My path to 200,000 subscribers, 50 million views, and the sale
“You’ve received the funds from Escrow.”
I couldn’t believe it.
After a two month process, I had done it.
Something that I started for nothing almost 10 years ago as a hobby. Something that had no physical location or products, no running costs, no employees or staff. Something that only exists online and its only “assets” were videos that I didn’t even speak in. And something that I had stopped making videos for.
I had just sold for $11,000 USD (just over $15,000 AUD).
And I did this in a time when people are losing money and hesitant to spend it.
I’ll admit it’s still a little hard to believe. Until recently I never knew that selling a YouTube channel was even a thing.
But as it turns out.
And so, after I found out it was a thing, and the opportunity presented itself, I decided that I was going to sell my YouTube channel.
I’ll admit it was a hard decision. But I know it was the right one. In fact, it taught me many lessons. And I am going to share them all with you in the hope that you can glean some of your own value from the experience.
This is not just going to be your typical post on YouTube “secrets” and “strategies.”
No this is going to be everything I learned — the good, the bad, and the ugly. Including some very important life lessons.
Oh, and fair warning. This isn’t a short post.
So if you don’t have a lot of time on your hands it may be worth bookmarking this and coming back to it multiple times.
I want to share everything. So this isn’t going to be a quick read.
OK so with that out of the way, let’s get into it.
Let’s start out with the life lessons. What life lessons could you possibly learn from running a YouTube channel?
Well to my surprise, quite a few.
Surprising Life Lessons From Running a YouTube Channel
1. Anyone can have an impact on the world
I’ll admit, when I started the channel, I didn’t plan for it to grow to even 100 subscribers. Let alone over 200,000.
I simply wanted to share inspiring messages with the world. I could have never guessed that something that I started as a simple hobby could ever grow into what it did, especially since I had absolutely no experience in video editing.
We have all heard the term “anyone can make an impact on the world.”
Well, I certainly got to witness this first hand. I still remember when I got my first few views on YouTube. The excitement of knowing that a few random strangers on the internet had actually somehow found my video and watched it.
I still remember the first time I reached 100 views and thinking that was amazing. And then eventually I made a video that reached 1,000 views (I’d made it).
And then I remember the day I had my first true viral video…
I’d made a few previous to this one that ended up reaching over a million views after a few years of being up. But that was nothing compared to my first true viral video.
I still remember being absolutely shocked when I was refreshing the video every minute and seeing the likes and views skyrocket. It ended up reaching over a million views in the matter of a week and it just kept going up.
Not only did it reach millions of views on my channel alone, but people also began re-uploading it to their own sites, channels, and Facebook pages.
There is actually no way I will ever know how many people it has reached because it has been re-uploaded so many times.
But from my estimate of the ones I have seen, it’s very possible that it has reached over 20 million or more views.
And that all happened because of a video I made.
It wasn’t me speaking in the video, so I can never take full credit. But it is still extremely humbling to know that the message may never have been heard had I not put it together.
Because I had simply heard it one day when listening to a long audio program from Alan Watts. It was a short three-minute segment amongst hours of audio.
But the moment I heard it, it resonated with me so much that I ended up turning it into a video. Never expecting it would take off the way it did.
And from that moment onward, I came to realize that I really could have an impact on the world.
2. Your content is probably impacting people more than you will ever know
Something I think comes with creating content — whether that be through videos, articles, or books — is that we never truly know how much of an impact what we are creating is having on people who encounter them.
I was made aware of this the day I received an email from a fan of one of my videos who had reached out to thank me for my videos.
Now, I had received a lot of these types of emails before, but this one was very different. You see, this man told me that my videos had literally saved his life.
He told me that before he saw my videos he had actually been planning to take his life. But then he found some of my videos and began listening to them, and it changed his perspective and helped him turn his life around.
To say I was shocked is an understatement. I literally cried when I read the email. I couldn’t believe that something I had made had had such a profound impact on someone.
It changed my entire perspective on the power that videos, and content in general, can have. And it showed me that you never truly know how much of an impact you may be having on people through your content.
3. People will support you with your passion if you give them a chance
This one was another big lesson for me.
You see, a few years into my channel I actually ended up getting a couple of copyright strikes on my account because of the music I had used in a couple of my videos.
I deserved them both. I was a little ignorant of the whole copyrighting laws, believing they would fall under “fair use.”
I was wrong. Very wrong. And it almost cost me my entire YouTube channel.
One more strike and YouTube was going to delete my entire channel and all my videos for good.
I was a little worried, to say the least. But after moving through the fear and upset at having one of my most popular videos taken down, I came to learn about ‘royalty-free’ content. Basically footage and music that you can pay for and then use freely in your videos without any risk of copyright.
