Charlie Chang is a content creator and entrepreneur active in personal finance and entrepreneurship. He graduated from UCLA and is the founder of StartupWise. Below is the story of rejection, effort, striving, startup and success of the 29-year-old young man.
In 2014, I had just graduated from college and had always thought, my life would follow a predetermined plan: Enter medical school, become a doctor earn a 6 figure job and make my parents proud . However, none of this is really okay. I realized I hated blood and needles and was rejected by over 15 medical schools. My parents are not very happy.
From 2014 to 2019, I worked as a tutor, did some modeling gigs, started a shipping business, and even worked as a real estate agent. However, all those jobs did not help me have a stable income.
After many attempts at trading, I finally found something that worked: Post financial advice on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. In 2021, my content creation business brought in $1.5 million in sales — and my mom stopped sending me job listings.
How I built a $1.5 million a year business
I’ve been posting videos on YouTube since 2006, but the content is random and inconsistent. So I decided to stick with the topic that excites me the most: money.
Growing up in a middle-class family, I was always interested in finding ways to earn, save and invest smarter. In 2018, I created a new YouTube channel dedicated to financial advice. I post almost every day, as well as on Instagram and TikTok.
My first few videos got about a dozen views each, half of which were from my mom. I still make most of my money doing odd jobs.
However, in April 2020, about a month after Covid-19 was declared a pandemic, I noticed a spike in interest in stimulus-related content. That month, I posted 20 videos on YouTube about stimulus and relief efforts. One of my videos quickly became popular – earning me $10,078 in ad revenue and 30,300 subscribers.
In May, I posted 19 videos and made $15,791 in ad revenue. And in June, I landed my first sponsorship deal with Foundr, an online education company; they paid me 250 USD to make a post on Tiktok.
I continue to experiment with different types of video content to see what works best for growing audiences and generating interest from brands.
In November, after reaching another partnership agreement and reaching around 200,000 subscribers, I decided to launch my first online course teaching people how to start their own successful YouTube channels.
In 2021, I added affiliate marketing to my income streams. I made $86,000 in January, then increased to an average of $150,000/month in 2021.
How to create multiple streams of income
Currently, I have over 650,000 followers on YouTube. By 2022, I was making about $197,700/month through five streams of income – some of which generate passive income. At one point, I made $245,000 in just one month.
What I love about the business is that I can choose when and where I work. There will be days when I don’t work at all and days when I will work 12 hours. On average, I work 35 hours/week.
Here’s how I built each of my streams of income:
1. Affiliate marketing: 40% of monthly income
With affiliate marketing, I earn commissions for promoting other brands’ products or services. I post affiliate links in the YouTube video description and on my website, then get paid every time someone goes to the brand’s product page or makes a purchase.
To generate passive income through affiliate marketing, you need links on targeted content in a niche that people are searching for. This can lead to hits for months, even long after you’ve posted. For example, I link to subtitles based on popular search terms that I find using the Google trends tool.
I get most of my affiliate deals through partnership management platforms like Impact Radius, Partnerstack, and Share-A-Sale.
2. Brand sponsorship: 25% of monthly income
With brand sponsorship, companies basically pay me to mention them in one of my videos or on my website.
Brands often contact me via the email address on my YouTube profile, but I also work with agencies like Spacestation to secure more sponsorships.
Finding a niche has helped me develop a loyal and authentic audience, which has been crucial to my success.
Find your own niche by asking: What specific problem can I solve with my story and expertise? Get to know your audience well, such as their age, location, and common interests. During the negotiation, remind brands why the audience is valuable to them.
3. Advertising on YouTube: 25% of monthly income
I make another quarter of my income from YouTube Adsense ads that appear before or in my YouTube videos.
To join this program, you must have at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours in the last 12 months. Once you’re in the program, it’s important to post consistently and create videos based on content that’s been well-received by your audience.
4. Online course sales: <5% monthly income
My Youtube Academy courses and “Personal Branding Class” are both held on Kajabi. These courses take months to plan, research, film, and edit.
5. Coaching: <5% of monthly income
I meet with clients face-to-face to advise on how to make their businesses more successful. This is a great way to connect with my audience and get to know them on a personal level.
My coaching sessions are conducted through Zoom, allowing me to meet with anyone from anywhere in the world. I charge 500 USD for 60 minutes.
Recently, I started building StartupWise, a resource platform for new businesses and entrepreneurs. I also work for a company called Side Hustle Mastery and Hustle Club.
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