#88: Lessons from Building a Profitable Language Business with Olly Richards

Welcome to The Creator's Adventure where we interview creators from around the world, hearing their stories about growing a business.

Our guest today is Olly Richards, a former jazz musician turned English teacher who transformed his passion for language learning into a $10 million business called StoryLearning.

He now shares his expertise through a newsletter, guiding online entrepreneurs to scale their businesses while serving as a living case study of success.

His mission is to provide mentorship and strategic insights to help 6-figure business owners reach 7+ figures and beyond.

Throughout the episode, Olly shares his insights on various topics, including the importance of building a traffic source and an audience before launching a product, the balance between living in the present and planning for the future as an entrepreneur, and the role of mentors in the creative journey.

Olly also dives into the strategies he used to grow his business, the power of simplicity in content creation, and the mindset shifts needed to overcome obstacles and achieve success.

Learn more about Olly Richards: http://ollyrichards.co


Olly Richards [00:00:00]:

I remember eating eating steak and drinking wine, which is what you do in Argentina. And I went to bed that night, all all was well. And then I woke up about 2 o'clock in the morning and I couldn't breathe.

Bryan McAnulty [00:00:11]:

Welcome to the creator's adventure where we interview creators from around the world hearing their stories about growing a business. Today's guest is going to share how he's made over $10,000,000 teaching language courses. Hey, everyone. I'm Brian McAnulty, the founder of Heights Platform. Let's get into it. Hey, everyone. We're here today with Ollie Richards, A former jazz musician turned English teacher, he transformed his passion for language learning into a $10,000,000 business called StoryLearning. He now shares his expertise through a newsletter, guiding online entrepreneurs to scale their businesses while living a case study, of success.

Bryan McAnulty [00:00:55]:

So his mission is to provide mentorship and strategic insights to help 6 figure business owners reach Seven figures and beyond. Ali, welcome to the show.

Olly Richards [00:01:05]:

Thanks so much. I I appreciate that.

Bryan McAnulty [00:01:08]:

Hey. I'm glad to talk with you today. So my first question for you is what would you say is the biggest thing either that you did or you are doing That has helped you to achieve the freedom to do what you enjoy.

Olly Richards [00:01:23]:

You know, I I always I I heard a saying once that that I've kind of appropriated for myself, which is there there's no such thing as business problems, but mindset problems. And, you know, what I've what I've always found is that the The answer to every single problem that you have is always just on the other side of a mindset shift. And often that takes the form of meeting somebody, going somewhere, joining a group of some kind. And so, you know, we really kind of zoom out to the to the highest level. The thing that I've done consistently, I think that's a that's that's that's helped me, you know, overcome difficulties, get ideas, take the next step beyond where wherever I currently am is is always been to to focus on my own learning and education first. And that that happened right from the beginning. I always I always bought courses from people. You know, I I started off as a blog, and I bought a course from a guy called Derek Halpin on how to start your blog the right way.

Olly Richards [00:02:26]:

And I bought a course on how to how to, you know, launched my 1st product, and then I bought a course on, you know, all these different things. And then I kind of progressed to joining Masterminds and then to working with consultants for specific areas of of my business, and then eventually hiring mentors for huge amounts of money, who kinda gave me access to levels of thinking way above where where I was. And so, essentially, it's the stuff that I've learned, and sort out that has enabled me to to to to create a business that that not only, you know, that does pretty well financially, but also leaves me fairly free to to to enjoy life.

Bryan McAnulty [00:03:07]:

That's a great answer. Got me thinking when you were explaining it about, like, the, like, experiences and and and going somewhere. And, I just got back from a a trip. I was in, Hong Kong and Japan. I've I've traveled over a lot. I'm expert at going places. What I think I'm not an expert at is getting, like, those mentors. And I think that's something that personally I have to Focused on a little bit more.

Bryan McAnulty [00:03:32]:

Of course, like, I have that same passion to always learn. I know I'm I'm, like, digesting the things, learning things. I'm I'm Going out and experiencing things like that. But I think the the mentor side is what I have to work on personally.

Olly Richards [00:03:44]:

It's it's incredibly hard, you know. Everyone that you talk to wants a mentor. And I wanted a mentor for the first you know, I started story learning my my main my main business about 10 years ago. And I wanted a mentor for the 1st 7 or 8 years. I was like, I want a mentor. It's like but I had no idea where to find anybody. And I think the problem is that in the especially in the online business space, that there's just so much noise, and everyone's a coach, and everyone's everyone's a a guru. And you just really, you know, you really just don't know who to who to, who to who to listen to.

