Be The Loudest In The Room: How To Create And Repurpose Content To Dominate Different Social Media PlatformsMar 09, 2021
You won’t be a stylist your whole life. Even if you want to, there will come a time when you simply can’t. Being a social media influencer may not be for everybody, but it’s certainly one of the coolest ways for you to step away from the chair. That was the direction that Matt Beck took when he left Paul Mitchell. Starting with nothing but simple filming equipment and his incomparable skills, he founded Free Salon Education, a passion project of his that brings out online styling classes to the public for – you guessed it – free. To cut the long story short, Matt was able to monetize this project handsomely, but not before he learned how to offer something unique and become the loudest person in the room. In this interview, Ryan Weeden follows Matt’s journey from starting out in YouTube to becoming the massive influencer he is now. Join in this conversation as he shares tufts of information that you might find valuable in your own online endeavors.
Listen to the podcast here:
Be The Loudest In The Room: How To Create And Repurpose Content To Dominate Different Social Media Platforms
With Matt Beck Of Free Salon Education
I have got Matt Beck. We all know him. We see him. His videos are everywhere. His education is free and it's everywhere as well. He is the CEO and Founder of Free Salon Education. I cannot wait to pick his brain. Welcome to the show, Matt.
Thank you so much. I'm very excited to be here. I'm pumped to see what you're doing. This is super cool. It's great to be here.
It's always fun to talk to somebody else that is keen on video, audio and everything because you also know that the connection is going to be clean.
I did a live class with one of my friends, Ben Brown who's in the UK. It's a beautiful thing that we have this internet, the social media stuff. We can connect so easily, but at the same time, it sometimes becomes very difficult. He would freeze every five minutes. We'd have to scramble and he'd call back. Everybody's starting to catch on and enjoying online education. Since I've been doing this for a few years, it's fun to watch everyone. We went from online education and people are starting to feel it out like, “That's all we’ve got.” You're watching everybody scrambling and trying to figure it out. It's so much easier now to be involved in online education than it was a few years ago.
I'm sure you've run into every single problem that you could possibly face. You're getting ready to go live and something's not working, charged, or plugged in. The other person, you can't hear them. This is everything from video to audio to Zoom. We face many challenges. Since we have been doing it for a while and I've been doing it for years now, and you've been doing it for years, we are so much better at troubleshooting. In 2020, everybody's like, “My salon is closed. I need to start getting virtual.” Everybody's trying to figure it out. It's fun to sit back and be like, “I'm glad I already have all the fancy toys,” because you couldn't even find cameras for most of 2020.
It's still hard to find the different tools that you need to get good quality video and audio. You figured it out. Have you been doing video podcasts for quite a while?
I haven't done much video podcasting.
Do you record these?
Yeah. This is through Zoom, Apple Podcasts and everything. I have a lot of footage because everything I've recorded has been live. It's a matter of balancing all my others. It's much easier to send my audio to my editor and they put it up on something called Buzzsprout. It's a company that launches it to all the platforms for you. It's an easy interface. They show you how many people are subscribing or whatnot. I have all this great footage like you and I talking right now. That'll probably make it to Instagram or something once I have some free time or some more people on my staff. This will be audio.
I'm a big believer. I'm sure a lot of salon professionals listen to this. People are always complaining that they don't have enough time to create things and put it out there. My thought is as a salon professional behind the chair, you're creating content all day long. The problem is not capturing it. If you flip that a little bit and you start filming every move that you make throughout the day, the different styles that you do on your customers, the conversation. It's a podcast in itself to talk to somebody about their challenges with their hair, and the different things that they could do to make their hair better.
All you have to do is hit record. Once you have that, then it's super easy. You don't have to be a tech person or somebody that loves doing that to then flip that into a content. It doesn't cost that much money to chop things up, video or audio or whatever it is, to constantly be putting out new things. To stay relevant in this industry now, it's about who's being the loudest on the internet. In your town, who's the loudest? It's always that person that gets the opportunities. When I think about being an educator and before I did the online stuff, I felt like I was drowning because I'm not a loud person. I couldn't get the opportunities. I kept trying. I would show up, but because I wasn't the loudest person in the room, talent doesn't matter as much as being the one that gets noticed.
How do you get noticed? You're only going to get noticed if you put things out and you keep doing it consistently. When I look at this, video podcasts are popular, but they are good for a niche audience. It's cool that you capture this and I'm going to challenge you, you’ve got to start chopping this up or find somebody to chop it up. You don't want to put the whole thing out, but little clips of that would be awesome to see you doing that.
I'll take you up on that challenge.
You have a beautiful setup. We came on here and I got jealous.
I've got what I call a mega desk now. I saw this YouTube video. My videographer sent it to me. He's like, “Ryan, you need this attachment to your desk.” It's something that attaches to your desk. It's like an arm that shoots up. It has the octopus’ things. I've got lighting above me. I've got my monitor there. I've got audio everywhere. It's pretty cool. From a tech guy’s perspective, it's so sexy.
I know exactly what you're talking about. I watched that guy on YouTube as well. This is another cool thing people should understand. We spend so much time immersing ourselves in our own industry but to grow, you’ve got to experience new things. I used to go to a nice restaurant and experience the wait staff and how they treat you, and then transfer it into the salon business. Now, it's like you watch YouTube videos, but not just YouTube videos about salon stuff. Watch YouTube videos about things that you can incorporate into your salon stuff like decorating or graphic design or video. All of these things, you could transfer into your profession and then stand out. I was talking about standing out before. That's what it's all about. Figure out what makes you different. Everybody cuts hair. We all cut hair in this industry, color hair or whatever. What makes you different? That's the biggest thing. I don't cut hair better than anybody, but I've studied other things. I'm starting to stick out above other people because of the quality of the content. That's something that has to be practiced and you have to figure out what makes you different and then go all-in on that.
