Meet David. He’s a death metal musician.
He had been living what he thought was every musician’s dream: touring the country playing in a band with his friends.
But there was a problem.
He HATED life on the road.
After playing his ass off at a gig, he’d have to drive 4 hours on dark, lonely roads to the next one.
Even worse, he was living out of a smelly tour van that offered ZERO privacy.
David probably could have lived with it if he was making decent money and playing to adoring crowds…
Instead, he was playing to 10 uninterested people every night.
And he was barely scraping by financially. After paying for gas, food, show bookers, and promoters, David and his band were barely squeaking out a livable existence on the road.
When the tour was over, he’d have to go back to living with his parents.
He knew he couldn’t keep going on like this, but he didn’t want to give up his dream.
David noticed when he wasn’t driving the van or playing shows, he was watching a lot of musicians who had channels on YouTube.
He was intrigued:
YouTube took away all the things I hated about being a touring musician, while keeping the things I loved in tact, which is essentially being creative, writing good songs and looking stupid.
While still out on the road, he started brainstorming ideas for his own channel.
Then he got a call from his friend, Harshyt. He wanted to know if David wanted to partner up and start a YouTube channel teaching guitar.
There was another sign…
Recently David had heard about Viral Academy, a step-by-step course for building a profitable lifestyle business on YouTube.
Sensing an opportunity, David partnered with Harshyt, enrolled in the course, and dove in head first with their channel, Riffshop.
First, they tried asking women if they thought metal musicians were attractive. (Answer? Largely no.) It took them an entire month create it.
Then they tried a general advice series for musicians. It never caught on.
Then they tried a series of social experiments, like seeing how much David could make busking on the street. No luck.
None of their channel ideas resonated.
In fact, for the first 8 months, Riffshop couldn’t buy a fan if they tried.
After releasing 36 videos, they were getting so little play that David could literally see his mom liking every video they released.
This is when David and Harshyt took a cold, honest look at their content. With the help of the Viral Academy community, they realized two things:
1. They were mechanically churning out content, just to be consistent.
2. Riffshop needed to find a way to make videos about death metal have mass appeal.
So they went back to the drawing board, using what they learned to cook up new content ideas.
Within two months, Riffshop had their first viral hit. Their first viral video, about CEREAL, has gone on to earn over 3.5 million views. When asked what it felt like to be able to reach MILLIONS with one video, David said:
I don’t think I’ve ever felt so empowered in my life. Although there have been a lot of struggles I’ve never felt so in charge of my fate.
We’ll tell you more about how Riffshop turned it all around, but let’s just say they’ve been able to repeat their success. Their next video, about driving a stick shift, has earned over 9 million views. And they were featured on sites like Chive and Esquire.
Most importantly, David no longer gets nightmares about living out of a tour van. With what he and Harshyt have accomplished with Riffshop, we bet they hardly get nightmares at all:
- David & Harshyt make over $1,600 for every video they create via Patreon. No more long drives and empty venues—they both make a living working on Riffshop.
- Viral video after viral video, with four totaling over 16 million views.
- Brand deals with companies like Dollar Shave Club, IGN, and CB3 Audio.
- Takeover of the front page of Reddit multiple times, driving over 350,000 views to their channel.
In this post, we’ll show exactly how Riffshop went from getting 10,000 views to millions, including the exact strategies and tactics that have allowed them to make a living working full-time on Riffshop.
36 Videos in Obscurity to 1 Million Views in 4 Days
8 months in, Riffshop had hit what Seth Godin calls “The Dip.”
They had created a ton of content, but NOTHING resonated.
A few videos got 10,000 views and they had scratched and clawed to about 5,000 subscribers on YouTube.
It was time to quit the bullshit and decide if they should pack it in or give one last push.
So David and Harshyt took an honest look at their content.
They had come a long way from the early days when it took them an entire month to create their first video.
But they realized they were still mechanically churning out videos just to be consistent.
David and Harshyt knew they could do better. They had put way too much into Riffshop to throw in the towel.
David decided to take a leap and, “put everything on the line to get good at this content creation thing.” He quit his job and spent every waking hour focusing on make Riffshop a success.
And in two months, Riffshop took off.
Their content finally “clicked” with a larger audience, thanks to some timely advice they received from the Viral Academy community, which urged them to think about how their content could have massive appeal.
Riffshop knew they had a passionate core audience of metalheads, but worried it was too small a niche to support a huge audience. But the problem wasn’t the size of their audience, it was the content itself.
Their videos weren’t eliciting emotion in their audience. In order to “go viral,” they needed to create content that a larger audience was DYING to share with friends.
After some intense brainstorming, they came up with their first viral hit: A death metal song proclaiming their love for cereal. Yes, CEREAL.
