By Tracy Breen
It seems that everybody wants to be a YouTube star these days. Every kid on the planet dreams of being Dude Perfect and making big money posting videos and having fun. The truth is making tons of money off YouTube is about as likely as being the next NASA astronaut, but if your dream is to have a successful YouTube channel with a lot of hard work, success will come. You may not be able to make millions of dollars, but earning some money and having some sponsors is achievable if you take the right steps. Below are a few things to consider, especially if your goal is to have a channel that focuses on hunting and the outdoors.
DON’T PLAN ON YOUR CHANNEL BEING AN OVERNIGHT SUCCESS
Every person who starts a YouTube Channel hopes that they will be an overnight success, but that rarely happens. Nate Sellers knows how much work it takes to build a solid following. Sellers has a popular YouTube Channel called Average Jack Archery. “I started my channel years ago and it has only become popular the last couple years,” Sellers noted.
PRODUCE WEEKLY CONTENT
The key to success is producing content every week, whether you want to or not. “It is really easy to be excited about producing content the first few months,” said Bernie Berringer who has the YouTube channel, Bowhunting Road. “It isn’t as exciting six months later when your average video has 100 views. The key to success is sticking with it and producing content every week. Over time, people become fans of the channel and watch every episode. It takes a lot of time to get there. It took me about three years before I started gaining a serious following and started making a little bit of money.”
YOUR CONTENT MUST BE UNIQUE
In addition to regularly producing content, you must also think about what type of content you want to produce. If you want to stand out and have a channel that people want to watch, the content must be unique in some way. Average Jack Archery focuses on archery-related product reviews. His reviews are entertaining, to the point, and he typically tells the good, the bad, and the ugly about the products he is reviewing. Bowhunters and archers regularly check out his reviews when they are shopping for something because they want an honest review before they spend their hard earned money. Honest reviews are hard to find so the Average Jack Channel has been able to fill a niche. “Filling a particular niche is a must,” said Sellers. “Most bowhunters want to just create and post videos about bowhunting. I have seen some amazing bow hunts with great videography and amazing editing on YouTube that only have 100 views. It takes more than quality bowhunting footage to build a following.”
PRODUCE MORE CONTENT THAN YOUR COMPETITORS
Another YouTube Channel that has been extremely successful is called Whitetail Habitat Solutions. The host of the channel is Jeff Sturgis. Sturgis is a whitetail habitat expert and spends endless hours managing whitetail property and showing others how to do it. There are a lot of shows like his on YouTube, but Sturgis is considered one of the top in his field and produces more content than almost anyone in his category. “We produce over 200 videos a year,” Sturgis noted. “Being prolific without a doubt is one of the reasons we have been successful. We produce lots of videos. We produce videos that help whitetail hunters solve their land management problems.”
MAKING MONEY OFF OF YOUTUBE
All of the people I interviewed for this article have monitored their channel in several ways. All of them make money directly off Youtube and all of them also make money from sponsors, but all of them told me that people won’t make lots of money right away. Many YouTube show hosts have told me it took them years to make a little bit of money off of YouTube and when the checks started coming, they were $50-$100. “Very few people get rich off of Youtube. It takes millions of views to make a lot of money,” said Sellers.
BUILD RELATIONSHIPS FIRST
One way most YouTube shows make money is by having companies sponsor them. This is the path most shows try to take, but in my opinion many shows try to get sponsors too early which can be a big mistake. I am a marketing consultant and one mistake I see many people make is trying to get sponsors before they have many subscribers. I regularly get emails from start up shows looking for free product and sponsorship money. A channel that only has a 100 subscribers or a 1,000 shouldn’t expect free product or money. If you ask for product or money before your channel is popular, you stand the risk of burning a bridge with a company before you really get started. Instead, I suggest trying to create value for the companies you hope to work with. Buy their product and do a review. Wear a certain type of clothing in all your videos or offer to produce a video for free to get your foot in the door. Most YouTube Channels try to monetize their channel long before they should. Produce quality content and eventually the sponsors will come.
STICK WITH IT
Over the years, I have interviewed dozens of YouTube celebrities. Most of them have a channel for 3-5 years before they ever made a dime. If you want to make a living on YouTube or even have a side hustle, realize the road to success is a long bumpy one. The good news is if you work hard, dreams can come true. Bill Winke, the Founder of Midwest Whitetail, learned that sooner than most. Bill was producing an online hunting show long before it was popular. “The key to success is to stick with it and to constantly work on improving your craft. People who never give up and stick with it usually succeed.”
IMPROVE YOUR CRAFT
Nate Sellers believes writing a script before shooting a video is a must. He also believes having top notch audio is more important than having great video. The key is to always be focused on improving the content you are producing and always do your best to produce videos that people will want to watch.