The Latest Episodes of INSIGHT with Chris Van Vliet
April 14, 2023

So, You Want To Be A Content Creator? My Honest Thoughts About The Reality Of Actually Doing It With Travis Chappell

So, You Want To Be A Content Creator? My Honest Thoughts About The Reality Of Actually Doing It With Travis Chappell

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For this episode, I had the privilege of being a guest on my friend Travis Chappell's (@travischappell) podcast called "Travis Makes Friends". Travis is an incredible interviewer and since we are friends, this felt more like a conversation or a masterclass on what it takes to be a content creator in 2023. We talk about podcasting as a hobby vs. as a job, how to book great guests, the importance of taking the first step and actually getting started, the missing piece when doing a Zoom interview, why in-person is always preferred, how to find advertisers and much more!


Check out Travis Makes Friends here:


On content consistency:

“I think that people like Ryan Panetta are doing it, right. Yeah, it's just like, keep putting stuff out. And if you're giving value in every single video, right? Because you can't just put stuff out just for the sake of putting it out. There has to be something there that's worth sharing.”

On carving out a niche:

“I was always doing some wrestling interviews. It was just like, I would do a celebrity interview, and then the wrestling fans would go, what the heck, like I didn't know this person was in WWE hahaha. And then I would do a wrestling interview. And then the people that had come for all those celebrity interviews were like, who's this? So it really just came down to I love talking to people, and I love having interesting conversations with interesting people. And when you work as an entertainment reporter or a TV host, you get to talk to everybody. Like I was talking to actors and comedians and directors and some pro-wrestlers, some athletes, who just like, everybody has an amazing story. I want to talk to everybody. But with the access I had to wrestling before, there weren't as many podcasts as there are now, a lot of podcasts now and a lot of YouTube channels now. But when I was really starting this and like 2011-2012 When I was doing these pro wrestling interviews, nobody else had this access. So I was just like, I'm gonna take it and run with it.”

On possibly being contained into a bubble:

“It’s interesting now. I just posted an interview with Gerard Butler from the other day. I interviewed Ron Howard last month, Margot Robbie last month. It's so interesting, because there's so many people that just know me for the wrestling interviews. And I get it, you know, those interviews have got millions and millions of views on my YouTube channel. I'm super grateful for that.”

On always interviewing the big stars: 

“[The comments online] They'll be like, Oh, my God, my man CVV is doing big things, got an interview with Margot Robbie. It's like, well, actually, that's my third interview, but thank you. It's just amazing when I'll post an old photo of like me with Steven Spielberg or something. And people were like, I can't believe you got, you know, I can't believe these things are happening for you. It's like, no, no, this is what I've always done. It's just I took that niche, I kind of saw some white space there that nobody else was doing it, and I just kind of ran with it. Because up until that point, of course, actors are going to be promoting their movies, of course directors are promoting their movies, comedians are promoting their tours, athletes are promoting their books, or whatever it happens to be. It really took a very specific type of person to have an in depth interview with pro-wrestlers back then. Because for the most part, they're going to the local morning show, right? Just simply promote that Raw or SmackDown [is in town]. And a lot of times they would be like “So we've got John Kenna here? I hear we can't see you. hahaha! Anyway…” I would like get someone, like an early one, like Jeff Hardy. And I would be like, I used to do a Swanton Bomb in the year 2000 onto my friends and he’d be like, No way, man. That's like, immediately you connect. So I had this ability from like being a wrestling fan for most of my life, being able to connect with massive stars in the pro-wrestling space, that like when I would bring in these people into the TV station, my boss was like, Hey, Chris, we got to cool it on the wrestlers for a little while. Nobody knows who this person is outside of wrestling fans.”