Olly Richards [00:04:20]:

But what I've realized is that part of the problem is that most people who are legitimate mentors and advisers, They don't genuinely want to work with people at lower levels because there isn't that much to, to mold at at that point. If you're if you're a kind of solo creator and everything is everything is on your shoulders. The issue for a mentor coming in is that they might come with 2 or 3 big things for you to work on. But if it's just you, then you don't have the capacity to work on those 3 things. So it it tends to be quite like, it's not the area where where mentors tend to be able to do their best work. Whereas, on the other hand, if people that I tend to work with always have have teams, which means that, you know, you're able to to to to formulate strategic moves and strategic directions. And there are multiple people who are able to gonna push those things forward. It's far more likely to happen.

Olly Richards [00:05:14]:

You know, my my own mentor, built and sold a $100,000,000 business. And he would only work with someone at my level simply because he wants to be able to think at the level of ideas that he's used to thinking at and have them applied. And so it it's it's really tricky to find a mentor figure because because the good ones generally are not out there holding up a sign saying, hey. I'm a mentor. Most people that do that, they should probably probably run a mile. And yet, you know, I I wanted that that figure for myself for the 1st 7 or 8 years of my business, which is why these days, like, I'm I'm I'm trying to be that for other people because it makes such a difference to those people who really do want to grow.

Bryan McAnulty [00:06:01]:

Yeah. Definitely. Well, I think, like, this is something definitely that creators really Think to themselves, like, oh, how can I find that mentor? Because you're right. It's not it's not only a a challenge of, like, oh, the cost or or something like this or, like, implementing things, but also, like, how do you even find that person? Because you you want them at the right level that they can actually serve you. And so in Heights platform, that's actually why we built I'd say I coach thinking that, like, one of the first things people want is a mentor And an assistant. So I'd say that coach is that mentor to be able to guide you. And you don't have to worry about finding the mentor, paying for the mentor, all that kind of thing, or not being at the level that the mentor is ready to serve you. That said, not the show is not to plug my software.

Bryan McAnulty [00:06:45]:

It's about you. I wanna talk about Your, education business and everything you've done, creating a a $10,000,000 plus business from language learning. And I want to Before we get into more things about all of that, I want to just point this out what a great example this is because Every single day, we get some kind of email of a creator saying, hey. Should I build this course about x? Or, like, are there too many courses about this already? Is it Yeah. Is somebody actually going to buy this? Should they just go and do something different? And you you hear something like language learning, you think, oh, well, that's really common. Right? And There's so many, like, big players in the space. There's things like Duolingo and all of that. And but, like, here you are.

Bryan McAnulty [00:07:30]:

You are able to build this this 8 figure business, which is incredible. And And I think that speaks to the point that if there is this demand of something that people wanna learn, like, the more people that wanna learn that kind of thing, The more courses and products or whatever that's out there, that just shows that there's a bigger market that there's room for you to go and do that too. And so I think creators shouldn't get discouraged about wanting to create something that is their passion and is their skill, being worried about there being Too many things out there already.

Olly Richards [00:08:04]:

Yeah. I think a lot of the time people really just misunderstand what the competitive landscape actually is and also the dynamic of what it means to have a personal brand, which is effectively what what creators what creators do. So, I mean, if you if you it might be useful to compare and contrast, say, Duolingo, which everyone everyone knows. They have half a 1000000000 people apparently have downloaded their app. It's it's it's absolutely massive. And then, you know, little old me. So, you know, why would anyone come to to to to story learning my business and buy a course from us when they could just go and download Duolingo for free. And there's a lot of different reasons, and it's and it's I think it's helpful to understand what those are.

Olly Richards [00:08:47]:

Because once you understand that, it demonstrates why it is that as a creator, it does make sense for you to build. Well, it may make sense for you to build, educational products and actually sell them. So, you know, over the over the years, we've seen a big shift away from corporations and institutions towards the individual. We can see this in the media. We can see this in politics. But one of the big The big things that the Internet has done is to democratize, the dissemination of information. And so what that means is that in the past, if you wanted to learn a language, you you essentially had to go to a local library and borrow a copy of the of the Lingraphone course, or go to the bookshop and buy, your local, you know, your kind of teach yourself paperback book Guide. That's essentially the only thing you could do.

