How to Turn Your Passion into a Killer YouTube Career: TubeTalk 183 with Josh Horton
There’s a big myth around YouTube - That it’s saturated, and everybody's doing the same thing, so there’s no room for new creators. Wrong!
On this episode of TubeTalk, I’m speaking to someone who runs a very unique channel which is doing exceptionally well. We discuss how whenever you put yourself out there, and share your passion with the world, even YouTube will reward you for it. Josh Horton is a professional juggler, with over 500K subscribers on YouTube and in this podcast you will learn:
- How he turned his passion into a YouTube goldmine
- How he learned to understand his audience to give them the content they want
- The different YouTube content he creates around a single topic
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How to Turn Your Passion into a Killer YouTube Career: Full Transcript
Liron Segev: Josh, thanks for making the time to be here.
Josh Horton: Of course, thanks for having me.
Liron Segev: Josh, you have quite an interesting story. For those who don't know, how would you do Josh in a tweet?
Josh Horton: In a tweet, oh boy. After I graduated college my plan was to be a professional juggler. I was doing that but then I also started working for a social media agency part-time. That turned into full-time and then my juggling career kind of fell by the wayside and before I knew it, I was a manager at a social media agency. Then when I turned 25 I quit that job to focus 100% on juggling but I'd learned so much about social media I also started to grow a social media channel for fun, mainly on Instagram at that point.
Fast forward a couple years and now I am not done performing but juggling as a performance, as an income is a side thing and now social media is my full-time thing.
Liron Segev: It's a good thing that Twitter has 280 characters.
Josh Horton: That's a long tweet, yeah.
Liron Segev: Okay, but there's a whole bunch of interesting points here where you were going in a certain direction, you decided to stop that, focus on that career.
Josh Horton: Sure.
Liron Segev: Then you went back to the original thing and all this juggling became a side hustle thing.
Josh Horton: Yeah, sort of. If you want to be successful you have to follow what's making you money but you also have to follow what you're enjoying, and so I've done both of them where right now I'm loving what I'm doing and I'm making money, which is great so it's a win.
My degree was in Entrepreneurial Studies, how to be an entrepreneur, how to own your own business, how to follow those dollar signs while being your own business and I think I've done a good job of tracking what's going to be best. My plan has changed multiple times in my young adult life but I'm trying to always be adaptable and follow those signs.
Liron Segev: And following your passion as well because that seems to be the driving force underneath all of this.
Josh Horton: Yeah, I've loved everything ... I quit my job. My job was okay working in social media, on the brand side, but anything that involves what I'm doing I love it.
Liron Segev: Did you find that having that brand experience and having that background, did that help you with growing your own social media and doing those brand deals?
Josh Horton: It definitely helped me growing my own social media, especially off the bat. I started just on Instagram because I had no plans of being a YouTuber, no plans on being even an influencer. I was just like, "Hey, I like Instagram and it would be fun if I had some followers, just to have followers, to show off to my friends or whatever.
Around that time was right when video had just come out. For our brands we were almost doing exclusively super branded content, which obviously I wasn't a big fan of for an Instagram account but it taught me how to take your content a little bit next level. When videos were first coming out everyone was just filming in the app and so the fact that it had music or I was editing together montages or something was not groundbreaking but most people weren't doing it.
In the early days of Instagram video I was able to grow a following pretty quickly just with my juggling and trick shot videos.
Liron Segev: It made you stand out because you weren't yet another me too doing something that everybody else was doing.
Josh Horton: Exactly.
Liron Segev: You found your own voice, you found your own way of doing it, and that obviously really struck with your community.
Josh Horton: Right. Then, where I was also able to find some success was I knew that people didn't want to watch a juggler. Juggling is what I've done my entire life but I've been able to branch out into world records, nine juggling world records and then trick shots too. I've been throwing things accurately my whole life and then when I was trying to create more engaging, more relatable videos to other people, I knew trick shots would be an easy way to do that and turns out I'm very good at them.
Liron Segev: Once again, tapping into something that you're good at, finding your passion, and just sharing it with the world.
Josh Horton: Exactly.
Liron Segev: There seems to be a community that really, really responds to that.
Josh Horton: Definitely.
Liron Segev: Take me through the time when you said, "Okay, there's this thing called YouTube, I know it, maybe I should transition towards that." What was that mindset like, why did you make that change?
