Welcome to Creators Going Pro, where in partnership with Semaphore — a creator-focused family of companies providing business and financial services to social media professionals — we profile professional YouTube stars who have hit it big by doing what they love. Each week, we’ll chat with a creator about the business side of their channel, including identifying their Semaphore Moment — the moment they truly went pro.
Going into business with family doesn’t work out for everyone, but for YouTuber and esports investor Preston Arsement, running the business behind his four YouTube channels with his parents, his wife Brianna, and his siblings is straight-up “amazing.”
Together, the Arsements produce content for his main channel PrestonPlayz (which is Minecraft-focused and has 7.6 million subscribers) and his side channels TBNRFrags (Fortnite-focused, 3.3 million subs), PrestonRoblox (Roblox, 754,000 subscribers), and PrestonMinecraft (Minecraft Pocket Edition, 159,000), a channel he shares with fellow Creators Going Pro featuree LogDotZip. They also manage his merch shop, PrestonsStylez.
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Arsement has been on YouTube since 2010, and has amassed a massive audience, with the total view count across all of his channels averaging more than 100 million each month. (He also has a significant audience on other social channels too — nearly 800,000 followers on Instagram, and 1.8 million on Twitter.)
And YouTube viewers aren’t the only ones to recognize Arsement’s gaming prowess. He recently invested in and partnered with esports organization Team Envy, and will produce Envy-branded content across his channels.
As his audience continues to grow — his PrestonPlayz channel alone pulls in between 5,000 and 10,000 new subscribers per day — Arsement is sitting down with Tubefilter to talk about how he went from casual gamer to the center of a major business at just 24 years old.
Tubefilter: Tell us about your background! When did you start gaming? How did you get into esports? What about YouTube?
Preston Arsement: I started gaming at the young age of four! My lovely mother (who’s now the CEO of our tech and gaming company) bought me a Sega Genesis console with Sonic the Hedgehog. I started playing Call of Duty 4 when I was 12 on the PC (just regular public match making servers) and somehow met someone who was part of a Call of Duty clan who wanted to recruit me to compete in online scrimmages against other clans. I’ve always been extremely competitive, and love video games, so it was a perfect fit!
Honestly speaking, when the YouTube platform launched, I was 12 years old. The main thing I watched were Runescape gaming videos, most of which had music and no audio commentary, so it wasn’t very personal — but still a blast to watch! One of my favorites from back then was Elvemage PK a Runescape YouTuber who would go around the wilderness fighting other players.
Tubefilter: What made you decide to join YouTube over other platforms? Did you join with the intention to cultivate a popular channel?
PA: To be honest, YouTube was the only video platform I knew of at the time. After watching HuskyStarcraft upload videos where he shoutcasted professional Starcraft 2 matches (I was a huge Starcraft nerd growing up as a kid), I tried to mimic his style of commentary with Starcraft 2 replays and let me tell ya, it was not easy! I gained a nice zero subscribers from that venture. I think you always join a platform with the intention of cultivating some sort of audience — I just had no idea how I was going to do it.
Tubefilter: You gained 20,000 subscribers after uploading just 18 videos. How did you build an audience so quickly?
PA: Haha, so about that… I may or may not have had hundreds of prior uploads that I deleted once my channel started to gain traction. Reason being, I felt they just were not up to my quality standards for the new audience I was starting to build. I said a lot of prayers to God, started really putting in the hours (16-18 a day or so) and grinded Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.
I started a popular series, MOAB with Every Gun, which meant I would have to get 24 kills in a row without dying in order to get the “MOAB” (it was a bomb device built into the Modern Warfare 3 game that would go off and wipe out the enemy team). Machinima, a large entertainment company, thought the series would fit perfectly on their relatively new Machinima Respawn YouTube channel, and the rest was history! It was seriously answered prayers — I had been praying in specific to become a part of the Machinima family, and specifically a Machinima Respawn director (allowing me to post a weekly series on their channel, which I was paid for and helped my channel grow).
Tubefilter: When did you get your first check for online video revenue? How much was it? What about your first check outside of AdSense $?
PA: Oh man… I don’t even remember when I received my first check, or for how much it was. It must have been around $10 or so — I remember using it to buy a Whataburger meal (my favorite Texas fast food chain) and thinking to myself, “I made this money doing what I love… playing video games.”
