Muaaz Shakeel is a YouTuber who took his passion of helping others and brought it to the internet for millions to see. He uploads videos to help upcoming YouTubers find success with online content creation through how-to’s, YouTube tips, and much more.
City where you’re from: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Hobbies: Creating videos, gaming, and of course binge watching Netflix.
Favorite quote: “Don’t downgrade your dream to fit your reality” – Stuart Scott
What got you serious with YouTube and how did you choose your niche?
Muaaz Shakeel: I’ve had my YouTube channel since 2008 and have uploaded random videos just to put something out there ever since. Although I never built much of an audience doing it that way, I found the concept of random people across the globe watching my videos mind boggling. Near the end of my senior year in high school, I noticed that all of the videos I uploaded in the past few years have received a couple thousand views each and if I ever wanted to try YouTube seriously, now would be my last chance before college starts in the fall and I get busy with my personal life. Less than two years later, I’m sitting here having accumulated nearly 50,000 subscribers and have received over 6,000,000 total video views.
My channel is currently based around helping upcoming YouTubers find success with online content creation. I upload technological videos, how-to videos, YouTube tips, and much more. The reason I chose that for my content style is because throughout my life, it’s clear to anyone on the outside that I enjoy helping other people solve problems and bring them closer to reaching their goals.
It seems that a lot of YouTubers who are successful at the moment always had it figured out, does that also apply to you?
Muaaz Shakeel: That’s actually a great question! A lot of the YouTubers who I’ve become friends with throughout this journey were in the same boat as me at first. We all wanted to do something else and experimented with a bunch of genres until we found something that we enjoyed and also brought us growth.
I myself originally wanted to be a comedy channel after watching YouTubers like Smosh and Fred back in the day. After that didn’t work out (probably because I was trying to make skits on a phone camera, in my room, by myself, in 360p haha) I decided to try gaming as it was my biggest hobby at the time. The reason I wanted to give gaming a shot was because I saw YouTubers like FaZe Rain and other Call of Duty content creators gaining such a large following by doing something that I did everyday anyway, playing CoD. The issue I faced when trying to become a Call of Duty channel was that I pulled up to the train station but the train had already left months ago.
The Call of Duty scene was and still is so oversaturated with creators who already have 99% of the available audience. Due to that, there isn’t much else a content creator can do to be unique on a simplistic game like Call of Duty. Everyone who came onboard the train when it first arrived found success but everyone else was never able to do the same.
So the answer is no, I didn’t have YouTube figured out straight from the bat. From my experience, most content creators don’t either. YouTube is something that takes a lot of trial and error but you can’t give up trying because if you do, someone else is already lined up to take your spot.
Keep working towards finding something you’re passionate and are willing to share with everyone else. This can be life stories, your daily activities, short films, gaming, and honestly the ideas are endless when it comes to passion.
You’ve mentioned things like vlogging, gaming, short films, etc. do you think that someone who wants to start a YouTube channel should be uploading anything and everything they can if they’re passionate about all of those genres?
Muaaz Shakeel: Wow haha, another fantastic question! I would say that it’s not a bad idea to try that when you are first building up a small fanbase but once you have that fanbase, it would be best to stop. If we’re talking long-term, then I would say that you definitely don’t want to upload a bunch of random stuff like cooking videos, vlogs, gaming videos, etc. in hopes of finally driving traffic to your channel. A lot of the decisions I make for my channel usually come from me putting myself in a viewer’s shoes. Let’s say someone likes your gaming videos so they subscribe to you. Then, all of a sudden you start uploading cooking videos or vlogs because you wanted to try and expand your audience. You as the creator wouldn’t see an issue with this as you’re just trying to find opportunities for yourself, but the issue here is the viewer subscribed to you for gaming videos and you aren’t meeting their demand for them with the supply of content on your channel. This will inevitably lead to an unsubscription or an inactive subscriber (neither of which you want).
My biggest tip would be to stick with one genre until you know that your viewers are watching you for your personality rather than what you upload. When you reach that status, you can experiment with expanding into different genres because you will have a large amount of people there to give you feedback on your new content style.
How far do you plan on taking your YouTube Channel?
Muaaz Shakeel: Honestly, I never thought I would get this far in general so I don’t want to set any limits on myself and the rest of this journey. Gaining over 1,000 new subscribers weekly could have only been a dream back in 2008 but now it’s a reality. I never saw myself coming close to 50,000 subscribers or having over 6 million total video views but I proved myself wrong. It seems like we’re only heading up and this is just the beginning so I’m going to keep riding this wave until I stop having fun with it but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.
Do you think you could make creating videos on YouTube a full time job?
Muaaz Shakeel: YouTubers get paid monthly and not bi-weekly like a lot of normal jobs so that can be an issue when trying to provide for a family or something like that but honestly yeah. I definitely feel that making YouTube a full time job wouldn’t be too difficult if I kept at it and continued working hard. At the moment I earn enough to be able to buy whatever I want but definitely not enough to provide for a full family. Lucky for me, I’m not pretty big on blowing all of my money like a lot of teens my age, so if I keep at this, I could definitely see it becoming a full-time thing but at the moment I think of it less of a job and more of a hobby.
