4 years ago, Stevin John was a relatively unknown SEO specialist and online marketer.
Today, he is a global, multimillion dollar brand and a household name.
Well, sort of.
If you don't have a toddler, you've likely never heard of Blippi, the YouTube character John created four years ago that has taken the internet by a storm.
And if you do have a toddler, you have most certainly heard of Blippi.
Blippi's YouTube channels have over 6 billion views (yes, you read that right). His legions of 2-5 year old fans (my 3 year old son Seth is one of them) have consumed hundreds of millions of hours of video footage on YouTube, and their parents have purchased thousands upon thousands of Blippi t-shirts, toys, books, and now, through a recent licensing deal with K-Swiss, kids shoes.
Blippi is the Mister Rogers meets Pee Wee Herman meets Steve-from-Blue's Clues of today. But those three others relied on TV networks to distribute their content, while John creates his own content with a small team and distributes it himself using YouTube. And while in an exclusive interview with John, he wouldn't confirm precise revenue numbers, he has built a bonified media empire through YouTube, and is making millions of dollars in revenue through YouTube ads alone.
But John didn't start this for money. Like many great entrepreneurs, he saw a problem:
"My 2 year old nephew wanted to watch tractor videos online, but all we could find, was well, garbage. The videos certainly weren't educational. I wanted to bring positive emotions and experiences to the act of learning. I wanted to share my curiosity with others. I wanted to make videos my nephew would be both entertained and educated by."
So make videos is what John began to do. To date, he's made over 300 videos about trucks, cars, colors, shapes, animals, body parts, and just about anything toddlers would find interesting. His knowledge of SEO and online marketing not only helped him market his videos, it helped him know what content kids and their parents were searching for. His trademark character, complete with orange hat, bowtie, glasses and suspenders, has even sold out live shows across the country.
"I really love to learn, and I understood the internet," said John from his hometown of Las Vegas, not the place you'd immediately think of as the center of a toddler entertainment empire. But he has made videos from all over the U.S., and even India, where he filmed for two months. The character Blippi is earnest, fun, and curious - just like John - which is likely why it's resonated so well with kids and their parents.
I asked John what he's learned about building a massive online video brand over the past four years, and what advice he'd share with others about how to build a video brand. These were his tips:
1) Create good, original content that you're passionate about and that solves a problem
2) Don't copy other people. Be yourself!
3) Start now! The best day to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the 2nd best date is now.
4) Try not to listen to negativity or other people too much.
5) Get familiar with basic SEO concepts like keyword optimization.
6) You must have the passion! You're going to get burned out if you start it for the wrong reason.
Today, John is focused on growth for Blippi: "It's not about improving the personality (act more funny) of Blippi but about what builds the brand, putting kids #1 and parents #2. If I do that, the business will come."
And if you can follow John's six steps above, perhaps you too can build a multimillion dollar video brand for the audience of your choice.