My first check outside of AdSense came much later, when I entered into a referral partnership with the company Gungho. Essentially, the product was an “energy gel shot” similar to a 5-hour Energy in the form of a sweet gel. I quite liked the product, actually, and so did most of the people who used my referral link. It ended up becoming a nice slice of incoming outside of my streaming/YouTube revenue.
Tubefilter: Have you had any sponsorships/partnerships? Can you talk about how you connected with those sponsors/partners?
PA: We’ve actually been blessed with SO many lately, it’s hard to keep up! To name a few: Hot Pockets, Toyota, Main Event, Disney… The list really just goes on. Most of the time, companies will reach out to me via Twitter or business email.
In early 2017, I was introduced to a talent manager Reed Duchscher who had previously worked with Dude Perfect but wanted to get involved with gaming influencers. Since then, Reed and I have worked with a plethora of new brands — not to mention we ended up becoming best friends, and he was a groomsman in my wedding.
Tubefilter: When was that Semaphore Moment for you—the first time you realized you were a professional YouTube creator?
PA: Probably when I saw how bright some of the kids’ faces would get when I met them randomly in public or at an event. It really gives me genuine happiness to meet the amazing viewers that make what we do possible. I had no idea when I joined YouTube back in 2010 that I would be in this blessed of a position or be this large of an influence and a role model to such a young, intelligent audience. Although, I gotta admit — I did pray (and work) really hard to make my dream a reality — having YouTube as a full-time job!
Tubefilter: You recently partnered with Team Envy — congratulations! What’s it like working with an esports team?
PA: Thankfully, I’m not a professional player for their organization, which means I just get to show up at events and have fun! No stress of competing. The Envy family is amazing, so nice, charismatic and down-to-earth. I love having an excuse to go meet with them in Dallas. Since I’m a minority owner of Envy, there’s not a lot of day-to-day tasks!
Tubefilter: Tell us about your business! How many employees do you have, and what’s it like to work with your family?
PA: Currently, we sit at 13 employees (and I’ve lost track of how many independent contractors we work with). We have a content manager — he helps me with branding deals, filming, and scheduling videos for our four channels, planning the content for those four channels… Basically everything I do, except for filming!
Two handsome men who are full-time editors — one is in California and works remotely, and one here in our Texas office. My mother, Jaye Arsement, and father, David Arsement, joined the company in 2015 as CEO and COO. This whole thing would not be possible without them — they are AMAZING! My mother had a lot of prior business experience (with AT&T/Southwestern Bell), and my father is a retired Air Force veteran of 28 years. So, as you can imagine, we make a pretty awesome team!
Oh, and my lovely wife Brianna Arsement helps with my day-to-day tasks as well as appearing in a lot of our content (she’s the real deal — some of the videos we film together have reached over five million views in less than a week). There’s also so many other amazing team members who run our merchandising company (we do everything local and in-house), I just can’t fit them all into here.
Tubefilter: What’s your filming/posting schedule like? Do you take days off? How do you balance YouTube and your home life? Have you ever struggled with burnout?
PA: We used to post every single day on all four channels. As you could imagine, that was extremely stressful for myself and our team… not to mention my voice! We wanted something more doable, so now we’ve scaled down to posting four days per week. Usually Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.
If I do get around to taking a day off, it’s usually Saturday. I’m a Messianic Christian (fancy term for Christian Jew essentially who observes Old and New Testament readings), so I like to chill hardcore on this day, play video games, go to church, and spend time with the wife. I’ve been learning a lot about balance lately, and let me tell ya, it’s not easy! Every day, I’m learning and growing on how to better spend my time and find that balance — it’s probably one of the most difficult things for me, since my lovely wife will describe me as a workaholic.
I’ve struggled with burnout before on numerous occasions, and usually for me, a small one or two-day getaway, watching anime or playing video games with friends, is enough to bring me back to my senses and to realize I just didn’t have enough balance in my life.
Tubefilter: What’s next for you and your channels? What are you building toward?
PA: That’s a fantastic question. YouTube is evolving and changing so rapidly, it can be really hard to keep up and to plan out your future. For me, I would like to one day see our main channel PrestonPlayz become more of a live-action channel, where I film predominantly real-life content with my wife, friends, and family (I forgot to mention above my siblings are a huge part of my content and are regularly in my gaming and real-life videos).
I’m always thinking about how to maintain relevancy. Maybe that’s by playing a new game, posting less videos, starting a podcast, doing more PR, etcetera. As of right now, I’ve been enjoying my first year of marriage with my amazing wife. Faith > Family > Work has always been my priority list.
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