Welcome to YouTube Millionaires, where we profile channels that have recently crossed the one million subscriber mark. There are channels crossing this threshold every week, and each has a story to tell about YouTube success. Read previous installments of YouTube Millionaires here.
Few YouTube channels are as singular in their focus as Saabkyle04. Kyle Lindsey, the channel’s creator and host, is a car lover of the highest caliber, and he provides his viewers with a seemingly endless supply of car reviews, test drives, and auto show vlogs. Lindsey does not discriminate; he has reviewed everything from the most luxurious Ferrari to the most timeless Pontiac to the most workmanlike Honda. No matter what vehicle he discusses, however, his tone is always fresh, imformative, and passionate.
After eight years of hard work and consistency, Saabkyle04 is now over one million subscribers. Here’s what Lindsey had to say about passing YouTube’s most significant mileage marker:
Tubefilter: How does it feel to have one million subscribers? What do you have to say to your fans
Kyle Lindsey: It’s indescribable! Back when I first started on YouTube, way before I began filming automotive reviews, I thought 100,000 subscribers was an impossible goal! It’s amazing how fast time flies. It’s also incredibly humbling to think of just how many folks have visited this channel over the years. Hitting the million mark was a fantasy dream that I never could have predicted back when I decided to take YouTube on full time. In fact, I graduated with my Doctorate in Pharmacy in 2013. To this day, I have no regrets of putting my Pharmacy career on the back burner, it was a risk I was willing to take to see if I could take my channel to new heights.
With about 460 million video views and counting, I know I have found my niche and my place in the automotive world. I cannot begin to thank everyone enough for the support they have shown me and for allowing me to do what I love to do as a career! I get to test cars for a living, how crazy is that?!
TF: How do you choose which cars to review, and how do you get access to the ones you want to test drive?
KL: In the early days, I would source my cars from dealerships and owners. Occasionally, I’d even go to auto auctions to see what kind of unique things might be lying around. I first started out filming my walkarounds and test drives at my Dad’s dealership, Car Connections, Inc in Reidsville, NC. My long term subscribers are well aware of this, especially from the cold start videos I used to shoot there!
When I got into pharmacy school, that’s when my dealership relationships began to really flourish. As the channel grew, the opportunities got better. Not only was I still trying to maintain my films of unique older vehicles, I was also getting access to Mercedes-Benz dealers, plus BMW, Audi, and even higher end marques like Aston Martin and Lamborghini. It wasn’t until 2011 that I received my first press car (week-long tester provided by the manufacturer), and that’s when I knew I was onto something special.
After I graduated Pharmacy School in May 2013, I started traveling more and receiving invites to media drives, conventions and other insane opportunities (Gumball 3000, 2014, Miami to Ibiza!) I currently work with a handful of companies that deliver my weekly test vehicles, including Prestige, Drive Shop, and Performance Logistics. Prestige has been bringing me weekly vehicles since early 2015 and really allows me to take what I do to even greater heights that I never thought possible. Of course, I’m still searching for unique vehicles to film, I still have a ton of dealership relations and it seems like I’m hopping on planes more often now than ever before. It’s good to be busy! Within reason, I can pretty much source any vehicle, the only caveat is that there’s simply not enough hours in a day!
TF: What is a common misconception people have about the automotive world?
KL: I think the biggest misconception people have of the automotive world is that it can seem intimidating, unless you’ve already been apart of it for some time. This couldn’t be further from the truth as I believe the car community, especially on YouTube, is one of the strongest communities out there. That’s what I’ve tried to build with my channel over the years. This channel caters to the automotive enthusiast who simply loves cars, no matter their background, financial status, or personal preferences.
TF: Would you say your videos are more for entertainment or conveying information to consumers?
KL: Primarily to convey information, but of course it has to be entertaining to a degree, this is YouTube after all! My goal with this channel is to always provide a service to folks. When they watch my reviews, I want them to learn everything they ever wanted to know about their favorite vehicles. Plus, I shoot my videos the way I do to make you feel like you’re there in person so you can see every little detail and explain what makes each and every car special in their own way.
TF: How do you balance those two concepts?
