Going Viral: Write, Film & Make Content People Share | Matt Bellassai | Skillshare

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Going Viral: Write, Film & Make Content People Share

teacher avatar Matt Bellassai, Comedian, Social Media Influencer

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Let's go!


    • 2.

      What gets shared?


    • 3.

      "Pizza Baiting"


    • 4.

      Writing for the Internet


    • 5.

      "False Identities"


    • 6.

      Developing Voice


    • 7.

      Writing Better Tweets


    • 8.



    • 9.

      Making Viral Video


    • 10.

      DIY Video Tips


    • 11.

      "Amorphous Blobs"


    • 12.

      Headlines, Posting & Promotions


    • 13.



    • 14.

      Before We Go...


    • 15.

      What's Next?


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About This Class

Join writer, comedian & social media star Matt Bellassai to learn how to create hit online content that people read, watch, follow & share!

Matt Bellassai is famous for his irreverent takes on adulthood. Whether you follow his hilarious Twitter feed, watch his weekly Facebook series To Be Honest, or saw him formerly star in Buzzfeed's Whine About It, there's a good chance you've laughed at his jokes.

What goes into creating such hit content that people love to share with their friends?

Get ready to go viral. This 70-minute class is an entertaining look at how to write & make videos that people want to share online—helping you make better content and get bigger reach!

Lessons are packed with frameworks, process advice, examples, and tips, including:

  • Balancing originality and relatability in your work
  • Developing your Internet voice
  • Writing "lists" that reach the right audience for you
  • Tweeting better tweets (and the 2 types you need to balance)
  • Creating successful videos (hint: you need a script)
  • Prompts for getting to your best ideas
  • Secrets to writing effective headlines
  • And much more!

You'll love how seamlessly lessons blend insight, examples, and Matt's signature humor.

This class is for everyone who wants to make a splash online. It's perfect for writers, comedians, aspiring social media personalities, YouTubers, advertisers, content marketers, fans of Matt's humor, and everyone who wants to make content that gets shared.

Whether you're already making content or just getting started, you'll finish the lessons excited and empowered to create better content that's true to you and grows your audience.

Get ready to write, film, and make content that gets loved, liked, and shared!





Images: Matt Bellassai x Skillshare

Meet Your Teacher

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Matt Bellassai

Comedian, Social Media Influencer


Matt Bellassai is an American comedian, writer, and social media star known for his irreverent takes on adulthood. These takes can be seen in his weekly Facebook series To Be Honest and you can also catch him as host of the Unhappy Hour podcast.  He formerly starred in the BuzzFeed web series Whine About It, which attracted 3.5 million weekly viewers and received the 2016 People's Choice Award for Favorite Social Media Star.  He is the author of Everything Is Awful: And Other Observations, a collection of essays and curator of cunning comedic commentary on Twitter. His first Skillshare class is now live!

