Maximizing Short Form Video for Churches | Sam Trewin

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Sam Trewin, technical/Comms Director at Bridgeway Church, has a growing youtube channel and shares how to Maximize Short Form Video.

Podcast Notes

Quick Tips for Your Youtube Shorts:

  • 22-38 seconds
  • Edit out verbal pauses 
  • Auto-reframe function 
  • Use Click-batey titles 
  • 9/10 of our successful shorts are waist to head shots, not full body shots. 
  • #God as the first # in every video, they do better
  • Use 3 hashtags, use hashtags as words in titles
  • Category video under news/politics
  • Pause posting once every 2 months

Email Sam –

Sams Youtube Channel

Bridgeway Church Shorts

Podcast Transcription


Bart Blair: Sam, I’m really excited to have you on the show today. I have been a friend, fan, and follower of Bridgeway Church for quite a while, and you and I have started to get to know each other here over really the last part of last year. thanks for joining me on the Missional Marketing Podcast.

Sam Trewin: Yeah, of course, I’m excited to be on it. And, I was telling my wife just how fun it was going to be able to talk to you and talk through YouTube and short-form content.

Bart Blair: I hope that I don’t disappoint you. I hope it is fun. Jason Hamrock, my co-host, those who are listening to the podcast or watching on our YouTube channel will notice that Jason is not here today. He had to make a trip. He’s traveling, and he texted me yesterday and said, I’m not going to be able to do the podcast tomorrow. So his loss, he doesn’t get the opportunity to hang out with you, it’s everybody’s loss. I don’t know that he’ll ever listen to this, but I thought I’d say that. Jason, if you’re listening, it’s all of our loss that you’re not here on the episode today.

Bart Blair: But I’m glad to have Sam on the show. Sam, you serve at a church in the Dallas Fort Worth area called Bridgeway. Why don’t you, before we get into talking about the church and specifically your role in the church and the things that we plan to talk about in this podcast, share a little bit about just your story? How did you end up in ministry? How did you end up doing the job that you’re doing today?

Sam Trewin: When I was in college, I was working at Kohl’s in fact, it was during COVID, and everything was kind of crazy. And so I ended up becoming good friends with the executive pastor at my church. And he was like, Sam, you’re good at music, you do that sort of thing. So why don’t you come and intern for us kind of as a production associate? So I was like, that’s great, that’s exciting. So I did a lot of production things, whether it was, you know, setting up for events, running cables, and filming videos. So I did that for a while, and I kind of learned how the church worked. And so when I graduated, I had a marketing degree, and so I wanted to put that to good use, and I also wanted to keep doing production. So I ended up coming to Bridgeway Church, which is where I am now, where I’m kind of a cross between a production director and a communications director, and I do both of those, frequently.

Bart Blair: Okay. Yeah, you are a hybrid, and there are a lot of people who listen to this podcast that are hybrid in some role, they have communications on their plate and on their list of responsibilities, but lots of other things. And I know that that’s been a little bit of the journey there with you at Bridgeway wasn’t necessarily what you started doing, but that role in communications is expanded, and obviously, you’re doing a lot of other stuff at the church there. It’s, you know, all other duties as assigned, we’ve all had that in ministry in some capacity. Tell us a little bit about Bridgeway Church.

Sam Trewin: Yeah. So Bridgeway Church is a, I guess I would say an average-sized church, I guess I don’t have a ton of perspective, but we run about 300 to 400 people on a Sunday. So that creates a unique environment with us being kind of on that cusp of growing, there’s a lot of growth that we see here, and so my job takes on a lot of different roles. I mean, you could say it’s communication, but also with the production stuff. And that’s not even just it, I do web design, you know, I print stuff, and sometimes I do facilities and maintenance. And so, everyone at our church is very hands-on with creating what Bridgeway is, and so I think that’s really great with just our culture, and it creates a lot of hard workers and people who really just want the Gospel to be taken to North Dallas.

Bart Blair: Yeah, I want to make sure that our audience kind of caught that, a lot of production work, web design, and maintenance and facility. So you can see Sam one hour, in After Effects creating a video, and in the next minute, like taking out the garbage. Is that what you mean when you say facilities?

Sam Trewin: I mean, yeah, sometimes that’s what needs to be done. You know, I’m refilling the water coolers, you know, moving trash cans around, whatever needs to be done, is kind of what I do. I find that, a lot of times my role becomes what’s referred to as like, a force multiplier, if that makes sense. Like, I’m here to support some of the pastors, because, you know, for a time we had the head pastor, he was doing a lot of the graphic design because he had some past in that. And so he was having to do that because that’s what needed to be done, and sometimes it would come at the cost of being able to minister to people, which is not something you want. And so with me coming on, I really take on the mindset of like, what can I do to enable other people at our church to do what they’re gifted at? And also I can do what I’m gifted at, which is, you know, doing the production and the communications things.

