I have recently gotten more actively involved in retirement planning and investing for my family’s future. In my research, I recently stumbled upon the YouTube channel of a real estate entrepreneur and investor named Graham Stephan. Graham is a young guy—he’s only 26 years old—but he’s absolutely killing it with his YouTube channel where he offers advice on finance, investing, entrepreneurship, and more. He has over 1 million subscribers, and for good reason.
Usually I am skeptical of internet gurus. We’ve all seen these shady “get rich quick” schemes and people promising to teach you how to make lots of money online. Graham Stephan is something different and better than all that. He’s knowledgeable, credible, and fun to watch, and anyone who’s an entrepreneur or who wants to get better at marketing themselves can learn something from him.
Here a few reasons why I believe Graham Stephan is successful on YouTube.
1. He understands content
Graham Stephan’s video content is unique, and he actually delivers substantive commentary and compelling insights; you can tell that he’s put time and effort into every video and he’s really trying to give you something “real.” Most marketers out there rehash the same stuff they have heard elsewhere. The world of content marketing is getting overrun and polluted by too much mediocre content—spammy, insincere, and recycled content that doesn’t really help improve your life. I’ve read and seen way too much content, where afterwards I’ve felt like I wish I could have that time back.
2. He is transparent
In each of his videos, Graham starts by asking viewers to “like” the video if we like what we see. And he flat out tells us why: the YouTube algorithm rewards interactive content, so if we want to support his videos, “like” them. The thumbnails in his videos have silly faces, and he is upfront and says that he does the silly faces for clicks—he’s actively trying to engage a bigger audience, even before they click the thumbnail on his video.
He lets you know why he does everything. This is a refreshing change from other online “gurus,” who often act like they have secret superpowers or a mysterious black box of manipulative marketing techniques. Graham is more low-key: “Hey, if you enjoyed my video, why not help me out with a like?”
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3. He’s professional
While most “finance gurus” out there record themselves talking into a laptop camera in their plain home office, Graham Stephan’s videos have high-end production value. He started creating YouTube videos for fun because he enjoyed camera work and video editing, and he was spending 40 to 50 hours per week making videos, even though they weren’t making any money.
You can tell that Stephan puts a lot of thought into the creative side of YouTube video making. His videos have slick editing and clever cuts, and even if he is just recording a video of himself at a laptop in his kitchen or home office, he uses intriguing camera angles and soundtracks to make the videos entertaining.
4. He demonstrates credibility
You know how so many financial and business gurus are slick talkers who pepper their speeches with weasel words and BS? Graham is not like that. When he makes factual statements, he will show the supporting evidence. And with opinions, he provides his logic behind them. He’s really quite self-effacing and open about his own mistakes, struggles, and learning experiences. He’s open about his vulnerabilities—he has a video where he talks about his struggle with social anxiety. Perhaps most importantly, he shows the math behind his successes.
For example, in this video on how he became a millionaire by age 26 by working in real estate, he explains step-by-step how he got started in the real estate industry, why he decided to skip college, how he built relationships with real estate agents and found a niche in the market where he could make money even though he was young, how he gradually started making sales and making big commissions on million dollar homes, and how he started investing in his own rental properties. He shares the real numbers at every step of the way, and he’s believable—because he’s not exaggerating, he’s not being shady, he’s just being real.
Will Graham Stephan’s career path work for everyone? Well, of course not—not everyone has the same strengths as Stephan, not everyone can get into the lucrative but competitive Southern California real estate market, not everyone likes to spend 50 hours a week making YouTube videos for zero money, and not everyone can be—or wants to be—a millionaire by age 26. But what almost ANYONE can learn is how to improve their marketing skills.
DISCLAIMER: I don’t know Graham Stephan, I have no affiliation or business relationship with him, I have no financial stake whatsoever in people clicking his videos. I’m just really impressed by his work and I wanted to spotlight his videos as an inspiring example of content marketing at its best.
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