Creator case study: Parker Walbeck
How Parker Walbeck turned his starter Canon t3i camera into a photography and film empire making over 7 figures.
Finding a passion & making it a business
Creating an engaged audience and following
How to monetizing & scale that audience
Examples of revenue diversification for creators
Walbeck never set out to create YouTube tutorials. Like other creatives, his goal was always in the love of filmmaking.
But he seized the opportunity presented to him, and now he's one of the most popular YouTubers out there teaching other creatives how to make money in film.
His courses make millions of dollars, and it's easy to see why.
Remember that time you thought - ”I would love to get paid to do this!”
Happened more than a few times. But a voice in your head (or out of it) said – You can’t make money from that. It’s impossible.
Believe it or not, we’re entering a time when this is becoming a false statement. It’s easier than ever to profit from things that you love.
So before you start thinking of how to be successful on YouTube and such, here’s a twist: There’s an entire world beyond that. And it consists of various little pieces that all merge into your empire.
Today you’ll learn about Parker Walbeck, a guy who’s making seven figures from his passion. And even better – a step by step guide on how to replicate his steps.
Table of contents
A few years ago, Parker Walbeck started with one of the most basic cameras you can buy. In 7 years, he turned that Canon t3i into a photography and film empire. Not to mention his current filmmaking setup could make a production studio jealous.
If you look up "Parker Walbeck", you'll see that he has over a million YouTube subscribers.
However, his story isn't about "how to be a successful YouTuber," but how to move your content beyond YouTube and make multiple revenue streams.
Yes, YouTube alone gives you a lot of options for maximizing your potential. However, Parker's career path is one of many that proves how building on YouTube gives you the potential to do some other amazing things.
His filmmaking course now earns him millions of dollars. Something that wouldn’t be possible without creating and promoting his own course.
Let’s start from the beginning.
If there’s one word to describe Parker Walbeck, it’s determination.
His career path is a tale of tackling your insecurities and moving up one step at a time.
Parker started his career as a door-to-door salesman – a job he despised.
“I am an introvert; I don’t like talking to people in general. Let alone knocking on their door annoying them about buying something I didn’t believe in,” he said at one of his speaking events.
As he became disillusioned with his career choice, he slowly shifted his sight to the thing he loved the most: video and photography.
But therein lies the bottleneck most of us face when striving for our passion – the existential issue and peer pressure.
“When I was growing up in college, most people told me – you can’t do video for a living. There’s no money in that, nor a lifestyle that can support a family, etc. So I originally found my passion back in high school, but it started dying out…”
Fighting off this pressure was Parker’s critical career moment. He took all the money he saved from sales and invested in his first video production setup, worth around $1,300.
But what next?
Two things: learn how to use it and grab your first opportunity.
After months of practicing filmmaking and production from various YouTube clips (funnily), he racked up the confidence and landed his first deal. A scholarship with his university to film their major events and parties plus a hefty payment of $3000.
It was a hint of what he always knew deep down - you can profit from filmmaking.
Finding Your Mentor / Partner
Parker's first break came from working with one of the top filmmaker YouTubers, "Devin Supertramp."
One of the most important parts of your creator journey is finding a mentor. Who has a career that you want? Who is creating the type of content that you want to create? Finding the right mentor can shave years off your journey.
Devin Graham aka Devin SuperTramp was Parker's first mentor. He showed him that it was possible to make a living as a YouTube filmmaker.
This YouTube influencer and content creator had a considerable following even back in 2013 – shooting a plethora of different videos ranging from stunning landscape to breathtaking extreme sports.
In an act of sheer determination, Parker convinced Devin that they could work together. He thus started the most important part of his development. Parker worked with a bunch of high-end names during his time with Devon, including Ubisoft, Dude Perfect, and Ford.
On top of that, he filmed in a myriad of locations worldwide.
Hanging around one of the biggest filmmaking YouTube influencers had a bunch of perks, but after nearly three years, Parker was ready for something more.
Despite earning around $90k a year in a dynamic job, he felt stagnation creeping in.
“I was kinda in the grind doing a similar thing over and over. It was comfortable, it was fine, but it would never take me to the next level. I didn’t want to “get by” – I wanted to excel and become free from money,” he said.
And that was the birth of his six-figure passion project.
