But while it can feel like YouTube has his life on a string, Palfreyman says he’s more in control of his income than most think.
“Ad revenue is the primary way I get paid through YouTube,” he says. “I pick which videos of mine are monetized––I literally click a button that says ‘yes, I want ads on this upload.’ On longer videos, I choose where ad rolls go.”
The more views a video gets, the more views the ad gets, the more money Palfreyman and other creators makes. Though it’s tempting to stack up on the ads and watch his bank account fill up, he says he approaches monetization the way he’d want his favorite creators to: “What I would think is fair, that’s what I do,” he says. “People who watch YouTube are consistently understanding and supportive of me or any of us putting ads on the videos. If we didn’t do that, you know, we couldn’t keep posting as often as we do.”
And post often he does––Palfreyman’s schedule has his audience expecting three 10 to 15-minute videos a week.
For the most part, he’s a one-man band, researching, scripting, and filming his videos all on his own from home. “This is the hardest job I’ve ever had,” he emphasizes. “It’s not easy work, it’s not a casual thing. It takes a lot of effort every day to keep what I’ve started afloat.”
In the beginning, he committed to wearing every hat possible in his business. “I’m the manager that has to keep everything well-oiled and going,” he says. “But I’m also the creative director and the producer and the writer and face of the channel. I liked being able to say that I hit these milestones by myself, with no help whatsoever. I wanted to protect my brand.”
But when he smashed through the 100,000-subscribers mark, he set for himself a year after going full-time, something had to give. As his numbers got closer to the 200,000-subscriber territory, he started to hire part-time editors and contracted artists.
“I have four editors that I send work to part-time, depending on the type and length of the video,” he says. “And the same goes for artists when I need custom designs done. I’m selective about who I work with, and it’s worked out––I think we’re still consistent even with more people in the mix.”
It’s not just people he’s added to the HoopsandHipHop brand. Palfreyman’s working on growing his presence on Spotify, too. He’s running an account on that platform under the same name. Multiple songs on his account now have over a million streams.
“Not many people in my YouTube community can work with music like I can,” he says. “I never wanted to abandon it, and now that I have this larger audience, I’m thinking the timing is finally right for this one-two punch of content.”
Despite the difficulty of his first few years online, Palfreyman says sometimes you just have to jump into the deep end. “All of the changes and frustration when it came to my content,” he says, “that was all just growing pains. I think I needed those experiences to get where I am now––it’s made my skills better, my content smoother. I’m improving with every video. I’m financially secure and I’m doing what I love every day. None of this would have happened if I was too scared to try.”