Hot Topic Creator interview with PictureFit


As part of our YTtalk creator interview series (see: for the full list), I recently interviewed YTtalk member, @PictureFIT

PictureFit's growth has been extroadinary, and it is very well-deserved. He has worked extremely hard on his channel since starting it and persisted when many others gave up. If you are wondering what it really takes to grow a successful channel, then make sure you read the full interview and check out his channel:


YTtalk member name: PictureFit


Channel name and link:

Most popular video: "Free Weights vs Bodyweight Exercise" ( 4.1 million views ):




Hi. Please tell us a bit about yourself.

Not too long ago, I was a full-time personal trainer until I made the transition to make content full-time. I love a simple life alongside my girlfriend. Most of my days are spent expanding my business and fitness brand.

Apart from Youtube, what are some of your hobbies, favourite pastimes?

As my YouTube channel suggest, I'm an avid fitness enthusiast. I exercise regularly and try to stay in shape year-round. Other than that, I spend a lot of time learning about new tech (all of which has a tie-in to make video making), such as microphones, headphones, digital drawing, and so on. I also spend a good deal of time playing videogames!

Let's move on to YouTube. When did you start making videos on Youtube?

My first video was published back in April of 2015, so about 2 and a half years ago. The first video took months to finish because I had no idea what I was doing!

What is your channel all about and what do you do on your channel?

My channel is all about health and fitness but not in the conventional sense you typically see from other fitness channels. I don't sit in the front of a camera and start talking about topics ad-lib. All of my content is scripted to be as concise and informative as possible. And instead of focusing on the persona, which most channels do, I focus entirely on the information and research.This takes the individual out of the picture, which I think is important. Often we see fitness channels become popular solely because the individual looks "jacked" or has a body that viewers want. However, their information is not always applicable to the people watching. For those that want information that is not based on anecdotes but instead objective research, I feel like my channel does well covering that space.

How / why did you get into Youtube ?

I feel that the reach YouTube and the internet in general has cannot be beaten by other platforms. When I was training, I was happy that I can help a handful of people get in the best shape of their lives. However, I had a passionate desire to share my advice to as many people as possible. Doing one-on-one training or even group training can only reach so many people. I wanted to expand and YouTube was the best way for me to do that while still having financial stability. If anything, this also allows me to expand my financial opportunities as the "PictureFit" brand becomes stronger.

How big is your channel now?

I'm nearing 600,000 total subscribers at the time of this interview. It will likely surpass that milestone in a few short days. I'm sitting at roughly 43 million total views with an average of 100,000 views per day. Daily subs fluctuate based on the content I publish. Popular content ticks up my subscriber rate for a few days while other content (fitness topics that are specific to a group) brings it down. I would say, on average, I get 1,000 subscribers per day.

Could you describe the growth? Was it gradual or did it suddenly explode overnight? What events triggered the growth ?

It was the perfect definition of gradual snowballing for the first year and a half. I was averaging single digit daily growth for the first 6 months, which was very frustrating and made me feel like quitting. It continued to creep up though, and with the help of some sites like reddit, I was able to get short bursts of growth that made me excited to continue.

After 6 months, I was hitting double digit subscribers (daily increase) that eventually crept into three figures (daily increase) after another 6 months (a year total). I joined yttalk when I had around 15,000 subscribers. From there, I took a lot of the tips I learned from this forum along with a more consistent stream of content to get my daily growth to around 200 new subscribers a day.

I was fortunate to have been selected as a YouTube NextUp winner in the summer of 2016. From there, I learned even more about growing a YouTube channel and other ways to improve my content. As I neared 50,000 subscribers in late 2016, I finally hit an "explosion" that took my channel to the next level! It took me 1.5 years to get to 50,000 subs. In half that time, my channel ballooned to 500,000. I wouldn't be able to explain the exact reason on how the explosion was triggered, but what I can say is that making more wide-reaching content (e.g. how to get a flat belly, fat loss mistakes to avoid, etc) had a large hand in the matter. This is why, if you've seen me post on this forum before, that I always advocate for people to cover their niche content along with other content that has a wider reaching gamut but still ties into your niche.

