Welcome to Creators Going Pro, where we profile professional YouTube stars who have hit it big by doing what they love. Every so often, we’ll chat with a creator about the business side of their channel, including identifying the moment they truly went pro.
This installment of Creators Going Pro is brought to you by creator fintech company Karat Financial.
Over the past four years, Carter Sharer has grown his YouTube business from a risky one-man operation to a team of 20 people that commands 80+ million views per month and an audience of nearly 20 million subscribers across four channels.
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Now Sharer and his bicoastal creator collective Team RAR (Rare and Ridiculous) say they’re “on the cusp of the next big thing.” With that in mind, Tubefilter rang him up for an in-depth rundown of what it was like to build his own company in the ever-shifting landscape of content creation.
For those unfamiliar with Sharer, he’s known for being a prolific producer of action-packed stunts and MrBeast-style “last to…” challenges. He’s gotten up close and personal with the king of the jungle (to the tune of 17 million views), built a giant LEGO house and paid the last person to leave it $10,000 (29 million views), and constructed the “world’s tallest” trampoline tower (11 million). Within the last month alone, he’s built a giant RC car (1.7 million), built an underwater house (2.7 million) and lived in it for 24 hours straight (2.1 million), spent 24 hours on a jet-ski (1.9 million), and done 24 different dares in 24 hours (1.8 million).
Sharer says his videos are meant to replicate the feel of his own childhood, when every long summer day was spent in the backyard with his best friends, pranking one another or building their own go-karts.
But make no mistake: though Sharer’s videos are meant to feel like child’s play, getting to this point in his content career has been no easy task. When he launched his channel in 2017, it was an act of high-risk-maybe-high-reward commitment that involved leaving his ultracompetitive engineering job and giving himself one year to make it on YouTube.
We’ll let him tell you all about it below.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Tubefilter: Tubefilter: So for those who might not know you, tell us who you are! Where are you from? What did you do before starting a YouTube channel?
Carter Sharer: My name is Carter Sharer, I grew up in northern Virginia, and my whole life I loved building things. It was always kind of me and my friends outside doing a bunch of fun stuff. My friends were a big part of my life, I was always inviting them over to my house. We would be in the backyard, swimming or doing go-karts. We had some fun toys, or if we didn’t have them, I would go out of my way to build them. And we could just kind of create an environment in the backyard where me and my friends would come over every day after school.
Then, when it came to school, I went to college at Carnegie Mellon, where I started as a physics major. Science and physics were just so fascinating to me and I’m a real nerd for math, so I went with computer science and robotics, and graduated with a degree in computer engineering and computer programming for robotics.
Tubefilter: What happened after college? Did you put your degree to work?
CS: From there, it was actually a pretty big turning point in my life. I was in college when I met my girlfriend, Lizzy Capri, who I do YouTube with. We started dating towards the end, and were real close to graduation when she got her dream job in Silicon Valley working at LinkedIn.
My dream was to then work for Uber or some type of self-driving car company, or some other type of robotics where I could practice my degree. I wanted to move to California, but unfortunately, at that time after graduation, I didn’t get accepted. I got really close to the job I wanted, but I’m competing with Ph.D. students and robots. I basically had to go back to grad school and then get a PhD in order to get a lot of these jobs. So I was working around as I could and got really close a few times that ultimately fell short. My fallback plan was to link up with my other friends at the University of Pennsylvania.
I got a job doing research there and I was going to do that for a year. It was a great job, I loved it. I was doing self-driving car research and developing labs for the grad students there, and it was an amazing opportunity. I was just learning so much every day.
It was at that time when YouTube started coming around, and like six months into that job is when I started going home on the weekends and kind of dabbling with the idea of people doing YouTube and social media. I started to discover that, hey, there’s more than just PewDiePie out there that do this full-time, as a real job, and potentially a legitimate thing to try out.
And my life just changed entirely.
Tubefilter: How did you go from becoming aware that YouTube is a thing and other people are making money to “I want to make money and I want to be on YouTube?”
CS: At that time, I was just kind of playing with it. I learned so much through college and my job, and when someone asks you to build a self-driving car, that’s a very, very difficult challenge to take on. It’s almost impossible. We were trying to do the thing that’s crazy.
So what you learn is to take things systematically, and you research different topics, and you have this whole method of how to tackle this problem. So I switched that same thinking, and I think this was a really huge part of me discovering YouTube. How exactly does it work? What do you need to do to hit the right triggers, to get the right views, to get engagement? I switched my focus and became obsessed–while I’m still working a full-time job, so obviously Fridays, the weekends, like 18 hours a day I’m working, just obsessing and letting my mind get absorbed into researching YouTube.
