YouHackers has finally launched! It’s 4 am – and we are so excited! I would like to start our inaugural post by first expressing our gratitude to the first cohort of interviewees listed below. Each write-up that landed in our inbox provided us with a burst of energy – pushing us through five months of late-night coding and interviewing. We tip our hats to you!
[1st cohort: Kawaii Sweet World, David Seymour, Jerome Fitness, Nicole Eddy, Think Media, Hot Chocolate Hits, Sauce Stache, Ras Kitchen, Finding Simon, Best Ever Food Review Show, Student Mealz, Michi Leber, Jack’s Movie Reviews]
The initial idea for YouHackers came from trying to make it as a full-time content creator. When I first started, I made the naïve assumption that Youtubers were making a fortune off their large view counts. I learned later that the vast majority of content creators (with 50-500K subscribers) are not able to live solely off their Youtube earnings. Most creators are supplementing their Youtube earnings with personal savings, freelance work, affiliate marketing and other side businesses.
I faced a similar fate. After 8 months of full-time Youtubing (I started in Dec 2016), I received my first check from Youtube for… $105.93!
Yes, a small sum. It’s hard to call it pocket change. Perhaps closer to pocket lint when you consider the eight months! However, the check did raise an interesting business challenge:
Could I turn my Youtube channel profitable before I ran out of savings?
I accepted the challenge. And I started by picking the brains of faster-growing creators. After a few Skype calls with larger Youtubers, I felt compelled to share their experiences and protips to the broader creator community. After all, Youtubers of all sizes – whether it is 1 or 1M+ subscribers – all spend time in the same work areas of filming, editing, marketing and monetization. Could we not learn from each other’s accumulated experiences?
I searched for an online community of content creators. However, I did not find any that were filled with active, insightful discussions.
Below is a snapshot with the first outline of the site.
I made two hypotheses with YouHackers. The first hypothesis was…
Youtubers are eager to share knowledge with each other.
My gut feeling was that content creators, similar to startup founders, want to share their experiences publicly and build their personal brands. To test this, I emailed 209 Youtubers, one-by-one with personal requests for interviews. The results are shown below:
19% of the contacted Youtubers expressed interest in sharing insights via an interview. And 7% successfully submitted an interview. (I was expecting a slightly higher completion rate of 10%, but happy with the initial results.) This first round was an early validation that Youtubers would indeed be willing to share their knowledge publicly.
The eagerness to share, however, still has to be evaluated 😉
In the next cohort, I hope to increase the completion rate from 7% to 15%. As our site grows, I also expect visitors to submit interviews directly to our site. This would create an additional funnel of “push” content and help us dramatically increase the velocity of new content.
The second hypothesis was…
Readers find value in these creator interviews.
This hypothesis has not been validated yet. We will know in a few months after launch. This statement also includes two key variables: “readers” and “value”.
Who are our target readers? I am currently targeting content creators on Youtube with less than 50K subscribers. I believe that they would find the most value from these interviews.
Then content value. I think we did a good job with the first cohort. However, there is (always) room for improvement! One area is to elicit more pointed and specific responses from our interviewees. This starts with further scoping our interview questions. However, there are challenges to written interviews. For example, I do not know beforehand, which topics the interviewee has deep insights or would like to discuss. At the same time, Youtubers are busy. More email exchanges leads to delays, waning interest and a drop-off in the number of completed interviews.
One idea would be to split our website content into “interviews” and “articles”. The interviews can cover the backstory of creators and how they grown their channels. While the articles could take deep-dives on specific topics/issues. Again, if you have other feedback about the interviews, I would love to hear them!
At YouHackers, we have now started our exciting mission to become the largest, most trusted online community for content creators. A bold statement, but we believe it is certainly achievable! It starts from today – Day 0 – with the start of a simple dialogue between us creators!