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.
When a creator makes content around things like cleaning, organizing, and housekeeping, it can be easy to assume they’ve always had their stuff together.
But Kallie Branciforte assures us she “used to be a hot mess.”
Branciforte’s content has evolved over the years. She started with a text blog in the beauty sphere, then ended up shifting over to more lifestyle, which is when she began trending toward the sort of content we see now on her YouTube channel. For Branciforte, her blog (relatably called But First, Coffee) and her YouTube channel–conceived as a spinoff/complement for But First, Coffee–were a hobby, she says. But over time, her audience grew to the point where content could become her full-time thing.
So, she took the plunge and quit her day job–two weeks before COVID hit.
“I left my job and then all of a sudden, I didn’t have childcare, I didn’t have anything,” she says. “It was a little rocky there for a few months.”
Branciforte made it work, though, and over the past two years, her channel has grown exponentially. She now has more than a million subscribers tuning in for content where she helps break down household tasks.
“It’s not just that I’m an organized person and I show you how to be organized. I used to be a hot mess and sometimes I’m still in the hot mess, but this is how I make it happen and I stay on top of stuff,” she says. “That’s always what I’m preaching to people, is that it’s not this picture-perfect, Instagram-perfect thing, if you will, as people like to think. It’s these real, attainable, realistic ways of living that other people could do too.”
Check out our chat with her below.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Kallie Branciforte: Yes, I went to school for education. I was a teacher for a handful of years which is when I actually started blogging, which then turned into creating a YouTube channel. Totally just for fun as a hobby. I had my summers off, I like to be busy, and so I was just doing it just as a creative outlet really. I actually started my content mostly in the beauty sphere, just talking about beauty content. Then it evolved from there.
After a handful of years, I ended up leaving education to take a job at internet marketing because I was just getting really interested in that space. It gave me a little bit more freedom to work on my blog and my YouTube channel a little bit more. My content just grew as I grew. I was 23 or 24 when I started my channel. Again, it was just like a hobby. I wasn’t doing it as anything serious.
Then as I just got older, my content evolved into more home content and then I got married and then I had children and it really evolved into what it is now, which is really sharing a lot of content about productivity and home organization in a really honest, realistic way, not like the perfectly curated organizational stuff that’s out there. Then about three years ago we ended up leaving my office job to pursue this full-time. Now I am a mom of two plus more coming soon and just doing it full-time.
Kallie Branciforte: They started almost about the same time. I probably did my first YouTube video in the same year that I was doing blogging, but I was more heavily into blogging as far as consistency-wise, but I always loved the creative outlet of video. I liked the creative challenge of it, like learning new editing ways and different ways to film. I just started to fall in love with video content more.
I still have my blog. I literally just hit publish on something right before this call. I still do love blogging, but I just really like the creative freedom that came with video content more. Everything I did was just self-taught and I think that’s what I really liked about it. Every few videos I would try something different. It was just this really fun and it still is, a really fun creative outlet for me that way.
Kallie Branciforte: Yes. I feel like I was very conservative with deciding to go full-time. I waited until I had three years of what would be considered a full-time income doing what I had been doing, YouTubing and blogging, before I quit my job. I wanted to make sure, for sure, that I could pay my bills doing this. By the time I quit, I already had one child, we had just bought a house, so I wasn’t in a place where I was like, “I’m just going to take a leap of faith and go for it.”
It was pretty calculated and I ended up actually taking a year at the job that I was at and working part-time. I went part-time at that job for a year. I really slowly waded into that water as opposed to some people who just go for it, which is great, but I just wasn’t in a place in my life where I felt like I could do that.
Kallie Branciforte: It was, and I quit my job, and the two weeks after my last day at my office was when COVID hit.
Kallie Branciforte: Yes, I left my job and then all of a sudden, I didn’t have childcare, I didn’t have anything. It was a little rocky there for a few months.
Kallie Branciforte: Yes. It’s hard to know. Yes, a lot of my content is home-related and I think a lot of people spending more time at home were interested in that, but it’s hard to know because it also does coincide with when I officially was full-time, and so even though I was quarantined with a toddler, technically that was my only job anymore. That’s where all my effort was going as well. I was producing more videos. It’s hard to know that way.
Kallie Branciforte: Yes. I post every single Sunday, always every Sunday. Then usually I post one to two bonus videos, usually on Thursdays, but it’s not so specific depending on if it’s a sponsorship or if I’m working with another creator, or if I’m doing collaboration, but my minimum is always on Sundays.
Kallie Branciforte: Sometimes they feed into each other. My blog now is just secondary. When I started with blogging, that was my main priority. There was a period of time I was putting up blog posts every single day. Now it’s become something that’s more supplemental. Lots of times I will use it to…Like if there’s something that a lot of people are asking for on social media, like maybe they want a roundup of something or they want answers to a certain kind of question, maybe it doesn’t make sense to do it as a full video or it wouldn’t make sense on my channel to do it as a full video.
