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.
In 2015, stand-up comedian Drew Lynch was ‘Golden Buzzered’ straight to the live rounds of America’s Got Talent Season 10 after impressing judge Howie Mandel with his skills. Lynch ended up coming in second place that year, and since his memorable run on the show, he’s made a career on YouTube. On the platform, he’s netted himself more than 1.6 million subscribers, and he garners between three and five million views per month with his series Dog Vlog (weekly vlogs about life with his loyal service dog Stella) and Therapy Dog (an animated series featuring guest voice stars including Brandon Rogers and Molly Burke).
Lynch, who has a stutter after being injured during a softball game in 2012, regularly pokes fun at himself in his YouTube videos — where he often gives Stella dryly witty captions matching her somewhat unimpressed resting face — and in his stand-up routines. Along with producing YouTube videos each week, Lynch tours the U.S. doing stand-up; over the next two months, he’s got a handful of gigs lined up in Houston, Philadelphia, and Tempe, Az., and his YouTube subscribers will likely see clips of routines from those shows pop up on his channel.
Of course, Lynch also has another major engagement over the next couple months, because he’s not done with America’s Got Talent. This past Monday, the first season of branchoff series America’s Got Talent: The Champions began airing, and Lynch is one of 50 previous competitors returning for another shot at top spot. Each episode of the first part of the show — airing each Monday through Feb. 18 — features 10 previous contestants, with two moving on to the live finals.
Lynch has said he isn’t sure yet when his first segment will air, but until it does, fans can tune in on YouTube.
Check out our chat with Lynch below about going from America’s Got Talent runner-up to full-time comedian and YouTuber.
Tubefilter: So first, congratulations on your return to America’s Got Talent! What are you most looking forward to with AGT: The Champions?
Drew Lynch: I’m very thankful to be back on America’s Got Talent, the show that launched my career and opened so many doors with comedy. Aside from once being on the show, I’m such a fan of acts that competed who weren’t on my season or in America. Getting to meet and perform with them is a very special opportunity.
Tubefilter: You were on YouTube before your first AGT appearance, but started making significantly more content after AGT. What made you decide to start uploading more frequently, and to kick-start series like Dog Vlog?
DL: YouTube has felt like a second home to me, where I can be myself and engage with an audience that may or may not have discovered me from TV. I think it gives people the opportunity to get the “ins” and the “real looks” for what I’m up to with my own projects and personal life.
Tubefilter: When did you get your first check for online video revenue? How much was it for? Have you gotten any checks outside of AdSense money?
DL: I do remember my very first check from AdSense! It was for $250 (because that was the threshold) and came about five months after uploading consistently. At the time, I remember feeling so excited to be making money in such a savvy entrepreneur space, while also being motivated to keep creating and expanding my platform.
Tubefilter: How did your animated series Therapy Dog come together? Can you talk about the team that helps you make that series?
DL: Therapy Dog came about initially as more of an exercise than a long-term series. I was determined to strengthen my writing abilities in a scripted format, so I wrangled my animator and co-creator Tony Celano to help bring my ideas to life. I had always been a fan of Seth MacFarlane [creator of animated series like Family Guy and American Dad!], not just because of his style and comedic sensibilities, but because of his unwavering belief in his vision.
The team is really guerrilla in that I write each episode and cast the actors (the ever-sassy Angel Laketa Moore voicing Stella) next to whoever the guest star might be that week (Brandon Rogers, Molly Burke, etc.), and after the recording process, the audio gets sent off to be animated with a biweekly turnaround. I’m honestly so pleased with how the show has evolved in its self-awareness and edge, and how proud I am of the team that makes it all possible — which now consists of Eric Freshman, Evan Huber, and Mesa Kronhaus.
Tubefilter: You’ve been continuing your stand-up career as well as doing YouTube. How do you split your creative time and energy between standup and YouTube content?
DL: Many creators have stressed the importance of staying on top of trends and grabby video concepts, which really does add to the grind of my schedule. I’ve found that YouTube and stand-up are very different beasts, both in style and in genre, so my goal has always been to merge these two audiences. Some people who discover me might not know I do one or the other, so I feel I have to wear many hats when it comes to putting out the best content and showcasing myself in different formats.
Tubefilter: What was that Semaphore Moment for you—the first time you realized you were a professional YouTuber?
DL: I’m still not sure that moment has come! I think if I take a break to look back at what I’ve achieved, I’ll fall behind on what’s to be accomplished. I am very grateful for the opportunities I have, but there’s still so much more to be done.
Tubefilter: A lot of folks on YouTube change up their content strategies as the platform shifts, but you’ve kept your content consistent over the past three years—and that’s obviously worked for you in terms of finding your audience. Can you talk about your approach to YouTube content?
DL: I guess I don’t really have an approach other than the consistency of upload days and times. So much changes in pop culture, trends, and politics, that it’s hard to plan out what will get clicked and neglected. I just always try to remain positive while still remaining true to myself and the integrity of our content. I want to honor the videos and fans that made our channel popular, but still try to evolve with the ever-changing climate.
Tubefilter: What’s your production schedule like? You have a set upload schedule, so how often do you film?
DL: Our upload schedule is Mondays and Thursdays. Mondays tend to be our Dog Vlog series, which is very much dog-related content with my amazing companion Stella, while Thursdays we upload a stand-up clip. A few Saturdays a month, we upload Therapy Dog.
Tubefilter: Have you ever struggled with creator burnout? What do you to combat it?
DL: I struggle with getting burnt out all the time! The rigor of travel and performing combined with YouTube’s cyclical upload nature has, on more than one occasion, driven me to insanity. Whenever I question if it’s worth it or if I’m making a difference, the universe always aides me with a profound comment from one of our subscribers articulating how much our videos brighten their day-to-day. Knowing that if I can push through the suffering of my fatigue for a moment I can greatly improve someone’s week is a solid way to revitalize the WHY in what we’re doing.
Tubefilter: What do you think is the most vital skill you possess as a creator?
DL: The ability to adapt with any situation and grow with my obstacles is what continues to create breakthroughs in my career. I hate feeling uncomfortable, but I am notoriously someone who throws myself into the abyss for the sake of growing my comfort zone. You can’t create if you can’t expand, and you can’t expand if you’re complacent.
Tubefilter: What’s next for you after AGT: The Champions, and for your channel? What are you building toward as a YouTuber?
DL: I’m really excited to reimmerse myself into the stand-up world while showing people what goes into it behind the scenes. I’m very excited to put some more personal ideas in motion for Vlog, and deepen my relationship with our viewers by giving them that “real look” into who I am as an artist.
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