How does a Let’s Play YouTube channel grow into a business with a full team of content creators across multiple formats (podcasts, articles, videos, and more)?
Sean Velasquez from All Ages of Geek is here to lay down the knowledge about how they did just that. The secret isn’t just more followers or any YouTube secret sauce. Instead, passion, community, and a solid foundation of business knowledge will help you start bringing on your first team members and see explosive growth.
Watch the interview above (or on YouTube), or keep reading for the text transcription*:
*Text has been edited for conciseness and readability. Check out the full video for all of the candid, uncensored banter!
Prefer to listen to the interview? Download the Geeks Who Get Paid Podcast version of this episode on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher, or scroll to the bottom for a podcast player.
Q: I would love to know a little bit more about you first. Who is Sean?
A: That is a question I’ve always wanted to answer, and nobody has asked. [laughs] Sean is an explorer. Sean is someone who enjoys expressing himself. Sean is just a huge geek. What I like to do whenever I’m not working on All Ages of Geek, which I actually genuinely enjoy doing, is paint miniatures. I like to draw. I like to practice martial arts and sports combat, and things like that.
As silly as it sounds, I enjoy learning new things. When you sit there, and you go to school, it’s not fun, but when you’re kind of out and exploring the world, and you’re learning new things from new people, I really enjoy doing that. That’s when learning is fun for me. I’m very adventurous. I see opportunity in everything, and I try to see the learning moments in every experience.
I really enjoy doing anything that involves self-expression. I enjoy cooking. I enjoy singing badly. I enjoy dancing badly. I enjoy painting models that I assume are gonna come out badly. All these things give out self-expression. That’s what I love doing.
Q: Let’s talk about what All Ages of Geek is, first of all, for anyone who is listening and not familiar.
A: All Ages of Geek is an LLC that focuses on all aspects of geek culture in various forms of media. We have YouTube videos, articles, and podcasts. We even have our community center on Discord that people gain access to via Patreon.
We cover geek culture with everything under the sun. All Ages of Geek is geeks of all ages, but it’s not just that. It’s actually all the ages of Geekdom from the 60s, 70s, 80s into now.
You know, we cover anime, we cover gaming, we cover D&D, Warhammer, and there are many fandoms that we want to dip our toe into, with a strong emphasis on interactivity.
Q: I did read that. So, what does “interactivity” mean to you?
A: One of the things we like doing is when we work with smaller creators, we like to give them that shout-out to help support them, like “Hey, look at these people who are working on the dream just like we were.” Now we can work with them and help them find their own means.
We like to interact with our audience, too. I know for All Ages of Warhammer, I actually have a segment that will be announced in the video in June called “Mini of the Week.” At the end of each Warhammer video, I’m going to pull up a mini submitted to me and show it off at the end of the video in front of all the viewers.
Another thing is through our Discord, in our community, we’re very active and interactive. So, whenever people sign up for our Patreon, they get access to that little community.
We’re always looking for more ways to be more interactive with our audience in our community.
Q: So, the website has all of this content, but it’s more than just consuming. You can meet people through the content and be exposed to new creators. Do I have that right?
A: You do. We all come together in that singular place, as I mentioned, on the Discord community. That’s kind of where we all meet and gather and have fun, but as far as the website, it exposes you to different forms of media, different genres, and different people.
On the creator side, we work with a lot of people who join our writing team and want to add something to their resumes for college. I know about this myself. I recently graduated from an IT course, but now it’s finished, and I’m trying to apply for IT jobs and things like that. I know that [working with All Ages of Geek] would serve me because it’s something that I can apply to my resume, which is amazing.
Working on these projects and working with All Ages of Geek, whether you’re a writer or a content creator, or anything in between, there are many benefits there.
So, we bring people together and push people. We transform people. We can always open the door, but it’s up to the person to walk through. People show you who they really are, and it’s a pretty amazing experience.
Q: Say someone listening is a content creator, and they’re interested in branching out and becoming part of the All Ages of Geek family. How does a content creator, no matter what format, get involved with the site?
A: First, they have to contact us and All Ages of Geek HR. But, they would also come to me, and I would have my evaluation. I give my evaluation to those on the higher part of the core team.
We would work with them, and if we like their content, if we like what they put out, and if it’s friendly towards the brand, then it’s something that we can do.
We want to bring in more hosts and bring in more creators, but we need to be careful to make sure that when we bring someone in, it’s someone who can create content consistently.