It's about evolving. The traditional hairstylist and finding success the old way about building a clientele might serve its purpose. You might have a great clientele, but how are you ever going to be able to step away from the chair? Every day that you're not working, you're not making any money. I was thinking about this like, “What do you tell a stylist if they want to make more money back in the days?” You'd say, “Either got to stay longer, come in earlier, take more clients during the day or raise your prices.” Those are the only ways you can make more money if you ever want to take a vacation. That's not even about walking away from the chair. Do you want to be doing hair to pay the bills when you're 60, 70 or 80? Probably not.
Even if you want to be, you might not be able to.
I know after years, my neck and my shoulder, I had carpal tunnel and I've got chronic pain in my neck because of blow-drying and all of that behind the chair stuff. If you want to get ahead now and you're talking about being the loudest in the room, then you have to evolve. You have to start expanding your role as just the hairstylist. It was funny because I sat in my chair here and I'm looking at myself, my headphones on with my speaker. I'm like, “I used to be a hairstylist. What am I doing now? Where has my life even gone to?”
It's funny because everybody has become this. Clubhouse is out. I'm on it. I've signed up, but I've never done one yet. I see people jumping on there and I get the alerts. Everybody's becoming podcasters and conversation. The world is turning into this and it is so normal now. Before I did hair, I was on the radio. That was something that I was passionate about. The problem was I had to beg for a raise to $12,000 a year. Being on radio, you don't get paid much. It's more ego than it is money unless you're Howard Stern or something.
Not only do you have to stand out, but you've also got to figure out where your lane is, what you do best. I think about the industry. I get nervous and excited because it's always been like there were stylists, there were salons, or booth renting or whatever it was. Now it's evolved to opening a suite and things like that. For me, people would quit their salon and they would go and open a salon because they didn't like their owner or they didn't like the ways. They felt like they can do it better. You then move into suites. It's such a cool thing for the industry to have it.
As a salon professional, you’re creating content behind the chair all day long. All you have to do is hit record.
My fear is stylists aren’t thinking about, and this isn't even just stylists, in general people think about instant gratification. It’s like, “How do I make more money? How do I get more clients? How do I do all this stuff?” We don't think about the long-term effects of every decision that we make or all the things that we do. For me, it's like going to a suite or something like that is great, but what's the long-term goal? What are you trying to do? How are you stashing things away? What does the future look like? Some people have great plans and some people don't.
The message that I want to put out there industry-wise is I want to start moving my thoughts. It used to be like haircutting and all of this stuff. I'm still doing hair cutting, but I’m trying to help stylists understand that it's not about the right now. It's about looking at your future. For me, I worked for Paul Mitchell for a long time. As a hair company, I was traveling, I was teaching. I did it for ten years. I kept pushing, trying to get recognition and trying to get a little bit more money. I was trying to get them to notice me. I’m jumping like, “Hello, I'm here.” It never happened. It didn't happen for who knows what reasons.
After ten years, I was like, “What am I going to look like later in life?” Even if I stay with one company or I'm doing one thing or whatever, what is my end goal? What am I going for? For me, it's always been, “I’ve got to build something.” Free Salon Education started with the thought of making YouTube videos, but then evolved into owning a salon because I want to own a salon for the future of my family. I started Free Salon Education because I wanted to be more than the guy that works for Paul Mitchell. I wanted to build something that had value for my future. Hairdressers have to think in that way like, “What do twenty years from now look like?” It's easy to think what tomorrow is going to look like or whatever. Twenty years from now, do you have retirement? Do you have all these things? That's my focus. Like I should've focused earlier and I'm strongly focused on building that now. I hope that hairdressers can get into that mindset.
I relate to that so much. The whole part about you working with Paul Mitchell and trying to move ahead in that company. They weren't letting you. There's still probably a lot of red tape because it's such a big company. I was in a very similar situation where I knew that I wanted to be on stage. I had approached all these big brands. I had worked for Toni & Guy. I wanted to move my way along. I knew that I was willing to do whatever it took to get there, but the opportunity didn't exist. That’s where I decided to take my life and my future into my own hands and say, “I'm going to build my own stage.” Here's the Masters of Balayage. I'm the Master of Balayage now. I'm the one guy in the company. I’m the educator. This is my stage. I built it. You did the same thing.
That's exactly the truth. Ten years into my working with Paul Mitchell, I was doing 75 classes a year and traveling a ton in my car. All I wanted to do was be on the platform, fly in airplanes, and live that famous hairdresser life. I didn't get those opportunities, but I remember flying to Detroit, Michigan, working with Scott Cole who's great. I was hoping through that whole thing that somebody would notice my hard work. After ten years, I was getting fed up a little bit with the opportunities not quite coming. I was young and didn't understand things. I was getting frustrated with Paul Mitchell. Now, I know differently, but I was getting frustrated because the opportunities weren't coming.
I was seeing people and you would think, why are they getting the opportunity and I'm not? I'm working super hard. One weekend in Las Vegas at the Paul Mitchell gathering, which is their big hair show, John Paul DeJoria, the owner of Paul Mitchell was up there talking. He starts talking about this guy who works so hard. He always shows up. He never says no. I ended up that weekend winning the leadership award for Paul Mitchell, the company. As I'm walking up to that stage to get my award from him, deep inside, I was screaming and thinking, “This is it. Now they're going to call me. I'm going to be on DVDs,” DVDs were a thing back then, “I'm going to cut hair on a DVD. I'm going to travel the world.” All of this stuff is going through my head. All my hard work is paying off. I get the award, which is an iPad. It has engraved in the back like a leadership award or whatever.