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1. Let's go!: Hey everyone. I am Matt Bellassai. I am a social media personality. I am a writer. I host a podcast called Unhappy Hour, now I host my own video series called To Be Honest. I guess I am a person of the Internet. Today, I'm going to teach you how to write for the Internet, how to write shareable content. We're going to be talking about the actual process of writing these things, how to employ these tools on platforms like Twitter which is really great for building your voice, how to write specifically for video and creating shareable video. We're also going to get into prompts so that you can actually take what you learn and put it to use, and true to my personal brand, I might be drinking some wine and complaining about the things that really pissed me off on the Internet. This video of a cat saving a turtle is so adorable you'll burst into flames, don't tell people how to feel. This class is for a whole bunch of people. It's for writers, aspiring comedians, aspiring social media personalities, for anybody in branding, advertising, content marketing, and really just for everybody who wants to get at the secret tools of creating for the Internet. So let's do it. Let's get into it. Let's learn how to write for the Internet. 2. What gets shared?: All right. So just to start off I want to talk about what we actually mean when we say Shareable Content. What is Shareable Content? So Shareable Content is something that people not only enjoy, but something that they enjoy enough that they want to pass it along to other people. It's content that gets people to say, "I like this, I like the way it made me feel. I want other people to see it. I want other people to feel this way also." People share content as an expression of themselves. When someone tweets an article or a post, when someone shares a video, when someone shares a picture or a tweet that they like. What they're saying is, "This thing is something I find funny, I want other people to know that I found this funny, I want other people to know that I had this feeling when I shared this thing, or when I experienced it for the first time." In a way you're creating content for other people to use as their own, so right away the kind of key piece of every piece of Shareable Content is that, all Shareable Content strikes a balance between relatabilty on one side and then originality on the other side. It's finding the balance between universality and individuality of a general and specific on the other side. When we say relatability obviously this is the element that gets people to say. "Same, Me too, I agree, I totally feel this." The problem though with veering too far in that direction is that it becomes cliche. Someone I know the other day said that their favorite snack was popcorn and it's like, "Sure. We can all agree, a lot of people's favorite snacks are popcorn that's a relatable thing. That's also not like a totally original thought, also it's wrong popcorn is should it be your favorite snack." What I mean when I say that you need to combine relatability and originality is that, you need to find a way to make observations that millions of people can agree with, but in a new different way, a way that's never been said before. Essentially this is what comedians do all the time, that's what makes great comedy, it's what gets people after a comedian make some funny observation to say, "Oh! My God I've thought that all the time, but I've never quite found the way to say it before." Let's consider one of the hallmarks of Internet viral content which is, animal videos, that's always the cliche when people are talking about Shareable Content on the Internet, or when people want to like degrade content on the Internet, they always say, "Oh it's just cat videos." What cat videos or any animal content on the Internet are actually getting at is a relatability, the reason that people enjoy animal content is not just because it's cute to look at, but because animals can convey a certain relatability that might actually be sad or depressing if you just set it outright. When I was at BuzzFeed for a brief time I was on the animal's masthead as a senior animals editor, that was a real title that I got paid for, and I can't believe it either. I write all of these different posts that would conveys certain human emotions, but through funny animal pictures and funny animal videos. I wrote one post that was, "28 Dogs That Immediately Regret Their Decisions or Cats That Have No Idea What They're Doing With Their Lives." All of the images conveyed a certain relatable human emotion, that if I had just written a list of life decisions that you regret or times that you screwed your life up. That's not original or new that's just telling you the truth which is sad. One of the secrets of the internet is getting people to admit truths about themselves, that they might not feel comfortable admitting. Your packaging that in a way that's fun, and different, and new, so, that they can share it for the sake of the newness and the originality. But they're actually sharing it for the reliability and the truth underneath it. The secret is, package your life traumas in cat videos, that's how you get the internet to share your stuff. Not everybody has a cat that they can make videos out of, or one eye dog that they can exploit for the internet, so we have to find other ways to be relatable, to write things that people can see themselves in. The easiest way to do that, or the best way to do that is through identity, because identity is really the cornerstone of relatability, and really what underlies all Shareable Content, you identify with it in some way. The areas of identity are basically unread, it's all of the things that make you who you are, and you can pick any one of them however big or small that they might be, it doesn't necessarily have to be physical traits but you can start there. That's things like, how tall you are, how short you are, maybe you're a size small, or size 2x. You could talk about hair color, eye color, whether you're left-handed or right-hande d, where you grew up, where you live, what your hobbies are, what TV shows you watch, what foods you like, things that you've done, like gone to Disneyland, on Scuba diving or survived Florida. Talk about time periods, things like when you grew up, life experiences, things like going through a job interview, or being a bridesmaids or planning a wedding. You're creating a community of people who share this identity, so it's really anything that a bunch of people might have in common that you can identify in yourself that other people might also identify in themselves. Then you get real goals when you're able to combine some of these things, so you might write about people who went through puberty in the early 2000s, you're talking about both the time period and life experience. The trick is how do you write out all of these identities and yourself and then find which ones other people might share and identify with also. You can ask yourself "What something that set me apart when I was younger or ask yourself what's something that I am a fan of? If I describe myself to someone else as a fan of x, what would that thing be?" Just those two questions if you're able to find an answer to that, that's a start to finding an identity that other people are going to be able to relate to, and respond to. If you're able to write to that, then people are going to want to share that. Now that we've covered relatability and identity, let's talk about the originality side, the newness side. So where identity is the key to relate ability, the key to originality is having an opinion, having a point of view, you don't have to be tweeting about politics all day, you don't have to be tweeting about Democrats or Republicans. There are so many things to take a side on, you can have fun with that it's like, should there be peas and guacamole? No. Should men be allowed to wear sandals in public? No. Should children under 13 be allowed to fly on airplanes? Absolutely not. These are all things that people have strong opinions about, and you can really stake your opinion have fun. The flip side is that you're just saying a statement that a bunch of people can agree with, and that's not fun nobody wants to share that, that's just a fact about the world otherwise. Having