Treasure Hunter


How a Fossil Hunting Maniac uses his songwriting experience to tell compelling stories

Treasure Hunter
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May 16, 2021

Who are you and what kind of content do you create?

My name is Kyle Keller (WILDKYLE). I’m currently living in North-Central Florida, and living out two of my passions as a full-time Content Creator and performing Singer-Songwriter. I create videos around my adventures in the great outdoors while looking for fossils, antique bottles, gems and minerals, and any other cool treasures there are to find! 

I was able to go into this full-time a little over a year ago. Don’t get me wrong though, if it wasn’t for my ongoing music career it’d be a lot harder to make ends meet with just YouTube at this time! Luckily I’m able to pursue both of these passions of mine. It often feels like I’m working two full time jobs and then some, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

The name WILDKYLE was honestly just the first thing that came into mind when starting a YouTube channel. I thought “well, my name is Kyle, and I guess you could say I’m “WILD” so let’s go with that!

Let's go down memory lane, tell us your backstory! 

I have been making YouTube content for just about three years now! But the REAL beginning starts when I was a young kid already fascinated with the prehistoric world. I’ve been looking down at the ground for cool fossils and rocks for as long as I can remember! Here’s a photo of my Dad and I looking for fossil shark teeth when I was about 7 years old.

The biggest contributing factor to me starting a YouTube channel was actually conversations with my buddy PaleoCris, also on YouTube! We’ve been best friends and fossil hunting buddies for about 10 years now, and we always joked about how we needed a TV show for all of our adventures. When it dawned on us we could literally make our own “TV” show, we had a big feeling it was the right thing to do.

I was working a 9-5 job from home, setting appointments for folks to go check out cars at car dealerships. I had been doing that for a few years, and it was absolutely NOT what I wanted to be doing. Creating content around my passions sounded like a much better idea, so I went for it, and I haven’t looked back.

How do you brainstorm ideas for your content and your advice in getting the creative juice flowing.

To be honest, a lot of my brainstorming comes while I’m out filming a video. All the cool fossils/rocks that the planet has to offer does a lot of that work, and then I just have to add my own touch! I like to take the day as it comes, and be as authentic as possible. I go for a healthy mixture of fun entertainment, and educational bits about what I’m finding.

With that said, I’m constantly doing research at home to see what new treasures I can go search for. I’ve got a mental list of TONS of places I plan to travel to and make content in the future.

What are the tools and platforms you use to help with your brand?

I use this free program called Davinci Resolve to edit my videos. It’s really a great program, and not too hard to use. There’s no shortage of tutorials online to help along with it. My buddy PaleoCris who I mentioned earlier taught me a lot about it as well because he was already using it before I did.

To make thumbnails I use an app called Snapseed on my phone. It’s really got a ton of stuff you can do, and you can get very detailed with the editing. I use Facebook and Instagram to promote my YouTube content and help interact with viewers. Even then, most of the effort is put into YouTube.

What were your fears starting out? How did you handle it?

I was a little bit afraid to be in front of a camera when I first started out, but I had already been performing music for a number of years, so I was very much used to being in similarly uncomfortable situations. Playing music in front of people makes you feel like you’re under a microscope, and creating YouTube content has felt very similar. It can be very easy for someone on the outside looking in to pick apart what you’re doing. But luckily for me the vast majority of comments are overwhelmingly positive.

Now where I was less comfortable was the actual video editing and thumbnail creating. These were things I had never done before. Being in front of a camera or “audience” was basically second nature to me, but the editing business was a whole different story! It took me a few months to really start dialing in on all of that. When I first started I didn’t understand the concept of telling a story through the video. It’s hard to look back on those first videos hahaha!

How did you build your brand to where it is now, take us through your process.

When I first started making content, I had the goal to post as consistently as possible. For the most part, I’ve been able to maintain one video a week, with a couple missed videos here and there, along with a couple of extra videos every now and then too. It was great having PaleoCris around as well because we basically started our channels together. We were able to bounce ideas off each other and hold each other responsible for continuing to pursue our goals.

