I know one of the biggest unknowns in being creative is making money. It’s a space where a lot of people talk about making money but not that many tell you exactly how to do it.
Now, I hate to disappoint but telling you EXACTLY how I do it would be too long a post but what I will do in this post is break down to you, how I make money and what I’m currently working on to shed some light on how it’s possible.
First up I have a few different sources of income:
- Selling Digital Products (LUTs & Course)
- Paid Projects / Brand Deals
- Ad Revenue on YouTube
- Affiliate Marketing
Let’s go through them one by one.
Selling Digital Products
Selling my Digital Products is by far the main part of my business and where I make most of my money.
Creating digital products is an investment I’ve done up front, as I have created my LUT Packs through countless hours of practice and testing on different clips to make sure they are as versatile as possible. They are updated as I learn more or figure out how to better use them and tweak them to do more without breaking anything in the image.
To create my LUTs I use DaVinci Resolve, which is also the software I use for editing and grading my own videos. I created two Packs that are for anyone needing a simple solution and “The LUT Pack” for myself, as that’s the one I use to grade 99% of all my own videos.
To make a nice design and package I bought a Box Mockup online and use those to design my own LUT Boxes in Adobe Photoshop.
For my course, I spent 1,5 months of scripting, filming and editing to put together all the basics of Filmmaking and Color Grading into one, to help anyone starting out, take a big leap forward. The unique point of this is the big Color Grading section.
I use Thinkific as the platform, as they allow me to have one course on there for free, which is by far the most viable option to start out. Initially, I sold it through the platform as well but that gave me very limited opportunity in terms of landing page and discounts, so now it’s available through Shopify, which I recently switched to.
That leads us to Shopify itself, which is the platform I use to sell all my products. It’s a recent switch by was by far a great investment from Squarespace where I was before. It’s not necessarily cheaper but what I came to learn was that I needed more store features than website features.
Squarespace was great for making a portfolio but kept requiring upgrades to do the commerce I wanted, whereas Shopify in combination with Skypilot has allowed me to easily set up and sell my digital products.
I also use Linkr as my “link in bio” tool on Instagram to drive traffic to my website. They also allow you to have a store, where I have set up my LUT Packs to make it easy for anyone to buy them through there, although I prefer to sell through Shopify.
Paid Projects & Brand Deals
This post is not the largest and not consistent at all.
Most of my projects come at random from businesses reaching out. The part that has been most surprising to me has been the fact that with around 4.000 or more subscribers on YouTube, I got a lot more requests from brands and businesses than I do with more than 90.000 followers on Instagram. It's probably because I'm teaching on YouTube and that has a higher retention but I was still surprised.
The only requests I really get on Instagram are from hotels and occasionally a brand reaches out as well.
Apart from Brand deals, I do some paid projects as well on the side. That can be all from shooting business headshots for companies or making videos for a company to showcase what they do. Some of these come from outreach or network and other times it’s by coincidence.
I am currently building a Real Estate Videography business on the side with my girlfriend and that will hopefully become a big part of my income within the next year but for now it’s mostly been portfolio and starting to build a name within that industry.
For reaching out to Brand Deals and getting sponsorships the most difficult part is my niche. I’m based with Color Grading, which not that many companies have a connection with. Most camera brands are not interested in working as they focus on the filming skills rather than the colours their camera can produce. So, advice is to think about how to position yourself in terms of what you want to do and how brands you’d like to work with in the future, connect with you and your (potential / future) audience.
The way I pitch ideas is to propose projects or stories I have in mind that they would fit in and why it makes sense to work with me. That is super freaking difficult to do in the beginning when you don’t have a niche or an audience, so what I would do then is look at what they do already and how their videos are and then make a video in the same style with your personal touch. A great way to start is by using products you have and use already and then sending the video to them afterwards. Maybe they want to buy it or perhaps just use it and you can use it as a portfolio piece for yourself.
It really comes down to trial and error and the more you create and practice, the more comfortable you’ll be in selling your services as well! Just don't be afraid of failing. Not asking at all means you'll never get the opportunity at all.
Ad Revenue on YouTube
Another part of my business is YouTube, which by a large majority is “just free content” but it drives both traffic to my website and sales through that and also some Ad Revenue as I’m part of the YouTube Partner Programme.
You won’t get rich from YouTube Ad Revenue, let’s just make that clear from the beginning. To make a decent amount of money you need to make a lot of good videos that are viewed A LOT. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it.
Getting some “passive income” through ads is a great way to motivate making the videos and it does mean that it is kind of paid at least a little bit.
However, where the big money lie is in sponsorships.
Sponsorships are a post I haven’t gotten that much revenue from yet but is one I expect to grow a lot in the coming 6-12 months. This is due to the fact that my channel is growing quite rapidly and I am starting to have built quite a strong audience on there already.
Sponsorships can be tricky within the Color Grading space itself, so I’m aiming to broaden my scope a bit and talk more about storytelling, filming and Davinci Resolve as an editing tool in the future - along with keeping making the color grading videos.
For getting sponsorships, so far it’s been companies reaching out to me. Most often to review something and pay pennies for it or give me access to an affiliate programme (more on that in a second). Sometimes I take the deals to get a bit extra money if I got the time and it fits a video and sometimes I say no - especially if it doesn’t fit what I do.
An example is that recently a company making perfumes reached out. Not exactly in the scope of my business or audience and a clear lack of understanding on their side. It’s pretty much the wild west in this business, so you gotta stand up for yourself or you’re likely to get taken advantage of.
The last piece of my business is Affiliate Marketing. Now, this is something I’ve played around with for a long time and I’m part of several programmes that haven’t really given anything yet. My focus and strategy has, once again, been to experiment and now I have a clearer understanding of how to go about it.
My strategy going forward is to share the tools I use in a way that makes sense and wherever possible get discounts for you and the rest of my audience so, at the end of the day, we all win.
It’s a jungle to figure out what the best tools are and there are multiple options that go great together, so what I recommend is what works for me and it may differ from yours. Nonetheless, it’s a great way to support all around, the company, you as a follower and myself as a creator.
So, where to start?
To finish off this e-mail, I’ll give you my personal recommendation. Start by getting good at videography. Then create an asset or a product that you actually need yourself and use it. That way it’s easier to iterate on it and make it better. When it’s gone through a few iterations, you can start marketing and selling it. That doesn't have to be LUTs or something like that, it can also be the service you want to provide.
Imposter syndrome is inevitable for most of us, myself included. The best way to get past it is to launch a product fast, iterate and collect reviews to improve and market it further.
Also, your first product won’t be the best. So get the first one out of the way quickly and improve it. That’s the best way to make a great product. My own LUTs have gone through several iterations both before and after launch. A great way to go about it is to sell it with all future updates included, that way the first supporters get it a bit cheaper and benefit from all you learn in the future.
And as the final note: don’t be afraid to create something a lot of other people have created already. As long as your product seek to help people in what they do, it has its place and there are so many people out there looking for help.
I hope this gave you a bit of insight and perhaps motivation to get started. If anything I hope for a bit of transparency as I know it can feel like a black box.
I’ll catch you in the next post!