It’s easy to be on fire and create like four or five videos, and they do really well. Then, life kind of kicks you in the a**, which it does, and it will, and you sort of fall off, and you’re no longer consistent. Then things don’t work out, and problems happen.
For anyone trying to lead a business like this, to create content, there’s a strong element of collaborating with other people. When you collaborate with other people, there is a lot of room for human error. Not everyone can commit. And, with anyone starting a business, there are a lot of people who end up giving you false promises.
So, whenever someone comes in, they contact HR, tell them what they’re about, what shows they have and go through an evaluation process. If they’re good to go, and we approve them, then we’ll start them off slow, and as they get better, and as they continue to show that they’re committed to making content, we’d be happy to have them.
Q: So, it sounds like when you become a creator for All Ages of Geek, you’re part of the team. It’s not just a one-and-done kind of thing.
A: Yeah, everyone has their own bit of team. Like the content creators, those who are making their own shows, I focus on that group. I engage them in weekly meetings to ask them what goals they’d like to set because some creators cannot work as quickly as others. People have different work ethics and time and this and that. What I like to do is check-in and encourage them to create their own goals.
It’s one thing for me to say, “Hey, here’s our quota for the week.” and then now there’s stress and pressure and all that ….bullsh**. And then there’s “Hey, what are our goals for this week? What can we do? What can we knock out?” It excites them and excites me, and it creates that flow. It’s like, you’re a part of this now. You’re part of something pretty awesome. It’s encouraging.
You can even set this ridiculous goal like, “We’re gonna knock out three episodes in one week.” It’s like, “Damn, that’s ambitious,” but the thing is that it doesn’t matter if you meet that goal.
The fact that you shoot towards it, you will make a phenomenal amount of progress by the end of that week.
So that’s the professional part of it, and then there’s the Discord community where we kind of just lie back and chill out and have fun and be geeks. It’s like sitting around a campfire or something. There is that camaraderie, and we like to keep communication clear. We want to be very transparent with you because it can only hurt you if we’re not.
But yeah, when you join All Ages of Geek, you definitely become part of the team, and it’s a very welcoming team, indeed.
Q: Right off the bat, you described All Ages of Geek as an LLC, a business. I did some digging and saw that originally All Ages of Geek started as a Let’s Play channel. What inspired the move from a Let’s Play channel to everything that “All Ages of Geek” is now?
A: So, All Ages of Geek actually started as a book review channel where Katya would review books for Kidlit TV. Then it evolved into reviewing manga, and from there, it took off with Let’s Plays.
But, after some time, we wanted to rebrand it to where there’s more than one host, and there’s more than one form of content. So, even though Lets Plays and gameplay videos are still there, it’s not just that anymore.
It’s now into hobby videos, D&D, podcasts. It’s now into other shows and other hosts. All Ages of Geek is not All Ages of Kat. You know, that’s not what it is. It’s not the Kat channel. It’s All Ages of Geek, where we have multiple creators, multiple shows, multiple hosts, and we cover all things geek culture.
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There’ll be a host who wants to talk about Star Wars. There’ll be a host who wants to talk about Warhammer. There’ll be a host who wants to make videos on D&D. The rebranding was to make it more inclusive, more interactive, and more than just a simple Let’s Play Channel.
Q: I would love to hear a little bit about what the All Ages of Geek community is like, especially because I’ve seen a lot of niche communities, but never anything that covers all geek, all at once. What does that look like?
A: Chaotic and fun. It’s amazing. It’s like a second family. The community has healed me in ways that real life could not do, straight up.
You don’t know who’s into what you’re into in the real world, and it’s very rare to find people who are. That’s a very small circle. But, whenever you’re on the [All Ages of Geek] Discord, you’re surrounded by people who are just like you. They’re people who grew up who weren’t the most popular, people who watched anime, and people who played games. I got introduced to Kamen Rider through the guys in the Discord, and it’s so amazing and silly and over the top, and I love it. I’m introducing them to Warhammer 40k, and I love it when I see them catch on and start throwing ork memes at me. It’s just the best thing.
Before joining the Discord, I struggled a lot with my anger and emotions because I always seemed to find myself in a very toxic environment that I couldn’t escape. And the mind will shift and bend to adapt, to deal with that stress or whatever trauma comes up. I was a very confrontational, defensive, and angry person, and I was going through a lot. Me and my girlfriend at the time were breaking up. I was having to move out and live with my mother for a bit at that time. I also got released from my job. I lost my job. I didn’t have much else. I was like, okay, so to hang out with Kat and everyone else at the Discord is like, what $10 a month? Whatever. Okay, what else do I have to lose?
