Ryan Doka tries to maintain a balanced lifestyle. “I’m just about to go on a nice 5K run to burn off all the alcohol that I consume on a daily basis,” he informs us before we begin our conversation. And he’s not talking about a glass of wine with dinner. Ryan can throw back some serious alcohol. Just look at the recent DokaRyan gin and vodka tier list videos.

Here’s how Ryan describes his content: “It’s a fine line between bartending and a little bit of goofball mixed in. So kinda like the comedy spin on bartending. And yeah, I guess putting things in jars.”

We recently chatted with Ryan to learn more about his content, his production process and how he continues to adapt and improve as a creator.

Subscribers: 2.09M
Uploads: 497
Video views: 607,920,211
Content type: Comedy

User created: May 19th, 2010

DokaRyan, then and now

Today, DokaRyan is best known for his “In a Jar” video series, in which he adds various foods to a jar of alcohol and waits for something interesting to happen. This style of video works particularly well for the YouTube Shorts format with its quick curiosity gap-satisfaction cycle.

But Ryan’s current content represents only its most recent incarnation. Ryan explains, “I’ve actually been on YouTube now for, I think around 14 years. Since 2008. I don’t know how long that is.”

Ryan’s content has evolved several times since he first started posting. “It’s funny cause I started out doing songs,” Ryan recalls. “I’d sing, like, funny little songs all the time.” From there, Ryan added a comedy segment: “I would do a little improv comedy at the beginning … and then I’d sing, like, ‘Party in the USA’ by Miley Cyrus.’”

Ryan started to develop a fan base, garnering around 20,000 subscribers and millions of views. “And then I got tired of it.” So, Ryan switched to vlogging around 2013, along with a huge wave of creators. From there, he moved to challenges and loved it: “That’s what really kicked off my love of making YouTube videos. Things like the ‘150 Warhead Challenge’, which were huge videos back then.” Ryan stuck with a mix of challenge and vlogging content for several years, building up a loyal fanbase.

Stepping back

Ryan’s early success turned out to be unsustainable, however. He didn’t have a vision for how to reach his goals. “I actually took a big leave for a couple years to learn business and marketing,” Ryan says.

He admits his content strategy in the early days was haphazard at best: “I would kind of have very loose structure on how I’d make my videos … there would be no plan on, like, what the next video’s gonna be.” He explains, “Not having, like, a lot of parental support back then just kind of didn’t allow me to really think that a goal of, like, a million subscribers was achievable, especially at a young age where, you know, I don’t know what the heck I’m doing.”

While he was away from YouTube, Ryan learned a number of valuable lessons from seemingly mundane experiences. First, he took a job selling credit cards: “Fun fact, I was really bad at selling credit cards.” However, the job did teach him how to talk to people. He also learned Photoshop working at a sign company, and he learned marketing and web design as a social media manager.

“Everything culminating into one was such a beneficial thing,” Ryan says. He came back to content creation with a new strategy and renewed motivation. “Now, I have a lot more structure. I already know what the next five videos are gonna be, so I got, like, two months in advance … I can definitely see myself hitting goals that I’ve never thought of possible as a young whipper snapper.”

The current DokaRyan

While the DokaRyan channel has shifted gears a few times throughout his channel’s lifetime, certain themes continue to emerge: food and drink, challenges and unhinged comedy, to name a few. He also tends to focus on one style of video at a time, so viewers know what to expect whenever Ryan uploads.

“I think right now the one thing that’s working for me again is kind of getting back into consistency,” he says. He’s keeping it fresh with a variety of content while still staying within a defined niche. While he does try to “sprinkle a bit of trend” into his videos, he also consciously keeps his videos evergreen: “None of my videos about Christmas … are being viewed right now.” Ryan wants his videos to still make sense even years down the line.

Though much of Ryan’s content involves drinking large quantities of alcohol, this hasn’t limited his success or his reach. “When it comes down to … any kind of like weird things happening where people are like, ‘Oh, this is taboo,’ I think it’s totally fine,” Ryan says when asked if he receives any backlash to his alcohol consumption. “It’s really fun to have this sort of like, niche, I guess, of alcohol and have it transcend beyond just people who like alcohol and have it just become entertainment.”