Olly Richards [00:09:38]:

But now, you anyone is able to start a YouTube channel and start to teach languages is online. And there are millions of people that do exactly that. And so as so the the the general public consumers have realized that actually, you know, these kind of faceless corporations, as nice and friendly as Duolingo is, it's and as fluffy and green as their owl is. It's still a big public company. Right? And but most human beings like to learn from other human beings. So rather than no one wants a relationship with the corporation. They want it they they want a relationship with another another person. Now it's not a true relationship.

Olly Richards [00:10:14]:

It's a parasocial relationship that you the consumer has with a creator. But that's much more it's just much more engaging and valuable for the consumer or for the learner, because they can look into the eyes of the person. They can listen to their story. They can understand how they have done the thing that they're trying to do. There's a a huge trust factor, and it's just nicer and more pleasant to learn from from human beings. And so when I release my Japanese course or my Spanish course or whatever. People who have been following me have been paying a lot more attention to me than to other people. And so if I then come out with something, and I say, look, you know, you've been following me for a reason.

Olly Richards [00:10:55]:

It's because we have this this method, and we teach languages through stories. And now here we have this Spanish course. And we with the Spanish course, you can learn languages through stories, so you should come and buy it. Like lots of people we'll we'll be delighted to to buy that because they just buy into the sort of stuff we talk about. And there's another dynamic, which is just that if people have got a lot of value from your content, they tend to want to support you as well. So if they want to learn, say, Spanish, and they like you and want to support you, and you come out with a compelling offer, which a lot of the big, corporates never ever do, you've got a really a really good powerful package there. And so anyone who is starting a personal brand has the ability to do that. The only caveat, I would say, The thing to be aware of is that not all markets and not all audiences are buyers.

Olly Richards [00:11:47]:

And I've worked with people before who have huge audiences, audience of millions of people, but they're the wrong people, and they're not interested in buying courses and memberships and things like that. So it's not a given that your audience will want to buy from you. But if they do, and it's in a niche where you are legitimately solving someone's problem, and they're willing to pay for the solution, then that has the potential to, you know, to be a very, very viable thing.

Bryan McAnulty [00:12:13]:

Yeah. Yeah. Some excellent points there. And, like, that's exactly why, like, I just mentioned our our product of the the Heights AI coach, but The AI coach is not gonna go and replace actual coaches and actual mentors. And it it can provide value, but that that personal experience that you have with someone, the unique message that you're getting from them. And when it comes to, like, course creators, maybe community elements, things like that, like, AI is not going to Replace those

Olly Richards [00:12:38]:

things. Yeah. It's it's so much of this is about understanding understanding the the purpose of the thing that you're building, and understanding where it fits into The the the journey of of learners and of customers, and understanding how to differentiate and position what you have from other people. So, you know, for example, most people are not gonna be able to hire me as a mentor because I charge a lot of money. But Similarly, most people don't need to hire me as a mentor because the the level of if they're just getting started, the things that the the questions that they're grappling with actually can be handled very well from AI. You know, so for so for example, if you if you're launching your 1st product and you have a question which how should I structure my email sequence for my upcoming launch? Well, AI can give you a really, really good answer to that. And so if, you know, if you have, if you have an AI bot that's built specifically and been trained specifically on on the knowledge of your company so that you can add some nuance and some finesse to that, then you're gonna be able to give creators not only a fantastic answer, but also potentially a lot a lot of them, you know, the email copy that they can use for their launch, you know, strategies for for positioning the offer, tell them how many emails to send on the last day, how to what kind of follow-up should be done to encourage consumption of the product. AI can tell you all these things.

Olly Richards [00:13:59]:

And so for, you know, for all levels, but particularly for lower level people who are just getting started and figuring out the ropes. You know, I think it's a it's a fantastic fantastic thing to do, and, and and will be very valuable for people.

Bryan McAnulty [00:14:13]:

Yep. So I want to before we we get into more of, like, some Some advice and things like that for creators. I want to kinda share with everybody maybe, like, more of your why and, like, How you started teaching languages. So we read actually on your website that there was, like, this life or death, experience kind of thing, while traveling. Can you share that story with our audience?

Olly Richards [00:14:38]:

Yeah. Absolutely. So this relates this this is this tells the story of how I discovered stories and reading in particular as a method for language learning. Because at, we we teach languages through stories. That's, you know, hence the name story learning. And that all came from an epiphany I had many years ago when I was I was first learning Spanish. And I've been learning for a couple of years. And I I really wasn't very good at that point.

