My First 9 Years on YouTube — Story Time!

Let me tell you the story of how I got started on YouTube in 2011 and how we got here together today! You can take the full course this story is a part of and learn how to build your YouTube channel at https://jerrybanfield.com/courses/youtube/.

When I was in graduate school at the University of South Florida in 2011, I thought it would be fun to make some videos for my friends to laugh at on YouTube. My first video was on different ways to say the F word (seriously and not in different languages … just with different accents and pronunciations in english). My next few videos following that were not much better. The ONLY thing I did right was keep trying which eventually led to a video on a trending subject that got thousands of views for free one day after my friends all shared it and liked it. My video was making fun of a story in the news and almost all of the feedback was negative. Still, this little bit of attention left me desiring more. I told my friends “one day I will have a million views on my YouTube channel” when at the time I had less than 10,000.

Despite the quality of my videos being terrible and almost no one except me enjoying them, I did two major things right starting off on YouTube. First, I uploaded and kept uploading. Second, I had a vision of how I would feel when I had a million views. This vision kept me going when almost nothing else in “reality” was giving me any positive feedback. I continued making videos on subjects I was passionate about that almost no one watched. Even single one was another disappointment as I got so excited about how the video might do and then almost nothing with most videos not getting even one like or comment within the first month.

After about six months on YouTube, I started my business online in October 2011 to help with video game addiction which was something I was struggling with myself in order to avoid focusing on my alcoholism and other opportunities for improvement. With a business online, I began making videos first to promote my business (which totally failed) including animated videos on Powtoons that again got almost no interactions. I tried using Fiverr to hire a girl to make videos for me which finally worked to get me a video that people actually liked on my channel as seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHkPOME2eFA

In 2013, I finally had my first breakthrough on YouTube as seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PzlwpP_Xnnk where I did a free webinar showing my exact business system which at the time involved offering to guarantee results on client Facebook pages using Facebook ads with fixed packages. What I did not foresee with this webinar is that when I showed it to potential clients, they would all just try and do it themselves instead of hiring me given I showed how I was getting Facebook likes for $0.01 each with ads. Instead, my potential clients gave me a bigger opportunity by encouraging me to teach online and being the first to buy my online courses on Udemy. I did several more live Facebook marketing webinars totally for free on YouTube which finally helped me start building an audience that truly wanted what I had to share!

When 2014 came, I created a new 3 hour Facebook ads and marketing course using Camtasia all in one 12 hour day in my office. The sales were so low on the course during the first few months I launched it that I started giving it away to everyone on YouTube and even ran a Facebook ad with a free coupon to the course. All the free students created an initial momentum which helped me get enough watch time and review to take my course to the top of its category on Udemy leading to my first $1,000 teaching online in July 2014. At the time, this was a huge success that got me so excited about teaching online that I dropped everything else and went forward using YouTube as a lead magnet for online course sales! At the end of 2014, I made a commitment to focus on creating 2 videos a day for my online courses with uploading some of the video lectures to YouTube as free previews which I would then advertise to make sales.

As 2015 began, I started rapidly growing on Udemy especially after realizing I could hire freelancers on Upwork to make in demand video courses which I could pay for copyright to and sell myself. When started putting the hot topics by freelancers into long format free previews on YouTube and advertising them, I got huge amounts of traffic from YouTube organically from search and suggested videos leading to a lot of sales on Udemy as well as many new subscribers. November 2015 brought the height of this strategy together with Udemy’s black Friday deals on my courses leading to $90,000 in my earnings on over $250,000 in sales making me one of the top 10 instructors on Udemy!

By 2016, I reached $663k earnings on Udemy and had two videos with over one million views each on YouTube. At the time, I purely saw YouTube as a way to funnel sales to Udemy and have fun with playing video games by live streaming Call of Duty, League of Legends, and Battlefield. Fortunately, I had been sending my Udemy students over to YouTube every week to watch my inspirational and educational videos which resulted in a lot of new subscribers from students! Suddenly in June 2016, it all ended with Udemy with an email where they suspended my account which I believe happened because the Universe had other plans for me! While I have experienced a lot of anger and judgement over their years at Udemy, today I am grateful this happened because it allowed me to expand and grow so much more than I would have continuing to teach on Udemy.

