29 Aug Case Study: Jujimufu’s Lessons on Being Original In a Saturated Niche
How many times have you heard a blogger, young entrepreneur or marketer exclaim: “You have to follow the latest trends, it’s the only way to get ahead in such a crowded niche!”
Well, the issue I have with this is that following trends often makes for bland iterative content that looks like everything else on the web. The paint-by-numbers approach won’t get you far, and it’s actually one of the reasons why a niche becomes saturated with uninspired content.
Introducing the hero of our story
OK, so where do we turn to for a solution? It must be some SEO expert blog, an eccentric billionaire entrepreneur with hard-earned gems of wisdom or at least an economics professor with several published books?
Close, but no cigar. The hero of our story is the oddly named Jujimufu (John Cal), an Instagram and YouTube fitness personality, vlogger, and entertainer. Well, to call him a fitness YouTuber would be doing him a disservice, as the man has made a name for himself in a ridiculously cluttered niche, and regularly puts out fun and engaging content.
He has over 360k subscribers on YT and 1.1 million followers on Instagram. He’s YT videos easily reach over 100k views regularly and sometimes go into the millions, while his Instagram videos surpass 300-400k views and often go over 1 million.
What’s this guy’s secret?
How does he do it? What makes Jujimufu so alluring and interesting? What insights can be gleaned from his work and why should anyone follow his example? Well, let’s take a closer look at his magic recipe for providing fresh content and building a successful brand in a saturated niche market.
Don’t be one-dimensional
Some of you might remember Juji from his viral Instagram video from a while back, where he lowered himself into the splits on two chairs while holding a heavy barbell over his head. He became an instant online sensation, and the reason was clear – nobody had ever seen such a thing.
There were plenty of big bodybuilder types on social media trying to sell supplements and stuttering their way through videos on basic biomechanics, and there were plenty of skinny athletic people doing the splits and back-flips – but there was no one that combined size, strength, flexibility, and agility quite like Juji.
Mix and match topics and skills
There’s no lack of diversity on Juji’s channel, no topics that are done to death, and no one’s reinventing the wheel. Here you’ll find videos of Juji trying out new things like MMA, Strong Man training, bodyweight exercises, Parkour, Olympic Weightlifting, Scottish Highland Games events, and even Pole Dancing.
There is a core theme to the channel – Juji combines the main barbell movements with bodybuilding and acrobatics, and adds a dose of humor to it – but Juji is not afraid to stray from it and try out something new.
Try out bold new things and abolish clichés
When you see John, a 230+ pound behemoth of a man, trying to master the basic Pole Dancing moves or survive a few rounds of sparring with a much more agile and conditioned opponent, you can’t look away from the screen.
This drive to always look for a new challenge, even if he ends up looking a bit ridiculous, is what sets his channel apart from the mundane gym exercise crowd. He openly mocks cliches, and even when he does something as simple as the deadlift, he slaps on a horse mask and thinks of a creative new way to compete with his friends.
Hell, the man has an entire video dedicated to Zercher-style exercises – an obscure variant of the squat and deadlift where you hold the barbell in the crooks of your elbows. He applies this basic principle to several traditional exercises and creates something new and fun, even if it is impractical.
Find your “personality” and brand it
Instead of toning down his high-energy quirky persona to emulate what everyone else is doing, Juji embraces these traits and turns them up to 100%. It’s not for everyone, but that’s the beauty of it.
People are used to seeing the same two-dimensional buff bros with the charisma of a smelly old gym bag – someone that whips his hair over the camera to make a transition, cracks jokes, and jumps around like a hyped-up cartoon character leaves a strong impression.
Juji wasn’t afraid to look inward, find out who he really wanted to be, and project this personality to his audience. No fakeness and no pandering – this is what I’m about, you can take it or leave it.
Engage your audience and listen to your fans
One of the best ways to get in touch with your audience and get some feedback is to listen to their comments and answer their questions. While a lot of fitness channels use Q&A videos as a crutch to get some quick content out on slow days, Juji puts a spin on it.
He opens fan mail while hanging upside down and gets to examine all kinds of cool and strange things people send him. Apart from this, he browses the comments section regularly, creates polls, has people ask questions and make suggestions on his Facebook page, and so on.
Juji and his friend/business partner Tom take the time to answer comments and get to interact with their audience in real-time during their Twitch streams as well. It’s not just about looking at the analytics and trying to guess what people want – sometimes you have to ask them directly.
