Meet the Secret Scriptwriter Getting YouTubers Millions of Views

Summary notes created by Deciphr AI
Summary Notes


George Blackman, a YouTube scriptwriter who's worked with creators like Ali Abadal and Mike Shake, shares insights on the importance of scripting in video production. He highlights how scripting can make or break a video, stressing the need for audience engagement through constant 'minute payoffs' leading to a grand payoff. Blackman discusses the 'four hat' writing process, which includes the Artist, Architect, Writer, and Wizard phases, each crucial for structuring and refining content. He also touches on the idea generation and framing, emphasizing the need to create content that evokes emotion and maintains viewer curiosity. Additionally, Blackman offers tips on hiring scriptwriters and crafting effective calls to action, suggesting a three-step method linking back to the video content, creating a curiosity gap, and making a promise to compel viewers to watch more.

Summary Notes

Financial Risks for Full-time YouTubers

  • Full-time YouTubers face significant financial risks.
  • Thomas Frank has shifted his content strategy to mitigate these risks.
  • The anticipation of how Thomas Frank makes money is created as a hook for the audience.

"In doing so, he sidestepped an absolutely massive financial risk that not many full-time YouTubers ever think about."

  • This quote highlights the financial dangers YouTubers can encounter and suggests Thomas Frank has avoided such pitfalls.

Importance of Scripting in Video Making

  • Scripting is crucial and can determine the success of a video.
  • George Blackman emphasizes the need for understanding the structure of the video content to maintain audience interest.
  • Scripting helps in planning the content flow and retaining viewer attention.

"Scripting is one of the most important parts in the video making process that you are overlooking."

  • The quote underscores the significance of scripting in video production, suggesting that many creators may not give it enough attention.

Idea Generation and Framing

  • Idea generation is a critical phase but distinct from framing the content.
  • The initial idea may not be the best; refinement and perspective are key.
  • George Blackman discusses the process of evolving an idea to make it more compelling and engaging for the audience.

"Your first idea is often not going to be the best one."

  • The quote advises content creators that the first idea for a video topic might need further development to be effective.

Engaging the Audience with Curiosity Gaps

  • Videos must create curiosity and provide a reason for the audience to continue watching.
  • It's important to frame the video in a way that is not only interesting but also evokes an emotional response and curiosity.
  • Opening multiple curiosity gaps ensures the content cannot be easily found elsewhere, thus holding the viewer's attention.

"It's got to be the kind of thing you couldn't just Google and find out very quickly because again we're trying to convince people to give us a significant amount of their time."

  • This quote explains that content should offer unique insights that are not readily available, thereby justifying the time investment of the audience.

Distinction Between Ideas and Topics

  • Ideas and topics are not synonymous; a topic is broader, while an idea is a specific approach within a topic.
  • The idea is the unique angle that makes the topic relevant and engaging for the video.

"Ideas are not the same as topics... the idea is almost like a Russian nesting doll inside of the topic."

  • The quote clarifies the relationship between ideas and topics, with the idea being a more focused element within the broader subject of the topic.

Maintaining Audience Interest with Payoffs

  • Payoffs are essential for keeping the audience engaged throughout the video.
  • Creators need to plan for both the grand payoff and the smaller payoffs that lead up to it.
  • Signposting these payoffs is critical to maintain audience interest.

"The audience needs to know pretty much at all times what it is they're waiting around for next."

  • The quote emphasizes the importance of clear communication with the audience about what they can expect to gain from continuing to watch the video.

Planning and Intention in Video Creation

  • Successful video creation requires careful planning and intention, especially regarding when and how payoffs occur.
  • Scripting and preparation are necessary to ensure these elements are effectively incorporated into the video.

"These types of signposts and planning for how and when the payoffs happen throughout the video... it sounds like something that's difficult to do without thought or intention."

  • This quote suggests that a structured approach is needed to strategically place engaging content throughout a video to keep viewers interested.

The Four Hat Writing Process

  • The podcast promises to teach the four hat writing process for better video creation.
  • This process is likely a structured approach to scripting and content development.

"The four hat writing process to make better videos."

  • The quote alludes to a specific method that will be discussed in the podcast, aimed at improving video scripting and production.