Bart Blair: Yeah. I remember the first time I met, Pastor Kyle, I walked into his office and he had his little video rig set up on his desk with a dSLR video camera. I’m like, pastors don’t do that, most of them are using the built-in webcam on their crappy IBM computer or whatever, right? But not Pastor Kyle, he had his DSLR set up there. So it was very impressive. Yeah, and you know what, the first pastor that I served in my first ministry role was, I spent a bit about a decade or so as a worship pastor and creative arts director in a church. And actually, it was a gift to me that my senior pastor had incredible visual design gifts and talents, and he’s the one who taught me how to use Photoshop and Premiere. And, you know, I was a young growing leader, and he happened to have those skills, and it was actually pretty cool. But over time, I think he was greatly relieved that I could take more and more of those responsibilities so that he didn’t have to spend as much time doing it. He had an idea about the things he wanted done, and because he could do that himself for a long time, he did. But of course, you know, the church gets better when more and more people are getting to, you know, contribute to the ministry and the work and especially the creative stuff. You get more creativity, elevated when you have more people participating and, and contributing to it, so that’s that’s pretty cool.

Bart Blair: So, Sam, you’ve described your role, you do a lot of different things at Bridgeway, and we’ll discount like the taking out the garbage and the mopping the floors, we don’t have to talk about that. But like what does your week look like? What are your primary focuses? If everything else has to fall by the wayside, what are the three, four, or five bullet points of pieces of work that you have to do every single week just to make sure that the machine keeps running?

Sam Trewin: Yeah, I would say, I mean, a big part of what I do happens on Sundays. So that’s certainly to me, that’s the start of my, if you were to call it a work week, but that’s the start of what I do. And so normally on Sundays, I’m running around, making sure, putting fires out, you know, making sure everything’s running smoothly. And so then on Mondays, when we come in, and that’s when I focus a lot on the communications, social media things, online stuff specifically. and we also have meetings on Mondays. So it kind of works well, because I can do that, sometimes in the meeting whenever I don’t have time to do it. Or, you know, the meetings kind of going on about something that doesn’t necessarily pertain to me, but I’m able to work on those things kind of in the background, which is helpful, and I’m able to get all that done. And so then on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, I’m normally focused on production elements, whether it’s preparing the sermon notes, or getting lyrics or tracks together, or programming the lights. And then typically on Thursdays, I’m putting on the finishing touches to whatever I did the past couple of days. Also, I’ll normally do print materials on Thursdays, or I’ll update the LED signs, and that also is sort of when I would do more facilities sorts of things on those days. Just making sure everything’s ready to go for if we have a Friday night event or Saturday night, or getting ready for Sunday morning if no one’s using the facility.

Bart Blair: Yeah. Okay. So, you know, one of the things you and I were meeting, I don’t know, months and months ago, as you were talking through just your schedule each week. You and I were talking about some of the digital media and some of the digital content that you’re creating. And one of the things that you talked about was your Mondays, I think, it’s Mondays that you said you do a lot of your content creation for social, particularly stuff related to the sermon from the day before, right, because it’s fresh in your mind. You’re doing some post-production stuff, getting stuff loaded onto YouTube and the like. And one of the things that I noted, as we were kind of talking through this, is I flipped over to your, you know, to your YouTube channel, which again, a church of, you know, 300 people, I kind of figured I knew what to expect when I got over there. And all of a sudden I look at it and be like, we got a couple of thousand followers on your YouTube channel, and then I’m looking at your shorts and I’m like, Holy smokes, you’re doing something here that’s different than a lot of other churches. And there are two questions that I want to ask.

Bart Blair: One is why, why are you spending as much time on YouTube as you are? So if you’re listening to this podcast or you’re watching on our YouTube channel, if you’re watching on YouTube, it’s going to be easy, scroll down to the description and we’re going to link to the Bridgeway YouTube channel. If you’re listening, you’re going to have to go over to the Missional Marketing website, Missional, go to our podcast, and look for this episode, we’ll include it in the show notes. But one of the things that people are going to see is that for a church your size, you actually have a pretty good size subscriber list for your channel. But if they go over to shorts, there is no shortage of shorts on your YouTube channel. And that was one of the things that stood out to me, because a lot of churches, even big churches that have full production teams and content creation teams are not doing as much as you’re doing on YouTube. I want you to talk about why, like, why is this important to you? And how do you get it done? Because there really is quite a bit. So why don’t you just kind of jump in there and start talking about what you discovered, what you’ve done along the way, why it’s important to you, and why you make it a priority?

