Painting profits for fellow Creators

(6 min read) How an oil painter leveraged YouTube and Discord to become the first metacreator for visual artists. Featuring Squarespace, beehiiv, and FiberArt.

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Kelsey Rodriguez

As I've gained more and more experience, I’ve been able to share more and more business and marketing advice.

Kelsey Rodriguez is an oil painter by training, but found her calling combining that niche with another: sharing her journey as a YouTube Creator to help other artists build on the platform. 

There are a lot of artists that view YouTube as an opportunity to funnel audience and revenue to different parts of their business. 

Along the way, she became the first (to my knowledge) metacreator for visual artists.

Isn’t that cool? I love the internet.

Despite being heavily concentrated on YouTube, Kelsey has a diverse set of revenue streams.

Let’s get into it!

Links

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Together With

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The Business

.Highlights.

.Breakdown.

.Observations.

When negotiating brand deals, I really try to pitch my value - what I can offer, what sets me apart from other Creators, and why I charge what I charge. I’m also willing to meet them where they're at and create a custom pitch that fits with their marketing goals. 

The largest share of Kelsey’s revenue - 40% - comes from brand deals she negotiates herself. To learn the business, she’s doing something many Creators aren’t: 

Seeking advice from others.

Kelsey spends a lot of time in the Partnered YouTube Discord channel, a members-only extension of r/PartneredYouTube - so much time, in fact, that she's now a moderator. 

There, she talks to other successful Creators, learning from their diverse set of knowledge and experience. 

It’s incredibly informative to be around those Creators and learn from them. I attribute a lot of my negotiation strategies and instincts to being in that Discord server. 

If you’re Partnered on YouTube, you can apply to join.

Kelsey’s ecommerce business is also a big chunk of her revenue. I refer to it as “ecommerce” because it’s more complex than just “merch” or “digital products”. 

On her website, she sells everything from prints of her art to Notion templates. Her best selling item is a $50 bundle of digital products.

My “Art YouTuber Workbook and Notion Template” bundle is my best selling product by far. It's also, I think, the highest-priced educational resource that I offer. 

I was initially surprised that the highest-priced digital item is also the best-selling, but the economic logic makes sense:

Not only is it discounted - if you were to buy all of those products individually, it would cost more - but also there are exclusive things in there that aren’t available individually. 

There’s also a unique product-market fit between the bundle Kelsey offers and the needs her audience has:

When someone is trying to start a new project like a YouTube channel, they need advice, guidance, and clarity because they feel overwhelmed…They need some kind of system to ease that anxiety and help them feel more in control and organized. The workbook and Notion template together really offer that. 

Her audience are either just getting started as artists, or are established artists who want to use YouTube to grow their businesses.

They have no idea how the Internet works or how YouTube works, and they want some kind of guidance there. 

She was once in a similar position herself, and she made the first version of the workbook for her own use.

I wanted something just for myself, to help me figure out what kind of content I was going to post, what kind of vibe I wanted to have online in my content, and how I wanted to organize everything.

She decided to try selling it. 

I basically had to figure out some way to make money, and I had made this thing that I thought maybe some people would find valuable. 

She hacked testimonials through giveaways.

I put it out there like, “Hey, I'm making this thing. If you want to test it out and give me some feedback, I'll give it to you for free.” 

The rest is history.

Over time, I just kept updating the product every couple of months, and it eventually became the thing that it is today.

The Stack

Website - Squarespace

Link in Bio - Squarespace

They are the top sponsor of my channel, and also just a really great web design platform, genuinely, that I've been using for years. When I was doing freelance web design, I used Squarespace for all of my clients. 

Storefront - Squarespace + INPRNT (art prints)

I was curious why she used Squarespace instead of Shopify, since she sells physical and digital products.

I didn't need the Shopify features, and there's a high learning curve to making a Shopify store that works well for you. 

I have so much experience on Squarespace, and when I first started, I was just selling digital products, which is dead easy to do on Squarespace - they do all the email delivery for you, all you have to do is upload the file and price it. The print-on-demand partners that I work with all integrate with Squarespace, and I haven't felt limited yet. 

Email - Squarespace + beehiiv

Squarespace has email marketing built into their storefront, which is handy.

They know who abandoned their cart, who bought what. 

She prefers to use beehiiv for her newsletter.

They have a bunch of monetization features. I like that all of my newsletters can live in a blog. I like their segmentation. I'm not maximally taking advantage of all the cool stuff you can do right now, but I am hiring some freelancers to help me with that this year. 

Manufacturing - FiberArt + theprintspace + FinerWorks

Kelsey sells a blanket with her art printed on it, through a company that originated as a brand deal.

FiberArt reached out to me because I have positioned myself as the go-to person for art business on YouTube. 

Their values align well with hers and her audiences’, which helped continue the relationship.

They’re a small business. They're sustainable, they pay their workers a fair wage. They're now transitioning to an entirely solar powered factory, which is really cool. They make everything here in the US and they are so aligned with my audience. I had so many amazing comments on those videos!

For producing prints of her art, Kelsey is having some trouble with her current partner.

The one downside to theprintspace is that they're based in the UK, so the shipping is prohibitively expensive for US customers, who are about 40% of my audience. 

As a result, she’s likely to make a change.

I think I'm now going to be switching over to FinerWorks, which is a US-based company that offers a bit more affordable, yet really high quality archival giclée prints. 

Community / Chat - Discord

Affiliates - Amazon, Recut, Squarespace, New Masters Academy

It's like a drop in the bucket because I just don't focus on it. 

Project Management - Notion

I just live on my content calendar. I have that set up in a calendar view and then I have a couple of kanban board views where I categorize my content. 

Finances - All In Advisors + Blue Vine Bank + Apple Card

All In works with a lot of different Creators. They reached out to me to see if I needed help with my taxes, and I was like, “Yes. Oh, my God, please.” They're really great. 

Invoicing - Wingspan

There’s no fee on the freelancer end because the fees are put onto the clients, which is really nice. 

Payment Processing - Stripe + PayPal

Video Production - Sony FX30 + Final Cut Pro + Elgato Wave 1 + Garageband + MotionFX + Cinepaks + Tropic Color + Epidemic Sound + Music Bed

Graphic Design - Photoshop

Operations - Mostly just her + project-based freelancers

This year so far, I am editing the bulk of my own content - and I like that. I feel more connected to it now than I did using an editor last year. I feel like the videos are more unique, more in line with my creative vision. 

Representation - Self-represented

It was a lot of trial and error in the beginning, a lot of being taken advantage of - but the Partnered YouTube Discord server, I cannot thank enough!

Relevant Previous Interviews

LinkedIn Roundup

I write about the Creator Economy on LinkedIn through the lens of my 15 years as a Creator, agent, manager, marketer, producer, and executive at companies like Patreon, Wheelhouse, and WME.

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Written by Avi Gandhi, edited by Melody Song,
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