Olly Richards [00:15:05]:

I've been doing it all the traditional way, and I bought my my grammar books, and I'd been taking lessons. And, you know, I knew some Spanish, but it was pretty broken. And I wasn't you know, I struggled to understand people. I couldn't speak very fluently. Anyway, so I'd gone to Argentina as,

Bryan McAnulty [00:15:21]:

you know, just for a

Olly Richards [00:15:22]:

for for a trip for a few weeks. And I was up in a place called Irucha, which is a a a mountain village up on the border of Bolivia. It's very remote. The the bus to get there had to take a you know, one of those twisty mountain roads where you don't dare to look down because one one wrong steer of the wheel, and you've been, you know, plummeting 2,000 feet off the side of a cliff. So we got to this mountain town. Had a fantastic night. I remember eating eating steak and drinking wine, which is what you do in Argentina. And I went to bed that night.

Olly Richards [00:15:53]:

All all was well. And then I woke up about 2 o'clock in the morning, and I couldn't breathe. And it was obviously terrifying. And I realized immediately, like, damn, that's because we're very, very high up in the mountains. I don't know how many thousands of feet it was, but it was high. So I kinda jumped out of bed and ran outside, and I thought maybe I'll get some more air outside. And and it and I but it carried on, and I couldn't catch my breath. And it was going on for 2 or 3 minutes.

Olly Richards [00:16:16]:

And I thought, man, this is actually could be the end right now. If I don't start breathing again, I've got a serious problem. I was it was very haunting because I remember looking out across the valley, and it was all kind of moonlit. With a bright kind of white moon, the full moon, lighting up this valley. And it was this very, very kind of poignant moment. Obviously, I'd made it. The breath came back eventually. But I was too scared to go out to bed in case it happened again.

Olly Richards [00:16:42]:

So I was kinda sitting up, and we didn't have iPhones back then. So the only thing I could do was pick up a Spanish book that was lying around. It was, a a novel by Garcia Marquez, who's the author of A 100 Years of Solitude. And it was written in Spanish. And I I just started flicking through it. And I it was difficult to understand, but I could pretty much follow along with the thread of the of the plot. You know, I could I could a lot of details I was missing, but I could follow along with the plot just about. I stayed up for about 2 or 3 hours reading reading this thing.

Olly Richards [00:17:14]:

I got a fairway through the book even though there was a lot that I didn't understand. Went back to bed. Next day, I was walking through the town, and I had all these random Spanish words popping into my head. Words like, which is the bishop. And bishop is not the type kind of word that most people learn in their Spanish class, but this was popping into my head. And then, well, how the hell do I know this? And then I realized, okay, because I was reading this book last night. And I thought that's weird because normally, I really struggle to remember words in Spanish. But I've suddenly got all these words that I just randomly picked up.

Olly Richards [00:17:45]:

So I thought, hang on. There's something to this. So I started reading the book. I eventually finished it. I read some more, and I read some more. And then when I went back to to Buenos Aires, the capital. I met up with my friends there. And I was amazed at the transformation in my Spanish.

Olly Richards [00:17:59]:

I could understand a lot more. I could speak a lot more fluently. And the only thing that I'd done in the last few weeks was reading. And so it was then that I realized that that that that learning with stories is actually an incredibly powerful way of learning languages. And the more I as the years went by and and I learned more about this, I I learned, You know why that is? And there's a lot of science behind it. But, you know, fundamentally, our brains are wired to learn facts through stories. That's how we evolved as as as as people. And so it turns out you can apply that to learning a a second language as well.

Olly Richards [00:18:34]:

And, and then that was the foundation of of the business that then became, many years later, story learning.

Bryan McAnulty [00:18:40]:

Yeah. Yeah. It's incredible. So You've grown story learning from I think originally started as a blog to this multimillion dollar business. And I think All the creators out there are wondering, like, well, how did that happen? So

Olly Richards [00:18:54]:


Bryan McAnulty [00:18:55]:

If, if you could summarize, like, is there any, like, key turning points or strategies that you feel Fueled that growth over the years.

Olly Richards [00:19:02]:

Yeah. I mean, there's there's a lot that goes into it. And, you know, when you're stuck in the middle of it at the time, It is confusing. It is very difficult. You know, the the first thing I'm gonna say is that a lot of creators, in my experience, resist labeling themselves as business people. They resist the thought of business. And that's because most people have a very negative view of sale. They feel that sales is a bad word.

Olly Richards [00:19:33]:

It's a it's a it's a dirty word. And this kind of very blunt thought stopped people from identifying as business people. And they kind of retreat to the safety of the creator world. So the first thing I'm gonna say is that I strongly recommend people to actually embrace the idea of business because it is through understanding business and entrepreneurship that you can actually grow a big business. For you to make 1,000,000 of dollars a year as a creator It's very difficult. The only way that you can do that without embracing, you know, business in any traditional way would be to grow an audience of 1,000,000 and then have enough AdSense revenue and brand sponsorships to somehow get you up to to that level. And there are people that do it. It's very rare, but it's also very inefficient.