On going it alone:

“It was more of just like the wrestling was really growing like, and I had a tremendous amount of access in 2018 and 2019 was a really exciting time in pro wrestling. With the advent of AEW, coming in as a competitor, WWE hadn't had a real competitor that was on cable television for 20 years since WCW got bought by WWE in 2001. So like, this hadn't happened. So it was just like, I had a lot of real momentum that was happening. And any of my wrestling interviews were getting hundreds of 1000s of views on my YouTube channel. So it's just kind of like, alright, I saw that this was starting to happen. I also saw that, like, I was getting a lot more opportunities and called it new media with like influencer space. And this wasn't, I wasn't allowed to do a lot of that stuff with my TV job. And I was just like, how many more opportunities am I leaving on the table? Because of this really great job that I have in TV, and I'm super grateful for this job. But how many other opportunities am I leaving on the table? And I just started to kind of weigh them out. And when I'm already getting this many subscribers, this many views on this content that I'm doing in my spare time, right? What would happen if I put a little bit more effort in full time, right? And it was almost like I saw the writing on the wall, because the guy who ended up taking my job, he was loving it. And then the world shut down. And the show that we were both on, he is still on, kind of had to be paused. Because, you know, who wants to hear about entertainment news, when, who knows what's going on in the world right now. So it was almost like I was I, without even knowing, and I picked a great time to get out. Because that wouldn't have been as fun.”

On making money on YouTube:

“I remember finding out about YouTube AdSense. I remember finding out about that, like 10 years ago, yeah. My friends said, Oh, how much money are you making from those videos you're posting? I’m like what do you mean money? Like I said, I'm just doing it so people can like see these interviews and see this content? He goes, Oh, yeah, there's this thing called AdSense. If you just go in there, you click a few buttons, and once you reach $100, they'll pay you out. I said, Are you kidding me? So I've been like, this has existed the whole time. Yeah. So I clicked the button, and it was within like, two months that I had reached that $100 threshold. I couldn't believe it. Yeah, it's like free money! So the cool thing about that is you don't have to put in any effort to find the advertisers. And I think that what's difficult sometimes with podcasts is, you've got to sell somebody on buying that ad space. And you've got to really show some results, or else they're not going to buy again. Whereas YouTube's just gonna go, those ads didn't work for your channel? Just try these ads instead.”

On growing your podcast:

“The biggest thing within that is if you treat podcasting like a hobby, it will be a hobby that pays you like a hobby. If you treat podcasting like a business, it will start to pay you like a business. I think there's too many people that will record one or two episodes, take a week off because life got too crazy, pick it back up in three weeks, your audience is not going to show up when you do that. I think that you need to make the commitment to your audience that you're going to show up every Monday, or every Monday and Wednesday, or whatever it happens to be, then your audience is going to start to show up for you. And I think that that's the biggest thing. I say this all the time. The best thing about podcasting is anybody can do it. The worst thing about podcasting is anybody can do it, there's no barrier of entry. If you are going to get in I think you need to fully commit to actually doing it. You can't just go man, me and my friends are funny, so let's record and do this thing. We love talking about the Maple Leafs.”

On going to the next level:

“I'll tell you the thing that really really escalated my YouTube channel was I was willing to do things that other people weren't willing to do. I was willing to drive to go do an interview, I was willing to fly and pay for my own flight, my own hotel to go do an interview. All I needed was someone to say yes. I would reach out to someone, all I needed was them to say yes and I go great, well, now I gotta find my way to Phoenix somehow, you know, get to Las Vegas. And that was a big thing. Especially before Zoom interviews were even a thing. I hadn't done an interview virtually before the pandemic. And actually, I put a tweet out like the first week of the pandemic in March of 2020. And I said, guys never done a virtual interview before, what do you suggest? I had a lot of people throwing out suggestions. I ended up in a Zoom kind of place where everyone was flocking. It was easy, right? But up until that point, they were all done in person. I was driving five hours, this is one where like I had a scoop with Chris Jericho, I drove five hours to do this interview. I was editing it on the way back on my laptop as my buddy was driving and then the laptop died. We pulled over to a service station to plug it back in to finish the export. Like that was the type of stuff I was doing. And I think that now, there's a lot of podcasters that are so conditioned to just here's the Zoom link. These conversations aren't the same. I put a tweet out and I asked people I said, if you only do a virtual interview with somebody, did you really meet them? And it was interesting seeing the responses, because there were a lot of people who had only ever done virtual interviews going yeah, absolutely. Of course I met them. Yeah, we had a great conversation. And then there are a lot of other people that said, No, you didn't really truly meet them. Because when you do see them in person, you say to them, it's so good to finally meet you in person, the same thing you say every time, right? There's just something about this.”