Sam Trewin: Yeah. Well, I mean, starting with the why is probably the most important thing here. And I think the why for me is I realize I, and my wife too, we spend a lot of our time when it comes to the internet, we spend it on YouTube shorts, Instagram reels, and short-form content. A lot of our friends do that. I mean, I get messages, and texts from my friends and they’re sending me short videos all the time. And that was something that was, like, if we want to reach young people at the church, we need to be where they are. We need to go into the arenas that they’re taking place at, and I think that’s reflected a lot in sort of our demographics that we’re getting. And something I realized is all of our demographics are basically me, more or less, which is funny. They’re all, you know, 25-year-old males, it’s like 67% of the people who watch our shorts fall into that demographic, which I think is funny because, at the end of the day, I’m just making shorts or reels that I want to watch. And so, it sort of attracts those kinds of people as well. So I think, again, to that point is if you want to reach young people, you have to be where they are. And the other thing is that whenever you’re making these shorts, sometimes it’s the only exposure to the Gospel that people have. They’re just scrolling through, looking at their political shorts or whatever it ends up being, and they get a video of Pastor Kyle talking about Jesus. And a lot of times people don’t know what to do with that, and it’s like the metaphor of a pebble in someone’s shoe. Have you heard that one before?

Bart Blair: Yeah. yeah.

Sam Trewin: If you have a rock in your shoe, you have to deal with it. And so you have to take off your shoe and at least chew on it, think about it, right? When it comes to…

Bart Blair: Don’t chew on the pebble.

Sam Trewin: Don’t chew on the pebble, but chew on the Gospel and think about what it means. And so people are confronted with that, and sometimes it leads them to make next-step decisions, which is my hope for them. And maybe that manifests in coming to church on a Sunday, and we link our church to be an available resource for them, but also it could prompt them to talk to one of their Christian friends at work and say, hey, I saw this short, I don’t know what it means. Like, can you explain this to me? I’ve never heard about Christianity like this before. So that’s definitely my intention, in doing that, and so I think that’s important to stay why I’m doing it.

Bart Blair: Yeah. Let me pause you for just a second there because I really do want to, I just want to affirm your motivation in that. You know, one of the things that is a little bit challenging with social content these days, and I don’t mean to be critical of church communications directors because I understand the pressure of the role. But a lot of times, the primary reason we’re creating a lot of the social content that we do is because it’s one of the few spaces where we get sort of instantaneous feedback as to whether or not we’re doing well in our job. You know, one of the things that communications directors often hear is, and it’s the worst thing you ever want to hear is, well, I didn’t know that that was happening. I didn’t know when that was. I didn’t know we were doing that. And so most of the feedback that you often get in a comms role is you’re not doing your job well, if you were doing your job better, then I would know what I’m supposed to know. And one of the things about social media that I think, you know, it can be a little bit of a fault is that when we’re creating and we’re posting content to social Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, whatever, is that when we get engagement on those platforms, it affirms for us that we’re creating content that people like. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if that is the primary motivation for why you’re creating content, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment when the content doesn’t do what you expect it to do. Whereas if you realize that the internet is the mission field, and you have the opportunity to share the Gospel and to connect with people in a way that you can’t connect with them anywhere else other than using these digital platforms, and that’s your pure motivation, I think that it’s something that I believe God wants to bless. I don’t think that God’s withholding blessings from us on the internet, I think he wants to bless us on the internet, but our motivation has to be pure, our purpose needs to be connected to the purpose of the church and what we’re called to do, and making disciples and discipling disciples. And so I wanted to pause on that because, you know, I’ve talked to a lot of comms directors and media people and a lot of churches, and I’ve never heard anybody give as pure an answer as you did, Sam, about what the motivation is there. So, good on you.

Bart Blair: Now, let’s talk a little bit about the strategy, because, again, you’re doing a lot more than I think a lot of other churches are doing, or maybe that they even think they can do. Why don’t you break down a little bit about what you’ve learned, and what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it the way you’re doing it?

Sam Trewin: Yeah, I think I think again, the first thing is to go back to what you just said, and I think it’s important that whenever you’re planning your social media, whenever you’re doing that, that you’re praying about it, that you’re asking God what he wants you to do, but also that you’re praying over that just one person would be confronted with the Gospel. And I think that if you’re approaching your social media as just like a corporate entity, almost, and you’re just trying to do it because that’s what your job is, then I think a lot of people need to just take a step back and at least pray over it. You know, on Monday, like, do something that connects that to God, because I think that’s important. So I think that’s the number one thing.

