“I had hoped one day I could get a career in entertainment, but it seemed like too scary of a thing to pursue,” she said. “It wasn’t practical.”
But Hart had a lucky break one day in 2011 when she uploaded a jokey video of herself cooking while drunk; she just wanted to send the video to her friend.
“The only way I knew how to send it was to upload it to YouTube,” she said. She titled it “My Drunk Kitchen,” and e-mailed the link to her friend.
And then the comments started rolling in.
“I said, ‘This is so weird. Why are all these strangers calling it a show and asking for another episode?’” she said. Hart made the wise decision to please her newfound fans.
One and a half years after her first upload, Hart was finally making enough money to make her YouTube channel a full-time job.
“After episode six or seven, I got an interview with Time Magazine and I decided to keep my job but leave my apartment and start couchsurfing,” she explained. She focused her efforts on growing her channel. “Probably a year and a half later, I could start to pay rent again and it became my full-time job,” she said.
Now, Hart’s face is plastered on ads around New York City: You may recognize her if your commute takes you through Union Square station. She has more than 1.8 million subscribers on YouTube, a bestselling book and a nationwide volunteer initiative.
Hart’s not alone. Tyler Toney of the popular YouTube trick shot channel Dude Perfect remembered how hard it was for him to make the decision to quit his job as a landscape salesperson to focus on his channel.
“It was definitely scary when we first started because three of us were married and we have families to look out for,” he said. “It was really scary at the time, but it was really validated for us just a few weeks after because we started hitting on all cylinders – we had brand knowing down the doors that it really paid off for us.” His channel now has 4.45 million subscribers, celebrity fans (and guests) and business partnerships with brands.
Zayna Aston, spokesperson for YouTube, said there are thousands of YouTube users making six figures through their channels. YouTube content creators mostly make money through sharing ad revenue with YouTube, though they can also sell products and music through their channels.