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.
If you’ve ever turned to YouTube for help with a popular multiplayer game like Fortnite or Call of Duty, chances are you’ve stumbled across one of HollowPoiint’s videos.
HollowPoiint (who goes by Hollow online and has asked us not to reveal his real name) has been uploading how-to videos about popular games since 2014, teaching his viewers everything from the very simplest Call of Duty basics to improving Black Ops 3 gameplay to most recently how to hunt down a rare, coveted treasure chest in Fortnite.
For Hollow, who has 2.7 million subscribers and nets between 20 and 40 million views per month, how-to videos have always been an integral part of his YouTube experience. Back before he joined the platform as a creator, he was a viewer, watching how-tos that taught him tips and tricks for his favorite games. He sees his own videos as a way to pay back the YouTube community for helping him develop his gaming skills.
How-tos aren’t the only content Hollow puts out, though. He’s also constantly running at least one ongoing Let’s Play series — a popular format of gaming video where creators play through (usually newly-released) video games, then upload their gameplay in episodic chunks. For example, right now, Hollow’s playing Anthem, the latest game from Mass Effect maker BioWare.
In February 2016, a little under two years after he received his first AdSense check in 2014, Hollow took the leap: he quit his day job and made YouTube his sole profession. Check out our chat with him below about the tough decision to go full-time, and how he’s kept his channel thriving as a “one-man show.”
Tubefilter: Tell us a little about your background. How did you get into gaming? Did you follow any gaming YouTubers before you joined the platform?
Hollow: I got into gaming as a child, around four years old. I remember one of my neighbors in Cuba owned a Super Nintendo, and she would rent it out the kids in the neighborhood, and my mother would take me to play. Before joining the platform, I used to entertain myself by watching PewDiePie’s Let’s Plays.
Tubefilter: What made you choose YouTube as the place to share your content?
Hollow: I’ve been watching Call of Duty videos since 2009, and YouTube’s always felt like the place to watch gaming videos — and basically how-to’s of all kinds.
Tubefilter: Speaking of how-to’s, at the beginning of your channel, you posted a lot of how-to videos for folks interested in playing Call of Duty. Nowadays, you post similar videos for Fortnite. Why is making content that helps other gamers important to you?
Hollow: It used to help me, so I feel like I am returning the favor to the community by posting how-to’s. It’s always a good feeling to help others.
Tubefilter: When did you get your first check for online video revenue? How much was it for?
Hollow: My first notable amount was $0.85 in July of 2014, straight out of AdSense. My first check with an MCN was about $300 a month, and I made $300 per month for several months after making Call of Duty weapon statistics videos.
Tubefilter: Have you had any sponsorships or brand partnerships for videos? How did those come about?
Hollow: I’ve had lots of sponsorships. I normally get emails from companies who are interesting in working with me, and some have come from my network.
Tubefilter: How do you decide what games to play for your channel?
Hollow: I play games that seem fun to me and that I know I will enjoy playing, whether it’s an online competitive game or a single-player based off a good story.
Tubefilter: What was that Semaphore Moment for you—the first time you realized you were a professional YouTuber?
Hollow: When I was at about 200,000 subscribers, which is when my channel was picking up at a steady pace. I had seen a few months of consistent income at that point, which was bringing me more revenue than my job. Looking back, I think it was a leap of faith, as it was a bit too soon to leave my steady income day job with a baby on the way, but at the time, it felt like leaving was something I had to do. I officially quit my job on Feb. 7, 2016.
Tubefilter: We know gaming on YouTube is a huge, booming space full of lots of creators. What’s the most difficult thing about making your content special amid all the noise?
Hollow: I personally run my channel very organically, and don’t really pay attention to anything else. I am just myself in my videos, and I am very focused and consistent with my work.
Tubefilter: What’s your YouTube production schedule like? Do you have a set filming/uploading schedule?
Hollow: No set production schedule; it’s basically just work as you go. Days can vary anywhere between eight and 16 hours, which includes recording, editing, and posting — unless I am running a particular series for a story-driven game. Then, I make sure to do an episode per day amongst the other videos.
Tubefilter: Do you have a team behind the scenes? An editor for your videos? A network or manager?
Hollow: It’s basically a one-man show when it comes to the production side of things. I am currently looking for an editor, but it’s hard to come across someone reliable and trustworthy enough for the position. My fiancée Rebeca handles all my emails, negotiations, brand deals, and basically anything behind the scenes. As far as a network goes, I am currently partnered with Fullscreen. So all and all, it’s just Rebeca, me, and my network.
Tubefilter: What do you think are the most vital skills you possess as a creator?
Hollow: Consistency, drive, and discipline! Lots of discipline!
Tubefilter: What’s next for you and your channel? What are you building toward?
Hollow: I am building toward expanding my audience. I am maintaining at least one to two Let’s Plays at all times for the purpose of reaching out to a wider audience in the gaming community.
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