Working as a Full-Time YouTuber
It sounds like the dream doesn’t it? I am currently living “the dream” now for the last 4-5 years and it’s been an interesting and unique experience doing what I do on the web and forever expanding the network. This post will act as a guide for those interested in pursuing the YouTube lifestyle and I’ll cover a range of topic that may or may not is considered for people starting out with this as a goal.
What made me decide to leave my job?
Leaving my job to pursue my life on YouTube and online wasn’t a decision I made lightly. I went from earning $4000+ dollars a month in my corporate IT job to a fraction of that at the time on YouTube. The fact was though, I didn’t enjoy my job. I felt like my soul was getting crushed having to dress up in fancy clothes just to sit at a computer all day. Solving other peoples problems is a tough thing to do all day and there was no light at the end of the tunnel. I had been promoted twice in 3 years but it didn’t translate to anything tangible as it was still the same job.
At the point of leaving my day job, my main YouTube channel was hitting roughly 550,000 views per month. Everything I was uploading was all original content so I figured I would give it a shot and try and take things to the next level. If you’re seriously considering leaving your job you want your channel up around 1 million views a month. This is where it starts to at least take the financial pressure off. I left knowing the channel was growing and knew I could stick it out for at least 12 months thanks to my savings.
My Life Goal is Simple
I want to enjoy my time doing what I do even at the expense of less money short/long term. I am much more happy doing what I love as opposed to having to commute an hour each way for a job I don’t enjoy. Doing what you love should be a priority in life.
Another huge reason in deciding to leave was the fact that I had numerous companies from all over the World sending me their products to review. I felt like the timing was perfect. In the last week of my day job in 2013, I decided I wouldn’t see another Christmas party at work and wanted to be finished by April of 2014 which is exactly when I resigned.
I had my resignation drafted 3 months in advance tweaking it ever so slightly each day with the hopes of living my dream. So many people never take chances and I get it. If you have a family then YouTube is a tough gig unless you’re already raking in over 2 million views a month.
Are you Self Motivated?
If there’s one thing I am above all others it’s self-motivated and I have the ability to work out problems in a fashion that I find motivating and challenging. My first step at being a full-time YouTuber found as many companies as I can to work with even while I was still receiving products from other companies to make sure I was never short of things to put up on my channel. This literally meant scouring the internet and finding companies contact details and sending out a lot of emails.
If you’re thinking of leaving your full-time job for a life on YouTube please consider the following things:
- Are you already making enough money on YouTube to cover your rent?
- Are you self motivated and driven to achieve your goals?
- Will you do your best to work out the best ways to grow your channels?
- Do you have enough money saved for at least 6-12 months of self-employment?
- Do you have a family relying on you financially?
- Are you essentially debt free? (excluding monthly phone and internet payments)
- Are you happy to adjust your current spending habits and live a lot more simply?
- Will you be willing to learn a lot of new skills?
If you answered no to any of these questions then I would seriously reconsider because working full time on YouTube means I spend about 90% less on Fast Food. My regular lunch at my old job was almost $20.00 per day now it’s less than $4.00. I eat really healthy now consuming a can of mixed beans, a can of tuna, and some beetroot for lunch. I had to make this sacrifice to make ends meet.
Things to Consider as a Full-Time YouTuber
Having something original:
I think there’s a number of considerations that come with wanting to go full-time on YouTube. Something that stands out to me is have something original and something that is distinctly you. Having something forced, or fake, or not interesting to you is no good. You have to be passionate about what it is you’re doing so the “work” part is simply fun. Niche your channel the best you can to help it have its own unique feel and fan base. While there are many people reviewing guitar products there not many reviewing them in the same music niche as me, for example.
Create a Regular Release Schedule
This is a huge deal! I don’t care if you’re only releasing one video a week release it on the same day or at the very least the same time each day. Try and find the ideal time for a video release that your major country demographics will be able to watch it. Since changing my release time by 10 hours I increased views by 100%. If you plan on releasing more than 1 video a week pick two days where it works well. Mondays and Friday for example. Just do what works best for your channel and schedule.
Set your standards and expand.
YouTube alone is a tough gig, you need to think outside the box a lot. Harness other ideas and things you could be doing in the time you have each day. Think about starting a blog, starting a second YouTube channel, or even an online shop (if applicable). All I can suggest is do the things that you’re passionate about. I am mostly in a product review field. What I do for extra income is to sell products I am sent. This is a huge help financially. This is still something I have to do today especially in the early months of each year when the earnings are low. Another option is setting up an affiliate program to make a few extra dollars. If your niche isn’t reviewing, then consider setting up a teeshirt brand that your fans can buy and enjoy. This will greatly help you out financially.
Review your analytics and retention time
Review your analytics and move with what you need to do to make your videos stand out. If people are only watching 50% of your videos make an active decision to shorten the videos down and see how it goes. Read your stats and earnings and try to replicate these with other videos of the same nature while still producing quality content. It all comes down to quality content. This is true both here in a blog or when producing videos.
The YouTube Audio Library
I love the Audio Library on YouTube. You can use free music (royalty free) on your videos which makes them really pop in terms of production value. Here’s an example of a video I shot
How much can I earn on YouTube?
It really depends on the content, niche, advertisers, and views. My suggestion is to see how well your channel does with 500,000 views and take it from there. If you’re only growing 100,000 views per month every few years then financially it will be an uphill battle. Different months of the year are drastically different from other times. Towards Christmas time you’ll see things improve usually. Jan-March is usually pretty terrible. If you are getting around 2,000,000 views a month Jan-March will be fine.
Learn, Learn Learn
Learn from your favorite channels and try to produce the best content you can each and every time. If you take notes on what other successful channels are doing on YouTube you’ll have a good platform for comparison for what’s possible with your own content. Learn about Branding, Annotations, Cards, Custom Thumbnails, and more.
Learn as much as you can about any given camera you already own or you plan on buying. The gear side of it isn’t as important as the content. There are many very popular YouTube channels that don’t have the best production value. In the end, it’s all about the content and less about which fancy new camera you used to shoot it. The only exception to this rule would be if you run a camera-centric YouTube channel.
Learn about video editing, how to light a room, microphones, and more. Subscribe to the Geeky Nerdy Techy YouTube channel for gear advice.
Move and Grow
If you do the same things all of the time subscribers will no doubt get bored, right? I’ve had to mix my channel up a number of times over the years from my initial goals about what would work. At this point in my channels life, the content has never been better and my analytics are showing positive growth all around.
If you quit you’ve lost because of this. If you persist, you will learn what works and find an audience. If your finances are tough then pick up some contract work for 2-8 weeks or so. I’ve done this multiple times. The great thing about most YouTube channels is you can schedule your videos ahead of time so if you need some work do it. Picking up short term contracts is great motivation to keep your focus on the YouTube prize.
No one wants to see endless clones of Casey Neistat for example. There’s nothing worse than seeing a new channel try and replicate the vibe of someone else’s videos or life. Odds are you’ll never be as popular as Casey but there’s a place with your name on YouTube waiting to happen. Stick at it and good things can and will happen.
Love What You Do
If you go into YouTube trying to make money you’ll be pretty disappointed. Very few channels end up having viral videos. The right type of person for a YouTube channel has to have a passion for the topic, enjoy filming and editing, and someone who enjoys learning. It’s a constant learning curve and things can change quickly so you’ll need to adapt to that change.
If you have any questions please let me know.