Rebel Uprising Podcast

Using Video to Get Known as a Speaker with Katya Varbanova

When speakers think about doing video for their business they think about the sizzle reel, that three-minute trailer that captures who they are, what their message is, and how they deliver it on the stage.

However, if you think that the only video you need in your speaking business is your sizzle reel you're missing out on a huge opportunity to be seen, to be known.

And I'm not just talking about being known but having your name synonymous with your message.

And, video also helps get speaking gigs.

So I am bringing on my go-to-person for all things video. Her name is Katya Varbanova. She's also known as LiveStreamKatya online.

She is a video marketing strategist specializing in creating viral video funnels for influencers and entrepreneurs.

And I just have to say I met Katya because of Todd Herman's The 90 Day Year. And I just observed her online and just loved her energy. She was so transparent.

She's just so giving and fun that I actually ended up signing up under her for the 90 day year because she was so cool and I had never ever talked to her.

I messaged her and was like, “Hey, I just signed up for the 90-Day year for you.” And it's been amazing ever since.

So Katya started her business with $100 and the Periscope app, and she created one of the most impactful communities in the Livestream space, Peri10k, and I'm a part of that community.

And she ended up turning that into a membership club and quit her job within 90 days.

Eventually, she tapped into the viral video space and created a few videos that amplified her influence in the industry and helped her discover the power of viral video content.

And today, at the age of 26 ( you're so young I love it) Katya helps others to be the star of their own business through the power of video.

So, welcome to the Rebel Speaker Podcast Katya, I'm so excited to have you.

Prefer to Listen?

Katya:                I'm more excited than you, no doubt about that. You are one of the most incredible people that I've worked with, and it's just been amazing to see you get more visible over the last couple of years.

In fact, I remember when you came to the 90 Day Year that's what you said to me. “I want to be more visible.” That is all you said to me.

And everybody listening to this, Michelle actually can teach you a thing or two about videos yourself. Believe me when I say that. So thank you for having me.

How Video Helps to Land More Speaking Gigs

Michelle:          Oh, yeah, I'm so happy. So let's dive in.

How has video helped you land speaking gigs? Because I know you've had some incredible experience of getting on some great stages because of your video.

Katya:                So I'll tell you a funny story. My very first speaking gig actually, I was on Periscope at the time, broadcasting a lot, and I met this lady through Periscope.

She was watching my broadcasts, I was watching her broadcasts, and then she was watching her own events in the UK. And at the time when we met, she didn't have any events whatsoever, but we became really good friends.

And when she launched her very first event there were 200 people there and she invited me to speak. That was my first ever speaking gig, but for her, it wasn't a risk at all because she's already seen me on Periscope and she was like, “I really like Katya, I really like her energy, I think she'd be great on stage.”

And I remember doing that speaking gig. I practiced for it so much because I really wanted to do her proud and I really wanted to actually do a good job for her. And then at the end of the actual speaking gig, at the end of my talk, I finish with, “And by the way, some of you don't know this, but this was my very first speaking gig.”

And everyone just went, “What? Are you kidding?” “Oh my God, that's incredible.” So I think that kind of topped it at the end.

So what that tells you there is that livestreaming got me the first speaking gig and made sure I nailed it. I didn't stumble once, I didn't have any hiccups, I didn't have any nerves, it was just like being on Periscope, but instead, I was in a room with 200 people.

I was getting more viewers on Periscope. When I was on Periscope, I was talking to 1,000 people. So I thought, “Oh yeah, 200 people, yeah yeah, I can handle that.”

Also, it's 200 people that don't talk at you!  On Periscope they're talking back to you and you're like, “Shut up, you're interrupting me, you're distracting.” On a real stage, it was actually like, “Oh, nobody's talking at me here, I'm the boss, yay.”

Michelle:          I love that because I know being on stage versus being on Facebook live or Periscope, I get so distracted by the comments.

Of course,  I want to interact because it's an interactive performance, but at the same time when you're on stage you're like, “Oh, this is my space.”

And if somebody's interacting with you it's because either you've asked for it or they're a jerk and they're heckling.

Katya:                There you go.

Your Sizzle Reel is Not Enough and Why You Need to Be Doing More Video

Michelle:          But that is an awesome story and really shows how powerful video can be to get you known, which actually leads me to my next question.

