How I Earned $6,000 From a YouTube Video

When reviewing my sales in November, I was delighted to discover I’d earned so much money from a 6-minute YouTube video that I’d recently uploaded. Now I want to take you behind the scenes and reveal how I developed the underlying strategy that led to this great result.

Let’s Get Clear About Something First  

There’s no one-size-fits-all formula, so I can’t give you a template you can simply swipe.
My intention is to give you something even better. I want to empower you to cut through the confusing advice and get your creative juices pumping, so you can create a method that works for you.
As entrepreneurs, we get conflicting advice. We’re told to share our expertise in order to help potential clients get to know, like, and trust us. At the same time, we’re reminded to value our expertise and not give it away.
What should you do?

A Piece Of Advice: Start With Yourself

Start with your own business and values. Develop a strategy that’s right for you and those you serve.
This sounds so obvious, but. . . .
Many entrepreneurs get paralyzed with indecision when faced with the conflicting advice about giving away and not giving away content.
Others waste hundreds of hours posting 5 tweets a day, 2 daily Facebook updates, and weekly blog posts—only to realize no one is reading them.
They were just following someone else’s advice.
Don’t do it!
You need to invest in training and coaching, but you have to start with yourself and your mission. Everything you do must radiate from your core. Integrate tips that resonate with your vision.  Adapt strategies so they work for your specific needs.

Do You Have This Problem?

When I left my position as a full-time college English professor to start Get Yourself Into College, Inc., I enrolled in Laura Roeder’s Creating Fame course.
Laura teaches you how to become the go-to-expert in your field and emphasizes the importance of providing free content on a regular basis.
I loved this idea and developed a 6-month calendar with monthly themes and specific topics for my weekly blog posts.
The problem?
I didn’t have time to write weekly posts. 
People recommended outsourcing my blog writing, but I wasn’t willing to do that because my business is rooted in communication and self-expression.
Others advised dashing off more posts by writing shorter ones with titles like “3 Ways to Avoid Making This Huge Mistake in Your College Application Essays.”  But I wanted to provide in-depth articles that didn’t ignore the complexity of the college admissions process.  I wanted my style to reflect my method.
Can you relate? Have you been given advice that doesn’t exactly suit your style?

The Solution Is To Listen

No, not to their advice.
Listen to what’s working in your business. That’s what I decided to do.
I realized that an increasing number of students were discovering me through my YouTube videos.
I kept hearing things like:
“As a rising senior, I recently found your videos on YouTube and came upon your website and read through your blogs. I really enjoyed all your tips! Can you help me with my college applications?”
“I’m very impressed with your YouTube video on how to answer the worst alumni interview question. Can you help my daughter prepare for her interview?”

  • My audience doesn’t care that I’m not writing or uploading videos every week.
  • One path towards working with me looks like this: watch a video, check out my blog posts, maybe look at the descriptions of the Get Yourself Into College™ programs, email or call me, and hire me.
  • The students contacting me are my “ideal” students.
  • Giving away high-quality content is bringing in more business.
  • It’s better to put together one video, blog post, or email every month than it is to worry about living up to someone else’s idea that I should be pumping out things every week.

 It wasn’t until this year that I started systematically tracking my sales.
That’s when I discovered my YouTube video on writing a college application essay about an environment where you feel perfectly content was directly responsible for bringing 3 new students into my comprehensive Get Yourself Into College™ program.

Money And Your Mission

Making money is important.  I have a family to support. I want to provide my daughter with extraordinary opportunities to pursue her interests and have our version of the good life. But money isn’t the only thing.
Get Yourself Into College, Inc. emerged out of a few underlying principles, which inform the way I run the company.
I’m on a mission to transform the overwhelming college application process into a meaningful, exciting, and empowering experience. I believe all motivated students deserve access to high-quality guidance and am committed to finding ways to provide them with it.
Providing free content is essential to my mission.
My video on the “Perfectly Content” application essay has been viewed over 5,500 times. Three students have joined my comprehensive program directly from watching that video.

How do I feel? Fabulous!
It’s totally fine with me that lots of high school students who are watching my videos will never work with me.
I’m thrilled to get comments like:
“Thank you Dr. Bernstein, this is extremely helpful! I am applying to Boston University and I feel like I can more efficiently write my essay now :).”
I’m making money, offering service, and fulfilling my mission.

How to Develop Your Strategy For Providing Free Content 

You can’t give everything away for free, so it’s important to figure out what you feel comfortable sharing for free and which details you should reserve for clients.
Honestly, I don’t have a set-in-stone system for sharing. I’m constantly experimenting.
At first, I felt any content related to college application essays should be reserved for students who enter the Get Yourself Into College™ online program or work with me privately.
Then, my focus was on sharing advice about preparing for alumni interviews and positioning yourself for merit-based scholarships. I know that at least five other families hired me as a direct result of the alumni interviewing video.
Eventually, I wanted to upload some videos about application essays. Would it hurt sales or would it help them? I was curious. It worked. Now I’m trying to figure out the next step. It’s a process.
One thing is for sure. I’m adamant about not “teasing” anyone with my free content. Each video must stand on its own and give students lots of tips they can use even if they don’t join the online program or work directly with me.