Sam Trewin: Now, a couple other just more concrete, information that I’ve learned is, number one is that social media often feels almost like a black box, like you have this content that you make, and then you enter it into YouTube, Instagram, and then some sort of result comes out, and a lot of people don’t know what that middle ground is. And so because of that, I think it’s important to really, like take note of what you’re doing, what works and what doesn’t, and also not to be afraid of trying new things. Like, sometimes I’ll make a piece of content and I’ll think, this is going to be great, this is going to do so well, and it gets seven views, right. And then sometimes it’s I’ll make a short or something, like I think our most viewed short is this way, it’s something that I was like, I don’t think this is very interesting, but you know it’s somewhat enjoyable to watch, and then that has like 11,000 views on it. I’m like how did that even happen? I don’t know. And so I think it’s important to just try new things, see what works, see what doesn’t. And again, do not measure your success based on how many views it gets, but do it just based on trying new things I think is really important.

Sam Trewin: Now, a couple a couple other things is, don’t be stuck in the ways that you’re doing it, again, I think that connects quite a bit. Now it’s important to to do that. And for an example of not being stuck in your ways, during Christmas time, I was really worried about not being able to post because I was going to be with family. And so I stopped posting for like a week and I thought, oh no, my YouTube channel, is it’s going to blacklist all the stuff I’m making, and then for whatever reason, it’s not going to be successful. It turns out that that was actually the opposite. we got five times more exposure in the next two weeks following me taking a break. And I think it was important for me to realize that I can’t just do the same thing every week and expect it to be, you know, equally as successful, I think it was important to not not not be stuck in that.

Bart Blair: I’m going to stop you right there, though, okay? Because leading up to Christmas, it’s not like you were posting like two shorts a week, and then all of a sudden you went to zero and you came back to two shorts a week. Why don’t you talk a little bit about the volume of content that you’re creating? What’s your strategy? What are you doing?

Sam Trewin: Yeah. So week to week I make about, my goal is to make 18 shorts, and I’m posting them 2 to 3 a day typically.

Bart Blair: Wait wait wait, you said 18?

Sam Trewin: 18.

Bart Blair: 18, all from a single sermon, one message?

Sam Trewin: Yes, sometimes I’ll accidentally make 27, that’s happened to me a few weeks. And it’s like, I don’t know how, I think part of it is, is our pastors are really great at doing a few key things that make them almost like, shortable. Like they restate the ideas that they’re speaking and they avoid using common nouns. For example, like instead of saying he said, they say Jesus said, and so that way it puts the shorts in context, which makes it so easy for me to make them.

Bart Blair: Wow, that’s a very interesting little nuance there that I don’t know that I would have even picked up on, that’s pretty cool. And this is this is what’s remarkable to me, so if you happen to be scrolling through the Bridgeway YouTube channel, this is one of the things that you’ll notice is if you look at the shorts, you’ll see a a series of shorts from Pastor Kyle, and he’s wearing a particular shirt. And you’ll see the next one and the next one and the next one and the next one, and you think, does this guy wear the same shirt every single week? No, it’s because Sam has created nearly 20 different clips from the same sermon, all recorded on the same Sunday. So I think that’s one of the things that stood out to me when we were, you know, talking about this last fall was the volume of content that you’re creating. How are you creating it, Sam? Are you doing it manually, or are you using an AI tool? What does that look like for you?

Sam Trewin: So, I have a decent video editing background. And so it was something whenever I started doing it, I thought, I can do this myself, it’s going to be no problem. Whenever I started, it didn’t start out at 18 shorts, it started out at maybe 10 or so, 7, and I just wanted to do as many as I could. And so I figured out over time a lot of different key commands on Premiere Pro, which is what I use, that really speeds up my time, which was absolutely helpful, and I think sticking with that was important. But I do it all manually, and it takes me maybe two hours or so to listen through the sermon and edit everything out. One key thing that helps my speed too, is using the Premiere Pro’s text editing function, and so I’m able to transcribe the entire sermon automatically and just read through the transcript, highlight a section, and say, that’s a good short, and just export that without having to actually go through and watch the entire sermon again, so that’s definitely helpful.

Sam Trewin: Now, on the AI tools thing, there was a point where I wanted to try them out. I think I got sick one week and I was like, I really don’t want to edit some videos. So I’m going to try these AI tools, and there’s one called Opus Clip that I was using. And so that is definitely important, if you don’t have the skill or the time to put into making shorts, I think it’s so easy, it’s almost as cheap as like $9 a month to get this Opus Clip, which lets you upload your entire sermon and it chops it into, I think 16 was the number that they gave me, 16 clips with titles generated, hashtags and things like that. and so that was huge. It wasn’t as effective in terms of like seeing views or subscribers or shares on those clips, mostly because, and I have a few theories about it, but because of the way it auto-reframes is not as smooth as Premiere does it. But I definitely didn’t see the results that I was seeing from doing it myself, so I avoided going that route, personally.