Finding and Hiring a Scriptwriter

  • Tips for finding and hiring a scriptwriter will be provided.
  • A scriptwriter can be crucial for refining ideas and creating engaging content.

"Tips for finding and hiring a scriptwriter."

  • This quote indicates that guidance will be given on how to source and employ a scriptwriter, a valuable asset in video production.

Crafting the Perfect Call to Action

  • A call to action (CTA) is an important element to end videos.
  • The podcast will cover how to craft an effective CTA that resonates with the audience.

"How to craft the perfect call to action to end your videos."

  • The quote points to the importance of a strong CTA and suggests that advice on creating one will be provided in the episode.

Theme: Importance of Planning in Content Creation

  • Planning is crucial for maintaining creative control and ensuring all key points are covered.
  • A detailed plan helps to remember previous statements, properly foreshadow upcoming content, and provide a coherent step-by-step experience for the audience.
  • Planning allows creators to avoid repetition and maintain a clear narrative structure.

"You're putting out there has to be some thought when you sit need to know what all the beats are that you're going to hit."

  • This quote emphasizes the importance of having a well-thought-out plan before creating content to ensure all key points are addressed.

"It's okay. It's not like you have to stick word for word to what you've written...but if you want that full creative need to know what all the beats are that you're going to hit."

  • The quote suggests that while a script doesn't have to be followed verbatim, knowing the structure and key points is essential for effective content delivery.

Theme: The Flexibility of Scripting

  • Creators should feel free to deviate from their scripts to rephrase or skip parts as needed.
  • The flexibility to adjust the script on the fly can enhance the natural flow of the content.

"If you feel like you need to skip over a little bit or you feel the urge to just like rephrase something in the moment totally fine."

  • The quote encourages creators to adapt their script as needed during the content creation process for a more natural presentation.

Theme: Gradual Improvement and Aspiration

  • Creators do not need to have every aspect of their process perfected when starting out.
  • It's beneficial to be aware of the standards and practices of top-level content creators and work towards them gradually.

"You don't have to have the entire process dialed to a 10 in all the steps within it when you get can have that in your windshield...and know that's what you're working towards."

  • This quote reassures creators that they can start with a less than perfect process and improve over time, keeping the best practices in mind for future development.

Theme: Audience Avatar Creation

  • Drafting an audience avatar helps target content more effectively.
  • Knowing the audience influences language, script construction, and topic selection.
  • An audience avatar can be channel-wide or specific to individual content pieces, depending on the goals.
  • The depth of detail in creating an audience avatar varies; it can be as simple or as detailed as the creator finds necessary.

"Drafting up an audience Avatar so you can be laser focused on basically need to know who you're talking to."

  • The quote highlights the importance of understanding the target audience to tailor the content accordingly.

"It depends...have one for your channel is definitely what you would need could consider doing will make your life down the line when you're actually coming to write it much easier."

  • This quote discusses the flexibility of the audience avatar concept, suggesting that while a general avatar is essential, additional avatars can be created for specific content goals.

Theme: The Four Hat Structure of Writing Scripts

  • The four hat structure includes Artist, Architect, Constructor, and Writer hats, representing different stages of the scriptwriting process.
  • The Artist stage involves brainstorming and free-flowing idea generation without concern for structure.
  • The Architect stage focuses on structuring the ideas, eliminating less relevant ones, and building towards the final payoff.
  • The Writer stage is about expanding and connecting the key points, ensuring progression, regression, or change throughout the script.

"It's like a four hat structure and the first hat is what I call the artist...just getting ideas down on the page."

  • This quote describes the initial brainstorming phase of the scriptwriting process, where the focus is on idea generation without worrying about structure.

"The second hat is the architect hat...that is where you start to flesh out that structure."

  • The quote explains the second phase of scripting, where the creator begins to organize and structure the ideas into a coherent narrative.

"The third hat is the writer's you're connecting the dots essentially."

  • This quote outlines the third phase, where the creator writes out the content, connecting all the key points to form the complete script.

"Then needs to be something progressing regressing or changing at any point in your script...what does success look like then what does failure look like...what emotions might they feel as a result of either the successes or the failures."

  • The quote emphasizes the importance of having clear objectives, potential obstacles, and emotional beats within the script to create a dynamic and engaging narrative.