And so I decided if I was going to continue growing this channel I would have to begin creating videos in this way. The problem was my channel really wasn’t making very much to be able to afford it. And I didn’t exactly have the spare cash to be able to buy it out of my own pocket.
So I decided to start a Kickstarter campaign, and to my astonishment, I was able to raise almost $5,000 to help fund my channel to begin creating videos in this way.
It was an amazing feeling and showed me that people will support you with your passion if you give them a chance. Especially if they believe in what you’re doing.
4. Stop caring what others think
I’ll admit I’m still working on this one. However, growing the channel really taught me to not care what other people think and to do what brings you joy regardless of what others might think.
I had some people in my life who didn’t quite approve of me running the channel and thought that it was a waste of time and a little strange. In fact, I actually went years before I told even my closest friends that I was running the channel out of fear of judgment.
Of course, as it turned out, when I did tell my friends they had nothing but praise and couldn’t believe I’d kept it secret for so long.
It was a very valuable lesson.
5. You will always have haters — focus on your fans
When you start getting enough attention toward anything you’re doing, you’re eventually going to attract some haters.
And nowhere is this more true than YouTube.
I honestly couldn’t believe some of the comments that some people made toward me or my videos. They didn’t hold back, and when I encountered my first lot of haters I was quite thrown back.
I was actually quite hurt and in my early days actually responded to them. Which never did any good and only made things worse.
With time, however, I came to learn not to take it personally and realize that it was really a reflection of themselves and not me. And it was far better to focus my energy on my fans, who far outweighed the haters.
6. Authenticity and understanding are the most powerful forms Of persuasion
This video had been one of my first viral videos and had millions of views.
I was very upset that they wanted it removed especially since it has been seen by so many people. But I did also see it from their perspective and was grateful they didn’t just remove it without warning.
And so I decided to just be completely authentic with them and tell them exactly why I made the video, why I believed it was important, that I understood where they were coming from, and that I would remove it if they still wanted me to.
To my astonishment, about a week later they came back to me. They told me that they had agreed to allow me to keep it up as long as I didn’t try to put advertising on it (which I was never going to do anyway.)
I was so grateful, and to this day it remains the only mashup that has been allowed to stay on YouTube.
Had I gone in with anger the video would have certainly been removed. But because I came from a place of understanding and authenticity I was able to keep the video up and it still remains there to this day.
7. You can attract some amazing opportunities when you deliver enough value
Once you start putting out content that people find valuable it’s amazing the opportunities that can present themselves to you.
To this day, I still think one of the largest and most rewarding was when I was offered to recreate my video “What If Money Was No Object” for National Geographic to be featured on their YouTube channel and website.
I was absolutely stoked by the opportunity and once I was given the green light from Alan Watt’s son, Mark Watts (another amazing benefit), I was able to put the video together for National Geographic.
They were very happy with it and I was proud to say I’d put together a video for National Geographic.
8. Passions change and it’s OK to move on
This one was a big lesson for me and somewhat of a hard one.
You see, we are all told to “follow your passion” and “do what brings you joy.” And this is great advice (most of the time). However, there is something that not enough people talk about.
And that is that passions change.
You see, when I first started the channel I absolutely loved it. I had never been so passionate about anything in my life.
I loved the process of putting videos together, of matching up the music, the footage, and the audio. And I was so grateful to have been given permission to be able to create videos from some of the incredible speeches of Alan Watts.
But as the years went on, I began changing as a person and so did my interests and passions. And yet when I started trying to put out different content and at one point my own content, I began to be met with people complaining and asking what had happened to the Alan Watts videos.
So while putting out other types of content I also kept making Alan Watts videos, no longer enjoying making them as much as I once did. I began feeling incredibly uneasy and stressed, and I even became resentful of the channel at one point.
“What is the point of having a channel if I can’t put the content out I wanted to?” I thought.
I felt like I didn’t own my channel anymore. It wasn’t that I no longer liked Alan Watts; my interests had just changed, but I almost felt guilty for making videos from anyone else.
It was an awful feeling, especially when it was something I had once enjoyed so much.
I never told anyone that I was feeling this way.
I was so conflicted, I felt like I had a voice I wanted to share and other messages I felt were important. But I felt like I couldn’t and it eventually became too much.
And so after seven years of running the channel, I just decided to quit making videos altogether. A few years later, I tried releasing a few more videos but again was met with the same problem. So eventually I gave it up altogether.
This is what eventually led to me selling the channel, once I found the right person I knew would take good care of it. And while it was a little sad to see it go, I was also happy to know that it went to the right person.
And I am grateful for the lesson it taught me. That being, it’s OK to move on from things when they no longer bring you joy even if once it brought you a lot.
It was a difficult one to learn. But now I know that passions and interests change.
And that’s OK.