Despite the shifts and gaps in uploads, Ryan’s viewers have stuck with him. “I think me and my viewers have both grown together,” Ryan says. Indeed, some viewers still know him as “the Warhead guy.” “Which is, like, super charming and fun,” he says, “’cause now, you know, seeing as I have … 2.06 million [YouTube] subscribers, it’s always nice to see in the comment section that people remember me from … my young teenager days.”

A strategic approach

Ryan says there are two main principles that have guided him to his current success: “Consistency is number one … I think it trumps the second thing I’m gonna say.” Ryan explains that being consistent helps build strong habits for both you and your audience. “You kind of get to a rhythm of knowing what your audience likes to see. And your audience is, you know … wanting to watch you every day ’cause they can expect to see new stuff from you.”

But a consistent posting schedule is only part of the equation. “The second thing that I think is super important, too — that if I were to do a channel brand new right now, I think it would still have the same kind of pop — would be having a specific style of video.”

These strategies can be applied to any style of content, Ryan points out. “It follows like, again, a certain formula where you can use something that I’m doing and still do it for other styles of content that are completely different genres.” In fact, he recently visited a high school to share his social media knowledge, and he’s confident those students will find value in his advice, even though they can’t emulate his content exactly. Again, Ryan reminds us: “I don’t think you should drink alcohol as much as I do, just FYI.”

Ryan wants aspiring creators to understand everything that goes into running a successful YouTube channel: “It’s not the actual process of the video itself, but rather like the small intricacies that are in there. Like, you know, looking analytics and just fun stuff that make a video what it is.”

Shorts vs. long-form content

For a while now, Ryan has focused on making YouTube Shorts and TikTok content. He says the two platforms are similar, but he does have slightly different strategies for each: “I try to upload on YouTube first just because I care a lot more about YouTube.” Content-wise, there isn’t a big difference, though Ryan does take audience demographics into account. “Sometimes I will cut things out of TikTok,” he admits, “just because they’ll be a little bit more, you know, edgy in a way. And I don’t want like TikTok — ‘cuz they’re a younger audience — to get up in arms about something that I could put on YouTube and it’d be like, ‘This is totally okay.’”

More recently, however, Ryan has started to ramp up long-form content production. Longer content offers a different challenge for the creator, and “I love a good challenge,” he reminds us. Comparing the two formats, Ryan says, ‘It’s always good to tell people at the beginning what you’re doing.” He recommends letting audiences know early on what the video is about and “not [letting] people get annoyed that you’re, you know, waiting seven years to get to the … climax of the video.”

Getting more specific, Ryan says, “The shorter form content is just very methodic in nature … I know to a T how the structure of the video is gonna be.” He shoots Shorts on his iPhone and edits them himself.

Long-form content is more nebulous. “There’s a lot more help involved,” Ryan says, “I hired my best friend, who was with me doing videos at the beginning, to now be my videographer and my editor.” This arrangement allows the two friends to share responsibility for each video, both creatively and logistically. “It’s just a two-person show,” Ryan explains. “It’s me doing the acting and the fun little, I’m gonna drink a lot of stuff on the internet. And then my best friend who is doing the filming and the editing behind the scenes.”

Helpful analytics

Ryan admits he’s still discovering what works for his longer videos. Holding viewers’ attention in this longer format can be a daunting task. Fortunately, YouTube offers tools that can help determine what’s working and what isn’t. One that Ryan refers to often is watch time.

“I can always see when people are trailing off of a video which is actually something real time that I’m working towards,” Ryan tells us. “You can see what moment they were just like, ‘Eh, I’m outta here.’” For example, his recent long-form videos have been about an hour long, but he plans to experiment with different run times, starting with shorter videos of around 30 minutes.

Not only do analytics help you understand your audience better, but this data can also be the foundation of a convincing pitch for potential brand sponsors: “I feel as though brands really just will say yes, especially if you have that audience that caters to what their, you know, product or philosophy is for that brand.”