Why should speakers be doing more with video than just their sizzle reel?

Katya:                So the thing with the video is it's speaking and giving a speech is the same thing. You are improving your communication skills every time you're on stage. Every next speaking gig is better than your last one.

It's the same thing with video. Every new video that you make is better than the last one, and your communication skills improve generally.

One of the things I can tell you right now, Michelle, is I can get on any podcast, any TV show, any stage, and I can be asked the most bizarre or the most embarrassing questions, or I can be asked something really personal.

You know what? Because I've done so much practice of livestreaming and doing that live interaction with people I can handle pretty much any answer, I can handle any question.

You can ask me stuff I don't want to answer, I have the ability to think on my feet to answer in the way that doesn't make me look unprepared.

That's the worst thing, when you answer something and you just look flustered, like, “Ugh.” It's just so bad.

And it's actually allowed me to just be more persuasive in general. Because I don't stumble my words, I don't spend 15 minutes thinking about what I'm going to say next, and I've done that really well.

So I personally believe a good speaker that is committed to mastering their craft at speaking, it's almost like you are silly to not put the time and effort to improve your communication skills through video.

And also through video you get to impact more people online, you get to impact more people on Facebook, on YouTube, wherever that video goes.

And here's the cool part as well. The more video of you online the more people actually see you as a speaker.

If there's no video of you online they are not considering you as a speaker.

They may think of you as an expert, they may think of you as a writer, they may think of you as a panelist or something like that, but they wouldn't think of you as a speaker because there are not enough videos of you out there.

And I personally am a huge believer in not trusting anyone until I see their face and until I hear them speak. I don't trust anyone until I see them on video. I can't because I need to feel the energy.

Just because you're good at writing, that doesn't mean I would like your energy or how you show up. Doing a video is the fastest way to build trust. It's the fastest way to get better at speaking. It's the fastest way to reach the people you want to reach. And it's almost a no-brainer to do it.

Michelle:          I agree.  One of the things that this is reminding me of because this is a part of create your own damn stage month, is that the thing about video is that you can do it anytime.

You don't have to wait for someone to offer you a speaking gig. You can go live right after you finish listening to this and get your message out there.

So yeah, it's great for improving, it's great for being seen and know I can trust, and positioning yourself as a speaker.

But it gives you a venue to share your message and reach so many more people. And I don't see enough speakers taking advantage of that.

Harnessing the Power of Leverage

Katya:                Maybe they haven't actually seen the power of it.

For me, the biggest realization was when I had my record month of viewers. I went live two or three times a day in October 2016. And I had 250,000 live viewers watch me just in that month.

Now, anybody listening to this, 250,000 people, how can you possibly ever be on stage in front of even 100,000 people? Even 10,000?

How the hell can you be on stage in front of 10,000 people per month?

We're talking 25 times more than 10,000 here that I was able to do with Periscope at the time when Periscope was still buzzing and was growing and everything.

So I think that was when I realized it's just such a good opportunity. And you know what? I have to tell you because I got so good at getting viewers online I kind of just stopped saying yes to free speaking gigs.

“Oh yeah, you want to give me exposure in front of 50 people?” I go, “I have 1,000. What have you got to say about that?”

You know what that happens? When you have that kind of bargaining position, they're willing to say, “You know what? We'll just pay you.” Okay, now we're talking, now we're talking.

When you have a bargaining position and you're coming from a place of, “I don't need your gig. You need me more than I need you.” That's when people pay you.

Michelle:          I'm blown away right now because I've never thought about it like that.

And I feel like speakers have become such a commodity. Like, “Oh, I don't need you. I can get somebody else to speak for free.”

But if you come in it and you're like, “Oh man, I've got a quarter of a million people to view me in a month, why would I want to speak to like 100 people?” They'd be like, “Oh wow, wow.”

And then that makes them want to pay you. And it's such a great bargaining chip. And that just blew my mind.

Katya:                Leverage. It's the L word, leverage. Leverage.

Michelle:          Leverage, leverage.

Katya:                Leverage. Not L for loser but L for leverage. Leverage.

Michelle:          Leverage.