Bart Blair: Yeah, let me comment on the AI tools there. So if you’re listening, you know, we talk about AI tools from time to time on this podcast, and we have another podcast called AI for churches. And if you’re not subscribed to that, you should go check that out, We talk a lot about video editing tools and Opus Clip, our research and development team has kind of ranked some of the AI video clip creators, and Opus Clip is typically one of the top ones. But as far as the reframing is concerned, and when you use the terms reframing what your meaning is, my pastor does not stand directly behind the platform all the time, and so he walks from the right and to the left, and since we’re talking about vertical video, he will walk out of the frame. So there’s a feature in Premiere that allows you to reframe it so that the camera looks like it’s following him, even when it’s not following him. Opus Clip is typically the second best that we have tested out, Sermon Shots is probably the best. Sermon Shots, of course, was, you know, designed for churches, it’s actually one of the pricier ones, but it does actually do the reframing better than some of the others. The one I tend to use the most is vydeo.AI, which is not good at reframing at all, so as long as the speaker is straightforward. But I find that I just like the tools are easy to use, it’s really quick, and it typically comes up with pretty decent clips. I think you mentioned that to me before, you know, you’re pretty specific about the types of clips you’re choosing, you’re looking for very specific content. And obviously, the AI tools are not necessarily going to even pick the same types of clips that you would pick. You hinted at this a little bit earlier about just making sure that they’re gospel centric, and that you’re creating clips that you would want to watch. Talk a little bit more about how you’re choosing the specific clips that you choose. And answer this question as well, are you thinking when you’re in Sunday, I know you do a lot of things on Sunday. Do you listen to the sermon on Sunday and like hear things that you go, oh, I’m gonna make a mental note and look for that specific part when I’m doing this on Monday? And again, tell us a little bit about what you’re actually looking for and listening for in those clips.

Sam Trewin: Yeah, so on a Sunday, I’m kind of running around like a crazy person, so I don’t really have time often to sit and listen to the sermon. So I’ll normally listen to it on Mondays again, kind of to get an idea of what it is. But part of it too, is I also put in the transcript from the entire sermon and put it into Claude, which is an AI, and I tell it to give me a summary, so that way I know what to look for, I know what the sermon is about, so I kind of know what to expect, and that’s helpful for me, and I use that for a YouTube description as well. But you can also do, and a lot of people use OBS to record and stream their services. And so there’s a mark function that you can have a volunteer do during your service, to mark when they think a good short would be. So if you’re low on time and you want to edit them yourself, that’s something that you can do. I personally don’t do that, I’d rather just watch it again because I like watching the sermon, because I think Kyle’s an enjoyable speaker to watch, so I enjoy that.

Sam Trewin: So some ideas, and things that I’m looking for and not looking for whenever I’m looking at a sermon, is isolated ideas are not great… never mind, you want to focus on isolated ideas because that’s the only thing that’s going to make sense to someone watching within less than 60 seconds, you want to find ideas where they can start it and finish it and someone can understand the meaning of it, I think that’s vital. The other thing is, that I avoid using something that’s based directly on the context of a Bible verse. Does that make sense? A lot of times, pastors will read through a Bible verse and then start speaking on it. And so if you’re watching the clip, you’re not going to have read the Bible verse, and so you won’t know what the pastor is speaking about, and it’s probably more confusing than it is helpful for a lot of people. And then the other thing that I avoid doing is I avoid using parts of sermon illustrations. Sometimes there’ll be a sermon illustration that’s a story of five minutes, and so if I can’t fit the entire illustration into a 60-second clip, then I avoid using that.

Sam Trewin: The other thing is something that I noticed is I got a comment one time on a short that said, I thought this was a comedian at first. And I was like, interesting that is something that’s like all over, I know my personal YouTube page, is like clips of comedians or podcasters or they’re just speaking to one another. And I started thinking, if I’m making this short, could I imagine this was like a comedian segment? Is this like, you know, almost part of a stand-up bit? Even if it’s not necessarily stand-up, but it’s about Jesus, like the way that a comedian speaks, I think it’s almost important to think about it that way. That I’m, you know, framing my shots like someone would frame it, that I’m editing it in a way that sort of makes sense with that, because people like to watch that, and so if you can make it similar, people might engage a little bit more, with something from a church.

Bart Blair: Yeah, that’s interesting. Now, one of the other things that you and I had talked about, I don’t know, maybe six months ago or so was, and I forgive me if I’m not quoting you properly or if you don’t even remember the conversation, but one of the things that you said was that you look for clips that you think answer questions that people might actually be asking. Did I hear you right when we had that conversation?

