The awe-inspiring tale of a 55-year-old realtor-YouTuber who's aiming for 100k subs from zero!
In this week's "Grow your YouTube," series, we feature Paul Lykins, the host of the YouTube channel, "Palm Beaches Paul." Paul loves Florida and Palm Beach County. His YouTube channel is all about living in Palm Beach and the different fun options that it gives its residents.
Paul is 55 years old and became an active YouTuber three years ago. Since then, there's been no looking back.
While he would love getting thousands of subscribers, he isn't worried about it too much, because he knows his niche very well, i.e., home buyers looking to buy a place to live in Palm Beach County.
According to Paul, there are two things that you need to really care about if you're looking to grow your YouTube channel:
1. The thumbnail - A YouTube thumbnail is like a movie poster, and people judge your videos by their thumbnail. So, nail your thumbnail for your videos. Paul often visits his old videos to get their thumbnails right.
2. The story - You don't need fancy equipment to shoot a video. All you need is a good story - so focus on telling a story that touches people's hearts.
Listen to Paul's deep insights and his YouTube journey in this short video :)
And, here's a complete transcript of Paul's thoughts.
Q. Tell us about yourself and your YouTube journey
My name is Paul Lykins. I'm a local realtor here in the state of Florida. I'm in the southeast region. So, hence my nickname on YouTube: Palm Beaches Paul.
It is because we call the county, the area that I live in, we call it the Palm Beaches - West Palm Beach, Boynton Beach. So, they call it the Palm Beaches, the county. And, it's a pretty big county.
I’ve been in real estate for about 8 years, and, I was doing the same thing that most realtors do - sending out cards, and handing out cards, and picking the phone, and making phone calls. I really didn't like doing it anymore.
I did enough of that in my previous career in sales, where I always had to make phone calls anyway. And, so, I just thought, "Let's do something different and something fun."
So, I love living here. I'm originally from Texas. I've been here for 28 years. I love this part of the country. I like the tropics, you see my shirt? (points to his Aloha shirt). I like being out by the beach and the palm trees.
So, I thought well maybe, if I started making videos, people might see the videos, and think yeah “I would want to live there.”
So, that's what I did, and, I had no training, never edited a video in my life, never filmed a video, other than a cell phone, maybe a little family stuff.
And, I just started to make videos. Of course, the early ones were horrible. But, I didn't know anything, I just kept working at it, I kept working at it. But, you know, I had a YouTube account.
I did enough of that in my previous career in sales, where I always had to make phone calls anyway. I just thought, "Let's do something different and something fun."
I'm 55 years, so I'm a little older than a lot of YouTubers, and I had a YouTube account, for looking at a funny video. That's it. Like, I had an account from 2013, and I would go watch a video or do something.
But, I wasn't making videos. And, then 3 years ago, I started to make videos. And, it just kind of started to grow, and I started to really understand YouTube. I started joining other groups and Facebook.
I started learning about making videos. I started to understand analytics and how to look at your analytics, and see who's watching your videos, and what time they're watching, and all that good stuff.
And, it's just slowly started to blossom. My channel's growing, it's not going to grow as fast as some people out there, that are doing prank videos or lifestyle videos.
You have a lot of people that start a YouTube channel, and they have 20,000 subscribers within a year. Mine's about real estate - so, it's got to be someone that's really looking to move to Palm Beach County.
And, someone that is interested in real estate to watch. So, that really narrows it down. But, it's growing, and the people who have been reaching out to me in my business, especially this year, it's really exploding.
I'm up to about 2,000 subscribers right now, which isn't a lot compared to a lot of YouTubers. But, in the real estate market, it's a pretty good amount. Because that's 2,000 people who are watching me talk about living in a county.
I'm up to about 2,000 subscribers right now, which isn't a lot compared to a lot of YouTubers. But, in the real estate market, it's pretty good.
I just had some comments this morning from people that were like, “Wow! I wish I knew this channel three years ago before I moved here!” She was going for a bike ride on a video I did about a real pretty trail that goes along the water, and she asked me, “Can I rent a bike?”
I said, "Yeah here's the name of the place where you can rent bikes." So, she was thankful that I had this local knowledge. So, that's what I do.
I make videos about what it's like to live here in Palm Beach County, and I talk about real estate. I talk about things people who've never bought a house might not know. I will talk about that, but I also talk about what can you do.
I make videos about what it's like to live here in Palm Beach County, and I talk about real estate.
So, you bought a house, and now you live here. Now what? Well, it's Saturday, and maybe you have kids, maybe you have no kids, whatever. What can we go do today?
So, I talk about the grain markets, about the beaches, like my favorite beaches. I talk about parks that you can go to, and a lot of these parks are free.
So, it's kind of, I jokingly say, your local realtor and tour guide. Or, guide to the Palm Beaches because I'm kind of like a tour guide. I'm showing people, “Hey! These are things you can go do.” Making videos was the best decision I ever made for my business.
It's fun it keeps me going, like every day, I'm thinking of something different in a different video to create. And, the production quality, you know, making it better. So, that's kind of where I'm at, and, and I love doing it.
I talk about the grain markets, about the beaches, I talk about parks that you can go to, and a lot of these parks are free.
Q. What is most critical to growing a YouTube channel?
Yeah, it's a great question, and it took me a while to figure that out myself. I'm still doing it, you know. YouTube’s all about the content you create, and the audience you're trying to reach. So, my audience is home buyers.
They're people that are looking to get out of New York, or a lot of California, wherever it is in the country. They're looking to move to Florida, and they need knowledge. They want to know what it's like, what do the neighborhoods look like.
If they're going to move to Florida, they want to know how close is it to a beach. “Can I ride a bike there?” So, what you have to do. It is the content that you're creating.
For example, I've had a lot of ideas for videos I wanted to make. But, they were for me. It wasn't for the person in my audience viewing the video. So, it would be a dumb video because they're not going to care about that. What they care about is living in Palm Beach County, and how they can see themselves living here.
So, every day, when I make a video, or each week when I try to make a video, I have to think about, “Okay, if I was moving here, what would I want to know? What's important to me?”
So, there are people out there who've made stunning videos with just a cell phone. Unbelievable! I mean they've made movies!
A couple of directors have taken iPhones and made videos. You can make a great video with your cell phone if you can tell a good story. If the story can touch people for what they're looking for, and that's going to be different for every person, based on what your channel is about.
You can make a great video with your cell phone if you can tell a good story
But for me, I've upgraded from a cell phone to a GoPro, to now I'm using a Canon. I just like the quality of it, but you have to tell a good story or have good content.
If I just made a video about like, “Hey, this is a great restaurant!” People living are like, "I can care less about a restaurant. I want to know what's around the restaurant.” So, that's what you have to do.
So, the content's probably the most important thing. And then, obviously, you'll hear people on YouTube tell you, “You got to have a good thumbnail,” and I'm still working on mine. It's - graphics aren't my strength.
You have to good title that grabs someone's attention. And the YouTube thumbnail is like all of us. It's like that poster board for the movies. “Is that a good movie? It looks like a bad poster.”
You have to good title that grabs someone's attention.
You never looked at it right? So, when people are scrolling, and we're in a society now, where people can lose attention that fast. So, those are the real key things that you have to work on.
If you go look at my old videos, it was a picture of me in front of a house. How boring is that? I've actually started to go back to my old videos, and change my thumbnails because it matters that much.
YouTube thumbnails are like movie posters.
Q. Where do you see yourself in a year's time?
Well, the goal like anyone is to keep growing the channel. Some people want to be full-time YouTubers, um, you know who wouldn't it? Is, it's that kind of new dream to be. “Hey! I'm a creator!” But, I'm a realtor, and a realtor is how I take care of my family
But, I would like to see my channel continually grow. Obviously, my goal is to get 5,000 by this year. I'd love to hit that 5,000-mark.
My goal is to get 5,000 by this year. I'd love to hit that 5,000-mark.
So, there are certain benchmarks that you try to attain. One of my good friends just hit 100,000! He has a personal channel and a real estate channel. And, he got a 100,000, wow!
That's just amazing, you know. So, I feel like he'll get a silver play button. But, um, I'd like to get 5,000, and eventually do it. And, just keep providing good content for people.
And, then what I'm going to probably do. My wife and I have talked about it - that I'm going to expand beyond Palm Beach County. Not, not so much as a real estate, more like, “Hey, if you live here in Palm Beach County, and we've done these.
We call them day trips. Day tripping series, where we'll go on a Friday, and we'll go an hour north, or an hour south. And, visit some place, a museum, a different beach, a nature park. So, again showing people, “Okay, now you live in Palm Beach County."
Say, like Boynton Beach, where I live. "What can I do that's an hour away from me? Where we can get the car, and go and get out of here and explore?" So, I'm gonna be expanding the channel to doing that. And, then I've had people suggest that I take trips to other parts of Florida and get on my bike.
So, I'm working on expanding the ‘Pedaling with Paul’ series, which is where I'll take my bike, and I will go visit some place. Maybe I'll go to Tampa, and say “Hey, today we're in Tampa!”
I'm working on expanding the ‘Pedaling with Paul’ series, which is where I'll take my bike, and I will go visit some place.
And, you know, I'm on my bike, and we're going to this place, and here's a great restaurant, here's a great microbrewery, or whatever. So, a lot of those things, I'm still thinking about it.
But, I'm still growing on my core of what my core channel is, which is Palm Beach County. So. I'm still trying to focus on building, that the best I can.
Q. What is your advice to aspiring YouTubers?
So, if you know, the first thing you gotta do is you gotta think what is your channel gonna be about. What do you want that channel to be about, and then, from there, you gotta start the basics.
You gotta come up with who you are, so, you have to really know what it is, and who you are, what you want to talk about. So, your audience is going to really engage with that because there are, there are so many channels out there.
And, I'm like everyone else. I go through and look at the different YouTubers and some, I have no interest in. And, then all of a sudden, I'll find something and say, “Wow it's amazing!” So, you know, don't be afraid.
A lot of people are afraid to get on camera. People already know what you look like, people already know what you sound like, for the most part. If you're comfortable with yourself, just hit that 'Record' button, start making some videos.
A lot of people are afraid to get on camera. People already know what you look like, people already know what you sound like, for the most part.
But, you know, like I go back to the content. You've got to have something good, and you also have to be consistent. So, as a realtor, I'm busy, but part of my weekly schedule, and my wife, and family, and friends know it.
I always have to make a video every week, and it can be hard. I have clients coming up from out of town. They want to look at properties, that's how I get paid. That's my main income, but the videos are that important to me, that I have to do it.
So, you have to be consistent, and um, you know make the videos, upload videos, you'll get better, don't worry so much about the techniques, the quality those are things you'll learn.
There are a million tutorials out on YouTube to teach you. But, you know, find something that you're passionate about, and that you think other people would enjoy, you know.
I'm passionate about living in Palm Beach County, I think it's a great place. Yeah, it gets hot in the summer, you know. But, it's beautiful, it's beautiful out today, there are blue skies, we have warm water, palm trees, we're close to lots of fun destinations, like Disney World, and the Florida Keys.
I mean, it's for me, I call it paradise for a reason because I really think it is. You have to be genuine, people can, people can smell fake in a split second if you're not who you are.
You won't succeed if you're fake on YouTube, they'll chew you up and spit you out. So, if people think you're authentic, they'll love you, at least that's my experience.
There are a million tutorials out on YouTube to teach you. But, find something that you're passionate about, and that you think other people would enjoy, you know.
Here's a popular video from Paul's YouTube channel about his visit to Ocean Inlet Park, one of the most dangerous inlets in Florida.
And, if you'd like to know about other inspirational YouTubers who've grown their subscriber base from zero, here's a list of all the fabulous stories in our "Grow Your YouTube" series:
- This photographer-YouTuber explains why human facial expressions are important for a YouTube thumbnail
- This VET doctor explains how she wants to grow her pet food YouTube channel into a TV show one day
- Live For Another – The story of 20-somethings who make it a habit to help ailing patients live their craziest dreams
- Trekers - The YouTuber couple who shot to celebrity status with a video of a secret World War II U-boat
- The story of how a celebrity interviewer-YouTuber discovered his "Aha!" moment three years ago - Chris Van Vliet
- How a French guitarist got 2 million views on his YouTube videos - Tanguy Kerleroux
- "If you aren't authentic on YouTube, people can smell you from a mile," says a flight attendant-YouTuber