Internet Famous & Broke

I’m not the hippest cat around, not by a long shot.

In fact, I’m pretty lame. Since leaving New York in 2012, I’ve completely lost touch with pop culture….

No movie posters on the subway to gawk at. No subway conversations to overhear. No tabloid headlines to scan.

Believe it or not, those little brushes with pop culture every day kept me semi-knowledgable about trends, fads, and hype.

So you can bet I was clueless when a fellow dad mentioned Evan… assuming I knew who he was.


“You know Evan… the kid who does toy reviews.”

Turns out Evan, of EvanTubeHD, has pulled in over a BILLION views since his dad started making YouTube videos back in 2011 (when Evan was 5).

GloZell is another YouTube star. I learned of her from a friend who showed me the “Cinnamon Challenge” on his iPhone.

Stupid but funny, they said, assuming I’d seen it already.

I hadn’t. But apparently EVERYONE else had. GloZell’s cinnamon challenge has racked up 50 million views.

YouTube has minted a lot of celebrities. Some of them are doing extremely well. Forbes estimates PewDiePie, the 25 y/o who plays video games while cursing, made $12 million+ last year.

However, the vast majority of YouTube celebrities still work day jobs. Some of them can’t even do that. Rachelle Whitehurst, whose channel has over 160,000 subscribers, had to quit her Starbucks job because her fans would show up en masse during her shifts.

Wait a second. How is it possible, you ask, that someone with 160,000 YouTube subscribers (and 90,000 Instagram followers) is still serving coffee?

Actually, it’s understandable. If you haven’t figured out how to make money from your content early on, it won’t get easier later on.

Rachelle, like so many of her peers, thought fame was the mirror image of money. It’s not. Never has been. You could fill an encyclopedia with the names of famous actors, singers, and athletes who never cashed in.

You might think it’s idiotic for anyone to continue creating content with no ROI. It is. But really, these YouTube stars aren’t much different from some of the biggest startups of the last 5 years.

Think about it. Reddit, despite its massive popularity, has never come close to turning a profit. Ditto Quora, LinkedIn, and of course… Twitter.

There are many other media/social startups in Silicon Valley where the strategy is to give it away free with the hope of charging for it later.

The problem is that “later” never comes. If it does come, those “customers” jump ship.

Memo to dreamers: real businesses need PAYING customers to survive. If nobody’s paying for what you produce, then you don’t have a business. It’s that simple.

The fact is, if Reddit ever tries to introduce Facebook-like ads, Redditors will REVOLT.

Smart content might LOOK free but never is. Underneath the surface, SOMEBODY is paying the bills via advertising, syndication, membership, or a premium product.

A large consumer audience often acts as a decoy, masking the REAL business of the company.

Mattermark, a Silicon Valley blog, is a great example of this. They sell a high-priced monthly service to venture capitalists, investment banks, and hedge funds. Rich people.

Lesser people, especially those who fantasize about building the next Google, read Mattermark’s daily blog. It’s free and massively popular.

Interestingly, the CEO of Mattermark got her first dozen customers the old-fashioned way: cold calling. If she had waited for the blog to land her customers, the company would have folded in less than 6 months.

That’s right. She wasn’t content with thousands of likes, retweets, and high fives. Her product was not validated until it started selling.

Fortunately, her software scratched an itch. It’s now generating $250K a month in sales.

The point of all this is to warn against counting on praise, social shares, and celebrity in lieu of money.

Unless you can find paying customers — even ONE — you simply don’t have a business. The worst thing you could do is waste time and money on something nobody (ultimately) wanted.

Let others become internet famous. Your job is to find an audience with money and sell to them.

If you’ve been targeting the wrong audience with your content — freebie seekers alone — all may not be lost. With a little tweaking, you might be closer to paying customers than you think.

Go HERE to schedule a free consult and avoid the road to ruin.

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