Without Udemy, my YouTube channel suddenly became my main asset and I went at it full time to make sales on my website and play video games. I discovered without needing to sell Udemy courses, it was much easier to make tutorials on a variety of subjects especially hot and trending topics I knew almost nothing about! Many of these new videos (which I since removed because they are way out of date) got 100,000+ views for free and helped me reach over 250,000 subscribers way faster than getting to 100,000 took! I started to enjoy incredible influence as I could make a video on a subject and see the price of a hundred million dollar market double within days of releasing my video and advertising it. The success on YouTube got to amazing proportions as I got sponsored advertising opportunities giving me tens of thousands of dollars to advertise my videos and my subscribers were watching anything I was releasing.

2017 on YouTube was such as high that I was in the perfect position for the burn out and the dip that followed. During 2018, I boldly gave up making videos on most of my previous topics and set out to be a musician full time despite no formal music education! I made 3 electronic music albums with 70 songs all releasing in 2019 on Spotify, iTunes, iHeartRadio, and more via AWAL. The ad revenue, subscribers, and views dropped all year in 2018 as I began to question myself and focus on what I did not want which was low YouTube views. In the middle of the year, I started gaming online again after a year and a half break resulting in almost all of my new videos being about gaming. The consistent negative feedback on my YouTube channel as viewers did not see anything like what they subscribed for led to my videos getting almost no organic reach bottoming out around 50 views per video despite having 260,000 subscribers.

Going into 2019 started with me resenting YouTube for cutting me off from my audience and desperate for a comeback. I started borrowing money to pay my bills, began teaching online courses again, and even launched at startup at https://uthena.com/ which now focuses on selling private label rights video courses. I became obsessed with getting my YouTube channel growing again and tried every strategy I knew from YouTube ads to paying freelancers to make tutorials on popular subjects to releasing 7 videos a day to hiring a contractor to edit/upload my videos to releasing videos once a week and promoting them heavily with video discovery ads. In the middle of several new hacking videos going viral, YouTube added “instructional hacking” to their list of prohibited topics and I took down what at the time were all of my top 5 videos to proactively prevent my channel from getting strikes. For a few months, I tried a strategy of giving everything away for free and being a full time YouTuber at which point people asked why I did not have online courses they could buy. What I got by the end of the year was higher debt than I have ever seen before and a meeting with a bankruptcy attorney where I decided that was not the right path.

What I am extremely grateful for as we start 2020 is the vast amount of experience I have on YouTube trying so many different strategies and finally having settled on what has proven to work best for me. I now release one video a day which consistently promotes my online courses as seen at https://jerrybanfield.com/learn/ similar to what I did on Udemy from 2014 to 2016. Most of the free course previews I then submit to Google Ads to get views for $0.01 to $0.10 both from existing viewers via remarketing and new audiences in discovery ads that are relevant to the course topic. The difference now is that instead of promoting $10 courses I have no control over on Udemy, I promote my $19.95/month subscription at https://jerrybanfield.com/shop/university/ and my $297 all courses forever bundle courses on my website at https://jerrybanfield.com/shop/forever/ along with my lifetime coaching with 12 video calls a year at https://jerrybanfield.com/partners/. I now can spend $100+ in ads to drive one single sale which I imagine will lead to my YouTube channel growing more in 2020 than in all other years combined so far! I am better prepared than ever to coach others as I have both a huge library of successes AND a lot of lessons on what not to do and how to turn hard times into powerful growth opportunities!

Now my vision for YouTube is reaching 1 billion views for the purpose of providing outstanding education that is empowering people like you and me to build the best businesses online while carrying a message of love, hope, and faith to as many people as will receive it! I am grateful after such a wild ride on YouTube that I am prepared to teach you from a vast depth of experience exactly what can work for you on YouTube in this complete online course!

Thank you for reading this entire story and I will see you in the course!