Olly Richards [00:20:29]:

Because someone who makes $1,000,000 a year through AdSense and brand sponsorships could probably make 5,000,000 by selling digital products, membership sites, and things like that. You know? Anytime that you're earning money through someone someone else like YouTube or brand sponsorships, that's because they're making a lot more money off you than you're making for yourself. Right? So you could you've always have a lot more power to build your own thing. So so the so it's very important to actually take an interest in the online business world. And that's one of the things that I did from the beginning. So I started with a blog. I I I, You know, I I I literally just blogged 1 it was 1 blog 1 blog post a week for 2 years. That was my goal.

Olly Richards [00:21:12]:

I did it. I started to grow my audience. That was that was the 2013 version of what a creator was. It's like literally just writing writing blog posts. YouTube wasn't such a thing back then. And then I I kinda kept going, and my traffic grew a lot over the years. We then added on a podcast. We added on I started doing YouTube.

Olly Richards [00:21:33]:

We added on more podcasts and more YouTube than I would I had a a big book deal and got booked published in the shops. This was all very much, like, a creator side of things, right, versus a lot of traffic. Once you have the traffic, you're in a good place because you have an audience. And when you have an audience, you don't have the roots of a business because you can then offer things available for sale. Now where the art of business comes in is understanding how how best to deliver value to your audience. And my particular niche, in the language niche, there are people who a lot of people who are very serious about learning another language. They're very used to paying money for teachers, for plane tickets, for language schools. So for me to come along and sell a language course is not there's nothing unusual or strange about that.

Olly Richards [00:22:31]:

The way that we grew from making a small amount of revenue to doing, you know, multiple 1,000,000 per year is essentially a very simple combination of a lot of traffic and a very mature product ecosystem and back end where we do a lot of a lot of make a lot of sales and make a lot of offers on the back end out of view of you know, we don't we don't put this stuff on YouTube or on the blog. Like, so essentially, the front end of the business is the traffic sources. It's the blog. It's YouTube. It's it's a podcast. The engine of the business is then capturing email leads. And then it's through email marketing that we then make products available for sale, and that drives huge amounts of revenue. So, really, it's a combination of having a lot of traffic and then understanding how to monetize that with a product ecosystem that that makes sense.

Olly Richards [00:23:26]:

It it's not much more complicated than that. To do that at scale, you need to build a team. And so team building is also a huge part of this. You cannot do it by yourself. And so there's a whole there's a whole, you know, discussion there around how to build a team, which we can get into if you want. But the but the basic model to understand is your traffic, which is what creators are naturally good at. And then there's the business aspect, which creators are not naturally good at and has to be learned. And it's by fusing those 2 things together that you get to, you know, very high numbers.

Bryan McAnulty [00:24:00]:

Yeah. Yeah. That's helpful. So Yeah. I guess we could touch a little bit on the the team idea. I think that maybe the first question someone might have listening to this, if they say like, okay. Yeah. Yeah.

Bryan McAnulty [00:24:11]:

I think I I need help with something. I understand that would be useful to grow. Then is there a specific role or person that Should usually be the 1st fire for a creator?

Olly Richards [00:24:24]:

It depends who and what you're doing. So, like, if you are a YouTuber, for example, then editing is usually something that's that that's kind of quite high on the list to to, to get help with. Although having said that, many YouTube creators I know still still do their own editing because they're very, you know, taking a great deal of pride in in in the product. But, you know, what I would recommend for most people is that They go as far as building a traffic source, building it, building, you know, a a a YouTube audience or whatever it may be. And then launched creating, building, and then launching their first product. You can do all of that by yourself quite easily. You know, if you're to publish your 1 YouTube video a week, you got plenty of time to build up a product, your 1st product in the background. That's all doable by a solo creator.

Olly Richards [00:25:19]:

You can then go as far as setting up automated sales funnels so that you can sell your product on on Evergreen using automated emails. That's also learnable and doable by a solo person. At that point, the most use the most common hire you're gonna need is a is a customer support person. Because as soon as you start selling stuff, you get a lot of the inbound email, which adds very which adds zero value to the business so that people are asking for their login link. They're asking for a refund. They're asking, questions on about your course that because they haven't bothered to read the sales page. There's a lot of noise that starts coming back at you. And you spending your time on that adds zero value to the business.

