I’m a video content creator from Vancouver, Canada. I am the sole creator and owner of Cartooning Club (formerly known as Cartooning 4 Kids) on Youtube. My audience knows me best as MRTY (short for Marty). I create and share How To Draw videos on Youtube and have been doing this every day since June 2014.
I have a professional creative arts background, working in the film and video game industry for over 22 years. I started my Youtube channel as a tool to help my own 2 young children how to draw. They were aged 3 and 5 at the time. I was often away on business trips or working long hours at the studio so uploading videos for them to follow along was the perfect alternative.
After 2 years of building my channel, I realised that I was getting a lot of joy and satisfaction from teaching and creating videos so I left my job as an Art Director at a local video game development company and went full-time on Youtube in 2016.
My videos started as very simple low quality step by step instructional tutorials but evolved over time. I initially called my channel Cartooning 4 Kids but discovered that young adults, parents, and teachers all enjoyed my content. I changed my channel name and brand to Cartooning Club in 2019.
Before I began my Youtube channel I was working at Microsoft Games Studios as Art Director in Vancouver and Birmingham, UK locations. It was a very high-paying job with many benefits. I took on the job shortly after marriage and the birth of our first child. The job was very demanding and required me to travel and work long hours. Being away from my family and not being around much for my child was emotionally painful. I looked for alternate jobs that would allow me to stay closer to home and not travel as much.
After the birth of our second child, I took a job at a smaller independent game development studio. The job didn’t pay as much but I was content that the job didn’t require me to travel, however, I was still working long hours and working on projects that I wasn’t passionate about.
One weekend while at home, I discovered that my kids really enjoyed drawing. My youngest especially enjoyed making up stories and creating her own characters. I sat with them and started teaching them how to draw simple things like hands, facial expressions, and playing games where we would make up our own funny characters. They were completely engaged and enjoyed the activities we did together- and so did I.
The following week at work I decided to take time during my lunch break to record a video of me drawing on my mobile phone and sharing it with my kids on Youtube. I didn’t know much about the platform at the time but was able to set things up fairly quickly. I went down to my car during my lunch break, propped my phone up on a selfie stick which I shoved into the back headrest, and began recording my drawing which sat on my lap.
I believe my first drawing was a cartoon bird. I uploaded the video to Youtube right away and asked my wife to show it to the kids. Later that day, I went home to see that my kids were able to follow along and had left their drawings on the kitchen table for me to see. That was amazing. I was able to teach my kids how to draw from a simple video I had created from the back seat of my car.
I continued to post new videos every day. I had no intention or idea that others would see the video but they eventually did. Note: I wasn’t aware of any privacy settings on Youtube at the time. I didn’t pay any attention to my analytics or views for the first month. I just kept recording and uploading new videos every day.
I can clearly remember the day I first took notice of the view count on my channel. I had gained over 10,000 views in that first month. I called my wife in excitement and told her that I think I found a new job. We still reflect back on that time to this day.
It was around this time I started taking content creation a bit more seriously. I wasn’t financially able to leave my job just yet. I monetized my channel through Adsense and researched other popular creators to get inspiration and ideas on how to build a successful channel. Back then any creator that had over 10,000 subscribers was a big deal. The thought of growing my channel that big didn’t cross my mind but I was determined to do my best.
That same year in November I received my first revenue share cheque in the mail from Adsense. I had made $7.98. This was a turning point in my life. I calculated the amount of work I had to do to earn enough to leave my job and turn this into a full-time career. I planned out my schedule for the following month and set up a crude recording studio on the dining table. The rest is history.
The beauty of having a channel like mine is that my subscribers and fans help me build the daily schedule. I take requests through the comments and my social media platforms and prioritize them on my large whiteboard calendar in my studio.
Since going full time on Youtube, I’ve been able to increase my video production from 1 per day to producing 3-4 lessons each day in the mornings and have the rest of the day to spend with my family. I always plan to have at least 30-40 days of content pre-recorded and a week of videos uploaded and scheduled to release on my channel. I do this so that I have the freedom to work at my own pace or take time off to do other things.
There have been days where I don’t feel inspired to draw but I can usually work around that by focusing on projects that still help build my brand and channel. There was a time when I posted some very short and fun animated shorts. I recently experimented with designing custom painted shoes. Creating the same type of content over and over can feel complacent so it’s important to have some variety in my daily schedule. This is also a great way to see what resonates with your audience.
I have a background in video editing, special effects, animation, and of course drawing so incorporating those tools and skills on my channel came naturally. I’ve always used Adobe products since I first started my career in film and video game development. My go-to software is Adobe Photoshop and Premiere Pro.
Over the past few years, I’ve experimented with many different social media platforms but I have come to the conclusion that Youtube is still my most effective platform for communication and brand development. I have struggled with growth on Facebook, Instagram, and especially Twitter. Unless my content is native to those platforms my content will get relegated to the bottom and rarely ever promoted.
My goals over the next couple years will be to build my brand on those platforms with platform-specific content.
I always had confidence issues growing up. As a kid I was always the shy one and was often the victim of bullying. As I got older I was able to build up my confidence and stand up for myself. I think this is where the idea of wearing a mask and not showing my face on Youtube came from. I can build a connection with kids that face the same issues growing up.
I know I was not the only shy kid. I know there are many others like me that are victims of bullying. There are other kids like me everywhere and I can understand the hardship that comes with that. The mask is a symbol of my personal space- the escape to my creative space.
I remember as a kid I built a tiny cardboard clubhouse in my bedroom which I used as my personal escape. This was the place I could go to when I just wanted to get creative.
I didn’t have a brand-building plan from the beginning. Everything just started organically. I tried to apply as much of the processes I attained from my work experiences into my channel. My main objective at the beginning was to get as much content out there as possible and find the types of content that kids engaged with the most. The more content I posted, the more I learned about my audience.
One valuable exercise I started to apply from my experiences working with Microsoft marketing teams was building my brand through brand persona exercises. Simply put, this is aligning my product with brands that I want to associate with. In the case of my channel I looked at brands like Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Marvel, Pokemon, etc. This is a long process of defining their brand and extracting what I want to incorporate into mine that makes sense.
This evolved into defining my audience personas. With all the content and analytics available to me I could start to define who was watching my content. The real beauty of Youtube is that I could post questions, polls, and images to my community feed and expect tens of thousands of responses within a 24 hour period- something that was near impossible on any other platform.
There was a point at the beginning where I had to prioritize my reasons for starting Youtube before committing to this as a full-time career. Money should never be #1 on the list. For me money wasn’t the driving factor and to this day it still isn’t. I have nothing against making money but if it’s the #1 purpose then it will be an extremely difficult road. Trust me, the money will eventually come.
I found it very helpful to establish a very high-level goal at the beginning, without thinking about the how or when.
For instance, my goal was to get to 1 million subscribers. I didn’t care if it took me 5 years, 10 years, or the rest of my life. The reason I set this goal was because at the time it seemed like a near-impossible goal and it’s something money can’t buy. A million subscribers is a bucket list type of goal that I just had to reach.
After you establish your high-level goal, break it down into mini-goals. My first mini goal was posting 100 videos. Then it was getting 10,000 subscribers. Once I reach those goals I keep moving the bar further up towards my high-level goal. I try and keep those goals achievable within a year or less. This gives the perception of continued progress and helps keep the encouragement going.
I try and keep my attention on mini-milestones and progress without getting too distracted by my financial gains. Once I focus on my finances then my channel then starts to feel like another job. The moment I quit my job and started Youtube full time was defined by a simple number. This was my annual growth percentage. My family was always financially comfortable so as long as my channel was growing at a steady pace I knew it was safe to leave my day job.
I always thought hitting my 1 million subscriber milestone would be the ultimate reward but sadly it wasn’t. I remember that exact moment my real-time subscriber counter turned over and revealed 1,000,000. It was actually quite anticlimactic. I was happy but at the end of the day, it’s just a number. My happiness and purpose couldn’t be defined by a number.
The biggest milestone which was a surprise and came out of nowhere was when Sharpie (makers of the pen I use in my lessons) reached out to me and sent me a care package filled with a years’ worth of art supplies. I was so moved that a company so big would recognize my work. That moment was a personal milestone that I would never forget.
Everything I’ve done to this date has been organic. Most of my traffic and audience comes by way of word of mouth or search traffic. If I can provide some value then I usually expect to see a high conversion of subscribers and loyal fans. It’s as simple as that.
I would only do brand deals with products or companies I actually use or align with my content. If I chose to do a brand sponsorship with something that has no relevance then it goes against my belief. Don’t do it just for the money. Your audience is smarter than you think.
To date, I’ve only done 1 paid sponsorship for a kid’s book series with Warhammer. I loved Warhammer as a kid so this was a great opportunity for me. I’ve done other sponsorships on my channel but for free. I like helping others so this was a great way to show support.