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.
Jaden Williams is a man of many skills.
And he doesn’t mind letting fans see him in action–especially when he’s working on upcoming videos.
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But let’s back up a sec. Williams, who’s 23, says he fell in love with filmmaking “at a very young age,” thanks to his mom taking him to the movies every other weekend.
“With that and with middle school, high school, getting into film festivals and film club and all that, and learning about visual effects, that made me fall into the obsession for software engineering, which is what I ended up going to school for,” he says.
It was during college that he ended up getting a TikTok account. He wasn’t too sure what he wanted to do with it. He knew he wanted to try his hand at filmmaking, but he figured if that didn’t become a viable career path for him, he could at least use the account “to help market my own digital products” as he got better and better at software development. So, he began producing skits, some of which are funny, some of which are VFX-heavy, and all of which he views as short films building up his cinematic skillset.
By the time Williams graduated college, he had a significant enough following on TikTok that “I reached this major choice in my life, whether to take the engineering route, try to get into Microsoft and Apple and all those guys, and try to build my way up like any other engineer or risk it and go down this content creator path,” he says. He decided to give himself six months. For six months, he would commit to content, and would “see if I can succeed as far as I would as a junior software engineer.”
Now, over a year later, Williams can see he picked the right path. He’s got 2.3 million followers on TikTok and nearly 2 million on YouTube (we know, we’re a little late on the Millionaire thing). And a major part of building that community has been livestreams where Williams does things like script his upcoming videos and work on code for video games he’s developing. It’s a vulerable move, writing and coding live on cam, but Williams loves it.
Check out our chat with him below.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Tubefilter: Give us a little intro about you, where you’re from, and how you ended up here.
Jaden Williams: My name is Jaden Williams. I was born and raised in Florida. I’ve been here my whole life. Ever since I was nine years old, roughly, I’ve been holding a camcorder. I think a lot of content creators, they always confidently say they’re an influencer or a content creator. I’ve always considered myself more of a filmmaker rather than this person making these videos on the internet and stuff. I view all my stuff as little short films. I fell in love with filmmaking at a very young age with my mom taking me to the movies every other weekend. With that and with middle school, high school, getting into film festivals and film club and all that, and learning about visual effects, that made me fall into the obsession for software engineering, which is what I ended up going to school for.
Halfway through college, I started to finally build a following on this thing called TikTok. I started to grow and then my audience went to YouTube as well. By the time I graduated, I reached this major choice in my life, whether to take the engineering route, try to get into Microsoft and Apple and all those guys, and try to build my way up like any other engineer or risk it and go down this content creator path. I told myself, I’m like, “Okay, I’ll give myself six months to see if I can succeed as far as I would as a junior software engineer.” Fortunately, I can confidently say with Viral Nation and YouTube and all these platforms that have grown, I’ve been able to make a full-on living out of it. It’s been so surreal.
That’s very difficult. Very cool. After you graduated, you ramped up, you did the six-month period. What changed about your production? Did you start focusing more on different platforms? Did you start producing more content? How did that go?
Yes, because it definitely turned from like trying to do this experimental fun thing. 10 years ago, it was just like people did it for fun. Now people are doing it for fun and almost at the chance of like, “Hey, maybe I can turn this into a career one day like others did.” That was my mindset. I’m like, “Okay, while I’m studying and trying to do all these exams and projects, I’ll start doing all my filmmaking stuff like I used to do in my younger years.” With that route, I thought, “Okay, let me view it as a business. Let me start to try to build up the production quality.”
That’s when I graduated from college, I started to care more about lighting and sound design and putting hours more into the content and trying to build a brand on different platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook. The big ones are YouTube and TikTok, and then Instagram as well. I’ve been just trying to expand, is definitely the biggest thing I can point out. Since then, it’s just been trying to get better deals with Viral Nation, building connections with other creators, and other projects in the pipeline.
Can you tell me about other projects or is that a no-spoilers?
