Have you ever wondered what it takes to grow a successful YouTube channel? YNLS spoke to Jennifer Thomson, founder of the popular personal finance YouTube channel Mamafurfur to find out how she grew her channel to 95,000 subscribers within a few years, the opportunities it has brought her, and what keeps her motivated when times are tough.
How I grew my YouTube channel and how you can too
What does your YouTube channel focus on?
I focus on money, investing, personal finance, and lifestyle design prosperity.
When did you start making videos for YouTube?
I properly started my channel in March 2018. Prior to that, around 2014 I had created a motherhood YouTube channel to go along with a blog I had for a couple of years. In 2018 I felt inspired to start to talk about money content and Mamafurfur grew from there.
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What was your main motivation for starting?
My motivation for starting the channel was completely to talk about my own experiences. I had never had any debt or money issues before I met an ex-partner who had £24k of consumer debt, credit cards, and loans. I basically started the channel as I had never experienced being in debt before so I had to learn how to pay it off and learn how to manage money to make those extra debt payments outside of managing a normal budget. I started to learn how to pay off debt, and different methods of paying it off, as well as how to start investing, and create passive income and business income streams, and wanted to share my journey with others about how I was doing this.
What inspired you to create Mamafurfur? And where does the name come from?
The name Mamafurfur was a nickname I earned along the way. When I met my ex-partner he had children and the combination of having a nickname, fur (short for Jennifer from when I was in business years ago), and then because I was going to be a step-mum, I also got the nickname, mama, so we put together the names and it stuck ever since and since it was catchy and I’ve not felt a reason to change it.
How long did it take you to start gaining momentum with your channel?
Gaining momentum with YouTube is very individual. For me, it probably took a year to get to 1000 subscribers and then another year to get to 10,000 subscribers and then it picked up pace from there. It definitely depends on what kind of video content you are putting out and what type of videos you are making, but for me, I would say between one to two years.
What were the biggest challenges you faced while growing your channel? And how did you overcome them?
I would say my biggest challenges were keeping inspired for topics and also making sure I was not just making videos for the sake of it, but making videos because I knew they would be worthwhile. A video can sit on YouTube for years, decades even, so you can make one video that is outstanding that people love and have millions of views or one that only two people view. So I had to think not just think about consistently putting out content – but about what content I was putting out.
What opportunities have you had since you started your YouTube channel? From both a Financial and Collaboration perspective?
YouTube allowed me to leave the corporate world last year. It’s also allowed me to have additional income streams, even during times I have had to take time off work there is still income coming through from the channel. I have also been able to work with products that I love and use already.
Brands reach out to me because I am using the product or I say I am using their product and ask to be an affiliate for them which allows me to promote and recommend their product.
Off the back of that brands want to work with me because they see me as a native user of their product. There are always opportunities opening up and I am always keen when it’s particularly a product or service I use.
What’s your advice to anyone who wants to grow a YouTube channel?
The advice I would give to anyone about starting out with YouTube is really the same advice I’d give to anyone starting a business opportunity, You have to really feel like you could commit six months or a year to starting it up, as it takes a lot of consistent effort. But I also would ask ‘Do you enjoy it and do you enjoy the platform you are promoting your business on?’
Do you find it fun to be on the platform and want to be involved in it? Starting YouTube is great, as you can start from ground zero and make video content easily just using your phone, so it’s an easily accessible platform to create content on.
What made the biggest difference to you?
The thing that made the biggest difference for me with YouTube is I enjoy the platform. I still use it the most when I am looking for tutorials or information. It’s the shift a lot of people have made, it’s more video content where people can see how to do something, it’s where I go to as I am more visual and it’s how I understand and how my brain processes information.
One of the other key things that made a difference in my journey with YouTube is I was picked as the nominated channel for something called Creator on the Rise, where one day I was chosen by YouTube to be showcased on the platform for everyone who went on YouTube that day to be shown my channel. That was an incredible experience – it’s been little things like that that have come along from YouTube directly.
In regards to what that exposure did for my channel, I was able to gain about 10 times the number of views my channel would receive in a day but also my subscriber count grew by 100 times a normal day average. The publicity was only for that one day, but it brought in a huge new audience to my channel who might not have seen my work otherwise.
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What do you wish someone had told you at the beginning of your YouTube journey?
It’s a tricky question – but what I would say is I am thankful for the videos I have put out already as there is a back catalog of content to help people and the advice I would give is, when you feel inspired, to make the videos and put the content out. If you feel you have something you think can add value, then get it out there for your subscribers.
What are you most proud of since you began your self-development journey?
Every day I get up and think What are the couple of nudges or suggestions I am feeling drawn to that will help me to do good and make a difference in the world I try my best to act on them as much as I can. I think everyone’s journey is very different and we can’t assume their journey is going to suit us. People tend to think ‘Oh they are doing a miracle morning, I must do this’ and I think it’s very individual what we need.
How do you keep motivated?
This is a great question. I think it’s just doing one thing at a time. It could be getting to the gym or writing down ideas, speaking to people, or doing one thing that keeps you going. Motivation for us all can be tricky at times it’s just having something to push yourself to get up, get ready, and tackle the day.
What’s your most watched video and what was the advice you were sharing in it?
My most watched videos are basically tutorials, they are always really popular. I have a couple about financial independence and financial freedom. The most watched one is an Etoro tutorial – Etoro is an investment platform. People enjoy that as it teaches them about the platform itself. Then I have a couple I talk about financial independence and creating new business streams – the investment driven videos always tend to be popular.
Finally, who is your favorite YouTuber??
I don’t have a favorite YouTuber, to be honest. I tend to dip in and out of YouTube a lot. I like watching content that’s family-based if I am not watching music videos or choreography videos, like Doherty Dozen, does a lot of family-based stuff.
I am very sporadic and jump in and out of the videos that I enjoy when I feel like it.