I produce in-depth men’s style and grooming advice with a special emphasis on the shorter body type. I’ve recently started branching out into lifestyle and business advice, but the main focus is style/fashion.
[Daniel: Brock curates content for a focused group – men under 5’8″]
My last “day job” was in the digital marketing department of a large non-profit organization in Washington, DC. I was a web producer and SEO specialist, so there was definitely some overlap with my side hustle.
I ran The Modest Man on the side (evenings and weekends) for about four years before leaving the 9-to-5 for good.
I had a loose monthly revenue number in mind (around $4k/month) that I wanted to hit before jumping ship. Once I hit that, I left the job, and things have grown more quickly ever since.
I actually quit my day job twice before, but I didn’t have enough revenue to live comfortably. I relied heavily on freelance marketing work during these times. When I finally quit for good (third time’s a charm!), I had just moved to a much cheaper city and rented out my condo. So that alleviated some of the financial pressure. Also, once I went full-time, I was able to double monthly revenue pretty quickly.
I don’t really know what a “YouTuber” is, actually. YouTube is just one of many platforms on which creative people can publish their own content. It’s a great platform right now, and that’s probably not changing any time soon.
But you can start a website, social media channel, whatever.
The point is, the platform itself isn’t a business, at least not your business.
It’s so hard to make a full-time living from YouTube ads alone because they (Google) have to get paid first.
I think of myself as a small digital media company that uses different platforms for publishing content. It’s my job as the business owner and primary content creator to figure out how to monetize that content/audience. I would never rely on one source of income (i.e., Google AdSense). It’s risky, plus why just have one stream?
I’m not saying you can’t or shouldn’t try to be a full-time content creator, or a self-employed person who makes videos. But the label “YouTuber” doesn’t really make sense to me. If YT went offline tomorrow, would you still be able to make a living?
[Daniel: Many new YouTubers – including myself – overlook this important point! I want to reiterate Brock’s advice to think of your YouTube channel as a digital media company – that is using YouTube as one publishing platform. Don’t expect to (ever) generate reliable income from YouTube (Google Adsense). Find smarter ways to monetize your content.]
YouTube ad revenue isn’t a big piece of the pie – maybe $500 a month. But what I’ve noticed over the past year is that sponsors really want video content.
Many want video over articles or social media, but most want the whole package (article, video, social, email).
This is great because the whole package is the most valuable, and therefore the most expensive product I offer right now. I recommend having a website and YouTube channel, so you can repurpose your content on both platforms.
Ads include banner ads, both direct (sold by me) and indirect (bought via ad networks like AdThrive), and sponsorship (sponsored content). Detailed figures below.
Banner ads don’t seem to be going anywhere, but sponsored content is much more expensive. It’s just way more effective than banner ads, so it’s a bigger revenue stream.
Brands started to offer free samples when the blog was getting around 10k visits per month. At around 50k, I started getting offers to buy ads.
Somewhere around 100k, I was basically inundated with emails from PR companies, brands, marketing reps, etc. Today, I have a manager that helps navigate these opportunities and negotiate rates.
This is awesome because it lets me focus on the content, rather than the logistics and money. But you don’t need a ton of traffic to start monetizing. It’s more about getting the right fit for your audience, lots of engagement and good ROI.
All of the big ones: Amazon, rStyle, Skimlinks, ShareaSale, etc. I actually don’t know how the website compares to YT in terms of conversion. I think the way to drive affiliate revenue is to really help people make purchasing decisions.
For example, if you Google “best no show socks” or “watches for small wrists” you might find one of my articles. They’re in-depth, not just listicles with a bunch of Amazon links. But they’re also catching the attention of people who are going to buy something. They just want to make sure they’re buying the right thing, and I think they’re happy to let me earn a commission if I can help them avoid wasting money.
Right now, I sell a digital guide called The Modest Man Style Guide. It’s an e-book about dressing well as a shorter man. It sells a few copies a week consistently.
Between $2-5k per month, depending on the month. Normal operating expenses looks something like this for one month.
Some months have bigger expenses like airfare, hotel rooms, new hardware or camera gear.
But honestly, be careful not to spend too much time researching and planning. Just start doing. Remember that most of the “business” blogs haven’t actually made money outside of the “make money online” niche, and they’re just trying to get affiliate commissions off you from Bluehost, etc.
In a given day, always try to PRODUCE more than you CONSUME.
I think about this a lot…it’s tough to pick a direction. Some ideas that are floating around right now are physical products (e.g., a clothing line), building a team (more creators, employees) and branching out into different topics (travel, fitness).