Shaun and Mindy McKnight took a leap of faith when they began relying solely on the income of their family YouTube channels to support their six children – and they haven t looked back since.
Mindy – one of the top 25 women and number one mom on YouTube with over 4.4 million subscribers – and her husband of 17 years knew they had something special going for their family when the video-sharing website contacted them just a few months after they uploaded their first two tutorials in 2009 and offered them to join the YouTube Partner revenue-sharing program – but they almost denied the opportunity of a lifetime.
“Because the link in the invitation prompted us to include personal and banking information, we suspected the whole thing could be a phishing scam and nearly deleted the email,” Shaun tells PEOPLE of his first impression on the program. “We re certainly glad we didn t!”
“That first month we made about $7… just enough for a burrito,” he jokes, “but we are better off financially than we were in Shaun s prior career, and the first four years of YouTube earnings went towards adopting our youngest two children, Daxton and Paisley.”
Currently, Shaun and Mindy run their 16-year-old twin daughters’ Brooklyn and Bailey’s channel BrooklynAndBaily, their 13-year-old daughter Kamri’s channel KamriNoel, the family dog Braidy’s channel BraidyTheDog, a channel dedicated to young moms called MillennialMoms, a channel featuring seven sets of twins from around the world called Squared and the channel that started it all, CuteGirlsHairstyles.
“Many YouTuber s had recommended that we make the switch to full-time once our YouTube income exceeded Shaun s salary, [but] with a family of eight we had to be more careful,” says Mindy. “September 2013 was the moment we made the switch to having Shaun help me full time.”
“It wasn t an easy switch, because losing Shaun s guaranteed income was immediately felt, and we were really worried how long we could last,” she adds. “That income going away incentivized us to work really hard in those next few months to replace that lost income.
And sometimes they have to step away from the camera to focus on their non-video endeavors.
“We are partners in a zippered-bedding company called Beddy’s, a brand that merges a sleeping bag zipper with your bedding sheets/comforter to make kids bed making super quick and easy in the mornings, [and] we also co-founded CVX Live, the fastest-growing, family-focused online video convention, located in Salt Lake City,” Mindy says about the other revenue streams they’ve taken advantage of. “We just finished our second event in March with over 7,000 attendees.”
“We ve also partnered in a new YouTube channel called SuperHeroRealityTV, which amazingly reached 240 million views in May alone, after only three months of operation,” she adds.
Watch out, publishing world, the McKnights are coming for you.
“We d love to write a book, possibly in the parenting genre given that we have learned a lot while raising six children,” says Mindy of their future goal.