Graham Stephan has really made it big.
Starting from the Real Estate Investor niche, he has created a YouTube Channel that has almost reached 2.9M subscribers, with more than 180M cumulative views.
Pretty crazy, huh?
The thing is, Graham hasn't really made the core of his wealth through YouTube, but through real estate investments, showing he really knows his niche well!
As of writing this review, Graham's net worth is $6.5M, with an estimated $300k a month coming in from YouTube only.
So if I were an aspiring youtuber, I'd be reading pretty carefully!
By 21 years old, Graham had a net worth of $260k.
Things really changed when at 25 years old Graham read Tim Ferriss’ 4 Hour Work Week and learned about the Pareto Principle.
That's when he decided he could benefit himself and others by dropping his knowledge on YT.
At age 27, after his first year on YouTube, Graham had earned $26,966.69.
Not too bad for a rookie.
He then decided to apply the Pareto principle on his own life:
By 29 years old, he started spending 80% of his time on YouTube and 20% in real estate.
And that's when things started skyrocketing, for this McLovin lookalike.
At the age of 31, he is now in the position to teach you a couple of things about how to build a YT channel and take it to the moon.
He's been featured in the highest grossing YouTubers list multiple times by now, and there seems to be no stopping him.
Like most people in his position, even though he has splurged some of his cash, Graham likes to live very frugally.
He still counts his money in the amount of Subway sandwiches and petrol for his car that he can buy with it.
That's the right attitude to have, and at age 30, with that net worth and that attitude, you're golden.
Now he's come out with a course called The YouTube Creator Academy, and I have checked it out for you and am going to give you a detailed review.
After having quite a few people asking me to review this course in my comments, I thought it would be only fair to my readers to go through the course, dive in it and give a very honest opinion.
As you will see, I don't have an affiliate link to Graham's course.
If you end up buying it, I will not be making a dime.
I'm going to go into details and be answering the questions that you really want to know the answer to.
No messing around.
Before I start this review, lemme tell you a bit about me..
Until 7 years ago, like many of the people I review, I was working in a corporate job from 9 to 5.
Not only was it destroying my soul, but it didn't give me any time to pursue my bigger plans of getting rid of the 9 to 5 lifestyle.
That was until I discovered a method to rank sites organically, generating free leads for my clients.
That website you see above, for the tree care company, I created that site in 2015, and since then I haven't had to touch or update it:
It has gained me a passive income of $2000 a month.
That's more than $100,000 for one site, in 5 years.
That's the magic of the Lead Generation business, it's by far the best model to generate passive income. If you want to know more, just hop over here!
But enough about me, let's dive into Graham's course!
The YouTube Creator Academy
The YouTube Creator Academy is a 13 module course, where you will be really learning everything you need from the very start:
From the choice of the niche to the planning of the videos, to the choice of equipment and the production of the vids.
You'll be taught by Graham himself, who really knows his subject inside out, and goes out of his way to tell you what works and doesn't work in YT TODAY.
YT Creator Academy Perks
1-2: Testimonials and Introduction to YT
The first module is basically a mix of testimonials and introductory material, but not all is fluff.
Graham gives a rundown of his life experience creating YouTube videos.
This is both really interesting (as success stories are), but also useful, in that it already comes with some nuggets of wisdom.
Graham talks about how watching video on business and motivational advice, and he realized that that is what he needed to specialize in.
He decided it was the moment to start, although all of his friends discouraged him from doing it.
In December 2016, he decided to go for it and upload one video.
He talked about his story and how he got into real estate and filmed himself with a phone.
In 24 minutes, he gave his life story and after maybe too many takes, he forced himself to learn iMovie to edit his footage.
He went on other videos by realtors and commented to get his name around, and posted 2 videos a week on average.
Things started to build up and one day one of his videos on passive income had 'blown up' from going from 200 subs to 32k subscribers.
The power of YT algorithms.
That video going viral made him realize the potential of ad revenue.
He met with other YT in his own niche and learned from them, while they learned from him.
At the time of filming the course, Graham is making $1k-$2k a day, making 3 videos a week.
Organic growth is where it's at, according to Graham, and that helped him slowly grow and learn to feel less awkward while filming videos.
