Welcome to YouTube Millionaires, where we profile channels that have recently crossed the one million subscriber mark. There are channels crossing this threshold every week, and each creator has a story to tell about YouTube success. Read previous installments here.
Have you ever gotten a hankering to go on Google, search up the worst-rated restaurant/hotel/airline in your area, and try it to see if it’s really as bad as it seems?
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Then you’re probably not Eric Struk.
Struk has always been a bit of an “edgy” creator, he says. Back when he first started making content, it was during the Wild West days of TikTok, when content guidelines were, well, more guidelines than actual rules. “You could do really edgy stuff. I would do a bunch of skits where I’d pretend to put a fork in a power outlet or eat like a Tide Pod,” he says. (Please don’t try either of those things at home. Or anywhere else.) Once TikTok started enforcing rules against dangerous stunts, though, he had to figure out something else to do with his account.
He stumbled into the “trying things” niche by happenstance. He’d decided to take a trip to see the Vatican, and was looking for a cheap airplane seat. He ended up on a Ryanair flight, and only later realized he’d inadvertently soared the skies with what’s been called the world’s worst-rated airline. He figured he’d turn the experience into a video–and when it was well-received, he just kept going.
Check out our chat with him below.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Tubefilter: Pretend somebody’s reading this and they’ve never seen your content and don’t know who you are. Can you give me a little bit of an introduction about you, where you’re from, and how you ended up on YouTube?
Eric Struk: I’m a 21-year-old Canadian content creator. I started YouTube when I was in high school, and then it didn’t go anywhere. Then I started doing TikTok, and then TikTok kind of blew up for me. I did that for about two and a half, three years. Then I just didn’t like where the platform was and decided to go back to YouTube. I started doing gaming content with YouTube shorts and then I realized, okay, I don’t want to do gaming content because I feel there’s an inherent ceiling to it. There’s just an insane amount of competition. Basically, you have to pay the money to get really high-tier editors and it’s just really competitive. I was like, “Okay, I don’t want to do that.” Then I just started doing, I guess, content about me that I just wanted to make that I found interesting. Ever since then, I’m just kind of stuck to it.
Tubefilter: Where are you from Canada?
Eric Struk: Toronto.
Tubefilter: Very cool! You said you started in high school?
Eric Struk: Yes, I started when I was…I’m trying to think back, I must have been 15 or 16.
Tubefilter: How old are you now?
Eric Struk: 21.
Tubefilter: Okay, so you were 15 or 16. What was your first platform?
Eric Struk: YouTube. I was making vlogs. They’re private now so that no one can see. I’d make vlogs of school and stuff. That was my first, I guess, introduction into video and content creation as a whole.
Tubefilter: Got it. Then how did your content evolve? I know you said you didn’t really like where TikTok was going, but what was your content like on TikTok? What the flow of your content changing?
Eric Struk: TikTok, originally when it started out, I was doing just anything. Back in the day, there was really no terms of service or guidelines. You could do really edgy stuff. I would do a bunch of skits where I’d pretend to put a fork in a power outlet or eat like a Tide pod. Then when the terms of service changed, I couldn’t make that stuff anymore. Then I started just doing I guess a prank content, like transition content or DIY stuff. Then wrote that for a little bit. Then I did a bit of relationship content.
I then just realized that it wasn’t necessarily the healthiest thing to mix content and actual relationship together. That’s when I transitioned over to YouTube with the gaming stuff. Then that will arc there. Then now I’m doing–most of my videos now are just whatever comes to mind that I find interesting. I’m trying to really niche down into the travel realm of things, whether that be airline reviews, hotel reviews, going just to cool places, and making a video about it. That’s where my content’s at now.
Tubefilter: Got it. I think that’s how I actually found your channel. Your channel got recommended to me because I watch a lot of airline reviews. Then I looked and saw how your content has changed from Minecraft videos to now this. It’s a very distinct difference.
Eric Struk: I dabbled in everything. That’s just me as a person, though. I don’t really like being tied down to one thing. I enjoy learning new things. The whole airline thing, I just stumbled into it. I was going to Italy last summer and I was making a video about Vatican City, which is the world’s smallest country or whatever. I was already making that video.
I already had a flight booked with Ryanair going to another place in Italy, and then a day before the flight, I’m like, “You know what? I may as well make a video about this.” Then I just did some quick research for three hours. Figured it was like the worst-rated airline. I’m like, “This seems like it could be a viral video or at least perform well.” Then I made the video, it did well, and now I just do a bunch of different airlines.
Tubefilter: You have long-form videos on your channel, and you’ve now been doing a lot of short form. What’s the balance of short-form and long-form for you? Do you prefer one over the other? How does your production process work?