Josh Horton: Right. That goes back to what we were talking about before of me wanting to enjoy this life and be able to make a living doing it. This was when I was still very much a performer, so I was doing a lot of NBA college halftime shows, corporate events during my juggling show and then I had probably 150,000 followers on Instagram. I'd obviously come into a couple brand deals and I was like, "Oh wow, you can make a living on social media!.
I knew that from working in the industry but that was never a goal of mine. I'd fallen into a couple of these brand deals, made a few bucks. I was like, "Man, it'd be really cool if I could make a living just doing these internet videos." Took a look at the industry and brand deals are great but they come and go, and they can go for a very long time where you have nothing and so you can't depend on them. I knew once you have a good YouTube following you can have that Ad revenue, which is much more steady, much more reliable, quote unquote reliable as we've all learned.
I knew YouTube was what I needed to do and I knew it was going to be a big undertaking. That was about two and a half years ago and I had probably, I think it was probably 10,000 subscribers just from being a juggler and posting videos when I was younger in the juggling community. I, again, was wanting to branch out not being just a juggler so when I started taking YouTube seriously I was doing world record Wednesdays, and I'm still doing that. Every Wednesday I've broken a world record for the last two and half years and I haven't missed an upload.
Liron Segev: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, just stop there. Every Wednesday you break a world record?
Josh Horton: Break or set, yeah.
Liron Segev: Wow, that's a lot of records.
Josh Horton: It's been a lot. It's a thing where I'm like I never know when I'm going to run out or if I'm going to regret this one day. Some days I do regret it but it's such a good series that the fans love. To get the response that you just gave it's a one sentence, better than my long tweet at the beginning when people say, "What do you do on your channel?" "I break a world record every Wednesday," that's a very easy elevator pitch.
Liron Segev: That's a taggage right there.
Josh Horton: I started just doing once a week so world record Wednesdays was the entire channel for nine months or so and then I started posting a little bit more so now I'm at three times a week. The last two years I've been doing three times a week.
Liron Segev: How do you find what this week's record is going to be? Is there a book that you're ticking off going from A to Z?
Josh Horton: No. There's a couple of places, the Guinness World Records Database online which has tons of stuff. They have stuff that has been set and there's an existing record but then they also have all these things that they have in their database that no one's attempted. They've laid out the rules and the minimum for it so we're able to say, "Hey, this is in the Guinness World Records Database, there has not been a record set yet. Their minimum for this record is so-and-so," yeah. I'm all about entertainment. I do have 16 official Guinness World Records titles.
Liron Segev: Oh, for the record, just to be clear.
Josh Horton: Just for the record. Sorry ladies, I'm married. Yeah, for the most part it's just entertainment for YouTube at this point. Having the world record Wednesday every Wednesday, it puts it in a category form where it makes brainstorming easier but also harder. I know what my realm of, it has to be a world record so that narrows it down but also, two and a half years in, a little bit more difficult. My goal for it as we do feature people a lot, other people, other talented people.
Liron Segev: Oh, I see, you bring in other talent?
Josh Horton: Yeah, pretty often, especially for world record Wednesdays. We'll feature someone who is the world's best. We did a girl who has whips so she can remove Jenga blocks with whips. She's super accurate with whips.
Josh Horton: We've done basketball people, we've done a guy who has a trained dog, all sorts of stuff. My goal for the channel is to get big enough to where people people are hitting me up all the time asking to be on the channel for the new world record, demonstrate their skill. We're not quite there yet but we're hitting up people all the time to try to get them as guests and the fans love that too because they're tired of seeing me, basically.
Liron Segev: There's 52 Wednesdays a year. It's not a big number, not in terms of massive, but you still have to find enough talent who can actually do it.
Josh Horton: Yeah, yeah.
Liron Segev: Do you film the whole process if they succeed or fail or do you just give the highlight reels of, "Hey, here's the final shot."
Josh Horton: No, we always show the process, that's kind of been another thing for the channel. The other thing, if I was to categorize my channel it would be a trick shot or sports channel unlike Dude Perfect. Dude Perfect puts together the most epic, perfect video of trick shots and that's not our style. We show the misses, we show the process, we show all of that.
Liron Segev: Keeping it real.