It's a very nice award to get and the recognition. I love being recognized for things. People say nice things or whatever, but I didn't do it for the award. I did it because I wanted my career to go into a different place. I swear to you for the next two months, every single time the phone rang and it was a California number, I thought it was Paul Mitchell calling me to be like, “Matt, jump on the plane, come shoot a DVD.” Here's what I'm going to tell you, and this is a lesson that I hope to share for the rest of my life. Everything happens for a reason, 100%. If they would've called me and put me on a DVD, I never would have done any of the other stuff that I've done in my life. I probably would have been so happy. I'd still be working directly with Paul Mitchell being an educator, maybe had traveled.
It's short-term thinking. That would have been fun for three years and then they would have found the next person that works hard. There's an evolution. There's a time stamp on the top, the success. If you don't build something, if you do it within somebody else, then eventually your time goes away, and then it goes to somebody else. It's the evolution of how it works. I think about that a lot. I think about I'm grateful now that I didn't get those opportunities because it fired me up and it made me push harder. All the things that happened in my life fire me up and make me push harder. When I look at negativity or things that happened to me that bummed me out or whatever, I get pumped about it. I get more excited because I know that this is what's making me work harder. This is what's making me reach my goals. Every time I don't feel like I'm getting something that I've worked hard for or whatever, I just work harder. I look back on it and I'm like, “I'm glad that all worked out the way that it did.”
Number one, I'm glad that you can relate to that because it's a weird thing in the beauty industry because not all of us wanted to be educators, not all of us wanted to travel the world. I'm sure we can relate within a salon having that feeling of like, “Why is this person getting something that I feel like I deserve?” or whatever. I'm going to tell you, that doesn't mean you need to leave or whatever. It just means that you need to push yourself. Sometimes we've got to look at ourselves in the mirror and be like, “Why am I not getting what I'm looking for?” Most of the time it's us that's keeping ourselves out of it. It's not other people. Other people aren't in control of your success or your life or whatever. Even if you think it's the salon owner if you're working hard enough, people love you, people want to come into you, you will be fruitful in all of your stuff because people are going to be attracted to you. They're going to come to you. They're going to stay with you. You will be the one that stands out.
That was the start of Free Salon Education. Did you decide to quit Paul Mitchell or was Free Salon Education a side hustle? I'm thinking at first, you're doing all of this for free. Were you doing it with the intention of making money from YouTube and putting out as much content as you can? Was that a plan from the start?
It's funny because I get thank you messages daily for doing this for free. I try to tell people all the time, “I do this for free for them.” I didn't start with the intention to have it be free and never make money off of it. I started with the intention of, “I was trained by Paul Mitchell for ten years to walk into a salon, give them a free class with the hope that they will buy hair products or hair color or whatever it is.” That was my culture. That's how I learned. Paul Mitchell gave free classes because sales came from it.
Right away, I was so angry again with the corporate world and the world of hair companies that I was like, “I'm going to build a company that does everything for free for the hairdresser. I'm going to get money from the companies because they're going to want me to teach my audience that.” At first, I was fired up and wanted to prove something. In my life, that's how I evolved. I get fired up. I go to prove something with that. I then started to grow up. I started my YouTube channel, but I was already a salon owner with my wife. We had been in a salon for about 3 or 4 years before that.
I didn't get the phone call from Paul Mitchell. Finally, I saw online education, I’m not going online, but I saw on YouTube a couple of hairdressers. There’s the salon guy. We worked in Paul Mitchell together. We don't talk much anymore. I don't know why, but at that moment, he stopped working with Paul Mitchell a little bit. He started going all on YouTube creating videos. I saw that and I thought that looked like a cool way to educate. I started creating videos. I took that iPad that I won because I didn't have a camera. I used the camera off the iPad. I bought a tripod for it. We started filming on Wednesday nights. A couple of our staff would get together. I used to do trainings on Wednesday nights with my new team members, and then that transferred into, “I'm going to film a video on Wednesday nights.” We’d have a beer afterwards or whatever, and talk hair. It was fun. I put out the first video on YouTube and within a week I had 100 views. I remember thinking, “This is it.”
I was driving in my car. I would spend three hours in my car every Sunday and Monday. I had a kid who was probably five at the time. I'm traveling and driving to teach four people. Now I make a YouTube video and a week later, I had 100 people. A month later, that same video had 1,000 views. I didn't have to do any more work. I just start pumping videos out. I get fired up and I start going full force in making videos, learning to edit. I already knew how to edit because I worked in radio. I could chop up audio well. Video was very similar and I chopped it up. I did the voiceovers. I pretended like I was on a Paul Mitchell DVD. I put out that style of video and I kept doing it. It started growing. Within three months, we had 30,000 subscribers.
It started rapid-fire picking up. I got more fired up and I launched a daily vlog thing because I saw Casey Neistat doing a daily vlog. This is the other thing. My wife makes fun of me because I immerse myself so much into something that I like that I start to warp into what that is. Sometimes it’s embarrassing to watch. This is me getting older and starting to notice things about myself. I love that part about myself because I learned so much if I watch YouTube videos and I watch people. The first person I watched was FroKnowsPhoto. He's a photographer. He was creative. He had this podcast that was funny, but it was about photography though. He did a lot of education stuff. He was from Philly. The first three months of my thing, I ended up reaching out to him. He invited me in and I did his podcast. I learned so much video stuff from him and photo stuff just watching his channel.
