What It's About
Two friends draw on their "inner child" and create a massively popular YouTube channel.
Words of Wisdom
The market has changed significantly since Nat and Essie went into the toy hustlin’ game, and they say that it’s harder to start a successful channel these days with the market being as saturated as it is.
As Essie said, “If you really want to start a toy channel, narrow down to a very specific niche with a lot of traction. And if you want to start a YouTube channel in general, stay on top of growing trends before the market becomes saturated and carve yourself out a piece of the pie. It takes a ton of work, time, and energy, but persistence can take you a long way."
Nat and Essie donate their unboxed toys to charities that in turn give them to children who may not be able to get those toys on their own—kids in the foster care system, or those who come from families that are struggling.
Essie also donates a lot of the toys she unboxes to the Philippines where she is from, and since they both were nurses, they donate a substantial amount of toys to hospitals as well. It’s been an amazing, albeit unexpected, bonus!
Notes from Chris
Episode 755If you’re a parent, odds are you’ve grown accustomed to children’s programming. You know the struggles of Peppa the Pig like the back of your hand, and you’ve reminisced over episodes of Barney and Sesame Street. Maybe you’ve even sunken to singing the “Clean Up” song and clapping your hands in time in order to encourage your kiddos to pick up their toys at the end of the day. But every now and then, you, the cable bill paying parent, want to watch your own programs. Shows that don’t come with sing-a-longs that stick in your head for weeks despite your best efforts to eradicate them. And that’s when you do that thing you swore to yourself that you would never do as you silently judged other parents: hand over your phone or tablet. Your children may not be able to read, spell, or even locate the search bar with those sticky little fingers, but somehow, they will inevitably stumble across the “Johny Johny, Yes Papa”, “Family Finger”, and “Baby Shark” music videos. And with this expansion into the vast world of YouTube, your child will likely find their way to a whole new kind of channel specifically for kids: toy reviews and reveals. That’s where two full-time ICU nurses in Houston, Texas unearthed a massively successful side hustle ... and all this time, it was hiding in your kid’s toy chest. Who knew?! Nat and Essie met when Nat was a fresh-faced new graduate going through training at a local hospital to become a certified nurse. Essie was the nurse in charge of making sure that she stuck patients with the pointy end of the needle. You could say it was friendship at first stick. They worked well together and became fast friends even after they ended up in different departments. As everyone knows, being a nurse is stressful. By the end of 2014, both Nat and Essie were feeling burned out. And so they started planning an escape route... Throughout the week, they were constantly coming up with ideas for a side hustle that they’d take to one another for approval, but each time, these ideas were shot down. Either the logistics were too complicated, or it would take too much time and energy from them, and in some cases, they an idea didn’t make the cut because there was just no clear path from idea to action. It wasn’t until Essie was visiting family in the Philippines that they finally landed on a winning idea: toy reviews. Nat had found an article about a YouTube creator who was bringing in a whopping $4 million a year unboxing and playing with toys on YouTube. And after toiling for years as ICU nurses, adding a little fun to their lives like this seemed like a great idea! They called their new YouTube channel Toys Unlimited. Although they had cleared six-figures that first year, it was still just half of what they were making at their day jobs when they divvied it up between them. Still, it was encouraging enough for Essie to quit her day job and focus her efforts on their channel full-time. Nat followed her 6-8 months later following the birth of her first child, and the duo have seen their channel reach some pretty amazing heights. They finished 2018 making substantially more than they ever did as full-time nurses, and their subscriber list has soared to over 6.8 million. Being a public figure on a platform like YouTube hasn’t been all fun and games though—it has its challenges just like any other side hustle. Since they started, YouTube’s algorithm has undergone several changes that meant that they had to adjust the way that they present their content. They also had concerns about privacy and online harassment, so they’ve chosen to remain anonymous about their real identities. Those challenges aside, they're making a fantastic living that allows them an autonomy that they never would have had with their day jobs as nurses. It's been almost four years since they first started Toys Unlimited, and they still can't believe that they're making this much money having so much fun.
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
- Toys Unlimited: Learn more about Nat, Essie, and Toys Unlimited over on their website!
- YouTube | Toys Unlimited: If you're interested in what a toy review YouTube channel looks like, head on over to the Toys Unlimited channel! And while you're at it, check out their other channels: Toys Unlimited JR., Toys Unlimited Stories, and Toys Unlimited En Español
- Squarespace: the webplatform Nat and Essie used to create their website
- Tales of a 15-Year-Old YouTube Makeup Artist: An Australian teenager learns to express her passion for makeup by posting tutorials on YouTube
- Bitcoin YouTuber Earns Thousands in Affiliate Commissions: A Dutch cryptocurrency enthusiastic takes to YouTube to explain it to his countrymen, earning commissions from tools and resources he endorses
- Mexican Artist Becomes YouTube Superstar With 50 Million Views: An artist uploads a drawing video to YouTube and discovers a massive audience for tutorials, allowing him to pay off debt and make a good living
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