It's a good way of framing the course, and Graham is honest enough to say that it is all stuff you could find doing research yourself, but it's all out there.
He has put it all together in one single course, for you to learn module after module.
3: Why YouTube?
Ok, we get it.
Making films and publishing them can be a profitable solution.
But why exactly YouTube?
Seems like a stupid question at first, but it isn't really.
Why use YT over FB, IG, TikTok or other platforms?
- It's the only platform that give you the option to create long form self-created content.
- It is also owned by Google, which is obviously the greatest search engine in the world.
- People don't Google things anymore to learn how to do stuff, you want to watch someone teaching you and going on YouTube.
- YouTube also provides you with genuine, not mass-market, content.
- You can gain an audience by providing value, and then branch out to other platform, while it isn't as easy the other way around.
- As the head of a YouTube channel, you create a real connection with people.
- Ultimately, you have complete control over what you create and upload, with huge possibility of creating revenue.
If you know SEO, you can apply that to grow organically and appear in Google searches.
The monetization aspect can also help you create wealth from a YouTube channel:
- Creating courses that teach people.
Your YouTube channel is an extension of yourself.
Even if you think you're not good enough, YT audiences love watching people they can relate to.
It's all about the connection.
Just be yourself and put content out there, and eventually you will get people's attention.
All you need is one niche, and the perseverance of going through it, day in and day out.
4: Before You Start
Now the first modules have got you fired up.
You want to create a YouTube channel, but wait up!
Do you know how much time goes into making what seems to be just a normal video?
Graham breaks down his timeline, and I found this really helpful to kind of give an estimate of how long these things take.
There are many more aspects to creating a video than I previously realized, and they all pile up on each other time-wise.
Just be sure you know what you're getting yourself into!
So this is what it takes for Graham to knock out one of his vids!
- Plan: 1 hour of what to say and what to say.
- Film: 1 hour gives a good 15 minutes of usable footage.
- Edit: 3/4 hours going through text overlays, sound effects etc.
- Title: 20 minutes figuring out what keyword are going to work bets.
- Thumbnail: 20/30 minutes figuring what is going to work and rank.
- Description: 20 mins, making sure to include the right keywords
- Tags: 10 minutes once you have good experience with what you're doing
- Rest of it: 30 minutes of bits and bobs that always pop up while creating.
So we're basically talking about 7/8 hours to shoot a professional video of the quality that we are used to seeing in Graham's vids.
That is dedication, especially if you want to put out 3 of them a week.
Not saying it's a full-time job, but a solid part-time!
Usually, the more work you spend on the videos, the better it will perform.
There are exceptions to the rule, but if you fake it till you make it, it'll show!
Graham splits his work doing 30 mins at any one time, and a couple of hours.
You don't want to burn yourself out by doing it all in one go.
Especially if you are in it for the long haul.
The mental game in YouTube is real, and you have to fight that fatigue as much as you can.
Especially at the beginning, you want to pace yourself and take it easy.
And of course, be consistent.
5: What Camera Equipment to Use
This is the real meat and potatoes of the course.
Equipment is what makes your video look good and appealing to the viewers.
When suggesting for cameras, there are differences depending on your content.
For Vlogging, for example, Graham suggests a Canon G7X MKiii or the Sony Handycam 4K.
His very favorite for vlogging, though, is just your iPhone, especially when starting out.
For more sit-down vids, Graham suggests a Canon 70D or 80D.
Does quality really matter in a YouTube video?
Can't you just shoot a video Blair-Witch-Project style?
It does indeed, but not to the point where it has to be HD or 4K.
Focus and volume are the ones that you need to keep nailing down.
People usually watch your videos from their phone, so going all in on quality doesn't pay off.
At the same time, it all depends on the niche.
A finance video will need to have a nice setting, while a Burger King review really won't need all that quality.
In Graham's opinion, the higher the quality, overall, the more people will be inclined to watch.
When it comes to audio, then, Graham is also very thorough, as much as he is with video.
For vlog content, Graham is adamant about buying a shotgun mic.
This is a mic that will pick up all that is right in front of it, but not the background noise.
RODE shotgun mics are the ones that best perform for vlogs.
And if you're shooting outdoors, for the love of god, buy a wind muff to cover your mic with.
For anything further than 3 feet, Graham suggests you use a wireless mic, for top quality.