I take that and I put it into my stuff. I took the Casey Neistat stuff and put it into my stuff. I’m flying a drone around before my hair cutting video. I did all that because I started obsessing over other things other than hair and then incorporating it in. All that stuff makes you who you are. Now I don't watch Casey Neistat. I've moved on. I watch other things. You evolve. It’s the same thing with hair cutting. There were certain people that I watched cut hair. I truly adopted their style and their methods. Throughout my career, it became more and more. I keep collecting.
To me now, when I look at it, that's what makes you who you are. For me, I didn’t become who I am. I’m finally feeling like I'm becoming who I am meant to be. In my twenties, I thought I was and I wasn't. I was a mimic of things that I liked and now it's all coming together. I'm happy at the moment I'm at. You get more clarity as you get older. You think you know everything when you're younger, but clearly I feel like I'm thinking, seeing things differently, and understanding what's important. I made the first video. After the first couple of years, I still wasn't getting paid. I was begging for people to give me money for the videos, and all the companies laughed.
I remember specifically reaching out to Paul Mitchell and being like, “I'm making videos every week. I'd love for you guys to support it.” They did have a meeting and I do respect them for that. They came back and said, “It's not a right fit for us.” I was upset at that moment because I had put in so much time with them and I felt like they weren't seeing it. Two years into doing the YouTube videos, I reached out to Mizutani Scissors and I just wanted a free pair of scissors. I was like, “How can I get a free pair of $500 scissors?”
Influencer 101, the reason you're doing it is to get free stuff sent to you.
I was like, “Give me free stuff, whatever.” I had talked to this guy, Kiyoshi who answered the phone. I said, “This is Matt Beck from Free Salon Education. I’m making these videos. I'd love to show your scissors off. I'm wondering if you could send me a pair.” Other scissor companies had turned me down left and right, a bunch of nice scissor brands. He right away goes, “I'm going to send you all of them. I'll send you one every week. I want you to take a picture with all of them.” I'm like, Cool.” He sends me scissors and I get obsessed with it. We become friends. He's telling me all about the scissors. I'm collecting all of this information about scissors that I'd never known before.
I started making videos about scissors and then people start asking me like, “Where can I buy them?” I'm like, “Maybe I should make a store.” I started learning how to make an online store. We launched ShopFSE and I started selling scissors. No joke, these videos, sometimes I'm reaching one million people a month on YouTube. I'm selling the scissors and I become the number one Mizutani distributor in the United States. It then became a business.
Other people aren’t in control of your success. You are.
At the time when we first started this, I was in an 800-square foot salon. We had four chairs and it was a small space. We clear all the chairs out. I pull a white screen down. I filmed the videos. Before we'd open at 11, I put the screen back up, put the chairs back and then we'd do our day. All of that happened. I was at a hair show after about three years of being into doing Free Salon Education. Robert Cromeans who's a big part of Paul Mitchell was in Nashville, Tennessee. We're at this show. I go to the bar and I'm sitting there by myself because I was traveling by myself. Robert Cromeans comes up to me. This guy has been an idol of mine since I started. He showed me in the very first hair show I ever went to without even talking to me what success could be in the beauty industry. I don't even know what success means. For me, it was looking at him doing something that he loves with a team that he loves. I could tell. He was up there. They were having a good time. All of them had great stories about their career. I was obsessed with it. That's what led me to the Paul Mitchell thing.
I run into him at the bar and he tells me that he's seen the stuff I've been doing. He said, “You're doing great things.” I talk about Paul Mitchell a little bit and how it didn't work out. He goes, “I think you should give it another shot. I'm going to send an email to somebody.” That was it. That night I was cc'd on an email to one of the guys in Paul Mitchell. Within a week, Paul Mitchell had jumped on board and they were sponsoring my content. They are saying to me like, “Sorry, it didn't work out before, but we're good.” It was crazy and that was part of me understanding how companies work. I could have been upset about them not wanting it at the time, but I get it. You’ve got to prove something. You’ve got to set yourself apart. That's what I said at the beginning. Paul Mitchell eventually saw what I could do and I showed it to them. They can't have eyes on everybody. It's a big company. Why would I expect them to trust me? That's different. I showed them what I can do just like you're showing everybody what you can do. You have to do that and then everything starts to fall into place.
After I started working with Paul Mitchell and they started sponsoring some content and working together. I'm good at creating content for brands. It's cool to put out there even though not everybody wants the job that I have, you don't have to charge in the thing that everybody sees. A lot of the things that people don't see me doing is where I'm making money. Doing free classes and all of that is proving to the world, or growing an audience and showing people what I can do. I get a phone call like, “We love what you do. Can you do it for us?” I'll bring in artists. They'll come in here. I'll film them in the style that I do and I start creating. Brands have a hard time figuring out how to create content that people want to watch.
The new world is not like a hair show. People don't want to hear you talking too much. You can build an audience of a niche market like this, but the majority, the masses, if you want to reach lots of people, you’ve got to show something interesting and people need to know how to do that. That's one thing that I do the best is understanding how to chop something up to teach, but then also not make it too long. Because I'm a hair educator and a hairdresser, I know what to edit, take out and leave in. Most editors don't. I can tell you that because I've tried to hire lots of them to help take off the workload and they don't get it because they're not hairdressers.
I’ve trained my videographer over the years to know what to look for. We still have to watch him or somebody has to watch him and direct like a hawk to make sure that the artists, whether it's me or somebody else, our hand is on the way, our back is on the way. We have to make sure that we capture this. We have to change the angle of the camera to make sure we give our audience what they need. It's super important that you either train somebody or you say, “Screw it. I'm going to edit it and learn it myself.”