an opinion it shapes your point of view, your personality, it gives people a reason to either agree or disagree, and engage with you in some way, that is all part of the fun of shareable content. Let's talk about some examples of what makes a bad identity post, a good identity post, and then a great identity post. A bad one might say something like, "50 Reasons Why The Pizza Place On Sheffield Is Better Than The Pizza Place On Halstead." That is way too specific there's maybe an audience of 20 people for that, also good luck coming up with 50 reasons for that, if you're able to do that you should be committed because that's insane. A good post might be something like, "50 Things That All People From Chicago Will Understand." That's good and you're getting out an identity, you definitely can put a lot in there that people can relate to, but it's still a little general, a little vague, you're not really taking a side on anything. A great post might be something like, "50 Reasons Deep Dish Pizza Is The Only Type Of Pizza In The World." That is you're getting out an identity, you're getting out a geographical identity, you're getting at a taste that people can share, you're taking a stance on something, that to me is it hits all the boxes of what a great piece of Shareable Content should do. You can already see that the type of people who are going to share that, the kinds of things that they might say when they share it, you're really just checking all of the boxes there, and it's a correct opinion and if you disagree you're crazy. Just to recap everything that we've covered already, Shareable Content is content that people not only enjoy, but that they want to pass along to others. All good Shareable Content has two things going for it, that is relatability and originality. Relatability the biggest tool there is identity, and the biggest tool for originality is having an opinion and having a point of view, and when you combine all of those factors you have the start of a great piece of content. One thing to try after watching this video is to just make a list of 15 different identities, 15 things that you have within you, that you could possibly use as the start a great piece of content. 3. "Pizza Baiting": ourAll right, this brings me to one of my biggest Pet Peeves which is Pizza Baiting. This is when people substitute liking pizza for personality. Everybody likes pizza, if you don't like pizza you're insane. It's not funny or clever or new to say that you like pizza. It is relatable, but you need to balance that, you need to get it in the middle. Whatever you're writing about can't just be relatable, it's got to be original too. So don't talk about liking pizza unless the pizza you like is so different than mainstream pizza but it's actually fun and interesting. 4. Writing for the Internet: All right. So, now that we've identified what it means to be relatable, what it means to be original, and some of the tools to get to each of those things, let's actually get into the process of writing. Now, remember your goal is to try to get people to say, "Oh my God. This is that thing that I always thought but I haven't quite found the words to say it before." The way to do that, like all great writing, is through specificity. You want to get as specific as possible when talking about these universal things. Don't be basic. That is one of the biggest pitfalls of writing for the Internet is that in a sort of attempt to be relatable, people write these things that are just mindlessly generic and they might as well be written by a robot. This is what I complained about when we were talking about pizza betting is, you can say these things that millions of people will agree with but it's something that a complete robot would also agree with. So, let's talk about the process of writing. This is my process for writing. This works for me. I think it really gets at how to really get down to the fund specific details. We'll use airplanes as a kicking off point. Obviously, it's relatable, we can get out the worst things about being on an airplane. But, the problem with talking again about something so universal like this is that you are in danger of getting too general and then getting a little basic. So, we want to avoid being basic, we want to get specific. So, how do we do that? I start by making a list of just everything that comes to my head right away of the worst things about being on an airplane. Things like the seat search is small, turbulence sucks, it takes too long, nobody knows how to put their overhead baggage on the bin. These are all things that suck. I make a whole long list of all of these things. Then, the secret is that you throw out your list, your first 20 things. You throw that out and you keep going. You write 20 new things, the next 20 things that come to your mind, and then you throw that list away, and then you write the next 20 things. So, you're getting to that part of your brain that notices the really small stuff, and that's when you start getting things that are funny and exciting and new and different. Things like, 17 peanuts are not enough to last an entire three-hour flight, or how the air smells like an empty can of tuna, or how flight attendants are basically prison guards with snazzy outfits. Those are all things that you might notice if you're getting down into the nitty-gritty of your observations. This is a process that I think works for all types of writing. I have friends who are journalists and they'll write out that lead to their story, the first paragraph of their story, and then they'll throw it away and write a new one, and throw that away and write a new one. Usually, it's the third or fourth try that gets to the really good writing, because you're getting more specific. It's not that the first one is bad or the second one is bad, it's not that your observations aren't correct or true in any way, it's just that you want to get at the really specific stuff because that's what's going to set your thing apart from everything else. It's what's going to get people to say, "Yes, I never said it like that before but I love it, and I agree with it, and I feel the same way." So, now we've gotten to a point where hopefully you have some type of list written that you think is funny, that you think is relatable and original. Now, you've reached the point where you have to edit yourself. Self-editing is incredibly important. I think a lot of people wrongly assume that because it's the Internet, you can just dump all of your drafts and hit publish and it's fine because there's an endless amount of space. My advice is always, do not do that, you want to edit yourself, and these are the steps that I take when I edit. The first is that the Coco Chanel Principle, which is, before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take off at least one accessory. That is true for all of your editing. You want to look at things that are weak or not as strong as the others and take that out. Even if you remove something that you think is strong, if it's the weakest of all the strong points, it's going to make the whole thing better. The second thing is really sending your drafts around to your friends, someone you trust. Getting a second or third set of eyes on everything is super important. It's important specifically to watch their reaction if you can. When I worked at BuzzFeed, we used to send our drafts around to everybody, and then if you could, we'd watch the other person read it and see what points that they laugh at, what points that they not laugh at, when did they start getting bored, and maybe keep scrolling through or scroll down to the bottom. When you can, show it to a real person, get their live reaction, and then take their notes based on what you observe. The third point is really trusting your own instincts, trusting your own gut. When I am scrolling through Twitter, or Tumblr, or Facebook, whatever platform, I like to pay attention to what are the moments when I laugh out loud. There's a lot of content on the Internet. You don't always have that sort of visceral reaction when you come across something. So, it's important that when you do feel something, you take note of it and you pay attention to what is it about that thing that made you feel that way. I'd like to try to have that attitude about things that I've written too. When I have a list that