How To Make 7-Figures As A Creator?
Creating for other brands can bring in initial revenue, but the real money comes through when you can create continuous value from your brand. Creating a course helped Parker Walbeck go from 6 to 7 figures.
After he parted ways with Devin, Parker continued producing videos while simultaneously working on his new brand – Full-Time Filmmaker.
He used his work experience and networking to pitch new clients and, more often than not, accepted projects that were way over his head and thought about it afterward.
He goes by the "fake it till you make it" rule and says - "You will never get experience if you don't challenge yourself to accept projects that are a bit over your head."
While hustling with video production, he also replicated other YouTube creators from which he took first videography steps. He started producing and promoting valuable YouTube videos and rapidly grew his user base.
He was aware of the power of online courses. Their ability to provide value on par with film schools without needing to pay tens of thousands of dollars for scholarships.
That's when he decided to monetize his knowledge and started selling film courses.
What was once unfathomable has become a reality – he made a six-figure profit in his first month. This was a sign to commit to his filmmaking course fully.
His course's success was a combination of many factors—his expertise, network, promotion strategy, and building a near-cult following before launch.
But that was just half the job. Once the course was up, Parker needed to continuously update new content, revisit the old, and nurture his members. And he did just that.
It didn’t take long for Parker to break the seven-figure bank!
Empire Building by diversify your revenue
Parker managed to build multiple revenue streams throughout his career. As a content creator, filmmaker, lecturer, and influencer, he fulfilled his passion and made a profit.
The Breakdown - How Parker makes his money makers
Video Production Services
Before you try to sell your knowledge to others, you need to master it yourself, right? Video production has always been the core of Parker’s work.
Before he started building courses, Parker did tons of videos for a variety of different clients. From travel videos and brand promotions to major events such as weddings or concerts.
This allowed him to “get by” while creating content and building courses to achieve his financial freedom.
That said, video production is still a service Parker’s team provides. However, Parker’s filmography service fee won’t appeal to everyone. He imposed enough credibility and authority to be in demand with high-end clients only.
Meaning: work little, earn plenty.
On top of that, Parker profits from stock footage as well. In 2018, he claimed that he made a passive profit of about $5000 on selling stock footage alone.
Social Media Revenue
From the get-go, Parker realized the importance of social media presence. He worked hard in promoting his brand on the three most popular platforms (YouTube, Facebook, Instagram) while continuously providing high-value content.
Top-notch videos earned him more than 1.1 million subscribers on YouTube, where he gets a small chunk of his profits. Currently, his YouTube channel’s estimated net worth goes north of $170k (according to Statsmash), although realistically he's definitely making more than that.
This massive following on social media provides plenty of social validation and credibility, making it easier to sell your main product.
Quality content and ad management have become a crucial conversion strategy. These social channels are vital in promoting Parker’s most important revenue stream – his membership website.
When you start climbing up the YouTube ladder, new opportunities arise. Parker utilized his stupendous growth and started to do YouTube influencer marketing as well.
Over the years, he partnered with some of the industry heavyweights. Huawei, Cannon, Hyundai, LG, are just some of the household names that sponsored his videos and curses.
This allowed Parker to organize contests and giveaways with products from well-known brands, which further increased his own brand’s presence.
Tip: We will touch upon this subject more in the next section, but if you’re unsure how contests and giveaways can help scale your brand like Parker’s, check this article out.
Another way to monetize brand partnerships is via affiliate links. Parker promoted particular brands on his YouTube videos and earned a portion of money every time someone clicked a link in the description pointing to that product.
According to the man himself, he earned about $33k from affiliate marketing in 2018. That amount is probably much higher today!
Courses & Memberships (The Big Daddy of Sources)
Now we’ve come to the real deal.
All the above is a product of knowledge, hard work, and smart marketing. But in the end, it all leads to Parker’s major income source: his filmmaking courses.
During the past several years, Parker amassed a considerable following and built a respectable authority in the niche. All that helped him build one of the biggest, and according to many – the best online photography course.
Monetize your knowledge and help others grow and profit from their passion as well. Sounds awesome!
He built a membership website for his brand. Then, he created a lifetime course for those who want to learn filmmaking without paying a fortune for time-consuming film schools.
And thanks to his previously-built social proof in the niche, the courses exploded.