Obviously I have my software projects as well that are more private that hopefully I want to market down the line with now this huge multimillion-follower marketing tool that I now have, which is crazy. Imagine being able to have access to a tool that gives you the audience of millions of people and it’s completely free to you anytime you want, any day of the week. I’ve also viewed it that way as I was going through college. I was like, “Okay, well, as I build this, and let’s say I don’t take that route, at least I can still use that as this asset to help market my own digital products, just products in general down the line.” With projects, it’s definitely been just expanding. Down the line, I’d love to be able to get more back into true filmmaking and create short films and all that like I used to do when I was younger, and have it at a more professional level.
With your YouTube content, you’ve straddled this line between software engineering and film. I’m curious if you’ve thought about your strategy across content at all, or if that was just naturally a mix of your skills and interests and you found one audience.
Yes, I think with software development and filmmaking, ironically, I think they’re extremely similar. A lot of people might say otherwise. They’re both about creating. They’re both artforms, whether you’re filming and editing using a prebuilt software that someone else made or a software that you’re working on. I view them very similarly.
I think I would love to expand my software world. I’ve been working on a game for a few years that I’ve kept private. I’ve done coding streams. Obviously, my audience loves me for my comedy skits and all of that, but I’m always definitely experimenting with content. I’ll always do the formula-type videos that I care a lot about just as equally, and then I’ll do more experimental videos where it’s like…Like I just released a horror skit today, that’s fun. It’s still comedic, but it definitely has a spooky element to it.
Then I do my game development streams every so often. Every time people join the livestreams, they’re like, “You’re a game developer?” I’m like, “Yes, I went to four years of school for it, believe it or not.” It’s the funniest thing that I’m this content creator for most people, but the other half of my life is software engineering.
Thank you, yes.
It’s very interesting. I saw your short this morning, your new horror short. It’s cool to go between “Yes this guy can do VFX.” “Yes this guy can code.”
It’s funny, because sometimes I will do the more visual effects-heavy videos because I’ve tried to find ways to separate myself from other people, because just like a lot of creators, you put so much work into an original piece that you’re so proud of, and then some other guy with more followers, more whatever, just copies your video. You’re like, “Oh man, this is–” What are you going to do? You can’t do much about it. I have learned to do visual effects, high-end VFX that take me hours and hours, days to work on, and then hours to render on its own. It’s helped separate me in my own area with other amazing content creators.
Tell me a little bit about your production, because you do a mix of short-form and long-form. How much time goes into it behind the scenes? How much time goes in for the average short-form and the average long-form?
I’ve definitely dealt with both long-form and short-form because YouTube and Instagram both have a cap. YouTube has a cap of 60 seconds for a short-form video, and Instagram has a cap of about 90 seconds. Facebook 60 seconds as well. TikTok has given a bunch of creators that 10-minute duration, which I have. I usually try to make a script, a little screenplay that is roughly 60 seconds to 90 seconds long. Then I’ll upload a YouTube Short that is that video, cut it down, or I upload a long-form version of the YouTube video as a long-form that’s 90 seconds, if not longer. Then I cut it down to a YouTube Short. I upload the long version to TikTok, a semi-long version to Instagram. It’s been fun. It’s been actually super fun being able to see these different versions of the same video.
This one today that I posted on YouTube, the long-form version is a minute and 45 seconds. Then on the normal YouTube Short version, it’s only a minute long because that’s the maximum you can do. For YouTube Shorts, it’s 60 seconds. I get to make this version at 60 seconds, 90 seconds, a minute-plus long. It’s a challenge as well. It’s really fun to be able to see, “Okay, well, this doesn’t have to be in the video. It can be considered redundant. I’ll remove that, bring that in.” It’s funny, all of my videos are completely different versions of themselves that total just audiences of all different platforms get to see differently.
Yes, that’s an interesting editing challenge.
No, it’s so fun because at first, I saw it as like, “Oh man, the video’s dumb, but I have to make three other versions. Are you kidding me?” Then I challenged myself to– you think, “Oh, the long version will be the best,” but I’m like, “Okay, well if that’s the case, let me try to make the short version even better than the long one and see if people enjoy it more.”
What’s been your favorite part of this whole internet journey?
