This is how much money and time I spent building my career as a YouTube star

A Chanel bag shaped like a video camera
A Chanel bag shaped like a video camera

I'm a Nigerian born, Cape Town based YouTuber with a passion for fashion and style and the owner of the entertainment channel A1 productions. This a little on my journey and secrets to success.

"Becoming a YouTuber was never the plan. It wouldn’t even be possible to have had it as a goal five years ago. But as life would have it, that’s my job and I have been a YouTuber with my channel The A1 for the last three years in South Africa.

As great as being a YouTuber is, it has been hard, but here are some things that I think really helped me build a channel that millions of people have watched and a brand that many of them recognise.

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First thing anyone needs to do to become a YouTuber is to focus on what they really love, not what everyone else is doing. Why? Because it’s almost impossible to be consistent at something you’re not passionate about. Secondly - choose a name.

This can be tricky but choose a name that is easy to remember, not long, and if possible, a name that tells people what the channel is about because it helps with search engine optimisation (SEO) - people finding your channel.

Thirdly, create content and be consistent with it. I learned everything about creating a video/producing content on YouTube.

My starting equipment for The A1 was a mid-range camera, the 600D (R8 000 at the time), a mic (R2 000) and continuous lighting for about R5 000. R15 000 in total! That’s a LOT of money, but know this: I made these purchases over quite some time. I started my first YouTube channel six years ago in university so I had time to save up.

Also, cellphones weren't options then.

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A smartphone can now shoot HD quality footage AND be a great microphone. You don’t need to spend as much money to record high quality footage. Spend the time to learn how to use your phone’s features to get the desired quality. Just pressing record is not enough. 

As for editing? I learned how to use Adobe Premiere because of one thing - my parents bought my sister the adobe suite as she needed it for her studies, and it came with Adobe Premiere. It was a hard editing software for me to use.

It’s actually better to start editing with free software that comes on a computer otherwise you will be overwhelmed like I was. I spent HOURS on Youtube learning how to do simple edits and slowly grew from there. 

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My first video was an interview with MiCasa and they were fantastic but many celebrities were not keen at the time. 'Who is this random girl interviewing me for some random online show?' they must have thought. But I persisted, developed other shows for the channel that didn’t require celebrities and in my first year I created 100 videos.

In my first six months I reached over 100 000 views, and in my first year and a half I reached 1 million views. I went hard! Was consistent. I would ask friends for help as I was still doing everything myself. When at events, I would set everything up, press record, then ask my friend to just overlook it and make sure we were in the shot.

I didn’t have the money for a team but I loved the progress and how the channel was growing so I made it work.

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Now as for making money - that’s officially the hardest part. Not necessarily to make it but to make it consistently. I started learning how to pitch from YouTube! It took practice. It was so nerve-racking, but I had to.

My marketing degree helped a lot and I finally got the hang of it. It is a vital part of making money. Networking also was important. I hated it but in business you have to and since I stopped looking at myself as just a YouTuber but someone who is running a online lifestyle channel, I had to get out of my comfort zone.

It requires me constantly pushing myself and that’s hard and sometimes really tiring. I finally realised that I couldn't depend on Youtube alone, at least for now.

The better approach is to use what I’ve been able to build and learn to open doors in companies and with brands, working and creating with them and for them, not just for myself and my platform.

READ MORE: This is why your goals don’t have an expiry date

My success on YouTube has been because of my love of the platform and my determination to keep learning, which brings me back to my first point: You have to be passionate about what you do, or it will be hard to be consistent, let alone successful with it."

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