Comica wireless mics are the best out there when it comes to wireless.
I like that this course digs into the nitty gritty of what is needed to start your own channel.
6: Planning Your Videos
Ah, the ever-crushing dilemma of what niche to go for!
Luckily this is discussed in module 6, where you learn how to plan your videos.
Graham's suggestion is short and sweet:
Make the type of videos that you enjoy watching.
It's as simple as that.
If you're going to be making 3 videos a week for years to come, then you better like the subject matter or you will go crazy.
It also will be the easiest video to do, because you already know stuff on the topic.
And you know you would like to see more videos of the niche involved.
Make videos that you think other people might want to see.
What videos are under-served on YouTube?
Narrow down on one niche, don't stay general, you want to dominate a small pond.
And people are going to be expecting consistency from what you put out.
And they're going to come back for more.
It's not that hard once you think about it.
Choose what you're going to become the boss of.
Catering for a specific demographic or fandom is clearly the way to go.
People interested in a niched down topic will never have enough of it.
And chances are, when you show up with your first videos, they are going to give you a chance.
This is one of the paramount lessons not only in YouTube creation, but in entrepreneurship in general.
So you better take notes!
7: Creating Your Videos
In this section, Graham really spills the beans on how to create the perfect video.
The first suggestion is that of keeping the level of conversation that a 5th-grader can understand.
That's not only cos 5th graders watch a lot of YouTube, but you want to make sure that even the least-cultured adults can understand what you're saying.
Would your video keep the attention of a 5th grader?
Always keep that in mind when creating a YT video that people can appreciate.
If you check out the most viral videos on YT, you will find that ALL of them are shot to appeal to that level of knowledge.
Graham makes a very good example of making the same content as a friend of his, Matt McKeever.
They started with the same niche and more or less the same focus.
The problem is that Matt's content was really deep and advanced.
He went for that purposefully, but in doing so, he sacrificed audience.
So while Graham soared to millions of followers, Matt remained with 70k subs.
So the important aspect of this module is really that of keeping it as simple as possible, if you want to grow steadily.
Other really good tips about how to plan your videos are:
- Get to the point asap, or someone is going to call you out about it.
- Plan out what to say and in what order to say things.
- High energy really counts: have a coffee or drink a power-soda!
- Always relate to the viewer, make them feel part of the fam.
- Make sure to tell the audience what they are going to get from it asap.
- Try to keep it real and be genuine.
- Keep in the mistakes, if they are small things: it makes things more real.
- Enjoy what you're doing or what you're saying, be in the mood when filming.
This is one of the best modules of the course, full of tips on how to make the perfect videos for your following.
It's a real pleasure to see a pro go through how he thinks and how he implements it.
8: How to Edit Your Videos
This is a real hands on module.
In relatively short videos, Graham teaches you how to edit the footage you've created.
But it also contains some nuggets of wisdom on all things relating to editing.
So I won't be wasting time on the details on how to edit, thank me later!
There are tricks and tips that Graham goes through on how to boost your view time.
And that's just through editing.
The first rule of good editing is that you don't want people to realize how much editing has gone into the video
- Increases watch time.
- Makes the video more enjoyable (sound effects, zoom...)
- Keeps your videos fresh.
You can do this through:
- The use of fonts, to spell out something important.
- Background music to keep the momentum going.
- Use of sound effects, to keep the viewer on the edge of the seat.
- Use zoom to cut in between scenes and to cover camera jumps.
- Use black and white to add gravitas to the moment.
- Promote your IG or other social accounts.
9: Creating Your Channel
Now it's time for your channel creation and Graham is there to tell you exactly how to do it.
We're talking getting into the details of what to choose and how to choose it.
Like choosing a thumbnail and banners that represent you and your channel.
Ideally your thumbnail should be eye catching and a bit of a brand.
So Graham suggests to go with a picture of yourself or a logo representing your brand.
A very high quality banner is also something you want to invest in.
It really should represent the style and mood of your banner.
The 'About me' section too should not be neglected.
You should make it as professional as possible and tell the viewers what they can expect from your channel at all.
All they great YTers have a great pic, a great banner and a great About me section.
Also, the first video that automatically plays when people come to your channel should be some sort of introductory video to your channel.