Katya:                You can be like, to the event organizer, “You just got leveraged, boss.”

Michelle:          That could be a new thing in the speaker industry.

Katya:                We can coin this new term, get leveraged.

Michelle:          And if I'm an event organizer, and I know that you can get a quarter of a million people to watch you on livestream, I want you to speak at my event and I will pay because I know that you will give my event exposure.

You will get on your livestream and you will mention like, “Hey, if you're in Seattle I'm speaking at such and such an event and you should come.”

And with that amount of reach, of course, there are going to be people from Seattle that will end up coming to this event.

It just makes so much sense.

Katya:                Also, and you know this, whenever organizers are actually choosing a speaker, what do they actually care about? “Okay, let's see who are the speakers out there who have the most followers so that they can sell some tickets on our behalf?” That's how they're thinking.

They're thinking who has the bigger audience.

They're not thinking who's got the most experience or who's the better speaker or who's the most knowledgeable person in that area.

What they're thinking is, “Which speakers are going to make us the most money?”

Michelle:          And all things being equal, if there are two sales speakers and you're the sales speaker with the bigger platform, with more reach, with more people, they're probably going to give you the gig over someone else.

Katya:                Always, always, always. I was in talks about speaking at an event this year with 600 people. And one of the questions they had was “If we get you on that stage will you be promoting this event?”

They care about that kind of stuff. They do. Especially if they're selling big events, 600, 1,000 people, they want to sell tickets. And they're not going to get a bunch of people who are just good on stage but can't bring a single bum on the seat.

They want someone that can do both. And why wouldn't they? Think about it. If you're an organizer why wouldn't you want both?

Why wouldn't you want somebody who is both a great speaker, someone who's really engaging, who's going to pay attention to the audience, and has a big audience?

There's so much abundance of those people out there that it's almost like, “You're both great speakers, but sorry, this person will actually bring me at least 10 tickets which will make me like $5,000, so I'll just have to choose that speaker. Because I am not running a nonprofit, I'm running a business here, so I need to make a profit.” That is literally how people are thinking.

The power of video isn't just about getting better, isn't just about having leverage, it's also about actually building an audience online so that you have more oomph about your proposal and you can say, “You know what? I can charge more because of that audience.”

And they will pay for it because it's worth it.

Michelle:          Yeah, the advertising is worth it, the exposure is worth it.

So one of the things I know you're known for is viral video. And you've had some viral video.

I think when people think of viral video they think of something like the cat videos that get watched like nine billion times or whatever.

Katya:                Yeah, that's a viral video for sure.

Katya’s Approach to Creating Videos that Go Viral

Michelle:          So I would love for you to explain what is your approach to viral video for businesses and for speakers?

Katya:                I think the best example out there that I think most of this audience would recognize is JP Sears.

Michelle:          Yes.

Katya:                He is such a great example of somebody who is leveraging viral video for his business.

So for those of you that know JP Sears he is the weird passive-aggressive sarcastic guy that just talks about first world problems. That's his specialty, first world problems.

He talks about being a vegan, talks about being gluten-free, talks about Bitcoin, blah blah blah.

So what he knows really well is that he knows that there are people out there who believe certain things but aren't necessarily feeling comfortable sharing them out loud.

So we're thinking these things but we'd never say them because they may be rude. And what he is really good at, he's really good at leveraging videos like that to get business for himself.

Like for example when he launched a book he used a viral video to promote his book.

When he launched his membership site he used the viral videos to launch his membership sites.

And the reason they work is that viral videos are videos that don't feel salesy, and they feel like they're shareable. If something's shareable it spreads much faster.

If it spreads much faster you're reaching an organic real audience without paying for any ads. Well, you can pay for ads, but you don't have to pay that much.

Let's say you want to reach a million views on your video. If the video is really good you can end up spending money for 500,000 views instead, but with the 500,000 views you've paid for you can acquire three million views, right? So if the video is good you can pay to leverage it and then you can reach more people.

Now what's the benefit of reaching more people? Well, it is obviously that number one you get to share your message to the world in a way that you've always wanted.

But number two, the social proof of others seeing your videos going viral is huge.

At the last event that I went to, I was an attendee, I wasn't a speaker, but the event was an online entrepreneur event, it's such a small world, everybody knows each other.

