Make useful videos, publish them once or twice per week, and do this for two years

Many people have predicted that the future of work is in portfolio jobs made up of multiple income streams, including online courses. This week YouTuber and Junior Doctor, Ali Abdaal released his 2020 income that gives information on what that portfolio might look like and how someone might get there. Ali’s income revolves around his Youtube channel, which currently has 1.3 million subscribers. 

Ali Abdaal’s 2020 Revenue – £1,013,000

  • A full-time job as a doctor £22,100 (First seven months of the year only)
  • Youtube Adsense £100,695
  • Affiliates £132,471
  • Sponsors £136,000
  • Skills share courses including affiliate links £350,000
  • Online Part-time YouTuber Academy course £220,000
  • Alumni inner circle membership £53,000

The online part-time Youtuber Academy course and Alumni Inner circle membership

Ali recently launched his first online cohort-based course. The course lasts four weeks and starts at $1495 for the Essential Edition. Premium and Executive editions cost $2495 and $4995 and provide additional features including lifetime access to future courses and further access to Ali and his team. The course’s first cohort had three hundred and sixty students enrol for a total income of £220,000. Ali chose to charge this amount to provide a premium service that would deliver meaningful change in his students. In the video, he explains that people need accountability and community to help them learn from a course in today’s world of unlimited online content. By charging a significant fee for a four-week part-time academy, he can get heavily involved. He delivers sessions live, provides access to himself and his team, and can do much more to help his students make it as creative entrepreneur’s on YouTuber.  

If you build an audience over a long period of time who, know, like, and, trust you, then when you start charging real money for a product which is actually good, people will be happy to pay that money and pay for access to you.

Ali Abdaal

The course was so successful that the students asked for ongoing access to the community and Ali. An impressive one hundred and twenty-four students (34% progression rate) have signed up for membership of the Alumni inner circle service. Features of the Inner circle include a monthly coaching call with Ali, guest workshops, additional content, and weekly and daily events.

This idea of building a following via YouTube and social media and then providing access to you via an online course is an interesting one compared to the University model. Large institutions leverage their longstanding reputations and Government protection to attract students and charge them significant amounts of money to provide them with the content, accountability, and community Ali refers to. Courses like this one are beginning to develop sophisticated delivery models and provide motivated students with the skills they require to succeed at work. Will we start to see academics pursuing a portfolio job, working part-time for Universities while building a YouTube follow that they then use to deliver courses directly to students?

Building a portfolio job

Most of us rely almost entirely on a single source of income. This should scare us more than it does. For several years, Ali has asked his coworkers if they would continue to work in medicine if they won the lottery. Half respond they would leave immediately, and the other half say they would go part-time. When asked why they do not become part-time now, the answer is usually related to money. The video gives some useful advice for anyone wanting to start becoming a creative entrepreneur and making some, or all, of their living from the internet. 

 …If you want to seriously want to get to this level…of making money online, you have to put in large amounts of work over a very long period of time. But the good news is that all of this is really, really fun so it won’t feel like work hopefully.

Ali Abdaal

Ali’s full-time job is a tiny fraction of his full income, and he can hire two full-time employees and another part-time to help run it. He notes that all his various income streams result from posting useful videos to his YouTube channel, twice per week for the last three and a half years.

Like every good thing in life, the progress is slow, but if you keep at it consistently over a very long period of time, then hopefully things will start to compound.

Ali Abdaal

Google Adsense income from short video adverts and banner ads on Ali’s YoutTube videos. Monetising a YouTube channel through Adsence requires a minimum of 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time. He provides the annual growth of this income: 

  • 2017 – 59 videos – 1,600 subs – £0
  • 2018 – 88 videos – 120k subs – £12,329
  • 2019 – 62 videos – 450k subs – £33,186
  • 2020 – 98 videos (307 total) – 1.3M subs – £100,695 

Once the channel grew and the subscriptions and watch time increased, affiliates through Amazon affiliate links and similar, and sponsorship income started to grow. Again, Ali stresses that this income relies on the success of the YouTube channel. Ali also introduced several Skillshare courses in areas including productivity and study skills that are currently his highest income stream but rely on a massive scale driven by his YouTube channel’s popularity.  

Success = work x luck x unfair advantage.

Work in this equation involves consistently publishing content that is as useful as possible. Ali mentions that he is routinely spending upwards of six hours per night, developing his skills, researching, and producing content and has been for the last fourteen years. The luck is the type that comes from putting lots of work to take advantage of the opportunities when they arise. This luck includes the YouTube algorithm. Most of his videos get viewing figures around 20% of his subscription numbers, but his videos’ small fraction will often earn significantly more views. The challenge is there is no knowing which videos will go viral and which will get baseline figures. Unfair advantages are the things that you bring to the table that others can’t. Ali provides the example of when he started making videos and was studying medicine at Cambridge University. He used being a trainee doctor and Cambridge University’s reputation to attract people to his channel before proving himself as an individual. He made videos that played off these two elements to build his early subscriptions. Ali suggests that any new YouTuber works from their unfair advantages to help get their first views and subscribers.

So the challenge for any aspiring YouTuber: Make useful videos, publish them once or twice per week, and do this for at least two years, and you will get success.

Watch the full video on YouTube and subscribe to Ali Abdaal’s channel. Get in touch with me on Twitter to let me know what you think.

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