I have a question about YouTube. You said you put in two years of hard work, creating videos, getting lots of views, but you weren't getting any money. You weren't getting any free stuff until you reached out to Mizutani, who started giving you scissors and you opened up the shop. YouTube is known for giving people big paydays once they have a big audience. Was this far enough away that they didn't have that revenue program set up yet? I do a few videos here and there. I'm making $500 a month. I don't put any focus in. I look at somebody like you and I assume right now it's at least a six-figure business. Am I right about that?
Specifically from YouTube, it’s not six figures, but business-wise, yes. Opportunities come. YouTube is interesting. First off, the first video that we made, I didn't know and they were the ones that blew up. I didn't know that there was a music thing. I put songs on those videos that were copywritten songs, which still allow the video to be on YouTube. We were getting all these views from specific videos and those videos happen to have copyright music. We didn't get paid for them. There was no pay and you’re seeing a video get one million views. YouTube pays all creators like $10 per 1,000 views. It's like $0.10 a view. It's not a lot of money.
I was having this conversation with Ben Brown who's launching his channel. I was trying to clarify and tell him that I never even worried about YouTube money. If I got paid a little bit of money from YouTube, I bought something like lighting or a camera. I'm telling you right now I had zero money. I grew up in Illinois, a small town of 700 people. My parents are blue-collar with not a lot of money. When I moved to Philadelphia, right out of hair school, I was trying to get out here because of that inspiration from Robert Cromeans and wanting to change my life. I was very financially-driven because that was a struggle my whole life.
Not in a bad way, my parents gave us everything that we begged for. There was always a financial burden somewhere. When I got out here, I worked in a salon for a guy who worked for Paul Mitchell, Sam Burns. I worked for him for three years and built my clientele. He moved to California. I took over the salon. Me and my wife bought it because one of my clients, sitting in my chair, he said, “I'll give you a $50,000 loan to buy this business. You pay me back within five years and we're good to go.” I lost it because no one had ever said anything like that to me before. I said, “Okay.” I called Sam and I said, “I'll give you $50,000.” He said, “Okay,” because he was out. He moved.
We took over the business and still struggling. I gave him the whole $50,000, which I never should have done. That was so dumb. I'm like, “Here, Sam, take them all.” I had no money. I couldn't buy products or colors. We sparingly put it together. My wife was waitressing at the time. She's giving me all the tips. We're trying to buy hair products and stuff. We finally get all of that. With that being said, when I started the YouTube thing, I still didn't have any money. We owned a salon, but there's no money. There’s no money to start buying nice cameras and all of this stuff, to throw money away like you don't know what's going to happen.
You said you’ve even used your iPad because that's what was given to you. When you're starting something out and you don't have a lot of money, we've all been there. You use what you’ve got and then you hope to invest from there.
Everybody waits or they think they should buy some fancy cameras and start it out. You’ve got to start with whatever you have. After making all those videos and they're getting millions of views with an iPad, I went to QVC or Home Shopping Network. They had like five easy pay. I took all my YouTube money. I called QVC and I bought my first nice camera, DSLR on QVC, on a five-payment plan. I'm taking the YouTube money and trying to buy a camera and it worked. I bought that camera. We launched the podcast so I needed two more cameras. I put two more cameras on easy pay. I’m like Peter to pay Paul or whatever it's called.
I’m trying to figure it out. I look at this room that's full of equipment. There's stuff behind that wall and cameras and lights. I've got so much. To go live with multiple cameras, we needed a rack case with different switchers and three computers to go live and we did it. That sat in my salon, my wife would come in, she'd be clicking the camera switcher and all of that. We made it happen. The YouTube money was great because it launched it all. Finally, I figured out not to put copywritten music and all of that. I started making videos every day to try to get stuff out there. I use mannequins all the time. People give me a hard time sometimes about it because they want to see real people. For me, this has always been a relaxing thing for me. I'll cut a mannequin. I might cut half of it today and another half tomorrow. I do it when I'm in the mood. With a model, it’s an all-day process.
You have to wait for the processing. You have to be nice to them. You can't just walk away from them and eat lunch.
You have to do hair at the same time. A lot of it was on those spare moments. For me, if I look at a hairdresser on their spare time and I think like, “What are you doing right now? You're listening to a podcast right now. That's a good idea.” What are you doing in the salon when nothing's going on? When I talk about that future or that thought process, that's what you're implanting. It's easy to be like, “Tomorrow is booked so I'm going to relax today.” That's fine but later on, you're going to regret taking that little bit of time during the day. Maybe if you could have done one little thing, not to overdo it, but one little thing, you might have to adjust it. For me, I film a video in the morning. I'd do a client and on her processing time, I'd be editing that video. I've worked that throughout my day. In the end, there are pictures of me on the internet doing a voiceover in my car because the song was too loud and we didn't have an extra room. I'm in there with my laptop and my USB microphone. I'm talking over a video. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to get yourself where you want to be.
I also feel like the more confident you get with technology and content capturing, the more confident you are behind the chair with what you do every single day because you know like, “I'm going to create something beautiful on my client here. I also know that I'm going to have the ability to capture this client, even if it's to pull up my nice camera, and know how to take a professional photo without having to rely on Facetune or something.”
This is another conversation that comes up a lot because I give out everything for free and I give it out all over the place. There are some hairdressers, a very positive group of people that join my lives. There are some people that are thinking short and in my mind, a little bit too simple. They'll say like, “You're giving out what we do for a job for free.” For me, I love when people watch that don't do hair, not because they're going to learn how to do hair because it would be ridiculous for me to think and I've worked way too hard in my life to think that what I'm putting out on YouTube, somebody can watch a five-minute video and do hair like I do it.