Diversify your marketing channels and master each one
Some people write blog posts and share their articles on Facebook and Twitter. Some specialize in short form videos and attractive images on Instagram, and some post regular YT videos. Maybe sending people to a website and getting them to subscribe to an email list is the end goal for some.
However, for John Call, it’s about being as diverse and creative in your marketing efforts as you are with your content creation process. Juji will get a cool idea for a short Instagram video where he smashes things with a huge Thor’s hammer and then film an entire YT vlog about preparing for that video and the subsequent training session.
He’ll stream a costumed cooking video and have a behind-the-scenes video ready for YouTube, all the while updating fans about the stream and sharing the video on multiple social media platforms. Juji also has a nice blog with tons of information about stretching, getting into acrobatics and strength training, and even lifestyle tips.
The point is, don’t get lazy – use every medium, tool, and content format you can to market yourself.
Create a good content calendar and post frequently
Now, the content form which Juji excels at, YouTube vlogs and short Instagram videos, just happens to lend itself very well to frequent posting. You could say that it’s easier for someone like Juji to upload a video every day than for a small business to come up with something useful every week.
However, there are tons of vlogs on YouTube, and every single fitness guru on the platform has tried to use the format to cover up holes in their content calendar. With Juji things never get stale because he plans out his content so well.
He plans several days in advance, sometimes even a week and or a month in advance for some collaborations. He also shoots several videos a day to make sure he has something to put up while he’s traveling or preparing for the next big collab.
It’s all about finding your ideal posting frequency and sticking to it.
Don’t take yourself too seriously
Unlike most other fitness bloggers, Juji lets his goofy side shine. He can be self-critical and isn’t afraid to show himself in a bad light.
If someone lighter than him outperforms him in a specific lift, it stays in the video. If he tries a flip and falls flat on his back, it stays in the video. If he fails a challenge, he’ll give his reasons and come clean, and all that stays in the video.
Juji often pokes fun at bodybuilders and powerlifters, even though he’s done both styles in his training before. He’ll strike an occasional pose, but it’s usually next to a wall filled with goofy masks or pink garden flamingos.
You get to see his human side and the fact that he stays humble shows that he believes that he can still improve, grow stronger, and offer better content.
Share a bit of your personal life and draw lessons from it
Theoretical knowledge is all well and good, but people want examples that they can follow. You could say that a product or a strategy works well or that doing things a certain way guarantees results, but talk is cheap. Juji makes a more personal video every now then and eschews his usual quirky and fun style to get serious for a moment.
Even though he’s a fitness YouTuber and Instagram influencer at his core, he’ll often talk about the difficulties of running a business. He’ll cover topics like life goals, personal motivation, job satisfaction, creating a work-life balance, time management, and so on.
Juji pulls back the curtains and shows his audience how he, John Cal, got to where he is and talks about the changes and sacrifices he needed to make.
In doing so, he opens the doors to a new audience segment – he goes from making videos for young male fitness enthusiasts to talking to guys in their thirties, people who are rethinking their career choices or those thinking of becoming entrepreneurs.
In fact, once you start seeing your audience as human beings instead of numbers on a sheet, you’ll find that a lot of these segments overlap. Aspiring entrepreneurs, students, men just past the prime of their life – they all like to train, they all face some similar challenges in life, and they all appreciate a few honest words of wisdom.
Show your audience something they can relate to
Behind the scenes footage, fails, what actually goes into making the videos, the trials and tribulations – all this makes Juji more relatable. He has a whole video where he can’t train properly because a kitten that wandered in a few days back keeps walking up to his feet as he’s trying to lift weights.
Instead of scraping some footage, taking the kitty inside, and filming again, he takes the opportunity to talk about how things like this can affect your training and your plans in life. Juji often films himself doing something that’s out of his comfort zone and usually ends up looking silly.
People who’ve just started training often feel the same as he does in those videos – they’re a bit uncomfortable and nervous, they feel awkward and clumsy.
Mix the fun and excitement with valuable knowledge
One of the most fascinating things about Juji is that, amidst all the shenanigans and jokes, you still get some great workout tips. He’ll share some excellent tips to stay motivated or show you a few tasty and healthy recipes.
You’ll always get some great insight into different parts of fitness, some tips you didn’t even know you needed, and all that in a fun and entertaining package.
So, keep things interesting, develop a unique style, but use every opportunity to drop some knowledge bombs in your content, even on more mundane topics.
