On Monday, I became a full-time content creator.
This was always the plan. When I started my YouTube brand in 2020, it was with a view to making it a fully-fledged business and the primary method for bringing money into the house.
I just didn’t expect it to happen quite so soon.
I’m glad I’ve made this decision, but like so many things in life, the realities of going all-in on a brand new venture are a mixture of unnerving, exciting, and surprising.
It’s seriously early days, but these are five things I’ve realised since I decided to throw everything into Mark Ellis Reviews.
1. Shit suddenly gets real
I used to watch full time YouTubers and think, “wow, imagine doing that for a living – they must relish every day”.
I’m in that position now, and while I do “relish every day”, there’s no escaping the fact that when you’re in amongst it and actually doing this for a living, you have little time to sit back and admire it all.
This is for one very simple reason: when you become a full-time YouTuber, every single minute you spend on content creation, audience interaction, and partnership building, matters.
Every day represents an opportunity to build out your brand, attract more audience members, and improve your craft. Ignore those opportunities, and it’ll have a direct impact on your ability to scale and build consistent, reliable revenue.
You have nothing else to fall back on. There’s no longer a net to catch your fall if you slip up or take your eye off the ball.
Shit really does get real.
2. You watch every penny
Since starting my marketing business in 2015, I’ve made very good money. This has come from damn hard work and putting in serious hours, but it has resulted in a bank balance that has grown consistently and provided lots of peace of mind.
When I decided to become a full-time content creator, I conceded that I had to effectively ‘turn off’ fifty percent of my business revenue. That decision caused many sleepless nights and countless hours of thinking, planning, and listening to others who had done the same.
I made the right decision – I’m comfortable with that now, but I have also become a penny-watcher. No longer will I buy that new lens because I fancy it, or throw caution to the wind and purchase a review unit that might offer some decent content.
Every single penny now counts, and they all need to be directed towards stuff that has a measurable, positive impact on the business.
3. Your time becomes more valuable than ever
When I started this brand, I knew that partnerships would play a crucial role. To grow, prosper, and help my audience, I’d need some friends.
However, something I didn’t take into account was how much of my time would be required for certain partnerships, and how valuable my time is these days.
I’m not going to betray confidences or NDAs here, but suffice to say, there have been a couple of partnerships into which I’ve entered rather naively. There was no foul play on either side – indeed, in each case, everyone wanted to create something that was mutually beneficial. We just all got the wrong end of the stick, which resulted in me spending a huge amount of time on tasks that were vastly unprofitable.
It’s a lesson I don’t regret. I’ve made mistakes like this my entire business life, but they help me grow as a business owner, and ensure I never make them twice.
Your time is the most valuable thing you have. If something feels like its taking too much of that time away from you and you’re not being adequately rewarded – quit. Fast.
4. You become unafraid of asking for support
Very few of my videos are sponsored. This will change as the channel grows, but I’ve realised that for videos which aren’t sponsored, I still need to ask for support.
Running my YouTube brand isn’t cheap. I now have a studio space, which means I have rent, insurance, and electricity to pay for. Similarly, I have review units in which to invest, and a myriad of software services to keep running.
Oh, and I have to pay myself, too.
This has forced me to clear a hurdle every YouTuber will encounter during the early days of their channel. Because as your audience builds, you’ll start to receive comments from people who are obsessed with the fact that you’re attempting to make money from content.
“You’re just doing this for the clicks,” they’ll say. “How much were you paid to say those things?” they’ll ask.
The good news is that these people haven’t got a clue what they’re talking about and are simply jealous of your achievements. They are utter morons. And, trust me, if you go full time, you’ll realise how shortsighted and miserable their outlook is.
In order to keep my YouTube channel going and grow my brand’s influence, I need to receive money from sponsors, affiliate sales, advertising, and digital products. That’s why you’ll see me occasionally reference my Skillshare classes, tease my forthcoming eBooks, or point you in the direction of an Amazon affiliate link.
I no longer care what anyone thinks about that.
5. You gain full control of your diary
I appreciate that I may have painted a less than rosy picture up until now.
This all sounds pretty challenging, doesn’t it? The dream of running a YouTube business full time isn’t jump-out-of-bed-and-kick-your-heels, is it?
Well, no, it isn’t. But the upsides of doing this full time vastly outweigh the challenges I’ve illustrated today.
Firstly, you get to do something you love and make really good money from it (if you work hard enough). Secondly, you gain full control of your diary, which is the single biggest benefit I’ve experienced since exiting corporate life.
I haven’t had full control of my diary for nearly twenty years. I was always beholden to someone else. I’d wake up to meeting invites for later that day, and be forever clock-watching to ensure I didn’t miss the next time block in my calendar that had been reserved by someone else.
It’s hard to explain what it’s like to wake up and realise that you set the agenda – no one else. Since Monday, I’ve found myself in a world where every item on my calendar has been scheduled by yours truly. If it’s there – I decided to put it there. I therefore have no one to blame but myself if a particular day gets out of hand.
It is utterly wonderful.
As I mentioned earlier, there is nothing more valuable than your time. The biggest takeaway today is therefore quite simple. If you go full-time, your time is your single biggest asset – don’t waste a second of it.
I’m sharing my secrets!
My latest Skillshare class, Video editing basics in Final Cut Pro X (for YouTube success!) is live and free to try: