How to monetize IP online

(6 min read) How The Skorys family built their very own universe of characters and monetized their IP through merch, books, and more. Featuring Shopify, IG Broadcast, and Notion.

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The Skorys

It feels almost on that border of fantasy and reality - like, wait, is this really happening to this family?

Tylor, Gabriella, Cole, and Eden Skory are creating worlds on YouTube. 

Their “Skorys Universe” of characters are rich IP that they’ve monetized through merchandise, books, and more..

Let’s get into it!

*Please note that the quotes in this article are attributed to The Skorys as a group. Since they conferenced in from a single camera, my transcriber could not parse and label who said what.

Links

The Business

.Highlights.

.Breakdown.

.Observations.

We usually have a storyline that spans over multiple episodes into seasons, and that will have us as different characters.

The universe the Skorys have created over the years is rich, growing, and primarily accessible via their YouTube channel, which drives 80% of their revenue. 

YouTube is the biggest revenue source - that's where our most engaged fans are.

Instagram, TikTok, etc. are access points to that world, helping potential fans discover the stories and characters, and eventually pushing them to YouTube. 

As such, these platforms don’t generate a ton of revenue for The Skorys.

It would be hard for somebody who didn't necessarily know us to hop over to our shop if they weren't already fully integrated into what we call “The Skorys Universe.” 

YouTube is where new viewers get hooked on “The Skorys Universe”, and eventually want to listen to their music, read their books, buy their merchandise, etc.

It’s a funnel!

30-second vertical videos are a perfect introduction for someone, but then, for them to sink their teeth into something…they'll hop over to our YouTube and be like, “Oh my gosh, there's 20 minute videos here that I can digest and really enjoy.” 

And then we can fold that into, “Hey, if you like this experience, you'll also like a book version of it,” or “You'll also like a box that has toys with those same characters that we created for you to enjoy.” 

We try to think of that flow for the audience and walk them through as best as we can.

They don’t just sell products. For companies that find the community they’ve built appealing, the Skorys also have a consulting offering that drives as much as 30% of their revenue. 

What does that look like?

We'll put together a whole entire guide for them dedicated to their strategy. There’s a content calendar, trends to implement, even how to integrate the internal company values - all in what we call a brand or social media “bible” that they just follow. 

The beauty of this business?

They already have the playbook - they’ve done it for more than a decade.

We're not reinventing the wheel every time. We're able to just customize it. 

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The Stack

It's important to remember that you don't have to know everything to start. The knowledge is out there for you to learn. 

Website + Storefront - Shopify (self-managed)

Products - Work with manufacturers directly

Most Creators partner on merch, preferring to let someone else handle the difficult operational challenges of designing, manufacturing, and fulfilling merchandise.

Not the Skorys.

We work directly with the manufacturers themselves…we found them through people we knew, good reviews on Reddit, or even websites like Alibaba.

It was trial and error. One year, we did tie dye boxe …for 10 days straight, we tried [a hundred different samples of] different powders and different things to figure out which ones actually were the most vibrant. Once we found the ones we liked, that was the company we went to. 

Why go through all this trouble?

You just look at things from a profitability standpoint and you're like, “If we can just figure out how to jump that middleman, then the whole entire world is our oyster”...

Every single person who has ever worn our merch has been like, “This is the softest t-shirt I have ever felt.” You just don't get that experience going through someone else. The print is the best it can be and you make more money from it. 

It’s the best product possible and a smarter business move.  

SMS - Used Community, didn’t continue

We played around with Community, with the text channels, and for us specifically, it didn't go over super enthusiastically.We got a lot of confusion [because] people forgot that they signed up for it and were like, “Why are you texting me? How did you get this number?” 

Email - Mailchimp

Email is our communication line to the parents, for the merchandise in the store. It's not the kids buying the products - we get a lot of parents buying for birthdays or for Christmas, which is a huge season for us. Email is definitely the best place for traditional contact with the parents.

Bio Link - Braid.ai

We're in the process of creating a more customized user experience. 

Community / Chat - Instagram Broadcast

We've been playing around with Instagram Broadcast. There's a push notification. It feels personal…That seems like it has a lot of potential and I'd definitely like to see that grow. 

Project Management - Notion

Notion is the brain of our organization. 

Finances - Traditional

Our system is based on a book called Profit First by Mike Michalowicz. 

When we read that, we had a complete paradigm shift with how we managed our money. He has some great recommendations as far as banks that work really well with his “envelope or bucket” system, and a lot of banks are starting to enable you to organize your finances in that way…some banks specifically now are like, “We're a Profit-First-friendly bank.” 

Communication - Slack

Representation - Mikayla @ My People Know

On outreach:

One of the things that stuck out with My People Know specifically is that our manager sent us an actual personal email. 

Every single day our inbox is full of emails like, “Hey, I checked out your YouTube channel. I checked out [Insert Channel Name]. I’m selling this. I want you to do this.”

We scroll through those all the time, but I was reading this one from My People Know, and I was like, “Wait a second. This is a little too personal to be a copy and paste email.” The authenticity was there. She mentioned specific videos and loved certain pieces of content we had made and talked about what she could bring. 

On trustworthiness:

There was no contract that we had to sign that was forcing us to work with them for X amount of time, and I think that's a very green flag when you're talking with managers.

When they're trying to immediately lock you into something without any proof of what they've done, that raises red flags. Why are you trying to force me to stay with you? Why can't you just work with me and prove that we have a mutual interest in each other?

Operations - Mostly the four of them + Editors + Production Assistant + Project-based contractors + Upwork + Discord Groups + YTJobs.com

90% of our operations are the four of us. We outsource a couple of things here and there, but for a majority of it, that is kind of the nice part of having the four of us with our different expertises and interests - if not one of us, then the other can step in and lead one of the projects. 

The Skorys have a super clever trick for finding YouTube editors: niche Discord groups.

It's such a different hiring process for YouTube editing vs traditional Hollywood editing, which we run into where they're like, “Why do I have to do all these weird sound effects? What’s retention?” It’s a different world.

They recommend Colin & Samir’s Discord and the server Creative Paradise. They also use YTJobs.com and Upwork for project-based needs

Video Production - Sony A7S4 + Rode Video Pro + Macs w/ M2 Chips + Final Cut + Post Labs + CapCut

Another program that we love, that most Creators don't use (because they use Final Cut), is a program called PostLab. That has been really helpful for us in terms of our editing, because it's a program that actually allows you to hop into the actual project that you're editing, so that way we can trade off between our own computers hopping into different videos. It’s cloud-based. 

Video Distribution - Direct to Platform

Other Content Production / Distribution - Opus Clips

For our podcast, we use Opus Clips, which is an AI clip cut down tool. You upload the whole thing, it captions it, and then it gives you a bunch of cut up clips. 

Oh yea, it’s very new, but we have a podcast coming out called Sibling Therapy. So that's going to be our newest content endeavor.

We went deep on some topics that didn’t make it into this article, including the “Adpocalypses” that wiped thousands of kids content Creators off of YouTube, and the tactics that allowed the Skorys to avoid that fate. 

Check out the full interview on our YouTube channel!

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.

Here are a few highlights from the last week!

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