I'm going through and I'm trying to edit, I'll take a look at what do I actually have, kind of an emotional reaction to, if someone doesn't have that kind of physical reaction, then that's probably one of the weaker points that you want to take out. The next thing is incredibly important and that is checking your tone and checking whether what you've written is offensive. I think one thing that people lose sight of when you're writing on the Internet, especially when you're writing about identity is that you might be writing for a specific audience, but you have to remember that the entire Internet can see what you've written. So, it's this idea that you might have inside jokes with your friends that you can say we can laugh at that, but when someone else chimes in you're like, "Well, well, well, you can't say. We can say that, you can't say that." That same principle applies when you're writing about identity. It might be an identity that you feel strongly about that you have, but you want to go through each line of what you've written and ask, "If someone who doesn't belong to this group that I'm writing about, if they were to stumble upon this, might they misinterpret something, can someone misconstrue it in some way?" If they can, you obviously want to cut that. Then, finally, you just want to do another check along the relatable original line. Is any of your points veering too far in one direction? Is it too far in the relatable direction where it's getting a little cliche or generic? Is it too far in the original direction where it's too specific and too weird and nobody else might actually get it? It's always helpful to have a good mix of both of those things, but if there's one item or two that veer too far in one direction or the other, you might want to cut that item and it'll make the whole piece a lot stronger. The good news is that self-editing gets a lot easier over time. As you go along and the more and more you post, you're going to get better at it and your self-editing eye is going to become a lot sharper. All right. So, your task after this video is to pick one identity, one of the ones that you wrote down after our earlier tasks, and I want you to write down 40 things that only someone with that identity would understand. So, essentially, we're building a list, a piece of content under the headline of 40 things only X-type of person would understand. Remember, don't just write the first 40 things that come to your mind. The goal is to get down to the 40 really specific things. So, that means write 40 things, throw them away, right another 40, throw them away, and then you're really getting out the great stuff. So, you might have to write 120 things, but what you want to end up with is 40 points that you're really happy with and proud of. 5. "False Identities": One of my biggest pet peeves is people who write about an identity that they'd don't have. If you do not strongly identify with what you're writing about, if you do not belong to the group that you are writing about, you should not be writing about it. It's very easy to tell when someone is trying to mimic or write about something that they don't know about. Do not fall into that trap, stick with what you know. Surely, there is some identity deep within you that is interesting and specific to your personality. You shouldn't be resorting to mimicking someone else. 6. Developing Voice: So, in this video, what I want to talk about is voice, personality, and then talk a little bit about Twitter, which I think is the perfect platform for building your voice and building your personality. First things first, what is voice? Why is it important? Voice is what sets you apart from everybody else. It's what elevates the material that you're writing from kind of interesting to really compelling, really entertaining. If you need an example, think about which late-night host is your favorite because for the most part they're really all dealing with the same raw material every day. They're all dealing with the same news, but typically people have a favorite over another because they like that specific point of view, they like that specific voice, it's not necessarily what they're talking about, but how they're talking about it. How they're approaching it. So, that's what you're after when you're trying to build a voice and build a personality is how do you talk about things that is different from the way that other people talk about things. In terms of the difference between identity and voice, I think identity is what you are, and then voice is how you communicate that identity, how you communicate who you are as a person. So, my personality and the voice that I have built on Twitter, I know the basic traits that I use to describe the character that I am on Twitter, I do very much think of that personality that I have on Twitter as a character that I'm writing for, and so, I know that that person has certain traits. He's very self-deprecating, he's very lazy, likes to eat, all of those things that are very relatable that I can then filter certain stories or items through that lens of how this character see the world. Even if the content varies the point of view is always very specific and very consistent. I really think Twitter is the best platform for developing voice. Unlike a lot of the other platforms, it's mostly text-based even though there are pictures and videos, unlike Facebook, Instagram, Twitter tends to lean more on the text side which is better for growing voice, but also just the speed at which Twitter moves, every tweet really only has a lifespan of maybe a couple hours at most, and so, if you tweet out something and it really doesn't work, it really doesn't matter, because two hours later everyone's going to have moved on to something else. So, I think the great thing about Twitter is that you can really use it in an experimental way. You can use that as a wall that you're just throwing things against, seeing what's at stake, seeing what works, and then learning from that as you grow. So here's a few rules that I usually follow that I think will help you in developing your voice, not just on Twitter but just on the Internet in general. The first is, be yourself, and that sounds like a really obvious piece of advice, but it actually took me a long time to get comfortable just being and writing like myself on the Internet, but once I realized that I needed to just behave like myself, I feel like I got a lot better at having a strong voice on Twitter. The second thing which is related to the first is that you should be tweeting the way that people talk in the real world. It actually took me a long time to get comfortable just being and writing like myself on the Internet, I used to, when I first started on Twitter behave like I was some New York Times reporter, and was like every observation had to be typed like I was writing a headline, and that's not the way that real people talk. Real people don't talk like New York Times headlines. That doesn't mean that you have to compromise your grammatical morals but just tweet like a real person. Tweet like people talk. So the third is, write about what you know and what you enjoy. I think it's really easy to tell when something that you really care about is written about by someone who doesn't care about that thing. It's easy to sniff out someone who's faking it, so, keep that in mind when you're writing your own content. You want to have a command of what you're talking about, and the best way to do that is by writing about what you know, what you enjoy. Lastly, make sure that you're always adding something to the conversation. Don't just repeat the things that other people are saying. I always get frustrated when people are reacting to news stories, but it's not actually a reaction. It's just kind of a repetition of things that everybody is already seeing in their timeline. So, make sure that if you're going to comment on something, you're actually saying something new, saying something different, not just spitting out the same thing that everybody else has already said. 7. Writing Better Tweets: So, here are some really practical tips for getting started on Twitter if you haven't gotten started yet. There are also very useful if you're already an active member and want to get better at it. First is, most of the platforms have something that shows you trending