I love that I can do it as a blog post because I can still get that question answered and I can provide that content in a way that makes sense. I also will use it just to bolster up videos as well. A lot of my videos will have rough scripts to go with them, so I can just take the script. I can actually make it into a blog post. There is some SEO value there that’s a little easier to get it out to Pinterest and that sort of stuff, but my blog has really become just like a support to YouTube and my other social medias.
Kallie Branciforte: I have my manager, which is great. I have a PA who writes up my newsletters for me and if I have little tasks, I can send those off to her, but I film everything, I edit everything, I upload everything. I create all the content.
Kallie Branciforte: Yes, I would say that maybe 25% of my content comes from that type of request. Whether it’s I notice people asking things a lot or I guess getting the same type of question or comments and realizing that it needs some type of video response to it. Or people just asking the same thing over and over again, or they’re struggling with the same thing. A lot of the content I create, whether it’s organization or just mom-type stuff, I will get people saying the same things over and over again. It does help with some content. Definitely some content ideas. Probably about, like I said, about a quarter of my content ideas comes directly from audience questions and/or comments.
Kallie Branciforte: Yes, it was. I made a goal for myself to hit a million subscribers last year. I am not somebody who tends to make really big goals because I’m always worried if I make a goal that’s too big and then I don’t hit it, then I failed at it. You know what I mean?
Kallie Branciforte: I realized that that thought process was stupid because if you are always selling yourself low, then you’re always going to hit low. I decided in 2022 that was my big thing, I was going to hit a million. I think I hit it a few days before 2023, so it felt huge because it was a million, but it also felt really big because I think I had taken this leap of faith on myself to say like, “I’m going to hit a million this year. I’m going to do it,” and then I did it right as the clock was running out, if you will.
It felt good. In some ways it just feels like a number sometimes. It’s a million, which is really cool, but I’m not huge on worrying about how many followers I have and obsessing over it all the time. In some ways it did just feel like it was a number, but it felt like a huge accomplishment, I think, mostly like I said because I had made this big goal for myself and it felt really good that I had stuck with it and saw it happen.
Kallie Branciforte: I guess so. Like I said, I never sat and watched the numbers. Most times I didn’t know exactly how many subscribers I had because I couldn’t obsess over that because I feel like it would mess with my creativity and my content if I was always obsessing over how many subscribers I had at the moment.
Kallie Branciforte: [laughs] Yes, bringing life into the world again. Nothing that’s super huge that I necessarily want to promise out to the world. I have a bunch of printables that I sell at Etsy. A lot of times I will launch videos that go with printables. They’ll be like eBooks, or checklists, or planners that go along with the videos. I’m ramping those up a lot this year just because I tend to get people wanting a little bit more from the videos or they’re wanting to dive a little bit deeper into the ideas and the content that’s there.
That’s something that people will definitely see this year from me, is a little bit more additional support into some of the videos. Whether it’s a eBook or a planner that they can get that goes along with it to help them follow through on whatever the idea, the statement of that video.
Kallie Branciforte: I’d done it a little bit and then I fell off, but I really love doing it and I get a lot of really good feedback from it. A lot of my audience that do use it, they love them. I know I love them too, so it’s been really fun. I like creating them. You’re in some ways constrained inside of a video with how much you can offer. Somebody will watch something, and then that’s it, then they’re left with that video, but if they have something actionable they can do with it afterwards, it feels a little bit more…
Kallie Branciforte: Yes.
Kallie Branciforte: The digital products are definitely something. I would love to have physical products at some point too. Maybe not necessarily this year, but maybe in the year after that. I definitely didn’t go over the top with big goals this year like I did last year just knowing that I’m going to have a new baby and knowing what that life is like with that. I feel like it’s funny looking at my timeline of content. It’s always like the year I have a baby is a little bit slower with that type of stuff, and then the next year is usually the year that I come back ready to go.
I’m definitely protecting this space in this time with this being my third baby, just knowing what it’s like and not trying to overextend or overcommit myself, but digital product is definitely something I want to do a little bit more and definitely down the road I do want to have some real product to offer.
Kallie Branciforte: I think if you’re familiar with my content, the majority of what I like to do is really just…The thing that I always tell people with my content is, like I said at the beginning, it’s changed so much since I started. The content that I used to create is nothing like the content I’ve created now or the content that I create now, but just so much of what I share is just what I’ve gone through in my own life. Learning how to essentially simplify my life, be productive, be more disciplined, be able to be successful in life, follow up on my goals. While at the same time dealing with the craziness that his parenthood.
When I first became a mom, all of that felt super unattainable. I didn’t even know how I was going to get dinner on the table, and so I just learned these little tricks and hacks along the way to become a little more organized, become a little more disciplined with my routine. You just saw how much of an effect it had on my life in making it easier for me to be able to be a mom and be a business owner. I just really try to share that idea.
It’s not just that I’m an organized person and I show you how to be organized. I used to be a hot mess and sometimes I’m still in the hot mess, but this is how I make it happen and I stay on top of stuff. That’s always what I’m preaching to people, is that it’s not this picture-perfect, Instagram-perfect thing, if you will, as people like to think. It’s these real, attainable, realistic ways of living that other people could do too.
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