“I have the hardest time describing it,” Brandon Farris reveals when asked about his YouTube channel, ImBrandonFarris. “I just tell people I do comedy videos … I just let them figure it out for themselves.”
We had a chance to sit down with Brandon to chat all about his success as a creator as well as the challenges he faced along the way. Read on to learn how Brandon Farris avoids stress and stays funny while growing active communities on multiple social platforms.
Video views: 1,007,677,925
Channel type: Comedy
User created: Feb 14th, 2013
Comedy hasn’t always been at the center of Brandon’s career. “I used to do YouTube early on, like in 2011, but I was doing music,” Brandon explains. He played music professionally before switching his focus to comedy. “I’ve always done comedy,” Brandon tells us. “That’s just, I feel like, a natural talent I was born with. Music was something I had to really work for.”
Even as a musician, Brandon would infuse comedy and storytelling into his performance. he describes arranging his setlist to include upbeat jokes and stories near the beginning, leading up to more inspirational moments at the end of the show. “I wanted to make people feel,” says Brandon, “And I think that’s why I’ve delved into so many different avenues that do that with, like, music and comedy and making videos.”
Brandon originally moved to LA to work in the movie industry. He found steady work at a restaurant in the meantime. At one point, however, he felt himself getting too comfortable:
“I kind of had this come-to-Jesus moment where I was like, I can either … work in this restaurant for the rest of my life and be comfortable. Or I can take a huge leap and go for something I’ve always wanted to do. And that’s create.”
A rough start
Though the drive and enthusiasm were both there, they didn’t prevent Brandon from entering the online comedy scene with a bit of a stumble. “I never get to really tell about my first video,” Brandon says, “but I always like to. Before I started doing comedy, the reason I started my YouTube channel was because my sister did the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, and she tagged me on Facebook. So I was like, well, I have 24 hours. I might as well do it.”
The video in question turned out to be “very sarcastic,” as Brandon puts it. It was not well received by the ALS community. “And so my first YouTube video got over 75,000 views,” Brandon recalls, “But it was like 95 percent disliked … there was nothing but hate comments.”
Though the video does take a comedic approach to the challenge, it ends with a sincere plea for people to watch other ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos and learn more about the disease. Unfortunately, it seems viewers didn’t always make it that far. “It was a pretty rough start, man,” Brandon concludes.
We revisited this theme later in our conversation with another example: “I did a video on pit bulls, which was the worst video hate I’ve ever gotten,” Brandon tells us. Though the video didn’t cast pit bulls in a negative light, some viewers disagreed with how the dogs were portrayed. “I apologized and you learn,” he says, “You learn pretty tough lessons when you’re a content creator, but it can’t stop you. It shouldn’t stop you.”
Brandon believes that trying your best to be a good person will balance out any mistakes you make along the way: “I don’t try to be this person on camera and then go home and be a horrible human being. I try to raise my kids to be good people. I just try to be a good person. And that will reflect in your content.”
How Brandon Farris makes money
Though it had plenty of rough spots, Brandon did find a path to success. For a long time, Brandon made all of his income from Facebook ad revenue. “I actually blew up on Facebook. That’s where I got the majority of my recognition,” Brandon reminds us. But then suddenly, over the course of just six months, Brandon’s income from Facebook dropped by 90 percent. “Luckily for me, in that span of six months is when my YouTube popped off. So — oop — and now YouTube is my main.”
Previously, the ImBrandonFarris YouTube channel wasn’t even monetized.
In fact, Brandon says he has only recently started accepting sponsor deals: “Early on, I was against it. I didn’t do sponsors … my mentality was on community.” These days, sponsors and ad revenue bring in the majority of his income, supplemented by merch sales and other smaller revenue streams.
“I wouldn’t say give up on something that doesn’t pay you,” Brandon warns, “because if I would’ve given up on YouTube then I would be broke.
