Doug DeMuro creates some of the best car reviews on the internet. His format is simple: push all the buttons and see what happens. But in a recent interview with The Verge, Doug spilled a few of his own strategies, from how his content gets created, to what his “business strategy” is. Because running a YouTube channel is absolutely a business.
Doug’s format is consistent, and his team is small
If you go back to the very beginning of Doug’s YouTube career, his content is shockingly similar to what he creates today. The same levels of enthusiasm and vocal inflections, and the same mentality of pushing every button to see what happens. Though, in 2013, this all started out as an experiment, with no real plans to make consistent content. That is until he saw success in what he was doing.
Part of the reason Doug sticks to his theme is that he enjoys it, but it’s also because his audience expects it. Doug used to use a second channel where he uploaded experimental content, though due to YouTube algorithm changes (more on that later), those videos are now published on weekends. In the interview, Doug stated that “it’s limiting for sure. It would be kind of fun to do some other stuff occasionally, but I have to say, I actually love this the most.”
That’s referring to his format, his process for making every video. Depending on the vendor, he’ll sometimes have just one day to poke around the car and learn about it. Then it’s off to the editing room. Doug used to edit each video himself, which he said took about four hours. But now he has an editor, Nick, who puts the pieces together for him.
Other than Nick, Doug’s best friend opens his emails and that’s it. There are no accountants, managers, and social media executives steering him one way or the other. In reality, Doug is “just a guy” that reviews cars That’s part of the reason many see him as a reputable, unbiased source. He just shows up and asks all the questions we, as potential buyers, might ask ourselves.
But that humble philosophy doesn’t just apply to the content, but also how the content is created.
Doug’s equipment and gear is pretty accessable
There’s a certain mentality that, in order to go big on YouTube, you have to have the nicest gear and professional editing chops. While that’s true in a sense, the first (often overlooked) step is to solidify your voice/brand. Doug did that way back in 2013, and people keep watching him now because he produces content people expect. But his videos aren’t cinematic masterpieces, they’re honest reviews, which eliminates the need for flashy equipment.
“Anytime you see me in the shot, I have a Sony 4K camcorder that I use. Anytime you see a button being pressed or a window rolling down, that is all shot on my iPhone,” he says. Provided, Doug makes sure he has the latest camera tech that’s able to shoot 4k. But other than that, and a lapel microphone, it’s all normal equipment you and I could purchase for relatively cheap.
Part of the reason you’d want to invest in a 4K camera is that many people are now watching content, even car reviews, on larger screens. “People are watching this on TVs today, the screens are huge, people want to see super high quality.”
But Doug’s analysis goes far deeper than just the equipment he uses, down to the data of each individual video.
Doug analyzes the data to cater to his audience
I’m about to geek out a little because I’ve done some YouTube content creation in the past as well, so the data is something I love to look at too. YouTube metrics can get a bit confusing, such as the difference between views and watch time.
For starters, YouTube’s algorithm, the code that throws suggested videos in front of viewers, is private. “It’s a proprietary algorithm, they don’t want you to know what it is. But I’ve always found it a little bit strange. If they told us a little bit more about the algorithm, we would probably be able to create content that better served it.”
So in order to better understand it, Doug has to study it. Over the years of watching his content, as well as others, he’s noticed that “the one-week number for views is a really, really good metric. And the change between the next morning and the one week is a really good metric.” In essence, how many initial views he gets, and how steadily it grows, is what determines a successful video.
He even explains that the cars he reviews coincide with analyzing his audience. “If it was up to me, my entire YouTube channel would be ‘80s and ‘90s weird cars that were too high-tech for their time… but my metrics tell me that actually, people don’t really want that all that much.”
It’s the same logic we journalists use to write content oriented toward the reader. Most people aren’t searching for old Goggomobiles, they’re searching for new electric cars, such as the Tesla Model S Plaid shown above.
Doug reveals more on his YouTube channel’s inner workings, as well as how he used his channel to create Cars and Bids, in the aforementioned interview. But his simple strategy of content creation is clearly effective for entertaining and informing the masses. And if you want to go down a similar path (cause who wouldn’t want to review cars for a living), keep some of his tips in mind.