Justin Tse started posting videos to YouTube at the age of 13. Fast forward ten years, and he’s one of the most successful YouTubers around. His success hasn’t been an overnight thing – he’s spent the past decade pulling 13 hours shifts, sacrificing his hobbies for his career, and dedicating himself 100% to finding new ways to monetize content. But with a couple of mil in the bank, it’s clear that all that hard work has paid off. Find out more with these 10 things you didn’t know about Justin Tse.
1. He’s been making videos since he was 13
Some YouTubers come to fame overnight. Not so for Tse, who’s been beavering away making videos since he was 13 years old. It all started after he spent two years washing cars and selling odds and ends on Craigslist to scrape together enough money for his first iPod. At around the same time, he started browsing YouTube (which at that point was still in its infancy) for iPod accessories. He noticed a bunch of YouTubers dropping brand names in their videos, so decided to do the same. When he finally got his iPod, he filmed himself unboxing it for his first YouTube video. From that point forward, he was hooked.
2. His parents didn’t always get it
By 2013, YouTube was already well established, at least with kids. For parents, it was still something you stopped by now and again to catch some cute cat videos. So when Tse told his parents he wanted to buy a Samsung Galaxy S4 to shoot a product review, his folks thought he was crazy. “My parents originally told me: ‘You’re not to waste your money on that, just don’t do it’,” Tse told Business Insider. “I think I left instructions on UPS to tell them to hide the phone in the backyard.” He had the last laugh though – his review reached over 3.2 million views, and still ranks among his most watched videos to this day.
3. He makes most of his money from brand deals
For Tse, the passive income he earns from YouTube is nice, but it’s not the bread and butter of his business. His core focus is scoring brand deals and sponsorships with big names like HP, whether that’s through YouTube or Instagram. According to Tse, there’s no such thing as a typical contract, as each brand enters the deal with specific requests. Most request a couple of video or Instagram posts, and some might request exclusivity clauses that bar Tse from mentioning their competitors. As some contracts can bring in as much as $64,000, it’s understandable why he takes such a flexible approach.
4. He earns around $90,000 a year from Adsense
Passive income might not be the focus of Tse’s business, but even so, it’s not to be scoffed at. According to entrepreneurshandbook.co, Tse made $89,456 from AdSense, YouTube’s Partner Program that lets creators monetize their videos, in 2020 alone. When you factor in the income earned from affiliate links and referrals, he earned between $120K-$130K that year just in passive income.
5. He’s diversifying
Tse is no one-trick pony. Over the past few years, he’s diversified his income by dabbling in tech sales, producing a podcast, and even launching a course that deals with the money-making business potential of YouTube. In addition, he’s launched a clothing store name Dangerfield in downtown Victoria selling high-end menswear and accessories. He’s also co-founded iSetups, an Instagram feed that posts pictures of snazzy-looking offices with enough affiliate links and brand deals to bring the money pouring in.
6. He thinks you have to spend money to make money
When Tse first proposed buying a Samsung Galaxy S4 to review on YouTube to his parents, they told him he was wasting his money. But Tse has always been acutely aware of the need to spend money in order to make money. Take one of his most popular videos from 2020, the Modern IKEA Desk Setup Makeover. Before he could make the video, he had to spend a few thousand dollars to get the kit. He’s already made back his initial outlay and then some, but the benefits go way beyond profit: since posting the video, it’s generated over 14 million views, attracted tens of thousands of new subscribers, and set the groundwork for his most popular video series to date, The Setup Makeover Series.
7. He’s built his life around work
A couple of years ago, Tse bought a swanky apartment in his hometown of Victoria, Canada. The kitchen comes with all the mod cons you can imagine, but Tse rarely uses a single one, preferring to spend most of his time in his (admittedly chic) home office instead. “A lot of times I don’t even go to my living room or kitchen for one to two weeks,” Tse, who admits to working 13 hours a day, seven days a week, tells sprucemagazine.ca. “The work stuff doesn’t feel like work. I’ve built my life around work,” he adds.
8. He’s a multi-millionaire
Tse didn’t rocket to fame in the way some YouTuber’s have, but he’s been a steady presence for over 10 years, achieving what many fly-by-night success stories can only dream of: longevity. And that comes with perks. The biggest and best of those perks is, according to millyuns.com at least, a $2 million net worth.
9. He’s had an incredible journey
Tse began posting YouTube videos at the age of 13. Ten years later, he’s one of the most successful entrepreneurs around. Getting there has involved 13-hour workdays, an immense amount of dedication, and no shortage of risks, but he’s got no regrets and no doubt that there are bigger and better things to come. “It has been an incredible journey that would ideally need a novel to document, yet I am confident (and hopeful) that we are still on the first page,” he says via his official website. “The reality that tens of millions of people have spent a cumulative time of over 100 years viewing my creations is still unfathomable and the opportunities that have arisen as a result of hard work and countless sacrifices are something that I couldn’t be more grateful for.”
10. He’s a college dropout
Tse didn’t get great grades at high school. He didn’t see the point of going to university and only enrolled to keep his parents happy. But there’s only so long you can dedicate yourself to someone else’s dreams. By the fourth year at the University of Victoria, he managed to convince his parents that his YouTube career had more wings than his academic career. He dropped out and hasn’t looked back since.