From Japan to Barrie: The story of Easy ESL Games


The Beginning

Learning by Doing. That was the core philosophy at the English language school in Kobe, Japan where Kevin and Steve worked together.

As Kevin was preparing to move back to Barrie, he started a YouTube channel making short animated videos explaining how to play learning games in classrooms. They were not the worst things on the internet, they were clear, to the point, and useful. However, they were far from polished.

Lesson Learned: Get to the point.

Building Up Steam

He made a website called Easy ESL Games and it probably was the worst thing on the internet. I (Steve) had started my own school and suddenly had a lot more free time.

I also starting producing videos and making teaching resources for use in my school, that we could also sell through the website.

We did not know though, how to actually make people aware, or care, about what we were doing and selling. 

Lesson Learned: No one cares about what you are doing. You have to prove to them that your business is worth caring about.

Phil had joined and gave us a much-needed boost. He Improved the website immeasurably and not just fixed our SEO, but propelled it to another stratosphere. He changed how we posted, how we used images and how we wrote for maximum impact.

It affected both how people and search engines found us. 

Lesson Learned: SEO doesn’t have a one-time quick fix button. It’s a hundred small steps that should affect how you make content.

Making Friends

Our videos were getting better and people were starting to watch, but we weren’t actually making any money from it. We did, however, collaborate with Super Simple Learning (the Baby Shark Doo doo doo doo doo people), Maple Leaf Learning and AGO Card Games and the number of subscribers to our channel started to grow considerably.

The first spike is from Super Simple Learning

Lesson Learned: Reaching out is free and often massively beneficial. 

Kings Of Music

We then made an album of kids songs called “Easy Kids Songs Vol 1”, that’s still selling and being used in classrooms all over the world. The music seemed to be the way to go.

Unfortunately, the overhead costs and the time taken to make much better videos was becoming unrealistic, because no real income was being generated. We had mortgages, kids and other business interests that needed our attention. One of those business interests was S9D-Marketing.

Between us, we made over 250 videos of increasing quality that have been seen organically over 3 million times to date (we are not sure on the number of views from Facebook because what they consider is a “view” is very…ahem, generous

Lesson Learned: We focussed too much on making new content instead of promoting what we had.

Actually Getting Good At It.

Throughout its time we learned TONS. We learned about live-action and animated video production.

We learned sound editing, website creation, website speed, page rankings, Facebook, YouTube, Google, ad copy, and a million other tiny things that add up to make a huge difference to your online presence.


Lesson Learned: It was worth it.

Hard Choices

We made a ton of mistakes, but we learned from them. Ultimately, we could never really figure out how to make a living off it and it was taking too much time and effort. Posting a video takes minutes, but posting a video properly takes time. 

It was time to let it go. 

Lesson Learned: Just because you put time and money into something, it doesn’t mean you should keep doing it.

The Current State

Easy ESL Games hasn’t had a new video posted in 6 months but continues to grow. The album sells/is streamed to the value of about $1000 a year and our resources have been downloaded thousands of times.

It might be worth going back to, this time really try to promote it with paid ads. However, the time required to do everything properly is the time we no longer had. Easy Kids Songs Vol 2 is unlikely. 

Lesson Learned: You remember and learn from the mistakes far more than the successes.

How can this help my business in Barrie?????

The skills we learnt lend themselves almost too perfectly for digital marketing, and Easy ESL Games became S9D – Digital Marketing (formally Samurai 9 Design).

Easy ESL Games was basically our University. We quite literally learned by doing and many of the core, brutal truths learned from Easy ESL Games are prevalent in much of what we do. 

Steven Clancy

Steven Clancy


Steve is in charge of content creation for S9D Digital Marketing. 

His videos have been seen over 4 million times (organically) ad he prides himself on his ability to make engaging, user-based content.

S9D Digital Marketing 9 Design

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