I love being able to see the audience react to the content that I make. When I post on YouTube, I usually do premieres now. I think a lot of people tell you, it’s like, “Oh, make sure to do premieres. It’s really good for the–” I just do it because I love being able to see the live reaction of people in the chat. If I could have my video premiere every single time at a local theater near me and get a bunch of people to see it, that’d be amazing. I love being able to interact, like a lot of creators do, with my audience, and I try to comment as much as I can. If anything, I’m not in it for the views or the likes, I barely look at that. I’m in it totally for the comments. I want to see how people are reacting to the video, if they love it, if they think something about it is weird or bad. I always want to learn and I always try to grow from it.
I’m curious about your livestreams. You said you do livestreams with your audience. How often or how frequent are those and are they for specific sectors of your audience?
Yes, for livestreaming, that’s been a very new area for me that I’ve been trying to expand on. I’ve done all sorts of things. I’ve started a gaming channel as well, and we can discuss that. I do gaming content, but I’ve learned to write my videos during livestreams as well. It’s such a win-win all around because not only do the community gets to interact with me more, and I get to interact with the community. We get to bounce ideas off of each other dialogue-wise. Not only am I getting almost just this free tutor, this coach that can help me with writing, it’s hundreds of people watching all at the same time.
I ask, “Hey guys, let’s work on this line. I’m not liking how it flows.” Then people will throw it in the chat and I’ll give them credit. I’ll put it next to the script and all that and it’s so fun. Then I do editing streams as well. I do editing streams so people can learn how to edit. Obviously, I’m confident in how I edit so if someone is able to learn from that and try to do it on their own, I think that’s amazing. It’s totally free and then people obviously can support if they want to in whatever way. It’s just all around, just a total win-win for everybody.
A very vulnerable thing, to script and edit on livestream.
Yes. I’ve gotten people that have been against it. Even family. They’re like, “It sounds like you’re giving away your secrets” and all that. It’s like, no, if anything, it’s like I’m benefiting from it, because people can bring in lines–and when it comes to editing, I get to see if people thought that was a– which reaction? Because I redo lines of dialogue when I’m filming, obviously, and so they might choose like, “Oh, that second one is better than the first one,” so we choose that. Then for them, it’s like they learn how this “big content creator” works and all that, and how I do it. It’s just so fun.
What makes you so passionate about teaching other people?
I think the struggle that I had growing up with learning all these editing programs and trying to understand the full pieces of what makes up a plot and foreshadowing and all that. Just trying to learn how to tell a good story through dialogue and editing. As much as people might like to say I’m super hilarious or something like that, I owe a lot of my comedy and comedic timing to the editing alone. That’s my favorite piece of making my content is for sure the editing.
How much time goes into editing your average video?
Oh, man, that’s one of the biggest questions is how much time I put into editing for every video. It really depends on the video when I do videos that have a lot of visual effects going on. I just did one a few weeks ago where I had an earthquake show up on my kitchen floor and that’s going to take me– I think that took me two weeks because of dealing with Blender, which is my 3D editing program, and all that. Then on the other side where it’s more dialogue-driven, though thankfully those deal a lot less with maybe the visual effects. If you have five characters, I have to go back and forth and see if the pacing is right. I do a lot of interrupts. I interrupt myself a lot in my own content to keep up the retention of the viewer, I suppose and it just makes it funnier and more natural-sounding.
We’re in such a weird phase of social media where the platform is so mixed with, just for lack of better words, the amateur content creator who’s just holding the phone back and forth, same clothes, same all that, and that’s great. For one, if you make a huge audience on your own just doing that, that’s talent. Then there’s people, I guess you can say like me who, I try to– I’m like, “Okay, let me view this as a production.” I’m trying to make sure the dialogue is good, the story makes sense. There’s maybe foreshadowing. There’s a theme to it. There’s plot. There’s buildup.
Then the editing is very fast-paced in my videos. I’ve gotten that down to a science. On frame one there is talking and I cut it right at the line where my little audio decibel line goes up. It’s stuff like that that I think really make the difference. Let’s say someone doesn’t even like the video as much as one of my other ones, just anyone would, I think subconsciously people appreciate quality a lot. Whether or not it was the greatest TikTok, YouTube video they ever saw, they subconsciously feel like, “Wow, this person put a lot of work into it, let me keep watching it. Maybe even share it with a friend.”