Currently, his Full Time Filmmaker course has over 13.5k members who purchased the course, priced at $799.
That's a mind-boggling $10 million dollars from course sales!
Not only that but after massive success with his first course, Parker turned meta. He created an excellent course on… course creation! In Course Creator Pro, Parker dives into filming videos for your course and then promoting it through various paid and organic channels.
Currently, the group has over 1.7k members on a lifetime deal with a price of around $2000.
Another $3.4 million!
Now assuming (conservatively) that he kept only 20% of the revenue, he's still made several millions of dollars in profit in only 7 years as a professional filmmaker. That's insane!
Thanks to course memberships, Parker managed to monetize his influencer power in the filmmaking niche and reach 7-figures and financial freedom.
But let’s focus on the long road prior…
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Whitelableing physical products
The beauty of having an audience is being able to listen to their wants, desires, and pain points which Parker has done extremely well with his YouTube content.
One trend he also picked up on was the need for good quality low budget equipment.
So on top of his digital products, he introduced a line of physical products in his continually expanding photography and film conquering quest.
Using his audience to pinpoint the best product in terms of price and demand, he is able to find the best possible product/manufacture and white label that product (his brand is "FTF Gear") for his audience to then purchase.
The real reason is that once an audience is established, the possibilities are endless for monetization but the audience and value have to come first.
How Can You Replicate Parkers Success?
Every aspiring influencer knows that quality content is 50% of your work. The other 50% is putting yourself (or your brand) in the spotlight.
Parker realized this quite early while working with a highly influential YouTuber. You can shoot the video of the highest quality. Provide tons of value. But what if nobody’s there to see it?
You’ve wasted your time.
For that reason, promotion was key to Parker’s success. How did he do it?
Creating Free Content for Organic Traffic
They say that the best things come free. And that’s something to keep in mind when you create your content. Free yet valuable content pieces are the building blocks of your career.
Parker spent many hours producing free content for all his social channels. Top-quality 4K YouTube videos and guides. Also, blog posts and resources that he promoted on his website and social platforms.
Furthermore, he offers a free trial to his course on his website. Every hour you can sign up and peek through a keyhole into the vast world of Parker’s lessons.
On top of everything, he keeps adding new content all the time.
He uploads new free guides on YouTube and refreshes his course with new content. The additional and ever-expanding content encourages people to purchase memberships with less hesitation.
Facebook ad examples
Here comes the interesting part. Parker is one of those influencers who realized the benefits of paid advertising pretty early.
He figured out that smart optimization of Facebook ads can talk to a huge target audience effectively.
He segmented his ads to target all stages of the sales funnel.
First up, he brought up the pain points most novice filmmakers face – their videos are low-quality. And they don’t have time, money, or both to spend on extensive classes and high-end schools:
This campaign serves to increase brand awareness much more than to convert. They capture the attention of your potential customers and slowly introduce your brand on the big stage.
On the other hand, the ad below is meant for those who are interested but need a bit of “warming up”.
Don’t want to commit paying? Well, here’s, for example, a free introduction to a photography course to get you started! (That’s another example of the importance of creating and offering free content)!
The potential customer at the bottom of the funnel already knows your product pretty well. They may need just a little push to finally opt for the course. Usually, that push is a discount, or another interesting offer (some extra content for example).
Pushing Viral Giveaways and Contests
As mentioned, becoming influential in your niche opens up an array of opportunities. For instance, you can gain sponsorships from some of the most notable brands related to yours.
Parker utilized these sponsorships in the best possible way.
He hosted viral giveaways and included the products of his sponsors to the contest. With these attractive offers and easy steps, consumers were eager to participate.
The image above shows a Christmas contest with a lucrative reward – a $1000USD gift card for Adorama – one of the most popular camera equipment stores.
But that’s not it, a lucky winner also gets a lifetime membership for his course! That’s almost $2k of reward only for performing a few simple tasks.
But in return, Parker gets a lot of social validation, reach, and free promotion. The more people see, more will try their luck and the brand’s exposure will grow.
Furthermore, every participant automatically becomes a subscriber and grows their email list.
If you’ve ever wondered how giveaways and referrals work, this is one of the best examples.
Bonus: If you want more examples of promoting courses with viral giveaways,check this case study as well.