I swear, Michelle, I had this guy who was sitting at the table with me and he was whispering something to the girl next to him and that girl was like, “You know, Richard here says he's watched your Gurupreneur video like 20 times. He's like a massive fan.”

And I'm like, “Oh my God, that's so cute.” And he's like, “I know every single word out of that three minute and 40 second video. I know the words word for word.”

He knows every single line from this video because he's watched it so many times.

And it reminds me of the power of having something go viral means that you become memorable, means that people start associating you with something.

Remember how you said earlier when the best thing you can do is to have your name being associated with your message?

Michelle:          Yes.

Katya:                And I think that's what happened. People started associating me with those funny videos.

And the reason I do funny videos is that I believe that business should be fun, I believe life is about fun, and if you're not having fun but you're making a lot of money, what a terrible life that is.

So because of that people can feel that. I don't even have to say it, I just show them, “This is what fun is for me and this is how I have fun in my business by creating silly videos.”

And by doing so I reach more people, my Facebook ads are cheaper, then I retarget those people and they become leads.

And as you have a bigger pool of viewers you have a bigger pool of leads as well.

One of the biggest misconceptions people have is, “Oh, I'll just put money in Facebook ads and I'll get a bunch of leads.”

But if you don't have people to target with your freebies and to target with your lead magnets you're not going to get any leads.

It's not just going to work for you to run an ad for two people that don't know you. That's not how it's going to work.

So you need to warm some people up first. But the only way to warm people up first is to run other ads to cold traffic.

To not get too technical here but it's so much harder to get traction if you are not using the power of something shareable. Because think about it, something that is shared is something that evoked emotion.

Something that evoked emotion is something that will always be remembered.

Remember that old saying, people don't remember you for what you did for them but they will remember you for how you made them feel?

Michelle:          Yes.

Katya:                Yeah? That's one of those things. If you made them feel something from that video they will remember you. There is a saying that relationships are like a bank. You can deposit money into that relationship bank, or you can draw money from that relationship bank.

Every time you draw money, meaning you ask your audience for something, “Give me money,” or, “Give me your email address,” every time you draw money your bank balance goes in the minus.

Every time you deposit money, deposit relational money, they feel more indebted to you.

So every time you evoke an emotion such as you make them laugh, every time you make them laugh that's depositing into that bank account straight away.  Every time you make them feel inspired that deposits into that relationship.

So when you come to the place where you ask for something they're much more willing to say yes. And I personally have discovered that the fastest way to do that is with something that spreads rather than to do it with livestreams.

And I give this example. I'm known as the livestream queen because I did so much livestreaming.

And I love livestreaming because livestreaming is the best way to do nurturing.

Viral videos don't nurture, they're just like a one-hit kind of thing.

Livestreams are great for nurturing, and I would get, I don't know, 1,000 videos per livestream. Can you imagine how many livestreams do I need to do to get 400,000 views?

I need to do 400 livestreams to get 400,000 views. And that's like one a day for an entire year, and then some. Instead, I can spend two hours scripting a video, five hours shooting it, putting it out there and getting 400,000 views on one video. And suddenly you're like, “Oh, I don't have to do 400 live streams to get the same results, I can do one video.” Right?

Michelle:          Yeah, that makes sense.

Katya:                It's like quality over quantity. And for speaking it's good because it makes you look famous, it makes you look like, “Oh wow, this person's getting traction. We better get them booked in right now as they're getting traction, because the more traction they get the more expensive they're going to be.”

Michelle:          Yeah. And I think it's also an opportunity to just show your creativity because I think that's so powerful.

It's one thing to see you on stage, but it's another thing to see you do a video where you're making people laugh or you're doing something creative that people are talking about spreading.

It feels like  you're not just a one trick pony like, “I can get on stage and do a good job.” It's like, “No, look at this, this is a creative body of work that is fun, it is shareable, it evokes emotion.” And to me, that's super powerful for speakers to start thinking about.

Katya:                It's actually very true. They do appear a lot more innovative. That's the right word. You're an innovative business owner. You're not just a business owner and a speaker, you're innovative.

