From Banker to Real Estate YouTuber - Fighting the Algorithm with Matt BrightonJan 09, 2023
👍 Subscribers: 38,400
📺 Views: 1,641,794
What’s your background and why did you start YouTube? What motivated you to get started with YouTube?
Hey there, my name is Matt Brighton from the UK, at the time of taking the Part-Time YouTuber Academy I was working for a bank in London and it’s quite crazy to think how much things have changed writing this 12 months on from that fateful decision to join the course.
Almost a year on, I have a growing YouTube channel with over 22,000 subscribers, landed a new job working fully remote thanks to a recommendation from a fellow coursemate, an invite to LA to brush shoulders with the Netflix’s Selling Sunset gang and going on a TV show on Sky that’s coming out later this year. You couldn’t make this stuff up… most importantly, I met some genuinely great friends who are still in touch today on a daily basis through our Whatsapp group and who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting up with in London.
I had been thinking of starting a YouTube channel but never really knew what to do. I didn’t want to be another ‘vlogger’ trying to make it big like so many have tried and failed before. It wasn’t until I discovered Ali back in around March 2020 just as the pandemic hit and instantly fell in love with Ali’s approach to YouTube and opened me up to the world of education on youtube where you can still create a brand and build an amazing community of like minded people by sharing your passions.
At the same time I was becoming more passionate about property investing and planning my ambitions on building up a property business to go full time in the future to break away from the traditional 9-5.
After discovering Ali at around 600k subscribers and falling in love with his style of presenting, giving information and making videos - it convinced me that I don’t need to be another run off the mill vlogger or cinematography expert, and instead could talk about my passions and document my own journey of personal finance and property investing all from my desk, I put two and two together and that’s what gave me the nudge to get started. I wanted to treat YouTube like a business and take it seriously so I formed a plan to build a community around property & finance and be an amateur in public, learning as I go to help educate and inspire others wanting to do the same thing.
Tell us about your journey on YouTube so far - what’s the current state of play of the channel?
It’s almost been a full year on YouTube and I’m glad that I’m still here posting videos on a weekly basis, I’ve had a tonne of ups and downs but looking back, it’s been great and I have no regrets. I’ve been through a few ‘phases’ on the channel already, reacting to the data and trying to make sure I’m pushing the channel in a positive direction and building a sustainable community of engaged people.
Funnily enough, as I was a bit scared to post on YouTube at the start, I bought some gear and created a Skillshare class first about how I became a top-rated seller on Fiverr.com to test out my filming and editing skills to what I thought was a smaller audience, and unexpectedly - that class now makes around $1300 a month, I’m an ‘upcoming featured’ teacher on the website and it makes more than YouTube!
Why did you decide to create content on property rather than finance?
I had been renting in London for a few years and worked out I had spent £30,000 on rent over those years so knew I needed to buy. Having recently bought a 2 bed flat near the city, I started renting out my spare room and got the bug for property investing after understanding and experiencing the power of it. So the first angle to this was that property was something I was actively learning, becoming more passionate about and wanted to ‘show my work’ in the famous words of Austin Kleon. The second angle was picking a niche, there’s a famous phrase that you need to ‘niche down to blow up’ on YouTube, I’m still not sure it’s 100% true but it’s a great way to get started. I knew property investing in the UK would be way less competitive, it was relevant to me so I wouldn’t get bored of it and become demotivated which was crucial. As a result, it meant that I found it quite easy to start building a specific targeted audience who become loyal, binging my videos, sending me amazing DM’s on Instagram and making me realise quickly it was all worth it!
What happened when you ventured into the crypto space?
I was watching a masterclass on the course run by VidIQ and they were looking at Google Trends tool to help identify new niches, when I looked up property investing versus bigger niches like personal finance, stocks and crypto - of course they were WAY bigger. It did get me thinking… if a video blew up on property, it might get about 10 - 20k views which isn’t huge because it is very niche. So I wanted to try and branch out a little bit to try my hand at getting a viral video in a bigger audience, this choice was a blessing and a curse. A fellow coursemate had a crypto channel that inspired me to look at some of the meme tokens that were very popular in the crypto space. I did some research and found most videos in this niche felt quite spammy with lots of ‘pump and dump’ style videos that I’d say were very unethical.
