Change strategies as you change goals

(6 min read) How Natalie Barbu balances twin roles of founder and Creator. Featuring Rella, Podcast Nation, TubeBuddy, and ChatGPT.

The Creator

You can have a few thousand followers and still make it a job. Maybe it starts as a side hustle and  turns into a career. You really don't need to have that many followers to make it into a career.

Natalie Barbu is one of a handful of YouTubers in a special club: venture-backed startup founders.

After years of trying to manage her brand campaigns in notes, spreadsheets, Google Drive, and a plethora of other software, she created Rella to streamline and centralize Creator project management.

Though she has backing from institutional investors like Hustle Fund, Charge Ventures, and Liquid 2 Ventures, Natalie is still making a living as a Creator. Doing so has forced her to prioritize, making her both a better entrepreneur and Creator as a result.

Let’s get into it!


The Business



When I first started, I had no idea that you could make money, that this could be a career. It was 2011, and I just really liked doing it.

13 years is an eternity in Creator time. 

I always say that I'm a slow and steady grower when it comes to subscribers and followers. I never had any viral video, it was just consistency that really helped.

Her lifestyle vlogs hit a unique niche, making them very appealing to a dedicated audience and the brands that want to reach them:

I think the reason why I have a strong community is because I post about things like engineering content, consulting content, founder content - but I'm still showing the girly side of myself as well in these industries that are really male-dominated.

There are a lot of women that are still very feminine and like fashion and makeup, but they're also into tech.

There's not that much representation on the internet about that.

When she first went full-time, she left her job as a consultant at Accenture. 

Remember - young consultants get paid quite well (usually 6 figures), and she had only 150k-200k YouTube subs at the time. And yet…

I started making like double my salary on social media, so I decided to quit.

Double a consultant salary with an audience under 1M? How? 


Being a Creator is a business. You don't need to have millions of followers, you can have a few thousand and still make it a job - maybe it starts as a side hustle and then turns into a career.

She had revenue coming in from brand deals and AdSense, then added coaching, a podcast, a Patreon, and even an ecommerce business. 

Over the years, her content and business model had to change depending on her goals. Most recently, since launching her startup, Rella, she’s had to really prioritize - and that’s meant making some hard choices.

Once I started Rella, I had to cut some things. I knew I wanted to continue creating content, so I pretty much cut everything but content creation.

Natalie had a vision for a platform to help her and other Creators manage, plan, and execute brand deals more easily…but her hands were full with all these revenue streams.

She prioritized. 

She knew she couldn’t accomplish her dream of building Rella if she was busy running a community and managing ecommerce inventory…so she shut them down.

I cut the coaching, the Patreon, [the ecommerce business]. I just focused on content creation and my podcast and then, obviously, Rella.

Natalie continues to produce content and do brand deals. She states that that’s because it’s lucrative - it enables her to live without paying herself much from her investor funds.

Rella is only 26% of my income, and I actually stopped paying myself pretty recently, so right now, my income is pretty much all social media, 

I suspect that the unstated - and very smart - reason she continues to make content and do brand deals is that she needs to be her own customer, for the good of the business. 

It’s the same reason that my old boss, Jack Conte, still makes 5+ videos a month for his band’s Patreon accounts, even though he’s easily worth 9 figures (as the co-founder and CEO of Patreon) and doesn’t in any way need the subscription revenue.

A Creator CEO needs to be their own customer.

I use Rella to manage everything.

The Stack

Link in Bio - Beacons

I do know the founders of Beacons, so I think that that helps. I just want to support other founders in the Creator space, but I genuinely like the product.

Membership - Used to have Patreon, cut it once she started Rella

I started a Patreon with fellow content creators, and that had a Slack channel if you were a part of it. It was all Creators, a community of Creators.

Affiliates - N/A

I just need to start. It just takes a lot of time to link everything, always remember to link everything.

Project Management - Rella

Communication - Rella

Video Distribution - Rella

I was using so many different things to manage my business as a Creator - content planners, notes on my phone, spreadsheets for revenue, project management tools for brand deals, and it was just so scattered and fragmented.

I would always spend hours each week on admin tasks because I had a lot of brand deals and content that I was putting out across different platforms.

I was like, “Why is there nothing out there that's just one tool for all of this?”

And so that's how Rella started.

I have to say - Rella is ridiculously robust. For example - if you upload a contract, it’ll point out red flags, as well as pull all the deal terms, add dates and deliverables to your calendar, remind you to send invoices, etc. You can also use it to store files, add team members for review, schedule uploads and posts across social platforms.

Natalie recorded a 2-minute walkthrough for Creator Logic readers - check it out if you’re interested!

Accounting - Fisher, P.A.

I've referred my accountants to so many Creators that they now have a whole social media influencer department.

Representation - Manifest Management (Lindsey)

Given Natalie’s auspices as a VC-backed founder, she could potentially be represented by a big, three-letter agency (WME, CAA, UTA, etc) - but that’s not what she wants.

I know [that in] bigger agencies, if you're not the top of the top Creator, they don't pay as much attention to you. You have to have hundreds of thousands or millions of followers for them to focus on you.

I mean, that makes sense from a business perspective because you're not going to be bringing in as much money. For me, I love the personalization and the fact that [my manager, Lindsey] can text all the time. I know that she has my best interests in mind and that she's paying attention to me. So that's why I prefer smaller partners, like people that go off and do their own thing.

At this point, she’s been a Creator for so long, and speaks to such a specific audience, that many brands know who she is and reach out to her directly. Still, she prefers to have her manager handle everything.

I would say 70% of my deals are just inbound, straight to me. Maybe 20% are inbound to my manager, and then 10% are her pitching and outbound.

The most helpful part [that my manager takes care of] is the negotiation, the back and forth, the contracts.

Like, I don't want to do any of that, and I love that I can just create a list of brands, and all I have to worry about is creating the content.

Video Production - Sony ZD1 + Final Cut Pro + iPhone + CapCut.

Editing - Self-edits for YouTube + hired editor for podcast video

I do have a podcast editor that I pay for videos, since I'm now doing video and audio. She does the video. She makes it into short form clips, and she uploads it onto social media sites.

AI - ChatGPT

I always prep for my podcasts or my YouTube videos, so I take my prep work that I did and I put it into ChatGPT, and then I make that into a LinkedIn post.

Thumbnail Design - Canva

Optimization - TubeBuddy

I use TubeBuddy just to see what keywords other people are using. I have no idea if keywords help or not. I just use them just in case they do.

Podcast Production - Sony ZD1 + A mic with good reviews

Podcast Distribution& Monetization - Podcast Nation (network) + Megaphone (host)

They source all of the ads, they edit the audio, and then they distribute it across all platforms…they were the first ones to approach me and I had a call with them, and I just really loved talking to them. 

This is gonna sound so stupid when I say it, but I’m a big “vibes” person. I think making sure that we have the same vision, that you really understand what I'm putting out -  is so much more important to me than just the name. 

But they’re very reputable, they have huge shows on there too.

Relevant Previous Interviews

My 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.

Here are a few highlights from the last week!

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