You are creating something that nobody else does. You are pushing over the edge. You are really putting all your time to making your best work out there rather than just creating videos for the sake of creating videos, which by the way is okay if you do that, but it's just so much more impactful if you're doing a video with purpose.

Can I Create a Viral Video Even If I’m Not funny?

Michelle:          So I have two more questions for you. So one question, I'm sure you hear this one all the time, “What if I'm not funny? How can I do a viral video if I'm not funny?”

Katya:                You don't have to do a viral video at all. First of all, can I just say this? My accountant, let's be honest, are accountants funny? Not really. But my accountant …

Hello, any accountants in the room?

Most accountants aren't funny because they're just really logical people.

Logical people find it very hard to crack jokes because for them everything is like, “Wait a minute, I have to connect this dot with this.” While making jokes is not about connecting dots, it's about saying stuff that's ridiculous but true, right?

Michelle:          yes!

Katya:                So my accountant and I were working on creating a viral video funnel for her accounting firm.

And before she signed up that was her biggest objection. “But Katya, I'm not really funny. I don't want to do a viral funny video.”

And I said, “Guess what? You don't have to. You can do an inspirational video, you can do a motivational video, you can do an educational video, you can do an angry ranty video that gets people pissed off.”

You can do so many different types of emotions for people. Anger, sadness, happiness, joy, laughter, taboo, controversy.

There are so many emotions you can convey as long as you can convey one of those.

So she was like, “Oh, okay, great, I'm probably going to do an educational video.”

And then down the road, we get to the part where we're looking at her message and what she's trying to put out there. And suddenly she's coming to me saying, “You know what? I think I have changed my mind and I'm thinking we should create a video about funny stuff accountants say.”

So we decided to create a video called Things Accountants Don't Say.

There are things that accountants don't say that you wish they would say … Like one of her lines is, “Congratulations, you've made over $3 million this year and you have no tax to pay. In fact, the government owes you money.” Like that's one of her lines.

We scripted her lines together, that's so not natural for her. But she did it so well, and she never considered herself as a funny person. Another line she was holding a book and she was saying, “I can see that you've put over $20,000 as a chocolate expense. I have a question. Do you have some left?” Stuff like that, some ridiculous stuff.

So we wrote down all the funny things that accountants wouldn't say, and then we turned them really funny. So actually she who was like, “No no no, I am not a funny person,” ended up creating a comedy video with me. And it is phenomenal. I cannot wait to put that video out there.

Michelle:          I can't wait to see it.

Katya:                It's so funny. And then my other customer, she didn't consider herself funny either, she has a weight loss clinic.

It's kind of a serious matter, being overweight and all that kind of stuff. It's serious matters.

But I think about the time she just came to the realization that, “You know what? Everyone in my industry does these sad, inspirational transformations,” like before and afters that are really an inspiration.

And she was like, “I should just do a parody of fat diets and stuff that doctors don't say and stuff like that.” So she ended up doing a comedy video as well.

So to answer your question, what if you're not funny. You don't have to do a funny video, but most likely being funny has nothing to do with doing a funny video.

If you've got the right script, that's what matters. If you've got the right script you can play a funny video.

And here's the truth. What's funny, Michelle? What is funny? The truth. The truth is the funniest joke of all.

When people go, “Oh my God, that's so true,” that's when a joke hits, that's when it's funny. So as long as you know how to tell the truth you can make something funny. And it has nothing to do with you, about you being funny.

Let’s create an example. Tell me something that speakers, arrogant speakers say, something an arrogant speaker may think or say to other people, or something, or whatever.

Michelle:          Oh my gosh. So I always think of name dropping. “So last week when I was talking with Tony Robbins.”

Katya:                Yeah. Yeah. So exactly. They'll be like, so let's say somebody asks them, “Oh, what's your speaking experience?” “Oh, you know, I don't really have speaking experience, but I was talking to Tony Robbins last week, and he said to me I'd be pretty good on stage.” Just something ridiculous like that and you just listen to it and you go, “Oh my God, that's so true. There are people like that out there.”

And that's why people share it. They share it so that they show, “Oh my God, this is so true in our industry, isn't it?” And that's what it is about.

Michelle:          Yes. I love that. I think there's a couple of things to unpack there.