I researched the platform, I watched all these videos, digested content. Why do people click on what videos? Why do people sit there and watch, what does YouTube want you to post? How frequently should you post? How long should the video be? What’s your thumbnail, title, what does your SEO look like? It just started going crazy.
At the time YouTube put in this analytic dashboard where they let you dive in pretty deep for the analytics of a YouTube video and your channel, so I would just spend hours and hours and hours just staring at those data, trying to make sense of them, and it was the same thing I was doing in my job at the time.
I just switched over to YouTube and it really started to click, and I started to understand certain things. And then combining that with all the fun stuff that I did growing up with my friends that was interesting to watch…I figured out the how-to-YouTube side of it, how to film it, how to edit, how to post, and then I decided to redo some of the stuff I grew up doing. And it all kind of came together in such a grand way.
Tubefilter: You started your channel a little over three years ago. Tell us about the post-launch days.
CS: It was crazy. The growth was very, very fast, and I was facing 20-hour days. So even though it’s only been three years, I’ve worked like six years’ worth in those three years.
It’s also, so, the way a computer programmer works is you come out of school, you’re trained up to date with technology, but things update. So if you go MIA from the industry for about 12 months, you turn “stale,” is what they call it. What that means is an employer looking to hire someone is going to hire someone that’s younger, fresh of out college, rather than someone who’s potentially more experienced and has gone “stale” because there’s just so much to stay up with in the progression of computer programming and technology.
You basically have a year, so I knew that before I started to go too deep, it was going to be hard to fall back on my degree. You can keep training yourself and find a way to come back, but it’s definitely a hurdle after 12 months.
When I first started, it was like, “Hey, go for it.” And then it got a little bit more like, “Hey, I think we’re on to something.” That’s when I realized I probably had a year, so I could give it six months, and then fall back and just revert everything. So I went for it. I quit my job.
And luckily it really worked out quite well, so I didn’t have to go back.
Tubefilter: One of the big things we’re focusing on for Creators Going Pro is when creators hit that specific moment where they decide to take a chance and make YouTube their full-time pursuit. Was there a specific moment or occurrence where you knew, “Okay, I’m going to go for it. I’m going to quit my job. I’m going to risk it”?
CS: Yeah, absolutely. There was this one month where we had a couple of videos go viral. We had tons of videos, and most of them were just trash, a waste of our time, basically. I mean, we were learning, so it wasn’t a waste, but a lot of them just were not getting traction at all.
But there was this one month, ad rates went up and we had a viral hit. A couple of stars aligned, and we made like $22,000 in one month. We couldn’t believe it. The month previous was like $3,000, but split between me and my brother, that’s $1,500 each for blood, sweat, and tears.
With 22,000, I was like, Oh my gosh. Even that split between me and my brother, that’s as much as the dream job in Silicon Valley. And there’s also way more potential because we only had 30,000 subscribers at the time. So I knew we could 10x or even 1,000x that, so there was potential.
I remember I took those numbers in to my boss. I was like, “Look, here’s what I’ve been working on on the weekend. Here’s why I’m quitting.” And he said it was just a blip. That’s not real, that’s not gonna happen. You can’t quit your job on a blip.
But he didn’t realize that I was going to commit myself and do whatever it takes to keep it going.
Tubefilter: How did your revenue go from there on out? Did you hit $22,000 and then dip back down, or did it keep scaling up?
CS: It was probably the $22,000, and then the next month was $15,000 or something. It was a little bit of a blip that month. It went back down to maybe $12,000. But then, from there, it was very steady, fast growth. And before we knew it, we were at $50,000 per month, and then $100,000.
It was around that time that I reached out to Liz.
Tubefilter: Tell us more about bringing Liz in. That’s a big decision.
CS: This was about six months later from that $22,000 check. She’d just finished one year at LinkedIn, and that was her dream job, the job she went to school for. So I convinced her to quit that job. She was waiting for the exact one-year date so she could quit. She quit her job, moved out of her apartment, packed her bags, and moved into my parents’ basement with me. And we just kept going from there.
It was honestly crazy. At the time, I was just so hungry. I was obsessed. It all made sense. It all seemed like the most obvious choice…but in hindsight, no wonder my parents were really upset with me. It paid off and I couldn’t be more grateful for where I’m at, but it was definitely quite a wild ride looking back at those early days.
Tubefilter: So when did you start bringing in other people, aside from Liz?
CS: Pretty early on. So Liz came in towards the end of the first year. After that is when I officially created my channel, and then I created Liz’s channel, and then it was probably less than a year after the started those channels that we hired and started bringing on more and more people.
