Wow – if you are reading this blog as it comes out, then you will know what a strange time it is for creators. I am a YouTuber – or if you want, a vlogger – and I have been creating on YouTube for the past decade. Over the last couple of years, I have slowly started to make the transition from creating videos on YouTube as a hobby to becoming a YouTube professional. Last year, over 50% of my income came from YouTube, and around 25% of the rest was tangentially related.
I won’t share what my YouTube channel is, but it has seen an increase in following over the last few years that has allowed me to do this crazy job full-time. A lot of people in my YouTube community have asked the unanswerable question: when is the right time to go full-time? I wanted to anonymously offer my advice to people who are thinking of making YouTube their focus in life.
It is never the right time
The brutal answer is that it will never be the right time. I have seen so many of my fellow YouTubers not make the leap because they are waiting for just the right moment to commit. For me, that moment never happened. I was “ready” for at least a year before I made the jump, and I hesitated. I didn’t want to leave the security of my full-time job. I was scared to walk away from the guarantee of an income. But after a few months, I realized that the perfect moment didn’t exist. It is never the right time.
How many subscribers should I have?
Don’t tell YouTube I said this – but it really doesn’t matter. Unless most of your income is coming from partnerships or sponsors that require a certain number of followers, it isn’t the most important metric you should be looking at. The thing that matters most is engagement. There are, of course, metrics to use for this, such as views/month, views/subscriber, and even the number of likes and comments.
However, one of the big signs for me was the community aspect – metrics are one thing, but what does your gut say on how engaged everyone is? Do you have a community around your channel? Not all channels need one, but having a community is a huge strength. But, of course, what really matters, is that you have a way of making money.
Does the math add up?
Of course – if your channel isn’t doesn’t have a sustainable, income-generating business model, it is unlikely that you will be able to go full-time as a YouTube creator. But even if you’re generating income, are you profitable?? My videos are particularly “prop heavy” – at the start of my journey, every video was a cost for me. Add up all the money you make per month from your various sources of income – YouTube ads, AdSense, Patreon, sponsorships, etc. – and then subtract the total cost per month. This is your profit. Then, think about what going full-time will bring you.
Catch 22 and “The Gap”
There may come a time for your channel when you reach a ceiling because of your other commitments. This wasn’t necessarily the case with me, but I do know a few collaborators who have spoken to this phenomenon. Let’s say that you are pumping out fantastic content once a week. The engagement is great, people are sharing your content, and a reasonable amount of money is flowing in. The issue comes when you need to make content twice a week. Or three times a week. With a full-time job, this might not be possible. That is the gap. There will come a time when you must decide whether to cross the gap. And to do so takes serious commitment because creating becomes your livelihood.
Becoming a YouTube creator is not so different to being self-employed in other areas of work. It’s all you. You have to be committed to your work and realise that you are hurting your chances of going on a vacation, getting sick pay, or finding stability in your life. Even if it makes sense financially and you can make money – are you ready to make that commitment? For me, it was 100% worth it to do the thing I love, but it hasn’t come without sacrifices.
Filing taxes as a YouTuber
Even if you are creating part-time, finances can be a minefield. When I started, I didn’t know what to claim as an expense, or where to even how to file my various forms of income. I did the worst thing possible – I ignored it. Eventually, it caught up to me and took me months to sort out. Not only did I mess up the legal side of when to file, but I probably lost hundreds (if not more) of pounds on not claiming the right expenses.
Now, I have a much better way – The Showbiz Accountant. I file all my taxes through them, and my personal accountant is available at all times for me to ask questions. They are specialised accountants for YouTubers, and know the ins and outs of how to file earnings from YouTube. It costs money, of course – but I guarantee it has made me more in the long run by not missing deadlines, deducting the right things, and being there so I don’t waste time researching tax law. Because… that isn’t what I’m good at. YouTube is.