Ready to take the next step in your career and start making money on doing what you love? A dream for many is earning money by creating online content, but how do you reach that point? Video creator and Epidemic Sound ambassador, Elina Osborne, answers all our questions.
Q: Who are you, and what do you do?
A: My name is Elina Osborne and I hail from the streets of West Auckland, New Zealand. I'm a video creator and long-distance hiker. I've had various titles throughout my 27 years of life, but in this chapter, I'm a storyteller in the outdoors space.
Q: What is the name of your channel(s), and what is your niche?
A: The name of my channel is literally under my name: Elina Osborne. I wanted to avoid putting myself in the box of a certain genre, so I didn’t want anything too specific. I recognize the stories I want to tell will change as I continue to change and grow. Currently, my niche is stories of adventure.
Q: How did you get into creating?
A: I always remember being the child out of the five of us seeking to pick up the camera. It was an innate desire to film, document, create - and I think all of us have the latter in us. Much to my siblings’ dismay, it does mean that all the home videos I "directed" continue to come back to haunt them.
Q: What has your journey as a creator looked like? Can you bring us through the main milestones?
A: It wasn't until I got a semester-deep into my first year of university where I realized I was in the wrong degree. I jumped ship from a confused double-degree of Media and Sports Science to gain a Communications degree, majoring in Video. I learned the basics of how to use a camera, how to work in a team in a film environment, and was able to direct my first short documentary.
After graduating, I went on to work for an Edu-Tech start-up based in New Zealand. I suggested to start a YouTube channel, and with the company being so small, I was the one to film and edit all of the videos. The company and the channel grew, which allowed me to go over to the US, continuing to film and edit for the channel. During this time, I learned what it took to be a "content creator" on YouTube, what worked, what didn't, and it really got me thinking more about what was missing on YouTube.
I left that job, got another in a similar vein - again, suggested the launch of a YouTube channel, wrote, filmed, edited the videos, and grew this company's channel to 40 000 in about six months. I realized how dissatisfied and constrained I felt by working for someone else and decided it was time to venture on my own and tell the stories I was more passionate about.
After quitting that job, I hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, documented my journey, and then created a film and series of videos that I made post-trail. This was monumental to the start of my own YouTube channel – I just hit 50 000 subs!
Q: When did you start earning money as a content creator/YouTuber? Was it hard to get there? Do you remember how or what brought you that very first paycheck?
A: I started earning money as a creator online after posting my film "It is The People" about my adventure on the Pacific Crest Trail. I had only ever posted videos on my channel in the past to share with friends, never to actually build a channel or audience. But from that film, I could suddenly monetize my channel, and from there, I continued creating. From an external standpoint, it made the process look easy – I posted one video, then suddenly I was able to build my audience and monetize. In reality, it took years and years of practice in other areas before hitting that milestone of being able to earn money as a creator.
Q: Are you able to make a living from content creation, or do you have other gigs as well?
A: I would say content creation currently is my full-time job. But that actually came about only in September (two months ago) when COVID-19 swallowed the temp job I took up when I returned home from my long-distance hike back in February. It was the kick out the door I needed to take that leap. It has been interesting to see how much my YouTube channel has acted as a portfolio for opportunities beyond the scope of that red play button – most of my income hasn't come from YouTube but from people/companies seeing my channel and reaching out.
Q: What would you say are the most important bits to have in place to start earning money on YouTube?
A: Videos that you yourself are excited by, an audience who is stoked to see what you create, a place of contact (for those external reach-outs), and the drive to continue creating!
Q: Are there any technical or practical steps you need to go through to monetize your channels? Would you mind bringing us through them?
A: Regarding monetization on YouTube, there are the technicalities such as having 1000+ subscribers and 4000 hours of watch time before you can apply in the YouTube Creator Studio to have a monetized channel. This in itself can take a decent amount of time – and you can take two different approaches: consistent videos or one video of high quality that is shareable and resonates with people (resulting in high watch-time).
Q: Once you start earning your first dollars through creating, what’s important to keep in mind going forward?
A: I think it's important to keep the bigger picture in mind; why are you doing what you're doing? If you have your "why" underlying everything, then you have that guiding light to push you to continue creating when motivation dwindles. Consistency is spoken about a lot while building a channel, and while I do think it's important in building momentum, I also think quality far exceeds quantity. I also love going back to the saying, "make before you manage."
Q: What are your best tips for creators who want to start earning money from their creating?
A: I would say to stay true to who you are, use your unique voice because it's the thing that will make you stand out. Everyone can start a channel, anyone can post a video, but to build an audience and to have people interested in investing their money into you... What about you makes you different, what different perspective are you bringing to the crowded table?
Q: Do you have any good tips on making passive income as a creator?
A: I would say affiliation with different companies (like Epidemic Sound) is a good place to start! It's not taxing time-wise, and it gives you direct feedback on what your audience is stoked about you recommending. I think further down the track creating some kind of course, or online resource is invaluable – your audience follows you because of the knowledge you bring. If there's something you can create and put succinctly into something they can download - then there you have it!
No matter if you first started a YouTube channel to make a living out of it, or if you’re just doing it for fun – making a few bucks along the way definitely won’t hurt. Either way, we hope this blog post will be helpful to get you one step closer to getting rewarded for doing what you love.
Not quite there yet? Check out our blog posts with Sylvio Raz: How to Create a YouTube Channel & What to Keep in Mind Before Uploading a YouTube Video.
Growing up in the suburbs of Auckland, New Zealand, Elina Osborne was raised in a family of 7; her Kiwi dad, Japanese mother, and four siblings. Her love for the outdoors grew alongside her passion for filmmaking, so in 2019, she set out to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. After 4.5 months of walking from Mexico to Canada, her eyes opened to protecting and preserving our planet, and the possibilities we create when we own and tell our stories. Click here to check out Elina's YouTube channel.