Where the money comes from

You can find DokaRyan content all over the internet, from YouTube to TikTok to Facebook. And Ryan has found successful monetization strategies for each platform. His current revenue streams include sponsorship deals, YouTube AdSense, merch sales and TikTok and Facebook monetization.

In fact, Ryan’s recent foray into Facebook turned into an unexpected success story thanks to Shorthand Studios. The company reached out to Ryan with a deal to retrofit his content for Facebook in exchange for a cut of the revenue. Ryan has access to the account, but Shorthand Studio does all of the posting, giving Ryan a new passive revenue stream and a massive, previously-untapped audience. “I mean, I’ve only been running that for, I want to say like — Geez — four months maybe, and I’m already at a quarter of a million followers … it’s just growing and, you know, making some fine bucks, which is nice.”

Creative balance

No matter what style of content Ryan is making, his motivation is the same: “It’s just something I love,” Ryan tells us. “I love creating all different kinds of content.” In fact, Ryan holds a full-time job making a completely different type of content.” It’s just having that — I like to always call it — the spice is a variety of life kind of mindset,” Ryan says.

“I’ve been working at my job for about a year and a half,” he says. “I could never quit it. It’s the love of my life for creation. Everybody there is amazing.” While the content is still food and beverage-focused, Ryan’s day job provides enough variety to make the work engaging. “I like to have something that’s different in my mind or in my life, just ‘cuz it gives me that different … goal. “

Even though Ryan commits a full 40 hours to his day job each week, he doesn’t find it difficult to balance working with creating. In fact, Ryan has found some synergy in these two sides of his life. The nature of his job means he can sometimes work on more than one project at a time. “Now, with the processes of my full-time stuff that I do for YouTube as well, I figured out sort of a work-life balance on that,” he says, adding, “Still in the process of getting it fine-tuned.”

He may be busy, but Ryan doesn’t plan to change that anytime soon: “I guess in short, I don’t have anything in my brain where I’m like, ‘yeah, no, you gotta quit this job.’ Even if I got to like 10 million subscribers, if I have the time to do my full-time job, I will keep it for as long as possible.”

Neurodivergent strategies

Staying involved in multiple creative projects is also a way for Ryan to combat the challenges of neurodivergence. “Also having ADHD, it’s good to not have all my eggs in one basket, or else I’ll just quit.” He says switching it up from time to time allows him to have a fresh view of his work. “It’s just something I can actually do differently that challenges my brain and stops me from getting, you know, bored.” While living with ADHD comes with obstacles, Ryan calls it a “blessing in disguise.”

“Literally, ADHD has been such a help because I can go to a grocery market, I’m doing things for home, grabbing some pizza pops or something, and then I see Oreos on the counter and I’m like, ‘I’m gonna buy that and put it in vodka.’ It’s just random things that allow me to make ideas.”

What’s next for DokaRyan?

There’s another motivation for Ryan to keep things fresh: his physical health. “I really only struggle with one … major thing,” Ryan says, “and that’s the actual digestion of my videos.” Constant drinking puts a lot of stress on the body.

Thankfully, Ryan has plans to push his content in a healthier direction with his next series — but you’ll have to stay tuned to the DokaRyan channel to learn exactly what that means. Viewers can also look forward to more long-form videos, but Ryan warns us, “Some of them will definitely be completely out of left field and just be ready for that.”

Parting advice

Before we ended our conversation, Ryan shared some advice for anyone just beginning their YouTube journey: “Start creating the ideas that you have in your head that are like, ‘Ah, I don’t know if it’s good enough.’ Literally just put it out anyway.”

Ryan points out how little you have to lose, especially as you build your initial audience: “Make content, put it out. If it gets, like, one view, that’s one more view that you would not have gotten. And just kind of keep making videos and see which ones start sticking.” For Ryan Doka, it’s an endless cycle of adapting, learning and improving. He concludes, “Always adapt and always try to learn more and make better videos. Forever.”