Road to 1 million subscribers with Nathan Davis Jr.
Creator Nathan Davis Jr. acts, sings, writes songs, and dances – talents he displays on his popular YouTube channel, which has 2.5 million subscribers. He’s known for his singing challenge videos and for collaborating with other creators, celebrities, and people he meets on the street. Most recently, he released his holiday EP, Christmas List.
We chatted with Nathan about his creative process, and he shared tips for coming up with new ideas, avoiding burnout and reaching a million subscribers.
Put your spin on it
Nathan believes an idea doesn’t need to be 100% new and original to be creative. Instead, great ideas are all about putting your own spin on things people see and experience everyday. “An easy way to gain followers faster is when you take a trend and make it your own. I’ll study what's going on in the community by going through the YouTube timeline and say, ‘That trend is hilarious. How can I make Nathan's version of that?’”
Nathan also makes sure to pick up inspiration from his everyday life. “I go outside and I see somebody do something funny, and I'll think, ‘How can I make that into a video? How can I exaggerate that moment?’”
Don’t be afraid to fail
If you post a video and it doesn’t do well, who cares? It’s not like you’re going to lose a million followers.” Nathan Davis Jr.
Fear of failure can stop creativity in its tracks. As Nathan says, “My most viral videos happened when I was just having fun and trying new things. But a lot of people are afraid to try something new. You need to realize your followers are still going to be there. If you post a video and it doesn’t do well, who cares? It’s not like you’re going to lose a million followers.”
Nathan thinks it’s actually good to experience at least one big failure. “Once you have that moment where your video flops, it makes you say, ‘Oh, I’m still alive.’ So it gets easier once you break that fear. When I stopped thinking too much about chasing views and just posting and having fun, my views actually went up.”
Use the power of Shorts
Nathan says the reason Shorts can help creators grow quickly is because “every Short has its own algorithm and its own audience. So let’s say you turn your long-form video into two Shorts. The first Short might go to this audience over here, and the second Short might go to another audience over there. Then both audiences could say, ‘Now I’m interested in seeing the full video.’ So the Shorts could help the long-form video go viral.”
Shorts’ versatility also means there are different ways you can use them to promote your long-form content and your channel. For example, “you can choose the ‘wow’ moments from your long-form video and post them as Shorts. Or you can post a snippet of your long-form video and say, ‘Full video on my page.’”
Collaborate with confidence
Nathan is a fan of collaborating and encourages others to try it out. “It’s the best because you're cross promoting with the other person’s fan base.” However, he knows pursuing a collaboration can be intimidating at first. “My advice to the up-and-coming creators is to find creators that have around your same number of followers or a little bit more than you. It’s harder to get a collab if you have 10,000 followers and you're hitting up somebody that has 5 million.”
Nathan also says, “Just be fearless. If you see a creator in person and they seem approachable, say, ‘I love your content. These are my videos. Let's collab.” But, Nathan stresses, be prepared and have your idea ready to pitch.
Nathan knows what it’s like to get burnt out. He feels that creators push themselves so hard because “we have this fear… if we stop, we’re going to lose everything. We’re not going to be relevant anymore. But I think it’s important to take moments to relax. It’s okay to not post for a day or two. Detach yourself for a bit and live in the real world.”
He recommends creating a schedule to help you take a step back and avoid burnout. “Choose one or two days where you create videos for the whole week. Then schedule when you’ll post each video throughout the week. Then go doing something fun instead of just social media.”