Sam Trewin: Yeah, definitely. I think that has to do, especially with how I title clips, I use a lot of question marks. And so I normally make the title of a clip, a question that someone could Google. And so I normally think like, oh, if someone’s searching in on YouTube, like how, how to follow Christ, something like that, then I want to make sure that I have a short that is relevant and helpful to someone wanting an answer to that question. So typically if there’s a short that feels a little bit out of context, I frame the concept of the short in the title, so the title explains what it is about. And it can often be in a question like how to, you know, pray, and then the short is about someone praying. And so when people search that up it’s helpful to them.

Bart Blair: Yeah. Well, that’s very interesting, and I think that’s very helpful too. When you’re planning your strategy…well, actually I’m going to skip that question. Let’s talk a little bit about the metrics and the things that you’re seeing. I think it was back in January, when Carey Nieuwhof had Brady Shearer on his podcast, and they were talking about, you know, new metrics and new algorithms in social media. And, I would defer to, you know, Brady being the guru on those particular things. But one of the things that I liked about what Brady said, and maybe I don’t necessarily have all of the context here, but he used a phrase that was something like defining viral for you. So just a moment ago, you talked about, you know, your most viewed YouTube short, having around 11,000 views. So not every video is getting 6000, 8000, 10,000, or 11,000 views, but when you first started doing this, I don’t know, it was last summer or last fall or whenever you really started to pour lots of energy and effort into this. What kind of metrics were you seeing, and how have you seen those metrics grow over the last, you know, 6 or 9 months?

Sam Trewin: Yeah. Whenever I first started doing this, I took a lot from Brady Shears, I think it was called The Ultimate Guide to Church Marketing or something like that. It was released almost as soon as I started, maybe six months ago or so, it was an hour-long video and he mentioned viral for you, which I found so interesting. And that was something when we started, our average views for a short were about like 100, and our viral for you was about 1000, and so I kind of got it that it was ten times whatever you’re seeing on average. And so I almost, I see that a lot in our shorts that we will see a consistent maybe 500, 500, 500, and then we’ll see, you know, 5000 and then 500, 500, 500. And so that’s one of the reasons that I think volume helps that a lot is because I did the math earlier, but it’s about 1 in 6 shorts are viral for you, which is, you know, ten times what you’re used to seeing. So if I post 7 shorts a week, only 1 of them probably will be viral for you; if I post 18, probably 3 of them will be viral for you, right, and so that’s sort of a metric. And most of those viral for you shorts will get anywhere, you know, from 25 subscribers to 50 subscribers is typically what I see on those sorts of content. So it is important that you think about volume when compared to that viral for you statistic.

Bart Blair: Yeah, I was actually on your channel earlier this morning walking another church through it, just kind of giving the little screen share. And there was one row we were looking at where, you know, one video had like 401 had like 600, then one had 10,000, and then one had like 400, and then one had like 30, right? So you’ll see that kind of differentiation between the different clips, and I would imagine that on some level, it’s almost impossible to even discern why one clip gets 10,000 and one gets 30. Can you discern those things, or is it just the luck of the algorithm, you think?

Sam Trewin: Well, I think what’s interesting is you have to take it, most of the time it’s not the video content the reason why it doesn’t do well. Most of the time, because if I took that seven-view short, or thirty-view short, whatever you saw, if I took that and reposted it, it would get more views most likely. Which is funny, you could delete it from your channel and repost it a couple of days later and it would do significantly better. And so that’s something, another strategy, that you could do. But typically it’s not because of the content, a lot of times it could be the time of day, it could be other sort of search results that people are searching which are blocking yours. It could be a number of things that aren’t necessarily discernible, but the way that the YouTube algorithm is so complex and complicated, it’s taking in all of the context of the internet, more or less, what people are searching, and so at a specific hour, it could just be just the wrong thing for that hashtag. So that’s important to keep in mind.

Bart Blair: Yeah, that’s very interesting. Are you doing much in terms of tracking the time of day? What is your strategy in terms of, you know, you’re obviously posting multiple times a day, what’s your strategy there?

Sam Trewin: I typically do our shorts at 9 a.m. because in my head that’s when people are getting to work or driving to work or doing something like that, and then I post at about 1:00, which is lunchtime for people, you know, they’re getting tired at work, they’re ready to, to relax and go home, and then I post at about 6 p.m., which is when people are home or they’re driving home waiting in rush hour traffic. I know you’re not supposed to be on your phone, but I think a lot of people are on their phones in rush-hour traffic.

Bart Blair: We live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and we will both attest to the fact that far too many people are on their phones in rush-hour traffic. Okay, so the other thing that you mentioned just a moment ago, was that when these videos are going viral for you, it’s increasing the subscriber base to your YouTube channel. Talk a little bit about what your experience has been with that.