What are some mistakes you find pretty common for aspiring YouTubers?
Muaaz Shakeel: I have an offer on my channel where if a viewer wants me to check out their channel and give them feedback on how they can improve, they just need to DM their channel link to me on twitter and I’ll get back to them as soon as I can.
One of the biggest issues I’ve noticed after looking at hundreds of aspiring youtubers is that often times they forget the importance of consistency. In my opinion, uploading often is the key to finding success on YouTube. I feel like it should be obvious that uploading 2 videos every 3 months isn’t going to gain you a dedicated audience. I say that because in the break you take away from YouTube, your potential audience has already found someone else to watch in their freetime.
Again, like I said before, think about it from the viewer’s perspective. Would you want to watch a channel that uploads once every few months or watch someone pushing out new and fresh content weekly if not daily? It would be safe to assume that the viewer’s answer would be the latter of the two.
Do you have any tips from personal experience to give to upcoming YouTubers so that they can avoid making that kind of mistake?
Muaaz Shakeel: PRIORITIZE. I know that a lot of aspiring YouTubers are young adults who are going to school, might have extra-curricular activities after and probably even a part-time job. My biggest tip if you’re taking on multiple roles like being a student, an employee, a student athlete, etc. is that you just need to learn how to prioritize and work harder.
Think about it, there are people out there like LeBron James, The Rock, Leonardo DiCaprio, and a bunch of other people who all have way more on their plate in comparison to you and I but still get so much more accomplished than we can. You just need to stay dedicated when trying to take something else (like YouTube) on and that holds true in all aspects of life. I hate when people who want to be YouTubers tell me that they don’t have time to pursue it. Them saying that bothers me because that can only hold true if that individual truly gets 0 minutes of sleep because in that case, they are seriously using all 24 hours of their day to the best of their ability. In reality that’s most likely not the case with people who want to be YouTubers.
I, just like the next person, love watching a couple episodes of a series on Netflix before heading to bed but the time I spend watching Netflix could’ve been used working on a video, doing homework, or honestly anything more beneficial and productive. The same goes for hanging out with friends or really any type of activity that can be pushed off until later. A lot of entrepreneurs lose a couple hours of sleep a night just to make sure some of the work on their plate gets completed.
When you’re sleeping, someone else is working to take your spot — Losing that one hour of sleep to do something productive can bring you that much closer to succeeding with the goal you have set for yourself. So what I’m saying is don’t stay up until 2AM watching Netflix or just staring at your monitor but stay up until 2AM doing something that matters more and will benefit you in the future.
Pick the things in your life that matter most to you, create a schedule, and go from there. My priorities in order are family, school, work/YouTube, then friends. Of course some of those can switch back and forth depending on the situation at hand but for the most part, that’s how it’s been and that’s how it’s going to stay (at least for a while).
Here is a typical day for me: I wake up and then go to school for a few hours and once I’m done, I head off to work for a few more hours. After all that, I come home, eat dinner and spend time with the family. By now it would already be near 6 or 7PM and I get started on my school work. Once all that is done, if I have time then I move onto my next priority, which is YouTube. I often get texts asking to game with my friends around that time too because that’s usually around the time a lot of kids my age get their schedules cleared for the day but since YouTube is a higher priority than gaming, I get that done before I spend the rest of my night in Skype calls with my friends playing CSGO.
What is your biggest tip for helping YouTubers rank higher in search results or even getting on the front page?
Muaaz Shakeel: Use your resources as much as you can! A lot of new YouTubers come into the scene uploading videos with a simple title, no thumbnail, no video description, and usually just skip adding tags and then they wonder why no one is noticing their content. You need to take advantage of everything around you! Make your title appealing, make your thumbnail something you yourself would want to click on, add tags relevant to the video so that your video shows up when a user searches for something related to the topic at hand. Meta tags can make or break your channel so that’s why it’s crucial to take advantage of them as it’s a free tool available for you to use. Just don’t go around abusing it and adding information irrelavant to your video or you can get a strike or termination from YouTube just for misguiding traffic to your channel.
Tell us something you take pride in with your channel.
Muaaz Shakeel: I’m sitting here gaining over half a million video views monthly and due to that, I receive a fair amount of comments/DMs as well. The one thing I take a lot of pride in is that I’m always interacting with my viewers whether that’s on Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, etc. At the moment I make time everyday or every other day to get back to 99% of the messages I get (as long as they aren’t asking me for a shoutout). A lot of YouTubers for some reason tend to grow an ego once they pass 10,000 subscribers and cut off their personal connection with their fans. I honestly have no clue why you would want to do that considering they are the ones taking time out of their day to watch your videos. I personally don’t think it’s unreasonable to take a minute out of your day to respond to fans because you could just make someone’s whole week by getting back to their comment or just holding a short conversation with them through DMs.
