Ikenna Obi is a 23-year old YouTuber who’s channel has grown from zero to 500K subscribers in only three years. He creates language videos that are fun, educational and sometimes inspirational.
In this interview you will learn: – How Ikenna got started on YouTube – How his YouTube channel turned into a business
– How he went from 250 to 500K subscribers in less than a year
– The power of YouTube retargeting Ads
How Ikenna got started on YouTube
Before he started with his YouTube channel, Ikenna was living in New York where he tried to carve out a career trading on the stock market. That didn’t really work out. He then got a job at a company called ‘The General Assembly’, which offers digital marketing training. He loved the start-up work environment and he liked his colleagues, but Ikenna just couldn’t see himself working for a boss. Ikenna started his YouTube channel just before he went to university in the Netherlands that same year. His first videos were about fitness, and after then he uploaded several videos in which he reacted to foreign language music
Although his music reaction videos were doing very well at the time, at one moment, in particular, Ikenna decided to focus on language videos. He was also more passionate about languages than music, so focusing on languages was a logical choice.
Reaction videos in foreign languages
He then started doing more music reaction videos but now he also spoke in foreign languages like Dutch, Japanese, and French. His videos quickly got hundreds of thousands of views while he had less than ten thousand subscribers. These kinds of reaction videos were very much on-trend at the time. That’s why Ikenna recommends:
‘’Find something that ties into your passion or niche, but that’s also somehow trending’’
If you want to know what’s trending, look at what other people on YouTube are doing, both within and outside of your niche. Another winning strategy is to create videos on topics that people are searching for. That way people will be able to find your content, even if you have a small audience.
When did your channel become a business?
Ikenna started generating enough revenue to live off when he had around 50K subscribers. He didn’t have a product at the time so all his revenue came from AdSense. His AdSense revenue wasn’t that much, but it was enough for him to cover his expenses as a student.
From 250 to 500K subscribers in less than a year
In 2019-2020, Ikenna’s YouTube channel grew from 250 to 500K subscribers in less than a year. I asked him how he did it. Ikenna is a big fan of goal setting. First, he set a big goal for himself and he looked at his current growth rate. He realized that if he wanted to make it big, he needed to innovate.
He started looking for trending videos on YouTube and there were three types of videos that got his attention: – Funny videos of people filming themselves in VR-chat – A VR-chat video in which someone tried to speak foreign languages to strangers – The video from Christine from the YouTube channel ‘Polyglot Stories’ in which she spoke 12 languages to strangers. That video went viral.
He combined the elements that made the three videos mentioned above so successful. He basically approached strangers in VR-chat and he managed to speak over ten languages with other VR-chat users. That video got millions of views and went completely viral.
”What is your X-factor? What is the thing that you can bring, that no one else can bring? Nobody wants to watch what’s already out there”
After his first multilingual VR-chat video took off, Ikenna started to double down on this new concept. That meant more multilingual VR-chat videos and looking for ways to make them even better. That’s how Ikenna went from 250 to 500K subscribers in less than a year.
”If something is working, double down on it. Analyze why people are liking it and make something that’s even better”
Being good in front of the camera can boost your business. Videos are an effective way to spread your message, letting people get to know you so you can build trust. Ikenna is an introvert himself, but he appears very extroverted on camera. How can this be?
If you’re uncomfortable in front of the camera, Ikenna suggests to first try to find out why. What are the limiting beliefs that hold you back? Is it a fear of failure, are you afraid of what other people will think of you? Secondly, the only way to become better and more comfortable in front of the camera is to practice a lot. Just like with learning any other skill, the more you do it, the better you become.
Try it at least ten times
Don’t think that creating YouTube videos is for you? Try it out at least ten times before you give up. Your tenth attempt will be much better than your first. If you don’t see any improvement after ten videos, you might want to go for another medium like, blogging or podcasting.
Another tip for creating YouTube videos:
Perform your presentation in front of the camera a few times before you record yourself.
‘’If I’m not happy with a video and I re-do it, that second or third take is always much better! That’s because my mind has already considered all the things that I wanted to say.’’
Getting recognized in the streets
Ikenna spends a lot of time at home creating new videos, but he quite often gets recognized on the streets when he ventures out.
He says: ‘’It’s super flattering and I always appreciate it if someone recognizes me and comes to say hello.’’
Four income streams
Ikenna now has four income streams: AdSense – Ad revenue from YouTube Affiliate deals – Commission in exchange for promoting other people’s products Sponsorships – iTalki, for example Digital products – His eBook, for example
The majority of his income comes from selling digital products.
If you have a big following on YouTube and you have a product, you might want to consider YouTube retargeting ads. Here’s how it works: There is an option to show ads to people who’ve watched your videos in the past. These people already know and trust you, so they are much more likely to convert.
Ikenna has seen 400% ROI on this kind of campaign, which means that he generated $4 for every dollar that he spent. After a while, you’ll have reached most of your target audience through this avenue and the conversion rate will decrease. Some people call this ‘ad fatigue’.
Another benefit of having a huge audience is that you can easily find out what their frustrations are and create a solution in the form of a product.
Ikenna once sent out a poll with app ideas to his audience: a whopping 30,000 people ended up voting and 10,000 people wrote to him with suggestions. That demonstrates the power of having an audience when it comes to market research.
‘’You can create a product you think people will like, but when you have an audience who tells you what they like, selling your product will be so much easie’’
More about Ikenna:
Get a FREE copy of our quick guide:
’7 Mistakes that will Kill your Language Business and How to Avoid Them’