The only way they're going to do hair like I do it is if they spend the next ten years dedicating every thought of their day to haircutting and being better at haircutting. Otherwise, they can't keep up with me. If they can't keep up with you after watching a five-minute video, then that's one of those things where you’ve got to start looking in the mirror, and who's to blame for somebody that can get as good as you watching a YouTube video. It's not going to happen. What I love about it is that now I see people commenting and saying, “My hairdresser never does anything like that. My hairdresser doesn't section my hair.” They start to learn. If we are going to elevate an industry and make an industry better, exposure is good. Education is good and letting customers understand what good hair is.
The Masters of Balayage and all that stuff, when they see these beautiful things, that make us worth more the people that dedicate to the art of doing hair and not just people that are getting by and got out of school, and never took another class. They didn't listen to podcasts and watch educational videos. That's the difference. For me, I flip it. I always try to think about the positive. For me, if you're not immersing yourself in getting better, then somebody is going to pass you. If Karen on YouTube is watching your video for five minutes and now she mimics what I'm doing, it is going to be terrible. I know exactly what she looks like when she's in the mirror. I know what she's trying to do. She's going to drop the section. Right away, I'm excited because now she's going to go, “There is a skill to this.” She's going to find a salon.
We all started doing hair pre-license on ourselves or our friends because we were interested or into it. That's why we became professionals at it because we liked it. Some people had that same feeling. Maybe they didn't go to school yet, maybe they will, or maybe they're into it. The elevation of it all is good for people to see people doing different things. One of my favorite things is to see somebody comment and be like, “I love watching all of your videos because it gives me many ideas. It's cool.” They took one of your videos to a hairdresser and that hairdresser didn't get mad about it because that's another thing. Our egos get in the way. It's not about me teaching that hairdresser how to do a haircut, but being able to see exactly what somebody is liking about something is such a cool thing too. It’s taking a step back.
I had a comment on one of my videos. I did a live on Brazilian Balayage and somebody commented, “Would it offend a stylist if I were to bring this video and gave this to them and say, “This is what I want to do.” I said, “If you had brought that video to me, if it was somebody else's video, I would say, “Thank you.” Now I know exactly the direction you want to go,” but don't expect every stylist to react that way because they might be intimidated by this is very advanced, or they don't like anything on my page. I'm never going to be able to please this person. They're going to feel like maybe that it's not the right fit for them.
You don't think about it that way, the intimidation part of it. It is for me cool to be able to see visually how a haircut moves or how that hairdresser is holding something. Me and you, we're obsessed with education. We're not going to be offended bringing something in. I don't think it's even like we're in a world where people are getting offended easier. We see it more now because of the internet. People always got offended, but there is this weird thing. It's how you grow up maybe where people automatically go to a negative thought of, “This person is showing me this because I'm not good enough to do it. Now, I’ve got to watch this video.” I never take things that way.
Don’t wait until you have fancy cameras to start putting out content. Start with whatever you have.
You should want to watch that video.
Just to see what they like because it's much easier than having a whole conversation trying to beat around the bush about what they want. They're trying to explain it to you and you have no idea. It's like that one commercial about car fixing. They're making all the sounds because they don't know how to explain the car thing. It’s much easier to bring in a video and know exactly what they like about that haircut or what they're trying to do.
Especially if it’s a video from me or you, we teach everything. We don't hold back any secrets. If somebody were going to give that to me, I'd be like, “This is great.” It's not like we're holding back the secret sauce. If you're a stylist that gets this video, you say, “This is great. Thank you so much for bringing this in. I appreciate it. I'll do something very similar to this. Just know that it might not come out exactly right for these reasons. This is a great step in the right direction.” Video content now, how often are you releasing stuff on FSE?
Let's talk about content. At this point in time, we are trying hard to do a lot of live stuff. I'm going back to my salon theory of, “We're doing it, but we're not hitting record.” For me, I'm building Free Salon Education. We built an app from the ground up, FSE Now. I want there to be full-on access to live classes every day. I'm going right on into that. We have like a 4,000-square foot building and two stylists at this point. Both of them worked in Paul Mitchell with me for the same amount of time. I’ve known them forever. They're talented educators. They're both talented at things that I'm not.
They're teaching on the other days. I'm teaching Mondays and Tuesdays. They're doing Wednesday, Thursday. Friday, I'm trying to get companies to teach for now. I'm trying to get a barber to come in here to be an in-house barber to do clients, but then also do lives on Fridays. I'm trying to build a team of educators here so that we can constantly be doing lives in the studio all day long. From a content standpoint, I take a class live on the internet. It's an hour and a half worth of content. I record all that onto a separate drive. I take that raw footage. I put it on my computer. I chop that up into a 3 to 5-minute YouTube tutorial. I send that live class out to a couple of editors that I have now where it doesn't have to be as in-depth cut-down. I have them cut segments out of it and repurpose it to make multiple pieces of content. I post on Facebook every three hours, a new video or a new piece of content from an old video. We're reaching fifteen million people a week on Facebook. I've been driving Facebook. A lot of people have forgotten about Facebook.
There’s a lot of power there still. It’s a powerhouse.
Especially for video, Facebook is really trying hard because it’s their only platform where they catered to horizontal video. Instagram is very vertical even though they let you put horizontal.
It doesn’t get the same reception.
Facebook is constantly adding features. One of the tips I would give anybody reading is to watch social media and no matter what platform it is, watch the moves that they make. They started with Facebook Watch and channels. They started bringing in celebrities. For me, I'm posting in there every three hours because that's what Facebook wants. Whatever Facebook wants, that's what they're going to start pushing. Do they want beauty content? Of course, they want beauty content. No platform doesn't because people get obsessed over that. I'm constantly posting on there.