Olly Richards [00:26:09]:

So customer support is usually one of the first things to outsource. And then beyond that, it really depends how you grow. So if you want to grow by building more products, you may need help on that. For example, building your force area making nice looking slides. That then then getting help admin type help with that is very useful. If on the other hand, you decide to, to diversify your traffic, so maybe you go from just doing YouTube to doing YouTube plus a podcast, which is not something I recommend, by the way, but but a lot of people do do that. In that case, you might wanna get some admin support with the kind of content infrastructure and the content production process. But but, you know, the way that you the way that you afford that in the 1st place, is by having revenue coming in.

Olly Richards [00:26:57]:

So, so, yeah, hopefully, that gives you a a a a kind of a a rough idea of what makes sense at the beginning.

Bryan McAnulty [00:27:05]:

Yeah. Yeah. That sounds good. So I would say, though, like, I guess, going before that for the creator where they We got some revenue coming in, and they're trying to grow that. They're not quite ready to expand and grow a team yet. I think there is A big subset of creators where they're kinda stuck in the product. They're building the course. They're building the membership, whatever it is.

Bryan McAnulty [00:27:26]:

And they're struggling with maintaining a consistent kinda content workflow for, like, their blog or YouTube, whatever it is that they're focused on. Could you explain Maybe a process that you used to kind of systematize that content creation with StoryLearning?

Olly Richards [00:27:41]:

Yeah. So, you know, at the beginning, it was just blogging. And one one of the great things about blogging is it's very low maintenance. You know, all you gotta do is write the the words on the screen, format it on WordPress, make it look nice. Like, it doesn't take a great deal of time. It's one of the I I mean, I think blogs are they're they're not really in fashion these days, but it's but it's it's still one of the most powerful content mediums because It's very searchable and, very easy to to to to to do as a creator. If you are doing a podcast, then you've got more things to think about. I personally when I did my 1st podcast, I made a solo podcast.

Olly Richards [00:28:25]:

It was literally just me on the microphone doing, like, 10 minute episodes. The big advantage of that is that that that, again, there's no there isn't much to do, content wise production wise rather. You know? I I I just edited the stuff on GarageBand, clip in the intro and the outro, upload it, and you're done. There really isn't much there. Even for YouTube, I was doing it all myself at the beginning. You know? Granted the editing was rubbish, and the thumbnails were awful. But I was doing it all by myself. When the the the problem comes usually when you you want to scale it up.

Olly Richards [00:29:01]:

I mean, I think it's important to remember, like, As a an early stage creator, your content doesn't need to be polished. You know, remember what we said earlier about, about humans learning from other humans. There's a big trend I'm seeing in the in in the in the in the marketing world specifically right now, which is that raw videos filmed on your iPhone out on the street are back in fashion. Because everyone's got so used to your kind of very glitzy, very glitzy, highly produced YouTube videos. You know, the kind of the kind of productions you might see from Ali Abdaal, for example. We had this gorgeous video. It's extremely highly produced. People have been I've got that's become the norm.

Olly Richards [00:29:39]:

You know? All these people making big podcasts. It's extremely well produced. So actually, someone just holding up a phone and talking create a connection with an audience like a lot of people don't. Like like a lot of people can't get anywhere else. So it is important to remember As you're first getting started, like, production quality doesn't matter all that much. My friend, Shouma, who who has 6,000,000 YouTube video, YouTube subscribers, He films videos of him walking around New York speaking surprising strangers by speaking Chinese with them, on the street. You might have seen his videos. He just uses this this kind of really low quality handheld camera thing with no mic or anything.

Olly Richards [00:30:17]:

And he gets, you know, he gets millions of views because it's about the quality of the content. So I'd say if someone's early stage and they're buckling under the the under the pressure of content production quality, I'd say, like, reassess. Scale it back. How can you how can you optimize for consistency of upload, a consistency of content rather than rather than, you know, insisting on on quality. Because as soon as you really insist on quality, things get expensive very quickly. You know, our YouTube channel today, For example, we have, 6 people on the team. We have a scriptwriter. We have a video producer.

Olly Richards [00:30:58]:

We have 2 editors and a thumbnail designer. That's very expensive. It costs us 5 figures a month just to maintain that. Right? It's good. It's it's really high quality, but we only need that now that the channel's really established. You don't need that at the beginning. So, you know, there there there are I'm I I probably didn't I probably answered a different question than one that you were asking.