Critique the shady practices in the industry
Any industry that grows so big that it becomes saturated with similar brands and repetitive content will have its fair share of marketing nonsense, con artists, and shady characters of all kinds.
There’s nothing wrong with using flowery language to sell your products or services, but when people start overdoing it with the hyperbole it becomes tasteless. It’s OK to entice a customer, but to outright lie to them and try to scare or confuse them into forking out cash for a subpar product is just plain unethical.
Juji looks at the unethical behavior in the fitness industry – be it useless equipment, overpriced supplements that do nothing and promise extreme results or lies and bro-science myths that fitness trainers perpetuate – and exposes them for what they are.
He even takes the chance to make sarcastic videos mocking these shady or lazy practices in the industry. Using good satire to expose frauds and bust myths is a great way to help your audience learn more about the industry and how to avoid getting scammed. This builds a lot of trust and goodwill and helps spread brand awareness.
Collaborate with impressive influencers
The name of the game on YouTube is collaboration. The lower ad revenue, strict and arbitrary rules about demonetization, and an algorithm that seems to hate smaller content creators have all made this a necessity.
However, even before the “YouTube adpocalypse” began, collabs were quite popular, and Juji quickly became the master of this format. He would seek out everyone from bodybuilders, strongmen, and powerlifters to martial artists, Olympic weightlifters, and Ninja Warrior competitors.
But how did he get all these people to work with him? Well, if you were a fellow fitness personality the offer was quite enticing.
Juji would fly you out to his town on his own dime and let you live and eat at his house free of charge for the 2-4 days you’d be filming videos. He’d also let you pick the food that you normally eat, provide you with all the training gear you want, and work around the daily schedule you’re used to.
On top of all this, he’d come up with most if not all the video ideas himself. As soon as you stepped foot on his property, Juji already had 2-3 days of cool activities planned and an outline for several fun and unique videos.
So, if you want to collaborate with big names in the industry, make it worth their while. Sometimes just the offer to expose someone to a new audience for the same thing in return is enough, but don’t count on it. Make them an offer they can’t refuse, prepare a great content idea, and get your audience hooked.
Create different types of content
Juji has training footage, collabs, funny stuff, and motivational and career advice. He and Tom stream on Twitch, he produces short Instagram videos, he has YT vlogs, and there’s a bunch of instructional articles on his site.
The man is always looking for new ways to promote his content, but he also looks for new content types to produces and all the equipment and influencers to help him produce it. It’s not enough to just stay creative within your chosen platform and medium, you should always keep looking for new ways to impress your audience.
Set actionable goals and share them with the world
Juji has had several different goals over the years that he publicly stated on his channel. He is well into his train 365 days in a row challenge, where he trains every single day for the entire year.
At the end of this ordeal, he’s going to sum up his experiences and findings in a book that outlines the best practices for someone who wants to engage in such a strict training regime.
He’s set milestones in strength, body weight, and performance before and has delivered some eye-opening insights along the way. He currently goes to all kinds of public places and challenges regular folk to test out their grip strength. In doing such interesting challenges Juji is creating tons of useful or just fun case studies that no one else is doing.
Setting goals and getting people involved in challenges creates massive amounts of engagement and gives you access to tons of empirical data. Unlike other fitness personas, he doesn’t just parrot facts or make unsubstantiated claims – Juji actually puts things to the test and walks the walk.
If there are too many fish in the pond, it’s difficult to find enough room to flap your fins around freely and grab the onlookers attention. So, what’s a little fish to do?
Well, our friend John Cal seems to have figured out a winning strategy. It’s not easy by any stretch of the imagination, but all the hard work you put in will pay off in the long run.
Jujimufu grew his brand by consistently uploading content that mixed and matches different topics, content formats, training styles, genres, and branches of the fitness industry.
He wasn’t afraid to project a truly unique, if somewhat quirky, personality, critique shady industry practices, and show his personal side and failures to make himself more repeatable.
Most importantly, he diversified his marketing channels and reached out to other brands and content creators to collaborate on unique projects that combined fun and informative content.
By doing this and listening to his audience’s feedback, involving them in the creative process and content planning, Jujimufu has built an immensely popular brand. He still puts out tons of great content in a niche that is as saturated and stale is it gets, and so can you. It’s a lot of hard work and takes planning and adjustments, but it is possible and can even be incredibly lucrative.