Balancing multiple platforms
With that in mind, we can see why Brandon likes to stay active across multiple different social platforms. He says that, for the most part, people will watch you where they want to watch you. So, if you want to catch viewers on other platforms, you have to take your content to them: “There’s no sense in saying, ‘Hey, I uploaded a video over on YouTube,’ on Facebook. They’re on Facebook for a reason.”
But even though he maintains a steady posting rate, Brandon has a flexible approach to content creation. “I don’t go in with the mindset of, ‘I need to create a Facebook video today.’” He says that he knows his community well enough to guess which videos will perform best on each platform.
He gives the example of a long-form video about his eight-year-old daughter: “I immediately know this is Facebook … This is my community who watched my eight-year-old grow up.”
And that’s Brandon’s mentality: Surprises and explosions? TikTok’s going to love that. The same applies to Brandon’s main YouTube channel, ImBrandonFarris, and his second channel, ImBrendanFarrisShorts. “I kind of use those two strategically,” Brandon says, “I know what works on my main channel, and I film about once a week for that.” He tells us this is usually a bigger concept, something like, “Let’s put a hundred thousand ball pit balls in here up to my neck and jump in it.”
Beyond posting once a week, Brandon doesn’t have a set upload schedule: “I just look at when most of my followers are online, and I’ll post it at that time, at that day.”
A big turning point for the ImBrandonFarris YouTube channel happened when Brandon’s son was born. As the birth approached, he started slowing down his upload schedule in hopes of acclimating his audience. “I create my own schedule, and if I’m doing daily, I’ll never see him. And that was, it was a non-negotiable.”
But something unexpected happened when Brandon reduced his posting frequency: “I noticed I was making the same amount, if not more money.” He couldn’t help but ask himself, “Why am I working so hard?”
One comment, in particular, stood out: “I even had people who followed me since I was living in my car say, ‘Oh yeah, I haven’t been able to watch the last three weeks. I just haven’t been able to catch up,’ and I was like, ‘Say less.’”
Brandon took the cue and slashed his video output. He also decided to home in on a few of his most popular formats. “I was like, I have three videos that work, and I know they work. So let’s just do those,” Brandon recalls. However, his audience eventually started to tire of the recycled formats. His views plateaued, and he knew he was on track to lose people:
“I’m doing five-minute crafts and Google translate, cooking videos that people are kind of getting bored of that concept,” Brandon says. “I was like, I need to come up with a new idea.” That’s when Brandon realized the true value of filming every day.
Why Brandon Farris films every day
Brandon finds the idea generation process a bit mysterious, noting that it works differently for each person. “I guess I can say what I do,” he tells us reluctantly, “It’s not going to help, I don’t think, but I like to go on walks outside where it’s like open and let my mind kind of breathe a bit … It’s kinda like walking meditation, I guess.”
Brandon says it took some practice, but now he is able to recognize the nudge of an idea and follow it: “Once I started doing daily content, I had to get better at it. Boom — idea. Okay. And I try not to think about it anymore until I sit in front of a camera and record.” Brandon avoids developing the idea before recording to preserve the impromptu nature of his comedy. “I don’t want to script anything,” he says.
To get the footage he needs for a four or five-minute video, Brandon will record up to an hour and a half of footage. “And it’s nonstop jokes bits,” he says, “and I’m cutting 60, 70 percent of it every time.”
Though Brandon doesn’t post every day, he still films daily. “I don’t want to be out of practice with my improv or with, you know, getting the energy ready for a video … if I’m just thinking of ideas, then I’m just going to recreate what I’ve already seen.”
“I film every day, whether it’s a good video or not, I’m filming, “Brandon tells us. “I give myself the freedom to film daily, but I don’t have the pressure of ‘it needs to go up.’”
Avoiding stress while creating
Brandon says that the pressure to upload consistently popular content used to feel overwhelming at times. However, over the years, he has shifted his focus away from trying to make videos that go viral. Instead, he just wants to make videos that are good in their own right. “I think it’s just the stress that we all put on ourselves to entertain and upload. And YouTube doesn’t help when they rate your video out of 10,” he says, referring to one of the reports in YouTube’s creator studio comparing the performance of your 10 most recent videos. “I’ve steered away from that,” he says, “but that was my biggest stress when, you know, I did need money to come in to pay bills and to do stuff like that.”