Are you focusing on any one specific platform, or do you feel like you’re spread pretty evenly?
I think at the moment YouTube has been my focus because since November I gained a million followers. YouTube Shorts is really pushing out a lot of content creators to this new genre of content that’s come up out of nowhere these last few years. I’m at half a billion views. It’s insane. It’s absolutely insane. I know normal YouTubers have spent a decade trying to get to 100,000 followers. I’m starting to pass other creators that I’ve been watching for years. It’s the craziest thing. We’re living in this new world of content-creating where yesterday you could be at 5,000 followers and tomorrow you could be at 100,000 just from one viral video.
YouTube’s been very loving with their creators and trying to be able to help grow people, whether or not the video is as good as their last one, because in my opinion, TikTok can be a little bit more harsh in that sector, where they’re like, “If this isn’t a good video, it’s not a good video,” and they hurt the video. YouTube has definitely cared a lot about trying to support the creator. YouTube has been my main platform in these last couple of months, few months. TikTok, I have 2 million followers, so it’s definitely my biggest. Then Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook are the ones that I’m also caring a lot about, trying to really build those as my official platforms.
I’m wondering if you’ve noticed any significant differences in audiences between YouTube and TikTok and your other platforms. I hear from people that YouTube audiences are a lot more personally engaged.
Yes, I completely agree with that. YouTube audiences, to me, feel a lot more engaged than TikTok because I think with YouTube you have the long-form as well. People aren’t just subscribing to you because you showed up on their For You page a couple of times. YouTube, there is this long-form piece that you have to more likely be on your TV or your computer for me to show up. Then you’re more immersed. I still do short form-type content. It’s maybe not a 10-minute video, but it’s a three-minute video instead of a 30-second video, it would be on TikTok. I do think that YouTube has a much more invested audience just because of how the platform is built. TikTok is built, “Hey, we can make you viral tomorrow, but that doesn’t mean that you will stay that way.”
The consistency on TikTok is also something. I hear that it’s a struggle to build that longevity.
Yes, a lot of people don’t know because people have loved TikTok, and don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love and appreciate the opportunity TikTok has given me. I think the one thing that people don’t see on the other side is that just because you went viral or it’s easy to go viral, doesn’t mean it’s easy to stay viral. Where on YouTube, that’s probably a little bit more their sector where it’s like, “Hey, you made this great video, you made several great videos, even if this one you did doesn’t do as well, we’re still going to boost you because of all your other content.”
TikTok definitely seems harsher in that regard. I’m curious, you said Facebook, Instagram, Reels, and Snap as well, how do you utilize those platforms? Those also seem more difficult with your type of content.
Yes, it’s unfortunate with Meta, Instagram, they’ve been a little hit or miss with paying their creators. That one has unfortunately gone down the drain where I’m not making a cent from Instagram anymore, but obviously, regardless, I was appreciative either way of building a following. I have roughly maybe a quarter mil now or so, 250K. That’s obviously my third one that I’m trying to grow the most, but it’s still all these different audiences. They’re always going to be different. They’ve always seemed different to me. Just a few days ago, I had a dog video that I did with my– I have a senior dog, and I made just this funny relatable video about him. It went “viral” on Instagram with a million views and on all my other platforms, no one was interested in that. They got 100K, 200K on those.
Wild. That actually reminds me, I wanted to go back to, you said you make these videos that you know are probably going to do pretty well, and then you make videos that are personal or more from the heart. I’m really curious about the development process, the creative process, for you to be able to make those, even though they maybe won’t do as well.
Sure, yes. Determining whether or not I’m going to proceed with going forward with creating a piece that I’m not sure of, or maybe I am sure of, obviously those I’m like, “Oh, this is going to do great,” whatever. I did a funny McDonald’s Grimace video. There’s a huge trend on that for a while. People were making these scary skits of Grimace with his milkshake. That video, I wanted to do a huge VFX thing. It has over I think 14 million views on YouTube. It’s one of my top five biggest videos now. It’s stuff like that. I’m confident in that route. I’m like, “Oh, I know this is going to go well, go viral.”
