube videos of platform successes like Michelle Phan, Shay Carl, and Hannah Hart, Matt Gielen, the director of audience development at Frederator Studios, used what he learned to pen the ebook, “The Ten YouTube Commandments.” The book includes all of the tried and true practices of YouTube’s big names, plus information Gielen himself has learned in his time at Frederator and beyond.

Gielen has worked as the director of programming and audience development at Frederator since October 2012. Before that, Gielen held a similar position at Driver Digital, a multi-platform entertainment company that focuses on the women and children demographic.

Now, at Frederator, Gielen has gained success for the YouTube channel Cartoon Hangover, which reached 1 million subscribers in a single year.  He also works to attract audiences to Channel Frederator, altogether claiming responsibility for over 350 animation channels. Some of the bigger channels, like Simon’s Cat, FilmCow, and Sam Green Media, have a closer relationship with Gielen, who helps increase viewership for them directly.

Following the mid June publication of “Then Ten Commandments of YouTube,” VideoInk caught up with Gielen to see if he would spill some of his secrets regarding the ebook and the digital video platform. This is what he revealed:

Gaining 1 million subscribers after just over one year is a big deal for a YouTube channel. What were some of the major contributing factors behind Cartoon Hangover’s internet success?

The biggest contributing factor is definitely the content. We have some really great series in “Bravest Warriors,” “Bee & PuppyCat,” and our shorts package, which includes “Doctor Lollypop,” “Our New Electrical Morals,” “Rocket Dog,” “Dead End” and more. Outside of that we have a really outstanding programming team that does a great job crafting our packaging (titles, thumbnails, bumpers, end cards, trailers, etc.) and our Adwords & TrueView specialists are the best in the industry.

What prompted you/Frederator to release an ebook on YouTube tips?

Frederator has always led in helping talented creators realize their dreams of producing imaginative content without having to worry about fitting a specific, expected mold.  For example, Frederator collaborated with Pen Ward to create “Adventure Time,” helped build huge channels such as Barely Political and VSauce at Next New Networks and most recently with Frederator Networks, where we have and are building the #1 network for animators. We want to work with awesome creators and if this ebook can help surface more awesome talent, that’s a win for everyone.

How do go about building an audience for an animation-based channel vs. ones that showcase actors/actresses and vloggers who appear in person?

The underlying principles of programming apply to all content, whether it’s animation or live action. That doesn’t mean that the actual mechanics are the same. For example, when we launched Cartoon Hangover, we realized very quickly that we would need a live action show to better communicate with the audience and because animation takes an incredibly long time to create. This led us to develop “Hungover With Cade,” a live action show featuring Cade Hiser. That being said, it’s incredibly more difficult and complicated to build an audience for a narrative show in comparison to a non-fiction show like a vlog. This is in large part due to the nature of YouTube where it functions very much like a blog, the viewing experience is more “lean-in” as opposed to “lean back” and the audience is not conditioned to narrative content.

Of all the methods you cover in your ebook for attaining success on YouTube, is there any one that sticks out as particularly crucial—like the one ingredient that’s absolutely necessary for success?

Commandment #1, Make Awesome Content, is far and above the most important. It’s impossible to build an audience on content that the audience doesn’t like. The hardest part about this commandment, though, is it really takes a lot of humility and honesty for a person to know if they are not getting the views or subscribers they want because their content is just not that great.

Your book offers advice on gaining fans/millions of subscribers on YouTube. Who exactly do you hope to inspire with your book? Any lonely 16-year-old who dreams of YouTube fame and a following, or only creators with a very particular vision and skill set?

Anyone and everyone. I am first and foremost a huge fan of online video and YouTube in particular. I love seeing creators be able to reach millions of fans, realize their dreams and build their business. My boss, Fred Seibert, often says that he’s a “professional fan”, and I think that same ethos is prevalent throughout our entire organization. It’s an awesome environment to work in.

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