My name is Norm Hastings. I live in Pensacola with my wife Rebecca and 5-year-old son, Jaxon. I work as a musician, specifically playing piano and singing. I also run a channel on YouTube called the Board Game Museum, a channel that mainly focuses on vintage board games. The Board Game Museum started as a hobby but eventually turned into a part-time way of making income. It's a channel I run on my own, but I also have participated in and hosted interviews and discussions on it.
I came up with the name by looking through a thesaurus. I wanted it to fit the theme of older games, and I came across the word "museum". So, Board Game Museum was born. It took about a week to come up with the name.
So for those of you who are curious how a channel can grow by using minimum resources, very little marketing, a garage, one camera, and just an idea, hopefully, my story will encourage you.
When I first started dating Rebecca, one thing we did was play card games. It started off with Uno and Skip-Bo, and soon I was carrying a duffle bag full of games that she would get as gifts or that I found on eBay. Then one day, we went into a thrift store and I saw that they had board games for very cheap. I saw one there called Football Fever, which was a game from the 80s that was worth about $30. I grabbed it, and a couple of others as well.
Over time, I ended up buying more older games and grew to really like them. I had gotten some games from Milton Bradley and Parker Brothers. I started to look up some more of their games online and realized they had a huge amount of them. I loved the ideas behind some of them and was really blown away by how they were able to incorporate things like 4d boards, record players, and electronics, to name a few.
As I was checking out these vintage games, I decided to go to YouTube to see if anybody had done any videos on them. At the time, there were very few videos on older board games. Many of them I couldn't find any information on at all. So, I saw that I could make a channel that had not been done before on overboard games. So, I registered on YouTube and started to make Board game reviews on the older board games. When it came to naming the channel, I just was thinking of something that would specify vintage games. So, I looked in a thesaurus and saw the word “museum”. It fit, so the Board Game Museum was born.
At the time, Windows had a little editing program that I would use to edit the videos. I started to slowly gain subscribers and I realized that there were other people that enjoyed older board games too. At the time, there was very little information about older board games, so when people would be looking for information on them, my channel would pop up. Many of them would tell me how it brought back memories of playing a certain game as a kid or with family members. Others loved older games for the same reasons I did, and little by little I would gain subscribers. I didn't use any marketing tools, it just grew organically.
Sometimes ideas come if I'm doing something that I think people might be interested in seeing. I thrift for board games, and by looking at other people’s channels that focus on thrift finds, I thought I could do a show of me thrifting for games and whether I bought them or not. I'll show the price and then I'll sometimes talk about how much the game is actually worth.
The same thing happened with the Monopoly game variants I made a review for. Nobody at the time, not even the board game company, had any videos or rules on how to play them. So, I started to do how-to-play videos on new releases of Monopoly. So a lot of these ideas come while I'm doing something, then I'll look to see if anyone else is doing it and if it's something that I think people would enjoy.
I use a program called Wondershare Filmora to edit and create my videos. Right now, I'm just using YouTube as a platform to upload them, but eventually, I would like to use a couple of other platforms like TikTok and Facebook.
Many times when one starts a channel, there will be negative comments. I just delete them. There is a difference between constructive criticism and meanness. I'll take the constructive suggestions and think about them, and for the others, I just delete them. I have learned that people who leave comments like that are just looking for attention, so I don't give it to them.
I've built up the Board Game Museum by doing a variety of different things. These ideas will come out of the blue most of the time, so I'll try them out and see what sticks. In all honesty, this all started as a hobby and grew into what it is today. I wasn't thinking about anything other than just making board game reviews, and it just grew from there.
I would say it probably took about a month before I started to see traction on the page. It just slowly grew from there. The Monopoly videos really helped, as did one video that went viral. It was a video of my wife and I playing Rubiks Race, and for some reason, it went viral about a year later. That brought us a ton of attention for sure. So, for me, it's a combination of different things. Vintage Board Games, Monopoly videos, a viral video, and just collaborating with and befriending the people who are my subscribers.
I've been a content creator for about 10 years. Right now, my operation still looks the same as it did 10 years ago. I use different software and have far more games now than I did when I started, and I am using a greenscreen. But other than that, I haven't really changed much of anything. I would love to have a studio one day, but my garage right now works just fine.
If I had any advice to give to content creators, I'll just say don't give up. Keep going.
There is an audience out there for you. Also, collaborate with others and become a part of an online community that shares your passions. Facebook has pages dedicated to everything. Also, be yourself. If you feel like acting like a pirate while doing a board game review, do it! You are unique.
My regular day job was a training business that I run. Offering video training was a natural evolution. And marketing that with YouTube content was an obvious evolution from that. When I realized my YouTube ad revenues were starting to rise towards the level of my course sales, transitioning to my current ‘YouTube first’ business strategy was a no-brainer.
Now, YouTube is both a marketing platform and a revenue source.
As far as challenges, there were a few that I have had to deal with. One challenge was that my YouTube page got hacked. Someone else took control of it and it took 5 months for YouTube to get it back to me. So I couldn't post anything until then. Nobody knew what was going on, but thankfully a couple of my YouTube friends had me on their channel to explain. I also had another channel where I posted an update for those who could see it. I just used tags, like Board Game Museum, to lead people to it. We lost revenue, but we got some of it back and the holidays made up for the rest of it.
Another challenge was the pandemic. With all the stores closed, I wasn't able to go thrifting, and so I didn't really didn't have much to do. I started to do interviews with other board game collectors and also participated in some webcasts with others.
The milestones I've had in being a content creator… Well, I would definitely say the first time I had a video go break a million views. That was special. And then the regular milestones for total hits on the page (1 million, 2 million, and so on) and subscribers (1 thousand, etc.) I think also, being discovered by others like you and having the opportunity to do interviews and share my story, along with other people who have reached out to me wanting to collaborate. I think one of the coolest things is now I'm receiving board games from companies to review at no charge. I love doing that. :)
As far as brand deals, I don't really do them because most of the videos I have don't make enough hits for me to warrant getting a sponsor. If I was consistently getting a good amount of hits I would certainly consider it. If I were to choose a sponsor, I would try to find one that would fit something I was interested in or believed in.
Currently, I'm earning around $600 a month doing content creation. Those numbers typically double near the end of the year.