'Million Dollar Listing' star Ryan Serhant: How to use YouTube to build your business

Ryan Serhant, Realtor from Bravo's Million Dollar Listing.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Ryan Serhant, a real estate broker and star of Bravo's "Million Dollar Listing" and "Sell It Like Serhant," is an accomplished guy. He sells millions of dollars' worth of real estate, and he's building a media empire with TV shows, books, and courses.

One of his more recent passion projects, he told Grow during an interview earlier this year, is building a YouTube channel. It hasn't been easy, but Serhant says the effort has helped him earn more by bringing in new real estate clients and introducing more people to his courses and books.

Here's how he built his YouTube presence, and how you can learn from his experience to earn more money with your own business.

'12 million people watched it. That's crazy'

Serhant's YouTube channel boasts more than 600,000 subscribers and dozens of videos, most of which were published within the past year. And while creating YouTube videos, or "vlogs," as he calls them, originally started out as a sort of fun side project, it's become another dimension to his business that earns him money.

In fact, he sees YouTube as simply another way to engage with his customers and fans. "I'm a business person," he says, "and I have a lot of different ways of getting my message across."

Most of his videos consist of him and his team showing cool, unique, and massively expensive properties that, he says, he wouldn't otherwise get to share with his audience on his TV show.

How Ryan Serhant uses YouTube to build his brand

Video by David Fang

One of Serhant's first videos, he says, racked up more than 12 million views — proving that it was a viable way to attract eyeballs at a relatively low cost. "People spend all this money to create TV shows and all this advertising ... and I just went and filmed a property and 12 million people watched it. That's crazy."

That video drove clients to Serhant, too. People watched content on Serhant's YouTube channel, decided they wanted to hire him as a real estate broker, and started calling him up to work with him.

Serhant says that the revenue he earns from his YouTube channel goes right back into the channel itself. That includes upgrading equipment, covering expenses to scout, travel to, and shoot at properties, and paying his ever-growing staff.

It's important to keep in mind, though, that Serhant had already established himself as a TV star and author before diving into YouTube — he already had an audience and simply used YouTube as another way to engage with them. Creators starting from scratch will have a more difficult time.

People spend all this money to create TV shows and all this advertising. ... And I just went and filmed a property and 12 million people watched it. That's crazy.
Ryan Serhant
Real estate broker, TV star, author

How you can use YouTube to build your brand or business

Serhant and many other people and organizations use YouTube to establish brands and build businesses, including food-content creators like Mike Chen to makeup aficionados like Jackie Aina. Combined, Chen and Aina have around 6 million subscribers — and they are only two creators out of thousands.

Earlier this year, a YouTube spokesperson told Grow that there are roughly 1.9 billion active YouTube users around the world, and 30 million of them use the platform daily. It's the second-most visited website in the world.

How Mike Chen makes a living on YouTube

Video by Stephen Parkhurst

That means that there are a seemingly limitless number of consumers who are looking for content, and plenty of opportunities to make money through advertising and endorsements.

"There are all these confident people out there who are getting business because they're confident — they know what they're talking about, and they know their stuff, and they're not faking it," Serhant says.

The realization that content creation can be a viable business is good news for the next generation of budding creators, given that one-third of children say they aspire to become a professional YouTuber one day. For people who don't have a lot of resources, it's entirely possible to start creating and earning a living where you are, with what you have — all you need is a camera and an internet connection.

Serhant stresses that to find success, you'll need to put in the work and keep the content coming. "As long as you put out consistent content," he says, "people will watch it."

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