Bryan McAnulty [00:31:19]:

But I I just think it's it's it's

Olly Richards [00:31:22]:

it's it's pertinent.

Bryan McAnulty [00:31:23]:

Yeah. And taking taking imperfect action and and realizing that Your audience is not going to to care in the same way about the production quality as much as they just wanna know the content. So I think that's super important. Like, in anything that you do, finding a way that you can streamline it to get it out there versus, like, what's gonna make it perfect? Because definitely, there's there's this diminishing returns of this little bit better production, all of a sudden, Costs a whole lot more. Takes a whole lot more time.

Olly Richards [00:31:52]:

Production, you know, it's really it's really overrated, I think. And, a lot of my very successful YouTuber friends would say the same thing. I mean, a good example, I think, is on my so I have a business newsletter at, ollie riches.co where I basically write newsletters about the kind of things we're talking about here. I also recently started a YouTube channel, also called Olly Richards, which is super confusing because now I have the language YouTube channel and I have the business YouTube channel. But, I when I started this new YouTube channel, I knew I said to myself, right, the only way this is gonna work as if the production is so simple for me that it's literally just walking outside on the in in the in the low in the forest by my house, holding up a camera and talking. That's the only way this is gonna work. Because success on on on on with content comes down to consistency. As Ryan Holiday says, the quant the quantity is the quality.

Olly Richards [00:32:47]:

So I knew that the only way this was gonna work was if I could literally just step outside my house into the forest, hold up a camera and talk. And that's what I do. So if you go and watch my videos, you'll see all I'm doing is walking around. And, you know, I get to show you the beautiful place where I live. But it's really just me holding up a camera talking. Now we do we also do have very good editing because I'm able to hire a great editor. But what you'll see is that for me, you'll you'll you'll you'll see just how simple that is because it's just a question of walking outside. And I I do that very deliberately because I know that to over comp to overcomplicate things at this stage with a very new channel is a terrible mistake.

Bryan McAnulty [00:33:29]:

Yeah. And even yourself, even with that team, you could probably easily spend all of your day in addition to the team working on it, still trying to produce that content. But by making it easy for yourself. Now you have the rest of the day to work on other things that will make an impact.

Olly Richards [00:33:45]:

Yeah. And and when, you know, again, when you're first starting out, that's not so important. Unless well, let's say you're you're still holding down a full time job in addition to creating content. Yeah. That's important then. Right? You need to you need to look after yourself as well. So, you know, someone who's working a full time job and is also trying to produce Ali Abdaal level video production quality. That's a bad move for most people.

Bryan McAnulty [00:34:09]:

Yeah. Well, any other tips or kind of recommendations about maintaining a healthy and happy lifestyle, to be able to grow your business without Burnout or anything like this?

Olly Richards [00:34:21]:

Yeah. So this is actually one of the topics that I write the most about, at ollie riches .co. It's it's it's also the the type of newsletter that I get I get the most, responses from whenever I whenever I write about this, I always get a flurry of emails back from people because I think very few people actually talk about this. So I'll give you my my high level philosophy on this. And this is this is kind of being developed from going through many, many cycles of burnout myself. And essentially, Entrepreneurs, creators, business people, the thing that that makes us alike is that we all want to build something in the world. Whether it's a a business, whether it's a, a brand for ourselves. We're we are builders.

Olly Richards [00:35:10]:

We make stuff. That's what defines us. Now the issue with being an entrepreneur and building stuff is that all of our outcomes and all of our goals are future based. So it's very difficult for us to be satisfied in the present because everything that we want in life, everything that we're working towards is anchored in some future time, some future moment in time. Now from a psychological perspective, if you are psychologically anchored in the future, That is a recipe for disaster because the future is something that you cannot control. And that's what leads to stress, and that's what leads to burnout. The secret, I think, is I'm gonna make a big statement here. But I think the secret to happiness and or at least to well-being as a well balanced person is to be is to be unattached to the future and to be very present in the here and now.

Olly Richards [00:36:04]:

The more present you can be in the here and now, the happier you are. Because you get to notice the sound of the birds in the trees, the warmth of the sun on your skin, all the cliches you can imagine. But that is ultimately life. And the big danger for entrepreneurs is that they are they are permanently living in the future because that's where their goals will hopefully be realized. And so what we need to develop the attitude we need to develop as as as creators, as entrepreneurs, is the ability to, yes, to build for something in the future, to build for that thing we want, to do the work in the here and now that builds for that thing. But avoid becoming attached to that and instead to focus on enjoying the present moment. Because that is ultimately all that we've got. It's very easy to say.