Your videos are great and they must take a long time to make those animations. Do you do all the drawing and animation yourself?

Yep, I do everything by myself as of now. They certainly take a long time but I've been getting a bit handier with editing to speed up the process. I'm constantly learning new stuff that helps with quality and speed :)

That is some impressive growth, especially the acceleration after 50k subs! Did the channel become harder to manage at that point? I mean you must have been inundated with comments and other requests from third parties. How did you manage that sudden change of pace?

It become more difficult in a quantitative sense I suppose. Responding to comments takes considerably more time but I don't mind it at all. I think it's great to engage with the audience. Third party requests amount have gone through the roof but I hardly take on any of them. I find myself reaching out to brands more so than responding to brands.

It wasn't too difficult to manage the new pace because I've already allocated a solid amount of time to improving my YouTube reach before I went full-time. Much of it was spent on improving my content. I simply took some of that time and shifted it to responding to the growth. If anything, some simple replies like, "Thanks" to new viewers/subscribers was sufficient. For the most part, I just allowed the growth to expand untouched and did my best to continue pumping out new content. Also, the eventual shift to full-time content creator allowed me to take on the explosive growth much more effectively.

Do you use social media to promote your content? If so how?


I don't use my other social platforms to promote my content, per se, but more so promote the entire PictureFit brand. I feel that each platform are separate entities and should be managed as such. Sure, there are overlaps and I can share links to my new videos through them (which everyone should be), but the main job of each platform is to become large and wide-reaching all on their own. I'm doing some more cross-promoting through my YouTube channel so that I can increase my following on other platforms (especially Twitter and Facebook), but eventually I want them to self-sustain and open up more growth opportunities either independently or all together to showcase the reaching strength of the brand.

As far as how I use them to promote the brand: Just like YouTube, the best way is to provide fitness and health information. Of course, it will have to be a different format to match the platform. Platforms like twitter and instagram require more quick-digesting content, so I've been serving more time creating infographics (and in the future, short videos). On Facebook, I spend a great deal on implementing strategies that promote interaction and engagement (asking questions, fielding opinion on certain topics, etc).

I see you don't have a website. Is that a strategic decision not to have one or is just something you haven't got around to doing yet? Do you have any plans for a website in the future?

More of not getting around to it. I'm not entirely sure what I want to do with a website. It will probably be something to do in promoting a brand product, but nothing is set yet. The main focus right now is building up recognition.

Do you use SEO? If so how?

Yes, and if you're reading this and you're not optimizing your SEO already, then open a new browser and start learning how to do it!

Ultimately, your SEO tags should specifically address the video topic at hand. The best way I do it is through YouTube's auto-fill search bar. I type out certain words on the search bar and then look at the drop-down suggestions. Those right there are my keywords. For example, I recently made a video about the best time of day to workout. To get keyword tags, I click on the search bar, type in, "what time of day," and (you can try for yourself) the first two entries are "what time of day should I workout" and "what time of day is best to train." <--- Those are my tags. In order to fill up the entire 500 character tag limit (and you should!), I type in other relevant search terms to pull more suggestions, such as "best time of day" or "when is the best time" or "should i workout in." There's almost no excuse for any video to not fill in the entire 500-character limit.

As far as titles, it's all about catchy titles. Although you still want it to be relevant in terms of searches (ie. thinking about what the audience will be searching for), you should try to make it catchy so that people are more enticed to click it. No, it doesn't have to be clickbait (e.g. YOU WON'T BELIEVE HOW I GOT FIT), but something that makes the viewer go, "Ooooh, I wanna learn about that." My title for the vid I mentioned is, "Morning vs. Evening - Best Time of Day to Workout." Not clickbait, topic thoroughly address in video, and still catchy.