I don't post as much on Instagram. I grew to 380,000 followers, but it stopped. It's weird on Instagram because I lose 1,000 a day and I gain 1,000 a day. It never moves. For me, I'm paused on there. I post maybe 3 to 5 times a week at the most or something. On YouTube, I'm doing lives daily and posting tutorials from those Lives a few times a week too. There's content all the time. It's nonstop because, are you going to be loud? Are people going to forget about you? People will forget about you. I know people that work so hard to put out one piece of content. They'll spend like a month on it, and then they put it out.
As soon as I hit upload on any platform, what's the next one? As soon as I hit upload, you're already forgetting about it. There's a pop and then it's gone. That's another good thing about Facebook and YouTube. With Instagram, pop and it's gone. With Facebook, it's like pop, and it may go, and then it keeps going. I'm already convinced that after one million views is when they send in the worst human beings on the planet. As soon as you hit one million views, they're like, “Here are all the terrible people.” You get the worst and most hateful comments, but it doesn't matter.
YouTube is a slow burn. I love YouTube for the fact that I'll put out something. It'll get maybe 10,000 views. We have 800,000 subscribers on there. We'll get 10,000 views overnight. You're like, “What's it doing? I don't know.” All of a sudden, you'll watch it a year later and it will just pop. It will go to one million views out of nowhere. For me like YouTube, I set it and forget it a little bit. Everything else, I just feed it. With Facebook, I'll feed videos that I've already put out. People won't put out something a second time. I won't do that on YouTube. It's a different culture.
For Instagram and Facebook, I delete it and repost it so that every three hours I'm putting out something because you have to be crazy to think that people saw it first off, remember it because you're not that important. If they did, they'll be like, “I already saw that,” and they came by. They're not going to get mad at you. If they get mad at you, they'll unfollow you, but then you'll get more followers. It's not that big of a deal. I keep posting because I'm gaining 30,000 followers a week on Facebook and those 30,000 people haven't seen the video that I posted three months ago.
With the algorithms and everything, the chances of somebody seeing that piece of content is still minimal to almost none.
Don't be afraid to take your best posts, delete and repost them. Who cares? Those views don't even matter anymore. That's the biggest thing. With Facebook, I leave it there because it's even hard to find old posts unless you're creepy and you're going way back. I don't even worry about it. I post and repost. I'll chop a little bit. Maybe it's a styling tip out of this video that I made and I'll put that out there. Another little social tip, stop talking at the beginning. It's not a class. You’ve got to be right into it. There are no intros, no one cares who you are until you give them something. Give them something good, and then you can talk at the end if they hang out the whole time.
People watch micro-second videos before they decided they're going to stay on it. Most of the time they're not going to. It's got to be something interesting from the get-go. I'll take some of my YouTube content where I'm doing this intro. I'm talking about giveaways and all this stuff. I'm going into it, but I put that on Facebook, nothing. I'll get barely any attraction on it. I cut myself out of the beginning and I started directly hands in hair doing something in mid-sentence. It doesn't even make sense, but it will get one million views because right here is what they wanted to see. This is not what they want to see. They don’t care about any of that other stuff. What I'll do is I'll take and do a separate outro for that video for Facebook. I'll be like, “Facebook, thanks so much for watching this. If you want to see it, I’ve got a giveaway,” whatever. If I've kept them that whole time, then I do the giveaway at the end. You’ve got to flip your content to fit. You don't have to make separate content for everything. You’ve got to make it make sense on the platform.
Let’s say you are a new content creator. You're experienced in all the platforms. You're a stylist or you've just graduated from school. Maybe you're an older stylist that's looking to start putting their stuff out there on a platform. Where would you begin?
I wouldn't look at the platform because people get too obsessed with platforms. First off, I would start doing live videos. I wouldn't care if anybody was on it because maybe you'll get a couple of people. Maybe you won't. Maybe there will be two. Maybe it will be 10, 100, I don't know. I would do lives. With a styling tip or whatever you do that's special, do that on a live. Take that live video and you can chop it up from there and repost it on all the platforms. The most important thing is to collect the content first. Worry about that and that's what happens when you use a DSLR. What camera are you using? Yours stays on.
I always put a fresh battery in before I start.
Mine has a 25-second or 1-minute timer.
Mine is not recording.
If you're not immersing yourself in getting better, somebody else will pass you.
Does it still have a time limit?
I've got a Sony A7 Mark III.
That's what I need to get.
I’ve got a new one too. I've only used it twice, but it's the 7C. It's got a slightly better video quality. It focuses on your eyes. I was going to ask you too because when you're doing all of your videos, I see a big camera. I want to invest in a bigger camera like an actual camera. We're going into a new creative space. On the back of our property is my studio, but we're moving into our first MOB Creative Studio. I'm so inspired by your place. I've been looking at it for years. I'm going to have a big place to shoot and that perfect cyclorama in the back of the corner like what you have going on.
I'll break some of that down for you because it's important. I'll tell you a couple of things that would be a good exit thing. I've wasted a lot of money throughout this. I bought things I didn't need to get and I think that a big camera is probably one of them. The only thing I like about that camera the most is that it doesn't shut off and all my other ones do. I use 5D Mark IVs for two of my cameras. The Canon C200, which is like an $8,000 camera, I only bought it because I get these bigger hair companies in here to do shoots. It's not as impressive when you have this tiny camera. Those tiny cameras work as good anymore. They're plenty good for social media content. No brands ever asked me what camera I use.
It looks like it's a more production studio.
