How to gain Success with a ‘Wine’ YouTube Channel
12th January 2023
Founded in February of 2005 (it’s really only still a baby, or let’s call it not even an adult in human years) and the creation of three former PayPal employees—Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim– YouTube today remains the property of Google, who purchased the platform in November 2006 for US$1.65 billion.
Hefty price hey? Though today the value of YouTube is an estimated net worth of $15.15 billion (as of the year 2021) so it wasn’t too bad an investment really! YouTube generated $28.8 billion in revenue in 2021, a 30.4% increase year-over-year. YouTube generated $8.8 billion in revenue in Q4 2021, a 25% increase year-over-year. (source Omnicore Agency)
Considering the first ever video that was uploaded to YouTube was titled ‘Me at the zoo’ on April 23, 2005, a 19-second video featuring two elephants at the San Diego Zoo in California, we can certainly say it has come a long way since then with an infinite list of titles and themes to choose from. Today YouTube is the busiest video sharing platform on the internet and not only provides entertainment for billions of people across the world (YouTube reached 2.5 billion active users in Q2 2021), but equally as important, it provides an income to many millions of its account holders.
“I first realised the financial wealth potential of owning a YouTube channel back in 2015 when I was invited, as a social media influencer back in the day, to a party in London. This party was primarily for car enthusiast YouTube channels and the ‘realisation moment’ hit me when I saw some of the invited turning up, of which most were no more than 21 years of age, having arrived in their own bought and paid for or even donated sports cars such as McClaren and Ferrari. The monthly revenue they were making at the time was no less than five figure sums.” Christopher Walkey
Being first is always important and can give you a vast lead over your competition, though if you enter the game later on and can bring with you a different style, innovation, superior quality and more then you stand a chance of catching up and surpassing your competition and yes, let’s be honest, there is massive competition on YouTube even for a somewhat small subject of wine videos! You are in the business of subscribers and views in the world of YouTube with the more of both being the ultimate goal as this will likely increase the revenue that you generate:
Advertising revenue: Get ad revenue from display, overlay, and video ads.
Channel memberships: Your members make recurring monthly payments in exchange for special perks that you offer.
Shopping: Your fans can browse and buy products, like merch, from your store on YouTube.
Super Chat & Super Stickers: Your fans pay to get their messages or animated images highlighted in chat streams.
Super Thanks: Your fans pay to get their message highlighted in your video’s comments section.
YouTube Premium Revenue: Get part of a YouTube Premium subscriber’s subscription fee when they watch your content.
With multiple income streams achievable it is no wonder that so many are working either a part time or full time commitment on the world’s most popular video sharing website which today is easily accessible by desktop PC or via apps for mobiles, tablets and televisions. Simply record a video and upload it right? What could be an easier way to make money than that?… But…
To become successful on YouTube today is no easy task. Long gone are the days when a poorly recorded video uploaded with less than adequate and engaging content can grab itself millions of views and subscribers, of recent years the quality of content has risen far beyond filming two elephant trunks at the zoo (not a good example I know seeing as ‘Me at the zoo’ has amassed 249 million views)! Your competition on YouTube is simply anyone who has access to a video recording device and the internet, anyone can become a YouTuber so investment in sound and lighting equipment is vital to take you above the growing crowd, as is research, scripting, setup and more – A video on YouTube could have taken months to prepare and countless hours to film and edit.
I asked wine YouTuber Dr. Matthew Horkey: Is there a rule book to follow in order to become a successful wine YouTuber or is it like an entrepreneur’s journey, a vast amount of commitment and mistakes?
“The key is to start before you’re ready. On many creators’ channels (including myself) you can go back and look at their earliest videos and see where they have improved. A lot of well-known YouTube experts say you need to make 100 videos, improving 1% each time and then look back at the date and see where you can improve. I made close to 700 videos before I even began to focus on improvement – don’t make the same mistake as me.
There are resources out there like the channels Think Media, Darrel Eves, Roberto Blake, etc that focus on how to build a YouTube channel. There are two good books called YouTube Secrets and the YouTube Formula. But here’s the reality, it’s REALLY hard. There are unicorns where a channel blows up fairly quickly but for most of us, it’s going to be a long, frustrating journey. Very few people see the success they dream of when starting – there are less than 1% of active channels with 100,000 Subscribers. There’s a reason why there are not a lot of large wine YouTubers (or any other YouTubers for that matter), it’s the most difficult platform to master and it’s very difficult to fake.”
Even though wine needs to be tasted in order to be enjoyed, it is in fact quite a popular topic when it comes to entertainment, many of us will no doubt have watched wine TV shows such as those starring Keith Floyd or Oz Clarke, these characters educating and entertaining us on varied wine regions and wine styles. We watch with envy as the host’s taste and enjoy the wines and sometimes their influence on us can persuade us to purchase the wines highlighted and they for sure get more people to drink wine!