topics, and so, pretty much every morning when I wake up, I'll scroll through Twitter, I'll scroll through Instagram, but I'll always look at what are the trending topics, what are the trending news stories of the day. It's also a lot more helpful necessarily than just going and checking the headlines in some other app because, this is specific to what the people that you are following and engaging are talking about at that moment. So, it's specific to your community which was really helpful. It gives you an in for what to talk about. The second tip is, to really tweet about what you know. This is related to a point I made earlier. I think for me personally, you can pretty much guarantee that on any given day. I'm going to be tweeting about Beyonce, Harry Styles, or a TV show that I'm watching that day. It establishes for your followers a certain set of expectations. They know what they're getting, they might not like it in which case they will follow you, but for all of those people who are also interested in those things, it gives them an excuse to follow your feed, and to see what you have to say about those things. So, another important point is to find common ground and to engage with the communities that share your interests. In the Internet is really a network of communities, and so, you need to seek out the people who share your interests and engage with them and become a part of that community, and that's a great way to not only grow your own followers, but to learn from the other people who are trying to write about the same things that you are, and to learn about the same things that you are. Then relatedly make sure that you're actually an active member of the community, don't just tweet, don't just retweet, make sure that you're doing a combination of both, it's a two-way street. You don't just want to be putting out a stream of content in one direction, you want to make sure that, you are also engaging with other people in the community, you're liking their stuff, you're retweeting their stuff, you're sharing it, so that, you're building goodwill with the people who you hope will share your things when it comes down to it. The next point is to use live tweeting as an entry point. Live tweeting is great because, it already establishes the reliability factor, because everybody is talking about the same thing. So that, for the most part if you're commenting on something that everybody else is watching they're at least going to be able to relate to it. A general rule for live tweeting is, don't just do it for the sake of doing it, make sure that you actually have something that you're adding to the conversation. I always get so frustrated when people are live tweeting award shows and they literally just say, ''Guess Adele just won, it's like we all saw it. Were all watching the same thing, you don't have to literally tweet what's happening.'' Make sure that you at least are adding something new to what is happening on screen and that's how you're going to get people to share and engage with what you're saying. The last point is, always be posting. This should be an obvious point, but all of these platforms are powered by this algorithm that nobody really understands, but the one thing that they all have in common is that, they do reward people who post more frequently. It's definitely true on Facebook. People not everything you post is showed, to shown? Shown? I'll just avoid that word. Not everything that you post is displayed for every single person that is friends with you. There is an algorithm that decides what they are showing to other people, and the algorithm definitely values people who post more often, and so, you want to be engaging, you want to be posting as frequently as possible without getting annoying, because you want to train your audience to expect your tweets, to expect what you have to say, and to look out for what you have to say. So, there are basically two main kinds of treats. There's either the autobiographical tweet, or the more general tweet. I always think about Twitter as trying to find a balance between those two things which relates to the all-powerful balanced between the universal and the specific that we've been talking about this whole time. I think about this literally as the number of tweets that I send that start with the word I, where it's literally an ''I'' statement that I did this today, I saw this today. That is obviously an autobiographical tweet. On the other side, you have the more general joke about something that's happening in the world, or a TV show that I saw, or a movie that I saw. I think it's important to find a balance between, talking about yourself and promoting your own brand and then talking about what's happening in the world, and joining that larger conversation. All right. So, we're going to take a look at a few of my popular tweets, I guess it's very weird to talk about your own tweets, I fully recognize that this is a weird thing to do, but maybe, there are some lessons that we can learn from them. So, these are a few of my my top tweets. You'll notice that all of them are not actually high tweets. They're all the more general tweets, and I think that's generally true that that most I tweets are not actually the ones that are going to go viral, it's the ones that establish more of a personality. These tweets because they are not structured to just be about me, tend to be more universal and more shareable. So, the first one, whoever invented the ''skip Intro'' button at Netflix, deserves the highest accolade, we as a society can bestow upon a citizen and it still wouldn't be enough. It's hard to point out why certain things work over others. I don't think I'm ever predict this is the one tweet that's going to get a crazy number of retweets. I mean this one I think the intended audience obviously as people who have been through the experience of binge-watching how crazy you go every time you hear that intro theme song to the office for like the 200th time. So, that was the idea that I was getting out, that has such a godsend to have that ''skip intro'' button on Netflix. So, it's just talking about a pretty specific experience, but something that is universal to everybody. The next one, it took us 241 years, but America has finally infiltrated the British monarchy and phase two of the Revolutionary War can begin. I mean this was obviously topical, I said this on the day of the royal wedding recently and so, having it at an event like that, you can tweet about is something that establishes that relate ability. People are all talking about this thing, they're looking for jokes to share about this thing, that's happening and so, this was I guess a funny Take That was also different than what a lot of other people were talking about. Then the third one I pointed out was, this tweet from awhile ago. Everytime I reply to an email, I sound like a civil war widow: "Apologies for the slow reply. 'Twas along and trying widow and life has been naught but a constant chain of struggle and despair. Please excuse my idleness during these troubled times.' If I really wanted to over analyze this as a joke, that every joke does establish two realities like an expectation and then a different reality from what you're expecting. So, the setup here is that, you're tweeting about the opening to an email which everybody can identify with and then it goes on a different direction which is a civil war widow letter. All of those they are obviously based on ''my experience'' so, it is specific to me all of these came from some observation I've run my own life, or in something that I was watching or doing that day or a news story that I was seeing that day, but I always try to find a way to find something that's universal and relatable in each of these moments, and combine the two things get specific, but also be relatable and universal. My closing challenge for you is to, for the next at least five days every day, pick one trending topic on Twitter, figure out what you might add to that conversation, maybe it's a joke maybe it's some weighty observation and tweet it out. Really, Twitter is about being active and engaging with it. It's going to take awhile but that's a start. So, the next five days, pick a trending topic and tweet about it. 8. "Twitter": So for Twitter, I have multiple pet peeves because Twitter is a minefield. First, is