At 10-years-old, in rural Australia, after years of day-dreaming about becoming an actor and moving to LA, I discovered YouTube. Instead of annoying my parents with poorly made sketches, I could now annoy strangers. After uploading a few videos, and waiting three months, I was in disbelief that I had accumulated 800 views (ignoring the fact that 780 of these were me; constantly refreshing to see the view count). Whilst overjoyed, it sparked my curiosity in what is today referred to as ‘social media marketing’.
After a few successful content marketing experiments, I was invited into YouTube’s (Pilot) Partner Program, taking YouTube from a hobby to a job. By 2009, I had broken into Australia’s Top 10 Most Subscribed, and by 2011, accumulated over 35 million video views. However, I had ignored my initial passion of acting. It was no longer about creating the best content, but creating the best marketing strategies. And what anyone who has turned a hobby into a job can tell you, what you thought would be a dream can quickly turn into a chore.
Returning from a brief social media hiatus in 2011, I decided to make a Facebook Page for fun. I simply named it ‘Long, romantic walks to the fridge’, shared it on a few popular Pages, invited a couple friends, and left it for a month. When I returned, I was shocked to see it had gained over 25,000 Likes. Leveraging those 25,000 Likes, I continued to create Pages with funny names; within three months, I had more than 100 Pages totaling over 10M Likes. I used the Pages purely for entertainment, such as creating a viral event that had more than 200K click ‘Going’. Unaware of the monetization potential, I naively sold the pages for pennies to an NYC ad agency.
Following my brief stint with Facebook, a friend in Buffalo, NY (Kyle Cameron) reached out to me with an offer to build Twitter accounts with him. After 2 weeks of asking, I begrudgingly accepted. Doing so changed my life. After creating several comedy themed accounts, and accumulating more than 15M followers, we realized we had two major problems: a) niche comedy content gets repetitive quickly b) constantly tweeting irrelevant ads to monetize (monthly revenues exceeded $50K from just PPC ads) ruined the account’s engagement. Whilst we still had phenomenal growth (we took one of the first Condescending Wonka accounts from 0 followers to 1,000,000+ within 7 days), we knew we had to pivot.
This pivot led to the creation of @EarthPix (now over 11M+ followers, and in the Top 200 Most Followed Accounts on Instagram) and @HistoryInPics (now over 4M followers, and the theme of my TEDxTeen Talk in 2015. With two premium brands and hockey stick growth, we could not continue our current monetization methods and risk stunting growth. The search for a new monetization method led to the formation of All Day Media (Previously Social Trends Media). We created premium, original, and relevant content, which we monetized through remnant ads. We anticipated it would be successful, but we were not prepared for our first full month - exceeding $1M in sales. (Forbes)
By the age of 17, we had raised over $2M in venture capital, and had SF and LA offices. Weeks after graduating high school in Australia, I had a one-way flight booked to LA. After helping build the company from a scrappy start-up to a 20+ employee media company, I was shown the potential of digital media. At a certain point, I realized the venture was in a solid position, and I had contributed all I could. I left to redefine how brands used Instagram and Facebook Ads.
From late-stage startups (Bustle, Yik Yak) to non-for-profits (National Women’s History Museum) to marketing agencies (Billy Gene Is Marketing), I’ve helped brands take their Instagram and Facebook Advertising from any stage, to thousands, in some cases, tens of thousands of new customers.