Entrepreneur: Charlie Chang

Tilt: Personal finance, investing, and entrepreneurship

Scene: Website, YouTube (840K), TikTok (386.6K), Instagram (84.8K), Twitter (710)

Snack Bites: 

  • Charlie grew his audience steadily on YouTube and TikTok, publishing daily about personal finance. In April 2020, he capitalized on stimulus-related content to draw a much bigger audience and significant ad revenue from YouTube.
  • A month after Charlie earned $15K in YouTube ad revenue, he did his first sponsored content post on TikTok for $250.
  • As his business has grown, Charlie has diversified his revenue streams – affiliate marketing (40%), YouTube ads (25%), brand sponsorships (25%), online course (5%), and coaching (5%).

Why We Stan: Charlie didn’t have a content entrepreneur role model, but he forged a path to become a successful one. He didn’t get discouraged when he got only a dozen views on his first videos and spent time figuring out what his audience – and later, brands – wanted from his content.

The Story of Charlie Chang

After graduating from UCLA, Charlie Chang knew what he didn’t want to do – go to medical school even though he was “good” at science. (Medical schools apparently agreed, with over a dozen rejecting his applications.)

Four years later – in 2018 – Charlie had an audience of zero, working side hustles and dabbling in e-commerce but never achieving a steady income. 

Two years later, Charlie was living the life he wanted. He had grown an audience of 500K across his social media channels around his content tilt of inspiration and education in personal finance, entrepreneurship, and investing. He was earning more money than he ever had.

By 2021, his audience topped 1M, and he earned an average of over $150K a month, and his mom stopped sending him ads for employment possibilities, as he told CNBC.

“Pinch me because I still don’t believe it some days,” he writes. “I’ve had so many failures that I’m no longer scared of starting new businesses. I’ve come from a place of complete inability to chase after my dreams to becoming a full-time entrepreneur living a pretty kick-ass life.”

Charlie reviews the chronology of his content business with CNBC. In 2018, he published daily on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. His first videos earned about a dozen views – half of which, he says, came from his mom.

@Charlie__Chang didn't let the dozen views on his first videos stop him. Within three years, his audience topped 1M via @CNBC. #Stan #ContentEntrepreneur Click To Tweet

In April 2020, he reacted to the growing interest in stimulus-related content. As Charlies explains to CNBC: “That month, I posted 20 YouTube videos about the stimulus and relief efforts. One of my videos went viral –  earning me $10K in ad revenue and 30.3K subscribers.”

The next month, he published 19 videos and earned $15.7K in ad revenue on YouTube. In June 2020, he landed his first sponsorship with Foundr, an online education company that paid $250 for him to create a TikTok post.

“I continued to experiment with different types of video content to see what was most effective in growing my audience and attracting interest from brands,” Charlie explains to CNBC.

@Charlie__Chang now has five revenue streams, earning an average $200K a month in his #ContentBusiness. #Stan #CreatorEconomy Click To Tweet

By 2021, he had secured another partnership deal, launched an online course on how to start a successful YouTube channel, and added affiliate marketing to his offerings. By May 2022, he earned about $200K a month through five revenue streams: 

  • Affiliate marketing = 40%
  • Brand sponsorships = 25%
  • YouTube ads = 25%
  • Online course sales = < 5%
  • Coaching = < 5%

“What I love about the business I’ve built is that I can choose when and where to work. Some days I’ll work zero hours, and other days I’ll put in 12 hours. On average, I work 35 hours per week,” Charlie says.

Join your fellow serious content creators at the Creator Economy Expo May 5-7, 2024. Registration opening soon.

About the author

Ann regularly combines words and strategy for B2B, B2C, and nonprofits, continuing to live up to her high school nickname, Editor Ann. An IABC Communicator of the Year and founder of G Force Communication, Ann coaches and trains professionals in all things content. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.