Sam Trewin: I’ve found, and this may be a little different, is I think the more important metric for me is shares, how many shares I’m getting on a video. Because that is almost, if people share the video, that’s probably the bigger determiner of if people subscribe and if people view it, it’s kind of the shares are the truth-telling metric, I think, and what actually seems to be successful. And so, I think that’s valuable, especially because if they share it with a friend, most of the time those people also subscribe. And so I think in terms of that, that’s important.

Sam Trewin: The second thing I want to say about subscribers is that when you post a video, there’s a checkbox that’s like hidden way down in the video details, and it says, let me read it to make sure I have it right, but it’s publish to subscriptions feed and notify subscribers, right? Normally by default, it’s checked, and what you really should do is uncheck that box because you don’t want it publishing to the feed of your subscribers, because a lot of times people don’t log in to YouTube every day, people don’t go and check up on their subscriptions, and a lot of people subscribe to tons of people, especially for shorts, you want it to appear organically in their feed. And so you want to uncheck that box, because if it sends it to their email or something that, hey, this person posted, which I’m posting a lot, so a lot of people would ignore that, that counts as a skip, that counts as a missed view, a missed opportunity, and it basically knocks your video and says even your own subscribers don’t want to listen to that, even though someone may be just not available at that moment. And so if you uncheck that box, it almost organically pushes it to a new viewer, it pushes it to people who haven’t seen your channel before. And if it’s successful with them, then it sort of sends it to people who are subscribed to you, and so I think that’s really, really important to uncheck that box.

Bart Blair: Oh, that was worth the price of admission right there, I had no idea, I had no idea that that would have a benefit or a penalty for that box being checked. Thank you for that. Now we only have a few minutes left here because you’re not a one-trick pony, and YouTube shorts is not the only thing that you do, let’s talk a little bit about some of the other things that you’re doing with sermon clips, and with sermons themselves. What other stuff are you doing?

Sam Trewin: Yeah. So, I firmly believe in using the content that you have. And a sermon is rich with like, something almost to be, like, mined from, you could spend a lot of time just on a sermon, taking quotes from it, reposting those on social media. You could make a podcast from it, just take the audio and upload that to Spotify and Apple Music and things like that, or Apple Podcasts, that’s what it is. And so, that’s what we do, we do posts based on sermon quotes, which is important, I think, and then doing a podcast form, you can post the long-form video, which we do, and then you can also make a blog post based on the sermon. And so that’s something that I use Claude for, and I was doing it a lot more, but you can basically tell Claude, you can upload the entire transcript and say, make a 4000-word blog post from this. And so it’ll make a pretty decent one, and I always go through, reread, make sure it’s written well and written correctly, certainly, to what is in the sermon. And then I make a blog post on our website, for that topic. And so that way we’re adding web pages, so improving our SEO on our website, and so people can go and use that resource, just based on the sermon. And so, those are just some ideas, I mean, you could do so much more with a sermon, I think, but those are the things we’re doing.

Bart Blair: You’ve mentioned Claude a couple of times, Claude is one of my favorites. A new version of Claude just came out at the time we’re recording this a week or two ago. I’m a big Claude fan, if you haven’t tried, make sure that you check that out. What other things are you using AI for? Are you using Claude for other things? And are there other AI tools that you’re using?

Sam Trewin: Yeah. So I, for the most part, use Claude. I find it’s very organic in its writing, which I find helpful. It almost doesn’t sound like an AI, which is something you want, but it also allows you to upload a whole transcript, which is infinitely valuable, I think. So I use that specifically for creating a YouTube description, creating relevant tags to the content that I’m making, and making a blog post. And then I also, I was doing this more in the past for my long-form videos. I can tell it to generate, timestamps for that. So basically when someone goes in, they’ll see on a video a little segments that say what that section is about. And so I was listing our long-form videos as educational. and so I was able to list those timestamps as, you know, content. So that way when someone looks up, even on Google when they type in a question that may be relevant, the timestamp of your YouTube video will pop up when you go to the video section in Google. And so I was doing that for a while, and that was helpful because I didn’t want to watch through a video and write down the timestamps myself because that takes a while, so I just used the AI to do that from Premiere Transcript, which gives you timestamps in it.

Bart Blair: Okay, let me ask you a question. You hit on something else that I wasn’t completely aware of. If you select educational for your video, how does that differ in terms of the way that the video is propagated in YouTube?

Sam Trewin: Yeah. So when you go to YouTube, there’s a category section on each of your videos. And so I personally classify all of our short-form content as news and politics. I’ve tried a bunch of them, it does really well, people engage with it, and they leave comments, and things like that. News and politics seem to work well. But with education, it specifically lets, I mean, it’s made for educators to be able to list classes and things like that in it. and it also is used for people to do how to tutorials and things like that, so you can add timestamps in that are specific to required knowledge. Right. And so if you do that during the sermon, you know, you have a subject, a sermon that’s about praying. That’s an easy example, how to pray would be one of those tags maybe, or one of those timestamps, so when people look up how to pray it would pop up your sermon.