He warns that online success can often offer a false sense of security. “Even now in the sense of my 4 million subscribers, doesn’t matter, that doesn’t mean money. That doesn’t mean views,” he says. Instead of focusing on subscriber count, Brandon has found it more valuable to focus on growing a community. “Don’t go for a big number,” he says, “you want depth, not width.”
When it comes to content creation, Brandon has found that giving in to stress isn’t productive: “I don’t think you need to stress about the idea and posting and I got to make it good. I think that’s unnecessary stress. I think the ideas will come if you just let them.” He urges aspiring creators to practice making videos without looking at the metrics. “Upload, film, edit, upload, film, edit, upload. Don’t look at views. Don’t look at comments. It doesn’t matter. At that point, you’re just getting good for yourself.”
The team behind ImBrandonFarris
Fortunately, Brandon has help producing all of this content. “I do have an incredible team behind me now,” he says, “And I have my assistant who helps me with literally everything.” He gives an example of a recent video where he stacked everything in this house — go-kart, piano — into one bedroom. “And I can’t do that by myself,” he laughs.
He may have a team supporting his content, but he keeps his gear to the bare essentials. “I use an EOS Canon 6 D Mark II with paint all over it,” Brandon says. “I don’t want to really go big … Just play. What can I do in this room, and how can I play? And the team really helps me out with being able to do that quicker.”
The hardest responsibility to hand off was the editing. Doing improv means having a lot of extra material to work with. The editor needs to make a lot of decisions. Luckily, the editor Brandon works with was already in sync with his editing style: “I cut 60 percent of this video; are you going to know what 60 percent to cut? He definitely does, and that’s a huge, huge help.”
Brandon emphasizes that editing plays a huge part in how his jokes land. He’s glad he developed his own style before outsourcing this important task. “I think people starting out should edit,” he advises, “If I didn’t edit the first, you know, six, seven years, my own videos, I’d have no idea how to guide an editor.”
Putting in the hours
Indeed, Brandon places a lot of value in diligent practice: “I think if I had to start over and I was nobody and I had zero, nobody knew my name. If I was starting over, I’d do it the same way.” He says that’s because it helped him build up his skills as a content creator faster than anything else could have. His advice to new creators follows the same logic: Film every day.
Brandon references entrepreneur and motivational speaker Gary Vaynerchuk to help explain his reasoning: “GaryVee said a great thing that I still say to myself to this day: “You got to get the crap out.” Nobody’s going to watch your stuff for the next two years, three years. You’re nobody. And I take that to heart. I’m not calling people nobodies. I feel that about myself, like where I’m at in my content creation.”
Advice for aspiring creators
Without drive and motivation, Brandon doesn’t think you’ll make it far as a creator. “If you don’t have that, that drive with an iPhone six that’s cracked and has, you know, left-ear-only audio — if you’re not making a video then — if you’re waiting for a new camera, it might not be for you.” He has little sympathy for those waiting for just the right condition before launching their career: “I was homeless and I had a cracked iPhone six, and that’s how I was making my content for four years.”
Brandon says the key is to start where you are, with what you have, and trust that you will figure it out from there: “The majority of the time, I don’t even know what the first step looks like before I take the step. You’re never going to know. I had no idea. You literally, this sounds weird, but you have to take action before the idea will hit you.”
“Six months down the road,” he says, “you’re going to talk about your car and realize you love doing car videos, but you had no idea in the beginning. And that not knowing is what stopped you from creating.”
What’s next for Brandon?
When asked where he wanted to take his content next, Brandon had a simple answer: “I’m doing it. This is my long-term goal.” We’re happy to hear lots more ImBrandonFarris content is on the horizon.