Number one, viral videos are about emotion. You go and approach it as an emotion. So you pick your emotion and then the video comes together

And I think also being funny, it doesn't matter. It's the collaboration.

Because you're funny, I know that about you. But if you're collaborating with someone like you or someone like me you end up getting a script or a speech that can actually-Compensate and be funny, even if you don't think you are. So I love those two points.

Katya:                Yeah. There's no such thing as funny people, only funny things people say.

Michelle:          Yes, exactly. I love it. So one last question. Let's say I'm a speaker and I listen to this and I am thinking, “Oh my gosh, I want to get started with video.” How would you suggest speakers get started?

How to Get Started with Video

Katya:                So the very first thing I would do is I would just go on live to start with, to get really comfortable.

Because if they can get to the stage where they don't need a script and they don't need to think about going live and they don't have to think about speaking on camera, it just makes life so much easier.

So I would recommend that they go live on Facebook or they go live on Instagram, whatever their platform is. You can go live on YouTube as well if that's your thing.

And I would just recommend for them to maybe even give themselves a challenge of, “All right, I'm going to go live for the next five days every single day.”

And just start small. You don't have to go full blown, “Oh my God, from now on I'm going to live stream every single day.” You do not have to do that.

And then the second thing I would say is to not worry about equipment at early stages.

A lot of people don't start making videos because they think they need the right equipment. All you need is a smartphone. It has a camera and it has an built-in microphone. You don't even need a separate microphone.

So that's all you need to get started. And I think a lot of people miss that. A lot of people just go, “Oh, I don't have the equipment, I need to buy it first, and then I'll do it.” So don't wait until you have the equipment.

And then third, if you don't feel comfortable doing it publicly start somewhere privately.

Maybe in a small Facebook group, maybe even go live just with one friend. I don't know if you know this but on Facebook, you can change the privacy setting to only specific people.

So you can say, “Right, I have three people that are really positive that are really going to cheer me on, they're not going to judge me. I'm just going to go live to them. And that's it. And I'm not going to show myself to the world just yet.”

Because I know for me personally when I was at the very beginning, before I quit my job, I was really scared of going live on Facebook and having all my colleagues seeing me go live and stuff like that.

It was just like, “I'm not really sure I want them to see that I'm going live because they're going to figure out I'm trying to quit my job.” So I just went on Periscope instead where they weren't on. So that's kind of how I did it.

So those were my top three tips for actually getting started doing that.

Michelle:          Yeah, awesome. And I also know you have a planner for live video, for if people are like, “I don't know what to say,” right?

Katya:                Yes, I do have a planner. I need to tweak it a little bit, but it's quite good still. I think what would be better to give them actually, I have a new guide coming up that it actually shows them how I set up all my video funnels that include livestreams and viral videos.

I think that would be more beneficial because let's be honest, most speakers know what to talk about. That's not really their problem. It's the strategy behind it, “Okay, I  know what I want to say but what do I do to make this more strategic?”

And I would recommend they actually check that out at

And basically in that guide, I show them how I create my viral videos. I actually show them my best performing videos that have not only gone viral but have generated me a lot of money.

One of our funnels has made over $270,000 in JV sales with less than $10,000 in ad spend. And that's only because of two very strategic videos as part of the funnel. So really really really really, I literally show anything. I don't hold anything back in there.

In fact, I've moved my business in a way that I no longer sell information. I just give all my information freely, but people then just come to me to work for implementation, which is totally different.

It's more transformational stuff than just selling courses and selling info and stuff like that. Because I just gave you the info anyway on this podcast. So you don't need more info.

Michelle:          That sounds like an awesome guide. And if people want to connect with you online where can they find you?

Katya:                I am everywhere. LiveStreamKatya. Everywhere. Facebook, Instagram, Periscope, Twitter, YouTube. Everywhere.

Michelle:          And I highly recommend that you follow her on Instagram and Facebook because you have some of the best social media posts.

That could be a whole other program, but she has some very insightful, thoughtful, transparent social media posts.

So go check out Katya and LiveStreamKatya on Facebook and Instagram and everywhere else on social media. And thank you so much for being on the Rebel Speaker Podcast. It's been a pleasure.

Katya:                No, thank you for having me. You are amazing and I can't wait to hear from your people.

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