How did this 29-year-old turn his side job into a $1.5 million business?

How did this 29-year-old turn his side job into a $1.5 million business?

I was fresh out of college in 2014 and I thought I had my whole life planned out: Go to med school, get a six-figure job as a doctor, and make my family proud.

None of these worked. I realized I hated blood and needles and got rejected from over 15 medical schools. My family was not that happy.

From 2014 to 2019 I tutored side jobs, did some modeling gigs, started a drop shipping business and even worked as a real estate agent. But nothing was consistent in providing me with a steady stream of income.

After trying a few jobs, I finally found something that works: posting financial advice on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. In 2021 my content creation business brought in $1.5 million and my mom stopped sending me job postings.

How did I start a $1.5 million a year business?

I’ve been posting on YouTube since 2006, but the content was random and inconsistent. That’s why I decided to stick with the subject that excites me the most: money.

Growing up in a painfully frugal family, I’ve always been interested in finding ways to be smarter about earning, saving, and investing. In 2018 I created a new YouTube channel dedicated to financial advice. Almost every day, I post on Instagram and TikTok.

In 2021, Chang’s business generated $1.5 million in gross revenue.

Photo: Charlie Chang

Each of my first few videos got about a dozen views, half of them from my mom. I still made most of my money from odd jobs and side jobs.

But in April 2020, about a month after Covid-19 was declared a pandemic, I noticed increased interest in stimulus-related content. That month, I posted 20 YouTube videos of the encouragement and outreach efforts. One of my videos went viral and earned me $10,078 in ad revenue and 30,300 subscribers.

I posted 19 videos in May and earned $15,791 in ad revenue. And in June, I made my first sponsorship deal with Foundr, an online education company; they paid me $250 to create a TikTok post.

I kept trying different types of video content to see what was most effective at growing my audience and engaging brands.

By November, after signing another partnership agreement and reaching nearly 200,000 subscribers, I decided to launch my first online course that teaches people how to set up their own successful YouTube channel.

In 2021 I added affiliate marketing to my income sources. I made $86,000 in January, then increased to an average of $150,000 monthly in 2021.

How to create multiple income streams

Today, I have over 650,000 YouTube followers. So far this year, I’ve made about $197,700 per month with five income streams, many of which create passive income. At one point, I made $245,000 a month.

What I love about the business I started is that I can choose when and where to work. Some days I will work zero hours, other days I will work 12 hours. I work an average of 35 hours a week.

Here’s how I created each of my income streams:

1. Affiliate marketing: 40% of monthly revenue

In affiliate marketing, I earn commissions for promoting another brand’s products or services. I post affiliate links in the descriptions of my YouTube videos and on my website, then get paid every time someone is directed to a brand’s product page or makes a purchase.

To generate passive income through affiliate marketing, you need to include links to content targeted in a niche that people are searching for. This can result in clicks for months, even long after you post. For example, I link to captions based on popular search terms I found using the Google Trends tool.

I get most of my affiliate deals through affiliate management platforms like Impact Radius, Partnerstack, and Share-A-Sale. Creators of any audience size can use these websites to find and join affiliate link programs.

2. Brand sponsorships: 25% of monthly revenue

With brand sponsorships, companies essentially pay me to mention them in one of my videos or on my website.

Brands often reach out to me via the email address on my YouTube profile, but I also work with agencies like Spacestation to provide more sponsorship.

Finding a niche has helped me build a loyal and authentic audience that is crucial to my success. I answered Covid-related finance questions that no one else had addressed. Then I took the concepts with the highest audience participation and ran with them.

“What I love about the work I’m building is that the money I make is not directly tied to my time,” Chang says. “I can choose when and where I want to work.”

Find your niche: What is a specific problem that I can solve with my story and unique knowledge? Understand the details of your audience, such as their age, location, and general interests. During the negotiation process, remind brands why this audience is valuable to them.

3. YouTube ads: 25% of monthly revenue

I also earn a quarter of my income from YouTube Adsense ads that appear before or during my YouTube videos.

To participate in this program, you must have at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours in the last 12 months. When you’re part of the program, it’s important to post consistently and create videos based on what your audience responds well to.

4. Online course sales: <5% of monthly revenue

My “6-Shape YouTube Academy” and “Personal Branding Masterclass” courses are both held in Kajabi. These courses took months of planning, research, filming and editing.

For YouTube Academy, I outlined what I was going to teach in each video using Notion, an online workspace editing tool, and then created slides in Keynote to play during each video. It took me a week to shoot over a hundred videos that I edited myself using Final Cut Pro X.

From there I edited my videos in Kajabi and started marketing the course on YouTube, TikTok and Instagram. I don’t spend money on advertising.

5. Coaching: <5% of monthly income

I meet with clients one-on-one and advise them on how they can make their businesses more successful. This is a great way to connect with my audience and get to know them on an individual level.

My coaching sessions are held over Zoom, which allows me to meet everyone from all over the world. I get $500 per 60 minute session.

Recently, I started building StartupWise, a resource platform for new businesses and entrepreneurs. I’m also working on a company called Side Hustle Mastery and its supplemental newsletter called Hustle Club.

Charlie Chang is a content creator and serial entrepreneur whose mission is to educate people about personal finance and entrepreneurship. He is a UCLA graduate and founder. StartupWise. follow him Instagram and YouTube.

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