I would have never imagined making that financial decision. You spend your money on the stupidest stuff, the stupidest subscriptions every month. Then I said screw it, and I decided to pay ten bucks, and I found myself surrounded by these people who made me feel so comfortable and welcomed.
I enjoyed every second that I got to hang out with them. And, to make it even better, we would meet up twice a week to hang out. We would be in a chat room, and we would watch shows together and play games and do all of that. I got to know these people, and these people have become my closest friends and confidants.
From hanging out with them and spending time with them, my aggro, which was such a prevalent part of my personality, started to dissipate. I became more patient, more relaxed. I became happier. I did so much more emotional healing in the two years that I’ve been there than I have my entire life, and the stress fell off, and the anger fell off.
I thought I’d only be there for like a month, and then I get to know these people who are just like me. I relate to these people who struggle with the same issues just like me and who have the same dreams and goals just like me.
I feel welcomed, and I feel like I belong, and I’ve never had that ever, and that’s what’s so powerful about this community. This community stays this way because of that policy of inclusivity and interactivity. We just want people to have a safe space, and everyone has their issues, and we’re not therapists, and we always have our hotlines and links to send to professional help. But, there is a support system there. I do feel like these people have become very much like family to me. Very close friends.
Whenever we hang out on community day on Wednesday, and when we have Patreon day on Thursday, which is five hours, by the way, we hang out with each other for five hours straight. We would play video games like Among Us, Garry’s Mod, and Pictionary. We’ve played some really messed up rounds of Cards Against Humanity.
We play games, and then we would watch shows and anime and just hang out and have a fun time with that. Then, when it’s over, you’re just waiting to get back to Wednesday so that you can hang out with them again. It’s an amazing experience. It’s definitely worth it.
Q: Let’s talk about Patreon. Can you give me the little spiel on how that works?
A: We’re actually in the middle of updating the Patreon and what you get for the tiers. Right now, the $1 tier gets access to certain parts of the Discord. The $5 tier gets more interactivity with certain [channels] in the Discord, and they get Community Day. Then, you have the $10 tier where they get access to the full Discord, and then they also get access to Community and Patreon Day.
In the tier above that, you can start handpicking shows that our hosts are watching. In the tier above that, you have a much higher influence on what shows get to be watched. That’s kind of the TLDR with it now, but we are in the middle of changing everything up.
So, the answer is kind of up in the air.
[For all of you Warhammer fans out there, at 25:08 in the recording we take a “side quest” to talk about Orks and Ork philosophy. It’s removed here for brevity, but it’s a ton of fun if you want to check it out in the recording!]
Q: So, we were talking about Patreon.
A: One thing I will say is that when people sign up for the Patreon, they get access to hundreds of hours of early content. The content that has not yet been released publicly. Some, you can catch up months in advance. Some, you get a couple of weeks in advance. So, if you want to see the content that’s currently being made in real-time, then definitely sign up for the Patreon because you can get all the early content.
Publicly, so far, we’re still going through Dragonball, but on Patreon, we’re already on Dragonball Z. We’re on the Saiyan Saga.
Not only do you get access to that community that has pretty much changed my life, but you also get access to all of our content in advance.
As a higher tier, you get to choose what stuff comes in. So there’s a lot of benefits there, and we’re only going to be improving upon them as time goes on. It’s only going to get better. We will only sweeten the deal.
Ami: Yeah, good lessons there for anyone trying to build value with their own Patreon. That’s challenging.
Sean: It is challenging. What can you give? What is it worth? You know, like, when you make YouTube videos, what are you giving the viewer? How are you respecting their time? And, in this case, how are we respecting them both with time and financially? It’s definitely a struggle, and it’s definitely something that needs commitment, and we are committed to making that investment worth it.
If you pay, it means you like what we have, and you want to see more of it. We really dedicate ourselves to making that worth it.
Q: So, with so much free content that’s out there, and having to create that balance and build the value around what you offer for free and what is paid, how did you choose what to put behind that paywall?
I ask because, for a lot of content creators, you want to get your stuff out there. You want to make sure that as many people see it as possible. So how do you balance the two?
A: Actually, YouTube itself had an influence on what we put back there or not because we all know how YouTube is. We all know how YouTube operates.
YouTube operates in a way that is just not enough to keep up with. No one can really keep up with it. Those who really make it big had to continuously do something more and more extreme, and the more you push the envelope, the more dangerous it can get in so many different ways.