I wanted to do something different and spotted a gap to neutrally and simply explain more about the tokens and coins to help people understand the pros and the cons before investing their money into them. I made 5 - 6 videos, all of which all blew up to some degree, these videos generated around 1 million views to my channel and in the space of 3 weeks. I exploded from 2k loyal subscribers to over 20,000 which was incredible. After 6 months of hard work and making 2 videos a week I had just become monetised and saw my daily earnings shoot up to around £600 a day at the peak, in total I made about £10,000 or $12,000 from YouTube AdSense as well as some affiliate income through links on my video descriptions in those few weeks.
I couldn’t believe I felt like I had made it… but at the same time, I realised I had also made a huge mistake.
Why did you decide to delete your most popular videos?
I was closely watching my analytics after basking in the revenue tab of the YouTube studio to see that my engagement plummeted, the new subscribers weren’t engaging with the rest of the channel and I realised that sustainable growth on YouTube is incredibly important. I made the mistake of jumping on a trend, and even though financially it was great… it definitely hurt my channel.
I learnt that as much as people try to optimise for the algorithm, you SHOULD be making videos for people and humans. What happened is in the crypto space, there are very passionate dedicated people who ONLY care about the crypto they’ve invested in. So this new audience wasn’t watching my finance videos, property videos which of course looked bad.
I was uploading non-crypto videos and getting 300 - 400 views which was really odd when my channel had hit over 20k subscribers, the engagement was low and every video was a 10/10 on the YouTube studio meaning they were getting progressively worse.
I made the decision, after the videos settled, to remove the popular crypto videos - they were bringing in around 15 - 20 subscribers a day after blowing up but the problem was, these new subscribers weren’t interested in any of my other videos. You want the opposite of this, you want people to find your channel and binge your videos which increases their session length time which is golden for the algorithm.
My theory was that If I took down the videos and focused back onto property, I could rebuild an audience who start watching video after video and become dedicated subscribers who watch every new upload and by scaling back and growing slower and more sustainably, when / if the next blow-up happens, it will be for all the right reasons and bring in the right kind of audience.
How do you feel about your channel now?
It’s been about 3 months since creating my ‘disaster recovery’ strategy for my channel and things are looking really positive. My channel before the viral videos when I had a dedicated audience was showing that on average my subscribers were watching 2.2 videos a month out of the 8 I was publishing (obviously, the higher this is, the better!) and it dropped as low as 0.8 after the channel blew up which was bad.
Instead, I went down 1 video a week, rather than making 2 videos a week and since then my channel is now back up to around 1.8 average views per viewer, but bearing in mind I’m publishing 4 videos a month, this means that my subscribers are watching almost 50% of my content which is higher than before! I’m starting to see some new 1/10 videos, the comments are coming back and I’m rebuilding a way more sustainable, positive community, I’d say I’ve got a few more months ahead to bring this up to a great level and hopefully one day, the algorithm rewards me with some strong growth, but for the moment it’s slow and steady… but I’m in it for the long game and making all my videos for humans.
Have there been any second order effects of starting your YouTube channel and repurposing your content?
I repurposed a YouTube short onto both Instagram and TikTok for a bit of fun and one day I was on my Instagram and spotted somebody with a blue tick had left a comment and dropped me a DM, funnily enough I didn’t know who it was at the time. After posting it in our course whatsapp group I found out that it was the fiance of one of the Selling Sunset gang (a famous series on Netflix if you haven’t heard of it). Long story short, I ended up having a meeting with one of the business partners who had a property investment and development company over in LA and they were looking to expand in the UK at some point this year, so we had a great chat over Zoom and I gave them a whirlwind overview of what property is like over the pond.
Funnily enough, they commented that I had given them more value than ‘so called professionals’ which goes to show how sometimes, being an amateur can be so much better and relatable to others also starting out.