Bart Blair: Okay. Wow. And it goes right to that section of the video? That is very cool, here we go. We’re unpacking all kinds of nuggets here. Are there any other AI tools that you’re using besides Claude? I did want to mention this, for those of you who are ChatGPT 4 users, you can upload a transcript into ChatGPT 4 just like you can in Claude. However, all the experts would say, and the two that are on this podcast, we’re the experts because we’re on the microphones in the camera. Claude is a way better writer than ChatGPT 4, it’s just much more natural, much more organic. I find that it almost always sounds much more like the person who was speaking than what ChatGPT gives me.

Bart Blair: Another little trick that I just learned a couple of weeks ago is when asking Claude to write something for me, and you can do this in ChatGPT as well, I upload the transcript and I say, you know, write a 1500 or 2000-word blog post. Before it writes it, the last part of my prompt is, ask me clarifying questions. So before Claude writes the blog post, it will ask 5 or 6 questions about the content and about the transcript, such as who’s the intended audience? Or, you know, is there a specific theme from this that you want to focus on? So it’ll ask some clarifying questions, and that really helps drill down a little bit more on the focus of the blog post itself. I also include a prompt that says, use as much of the original language from the speaker as possible, because otherwise it’ll take what the pastor is saying and paraphrase a lot of things. Whereas if you tell it to use as much of the original language, you get more quotes. And that’s really one of the things that a lot of pastors are concerned about, especially in using the sermon to blog concept is, the AI just doesn’t say what I say, and it doesn’t sound like I sound. Well, if you prompt the AI generator to use as much of the original language as possible, you’ll get more direct quotes as the copy, so it does sound like them. And then you can tell your pastor, oh no, that’s exactly what you said. Maybe that wasn’t what you intended to say when you were preaching it, but that’s exactly what you said. So there’s a little tip, a couple of tips from me.

Sam Trewin: Yeah, definitely. I did want to touch on real fast. I have a few, just, like, rapid-fire round tips for short’s editing. Let’s go through that.

Bart Blair: Yeah, let’s do that. Man, I mean, this has been really good, we’re over time, but we’re going to keep going, this is like bonus content, okay? So let’s go to it. Okay, Randal, can you give me some Sam rapid-fire tips music here? Okay. I don’t know if he’s going to do that, hopefully he will. Randall does our post-production on here. Hopefully, all right, Randal, did we get it? All right, here are Sam’s rapid-fire tips. Go.

Sam Trewin: All right. number one, hashtag God as the first hashtag in every video, it does better. Categorizing videos under news and politics. Pausing, posting, once every two months. Keep all your videos within 22 to 38 seconds. Edit out all of the verbal pauses in your video so no ums, take out filler words, and things like that. Auto reframe. Use clickbaity titles and questions in your titles. Do three hashtags in your titles as well. And keep the hashtags as words that are in your title. So if your video is How to pray, do #pray and it does better. Keep as many videos as you can, waist to head shots, don’t do full body shots, avoid that. And yeah, that’s what I got.

Bart Blair: Okay. We’re going to put those in the show notes because that was pretty rapid-fire. And the guy who’s like, driving down the road right now is like, oh, I got to write those down, okay. You don’t have to write them down, we’ll put them in the show notes and make sure that you got them. And, Sam, I want to thank you a ton, for taking time out of your day. You have a lot on the go, but this has been amazingly practical and amazingly helpful for me. I get to do some YouTube stuff, and I’m confident that it’s been helpful for those that are listening. If somebody has some follow-up questions or they want to connect with you and engage with you on anything that we’ve talked about today, what’s the best way for them to connect with you?

Sam Trewin: The best way for someone to connect with me is to email me at And that’s tr e w productions at gmail. And so if you have any questions or anything, or if you have any contract work for me, I do all sorts of things like video editing, stuff like that. And so that’s definitely one way to reach me. Or I have a YouTube channel myself called Trew Drums, trew drums.

Bart Blair: Trew Drums. All right, we’ll link to both of those in the show notes. So if anybody wants to connect with you, hopefully they will. If you happen to be watching this podcast on our YouTube channel, you can engage with us there. We’d love for you to just give us some feedback, leave a comment, or ask a question, and we’ll do the best that we can to answer it. And I want to remind you again, if this podcast has been helpful for you, make sure that you leave us a rating or review wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. Feed the machine, if you say nice things about us, then those podcast platforms will propagate our content to more people who might find it helpful. And that’s really at the end of the day, what we’re trying to do is help more churches, help more church leaders expand their digital footprint, and reach more people for Jesus. Sam, thanks again for being on the show today.

Sam Trewin: Yeah, of course. Thanks for having me.

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