Ask any teenager today what they want to be when they grow up, and chances are good they’ll say “a YouTuber.” For those of us in older generations, this may seem as strange as a career on the moon. But for entrepreneurial teenagers such as Eric Feichthaler, a YouTube channel can be a path to early success.
Feichthaler, 17 and a senior at Oasis High School in Cape Coral, began posting videos about the U.S. National Parks in 2020. Out of 63 total U.S. National Parks, he has visited 62 of them with his family. He’s only missing American Samoa National Park. “American Samoa is pretty hard to get to,” he admits.
Feichthaler kept meticulous journal entries during these trips. When his school went virtual during the pandemic, he decided to use his free time to create informational videos and books about the National Park system.
“It was entirely just for fun,” Feichthaler says. “I definitely wasn’t thinking this would be a major thing that I do. I thought it’d be a good idea to share my knowledge with people.”
Feichthaler started by publishing a book through Amazon’s self-publishing platform. The book contained his raw journal entries and focused on his experiences in the parks rather than travel tips and information about the park systems. He sold several hundred copies and claimed a percentage of each sale. Not bad for a side hustle.
Then, on a hiking trip to Grand Teton with his family, Feichthaler had a new inspiration. “Maybe I can do more than just books,” he thought. He started imagining a YouTube channel where he would share footage from the parks and articulate his experiences. The channel would also offer more on the travel-planning side, plus individual reviews and comparisons of the National Parks.
His channel garnered a modest but respectable following. Then, this summer, it went viral. His video comparing 58 National Parks, which had been sitting comfortably around 5,000 views, suddenly shot up to 100,000 views. Now it has more than 228,000 views. The amount content creators make per YouTube video varies, but the average is $0.18 per view.
Feichthaler says the money is nice, but he didn’t set out with the intention of making it big with his videos. “When I’m in a National Park, I’m not really thinking, ‘How can I turn this into a video that will make money?’ I’m living in the moment and enjoying the experience.”
He advises other YouTube entrepreneurs to do the same: create a niche centered around their passions and concentrate on being of service rather than making money.
“If you’re trying to help people with your entrepreneurial ideas, go for it,” Feichthaler says. “You definitely have a chance for success if you put in the time and effort.”