With other ones, like maybe I was having a little family matters with my dog and so I wanted to put him on there. Those, I don’t care. I want to post it because I want to. Sometimes it’s for the memory, to mark it in stone. Then sometimes with either dialogue videos, I love being able to make what I like to coin Bridesmaids comedy, where it’s awkward comedy. It’s uncomfortable or it’s just so relatable. It’s such natural writing. I love those, but because my audience is on the tad younger side, sometimes those videos don’t do as well unless I make it super fast-paced and add really crazy stuff going on, just funny sounds in the background or they make funny faces, whatever. It’s definitely, sometimes I have to experiment and be like, “Okay, if I want to go down the more mature route of comedy, then I have to make some of these videos sometimes to try to maybe make my audience more mature as I grow as well.” It’s early on that I determined, I’m like, “Okay, this video probably isn’t going to do as well as I want it to, but let me put as much effort as I can into it and see where it goes.
Gotcha. I know you mentioned some software projects that you can’t talk about, so no spoilers, but do you have any cool projects or any cool goals that you’re working on right now?
Like you said, I do have some software gaming projects that I’m working on. I’ve done a few livestreams of them, but I’ve definitely been heavily focused on content-creating right now. I think for projects, I just want to keep building the brand, building series out of the inside jokes that people know and all that or characters that they know, and try to keep just getting higher and higher quality. I got my gaming channel now, that’s been a huge one that’s actually been very large for a college student, a big financial investment for myself because I’ve gone and hired a bunch of editors to help create gaming content for myself on this second channel. That’s been one of my bigger projects at the moment.
That’s interesting, because I know you take a lot of pride in editing your stuff for your core channel, but then you’re outsourcing or working with other people for your gaming channel.
Yes, I know. It was tough to determine whether I wanted to do that or not. It’s so funny, I wrote this huge– It’s one page, but it’s very packed. It’s with all of these technicals that I want for like, “Okay, here’s how you do the captions. We can do it this way.” I gave them full freedom of how they obviously edit and you can see it in their different editing styles. The captions, I make sure they’re all the same. I tell them to use like funny sound effects, keep the retention always going, never let a single frame of a pause happen during the video to keep up that retention. It’s been a long time coming and it’s been very time-consuming and has definitely affected my main channel as well at times because I’m trying to build a second branch of the brand, the entity on this side as I’m also maintaining my main work on the other side as well.
It’s been fun. It’s starting to finally pay off. We’re starting to get followers. We got almost 40,000 subscribers on my gaming channel now and we’ve only been doing it for two, three months.
Oh, really? It’s already taken off that much.
It’s starting to really pay off. We’re already a YouTube Partner. We’re starting to finally see some revenue come in. Not profits, we’re not making profits yet, but we’re starting to see some revenue come in.
Is there anything else you want readers to know about you?
Yes. The biggest thing that I can say at this moment, because it’s hard: When you become a content creator, you don’t really care about learning how to become a content creator anymore. You need to humble yourself and remember, “Okay, what were the things that I didn’t know months ago, years ago?” For me, I think it was as cliche as it is, you just got to put as much work into it as you can. You can’t treat it as just a hobby if you want to succeed. No one succeeds if something’s just a hobby. That applies to anything. If you treat it as a business, this is what you want to do with your life or whatever, then you got to treat it as, “Okay, this is my job. I’m going to put this amount of hours into it every single week. I’m not going to get lazy with it.”
That’s probably the biggest thing, is a lot of people want to just be content creators and then they don’t realize like, “Oh shoot, that’s going to have to be my job if I want that. It’s going to have to be my full-time thing that I’m doing 25 hours of the day.” That’s also one of the cons to being this self-employed person. You get to choose your own hours and you get to choose your own hours. It’s difficult at times, but you’ve just got to. If you love it, then it will naturally come to you.
Jaden Williams is repped by Viral Nation.