people who tweet a fact that turns out not to be a fact, that turns out not to be true but it gets thousands of retweets and then they'll add a follow-up tweet that says, "Actually, I got it wrong that time, sorry about that." But they don't delete the first one. Then the correction only gets a couple of retweets while the first wrong tweet is still circulating and still retweeting. My thing is, just delete it. Okay. Don't put your pride above the truth. Delete it and just accept the loss and move on. Take the extra five seconds to search Twitter for that joke that you're thinking about that maybe sounds like it might have been made before. Nothing bothers me more than when someone makes a really obvious joke. You do a two seconds search on Twitter and find that 100 people have made that same joke in the past hour. I've fallen into this trap before myself. I'll be the first to admit it. I could tell the story. Do you want me to? You don't know what the story is. I'll just keep drinking. It was the new story of Kim Kardashian releasing the Snapchat video of Taylor Swift's phone call with Kanye West. All of these are words that I absolutely hate and I tweeted something like, "Kim Kardashian deserves the Pulitzer Prize for investigative journalism." Turns out about 15 other people made the same joke at the exact same time because it was a pretty obvious joke to make in the moment. Then I heard a bunch of people who were saying, "You stole this joke from another person." Even though, we all tweeted at that the same time. I think that the truth there is that sometimes multiple people make the same obvious joke. The real rub of it is that you made an obvious joke and that's on you and you need to think a second time when the next new story comes. So that was on me, I learned my lesson. Take it from me, don't just tweet the first thought that comes to your head because chances are everybody else thought the same thing. 9. Making Viral Video: Next up, I want to talk about how to make viral video. There's a lot of steps involved to making video. So, I'm really only going to scratch the surface. I'd say, right off the bat that the most common misconception for making videos, is that all you have to do is turn on a camera and press record. There you go. You have a viral video. That is obviously wrong. There is a whole ton of work that goes into it. So, I want to talk about some of the things that I do in preparation for making a video. Then, we'll talk a little bit about actually filming video and then editing and posting video after we're done. So, before you start filming, here is a bunch of tips for preparing what you're going to talk about and how to write about it. The first thing is, obviously, you need to have something to say. There should be a common theme throughout everything. If you don't have something that actually add, you shouldn't be making a video. Go back, wait until you have something valuable to add to the conversation, then you can start making the video. The second important tip is to have or develop a consistent theme or a format. So, for me, I host my own video series called To Be Honest. The concept is, I drink a bottle of wine and then I complain about stuff. Too many hot people keep posting beach photos from Instagram. You better stop this nonsense or so help me God, I will go to TJ Maxx, I will buy a discount thong and I will post my own beach photo, and that's something you can't unsee. Looks like two pigs trying to fight over a piece of silly string. The point here is that you really want to teach people what to expect. Consistency is what creates familiarity. This is the thought behind a bunch of late night shows that employ different formats like Carpool Karaoke that James Corden does or David Letterman did his Top 10 List format. That was literally just what a BuzzFeed list was before BuzzFeed lists were a thing. So, establishing a format is a great way of training your audience to expect a certain set of things. Then, that gives you an opportunity to every week kind of surprise them within a certain kind of framework. Next, I think it's super important to work with a script. Now, I think a lot of people assume that the videos that I made were unscripted because I was getting drunk. But, I always like working with a pretty detailed script. I think a script actually helps support spontaneity. It gives you a really clear backbone to work off of. So, my videos for the most part are actually just lists that I'm performing out loud. So, I think a lot of the same rules as writing a list applies in writing a script for a video. Every line should resonate emotionally with people. Every line should get that gut reaction. Then, in the case of video, I think you can actually write a longer script. A script with more beats and do the editing later, because I think it's better to have a longer list of beats that you can then edit down after you film, than to not have enough and go, "Oh, great." You can't really add more after the fact, but you can always take away. So, the next point is to try to anticipate the line or the specific joke that you want people to pull out and share with their friends. I like to think about what might the top comment be. Usually, the top comment on one of my videos is one of the lines that someone has called out and they quote it in the comment, maybe they tag one of their friends. But, it's really just their favorite line and that tends to be the most shareable line. I like to think about that before I even film. While I'm writing the script, I like to think about what is the one line that people are really going to like the most and try to build up to that, try to work it in a really fun way. I'm not always right before I do it, but it's a good thing to try to keep in mind and to aim for. If you don't have that one line that you think people are going to want to share, then you probably should go back and reevaluate your script and add that line in somewhere. Lastly, this is sort of a general point about writing comedy. Whatever moment that you want to hit the hardest, you always want to end with that word or that phrase. There's a way of getting your jokes mixed up and twisted so that the punchline, the funniest bit is in the center. Then, there's extra words at the end of it and it totally screws up at the pace of your joke and the audience has to wait for you to finish the sentence before they can start laughing or reacting. So, you always want to end on the strongest note whatever that note maybe. So, as an example of this plane, this is from a video that I wrote but that I never actually made, it was called the Reasons Children's Birthday Parties Are The Absolute Worst. The line that I wrote was, "Children get like one billion presents on their birthdays and they deserve none of them. Oh, did you have a hard year doing absolutely nothing but staining your clothes and shedding scabs everywhere? Try folding a fitted sheet you miniature-." So, whether or not you thought that was actually funny, I think ending on that really strong funny phrase of miniature- makes it hit a little bit harder. It sounds ridiculous especially when you're talking about it out loud, but actively thinking about the order that your words are in. It's really important for getting the reaction that you actually want to get when you're writing and performing. My process for writing videos looks a little like this. I start off, I pick a topic. So, the topic might be the same as our list from before, the worst things about airplanes or flying on an airplane. What I do is, I like to set a timer for 25 minutes and I'll just write down every single word or phrase that comes to my mind from the idea of air travel. So it's flight attendants, bar card, mile-high club, coach, first-class, spend 25 minutes writing down every single association that your brain can come up with for the topic that you've chosen. Then, take some time to start thinking about what other associations our words might stem from, some of the things that you've written down. So, maybe one of the things is "Mile High Club". I may make a joke about how the only Mile High Club I want is a bacon lettuce and tomato but not funny to anybody but me. The point is, it gets that's something that came up off the top of my head. But, you want to try to make funny associations. Again, you're sort of combining the idea of