Script Writing Process

  • The importance of having a clear goal or direction when writing a script.
  • Avoiding task switching and maintaining a free-flowing thought process during initial writing.
  • The necessity of creating a script that has a coherent flow from start to finish.
  • Considering visual elements like B-roll and visual cues early on, but not letting them disrupt the writing flow.

"Just having that at the top of my script is something I then refer back to constantly."

  • This quote emphasizes the need for a clear goal or direction at the beginning of the scriptwriting process, which serves as a reference point throughout.

"When you're writing the scripts, you want to be thinking: Is anything happening here in this kind of paragraph or this segment of the video? Are we progressing towards something, are we falling away from something, or is there some kind of change of emotion going on?"

  • The writer must consider the progression, emotional changes, or narrative development within each segment of the script to ensure it contributes to the overall goal.

The Wizard's Hat: Retention and Payoffs

  • The focus shifts to retention-based writing, which includes creating moments in the script where the audience learns or experiences something impactful.
  • Highlighting key "payoff" moments in the script to visually assess and improve audience engagement.
  • Rearranging script elements to optimize the structure and improve retention.

"The Wizards hat... is where you now start thinking about the retention stuff."

  • The "Wizard's hat" metaphor represents the stage in the writing process where the focus is on creating engaging content that retains the audience's attention.

"I guess a lot of stuff we could talk about here but particularly when it comes to payoffs, it's thinking... it is literally going through the video and highlighting every time I think there is a moment where the audience is going to go 'oh' or they feel like they've learned something that they didn't know before."

  • This quote highlights the importance of identifying and emphasizing moments in the script that will engage and educate the audience, leading to better retention.

Efficiency vs. Engagement in Scriptwriting

  • The danger of being too literal or economical in scriptwriting, which can lead to overly brief and unengaging content.
  • The difference between efficient communication and effective communication that is heard and understood by the audience.

"But I realize it's not actually necessarily helping the viewer because saying something efficiently doesn't mean that it's then heard, understood."

  • This quote underlines the distinction between simply conveying information efficiently and ensuring that the audience actually comprehends and remembers it.

Making the Audience Feel Smart

  • The concept of making the audience feel smart by engaging them in the content rather than simply presenting information.
  • The common mistake of giving away key information too early and then trying to extend the runtime by discussing it further.
  • The effectiveness of using metaphors and structured reveals to keep the audience engaged and feeling intelligent.

"Something really cool that I picked up from somebody that I was doing a one-to-one with... it was 'make the audience feel smart.'"

  • This quote captures the idea that engaging the audience and making them feel intelligent is a key strategy for successful scriptwriting.

Script Structure and Audience Engagement

  • The technique of delaying payoffs to maintain audience interest and engagement.
  • The importance of creating a sense of curiosity and anticipation before revealing key points.
  • The strategy of rearranging script elements to enhance engagement and avoid unnecessary padding.

"You give that payoff a little later... you need to come up with a metaphor or give them a kind of interesting route in to the point that you're about to make before making the point."

  • This quote suggests that by carefully timing the delivery of key information and using creative methods like metaphors, the script can make the audience feel more involved and satisfied.

Presuming Audience Intelligence

  • The value in assuming the audience's intelligence and having high-level conversations without oversimplifying.
  • The idea that engaging the audience's brain with puzzles or challenges can lead to a more memorable and satisfying viewing experience.

"But why when I think about some of my best work or some of the work that's been received the best, it's when I kind of presume intelligence on the part of the audience."

  • This quote reflects the belief that respecting the audience's intelligence and avoiding condescension can lead to better-received content.

Cross-Platform Engagement Strategies

  • The application of engagement strategies across different platforms, such as Twitter.
  • Using interactive elements like questions or puzzles to stimulate audience participation and investment in the content.

"This works cross-platform too... he'll give a little bit of information, he'll give like a views or impressions chart and say 'why do we think this happened?' and replies just fill up with people making guesses."

  • This quote demonstrates how engaging the audience with interactive content can be effective across various media platforms, not just in scriptwriting for videos.

Unverified Beliefs and Data

  • The speaker mentions having beliefs related to scriptwriting, YouTube, or creativity that they hold to be true but lack the data to support.

"Is there something you believe to be true... but you do not yet have the data to support?"