Eric Struk: I try and balance both. I definitely lead more into long-form because I think the status of short-form content, it just really hyper-inflates numbers. For example, it hyper-inflates subscriber growth. It’s not actual community. I try and really just do the long-form to build a community. Basically, my thought process when making a video is I’ll come up with a concept, but that concept has to be able to be broken down into at least a trailer or multiple pieces of content. For example, I would do a food series where I would go to five different locations, and that can be broken down into five different shorts, because one per location.
Then normally when I make a long-form video, I pair it with a short-form video as a trailer. It’s basically like an intro into the long-form, and then at the end of the Short, it’s like, “Go watch the full video to see what happens,” or go watch the full video to, I guess, see the experience. Then the long-form video performs better because it’s not just hitting long-form recommendations, it’s also pulling people from the Shorts pool who might not have already seen that content or have ever had it recommended to them in the first place.
Tubefilter: Do you feel like there’s a lot of crossover between your Shorts audience and your long-form audience?
Eric Struk: I think in some aspects, I definitely want to start making my Shorts more niche, similar to how I have my long-form stuff, so it’s more of one community. I think right now it’s a little bit segmented. I think my short-form content skews a little bit younger, but my travel-based content and long-form stuff generally skews older. I think the primary demo is like 18+, 18 to 35 is the biggest demo for my long-form stuff.
Tubefilter: Are you focusing entirely on YouTube now or are you on any other platforms?
Eric Struk: I’m on other platforms. I just don’t really have the time for it because I’m still in university. I’m balancing university and internship plus my channel right now.
Tubefilter: Oh man. What are you in university for? What’s your internship for?
Eric Struk: I’m at university at Toronto Metropolitan University, it used to be called Ryerson, but they changed the name for media production. It’s a four-year undergrad degree and then we have to do an internship in order to graduate. This semester is hectic. I’m just doing social media consulting for a supplement company in Canada. Basically just helping them with their content strategies, giving them I guess advisory on best practices, things that I learned that I could pass on to them so they don’t have to go through the, I guess, learning process of it. That’s pretty much what I’m balancing right now.
Tubefilter: Yes. What are your plans for after college? Do you plan to go into content full-time?
Eric Struk: Yes, that’s the plan. I like to say I’m doing it full time right now, but yes, I want to really deep dive more into it, do a lot more travel-based stuff. Because being in school, I realized that I don’t want to go the mainstream media route because there’s a lot of hoops you have to jump through. For example, if you want to make like a show or make something that gets green light, you have to pass it through so many people. With YouTube, I can make whatever video I want. It’s my own schedule. I don’t have to ask someone like, “Hey, can I post this?” or “Hey, can I say this in my video?” I can be unfiltered. I can do whatever I want.
I think YouTube just gives me a lot of freedom to do anything, because I know a lot of my videos I make now is like, I flew Canada’s worst-rated airliner or something to that extent. Some companies might be like, “Oh, you know what? You can’t do that because it seems like you’re bashing another company.” At the end of the day, I’m not. Sometimes with the mainstream side of things, there’s that funnel, and I just don’t want to have to deal with it.
Tubefilter: Aside from traveling more, what are you looking forward to doing when you have content as your only full-time pursuit?
Eric Struk: Just making more content and not having distractions, because right now, pretty much my week is I try and load up three days with most of my classes, so I have four full days off. Basically, I’m trying to get one long-form video a week, but sometimes it can be pretty crazy. For example, one week, it was like Monday, I had off. Tuesday, I had class, Wednesday, I had class, and then that evening I flew out west for a video, for one of my airline videos. Then I flew back the next day for a different airline video. Then I missed one of my classes.
It’s just hectic, trying to do it all at once. It’ll be nice to just fully commit to it, but honestly the biggest thing would be actually just traveling more or just making more content that I want to make. I think I’ve been doing content for a few years now. I’ve realized I don’t really want to do things that I don’t find an interest with. I learned that through TikTok, because I really went into a depressive state where I stopped making content for seven months just because I didn’t want to do it anymore.
Ever since then, I’ve just told myself like, “I am only going to make videos that I want to make.” Obviously, I care about how they perform, but I’m not going to do something that just because it’s trending. I’ll come up with an idea myself and be like, “How can I make this fit?” whatever the, I guess–I can’t think of the word–whatever the YouTube meta is at the time.
With my travel stuff, I basically found there’s airline niche on YouTube. I guess there’s really passionate people about it, but the video quality wasn’t necessarily I guess to YouTube’s or the MrBeast kind of standard that most YouTubers have. I saw that as an opportunity to make videos that I care about, but also improve the quality of it so I stand out in that niche, if that makes sense.
Tubefilter: Yes. Got you. Do you feel like you’re in a better place with making content these days?