a joke is that you're combining to reality is, when you talk about the mile-high club, people expect you to go in one direction and then when you talk about something else like a BLT club than you're starting to at least head in the right direction. I might not be actually funny but it gets up the idea. "I thought it was a good joke. I liked that one". The real point is that just like in writing a list, what you want to do is write as much as you can, throw away the ideas that are really just the ones that come right off the top of your head. So, you start getting into the real specific stuff. I mean, the goal of that process of really calling down your list to the fine points is that you're flushing your brain the obvious stuff, the basic stuff and getting out the more specific ideas that are going to get people to go like, "Oh, yes. That is something that I've always noticed but I've never found the words for." You're still going after that reaction and that's a good way to try to get at that. 10. DIY Video Tips: So now that it's time to film, I have like a few kind of basic tips on how to make your videos just a little bit better. I'm definitely not an expert on filming, I'm definitely an amateur, I have a very basic setup but a few tips for kind of helping your video be just a little bit better. One is don't have to go crazy, use your iPhone camera or your phone camera. Your phone cameras are actually really good. If you can set up a camera on a stack of books, that works use it. But one thing I would suggest getting is a little bit better microphone. Your phone doesn't have a great microphone on it but they do sell a lot of pretty cheap microphones on Amazon or wherever that you can hook up directly to your phone and get just a little bit better audio that I think will elevate your video just a little bit. Pay attention to lighting. You don't need a really expensive light but just don't film in the dark. The best place if you don't have great lighting is to open a window and sit in front of a window. Filming in a bright place with a little bit better of a microphone is going to make what you put together just a little bit better than everybody else and make it stand out. Another important point is to get comfortable looking like an idiot. It's going to be we are talking directly to a camera is a weird unnatural thing to do, I still get super uncomfortable when I do it, the point is you kind of have to just do it enough times until the part of your brain that cares how weird it is to talk into a camera dies. In the immortal words of Rupaul "Your fear of looking stupid is holding you back." Don't let that hold you back. Then a quick note about editing. I really encourage everybody to edit your own videos. Understanding how to edit a video makes you a lot better of a performer and a lot better of a writer because you can kind of write for performing on the camera, you know what to look for, you know kind of where to look. All of these kind of basic things that may seem obvious until you're actually looking at the footage that you've captured, they don't pop out until you're in that place. So make sure that you're editing your own videos, get familiar with how to do it. One really important point for editing is to just make sure you don't leave too many awkward pauses. I think one of the biggest mistakes that I see in people who are just starting out is that they tend to leave in some of the awkward silence moments. Maybe because they think that it is sort of like a funny pause. More often than not the pause that you think is funny is not actually all that funny. So try to keep it as short and clippy and as quick as possible. Another great editing check is to go back and kind of apply the same self-editing rules that we talked about in writing. You want to make sure that you're not being offensive, something I say be misconstrued might this reach an audience that I didn't actually intended to reach and they might think something else of it, apply the Coco Chanel rule all of those things that we talked about before these same ideas apply to video too. Just to give a sense of the time that it takes to put together just a four or five minute video. When I was making wine about it, I would maybe spend a couple of hours putting together a script. I might spend, you know 25 minutes picking a topic, putting together a list of associations. Then I might spend about an hour and a half actually writing out the beats and working on the script and then to get five minutes of content especially where I'm drinking a whole bottle of wine, I would take probably at least an hour to film for five minutes or stuff. In my case that was also to give the wine some time to actually do its job and so we prolonged a little bit but it's not as easy as it looks. So it does take a lot of effort to kind of get the cadence of every joke down to give yourself time to also improve and add things that maybe you didn't think of while you were writing. Then after the fact, takes another couple of hours to edit a video together and that should put aggressive timeline. So for a five-minute video, i mean it takes I'd say at least five to six hours for one video from start to finish. So as a closing thought on videos, I think an important thing to remember is always that like every other platform, like every other format you should get comfortable with experimenting. The great thing about video on the Internet is that it is pretty ephemeral, it's going to go away pretty quickly and you can kind of move on to the next thing. So take risks, experiment, try something new and different and if it works great, if it doesn't learn from it and then incorporate what you learn into the next thing. So your task after this video is go on YouTube, or Facebook, Twitter, Instagram whichever platform you like and find a video that speaks to you in some way and watch it a few times and identify what it is about that video that really hooked to you. Maybe it was a line, maybe it was a joke, maybe it was the way that the person delivered it. Really study the video and find out what is it that speaks to you. 11. "Amorphous Blobs": The biggest pet peeve I have about people who start making videos is that they don't know how to properly frame themselves in the screen. You don't have to be an expert on cinematography to know that your head shouldn't be a tiny blob in the corner of the screen, or that your nose shouldn't take up the entire screen. You want to make sure that you're at least getting the top of your head all the way down to at least your belly button. People want to see your head and your shoulders, and at least the top half of your body so they know that you're actually a person. So, at least put your camera at eye level, let people see most of you. Don't be an amorphous blob. 12. Headlines, Posting & Promotions: So, for this video, I want to talk about what happens after you've written your thing, after you've made your video and you're ready to share it with the world. How do you promote something that you've written and share it in a way that makes other people want to pass it along to even more people? The first step in that process is writing a headline or maybe a title, if you're working on a video, that catches people, that makes people want to learn more and click into what you've written. All good headlines, all good titles, share the fact that they are essentially a challenge to the reader or the viewer. A lot of the headlines or the titles that you've clicked on, even in the last 24 hours, most of them convey information but they're also kind of withholding enough information that makes you want to click into it, and then see whether or not it's actually what it says it's going to be. The thing about your shareable content though, is that it needs to actually deliver on the promise of the headline. If you tell someone, this is going to be a video about the worst things about aeroplanes, everyone in their head is going to have an idea of what that means. You need to make sure that the content of your video actually matches up to the expectations that you're setting people up for. A great headline sets high expectations, and then a great post meets those expectations. I think another big point with headlines is just like when you're writing a tweet or writing the content of your post, make sure that you're writing in a