Building a Network & Community
As an influencer and a course creator, it’s never enough to just grow a community. It’s equally important to nurture it.
Parker does this well. Everyone who purchases his course gains access to the private Facebook group. As mentioned, thxe Full-Time Filmmaker has over 15k users and plenty of them are active.
Parker doesn’t leave his members be. He engages in conversations, answers questions, and even starts interesting discussions. He uses these groups to send additional content, offer huge discounts on partnership products, etc.
The key takeaway is that you should keep engaging in what you’ve created. Your courses become something you need to cultivate and scale it.
In return, you’ll retain your members and achieve ultimate satisfaction and validation. Also, they’ll introduce new members to the course, and your empire will keep growing.
Replicating Parker’s success doesn’t seem easy, but it’s definitely possible.
In fact, there are so many content creators that are racking up the same or even better numbers in their particular niche.
If you want to follow Parker’s footsteps, here are the things that you should focus on:
Research the Market
Parker didn’t build his course out of the blue.
His experience with learning from YouTube videos got him thinking – There’s only 1 minute of valuable information in these 20-minute videos. If I feel that way, a bunch of others do”
So, he conducted simple research. He asked his followers what are the things that they’d want to learn about filmmaking. What are their major pain points?
He got around 300 questions.
There was a demanding market there. People wanted to learn and he wanted to teach them (and monetize his expertise). Thus, he spent some time answering those.
Then, he started filming those answers into substantial, short guides. And those were the seeds for his course.
Gain Authority in Your Niche
When Parker first started, nobody knew who he was. Just like nobody will know who you are at the start.
Parker dedicated his first several years to learning the trade, hanging around with people that already made their name in the niche and laid the foundation for his brand.
Afterward, he started gaining authority:
· He created his brand’s YouTube channel and profiles on social platforms.
· Leveraged his connections and network to start gaining followers.
· Started making quality content that provided value for his followers.
· Slowly formed his first core group that would later become members.
Build a Course or a Membership Website
Now when you have valuable content and some starting audience to distribute it to, it’s time to profit.
There’s a bunch, of course, builders online and you can utilize them to make one of your own.
First, you need to decide between the type of membership, usually depending on your content.
· A lifetime membership (like Full Time Filmmaker) hands you out the entire course/content at once. All the additional content you get for free.
· A weekly/monthly/yearly subscription may provide recurring cash flow but requires consistent valuable and exclusive content.
Now you may think: But… I don’t know how to build a membership website…
Yes, but there’s no need to. A bunch of tools online can make this process a piece of cake.
For example, Hyax streamlines the entire course-creation and blog creation process. An intuitive editor helps you tailor your website design easily according to your preferences.
What Revenue Model Do You Choose?
- A lifetime membership (like Full Time Filmmaker) hands you out the entire course/content at once. All the additional content you get for free.
- A weekly/monthly/yearly subscription may provide recurring cash flow but requires consistent valuable and exclusive content to be added.
Now you may think: But… I don’t know how to build a membership website…
Yes, but there’s no need to. A bunch of tools online can make this process a piece of cake.
For example, Hyax streamlines the entire course-creation and blog creation process. An intuitive editor helps you tailor your website design easily according to your preferences. Check it out.
Promote Through All Channels
As you’ve already learned, promotion is half of the work. Use the Parker Walbeck’s methods we’ve covered in this article to immediately attract curious eyeballs to your website/course:
1. Create free valuable content for validation and organic traffic. If you’re offering the best online photography course, you should hand out a free photography course first.
2. Use paid ads and affiliate marketing.
3. Promote via giveaways and contests
4. Nurture your existing membership base.
Course Creation Checklist
As you see, it’s plenty of work, but the payoff is massive. If you think you can be influential in your niche (whatever it may be) you should get going.
Go out there, lay the foundations, and start making content that you can actually profit from.
Before you go, here’s a checklist so you know what to do at every point of your journey:
What did you think about Parker's story?
Something you can see yourself doing? Let us know if the comments if you have a course or digital product you are trying to scale.
What is Hyax?
Hyax allows creators to monetize their content, whether its through courses, digital downloads, or memberships. Create your storefront with Hyax today, and start making more money as a creator.
Also, check out our other product Hy.page which allows you to monetize your social bio links with ease.
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