FroKnowsPhoto, Jared Polin, said to me, “Don't buy it. It's a waste of your money.” It was a waste of my money except for the aesthetic of it. I don't need a cinematic camera. It's like Netflix grade to shoot a special. You don't need it. It’s very hard to color it. The coloring is more faded. Your shot, you need to color grade it. It's hard to match up to other cameras. When I’m live and I switch to this camera, it’s a little more faded looking, and the other one is deeper and contrasty. It’s hard to match those two up. For lives, it doesn't matter but when I go into post-production, I’ve got to color grade it. It’s just a thought. This wall, I built myself. I bent some wood and built two walls. It wasn't even a big deal. It's not seamless at all. My video is very deceiving. Lighting and video and those lights, I bought all these that shut off already. It’s been on all day, but they're battery-powered like wand lights. They're cool.
I bought this TV set flooring, white floor. It's pretty cool too. They piece together. It's an evolution of it. With content, I would make the long-form class, whatever you do with your customer. Even if it's filming or you’re just talking to a customer at the end about their hair tips or whatever, showing them a style tip, do something with an iron, have a friend hold your phone for you. Get some close-up shots or something. I know I've said Ben Brown a lot, but there are little minor things that people do that inspire me in a way if I put so much time into creating a piece to go on the internet. When I look at Ben, I'll explain this in my words. It's a photo, but it's sectioning and you can see his guideline through it. He’s sitting there and he'll take a picture of it. He posts that and it does well.
It makes me remember that sometimes you don't need too much. If you tell a story with your words and you take a picture of something cool, it could literally be a ten-second video of you wrapping hair around a wand iron, and then pulling it out slowly, taking a little hairspray, and tell the story of why you like to do that technique, and show the end result quickly. That's all it needs to be. You've got a piece of content that took you no time to make it. It will stand out on the internet and will live forever.
When I started making the YouTube videos above and beyond the views I was getting, I realized that the videos I made a few years ago now are still getting 200,000 views a month. The education that you put out into the world doesn't go away. Before I would travel six hours, round trip, teach four people and it stayed in their minds and didn’t go anywhere else. For me, the internet is such a great thing because every piece of work that you put out stays out there. I don't know what this will look like years from now, but it's cool to be able to collect all this stuff out there. Cameras will be fancier, the footage will be fancier, but it lives on the internet.
It's only going to be easier to capture content as technology improves. If you start later, there’s going to be even probably a greater learning curve. I don't know if you've ever learned how to build websites, but when I was learning, everything was HTML code. I had to take HTML classes to learn this and now suddenly it's drag-and-drop and super easy. I also know that if I want to switch something or change something, I know how to do it. I can click that HTML editor and I can put in some basic code to get the result I want.
That's so true. I run our online store website and I use Shopify. There's occasionally a time where to even just copy and paste code, you need to go into the code to understand where to paste it. I can't even imagine being somebody that will look at that and be like, “What?” I have no idea, and then you have to hire somebody. That's the biggest thing. What made me grow so fast is that I wasn't scared to learn what I didn't know and study it. I study it fully. In my time off, that's what I did. I studied that. I didn't watch memes. I didn't watch jokes on the internet and all these videos like my twelve-year-old watches. I wasn't doing that. I was learning how to make my business grow more and more, slow and steady and working through it.
I always tell people too, when you're starting your own business, it is important that you start doing everything. You learn everything, every role in your business. Only then are you going to know, “This is not worth my time anymore,” but I know what to look for somebody, who the person I need to do this job. I know what it's going to take. I know probably what they should be paid for that particular job. At first, you’ve got to learn everything because especially too in a pinch, let’s say my videographer is sick or can't do something, I can edit something quick or I can do this. You don't have to hire out for everything and wait on somebody else's timeline. You can turn things around yourself.
I live my life never relying 100% on anybody else. Maybe, my wife, I will say I 100% rely on her. We work well together. She's not going anywhere, I'm not going anywhere, so that's fine. Everything else I do in my life, if everybody disappeared tomorrow, I want to make sure that I can still provide, take care of, and do everything. I might have to work harder but I'm capable of all of it. I'll learn how to do it first and maybe give it to somebody else, but always know that I can do it. I don't take on financial responsibilities like we opened this bigger space here in the salon. I didn't do that until I knew that I didn't even need the salon to take care of this place. If it ever came down to it and something happens, I'm not going to be put into that place.
I make sure that I constantly am working hard so that I never have to worry about that. If one person doesn't exist or whatever, I can always take over and do that and know how to do it. It will be a weird place to be if somebody left and I was like, “I don't even know how to do that.” I can't even imagine being that. Maybe someday that will be in my life, then hopefully there will be some backup people behind them that know how to do it. It's so important to understand every aspect of your business and do it, especially for salon owners. It's a very scary thing to have all your eggs in one basket, especially if you're trying to step away from the chair because then you're relying on all those people.
Matt, thank you so much for being here. I have many more questions I want to ask you, but we'll save that for another time. I love what you’re doing. This is such a great conversation. You and I have a lot of similar qualities. I love to talk to people that have similar aspirations, desires, and love technology. How can people find you if they've never heard of you? It's hard to imagine that they haven't.
Free Salon Education is everything, Instagram, Facebook. On Facebook, there's an official page. That's where I post the most because I'm always putting out content on there. Our FSE Now app is a great thing to get because it's all free education. You could even text me at (215) 608-2612. That way you'll stay up to date on anything I'm doing because if I go live or whatever, I text everybody and let them know.
Thank you, Matt, so much for being here. Give him a text, a shout-out, screenshot this episode and tag us all. You guys rock.