Whenever I used to watch my favorite YouTubers, I would always leave a comment hoping for a response and once in a blue moon, I would get one. It was an unexplainable feeling knowing that someone you look up to took time out of their day to get back to you and that’s essentially the type of feeling I want to keep recreating. I want to share that feeling with others because I know first hand how good it feels to be acknowledged by someone with a following on a completely different scale in comparison to yours.
Who are your biggest influences?
Muaaz Shakeel: As cliche as it sounds, I would have to say that my parents are definitely my biggest influences. White growing up, I heard multiple stories of how my parents moved from Pakistan to the United States of America in hopes of better lives for my sister and I years prior to being born. They came here [USA] with literally zero understanding of how to speak the English language. Sit back and think about how scary that actually is, traveling to a completely different country with close to no money and no family in hopes of finding a job and home with no understanding of the English language. I honestly have no clue how they did it but my father worked his way up from working 50+ hour weeks at a $4 an hour wage to where he is now and I couldn’t be more proud. My mom and dad would always give anything up so that my sister and I wouldn’t miss out on something. Due to growing up with a role models like that, I just want to do the same for the family I’ll have in the future because if I can be at least half the parents my mom and dad are then I’d say I’ve done a good job. I value their thoughts a ton and it’s safe to say no matter how much success I find in life, I’ll never be able to repay my parents for all they’ve given up for my sister and I.
My parents truly never cared for what I did as long as I brought home good grades and stayed away from the wrong group of people. They’ve been nothing but supportive ever since day 1 and it’s truly a blessing.
How do you continue to create content on YouTube without getting bored? It must get repetitive right?
Muaaz Shakeel: That’s actually a question I get asked pretty often and yeah, you’re right, it can definitely get repetitive at times but I feel like the best way to not get bored with YouTube is to just not treat it as a job. When you treat it as a job, you feel obligated to push out content, even when you don’t feel like doing it. I myself treat YouTube as a priority but not a job because I don’t want to lose interest in a hobby I’ve been having fun with for the past few years.
What is your ultimate goal with your YouTube channel?
Muaaz Shakeel: To help as many people as possible find their passion and then lead them to find success with it. I say that because why spend your whole life doing something you’re not enjoying when if you do something different in your young-adult years, you could end up living the life you always wanted.
You said you don’t plan on making YouTube a full-time job. What do you plan to do for a career in a few years?
Muaaz Shakeel: At the moment I’m leaning towards being a software engineer but I also love hardware so I’m going back and forth between Computer Science or Information Technology but since I am fond of both I know I’ll be happy doing either-or for the rest of my life.
What is your dream?
Muaaz Shakeel: My dream consists of my parents being retired, happy, healthy, and living the lives they always wanted. I want my sister to be set with the career she’s been dreaming about. I would love to know that all my friends have multiple opportunities available for them to make careers out of. You might be asking why I haven’t said anything about myself and that’s because honestly, if everyone else I care about is doing well in life, I’ll be content. Of course I want the mansion, the Louis Vuitton duffle bags, etc. but just like I said earlier, family comes first.
Give the readers the best entrepreneurship advice you have.
Muaaz Shakeel: Being a successful entrepreneur more than likely means that you will come face to face with failure a fair amount of times and how you deal with that failure says a lot about who you are. Don’t let messing up ruin your dream, get back up, learn from your mistake and don’t let it happen again.
Also another piece of advice comes from my favorite quote at the beginning of this piece, “Don’t downgrade your dream to fit your reality.” Every dream can become a reality if you work hard enough for it. Just don’t downgrade your dream thinking that your surroundings won’t allow it to come true because if you do that, you’ll never be content.
Muaaz Shakeel: Kendall Jenner, duh 🙂
What do you think you do better than most people?
Muaaz Shakeel: I can amaze people with how much I procrastinate some things but when it comes to it, I can get things done in a short amount of time and sometimes it will be better than if I had worked on it for weeks.
However, when I know I’ll have a lot of tasks to complete in a short amount of time, I’m exceptionally good at getting it all done without stressing over anything. This all goes back to what I said earlier in the article, PRIORITIZE.
What’s something new you’ve learned in the past month?
Muaaz Shakeel: Haha, it’s irrelevant to entrepreneurship but I was listening to a podcast the other day and I found out that the reason our fingers and toes get all pruney when we’re under water is so that we have better grip on wet or submerged objects like rocks and things like that. It’s pretty interesting when you think about it.
What have you been watching lately and what are your favorite shows on Netflix?
Muaaz Shakeel: I actually just caught up on The Fosters so I’m waiting for the next season to start up in July. There’s a lot to pick from in regards to my favorite TV Shows so I’m just going to list a few: How To Get Away With Murder, Friends, One Tree Hill, Dexter, The Flash, Daredevil, The Office, and Grey’s Anatomy. If you want me to recommend you a show then just DM me on twitter (linked above) and if you have any recommendations then just do the same haha.
Also published on Medium.