Welcome to Creators on the Rise, where—in partnership with global creator company Jellysmack—we find and profile breakout creators who are in the midst of extraordinary growth.
When COVID lockdowns first kicked in last year, Brian and Marcy Klem found themselves in the same situation as millions of other parents: stuck with a houseful of kids who needed entertaining.
Luckily, they had some ideas. Ethan, 20, Jackson, 18, Lauren, 14, and Taylor, 8, are all dedicated athletes, so the Klems decided to direct that competitive energy into some friendly family challenges. Some sibling-versus-sibling competitions were more casual–Who could catch the most M&Ms in their mouth? Who was the superior Starburst basketball player?–while others, like the $500 and $1000 moneyball challenges, upped the ante with cash on the line.
The Klems began uploading short recordings of their contests to TikTok in March 2020 because they figured the activities keeping them occupied during quarantine might appeal to other families as well, Brian tells Tubefilter. They were right: dozens of their videos netted hundreds of thousands of views, and some–like this basketball challenge–crossed into the millions.
With the popularity of those videos in mind, the Klems expanded to YouTube in October 2020, just after the platform launched its TikTok competitor Shorts. Between then and January 2021, they uploaded nine videos, all under 45 seconds. Their tenth video, uploaded Jan. 22, is the one that turned them into creators on the rise.
The 34-second Bottle Flip Tic Tac Toe clip pits Brian and Marcy against all four kids to see who can successfully flip bottles into a winning tic-tac-toe pattern first. It was their first viral Short, and to date has netted more than 150 million views. It was also the catalyst that pushed their channel from 3,500 views and 6,000 subscribers in January to a staggering 294 million views and 100,000 subscribers in February, to more than 600 million views and one million subscribers in March. Their TikTok presence has grown too: on that account, the Klems are up to 897,000 followers.
You can check out their weekly YouTube channel growth–courtesy of Gospel Stats–below.
We chatted with the Klems about their unexpected success, how going viral changed their channel and content, and what the future holds for them on TikTok, YouTube, and beyond.
Tubefilter: Tell us a little about you! Where are you from? What do you get up to outside of YouTube?
The Klem Family: Our family is from Franklin, Indiana. Outside of YouTube, we run a couple laundromat and dry cleaner businesses. The parents are Brian and Marcy, and the kids are Ethan (20), Jackson (18), Lauren (14), and Taylor (8). All of the kids are currently or have been involved in competitive sports. We have enjoyed watching them play basketball, baseball, tennis, and run track/cross-country for many years.
Tubefilter: Your channel has recently seen a big boost in subscribers. Do you know which video or event triggered this increase?
TKF: Our channel started the big boost when the Parents vs. Kids–Bottle Flip Tic Tac Toe video [embedded above] came out. It is currently up to 152 million views. When it started taking off, the rest of our videos seemed to follow suit.
Tubefilter: Was this a new type of content for you, or your channel’s usual fare? Why do you think this particular video caught on?
TKF: Our channel is new overall, and we basically only post family challenge type of videos, so this video wasn’t a new type or anything. I think it took of because of the parents versus kids aspect of the competition. I think it is a relatable video to a wide range of people. Some of our videos of this type have done really well on TikTok, so we thought they could translate well to YouTube Shorts as well.
Tubefilter: What made you want to start a family YouTube channel? Why did you decide to focus on making family content about games and challenges?
TKF: We started the channel for fun to share some of the challenges we have been doing. We thought the challenges we were doing were a fun way to pass the time during the quarantine days and felt that people may enjoy watching it.
Tubefilter: Has your recent engagement uptick changed anything for you? Do you have any new plans or goals for your content career?
TKF: Our engagement increase has not really changed much for us yet, but has made us think about some plans for the future with the channel. Our milestone goals for the channel would be to get to one million subscribers and one billion views. Other than that, we just want to work on making some longer videos and try to always improve the quality of the videos.
@klemfamilyMoney car knockdown! ##familythings ##family ##challenge ##familygames ##competition ##fun ##game ##moneygames♬ Gang Shit No Lame Shit – Key Glock
Tubefilter: What’s your favorite part of making content on YouTube? Are you making content on any other platforms, or are you mainly focusing on YouTube?
TKF: Our favorite part about making our content on YouTube is spending time with the family. There is no substitute for the time you spend with your kids, so being able to work with them on this channel has been great. We do make content on TikTok. Brian has 845,000 followers, and Ethan has 315,000 followers. We also post on Instagram Reels.
While we do post on these other platforms, our focus going forward will be YouTube.
Tubefilter: What’s next for you and your channel?
TKF: We are working on some longer videos in addition to the daily YouTube Shorts that we post. We are also going to upgrade our location and equipment so we can start doing live streaming. Collaborating with other YouTubers is something we plan to do in the near future. We look forward to continuing to grow our channel!
Jellysmack is the global creator company that detects and develops the world’s most talented video creators. The company’s proprietary video optimization technology and data drive social audience growth, unlocking new revenue streams and amplifying monetization.
Currently home to over 150 influential Creators including PewDiePie, Brad Mondo, and Bailey Sarian, Jellysmack optimizes, operates, and distributes creator-made video content to Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube. Jellysmack-managed content boasts 10 billion global monthly video views and a cross-platform reach of 125 million unique U.S. users, making it the largest U.S. digital-first company in monthly social media viewers.
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