I Sold My YouTube Channel for $11,000. Here’s Everything I Learnt.
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.
YouTube Content Lessons
OK, so now that I have shared some surprising life lessons I learned, here are some lessons I learned about content.
Because I know that many of you will want the “tactics” and “strategies.”
1. Titles are everything
We all know that titles are everything on Medium. Well, the same holds true on YouTube. In fact, it’s probably even more important on YouTube than anywhere else.
The right or wrong title is the difference between a successful and unsuccessful YouTube video. You want to have a title that is intriguing or sparks people’s curiosity. Take, for instance, one of my most popular videos, “What If Money Was No Object?”
Having that title instantly gets people interested and wanting to click. If I had something like “Follow your passion” (which is essentially what the video is saying), it would have never gone viral like it did.
So pick your titles well.
2. Thumbnails are also everything
Thumbnails are also very important. They are what people first notice when they are scrolling YouTube, so you want to make sure they are eye-catching.
Here are a few quick tips:
- Use an image that piques curiosity.
- Use an image with vibrant colours.
- Use an image with a person in it. (Preferably yourself or the person who is featured in the video. People connect better with an image of a person than an object.)
- Add appropriate text to the image that further piques curiosity.
3. You don’t have to be a content machine
Everyone tells you that you need to be putting out content regularly, you have to become a content machine and that if you’re not going to be putting out daily content then you may as well not even try…
Well, I am here to say that this is definitely not the case. At least for my channel. I certainly wasn’t uploading videos daily. In fact, I wasn’t even doing them weekly.
I was usually only uploading a video a month, or sometimes every few months.
I was far more focused on quality rather than quantity and creating something that truly resonated with people than just blindly hashing out content for the sake of it. In fact, over the 10 years that I ran the channel, I only uploaded 55 videos in total. Yet I was still able to amass almost 50 million total views, over 200,000 subscribers, and I was continuing to constantly bring in over 1,500 subscribers a month even when I had stopped creating videos for almost two years.
Sure, you could argue that if I was putting out content more regularly I would have even more subscribers, and you would be right. But I was happy with the way I ran the channel and so were my subscribers.
In fact, many used to comment and tell me they loved not knowing when a new video would be released and the excitement when one was.
So don’t believe the daily or weekly content hype — it’s certainly a powerful method, but it’s not the only way to do it. Find what works for you. And stick with it.
Even if that means irregular uploading.
4. Use royalty-free content
As I spoke about earlier, I got close to losing my YouTube channel at one point from copyright strikes. Which eventually led me to discover the glories of royalty-free content.
There are many different sites out there that offer royalty-free content. However, over the years, these are the ones I have found to be the best in terms of both cost and quality.
5. You can never predict a viral video
As much as people say that there are certain strategies and tactics for making a video go viral (and there are some), the truth is that a lot of the time it just comes down to luck and the right timing.
When I created my first viral video, “What If Money Was No Object,” I didn’t have some grand plan for it one day reaching millions of views.
I just created something of value that seemed to resonate with a lot of people, And the virality took care of itself.
The secret is, there is no secret.
6. Share your own videos
Now I know I just finished saying that you can’t force a viral video and a lot of it come down to luck. But…
There are a few things that you can do to increase views on your video (and give it a better chance of taking off).
One of them being sharing your videos out yourself.
Every time I used to release a video I would go through and share it to r/videos on Reddit as well as multiple other appropriate subreddits.
You see, Reddit is a fantastic place to share your videos because all it takes is for a few people to start upvoting your video. And if people like it enough, it may just start trending on Reddit, which can bring in a lot of views.
Just make sure you share other pieces of useful content as well. Not just your own.
7. Use appropriate tagging
The tags that you use in your videos help immensely with gaining views.
Use apps like vidIQ and tubebuddy to analyze what other people in similar niches are using in their tags and start using them. Also, figure out common search terms and phrases people are searching and add them into your tags.
One of the most powerful things to do is to use the same tags as other popular videos similar to yours. Doing this will increase your chances of your video showing up as a “suggested video,” and if it does, it can be a very powerful way to start getting a decent amount of views.
8. You don’t make as much money off Google Adsense as you might think
A lot of people think that you make a lot of money off of ads on your YouTube videos, but Adsense isn’t as profitable as most people think it is.
People think just because you have millions of views that you must be rolling in it. But the truth is there are so many factors that determine how much you earn. Even a video with millions of views typically only make around $2,000 — $3,000.
I personally never saw this happen because I wasn’t able to monetize all of my videos even with footage and music I owned the rights to. The most I made on a video was a few hundred a month.
So if you think that Google Adsense is going to make you rich, think again. You won’t make a lot of money unless you have millions of subscribers and hundreds of videos.
If you want to make money on YouTube, sell your products or services or use affiliates. And just see Google Adsense as a bonus income.
Youtube Channel Sale Lessons
Now, along with running the channel itself, I also learned a few valuable lessons when I actually sold the channel too.
Here they are.
1. Know your value
This is a very important one.
Initially, I didn’t value the channel as well as I should have. I was basing it off of what other people were selling their YouTube channels for. Not for the true value that my channel had.
But after discussions with my housemate and a close friend who told me I was dramatically undervaluing my channel, I eventually came to see the value myself. And I was eventually able to get it to a much higher valuation than many other people sell their channels for.
For those who want to know, I originally offered $15,000, they offered $10,000, and we settled at $11,000.
All because I knew the value and expressed it well. Which leads us to my next lesson.
2. Give people all the information they need to make a decision
I know that the reason I was able to sell the channel for the price I did was because I gave the buyer all the information they needed in order to make an informed decision.
I gave them breakdowns of the viewership, the demographics, the subscriber growth, and everything else I could.
I did it genuinely and didn’t inflate anything — I just provided real data and stats that couldn’t be ignored. And as such, I was able to value the channel accordingly.
3. Anything has value
This was my third and final lesson.
Selling my YouTube channel showed me that anything has value. Even a YouTube channel.
Who would have thought?
And so there you have it. There are the lessons I learned from running a YouTube channel for 10 years.
It was an amazing journey full of many ups and downs. And I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to create something like that and all that it taught me.
Now it’s time for me to move onto new passions, interests, and projects. Like becoming a top writer here on Medium. We’ll see how that goes.
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