How she built a crafts/crochet channel to 174K subscribers & $6K/mo

May 7 2024
Case Studies

Lh Channel Overview

Lingzhi Handmade is a YouTube channel that creates tutorial videos on crocheting (a type of needlework craft). What’s unique about Lingzhi’s channel is that she makes the vast majority of her income from her online Etsy store and analyses her data using multiple tools to choose her topics/videos.

Key Takeaways

  • Do what you can with what you have to publish your first video. Lingzhi recorded in her kitchen with her iPhone and no microphone for her first video. Getting the first video out is about beating that mental barrier rather than procrastinating via perfectionism.

  • It took 1 month to get the first 100 subscribers, 3 months to get to 1K, 12 months to get to 10K and 30 months to get to 100K subscribers

  • Research other channels and differentiate yourself. Lingzhi saw that most crochet channels weren’t going into the details of crocheting so she focused on differentiating herself by going into detail in her videos.

  • Analyse your YouTube analytics data alongside tools like TubeBuddy and VidIQ. They can help you find what videos people/your subscribers most want to watch. In Lingzhi’s case, she realised that most people were attracted to flower videos so she focused on those (and they make up 100% of her 8 most popular videos)

Why did you start this YouTube channel?

I started the channel in late 2020, during my final year of PhD study and in COVID lockdown. I also got married and pregnant that year so I wanted a flexible career in terms of time and location.

I also read a book called The Almanack of Naval Ravikant where the author mentioned to be wealthy, you need leverage, and the newly rich use code and media as permissionless leverage. 

Lh 1

A YouTube channel was a way for me to have the flexible career I wanted and it would work for me even when I was sleeping.

How did you get started?

I didn’t know much about YouTube so I started almost accidentally. Crochet was a hobby for me and since we were in COVID lockdown, I thought I’d upload a video just to see what would happen.

Before my first video, I searched “how to start a YouTube channel” on YouTube to learn more about what to/not to do. Most of what I found suggested doing what you can with what you have and trying to publish just one video.

I didn’t make a plan; I just used my old iPhone and recorded in the kitchen (and I still use my iPhone to record videos now). I didn’t have a microphone or background music and I used whatever lights I had at home.

Lh 2

I also searched for other crochet videos for inspiration and to see what I could do better. I noticed that they weren’t quite as detailed so I spent some time thinking of how I could make my video slightly more detailed.

How & when did you get to 10, 100, 1000 subscribers (etc) and to where you are currently?

Lh Channel Growth

First 100 subscribers (1 month)

Most of my first 100 subscribers came from my first 2 videos (that I uploaded in one month). I’m not sure why but many people were drawn to the crochet niche at the time (maybe since it was during COVID).

I remember I’d check my phone every day refreshing my subscriber count and checking my analytics.

First 1000 subscribers (3 months)

I kept uploading videos consistently in the first 3 months and replied to almost all of the comments.

Lh 3

I spent a lot of time on crochet design, and colour matching and thought a lot about how to explain the process and be as detailed as I could. 

When I was learning crochet, a lot of the time crochet YouTubers didn’t explain in much detail and assumed it was all common sense. I wanted my channel to be a place where you could learn the details of crocheting.

I didn’t know much about the YouTube algorithm, how to write better titles/descriptions or anything like that. I just focused a lot on making my content better.

First 10,000 subscribers (12 months)

I started to post regularly on Instagram and recorded short-form videos (for Instagram Reels) which helped a lot. I also started a Facebook Group to try and promote my channel. I even tried running Facebook Ads but they didn’t really work; plus ads are quite complicated and so I gave up.

But the main thing was that I kept persisting and being consistent. I uploaded videos every 2nd week and that was my top priority. 

I spent lots of time learning about the YouTube algorithm and tried apps like TubeBuddy and VidIQ to try and improve my titles and descriptions. They helped a lot because I still struggled to choose topics, do keyword research etc.

Lh 4

It was slow and steady progress; there wasn’t any viral growth or anything like that.

First 100,000 subscribers (30 months)

Getting my first 10,000 subscribers was really hard but the remaining 90,000 (out of my first 100,000 subscribers) took just 18 months so it was super fast.

I started to plan my videos more. In my first year, I just recorded videos one by one. But after 10,000 subscribers I got busier since I started my online store. So I started to plan and record 4 videos ahead of time.

I analysed my YouTube analytics data (along with TubeBuddy and VidIQ) and paid attention to what people/my subscribers wanted to watch. So I mainly focused on crochet flowers because the data showed my followers were more interested in that. 

Lh 5

Personally, I’m more interested in flowers as well; if you’re interested in something, you might create better content. Flowers are also easier to sell through a crochet business so it all made sense.

Lh 6

I used tools like VidIQ and TubeBuddy to help me choose which topic to focus on and which videos perform better than others. I also paid more attention to audio quality so I bought a mic and invested in some (not too expensive/fancy) lighting while gradually improving my video quality.

How much money are you making?

Lh Channel Income Report

I make $2,000 AUD (~$1.3K USD) per month from AdSense. It’s lower than finance or beauty YouTube channels since crochet is a smaller niche so ads aren’t as highly priced.

I make $7,000 AUD (~$4.7K USD) per month from my online store (on Etsy). The main product I sell is digital downloads of crochet patterns but I also have yarns/other finished crochet products. I add links to my store/any relevant products at the beginning of my video description.

Lh 7

There’s not much work needed to maintain the shop since digital downloads are just PDFs that I upload once. And if anyone has questions, I have videos to answer them. 

To be honest, I never understood why people would want digital downloads. But gradually, more and more followers asked me for these PDFs for their own reference instead of needing to watch videos.

I also attend local markets in Sydney occasionally and sell products (like yarns/other finished crochet products) there at times. My best day of revenue was $800 (but that’s not every day). 

The good thing about a physical store/market is you can talk to your customers face-to-face vs an online store. You can see your customers’ reactions to your different crochet designs. That also helps me in choosing the right YouTube video topic.

I’m considering accepting sponsorships from relevant companies who have reached out (like yarn companies) but I haven’t decided yet. Building my own brand attracts me more than advertising for other brands.

What are the key lessons you’ve learned from your journey?

🛣️ Talk to more YouTubers that are ahead of you. I’m quite introverted and talking to strangers makes me anxious but the sooner you do this, the better. If you’re trying to start a channel and you know nothing, it’s great if someone else shows you the ropes so you don’t waste your time.

⚡ Prepare mentally for the journey (and the ups and downs). Sometimes I’d get upset if my channel didn’t grow as fast as I liked it to. It’s a fact that sometimes you can put lots of effort in and not get the results you want. 

If you just watch successful YouTubers, it looks easy; but they don’t tell you the sad stories behind their growth. 

ğŸŽ¨ Put a lot of effort into the content itself. One reason my channel performed well is that it looks aesthetically pleasing, the colours are beautifully matched and the content itself matched what viewers wanted. 

Where can we find out more about you? And is there anything else you’d like to add?

The best ways to find out more about me are through my YouTube channel and Instagram. I also have an Etsy store where you can buy crochet patterns, yarns and other finished crochet products.

I feel like YouTube is a community so thank you for doing this! I struggled a lot when I started and having a community would’ve made my journey a lot easier.

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