Can YouTube really influence what wines we buy? For this question, I turned to one of the most trending and quickly growing wine themed channel’s that is run by Konstantin Baum MW who is fast approaching 100,000 subscribers and gets 10,000’s views on each video he releases – How important is and will be YouTube for influencing buyers of wine?
“I am not trying to influence buyers, instead I want to help them with their own choices. What I am seeing though, is that my viewers often also buy wines, glasses, etc. based on my videos. On YouTube you get to give the viewers more information and context compared to all of the major social media platforms. As there are more and more wine channels on YouTube it will become a major platform for buyers to find interesting wines.”
Purchasing the wines highlighted is very much the focus for many wine YouTubers who invest countless hours and finance into producing quality videos that viewers can tune in to. Educating and sharing the experience is a popular topic from those simply tasting in their homes to those who are on site at the winery and speaking to the winemaker in question. Some YouTubers will invest in buying the wines to show themselves and many more will receive samples, the wine sector is improving on its understanding and appreciation of the exposure / PR opportunities that YouTube can offer and especially if they work with a current / up and coming influencer.
You can watch both television show format videos on YouTube or engage one to one with an influencer, both are highly popular and certainly have their rightful place. Seeing as I have covered wine TV shows in a previous article, I wish to focus on the one to one style, which usually for me is far more personal. So what makes a good wine host for YouTube?:
Quite a tough demand for anyone, though in business these factors are certainly key and will influence people to either liking you or not, or, translated into YouTube terms, will they watch you and subscribe? Something to be added here is that you may tick all those boxes and still find it difficult, this is where an added skill set is needed and that is:
When you find yourself watching and subscribing to a YouTube channel you will likely discover that the account started many years before and the quality of the initial videos uploaded will be far different and of lesser quality than what you have just watched. YouTubers are likely to evolve and adapt their content, improve and innovate to master the format that their target audience desires – Not every YouTuber can follow the same format such as being light-hearted, serious, educational, funny, in-depth, easy to understand etc because different people / personalities will fit better with a different theme. What is for sure is a successful YouTuber will likely have countless videos before them and will have evolved.
It is a business being a YouTuber. For some, it equals the passion they have for wine, but once the subscribers increase and views mount up then it opens the chance to earn an additional income stream which for many soon becomes their main source of revenue. Why shouldn’t the reward for countless hours of videoing and editing along with research be rewarded and what better way than by compensation of money either via YouTube’s previously mentioned revenue streams, but also by sponsorship externally.
“I believe that the subject of wine on YouTube is still very much in its infancy and there is a lot of scope for both more content and new faces, there is no one really ‘pulling up trees’ in this space though many are building a solid reputation and creditable content thus subscribers and viewing figures. I myself, whilst working at home writing about wine, will usually have YouTube up on the big screen and a wine YouTuber in the background.” Christopher Walkey
Wine YouTubers will rely heavily on the understanding and support of the wineries / distributors by way of receiving free samples (here Dr. Matthew Horkey expertly discusses this topic). Social media has always been a relatively slow embrace by most business sectors and more so in the wine sector, but in recent years more and more wineries have been working closely with influencers not only on YouTube, but also Instagram and more recently TikTok. Dr Matthew Horkey gives us his thoughts on ‘Does the wine industry embrace and support wine YouTubers?‘:
“I have no idea what the media industry thinks as there are very few, successful wine channels on YouTube that focus on wine. Konstantin Baum, Wineking and Wine Folly are currently the largest that produce most of the content in English. In general, traditional media has turned their noses up at YouTubers in bigger niches like entertainment – so I don’t see how wine would be any different. I don’t pay attention to what fellow wine media feels about it but I do know that I usually have no problems when asking producers for samples. I also have many producers who reach out wanting to send samples.
YouTube is really ‘them’ tube. It’s all about the audience, the audience determines if they want to watch the content, which translates to views, which translates to the video being pushed through the system. The viewer comes FIRST. Creators have to care about their audience, not their peers.
Here’s the truth, I saw a study last year that around 83% of web traffic this year will be from video (downloads and streaming). Video is where we need to be and video is where the eyeballs are.”
Content is king and has been for several years when it comes to the internet and this term will remain with us for the foreseeable future in my opinion. Whereas written content was who sat on the throne (royalty throne version that is) we now see more imagery and video climbing up the ladder of popularity, especially in the wine sector and especially as internet speeds and accessibility increase and improve. Dr. Matthew Horkey rightly highlights the growth of video content online and this is an important factor for both those who are selling wines to consider (wineries and merchants) as well as people thinking about entering the wine YouTuber space – We have a long way to go and many more opportunities will present themselves, especially to those who are in it (to win it) as such.
Thank you to both Konstantin Baum MW and Dr. Matthew Horkey for their kind responses to our questions – You are doing great work gentlemen, keep up the good work!
Co-founder of Glass of Bubbly. Journalist and author focused on Champagne & Sparkling Wines and pairing them with foods.