People must have something to step into your world and get to know you first.
It will be easy for them to then subscribe and come back for more.
Once you've got going, create a playlist with the most watched videos to play after your intro video.
Another important factor is to set your channel setting tags.
In this way, YouTube will have a better time in positioning your video in the algorithm.
By tagging your channel correctly, your videos will be put in front of the right audience.
That means that people who want to see your videos have a chance to.
And it also means that you will end up getting more likes.
Not too bad, huh?
10: Ninja SEO Techniques to Rank First
Just like any other search engine, even YouTube can be influenced by some good SEO.
You want to do everything that is in your power to get your video to rank on the first page.
Graham seems to know what he is doing here and his tips are solid.
Trust me, I know my way around SEO.
The most important part of the process is figuring out the title of your video.
That is going to do the most of the heavy lifting for you, so you want to get it right.
There are various aspects of a video to rank on the first page of a search:
- The Title: this is paramount and should be short and to the point.
- Description: your description should match your title but feel free to expand it with keywords that will help you rank. Be specific!
- Tags: tag everything that comes to your mind and max out the space YT gives you to type in tags: anything that can direct traffic to your channel, put it there!
- Thumbnail: your thumbnail is your video's marketing: if your thumbnail sucks, nobody is going to look at your video.
The thumbnail is something pretty important that Graham spends a lot of time on.
His first suggestion is to never using auto-generated thumbnail.
Your thumbnail is your clickbait, so you want to make sure that you spend some time to create something that will increase the click through rate.
Usually a face and some text do the trick, but a relevant picture can also do the trick too.
11: Ninja Tactics to Grow Your Channel
In the second Ninja Tactics module, Graham begins with going over a fundamental question.
When should you post your videos?
Graham's suggestion is to post at peak viewing hours, such as 3pm - 5pm.
It's important to drop the video when your audience is already online and can catch your notification.
The first 2 hours really tell a lot to YouTube about your video, so those early hours are crucial for your video.
You should also check your data as to what day of the week your audience watches your videos.
These are important things to factor in if you want to make your video stand out.
How often should you be posting videos?
This is different for every creator: one could post everyday and not get many views, or post once a fortnight and get loads of views.
You should start posting once a week and then slowly ramp it up to twice or three times a week.
Graham posts 3 times a week, and he has found a balance with this system.
He has noticed that channels that post more often in his niche, finance, people tend to skip content knowing there is going to be another video the day after.
That's why he decided to post on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
You definitely want to post at least once a week, or else people will forget about you.
Ok, you've posted your video.
Always reply to every single comment after posting.
- People appreciate it: someone took the time to comment on your video, respect that person for it.
- Engagement: YouTube will appreciate the interaction with your viewers and is going to boost your post because of that.
- The first two will create a compound effect that will snowball sooner or later.
Always remember that YouTube loves interaction on your videos, so you should be glad to have comments to reply to.
It's also a way of creating a fanbase that will be following your next videos.
12: Beating the YouTube Algorithm
Should you even entertain the idea of buying followers or views in order to boost your views at the beginning of your YT adventure?
This is a thorny question that Graham devotes part of this module to.
In his opinion it is all about Social Proof.
If you see a video that has 100k views and is endorsed by a lot of people, you will subconsciously think it is a good video, that's just the way it works..
Same with followers, if someone has thousands of subs you assume that the creator must be good.
Paradoxically, it is harder to get from 0 to 1000 subs than it is to go from 1000 to 100k.
When you are under 100 subs, Graham suggests that you buy some subs in order to create social proof.
That's what he did himself right at the beginning, to get over the first hurdle.
Anything more than that, and YouTube will realize the scam and cancel your account.
The same thing applies to views too.
Maybe boost a couple of videos right at the beginning, but don't go overboard with it.
That gets the ball rolling and you really need some social proof to begin with.
The golden rule is just not to go overboard with it.
Another topic Graham goes through is collabs with other YTers.
According to him, there is no way collabs can go wrong for you.
Not only will the bigger creator help the smaller one, but you're bringing together audiences.
You really need to convert the audience coming over from the bigger creator and give them content that they would like to see.
How do you get to collab with a bigger YTer?
You shouldn't rely on them to get the best growth on YT.
It's more or less the cherry on the top, but you won't make it big just through collabs.