As for descriptions, I've learned from numerous YT staff that the first few lines in the description are the most important for SEO metadata. Save the first few lines to talk about the topic of the video. Everything else of less relevance (your social media links, merch, links to other vids, etc) follow after.

What other promotion do you do?

I don't have any direct promotion for YouTube. Again, more so using other platforms to promote the brand and if it leads to more clicks on my YouTube channel, then that's a bonus. The only "promotion" is making good, wide-reaching content ;)

Are you active in the "YouTube community"? How important do you think it is to make contacts and to network with other creators ?

I don't personally make a lot of contact/collabs with other creators, but I certainly will in the future. For now, PictureFit runs fine all on its own and I like that type of appeal. I want it to stand independently and judged as such until I get to the point that collabs are less about increasing growth but more so about improving content. I do think that having a network is still important, but more so in learning about means to improve your content or information, and less about seizing opportunities to collaborate and "exchange" subscribers. Right now, I'm in a few Facebook groups that help me improve my YouTube strategies and in a few other groups that help me improve on my fitness knowledge.

Has YTtalk helped?

Yes, YTtalk was immensely useful in the beginning. It is here that I learned about improving my SEO. I also found it helpful to understand the experiences my peers were going through so I can learn from them. A lot of the old stickies, especially like the ones from Tim Schmoyer of Video Creators, helped me understand YouTube in a much deeper level. I think this place is THE place to be for anyone that is starting off with their YouTube aspirations. Eventually, I did transition from the creator looking for help in every corner to the creator that tries to help as much as possible. Occasionally, I still learn new things from other community members so I always find myself coming back.

I see you have a patreon. At what point in your growth did you create that and how successful has it been? Were there any negative reactions to it from your viewers?

I started my Patreon June of 2016 when I had roughly 20-30k subscribers. Not a lot of negative reaction when I started it because I ensured that it was for the good cause of expanding research and providing viewers with the best information possible and I think my reward tiers have good value. I think a lot of people "buy" into that because of the fact that the fitness industry is filled with misconceptions that require good research to quell. I don't promote it too often, though, because of the potential backlash. I would say maybe once every two months I would mention it. It's good to have it in the description of all my videos just so viewers have the option of supporting the channel financially.

I see you do a bit of affiliate marketing for related products and services. How successful has that been? Any advice about that?

Some items have been successful and some have not. I will be working with more affiliates in the future (and only ones that I personally find useful to the channel's viewers). All together, they represent an additional 20% of revenue when compared to my YT earnings. I understand that brand deals and affiliates can actually out-earn YT revenue if one is to promote it enough. I don't feel comfortable peddling too many products to my viewers, so I try to keep a tight lid on it. I do look forward to boosting that percentage in the near future though.

What do you enjoy the most about being a YouTube creator?

Having my own voice and being responsible for my own success. I'm sure many people can relate, but I just felt the need to be in control of my own success path. Working a corporate job just didn't do it for me. I felt so limited. Doing something like YouTube (and before that, running my own personal training business) just felt more "free." To me, that's priceless.

And what do you dislike the most? Have you ever felt like quitting?

The only time I felt like quitting was in the first year. And based on a lot of the posts I read here, I have a feeling that almost everyone have felt the same way in the first year as well. It all boils down to the lack of growth. It was extremely discouraging for me to see my hard work going unseen, unacknowledged, and forgotten. It took a great deal of self-perseverance to will myself through the hard times.

But without the moment of feeling like I should quit, I wouldn't have sparked the fire in me to start putting my own success in my hands. Instead of sulking at the slow daily growth of 0-2 subscribers, I used that as motivation and took it into my own hands to find other ways to grow. I started "strategically" posting on reddit so that I can get more eyeballs to my videos. I also spent a lot of time reminding myself that I'm doing something special here that no one has ever done in the fitness industry. It's just a matter of time that I will get noticed and what I need to do is focus on making better content. Eventually, I did get picked up by some big press (HuffPost, Lifehacker, Medical Daily) that gave me some quick bursts of hope.

