From Japan to Barrie: The story of Easy ESL Games
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.
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.
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.
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. We had to make a change....
We couldn't continue to build the channel full time but when we had awesome ideas we put them out. We started posting a great video every 2-3 months instead of 1, or 2 new videos posts every week.
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 has grown steadily with very little effort over the last few years. Then, when the pandemic switched forced many schools to explore zoom classes, Easy ESL Games was ahead of the curve. Because Steve's school is located in Japan, they started Zoom lessons a few weeks before the rest of the world. That meant that when the rest of the world started looking for "Zoom Lesson Ideas", Easy ESL Games was there to help with a number of well-timed resources.
2020 has been our most successful year for Easy ESL Games. It still isn't Steve's full-time job but it's getting there. Let's face it. Building a YouTube channel is a lot like digital marketing. People need to know, like and trust you before they are will to buy from you. Ironically, when our Zoom related teaching videos started taking off, they brought our album sales and downloads with them.
Through our YouTube Page, Easy ESL Games has helped tens of thousands of teachers make learning a little more fun for hundreds of thousands of students... and that's pretty cool!
Lesson Learned: Don't give up on an asset that genuinely helps people.
How can this help my business ?????
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.
Author: Steve Clancy
Steve is in charge of content creation for S9D Digital Marketing. His videos have been seen over 12 million times (organically) ad he prides himself on his ability to make engaging, user-based content.