Eric Struk: Oh, 100%. The only stress I have is the editing side of it because with the content I make, I focus a lot on story. I try and put on the story of it. Unlike a lot of creators where they could just send it off to an editor and they can make the video. It’s a little bit more challenging for me because the editors aren’t with me when I’m filming. There’s certain story beats I want to hit and they just don’t really know what they are. I’m filming and then I’m doing all the editing myself and the thumbnails. It’s a lot of work, but I enjoy it. I’m in a place mentally, so it’s all good.
Tubefilter: My next question was going to be, do you have a team working with you behind the scenes? Do you plan to hire more people? How’s the situation for you?
Eric Struk: I have some people helping with some Shorts time to time because it could be quite tedious to edit a long-form video, then have to do a bunch of Shorts and keep up with it. Long-term, yes, I do want to have a team. I think it has to be something where it’s the right fit. Because I see a lot of what happens with YouTube editors, at least in my experience, is that you’ll find a good one, but most of the time they’ll have a ton of clients if they’re freelancing and they’re not on salary. Then usually they only put their effort towards the clients paying the most. There’s been times where I’ve sent off a video to an editor and it’s taken three weeks, and I’ve given a one-week deadline. It just doesn’t work.
I guess long-term would be have the channel a position where I could bring a friend on or someone to actually be a full-time editor on some sort of salary so it’s like an actual in-house team. Other than that, I take the Casey Neistat approach, in a way, where I telling my stories. It’s a little selfish and might not be the most optimal strategy for YouTube, but I just enjoy telling things that I care about. I don’t know, all my videos are just like a reflection of me and my interests. I feel like when I delegate that to someone off to edit, it’s not the same as what I would want to put out, if that makes sense.
Tubefilter: Yes, it does. What has been your favorite part of making content in general?
Eric Struk: That’s a tough question. I’m trying to think. Honestly, I think the best part is seeing the results of it and seeing people actually enjoy it. I’m a very introverted person, so it’s taken a lot for me to get used to filming in public, talking in public and making the videos that I make, because a lot of creators will just be able to sit at home and do reaction videos or gaming content. For my videos, I have to talk in airports, I have to talk in public and do these things. It’s taken a lot to get to that point. Whenever I see people in the comments saying like, “Oh, this made my day,” or, “This was really entertaining to watch.” Just seeing the conversation that a people are having and almost like a sense of community, I think that’s really where the reward is for me when I make content.
Tubefilter: I already asked about your future goals and plans, but is there anything else you want to bring up?
Eric Struk: I’m trying to think. I guess the biggest goal would be of getting really consistent about at least once a week, and then actually developing a community. I look at a Yes Theory as a really good example of how they have, I think a Yes Film where they do these videos. If they’re in a foreign country, they could post something, and then they’ll have subscribers coming to help them, or be like, “Hey, you should go do this, or you should do that.” I want to have a community where I could do that. I could fly to Germany for a video.
I could just put something out, and be like, “Hey, go here, or do this,” or I’d be able to interact with the community in person and videos. Then maybe eventually even launching something, some sort of business, whether it’s a consulting business helping people try and get into social media, or some travel-based business/blog, where it’s expanding on the videos I make and just more information. Because obviously with YouTube, you have to cut a bunch of stuff out so it’s optimized for retention.
I think if I had launched some log or some extra thing, it could go a lot more into detail for the people that would want to have all the information. I know with my airline videos, there’s some comments that are like, “We want to see the whole boarding process, takeoff and everything, and all the information about the plane,” and I understand where the aviation enthusiasts come from, but to the average person on YouTube, they just don’t care about that.
I guess finding a way to further serve the community would be the end goal.
Tubefilter: Anything else? Anything you feel I should know about you or readers should know about you?
Eric Struk: I’m trying to think.
Tubefilter: I know it’s a broad question.
Eric Struk: I mean it could be advice. I could give advice. [laughs]
Tubefilter: Sure! What’s your one core piece of advice for fellow creators?
Eric Struk: There’s actually a few. I think the first thing is results won’t happen overnight. If you get into social media, everyone says, “Don’t do it for the money.” It’s kind of true in the sense where you really won’t see money for a while. You have to make content and you have to fail at making content to make good content. Your first video’s never going to be good. Your 20th video probably won’t be that good either, but it’s a continuous learning process.
I think finding inspiration from other people is really good too. I don’t think you should necessarily copy. For example, I do travel videos, but I still watch MrBeast’s stuff to see how he does his pacing or watch documentary videos to see how they do their thing. Just take an inspo from other places. Honestly, just doing things you actually care about. I think trends are great for growing, and trend hacking is, but at the same point, it’s like you kind of fall into a hole eventually where you’re making stuff you don’t actually want to make for you and it’s just not fun. Really it’s just that making content you actually care about really helps avoid burnout.