By WP Creative Group
Entrepreneurship is booming in the U.S. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, a record 5.4 million new business applications were filed in 20211, as workers choose to turn hobbies into fully-fledged businesses or pursue a long-awaited dream of working for themselves.
During this small business boom, YouTube has proven it can be a useful platform for entrepreneurs. From documenting farm life to teaching dance, the platform gives its community of content creators the opportunity to earn revenue from their videos and provides a platform for diverse creators and content. These benefits can serve as a solid base for sustaining jobs and income within the creative ecosystem while supporting economic activity far beyond the platform.
In 2021 alone, YouTube’s creative ecosystem supported more than 425 thousand full time equivalent jobs in the U.S and contributed more than $25 billion to the nation’s GDP.2
We heard from three entrepreneurs and creators about how YouTube played a role in their businesses.
After 10 years juggling jobs, childcare and city life in Kansas City, Missouri, Jake and Becky Grzenda wanted a change – a big one. The couple dreamed of raising their family on a farm. Jake was an avid fan of homesteader YouTube videos, and Becky longed to return to the countryside where she was raised.
So in 2017, Jake and Becky took the leap. They moved with their two sons to Easton, Missouri, rented a small home on an existing farm and bought six chickens.
Jake worked odd jobs to keep an income as he and Becky made the transition to a rural life. Jake turned to YouTube to learn the basics of running a farm and, in turn, started documenting his family farm’s journey on their own channel, White House on the Hill. The Grzendas filmed themselves building chicken coops, adopting a baby rabbit and adding new winged members to their family. Their most popular video, 50 days of incubating and hatching an emu egg, received over ten million views – and earned White House on the Hill a ‘Creator on the Rise’ spotlight on YouTube. This uptick in video views and fans of the channel helped paved a path for the family’s economic independence.
71% of small business owners agree that YouTube helped grow their revenue.2
71 percent of small and medium businesses with a YouTube channel agree that YouTube played a role in helping them grow their revenue.2 As White House on the Hill gained more and more subscribers, Jake and Becky realized they could afford to pursue YouTube content creation full time. With the help of the money they earned through YouTube, they purchased their own farmhouse, populated it with animals and even paid off their student debt. “We started YouTube as a hobby, and then it turned into a business for us,” Jake says.
Along with brand partnerships and profit directly from YouTube’s advertisements that play on their YouTube videos, the Grzendas use their channel to promote and sell their farm products, like honey, eggs and White House on the Hill merchandise. The Grzenda’s diverse streams of income through YouTube is representative of how many creators use the platform. 80 percent of creative entrepreneurs agree that YouTube provides an opportunity to create content and earn money that they wouldn’t get from traditional media.2
80% of entrepreneurs agree that YouTube provides an opportunity to create content and earn money that they wouldn’t get from traditional media.2
On their new farm, the Grzendas are now building an aviary for exotic birds, which is set to be one of the largest privately owned aviaries in the country. For Jake, building out the farm has been proof that even the wildest business dreams can come true. “YouTube was the thing that allowed us to support our family, develop our farm and pursue our future goals,” he says.
Like the Grzenda family, Kukuwa Kyereboah turned to YouTube to help sustain her business. Growing up in Ghana, Kyereboah could often be found dancing in the streets. But dance wasn’t just her hobby. It was a way of exploring other cultures and would become the key to her career.
In 2005, after a stint as a translator at the United Nations, Kyereboah accepted roles as a professor at The George Washington University and University of Miami, teaching African dance and culture. When she wasn’t in the classroom, she taught dance fitness classes called “Move Your Boombsey.” Her fitness classes took off. She left professorship to open dance fitness studios in New York, Washington, D.C., and Miami and hired a team of instructors. All was on track for Kyereboah to continue expanding her brick-and-mortar business.
75% of small business owners agree that YouTube has helped them sustain their business during the COVID-19 pandemic.2
Then the pandemic hit. Without being able to teach her students in-person, Kyereboah had to close her studio locations. Since 2015, she had been posting her classes on YouTube, but the platform quickly became her business’s lifeline, as it did for countless creators. 75 percent of small and medium businesses who use YouTube agree that YouTube has helped them sustain their business during the COVID-19 pandemic.2
To keep her business growing, Kyereboah began posting “Live with Kukuwa” instructional dance fitness videos every week. Viewers flocked to her channel to keep in shape and smile while stuck at home, more than tripling her subscriber count in a matter of months. “YouTube was the best way for me to reach the world,” Kyereboah says.
81% of entrepreneurs that YouTube helps them export their content to international audiences the wouldn’t otherwise have access to.2
Now, Kyereboah supports her business with profit from advertisements on her YouTube videos and increased traffic to her website. She’s stated that she has viewers on her channel from all over the world and is proud to continue to share African culture through dance. Her success illustrates why 81 percent of creative entrepreneurs agree that YouTube helps them export their content to international audiences they wouldn’t otherwise have access to.2
As travel opens back up, Kyereboah is planning pop-up dance classes around the world. “I’ve always been about sharing my culture,” she says. “So I decided to do it through dance, and it’s worked.”
While Kyereboah shares her love for music and culture on YouTube through dance, Rhett Price has taken a different route. Originally from the small town of Greenwood, Texas, Price was always drawn to playing instruments. As he grew older, Price quickly realized that he didn’t want to spend the rest of his life in his small town. Inspired by his father, a full-time painter, Price decided he wanted to become a full-time violinist.
Price auditioned – and was accepted – to Berklee College of Music in 2009. But after a year, the program became too expensive. Price had to drop out of school. At the same time, he lost his part-time job at a coffee shop.
Unable to make rent, Price traveled between friends’ couches in Boston and Austin. He busked in parks and subway stations and even landed a regular gig with a country band in Texas. But Price still yearned for his big break and more financial stability. He wanted to be center stage, and he knew he had the talent to get there.
In 2011, Price began posting on YouTube but saw little traction. Two years later, he took a leap of faith. Price used his last $300 to pay a film student to record him covering a popular song and uploaded it to YouTube. The video went viral, and Price’s career as a musician soared to new heights.
64% of media and music companies with a YouTube channel agree that YouTube is an important source of revenue for their company.2
Soon, requests started to pour in for Price to play violin covers of pop music at corporate events and private parties. He’s now performed with chart-topping artists, received brand partnership deals and booked countless gigs as a result of his YouTube presence. This success helped Price launch his first violin hip-hop album and national tour.
77% agree that YouTube is critical to breaking new artists and/or music.2
Price isn’t alone in finding reliable income on YouTube. 64 percent of media and music companies with a YouTube channel agree that YouTube is an important source of revenue for their company – and 77 percent agree that YouTube is critical to breaking new artists and/or music.2
Price attributes his success as a full-time musician to YouTube. “Without YouTube, I don’t know how I would do what I do,” he says. “The shows, the ticket sales wouldn’t be there without YouTube. The events wouldn’t be there without YouTube.”
Learn more about YouTube’s impact on the economy here.
Credits: By WP Creative Group