At first, Aja Dang’s YouTube channel (479K) was solely a homage to fitness tips and expected styling tricks. After the former TV host spoke candidly about accruing $200K in credit card and student loan debt, the channel pivoted.

In the following weeks, Aja embarked on a budget series, offering viewers glimpses of how she balanced her expenses. That first bi-monthly budget video garnered 304K views. The following year, she earned close to $40K in four months from Google AdSense, brand deals, and affiliate and commission links, as she explains in this video.

When @aJaDaNg pivoted her @YouTube channel to talk honestly about personal budgets, she grew her audience and revenue. Click To Tweet

Eventually, she cultivated an online support group for those looking to free themselves from Sallie Mae and other past dues. “If it wasn’t for my YouTube community, I would’ve given up,” she told CNBC

The channel has become a hub for debt-payment strategy novices. Even though the YouTuber became debt-free two years ago, she continues to talk about finances, from terms such as avalanche and snowball methods to ways to save, invest, or pay off debt.

Why we’re a Stan: Aja was a social media influencer before she talked about her money troubles. But that fresh transparency led her to tap into a new audience, where she found even bigger success. We also like that she sees her channel as both an opportunity to educate her audience and to offer them helpful advice on their everyday finances.

About the author

Shameyka McCalman is a wordsmith whose work often centers around fashion, art, and other creatives of color. She earned her communications degree from the University of Massachusetts Boston and enjoys sifting through clothes in local vintage shops, frequenting nearby plays, and gazing at exhibitions on view in museums.