The first one started as my video editor. We found him through a website and he worked remote living in Indiana. It quickly transitioned from being remote to, “Hey, we need you to move in with us.” So I flew him out and we got a two-bedroom apartment and we lived together for four months. Then we brought in Stove and shortly after we brought Ryan on, and he was helping with PR and stuff.
Tubefilter: How many people are on the team now? In front of the camera and behind.
CS: In front of the camera there’s me, Lizzy, Ryan, and then Bailey. Those are the main creators.
And then behind the camera, we have a whole host of other people. In total, including cameras, we have around 20.
Tubefilter: How did Team RAR become a thing?
CS: Well, I knew that to do what we were doing–you know, you’ve got to do it with your friends. It’s not a solo thing. It’s too much to do without friends. Half the stuff I do for content is with my friends: my friends prank, we do challenges with friends, and so much we were just doing the same stuff that I did growing up.
So I knew pretty early on from a business mindset, I gotta build a team that has the same focus, the same passions, that are all doing this thing together, and it’s going to snowball because of the exponential gain from having a team like that.
We first called it the “Dream Team” as a placeholder, but we couldn’t get trademarks and stuff on that. I knew I wanted to get working on a really cool brand name at some point, but didn’t have the time, so we just left it as Dream Team. That took about a year, and when we did get into branding and spending some time on it, me and all the members worked on it. We wanted something that represented ourselves, and “Team Rare and Ridiculous” was a great description of everything we do every day, the stuff we film and the things we do. We try to break records, do world’s first stuff. And even in the day-to-day parts we try to be entertaining and positive and, you know, very ridiculous.
I love it. I think the branding really works, and it sounds unique. When you hear it, you’re not confusing it with some sports team or something else, it stands out.
Tubefilter: Was there an inflection point in your development as a creator that made you realize you were a true professional and that this is your career?
CS: I feel like, in a lot of ways, it’s kind of happening all the time. I’m constantly setting goals and achievements for myself. I think a big piece for me early on was the security of like, “Is this thing just going to crumble?”
It was like, yeah, we’re doing big numbers, we’re getting cool paychecks, I’m hiring friends, we’re moving to L.A., we’re killing these videos, also I don’t have a real job. I was really worried about that, so my goal was to run as hard as I can and do whatever it takes to stay afloat until I reached some sustainability. I do think I’ve reached that point, and I feel like every month, I feel even more established, and even more like, yeah, this thing isn’t going to crumble.
I think I felt pretty secure after about a year and a half of studying my channel and having the team and having more experience. It took a year and a half to really feel confident, established, and like this is definitely the long play. It’s not just YouTube for a couple years and then it all dies and burns out. I’m definitely committed; I’m investing a lot in the business and focusing on the long game, the content, and the future.
Tubefilter: Have there been any challenges you had to overcome, business-wise? Any stumbling blocks along the way?
CS: Yeah, a lot of things. I’ve been through so much, especially so much turmoil with family wondering what I’m doing and support, it was a really challenging time.
I remember moving to Los Angeles, so much change happening. At the time, my content was way, way cringier. I’m more proud of my content today, but then it was bad, because I was still learning. And so I was battling so much of turmoil from that, and from friends who’d just recently graduated school texting me kind of like, “What the fuck are you doing?”
They’d be like, “This is cool, it’s cute. It’s cute that you’re doing this for now, but what is your real job?” Some negative stuff here and there. That coupled with the growth and the grind and all the change moving across the country and convincing my friends to come with me and having Lizzy quit her job and the stress of her family disapproving…At that point, I realized that a lot of my really beloved friends are leaning on my shoulder. I started to really feel the pressure of running a business and having people build their life and their life decisions based off my day-to-day…That was a really big pill to swallow. I feel like only three years later, I’m kind of getting more used to those pressure of everything looking at you and relying on you so many different ways.
But that was kind of the biggest thing with getting started. It was like, okay, YouTube, great. But then the backside of YouTube is also like, I didn’t go to business school. I never really thought I was going to have to do all that business stuff, dealing with finances and what’s appropriate. How do you hire someone and tell them to move? Are they going to hate coming to L.A. and you’ll have that pressure on you? That’s the biggest struggle I’ve had to deal with.
Tubefilter: Have your family and friends come around these days?
CS: My family is incredibly supportive. I think early on, as any parents would, they had their apprehensions. They paid for my college, which was tremendously expensive, so of course had their apprehensions. But it didn’t take long for them to believe in me. I showed proof o my hard work early on, so they were very supportive and still are today. My mom, any chance she can get, she loves to be my biggest fan.
And my friends–a lot of my friends have come around. Within the last year or so, I had the chance to link up with a lot of friends from school, and prior to that I was a little bit worried to see what they would say. And a lot of them just came very humble, and were like “I’m so proud to see what you’ve done.” And I’m like, “Okay, great, that’s not what I heard a lot of people say last year.”