Josh Horton: Yeah. We love to show everything that happens, everything that goes into it and bring our fans along for that journey.
Liron Segev: You've done Instagram, you've now moved across to YouTube, you're building a community. What kind of tips would you have for us if somebody is thinking, "Hey, I've got the skill," maybe something that's not your typical YouTube thing. How would I start getting myself into that mindset that, actually, the skill that I have people would want to see it?
Josh Horton: There's a couple parts to that. I think part of it is showing the process, it's showing the personality. People only care about the skill to a certain degree once you get past that immediate community. If you like yo-yos, if you can be a great yo-yo player you can gain all of the yo-yo followers in the world but that number is going to stop at one point and then you're not going to be able to make a living doing it.
I know there's a lot of skateboarding channels that have tons of fans that are not skateboarders, they just love the process. They love seeing it, they love the personalities. I've done that with juggling but I also, I acknowledge that people weren't going to watch a juggling channel. I knew that juggling wasn't going to be something that applied to the masses and I've always loved sports. I love trick shots and so I don't feel like I'm betraying myself by not making a juggling channel because I still love what we're doing.
I think I did take, from the beginning, taking YouTube seriously with World Record Wednesdays I was like, "People are not going to watch a juggling channel. I need to branch out, I need to do something beyond what I'm just doing." I think the other thing would be to find something that is on brand with what you do on brand with your skill and then, yeah, just try to branch out a little bit, that would be more for the masses.
Liron Segev: I love Mike Boyd's channel, it's all about who he is, learn quick, and so his are all just learning skills. He's not skilled in one specific thing but his channel is about learning skills, which I love. Do you ever do teaching videos, how to's?
Josh Horton: I have a three ball tutorial online, it has 750,000 views, which is good for my channel but it's one of the things people are searching for it so they find it but people ask for tutorials all the time and it's just doesn't make sense for the channel anymore.
I've even thought about doing a separate channel for just tutorials or having a library of tutorials with a paywall, yeah. I'm still processing that, yeah.
Liron Segev: What about merch and things of that nature?
Josh Horton: We're working on Merch, yeah, we've been doing Teespring but we want to take it a little bit next level, I think, soon so we'll see. I do have a juggling store which does pretty well so I do sell juggling props and all sorts of other stuff as well; boomerangs, yo-yo's, unicycles, all sorts of stuff at jugglingwarehouse.com.
Liron Segev: I think that's what people want, is they want to be part of the community and being part of the community is actually owning a piece of that community. If it's a matter of supporting the creator by being able to do that, then why not?
Josh Horton: I love that ... It's not a juggling channel but I'm inspiring tons of people that juggle. I get messages almost daily saying they learned to juggle because of me and they bought their first set of balls. My most sold item is my beginner set of juggling balls and we sell multiple a day. It's a cool thing to be able to, to be giving back to the community where I started, all of this started because of juggling so I do like that.
I have had internal struggles like, "Am I giving up on juggling, am I betraying my talent and my passion that I started with?" I don't think I am because I'm just being smart about all of it and I'm still loving what I'm doing.
Liron Segev: As we wrap up, what's got you really, really excited at the moment?
Josh Horton: Well, YouTube has finally been taking off. I say that with an asterisk, we'll have a crazy week. Overall, YouTube has finally been doing well. I think in the last six months we've gone from 200,000 to 400,000 which has been great.
Liron Segev: Wow, wow, congratulations.
Josh Horton: Thank you. First 100k took a long time and even the second 100k took a while but the last 200 have come pretty quickly, which has been exciting.
Liron Segev: Have you found that you're finally in your groove, you found your niche, you know what works.
Josh Horton: You know what works, for the most part. It's still frustrating sometimes. We had my most viewed day of the channel ever and then six days later I had the lowest viewed day of the channel in nine months, which just doesn't make sense to me. Overall, the lows are much higher than they used to be so that's good, we're moving in the right direction and still gaining subs everyday so that's good.
Liron Segev: That's the whole thing of YouTube, just when you think you've got it figured out, you just don't. Or they go ahead and they change yet another thing.
Josh Horton: Yep.
Liron Segev: If people want to find you, they want to get ahold of you, what's the best way so we can have these in the show notes so nobody has to miss anything
Liron Segev: Fantastic. Josh, thanks very much for your time.
Josh Horton: You bet. Thank you.
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