So, part of what influenced the decision to make these tiers and these rewards separate from YouTube was because there’s no way we’d be able to support this company on YouTube alone. That’s why we have a big push toward working with the recently updated website that we continue to update.
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We did have an open [Discord] server for a time, but it was kind of a Hindenburg. But we’ve grown so much that we’re actually taking a second crack at it to make the Discord go public, and that’s something we’re very confident about. It encourages people to see what they are missing out on because they will have access to the Discord but won’t have access to [everything].
That’s why people stay, is because of that community and that’s why it’s great. And because of the content that comes out, and as I said, as we look for more hosts, we’re only going to get more, we’re only going to get more content to put out there on Patreon for everyone to see.
That’s a big reason why we decided to make that the way it was. To help us out where YouTube won’t be able to.
Q: Most of the time, I’m talking to someone who’s a one-person show. They’re creating their stuff. They’re monetizing their own way. But, you have to work with a whole team, so how does that work?
A: So, in 2021, All Ages of Geek wanted to focus heavily on organization and clear communication. [We asked ourselves why certain things didn’t work or had issues.] There was a lack of clear, honest communication and organization. People are doing things and going over Kat’s head, and nobody knows what’s going on. Nobody wants to share anything, and then there’s drama, and there’s unnecessary BS, and a business cannot thrive when everyone is not on the same page.
I know my policy on it is to just be straight up with people. You will learn quickly whether there’s someone you can work with or not. If you give them the benefit of the doubt too much, or give them too much leeway, and sugarcoat what you say, then things will fall apart. I will be straight up, and I’ll keep it real for better or for worse.
We’ve got to be honest with people about this. We’ve got to be honest when we think that they need to work on something. We’ve got to be honest if we don’t approve of something that happens.
That’s when I kind of turn into a hard-a** when it comes to the business. Kat and Tat have invested so much into it. We’ve got to speak clearly with everyone and get everything organized.
It’s like, “We need you to do X, Y, and Z. Tell us right now if you’re able to do it. Don’t be a yes-man or woman. Don’t be someone who is taking on more than they can chew. Don’t lie about what you can do and what you can’t do, what you’re willing to do, and what you like or don’t like.
We want to create a decentralized command where people can work independently and keep the machine running. If I’m not there, someone else can keep the machine running. If they’re not there, someone else can keep the machine running.
So, part of what we do with clear communication is also to educate our team members on how to do certain tasks.
If Tat or Kat ask me to take on a new task, I’m like, “Okay, I’m ready to go.” Sometimes I’m looking for them to either tell me how to get it done or just have them throw me out into the jungle and figure it out because that does excite me. There are times where they can’t hold my hand all the time. They have to be like, “You’ve got to figure it out for yourself.” It’s very exciting because here’s the thing, if I do it, and I take care of it, I can give it to them later, and I’ll still get the feedback.
That’s why it’s not that big of an issue for me personally. That’s what creates that independence. We want to create a network in a business that works within each other, something disconnects, and then we can have it reconnect. It keeps the business running. It keeps it flowing.
If you have a business that cannot function without you, it’s not a business. It’s a glorified job. But, when you have a business that can function and produce when you are not there, then you have created a successful business where money and franchise work for you. And, that’s something we need to do. That’s hard to do with human error, but that’s why clear communication, honest communication, and organization are very important.
So, now for the structure itself. You have me, who’s the Content Manager. I organize the other content creators. I meet up with them weekly. I have them set their goals and tell me their goals, and then whenever I meet up with them next Monday, we go over where they are with those goals and what we can do to improve.
We also have the writing team that creates articles. Then we have the mods, who manage the Discord. Matt, the Community Manager on Discord, mostly works on the modding and editing of the Discord. So, creating titles, rooms, policies, bots, things like that.
Then, you have Frozen Yogurt (Fro Yo), who is our Community Organizer. I think there’s another word for it, but he’s the Discord organizer, scheduler, things like that. He does such an excellent job of organizing events and meetings, and he’s very good with computer tech as well. Essentially, he does all of the organization or is involved with all of the organization at All Ages of Geek when it comes to events or certain things happening that we’re applying.
Kat herself, she’s the head honcho. She runs the business side. She has her hand in every single part of the business, and that’s why I have the position I have, so I’m kind of an extension of that. So, now she can fully focus on the business side of things and creating, catching up on all the content.
Tat is very much the same way. She works with the writing team and organizes the business side of things as part of the core team.