A lot of people came to me with confusion and maybe jealousy, or just some negative energy, but I think a lot of my real friends, at the end of the day, once they caught on, do finally see what I’ve been up to. After a couple of years, they checked back in, and they’re so supportive, it’s quite amazing.
Tubefilter: Last year, Team RAR launched its first line of merch, which is another big step. How did you decide to do merch? How did you know there was an customer base for it?
CS: Merch is something we were super excited to do. We were doing merch before the launch of Team RAR–some kind of generic Carter Sharer merch and some Dream Team merch and little things here and there as a side thing. But that wasn’t really the goal; we wanted to produce high-quality apparel.
The reason why is because there’s such dedicated fans who love our content so much, they want something tangible. So we wanted to create a resource for them, so they could actually have tangible things, like how you watch your favorite movie and you want to have a Disney princess bedsheet or a Barbie doll. Kids want more than just a movie–they’re so inspired about the movie, they want some of the product too.
So we want to be able to provide that, high-quality, and really continue to grow outside of YouTube. Merch is the perfect way to do that.
We’ve had such incredible feedback. Our fans are so appreciative to be able to wear their favorite T-shirt to school every day, or their backpack, whatever they choose. And I find it so rewarding to be able to visualize something cool, get it produced, and then stock it and have the fans enjoy it. That’s such a humbling experience.
Tubefilter: What does the average day look like for you now?
CS: Every day and every week is very different, but on average, Mondays are very administrative. I take a lot of calls, meetings. We schedule, we plan, we set up. Tuesdays are a big day where we do production. We schedule with friends and have everyone come over. We’ll probably film for a couple hours and get all the different assets of pictures and video clips and whatnot while we’re out there having a good time and filming. And then the second half of that day is just miscellaneous things. I’ll probably have to help Liz film her video. I could get pranked–I don’t know, I could get slimed by midday.
Tuesday through Friday, it’s all hands on deck, can’t guarantee a break, might need a change of clothes, we’ll see what happens. It’s crazy how different each week can be, but they kind of boil down to more or less the same kind of crazy.
We do film a lot of content because my main channel, I’m doing two video productions a week on average. Liz is at three and Bailey comes in at a couple as well. So we’re doing like 11 uploads a week. So if we’re only working between Monday and Friday, you could imagine we’re averaging like two videos a day.
Tubefilter: How does revenue sharing work? You all work on each other’s videos, you’re all part of Team RAR…So does everybody each take their own revenue from their own channel or do you pool it and split?
CS: Everyone’s a part of Team RAR, and we do have shared expenses in a lot of ways. That’s a part of being on the team, is using the resources. One of the biggest resources of the team is the house. We live in Bel Air, and it’s a very expensive, huge mansion. So we all share that cost–a little bit different for each creator, how it’s structured, but we share it and kind of share in everyone’s success.
It really creates a very collaborative energy where we’re all excited to help one another because we’re a big team pooling together.
Tubefilter: That seems like a significant milestone–renting a huge mansion. When did that come along?
CS: This is our second team house. The first one was also in L.A., and we all lived there for about a year. After the first year, people were, like, “All right, I’m a little more on my feet, my channel’s making the money, so I’m going to go right down the road and get a little more space.” We kind of slowly grew out.
Then we moved into this new house, which is significantly bigger and way better and also way more expensive, but the creators don’t live here. They’re all here all day, every day, but everyone goes home and sleeps. They all drive ten minutes home and have their own place away from the craziness, which is just a healthier way to do it.
So we have this house, but it’s more of a studio space. It’s office space, and we use it more for the content. That being said, we are literally all of us here all day every day, Monday through Friday. We just go home to sleep, and that separation is so important. We didn’t have that in the first house. It was great while it lasted, but then it gets really crazy, really fast, and you can’t get away. That gets difficult.
Tubefilter: So where do you go from here? What are you and Team RAR building toward? Is there anything big coming down the pipeline?
CS: We’re right on the cusp of the next big thing, which is really excited. We have a new Team RAR house on the horizon, and again, it’s significantly bigger, better. It’s going to allow us to grow even tremendously more than the last two houses.
I really see the biggest growth of all time coming right around the corner–and I think it’s going to get to the point where I’m excited to take on all of YouTube, and be one of the biggest creators out there doing some of the biggest, craziest stuff, and take what’s possible and ascend to the next level.
I think we’re just at the cusp of blowing by a ton of creators that I’ve been more or less in the realm of. This next step, which I’ve been working on for a couple of years, is really going to just slingshot everything, and I couldn’t be more excited for it.
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