But if you do still want to do it, you should be churning content and providing proof of what you do.
You need to show that you have something going before bigger fish can take you seriously.
13: YouTube Growth Hacks + Monetization
There are two main kind of videos if you want to grow your channel:
The first kind is the algorithm video:
It's generally on a trending topic, and generally has a click-baity thumbnail, appealing to a wider audience.
These videos have a very short shelf life, but they will bring in the views if picked up by the YouTube algorithm.
We're talking very short term, that don't get anymore views after the first 7-10 days.
Here's an example:
The second style of videos to increase growth are completely different.
It's called the 'evergreen approach'.
In this kind of videos, they peak at the beginning, but then keep a regular number of views.
For the most part an evergreen is a video that ranks on first page.
It's videos that people are looking for everyday, on topics that people are interested in.
The videos are not trending, but receive a continuous number of views.
It's not following a fad, but it's something even the same person can go back to it again and again.
It should be your goal not to only create one hit wonders, but also videos that don't go out of style.
The Verdict: The Good & The Bad
Before I go on and look at the pros and cons of Graham's course, I want to reply to those early questions I'd set down, and that anyone reading a review wants to know immediately.
Courses on how to become proficient at creating a YouTube channel and launching it to the moon are a dime a dozen.
This course is definitely not the most amazing in the way of looks, but it really delivers the essentials from someone who has made videos with over 1M views.
If you want to learn tips and tricks from a pro, then you definitely want to go for Graham's course.
The course does do what it promises:
It gives you all the info and tools to get off the ground.
The rest is up to you, really.
You have to teach yourself how to edit the videos, how to create thumbnails etc.
But you have a pro tell you what to do and what not to do, and that is something important.
Graham is definitely not a scam.
For the price of the course, he gives a lot of material for you to work on, and there's more than 8 hours of videos with no fluff in it.
The price is $484, which is really nothing if compared to some of the $1997 or $3997 courses that are sold on the same topic.
If you want to succeed at YT, you definitely can afford to spend $484 for his course.
You can only benefit from it.
If you want to start a YouTube channel and become the next big sensation, Graham's course could be the right one for you.
It certainly has all the hallmarks of a course for beginners and will get you off the ground
However, these days I don't really recommend going down the path of building a YouTube channel and creating 3 videos a week.
It's like a 9 to 5 job, in a way.
Lead Generation, where you rank your own website, is a far superior model to monetize your skills.
Let me explain, keep reading...
Why I Don't Prioritize YouTube... Lead Generation Proved to be a Much Better Biz Model, Here's Why...
I run a $50K per month lead generation business but all of my leads are generating through free traffic or SEO, not through YouTube algorithms and temporary fads.
So it's pretty much passive income, I don’t have to worry about the performance of any videos or anything.
The website I create ranks on the first page of Google, in the so-called map pack, and the leads just start pouring in.
And let me tell you, creating the sites like we do is so easy even a kid could do it, and some kids actually do!
So, you see, it's passive income, I don’t have to worry about the performance of any videos or anything.
Once my site ranks it generally keeps its rank with very little to no maintenance.
Don’t get me wrong you can still make a living creating a YouTube channel and monetizing it, but it's a hard route very challenging to do so.
The problem with creating a YT channel is that you are constantly looking at your numbers and subs.
How many people are watching your video, and out of those people, how many actually end up subbing and watching all of your future videos?
If things go wrong, it's back to the blackboard, trying to understand where you went wrong.
This is why I still recommend people look into doing lead generation with free traffic
Graham Stefan's YouTube Creator Academy course is well executed, everything is there to learn how to create your channel and make it grow!
Let me tell you, there are niches that work with this kind of method, but the problem is there are many niches that really struggle too.
Unlike creating a niche channel, if you know how to generate leads with free traffic, you can go into any niche and create an incredible level of results for clients.
That’s how 90% of my multiple 6 figure income is generated. And I should add that it's passive income: see free traffic never stops.
In 2021, even during Covid-19, I continue to build more lead gen sites and I write at least 1 blog post a day for this site, because I’ve come to realize that these are the high-income producing activities because it directly increases my free traffic every month.
So click here if you want to know more about my Lead Gen method and give yourself a chance for financial freedom.