It was pretty tough at times trying to maintain a consistent schedule at the beginning. I was working a “normal” job at the time, and it was mentally exhausting, so I’d really have to push myself sometimes to get up and go make a video. I also was just recording videos on my phone, so the quality was not great at all at the time! Now I’ve got a decent Sony a6400 camera that I use to film and it makes a huge difference. My phone still comes in handy now that I have a better one!

The first 100 subscribers came fairly easily. I would spend a lot of time sharing my videos with friends, and also with pages geared toward fossil and treasure hunting on Facebook. This really helped the initial boost to get people interested in my content. Now, the first 1,000 subscribers is what felt like it dragged on forever!

For someone who wants to get into content creation, what is your advice?

The best bit of advice I have is to learn how to tell a story. Most content creation is all about telling a compelling story that can keep the viewers attention. When I first started out I had no concept of story telling for my videos. It was just a bunch of 10 minute long videos of “look at this fossil, look at that fossil, look at this fossil” and there was really no rhyme or reason to it. When I finally learned that telling a story was crucial, I started applying my songwriting techniques for story telling to my YouTube videos! I love telling stories, so once I made the connection of these two passions, things started rolling a lot smoother!

Another thing I’d say for anyone starting out is

you really just have to love what you do

I assume burnout could happen rather quickly if you aren’t passionate about what you’re creating. Folks on the other side of the screen can tell if you’re really invested in something. There’s this sort of intuition, and I don’t think that anybody consciously thinks about it, but they can definitely feel it. If you’re enjoying yourself, your viewers are going to be right there with you enjoying it as well. Having fun is contagious!

How did you finally commit to X platform rather than your regular day job?

Well, I was planning on taking some time off from my day job at the beginning to take a trip up to Michigan so I could see family and make videos of some different stuff. The job wasn’t going to allow me all the time off I needed, and basically told me if I took the days off I requested that they would have fired me. So, the only obvious choice was to be done with them, and jump into this thing without looking back. So that’s exactly what I did, and I haven’t looked back since. Honestly, it was the best decision of my life. Who knows how long I would have put it off because I was comfortable with a weekly paycheck.

It was definitely a struggle at first because I wasn’t making much on YouTube yet, and I hadn’t had much money saved. But I’ve always kept my overhead as low as possible, so that helped me navigate the transition more easily. I also had musical performances to make money at as well. There were some REALLY hard times, but I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

Tell us your best milestones in being a content creator.

I think highlights might be different for me than a number of other creators. There’s the obvious ones such as reaching 10,000 subscribers, and then very recently reaching 25,000 subscribers! But the real highlights for me are all the folks who watch my videos and whose lives are enriched by them. My content is outdoors based, and there are a number of folks with certain health issues that prevent them from getting out. I get a lot of comments from them saying they’re so thankful for the chance to be able to come on these adventures with me through my videos. Those are the real highlights for me, because I’m able to connect with my viewers on a deeply personal level.

Then you get parents who say their kids are inspired to get outside and hunt for their own treasures thanks to the videos. To be able to inspire the next generation to enjoy the outdoors and the many beautiful things this planet has to offer is more than enough for me to keep creating content for as long as I can.

What are your marketing strategies to grow your brand?

Marketing for me has been share, share, share, and share again. Then ask other people to share hahaha! It’s a grind, that’s for sure. I primarily utilized Instagram and Facebook for this. Fun story; I had a time where I reached over 14,000 instagram followers, then it was hacked, and Instagram couldn’t get it back for me… I’ve since started another one, but I’ve put much less time into it because of that discouragement.

Another huge thing has been collaborations with bigger content creators. I’ve done a number of them, and they’ve almost always translated into a LOT of extra subscribers and activity. Not to mention, you just get to meet these awesome people who have been doing this a lot longer than I have, and get some really cool tips from them!

How do you handle brand deals and sponsorships?

You know, I haven’t reached out to many brands and that’s something I need to improve on. I’ve only really done one brand deal at this point, and it was a really cool wallet company called Ekster that reached out to me through my email.

So, I really don’t have a lot of experience in this category, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot more. As more brands reach out, I see myself looking into the company and seeing if I can morally support specific companies. I wouldn’t share a product on my channel that I think is being harmful to the planet in some way, or exploiting some sort of other resource. I also would never promote a product to my viewers unless it is something I would use myself. I don’t want to waste their time.

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