In the latest episode of his podcast Impaulsive, where host Logan Paul sat down with digital svengali John Shahidi — the co-founder of talent management and production studio Shots — Paul provided an eye-opening window into his early fortunes as a YouTube star.

After Shahidi stressed the importance of diversifying a creator’s business portfolio beyond the video channel where they rose to fame — onto other platforms, as well as offline ventures, like product launches — Paul concurred that creating his merch brand, Maverick, has served as a North Star of sorts amid the ups and downs of his career trajectory.

Paul recounted that he decided to enter merch after his little brother, Jakewho is now managed by Shahidi — had been in the business for roughly a month with Fanjoy, shortly after they had both blown up on YouTube. After Jake shared how lucrative merch had been, Paul followed suit with Maverick — which recently underwent a substantial, yearlong rebrand that debuted in May, with an eye to becoming a full-fledged fashion brand as opposed to typical influencer merch. In its first year, Paul shared on Impaulsive, the company made between $30 and $40 million — a staggering figure, though it’s unclear whether he’s talking about revenues or personal earnings.

“I was like, ‘Holy f-cking sh-t. There’s a real business here,'” Paul shared on Impaulsive. “It was the first time I really understood the power of a creator and being able to move an audience outside of a platform. Except now — I mean, we’re all feeling this, all creators — merch is so oversaturated. It’s not the thing anymore. There a few creators, like the Nelk boys — who are having their $30, $40, $50, $60 million years, and probably MrBeast, too — but besides them, its such a hard industry to break.”

Shahidi agreed that while the industry is saturated, creators who envision their merch as “a movement” — as opposed to merely a logo slapped onto standard-issue apparel — are bound to find more longevity in the space. (Shots Studios also launched its apparel division, Lil Shop, earlier this year, which houses merch from its creators as well as a handful of musicians).

“This is why I think so many creators are going to be building their own brands vs doing campaigns for brands,” Brendan Gahan, partner and chief social officer at Mekanism, wrote in a LinkedIn post after spotting the Impaulsive segment. “The fact that creators so early on in their careers can generate that kind of revenue makes me think it is just a matter of time before an influencer launches a ‘unicorn’.”

You can check out more from Paul’s conversation with Shahidi — where Shahidi also reveals that he’s planning to write a how-to book for aspiring social media stars, in a bid to help the tens of millions of people who are out of work due to COVID-19 — below:

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