KL: There’s the tricky part! When it comes to making videos, the content needs to carry a certain degree of excitement regardless, but not everything carries the same level of excitement. There’s always a market for car videos and people’s tastes are very diverse. There’s a lot of people who enjoy seeing supercar content, but there’s also a lot that enjoy regular cars. I’ve always tried to position my channel as having the most automotive variety. In other words, I try to upload a little of everything (SUVs, cars, trucks, wagons, classics, exotics, etc.) No matter what your favorite genre of vehicle is, I guarantee you’ll find something you like on my channel. Unless I announce it beforehand on social media, I upload from my cache of videos at random. For example, within a month, I uploaded reviews on the 2017 Bugatti Chiron, the 2017 Hyundai Elantra and even a 1994 Porsche 928GTS!
TF: How do you think the rise of YouTube has had an impact on the automotive world?
KL: It’s had a tremendous impact! Many folks who are interested in learning about cars, whether that be for simple enjoyment or researching a future purchase, turn to YouTube. I don’t think print journalism will ever go out of style, but videos are such an interactive experience. Again, that’s what I wanted to do with my content, make it as interactive and immersive of an experience as possible. The other nice thing is that, with YouTube, you have the ultimate freedom to make content the way you want to. That’s why, despite being pretty saturated, the automotive space on YouTube has flourished due to the diversity of personalities and styles.
TF: What do you think is the most significant change that has occurred on YouTube since you launched your channel?
KL: Even to this day, I think the most important thing that led to my channel taking off in the first place is being part of the YouTube Partner Program. When I first got accepted in early 2010, it not only allowed me to make revenue off of my videos, but I was able to make longer videos, uniquely brand the channel and more. As many folks know, my content has always been long-form! By not having time limits, I can be more free to capture and explain as necessary and tailor the video length as appropriate. Being able to earn Ad revenue from the videos has also allowed me to turn this into a career.
YouTube has changed a lot over the years, some of it certainly was for the better, while some of it can pose challenges for content creators. How you adapt to the changes makes a big difference in your long term success. The thing that means the most to me is that creators have more contact with YouTube than ever before. Their “customer service” has improved so significantly that it almost makes the concept of Multichannel Networks seem obsolete when it comes to having that one-on-one interaction.
TF: As for your channel specifically, how do you think it has evolved over the years?
KL: My channel originally started out with the “In Depth Tour”, which was a simple walk around that showed all of the little details of each car. There was no production value, no fancy equipment, and no high definition (makes me feel old!) As the channel grew, the content had to evolve. With nicer cars, especially supercars, I knew I needed to go the extra mile and explain why such a car was so special and why it cost what it cost. I eventually started applying that concept to each and every vehicle I filmed. No matter if it’s a 1980s Chevrolet or a brand new Bugatti, each video had the same pattern of information provided. This leads to greater consistency, which I believe is another important thing to maintain on YouTube.
I treat each and every day as a learning process. There’s always ways you can improve, whether that be camera angles, writing, or time management. The two things I pride myself on the most is how much my writing and videography has improved! I’ve also gotten quite handy with Final Cut Pro. I film the videos in a way that I would want to watch them, of course taking feedback from all of my subscribers on what they want to see as well.
More recently, I’ve been working on trimming video length quite a bit. Unless it’s a special video, keeping the reviews between 15 and 20 minutes is my goal. I want to make the content more quick hitting and entertaining, without sacrificing all of the special bits that people have come to know and love over the years. Also, I’ve been working on incorporating a lot more vlog content such as project cars, road trips, auto shows and more. Keeping with the variety theme, I want people to find joy in this channel, whether they like reviews or vlogs or both.
TF: Beyond cars, what are some of your other interests?
KL: Is there anything else beyond cars? Haha. I love hanging out with my friends and family, taking trips with my wife Christal and dabbling in some Xbox. YouTube consumes most of my free time nowadays, but you always have to try and make time for yourself and not get so caught up in everything. Trust me, it’s easy to do!
TF: What’s next for your channel? Any fun plans?
KL: This past year has been a roller coaster of emotions as the channel approached that million subscriber mark. Soooo many amazing things have happened this year that I cannot imagine how crazy 2017 will be. Right now, I plan on continuing to hone in on my perfect video format while fully modernizing and updating the channel. I’ve also had a new website for about a year now that allows everyone who visits to learn about “SK04” and the team that makes everything possible.
As far as the fun stuff, I just recently purchased a 1989 Nissan 240SX that I’m building a project car series around and I’ll be testing out the 2017 Camaro ZL1 next week. Next year, we’re planning some big things that I don’t want to give away quite yet, but know that myself and the rest of the SK04 team are continuously working hard to come up with new ideas, keep things fresh, and of course delivering the best content possible!