I’m essentially kind of a small extension of what they do. I also work the networking for All Ages of Geek and do some of the writing and editing.
Essentially, if it’s something that All Ages of Geek does in some way, shape, or form, I’m going to educate myself on how to do it because I want to train myself in a way where if Kat and Tat were not there, I’d be able to keep the ship floating.
Yeah, but that’s the organization of All Ages of Geek. We’ll continue to grow as we continue to get more and more talented individuals.
Q: If someone is interested in making that transition from just a one-person show to being a team and branching into multimedia, what would be your one piece of advice on making that leap?*
*This answer contains sponsored links to books mentioned in the interview. If you choose to purchase from these links, a portion of your purchase will go toward supporting the blog (at no additional cost to you!). Thank you for your support!
A: What I will say is that you need to learn how to be a leader. You need to have the discipline of a leader but also an open mind. You need to be able to have that extreme ownership. If anyone needs to know how to be a leader as fast as you can, I recommend Jocko Willink, who was a Navy SEAL and served in the Battle of Ramadi. He’s very inspirational to me. I hear the decentralized command and all of that from him. So first and foremost, if you want to be a leader or excel in a leadership position, Jocko Willink
Two, you need to excel in networking. This goes into psychology, talking to people, and managing people.
This you can get from learning about business. I recommend that you read two books. One is Robert Kiyosaki’s “Rich Dad, Poor Dad,” and then you have Napoleon Hill, which is the big one: “Think And Grow Rich.” He also has one called “Outwitting The Devil.”
So, when you learn about that, you learn how to network, and you learn how to be a leader towards people and manage people. You can also learn how to influence people and inspire people. But, remember, you have the “boss” who sits there and tells you what to do, but then you have the “leader,” who actually is there doing it with you.
You’re going to have a group of people, and everyone could sit there trying to figure out what’s going on, and nobody’s doing anything. All it takes is one person just to speak up and be like, “Hey, we’re gonna move this over here. Let’s get off the truck and let’s go right now, let’s move”. That’s all it takes.
So first, you need to be skilled at being a leader. You need to learn how to network, and that can come with its own things like learning how to be charismatic, this, and that.
Also, you need to be strong. You need to be strong because you’re going to deal with people who will give you pushback. You’re going to deal with your fan base giving you pushback. You will have to deal with the fact that you will have to now work with human error.
Many people would rather work by themselves because they don’t want to have to deal with working with people or managing people and things like that. Hence why my first bits of advice were what they were.
A lot of success isn’t about what you know; it’s who you know. Who you know can get you further than what you know because if you know someone who knows more than you, you will know what they know. When you know what they know, you’ll know what you need to know. You know? [laughs]
Ami: Yeah, somehow I know exactly what you just said.
Sean: So, if you want to go from a one-person show to working in an LLC or a company, you need to have these rules there. You need to have a plan. You need to be organized. You need to be communicating very clearly. You need to understand who you’re working with, and you need to be strong enough to lead by that example. That is the advice that I would give to anyone who wants to take from being a one-person show into being something else because I’ll say this, you will be amazed at who you meet.
The best leaders recruit people who are better than them in many ways. You are a product of who you spend your time with. You are a product of the lessons you bring in every day. If you’re just going out and just partying and drinking and doing all that, that’s all you’re ever going to know. But, if you spend your time with people who are organizing, talking finances, planning. If you’re working with people working from sun up to sundown and talking with people daily, you will become such. There’s nothing a small group of dedicated individuals can’t accomplish.
It’s amazing what one person can do. Still, it is absolutely incredible and almost unbelievable what a group of like-minded individuals can accomplish when they all inspire each other and push themselves forward.
You know, Arnold Schwarzenegger said that “I don’t believe in a self-made man.” You get where you are with the help you receive along the way, and that’s kind of what makes the journey beautiful. When you run it alone, you will need some help from someone at some point. You’ve got to get your foot in the door somewhere by someone at some point. It’s inevitable, so why fight it?
When you organize, and you meet a small group of talented individuals, you will learn so much, and it will change your life. You guys will do amazing things together, but you’ve got to start with yourself.
Another big thanks to Sean Velasquez for sharing his knowledge and wisdom on turning a YouTube channel into a full-fledged business like All Ages of Geek.
If you’d like to follow all of the amazing things the team is doing, you can follow them here:
- Website: https://allagesofgeek.com/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/AllAgesofGeek
- Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/bePatron?u=3268781
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