David said, “We like heavy metal. We like cereal. What if we combined the two?”
Riffshop now had an identity for their channel: “Stupid videos that explain life through death metal.”
No more showing women pictures of metal musicians.
Using the content scorecard we developed for our students, Riffshop has been able to repeat their success with over 18.5 million views.
After years of having the SAME critiques for thousands of students, we’ve learned every single content issue usually comes down to just a handful of traits (click here for an in-depth breakdown):
- A strong hook
- Eliciting an emotion
- Unique perspective
- Having a clickable title + thumbnail
- Asking yourself the question, will this attract a new audience? Yes or no?
For Riffshop, the content scorecard was a game changer, allowing them to replicate their success over and over again:
Having a template to evaluate your subjective art was really valuable.
Here are just a few of the hilarious viral videos that have led to Riffshop’s channel growth:
- WEEABOS Explained Using Death Metal (2.6 M)
- Going Back to the Gym—Explained Using BLACK METAL (1.1M)
- WTF!? A METAL SONG ABOUT CEREAL!? (3.5M)
- When Musicians Don’t Know Theory [Comedy Skit] (544K)
- How to Drive Stick Shift (Explained Using Death Metal) (9.1M)
Going from 10,000 views to over a million isn’t easy. And for some, the idea of going from 1 million to 9.1 million views just doesn’t seem possible.
But at Jumpcut, we’re big believers in thinking big.
Most people are afraid of failure, which is why you see so many people making boring, safe content.
By not thinking big, they will never stand out and get the results they want so badly.
We teach our students to look at what their competitors are doing and think:
What can I do to make my content 10x… no 100x better than theirs?
You might scoff and say that’s a foolish way to think, but if you think small, you’re likely to get mediocre results.
After Viral Academy, Riffshop was no longer satisfied with getting 20,000 or even 100,000 views. They knew they were capable of getting 100x that.
And after 36+ videos of maxing out at 10,000+ views, Riffshop was able to get 350x that with their cereal video!
For their next video, Riffshop went into their death metal lair and cooked up ways to do even better than their cereal video.
They used one of our patented content strategies to create a video that combined death metal and teaching people how to use a stick shift.
This video absolutely blew up and has now earned over 9.1 million views, which 910x what used to get when they were thinking small.
Because they used our proven strategies for creating viral content, they’ve been able to amass over 16 million views on FB and over 2.25 million on YouTube. Their content has also appeared on sites like Chive and Esquire.
In doing so, Riffshop figured out the single most important thing a YouTube creator can do: make innovative, shareable content that elicits emotion in your audience.
But all those views didn’t just come from the virality gods. Many were engineered using cutting-edge growth hacking strategies we teach in Viral Academy…
Growth Hacking to the Front Page of Reddit—TWICE…and 350,000+ Views
Harshyt will never forget that morning.
His alarm went off at 8 AM and he rolled out of bed to check Reddit. He couldn’t believe what he saw.
Their video had reached #1 on the r/videos subreddit, which has over 17 million subscribers.
This meant they done what every content creator dreams of—getting on Reddit’s front page. And then they did it again…
Combined, those two Reddit posts alone drove over 350,000 views to their channel.
Riffshop was utilizing what we call a Hacker’s Mentality, which consists of two things.
1. Truly understanding that your solutions to problems need to be different if you want to see different results.
2. You need to approach every single problem with the Hacker’s mantra: “There is always another way, you just need to find it.
In Viral Academy we have an entire module dedicated to using Growth Hacking techniques to grow your audience.
Whether you’re trying to get featured on a huge blog, or the front page of Reddit, or get national news coverage, there’s always a way. Everything is figure-out-able.
To hack Reddit, David and Harshyt spent hours on Reddit learning when and where to promote their videos, slowly refining their methods to earn as many upvotes as possible. (We show you how to seed content in online communities in our ultimate YouTube guide here).
We did the same on Reddit years before, 12x’ing our views for a new video series we created. This is the essence of the Hacker’s Mentality, finding creative ways to get extraordinary results.
We believe in the power Growth Hacking so deeply, we brought in one of the world’s most polarizing growth hackers to teach an entire bonus course on hacking Facebook, which led Riffshop to earning over 16 million views and 52,000 likes on their Facebook page.
This was HUGE for Riffshop, because their core audience, metalheads and musicians, were primarily on Facebook.
This was partly the reason getting to 5,000 subscribers on YouTube was a grind.
Newbs usually spin their tires because they assume what works on Facebook works on YouTube and vice versa.
But there are are nuanced differences between serving a Facebook audience vs. a YouTube audience.
And Riffshop learned these differences from our guest instructor, who once growth hacked a Facebook page from 0 to over 1.6 million likes in 7 months…without spending a penny.
