2017 was an amazing year for is in so many ways. Not only did we hit a bunch of our financial goals, but we finally launched our Youtube channel and this blog! I’d wanted to do both of those things for many years but never mustered up the nerve or set aside the time to make it happen.
A horrible boss and a random $100 check from Youtube gave me just the kick in the butt I needed to get started. In just one year we have grown our Youtube channel to over 20,000 subscribers and counting. Here's a look back at our journey.
And if you want to read all about the journey from the beginning, you can check out all of our income reports to date.
HOW I GOT STARTED ON YOUTUBE
Four years ago I made a video where I cut off almost all of my hair and posted it on Youtube. The video was meant to inspire other women with chemically-straightened hair who were considering wearing their hair in its natural curly state. I didn't realized it but that video and a handful of other hair updates I’d added over the years, had been making few dollars every month from Youtube ads. My account eventually reached the $100 minimum payment threshold in winter of 2016 and Google sent me a check.
The dollar amount itself was irrelevant. But what it signified to me was that there were people out there who my message resonated with and who wanted to hear from me. People that I could help. This was exactly what had drawn me to blogging except I’d always procrastinated in starting one because I never felt ready enough.
That $100 check from Youtube gave me the boost of confidence I needed to get out there and start making content. So I did.
THE FIRST 1,000 SUBSCRIBERS
Here’s the thing that I love about Youtube that no other platform provides: Youtube goes out of its way to promote you. Youtube wants you to succeed. The more people that watch your videos and engage, the more money Youtube makes (and the more money you make).
But in order for that to work, you have to make videos that people want to watch. For most of us, that also means making videos that people are searching for. The first few videos on my channel were all hair tutorial videos. Remember, I wasn’t trying to grow my Youtube channel. I was just proving inspiration for other women who were on the same hair journey.
In other words: I was solving a problem for a target audience even though I didn't realize that's what I was doing at the time. That meant that my videos were searchable, they provided value to my target audience, and they made people want to stick around for more where that came from even though I wasn’t uploading videos regularly!
I gained just under one sub a day for three years that way. Of course, if I had put in even a bit of effort, the numbers would have grown much faster, which is exactly what happened once I got serious about Youtube.
FROM 1,000 SUBS TO $1,000 IN MONTHLY REVENUE
In December of 2016 I started making videos on a regular basis. In two months I made the same number of videos as I had made in the prior three years. I made two videos in December and four in January 2017. That’s less than one video a week. Still, that was enough to bump up my daily subscribers to 5-10 a day.
By July 2017 I was uploading 2-3 videos a week onto the channel, had gained another 3,000 subscribers, and was making $200 a month! That’s when I really started to believe that I could start a grow a successful Youtube channel. This is also about the time when Joseph really started to get on board.
We both started spending more time learning about the technical aspects of Youtube. We researched potential topics. We looked at our traffic trends from the past few months. We worked on upping our video editing skills. We looked at popular videos and tried to understand what made them tick.
All of this effort paid off. Our videos started to do better and better. Our revenue consistently increased by $100 or more each month. Then we hit our first huge viewership spike. Our revenue shot up to $1,400 a month from just ad revenue alone! We had just 9,000 subscribers when we hit our first $1000 dollar month in ad revenue.
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RIDING THE WAVE TO 20,000 SUBSCRIBERS
As I write this post we are nearing our first 20,000 subscribers. Of course, subscribers don’t necessarily translate to revenue. Views are what generate ad revenue. Youtube sends your videos out to subscribers first. The more subscribers you have, the easier it is to get more views because there are more eyes on your videos from the beginning.
In growing our channel, we also did the exact opposite of what people say that you should do: we explored different types of content instead of niching down. In doing that, we learned that sometimes saturated niches can still provide good traffic.
Though we realized that niching down might help us grow faster in some instances, we recognized that we would quickly lose our joy for the creative process. In the long run, we are definitely better off building a tribe of people that share the same interests as we do.
SPONSORED POSTS & AFFILIATES
The best part about it is that we have built our Youtube channel while remaining 100% authentic to our message. You see, Youtube was and still is, first and foremost a labor of love where we aim to share our knowledge with the world.
We would never recommend a product that we don’t believe in and wouldn’t spend our own money on. Because of that, we have been extremely selective about which brands we work with. Sponsored videos can vary from $200-$500 depending on how involved they are. We did two sponsored posts in 2017.
Many of our videos feature actual products that our family has purchased and use in our daily lives. We usually include at least a handful of amazon affiliate links in each of our videos. Those links earn us another $30-$50 a month. It’s not a lot but it adds up over time.
All of those revenue streams add up to between $500 and $1000 a month in Youtube revenue. Much of 2017 was spent building up to this point, which means that these numbers will go up in 2018. I can’t wait to see what this next year has in store for our channel and blog.