On people thinking the Mike Myers interview was fake:

“I just don't understand it. I spent my whole career interviewing everybody. And that video went viral first on Facebook Reels, then on TikTok, then on YouTube. And there were so many comments being like, nice fake interview, or This guy's pretending to interview Mike Myers. [why do people pick that video?] So he was in a studio with great professional lighting and wearing a lapel mic? Like it was being produced by Netflix, quoting his TV show called The Pentaverate. Yeah, I was in at the time. I just moved in with my now wife. I was in her spare bedroom with like, terrible lighting and my laptop. I get when you put the two images next to each other. Yeah, it didn't look the same. But isn't that every zoom interview? Somebody has a better mic or somebody has a better camera. And it was just my framing was a little bit tighter, his was a little bit wider. So the way that it was edited together. I had so many comments from people being like, why did you fake this interview? And then it was getting liked on Facebook by hundreds of people. So I started responding to people and going well, here's the full interview. Yeah. And then no one would even bother to look at that. And like during the full interview, like Mike Myers grew up, like 10 minutes from where I grew up in Canada. So at the start of the interview, I'm like, Hey, I grew up in Pickering. He's like, Oh, Pickering, which is known for having a nuclear power plant. And he's like, Were you close to the nuclear power plant? I'm like, How could you tell? He's like, Oh, you do have a bit of a glow about you. And like, the fact that we had this back and forth, right? People thought that I just like, took an answer that he had already given in another interview. And then I recorded myself asking a question that might lead to that answer. The time that person took to write the comment, they could have Googled my name and Mike Myers and seen the interview. That was like, that's just the internet summed up right there. I’ll never understand that one.”

On preparing for a 5 minute press interview:

“So I spend hours doing it because I want something that's going to be a) entertaining, b) relevant, but c) and most importantly, memorable. So am I asking them about a recent role that they are rumoured to be playing? Am I asking them about their workout routine? Am I  asking them, am I tying this character into an iconic character they played years ago? Sometimes it's a person I've always wanted to interview like Sylvester Stallone. I'm like, I've got to ask a Rocky question here in some sort of way. Even if it doesn't tie into this film, I've got to do that right? Or like my favourite movie of all time is Back to the Future. I've got Robert Zemeckis, the director of Back to the Future sitting right here. Like, I have to ask him a Back to the Future question. So I think it comes down a lot for like, for me of like, Who's the person? What have they done in their career? How can we somehow tie that all into this project right now?”

Advice for people to start an interviewing channel:

“I think you’ve got to take the opportunities that are in front of you right now. And I think that aiming big is a great thing. But I don't think that you can go man, this podcast is only going to work if I can interview these NBA players, or these NHL players or this actor or whatever, like, take the opportunities that are in front of you. I'll speak specifically to the wrestling niche. I think there's a lot of people that go, Well, man, WWE won't write back to my emails. AEW, won't give me any interviews, Impact Wrestling won't do it either. It's like, I bet there's a wrestling school near where you live. Or I bet there's an independent wrestling promotion that runs in and around where you live. Go there. Talk to the promoter, ask if you could interview some of the people that wrestle on their show. Start there, and then get better from there. And I think that you need to start with what's in front of you right now and build from that, because you're gonna get better with every single one of these that you do.”