I’d love to learn about your own experiences striking a balance between free and paid content. If you’ve got questions about strategies related to YouTube videos and how to use them to direct traffic to your site, share them here in the comments, and I’ll respond.

Curious about the videos?
CLICK HERE to check out the video on how to write a college application essay about a place where you feel perfectly content.
CLICK HERE to see the video on alumni interviewing techniques.

Jennifer Bernstein

Dr. Jennifer Bernstein is the president and founder of Get Yourself Into College, Inc. Get free access to “What Really Matters to Admissions Officers (and Why):Surprising Facts About What You Need to Be Doing in 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th Grade” by visiting her website. If you are interested in becoming an affiliate for the online Get Yourself Into College™ program, send her an email at [email protected]

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  1. Cindy M.

    Jennifer, congratulations for having the courage to truly be an authentic entrepreneur. Well done!

  2. Mary Witt

    I’m so glad you offer real tips and not just enticements to sign up for paid info. I received several newsletters from someone whom I thought was going to give helpful information. Eventually I noticed there was nothing of value in the newsletters. She just wanted people to purchase some of the things she had written. I unsubscribed.

    • Jennifer

      Advertising is a great thing, but as you point out, it feels a bit deceptive to make a newsletter (that’s supposed to have “news”) really just an ad for your business. You might as well just send people an email that is an ad. As a reader, I’d feel better about that. Of course, there’s that issue of balance. If you’re consistently providing truly substantial content, then it feels okay to let people know when you have a special promotion or offer. :-))

  3. Deborah Watson-Novacek

    What a great article, Jennifer – thank you! I’m just now getting into product development, and this helps me out on many levels.

    • Jennifer


      What kind of product development are you getting into?

  4. Elena Forbes

    Awesome advice Jennifer…and exactly what I needed to hear right now!

  5. ling |

    Really great advise and I love your approach of doing what is right for YOU. There is no one size fits all solution and we should not be “sold” that there is one.

    I also have an experience of making $4,000 off a very raw and honest blog post, a very good indication that being honest, transparent and fully ourselves is the best way to go.

    Good reminder that we gotta listen to our GUTS and good things will follow!

    • Jennifer

      Congrats on that blog post! It’s interesting because it seems to be hard for people to market programs without making them seem like they’re the “one” thing–the total solution. You do have to offer a solution, but you also want smart clients who can adapt the underlying method to their specific circumstances. 🙂

  6. Vicky Lyashenko

    Great Article, Jennifer! I completely agree that giving away free content will not hurt you but bring you more sales! I also have a personal experience with that. I had ideal clients emailing me and asking to schedule our first consultation without even asking my prices, education, credibility, or anything. The first time I experienced it, I cried! I couldn’t believe it!

    I truly believe that video is the best sales funnel. I’ve got clients email me saying “Vicky, I watched a your videos, I’m sold. Let’s book our first session!” Isn’t that incredible?

    I’m super happy for your success and wish you much much more in 2015!

    Thank you for writing such a great article!

    • Jennifer


      YES! It feels so good when the “ideal” people start reaching out to you. Everything feels like it’s falling into place and it’s a win-win situation.


  7. Edita

    Jennifer, I love your blog post! These are absolutely fabulous insights into many entrepreneurs’ dilemma of balance between the amount of free content offered and creating self-respecting boundaries.

    I couldn’t agree more with your advice to listen to yourself first. Although I received incredible value from many training programs, the real shift in my business happened when I dared not to follow any “success template” or a “marketing secret” or to even do the exact opposite at times- simply because it made sense in my own circumstances at any given time.

    And absolutely yes to a never ending experimentation! I now really enjoy to quickly figure out if an experiment is working or not, and even faster move on without regrets. Thanks for opening up this discussion!

    • Jennifer


      It really is liberating to realize that there is no one absolute “right” way of striking a balance between free and paid content. It’s an ongoing experiment, and what works and feels right at one time might not work or feel right later. This reality keeps you on your toes and demands being in tune with the present moment.

      Thanks for sharing your perspective!

  8. Jackie Crino, MBA, M.S.

    Awesome article! As a digital marketing strategist and someone who feels that many popular marketing figures [unintentionally] wrongly influence the direction of many entrepreneurs, I couldn’t agree with this article more! Creating quality content on a weekly basis for many entrepreneurs (especially those in the earlier stages) can be a very timely task. I’ve been there! This investment of time can almost always be better spent in your core business and on content creation that can get in front of the biggest audiences in your target market. Thank you for this article, Jennifer! Very inspiring!!! 🙂

    • Jennifer

      I totally agree with you about focusing on your core business and content creation. Sometimes it seems like people get overwhelmed by these essential projects and let themselves get distracted by spending their time following other people’s advice about social media and other online activities. One thing I really love about Laura Roeder’s approach is that she has a clear vision about what’s worked for her business, but doesn’t make it sound like everyone has to follow her “one” way. 🙂


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