If you’ve ever tried to start your own Facebook page or any social media account, you know that kind of growth is insane. Even for people that have years of experience in social media.
Using our Facebook growth hacking techniques, Riffshop was able to seed their content on HUGE Facebook pages and get it shared with larger audiences, creating word of mouth every time it was shared.
On Facebook alone, two videos alone have combined for 16M+ views and over 52K+ likes:
If you trust that your content is really good then you know you can nudge it enough to get noticed.
And nudge it they did. Riffshop was able to get their hilarious videos in front of massive Facebook audiences. Growth hacking isn’t magic. It’s a mindset that can be learned and refined with practice:
Growth hacking is a skill you need to iterate on.
Now that they had blown up on Facebook and built a passionate audience of raving fans, they wanted to turn their channel into a profitable business.
They had done the hard part of building an audience of die-hard fans, now they had to figure out how they could monetize their channel…
“You Ain’t Fuckin’ Metal Until You Got a Clutch Pedal”
That’s the lyric Riffshop saw over and over again in the comments of their stick shift video.
It had clearly struck a chord with their fans.
From the beginning, Riffshop saw their fans as more than just “subscribers.”
They went the extra mile, putting in a TON of effort to create a close-knit community. Acting more as a trusted friend, they responded to every comment they received.
And it paid off with their first go at making money from their channel.
Riffshop had their friends vote on several different t-shirt designs they made, based on their videos. The runaway favorite was the shirt that had the lyric:
You Ain’t Fuckin’ Metal Until You Got a Clutch Pedal
Riffshop ended up selling about 250 t-shirts and earned $2,500 dollars in revenue.
They were thrilled. It was proof that their fans would pay good money for a product they created. Today, they have an online store with all kinds of merchandise.
But here’s the thing. Selling t-shirts is just one of a handful of ways YouTube influencers can monetize their audience. As you can see, you don’t have to be a slave to ad revenue. Here are just 5 ways that you can make significant money after you’ve built an audience of raving fans:
2. Brand deals
3. Digital Products
In fact, making money off of YouTube isn’t even the hardest part of running a channel, growing your audience is.
For example, after Riffshop’s channel blew up, they started getting offers for brand deals (when a business pays you to talk about them in a video).
Soon they were using our negotiating tactics with brands like Dollar Shave Club, CBS, and IGN.
David and Harshyt could barely believe it. Big brands were CALLING THEM and asking to collaborate.
So now Riffshop was making money three ways:
Merchandise + Brand deals + Adsense (YouTube ads) = 3 Revenue Streams
Remember, when we mentioned that David and Harshyt replied to every comment for all of their videos? Well, all that hard work building a close-knit community paid off when they started a Patreon (a platform for crowdfunding).
Because they had such a dedicated fan base, Riffshop has been able to grow their Patreon to over 400 patrons, earning over $1,600 for EVERY video they create.
That means if they only make 2 videos a month, they’ll bring in $38,000 per year.
If they do one per week they’ll make over $87,000.
Riffshop is cold, hard proof that you don’t need half a million subscribers to make money on YouTube.
Today they have 37,000+ YouTube subscribers and 52,000+ Facebook likes, which isn’t even close to the top YouTube channels or Facebook pages.
BUT, their fans are INSANELY passionate. Riffshop has developed a community that will say, “Shut up and take my money!” whenever they offer a new product.
What a difference from David playing to 10 or 20 people at an empty bar…
That’s the beauty of building an audience of raving fans. On YouTube, attention = money, and Riffshop has been able to turn it into a growing lifestyle business
When we asked David how it feels now to have such a large following of dedicated fans, he said, “I feel very spiritually fulfilled. The lows are lows but the highs are higher than anything else I’ve ever felt.”
If you aren’t feeling fulfilled at your soul-crushing 9-5 job. If you’re dying of boredom in another outdated college class. Or if you feel like you’ve hit an artistic “dead end.”
There is a better path.
Right now, you have the opportunity to build an audience of raving fans on YouTube, just like Riffshop did. Whether you’re passionate about gaming, sewing, or even death metal, there are thousands of people waiting to hear what you have to say.
So take the first step with our FREE YouTube Influencer video crash course. which will teach you how to find your first YouTube channel idea, even if you’re a total newb.
You’ll learn step-by-step how to build an audience of raving fans from scratch, just like Riffshop. We’ve included over an hour of our best-kept secrets for creating viral content, all in HD video. We’ve also added material from our premium course, Viral Academy, which Riffshop called, “One of the internet’s best kept secrets for people that are creative and looking to make a living off it.”
David was able to go from making peanuts living on the road to making a comfortable living creating hilarious death metal songs with Riffshop. The possibilities are truly limitless. Sign up now to learn everything we know about building an audience on YouTube and making a living doing what you love.
Header image by: musicoomph.com