Olly Richards [00:36:53]:

It's very hard to do. It took me took me years to to really discover how to do that properly. And I would very strongly recommend, looking into things like mindfulness meditation, mindfulness based stress reduction, CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy, things like this. These are all very, very powerful to help you uncover these these these aspects of of your own psychology. But, but that is my formula for it certainly changed my life, and I think that one of the reasons it resonates with people is because we don't get told this stuff. We get told, hustle, hustle, hustle. Grow, grow, grow. 10 x, man.

Olly Richards [00:37:29]:

That's what we get told because it plays well on social media. What we need to be told is get yourself to a place where you can be unattached to the future and be present in the here and now.

Bryan McAnulty [00:37:42]:

Yeah. I love it. I completely agree with that. The, the way that I say it is that You should be working on something today that you would be working on tomorrow regardless of whatever the outcome is.

Olly Richards [00:37:54]:

There you go.

Bryan McAnulty [00:37:55]:

And and that's that's the ideal.

Olly Richards [00:37:57]:

Love it. Yeah. Absolutely.

Bryan McAnulty [00:37:58]:

Awesome. So that's really cool. So yeah. You mentioned this newsletter, that you have that now You help entrepreneurs learn how to grow their businesses. So where can people find that?

Olly Richards [00:38:09]:

Yeah. Absolutely. So you can go to olly richards.co. That's o, double l, y richards.co. You can also find me on Twitter at misterolly richards. And I have a YouTube channel. I'm gonna have to find a good way to, refer to this because if you like I said before, if you just search for Olly Richards, you're gonna find my language stuff first. But if you've searched for maybe Olly Richards business or something like and you'll find my YouTube channel there.

Olly Richards [00:38:34]:

And you'll get to see me walking around the hills of the local area where I live and and, talking about very similar things, but, on video. And I'd love it if you head over there and subscribe to the channel.

Bryan McAnulty [00:38:46]:

Awesome. Alright. Well, before we go, I've got 1 more question, and that is I like to have every guest ask a question to the audience. So if you could ask Anything to the audience whether kinda something you wanna get people thinking about or it's something you're just curious about, what would that be?

Olly Richards [00:39:02]:

What I would ask people is Think about that thing that you are aiming for, that you are trying to do, you're trying to achieve. And think about your current level of knowledge and expertise in that thing. And then ask yourself, how much have you invested in learning to get better at that thing?

Bryan McAnulty [00:39:25]:

And so

Olly Richards [00:39:25]:

if you are trying to, currently grow your YouTube channel. And you are just making videos every week. How much have you actually invested in your education on YouTube? Whether that's going to events, whether that's buying courses, whether that's, learning from a a YouTube coach of some kind. And make sure that this is a question. Right? So let me rephrase this as a question. Are you investing in your skill set in a way that's proportional to the level of your ambitions? Because ultimately, It is our our education and our knowledge that is the thing that drives our earning potential, which in turn drives our success. So are you investing appropriately in your own learning and development on that thing that matters to you most?

Bryan McAnulty [00:40:16]:

Awesome. Alright, Ali. Well, it was great talking with you. Thanks for coming out on the show.

Olly Richards [00:40:20]:

Real pleasure. Thanks so much for the invitation, and, great questions too.

Bryan McAnulty [00:40:24]:

Thanks. I'd like to take a moment to invite you to join our free community of over 5,000 creators at creatorclimbdot If you enjoyed this episode and wanna hear more, check out the Heights platform YouTube channel every Tuesday at 9 AM US Central. To get notified when new episodes release, join our newsletter at thecreatorsadventure.com. Until then, keep learning, and I'll see you in the next episode.

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About the Host

Bryan McAnulty is the founder of Heights Platform: all-in-one online course creation software that allows creators to monetize their knowledge.

His entrepreneurial journey began in 2009, when he founded Velora, a digital product design studio, developing products and websites used by millions worldwide. Stemming from an early obsession with Legos and graphic design programs, Bryan is a designer, developer, musician, and truly a creator at heart. With a passion for discovery, Bryan has traveled to more than 30 countries and 100+ cities meeting creators along the way.

As the founder of Heights Platform, Bryan is in constant contact with creators from all over the world and has learned to recognize their unique needs and goals.

Creating a business from scratch as a solopreneur is not an easy task, and it can feel quite lonely without appropriate support and mentorship.

The show The Creator’s Adventure was born to address this need: to build an online community of creative minds and assist new entrepreneurs with strategies to create a successful online business from their passions.

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