Off the back of it, I have an open invite to LA in the future where I’m sure they’d roll out the red carpet ;) I asked in return, when they’re set up in the UK with money to spend, that I’d love to pitch some projects to them to get some private investment into my own company and projects which they were happy to oblige, which is awesome!
Regardless of the issues that you’ve faced in the past couple of months, you’ve still grown really well, what’s been the key to this growth?
Despite blowing up in the ‘wrong’ way as I would describe it, I’ve always made sure to provide value in every video I create, to give some kind of information away to the viewer that changes their thinking or helps them in some way. By dropping enough of these across the videos I’ve been able to build a fantastic little community of people, at the moment I’m focusing on building a proper numbered series to increase ‘binge-ability’ where I’m documenting the purchase and refurbishment of my first buy-to-let property which will be 10+ parts by the time it is finished.I’m a firm believer that by generating longer session times on YouTube for the viewers by creating great, engaging, genuine content, the algorithm will, at some point, notice this and begin to push your videos more and more as it sees the pattern of viewers watching your videos.
I could sit here and say that it’s about creating great videos, clickbait titles, great thumbnails or that there’s a special formula to guarantee how to blow up or have a viral video, but actually it’s just showing up again, and again. Keep pushing out those videos every week and keep turning up. You’ll learn what works, what doesn’t work and as you create more videos your analytics in the YouTube studio will help you work out how to provide the best content for your audience.
What are your goals for the future? How have your goals changed?
When starting my YouTube channel, I didn’t really know what would happen, of course it’s impossible to predict what’s going to happen. I just wanted to keep pushing videos out and hope that I’d have some form of progress. Now I’ve seen the power of YouTube and making a silly amount of money when those crypto videos exploded, I realise how incredible the platform can be.
For the future, I want to continue building a property audience but also keep chucking in bigger generic business / personal finance videos to try and build out my audience bigger, that being said my audience doesn’t have to be huge, I don’t particularly need millions of subscribers because all it takes is one potential investor to discover my channel and that’s potentially someone prepared to invest 6 figures into a property development project with me which is worth a lot more than adsense. I’ve already met lots of great contacts and had people reach out.
Now I’ve had a year to build the channel, my only goal is to keep going and take whatever happens. Looking back, it’s been a bit of a crazy year although it hasn’t quite felt like it at times. Either way, YouTube is massively helping my property business, I’m making additional streams of income and ultimately over the past year it helped me make over $20,000 in total which will be put into my next property investment project.
Would you do anything differently if you were to start again?
My coursemates asked this same question on the crypto videos that blew up. Now the ad revenue was incredible and I’ve got an extra $12,000 in my business bank account because of it, so I can’t really regret that. However I do sort of wish I could get rid of my non-engaged crypto subscribers and shrink the channel a bit. If I was going to truly start again I would focus on creating more playlist style content. Everybody I’ve observed recently on YouTube have blown up because their audience have watched the next video, and the next.I would also stop trying to optimise so much for SEO and search and instead just make videos for humans, meaning titles that make people click and try and get my videos pushed more through suggested and recommended which is how videos truely go big on YouTube.
One piece of advice for YouTubers just starting out?
Just start, it really is the hardest part. I remember filming the first video and it felt super weird talking to a camera. It’s easy to make excuses or put it off, or be worried that you don’t have the best gear but smart phones are really good these days and I film a lot of my b-roll and on-the-road shots using an iPhone rather than lugging my full camera around.
Where can we go to learn more about you?
Feel free to check out my YouTube channel, you can find me over on Instagram or follow my property newsletter over on my website.
Lastly, how did PTYA help you?
It gave me the confidence to properly get started and enjoy the journey on YouTube rather than worrying too much about the destination. I could never have planned or anticipated what happened after starting so everything beyond that is purely a bonus. YouTube takes hard work and time and there’s never any guarantees, we don’t control the algorithm (unfortunately!) and there’s no secret sauce to create a viral video, otherwise we’d all have millions of views on each video! The course gave me a solid foundation, friends and the confidence to increase my serendipity and experience some awesome opportunities over the past year as a result.