Other than that, I currently dislike the entire advertiser controversy brewing within YouTube. I've been hit with the infamous "yellow icon" way too many times for no good reason. Even when I contact YT about it, they can't pinpoint the reason I'm being targeted. Luckily, they clear up the confusion rather quickly, but it still hurts knowing that thousands of my views went unmonetized due to an error.

Can you remember any mistakes you made that with hindsight you wouldn't make again?

Yep, not optimizing SEO is one. Other than that, taking too long between uploads and not using much of my other social media platforms early on.

What are your plans and goals for the future of your channel and brand? Where would you like to be in a year's time, for example?

All about brand recognition at the moment. The more reach I have on all social media platforms the better. I think people underestimate reach and focus too much on either the money or other arbitrary figures that don't necessarily drive future success. The goal of expanding brand recognition is the for the sake of future business ventures, such as running my own gym, apparel, or running other media outlets (podcasts, another channel, etc), and simply being a bigger player within the fitness industry.

I believe my content and the brand that I promote is unmatched in uniqueness to other fitness personalities out there right now. I'll be sure to take advantage of this. If I had to tie in some sort of number, then certainly 1 million subscribers will be a nice milestone to achieve a year from now. It would be even sweeter if people recognize the brand "PictureFit" without even having to subscribe to the channel.

Thanks very much for taking the time to reply to my questions. Final question - What advice would you give to new Youtubers who are struggling to grow their channels?

There's really only one advice I can give: BE REAL WITH YOURSELF.

There are way way way too many people on this forum that keep peddling ideas like, "I'M GOING TO BE HUGE SOME DAY," or "I KNOW I'LL MAKE IT IF I TRY VERY HARD." Honestly, having that mentality is great and anyone that do want to be the best in their niche should adopt such a mentality. But it doesn't mean anything if you don't have the talent or content to back it up. It's one thing to think you're the best and it's an entirely different thing in actually being the best (same thing as "some people are busy dreaming big while others are too busy actually living their dream").

So my advice is to be real. If you want to be a big shot and you feel that you have the passion and work ethic to do it, then you better hone all of that hot-shot mentality into actually making your content HOT. I can't count the amount of times where I see a thread here asking, "How come I'm not getting subscribers/views," and then upon looking at their channel, their content is truthfully sub-par, they lack any sense of SEO, and they have at most, 5 videos uploaded.

The YouTube game is a looooong loooong game, and it takes a lot of learning and a lot of improving to sustain any meaningful growth. Sorry, not everyone can be the next Jake Paul, cut things with a hot knife, or be the next slime inventor. Practice being real with yourself and improve your content.

Big thanks to PictureFit for taking time out of his day to do this interview. Don't hesitate to check out his channel and videos.

For all our creator interviews, see here >

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Thank you! This series rocks - keep em coming Crown!

Congrats to PictureFIT on his success. I really appreciate the insights. It's cool to see these YouTuber's looking back and talking about their early days.
Not only did I enjoy this write up but I have also found a fitness channel that I can subscribe to that is absent of jargon and BS!
Well done both Crown and PictureFit.
Interesting that your focus has been on improving the quality of your content and brand recognition rather than how to monetise your channel. There's a lot to learn from this, thanks for the great interview!
This was an awesome read and all super true! Great to hear, especially since I’m in my first year now haha.
Also, I love that the focus is on the content and not the money! That is so important in any and EVERY job in the world. If you do something just for the money, it’ll never last. If you do something for the growth and the experience, and or love of it, I truly believe it will grow and continue to evolve. Money will be your reward for the continued growth.

Make truthful and worthwhile content and people will pay you for the information.
Again, really awesome interview/read .
This interview is great and insightful! Congrats on your success Picturefit! I hadn't thought a lot about SEO before reading this and being on these forums so I'm going to trying now to utilize this. Reading this really makes me want to push harder and not get so frustrated. Thanks for all the insight!