  • This quote introduces the idea that there are beliefs or hypotheses in the creative process that are yet to be empirically validated.

Importance of Scriptwriting in Content Creation

  • Scriptwriting is an undervalued aspect of content creation, especially on platforms like YouTube.
  • Hiring a scriptwriter can provide a significant return on investment (ROI) by improving the structure and voice of content.
  • Scriptwriting is more nuanced than other roles like editing or thumbnail design due to the need to capture the creator's unique voice.
  • The process of scriptwriting involves meticulous research and a deep understanding of the content's structure.

"I believe that a lot of channels would benefit from hiring a scriptwriter."

This quote emphasizes the belief in the benefits of hiring a scriptwriter for content channels.

"A scriptwriter is something that I think the ROI isn't always completely clear."

This quote acknowledges that the benefits of a scriptwriter may not be immediately evident to content creators.

"It's a difficult thing to onboard however the ROI of a writer I think overall is huge whether that is just in a research capacity to save you that upfront time."

The quote discusses the challenges of integrating a scriptwriter into a team but asserts the significant value they add, particularly in research.

Finding and Onboarding Scriptwriters

  • There is a scarcity of experienced scriptwriters available for hire, making it challenging to find suitable candidates.
  • Recommendations for potential scriptwriters are often sought after but hard to provide due to the limited number of known individuals in the field.
  • One approach to finding a scriptwriter is to start by hiring them as a researcher, allowing them to gradually learn and take on more responsibilities.
  • Looking within one's audience for potential scriptwriters can be advantageous, as they are already familiar with the creator's voice and content style.

"I get asked for recommendations all the time and I don't know who to recommend because there just aren't that many people that have come out the woodwork."

This quote highlights the current shortage of scriptwriters available for recommendation.

"One thing I've recommended in the past is getting somebody in as a researcher in the first place."

The quote suggests hiring a researcher as a stepping stone to becoming a scriptwriter, allowing for a natural progression and learning curve.

"It strikes me that it's probably helpful to look within your audience first for people that might be high potential."

This quote proposes that content creators consider their audience as a source for finding potential scriptwriters who are already familiar with their work.

Scriptwriting Apprenticeship and Learning

  • An apprenticeship model can be effective for training scriptwriters, allowing them to learn through experience and observation.
  • This gradual approach to learning scriptwriting can lead to a deeper understanding of the content creation process.
  • Some content creators have successfully found scriptwriting assistance from engaged members of their audience or followers of their work.

"They will just naturally through osmosis start to pick up a little more about how the videos come together in the end."

This quote suggests that researchers can naturally evolve into scriptwriters by being involved in the content creation process.

"I've got somebody who is helping me with my scriptwriting course at the moment who is somebody that was reading my newsletter for...six months or so."

The quote provides an example of finding a scriptwriting collaborator from the creator's existing audience.

Effective Call to Action Strategies

  • Crafting an effective call to action (CTA) at the end of a video can significantly increase viewer engagement and follow-through.
  • The suggested method involves linking back to a topic discussed in the video, creating a curiosity gap, and then making a promise through the CTA.
  • This strategy can lead to higher click-through rates for recommended videos by making viewers feel that their understanding is incomplete without watching the linked video.

"The closest thing to a hack I've ever found for a little change in the way that I've started doing my call to actions at the end."

The quote introduces the concept of a "hack" for improving CTAs, implying a strategic change that has led to better engagement.

"First link...curiosity Gap...and then the promise slash call to action at the end."

This quote outlines the three-step process for creating a compelling CTA, which includes linking to previous content, creating a curiosity gap, and then promising additional value.

Scriptwriting Course and Content Expansion

  • The speaker is involved in creating a scriptwriting course, indicating an effort to educate others on effective scriptwriting techniques.
  • Collaborating with individuals who are willing to learn and contribute can be beneficial for content creators expanding their offerings.
  • Engaging with and learning from someone with scriptwriting skills can lead to mutually beneficial relationships and growth opportunities.

"I'll help you write this thing...if you're happy for me to just keep it at the end essentially and keep learning from you along the way."

The quote reflects an arrangement where a collaborator offers to assist with a project in exchange for the opportunity to learn and retain the knowledge gained.

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