How this 29-year-old turned his side hustle into a $1.5 million business


In 2014, I had just graduated from college and thought I had my whole life planned: going to medical school, getting a six-figure job as a doctor, and making my parents proud.

None of this worked. I realized I hated blood and needles, and I was rejected in more than 15 medical schools. My parents were not so happy.

From 2014 to 2019, I took on tutoring activities, did some modeling shows, started a direct shipping business, and even worked as a real estate agent. But nothing was consistent to earn me a steady stream of income.

After several commercial attempts, I finally found something that worked: posting financial tips on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. In 2021, my content creation company made $ 1.5 million in revenue, and my mom stopped sending me to-do lists.

How to build a $ 1.5 million a year business

I’ve been posting on YouTube since 2006, but the content was random and inconsistent. So I decided to stick with the topic that moved me the most: money.

Growing up in a painfully frugal family, I’ve always been interested in finding ways to be smarter to earn, save, and invest. In 2018, I created a new YouTube channel dedicated to financial advice. He posted almost every day, as well as on Instagram and TikTok.

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

Photo: Charlie Chang

My first videos received a dozen views each, half of which were from my mother. I was still earning most of my money through occasional jobs and secondary hardships.

But in April 2020, about a month after Covid-19 was declared a pandemic, I noticed an increase in interest in stimulus-related content. That month, I posted 20 YouTube videos about stimulus and relief efforts. One of my videos went viral – earning me $ 10,078 in advertising revenue and 30,300 subscribers.

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

I kept experimenting with different types of video content to see what was most effective in growing my audience and attracting brand interest.

In November, after reaching another partnership agreement and reaching some 200,000 subscribers, I decided to launch my first online course to teach people how to create their own successful YouTube channels.

In 2021, I added affiliate marketing to my revenue streams. I earned $ 86,000 in January, and then scaled an average of $ 150,000 a month in 2021.

How to Build Multiple Sources of Income

Today I have over 650,000 followers on YouTube. So far this year, I have earned about $ 197,700 a month through five sources of income, several of which create passive income. At one point, I made $ 245,000 a month.

What I like about the business I created is that I can choose when and where to work. Some days I will work zero hours, and other days I will dedicate 12 hours. On average, I work 35 hours a week.

Here’s how I built each of my sources of income:

1. Affiliate Marketing: 40% of monthly revenue

With affiliate marketing, I earn a commission for promoting products or services from another brand. I post affiliate links in the descriptions of my YouTube videos and on my website, then pay me every time someone goes to a brand’s product page or makes a purchase.

To get passive income through affiliate marketing, you need to include links to targeted content in a niche that people are looking for. This can lead to clicks for months, even long after posting. For example, I link to subtitles based on popular search terms, which I find using the Google Trends tool.

I receive most of my affiliate offerings through partnership management platforms such as Impact Radius, Partnerstack, and Share-A-Sale. Developers with any audience size can use these websites to search for and join affiliate link programs.

2. Brand sponsorships: 25% of monthly revenue

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

Brands usually contact me via my YouTube profile email address, but I also work with agencies like Spacestation to get more sponsorships.

Finding a niche helped me grow a loyal and authentic audience, which was crucial to my success. I answered financial questions related to Covid that no one else was solving. Then I took the concepts with greater public engagement and went with them.

“What I love about the business I’ve built is that the money I earn isn’t directly tied to my time,” Chang says. “I can choose when and where I want to work.”

Find your own niche by asking: What is one specific problem I can solve with my unique history and knowledge? Understand the pros and cons of your audience, such as their age, location, and general interests. During the negotiation process, remind the brands why that audience is valuable to them.

3. YouTube Ads: 25% of your monthly revenue

I earn another quarter of my revenue from YouTube Adsense ads that appear before or during my YouTube videos.

To join this program, you must have at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of viewing time in the last 12 months. Once you’re part of the program, it’s important to consistently publish and create videos based on how well your audience responds.

4. Sale of online courses: <5% of monthly income

My “6-Digit YouTube Academy” and “Personal Branding Master Class” courses are hosted on Kajabi. These courses took months of planning, research, filming and editing.

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

From there, I organized my videos on 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 individually to learn how to make their business more successful. This is a great way to connect with my audience and get to know them individually.

My training sessions are conducted through Zoom, which allows me to meet anyone from anywhere in the world. I charge $ 500 per 60 minute session.

Recently, I started building StartupWise, a resource platform for new businesses and entrepreneurs. I am also working for a company called Side Hustle Mastery and its complementary 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 of StartupWise. Follow him Instagram e YouTube.

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