language that people actually use. That's the one thing that print media differs pretty greatly from digital media, is that you can have a headline that doesn't necessarily have to fit the sort of same space that a print headline has to. So, you can have a little bit more fun with it, say things that are in real language not headline language. Obviously, if you're using a list, then your headline should have that first and foremost. If it's going to be the 42 things that people who have red hair will understand, then that's your title, and that is also in its own way a challenge to readers. You have your audience who are ideally people with red hair, and you're challenging them to say," Do you agree with these 42 observations?" So, if you have a list, make sure that that is what your headline is and make sure it's framed as a challenge for your readers, and then of course, make sure that you actually meet the challenge. Another important point about posting your work is being intentional about sort of balancing self-promotion and then promoting everybody else's work. I sort of think about this as the Beyonce versus Taylor Swift methods of self-promotion. The Beyonce method of putting out work is,"I'm going to work on something awesome and then, every three years I'm just going to drop it in the middle of nowhere, and I'm not going to tell you about it beforehand, and it's going to be awesome, and you'll get it when you get it whether you like it or not." On the other side is the Taylor Swift method. Even though she doesn't quite do this as much anymore, she used to do this a little bit more, which was, be super active, be everybody's best friend on the Internet so that, when it comes time to self-promote, it almost just kind of flows naturally out of everything that she's already been posting. I'm biased, but I like the Beyonce method a little bit more. The problem is that doesn't work for anybody who's not Beyonce because none of us are Beyonce except her. But, I think what the two sides of the spectrum represent is that you have to find a good balance between creating awesome things and putting them out into the world when they're ready and promoting them, but also like being an active and engaged member of the community. You can't just do one or the other, you have to combine both of those things. For every one or two things that you tweet or promote about yourself, make sure that you're tweeting or promoting at least one thing from some other person. It builds goodwill in the community and lets people know that you're a supportive person. It makes them want to support your work even more. It's really important to find that balance. One misstep that I often see with people who are starting to make videos, is that they get a little aggressive when it comes to promoting their work after they've posted a video on YouTube. I'll see people who start tweeting the video directly at every single person they know, every celebrity that they follow. It comes off as a little kind of aggressive and desperate, and it turns people off a little bit. Think of your content as a kind of, it's your baby. You don't want to shove your baby in everybody's face. Let people come to your baby. If your baby is cute and they like it, they'll approach it and they'll say nice things about it. But let that happen naturally, don't be super aggressive and shove it in everybody's face. One of the most common questions that I get is, how do I deal with commentors? My best advice is always to cautiously listen to your commentors, cautiously listen to the people who are engaging with you. It's easy to get discouraged if people don't like what you're doing and tell you they don't like what you're doing, but oftentimes there are actually good lessons that you can learn from the people who are commenting on your stuff. Internet content is something that is sort of good, constantly being made, constantly being put out. If you make a weekly video series, you can read comments and see what people are saying about it, and incorporate their thoughts and their notes into the next week's video. So, it is important to listen, but make sure that you're listening in insulated way. Don't take in anything too personally, not everybody's going to like everything. Eventually, your work is going to get better. It only gets better through the struggle of putting out videos and seeing what people say. Learn from it and grow from it. Probably, the most important thing to remember is just that it takes time. It takes time to grow an audience, it takes time to perfect your content, it takes time to grow your voice and your personality. Things aren't necessarily going to hit right away, they might and that's great. But if they don't, you don't have to worry about it. It's not necessarily because it's bad or that something you've done is wrong, it's just, it takes time and that's always an important thing to keep in mind. Don't let it get you down, don't be discouraged. While you're letting one thing breathe, work on the next thing and and keep posting. 13. "Headlines": My biggest pet peeve, when it comes to posting on the Internet, is the headlines that tell you how to feel. Headlines that say, "Chrissy Teigen did this thing, and it's going to make you cry." Or, "This video of a cat saving a turtle is so adorable, you'll burst into flames." You don't want to tell people, "This is exactly how you're going to feel, this is exactly what's going to happen." Sure, it's a challenge, it gets people excited, they want to jump in and see if they're actually going to cry, or actually burst into flames. But I think it's just a cheap trick, in a cheap way of getting someone to click into it, and oftentimes, it doesn't actually do the thing that you say it's going to do. Make them feel the emotion in what you're doing, don't say it in the headline. Don't tell people how to feel. 14. Before We Go...: So, a couple of really quick closing thoughts. One is that the internet is a pretty fickle place. You might actually do something great and it might not actually take off. I think about it as building a fire outside, not that I know how to do that, but the point is you can have all of the tools for making a great fire. You can have the sticks and the flint and I don't know, whatever you need to build a fire outside. But if it's really windy or if it's really wet, it might not actually take off. It's forces beyond your control. So, just keep that in mind. It's not that you're necessarily doing things wrong. Sometimes, you just need the perfect environment for things to really take off. The only way you're going to eventually strike it is if you try every single day, you keep creating, keep posting until something takes off. Another really important thing to remember is that all of these platforms, whether it's Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram. They all go hand in hand. So, in my personal experience, I used to really obsess over growing my Twitter account. I would check my followers every single day and see if they were growing. If I lost followers that would be a terrible day. I think at a certain point, I realized that if I took a step back and actually invested a little bit more energy into making videos and making a video series. It was after I did that and after the video started gaining traction and I started getting a little more followers on Facebook, because that's the platform I would post videos to, that my Twitter account actually grew as a result of that and my Instagram account grew as a result of that. So, it's just a recognition that all of these things are connected and that you shouldn't obsess over any one of them. They all serve a different function. You can't just put all of your eggs in one basket and expect it to raise everything up. You have to focus on all of them. They each support one another in their own way. Now, that we've covered all of these things, it would be awesome if you took these tools and use them to create your own content. Start writing a list, make a list, share it to Skillshare, comment on everybody else's lists, see what works, get feedback from everybody. Really use this as a resource to test your ideas before putting them out into the wider world. In case you were waiting for the answer, I was absolutely drunk during every Wine About It video and every second of this video. 15. What's Next?: