Hi I’m Sandy Saintilus and I create YouTube content focused on interior design. I’m 26 years old and live in Atlanta, GA. YouTube has been my side hustle for about a year and a half and I’m currently a one-woman production.
I published my first video in July 2018 and haven’t looked back since. At the time I was studying interior design at an art school where I quickly learned interior design consisted of a lot more than what the mainstream media was showcasing. TV channels like HGTV show all the pretty decorating aspects of design but none of the math and psychology that’s behind a good design. Yes there’s math and science in design -- I was shocked too, you’re not alone. Throughout my first year in school I noticed my class size dwindling because the coursework was harder than a lot of students were expecting. I started my channel to document my journey in school and use my experience to inform others about what to expect in design school.
I didn’t know the first thing about video editing when I started making content. I turned to Youtube to watch reviews on what camera was best for filming videos and then bought a creator kit on Amazon that had a camera, microphone, and lights. I found a free editing app on Windows and got to work. Fun Fact: it takes WAY LONGER to edit a video than it does film one.
Before I started creating content I consumed LOTS of it -- in fact I probably watch more YouTube than TV. Creators like Mr.Kate and Karin Bohn reinforced that there’s an audience for the type of content I want to make. One of my favorite things to do with popular content creators is to watch their first few videos. The production quality is always so different than their most recent video and it reminds me to start where I am. I don’t have the fanciest light or best camera but I have even if I just had my phone I’d have enough to start making content to share with the world.
I believe in making content for where you are in your life because it makes it more authentic. I started my channel making videos about design school because I was in school. My videos focused on topics I would’ve wanted to know before enrolling in school, like the classes you take and different career options. Once I was out of school and moved into a new home I started making DIY and home decor content. I still make videos about school but i'm transitioning my channel into more home decor content because there’s a lot of that happening in my life at the moment and I want to share that with my current audience while attracting a new audience.
There was a time where every assignment I had in school was an opportunity for content. When I can’t think of a video idea I lean on my subscribers to help me out. I’ve learned that questions in the comments section make the best video ideas. If one person’s asking it then so are others and it’ll probably make a great video.
I currently use Google Docs to outline my videos, Movavi software to edit them, Canva to make thumbnails, and Instagram to promote my videos. YouTube has scheduling software inside the platform which is so helpful when I’m able to film more than one video at a time, it’s a huge time saver.
When I started posting videos I was terrified no one would watch. When I got my first 1K subscribers I was scared I couldn’t keep up a consistent posting schedule (which is still a challenge BTW). And when I got my first paid brand collaboration I feared they wouldn’t like the content I posted. Basically, I’ve learned there’s always going to be some new fear lurking around the corner.
But I’ve also learned to overcome each one of those fears. If a video doesn’t do too well then I focus on the content that is doing well and make content that branches off what my subscribers are responding too. When I worried about being consistent I set a schedule for myself but also gave myself the emotional space to not post if I didn’t feel like posting. And when I worried that brands wouldn’t like my content I was reminded they wouldn’t have reached out if they didn’t already like what they saw.
I’m always going to be scared about something, but I’m always going to be able to work it out.
I started posting one to two videos each month because that’s all I could muster back then. Filming more than one video at a time was easy but editing them was another story. I was a full-time student and had a part-time job that paid the bills. My school projects would take 20-30 hours to complete outside of school (per project) and then I would work 20 hours a week on top of that. My channel wasn’t monetized yet, so doing YouTube was purely intrinsic and posting regular content wasn’t high on my list of priorities.
Once I was out of school, I started posting one video per week which was easier because I finally had the time. I’ve still had some lapses in posting when life gets rough and I can’t focus on my channel but I always come back to it because it makes me happy.
It’s not just creating content that I enjoy, it’s the impact my content has on other people.
I got my first 100 subscribers three months after starting my channel, I hit 1K subs 7 months after starting my channel and now I’m at 6.4K subs. My first video has over 100k views, it’s my most viewed video, and has hundreds of comments.
People constantly comment that my video was the sign they needed to encourage them to go to design school and reading their comments almost brings me to tears but also encourages me to keep going.
My advice for those who want to get into content creation is to
Master one platform first and then move on to another.
It’s easy to get bombarded with information about what you should be doing on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, etc. When you’re doing it all by yourself just do what you can, when you can. It’s better to do really well on one platform than to half-ass all the platforms.
I’ve picked YouTube to focus on and I’m still learning to master it. Something things that have helped me stay more consistent are:
These are simple tips but they’re something you could start doing today and on free platforms.
My biggest milestone as a content creator so far has been monetizing my channel. Although my channel doesn't bring enough to fully support my life it’s nice to see extrinsic benefits from something that brings me intrinsic joy. In addition to getting paid from the ads placed before my videos, I’ve had paid brand collabs even before I qualified for video ads.
Making money from YouTube is a slow process and certainly isn’t a good motivator (you have to make content because you like it). However, when brands notice you for something you like doing, and want to pay you for this thing you’re already doing, it’s reassuring that your content is valuable.
My main strategy to grow my brand is consistency. Once I’m comfortable and stable with my posting schedule I’ll turn my efforts to getting media placements in popular home decor blogs like Apartment Therapy and then in print media placements in local Atlanta publications.
I want to grow my channel more before reaching out to brands, but I’m open to the brands that have reached out to me. I accept the offers that make sense for my channel and decline the ones that don’t. Additional money is always great but accepting offers that don’t align with your audience won’t feel authentic to your channel and could potentially be off-putting to your subscribers.
It’s also important to remember, not all brands are created equal and some are easier to work with than others. As a cautionary tale, there was a brand I worked with that wanted me to create content for their platform. I created the content, they paid me, and never posted the content. I emailed them multiple times asking for updates but they completely ghosted me. I was happy I got paid, but bummed that no one ever saw my hard work. It taught me a lesson about being picky when deciding who to work with.