Shane Hoffman once had 100 subscribers on a YouTube channel reviewing pizza and Oreos.
A suggestion from his twin brother prompted him to shake things up a bit.
Now, two years later, Shane’s revamped YouTube channel – Prof Hoff – has grown to more than 16 million views and 36,000 subscribers, and provides a nice side income.
Everything we do here at eBiz Facts is geared towards helping you make smart decisions, so you don’t waste loads of time and money while building your online business.
Our case studies are no exception.
We take a scientific approach to examining every business we feature as a case study, rating and dissecting each one using the same criteria.
The end result – we hope – is that you quickly gain a high-level understanding of each business, and learn what it takes to achieve similar success.
🔎 About Prof Hoff
Shane Hoffman is a 31 year-old multimedia journalism professor at Oklahoma State University. He has been teaching full-time since getting his master’s degree in 2013.
Although he loves his teaching job, Shane has never received a raise in salary. This led him to turn his favorite hobby into a side hustle.
- The hobby: playing a video game called Marvel: Contest Of Champions
- The side hustle: sharing his love and knowledge of that game on YouTube
In less than 2 years, Shane’s gaming channel on YouTube has grown to more than 16 million views and 36,000 subscribers.
His audience knows him as “Prof Hoff” – short for Professor Hoffman. Shane frequently uploads 4-5 videos a day and does regular live broadcasts.
Here’s the most-watched video on his channel to date:
In case you’re not familiar with the game Marvel Contest Of Champions (often abbreviated as MCOC), here’s how Wikipedia describes it:
Marvel Contest of Champions is a 2014 mobile fighting game developed and published by Kabam. It was released on December 10, 2014 for iOS and Android. The fighting game is primarily set in the Marvel Universe. The game is strongly based on the events of the limited comic book series Contest of Champions.
🤑 Revenue, Profit, Monetization
Here’s the revenue breakdown:
Most of the revenue comes via YouTube ads.
Shane explains how donations work:
Donations are taken in through two sources: PayPal and YouTube “super chats.”
Subscribers can send money through YouTube when I’m live brodcasting and I get about 63% of it, whereas I can claim the full amounts sent through PayPal.
Affiliate income comes from Swagbucks, which provides an extra ~$1,000 a year in the form of iTunes gift cards. Prof Hoff uses the gift cards to make purchases in MCOC, which helps provide better content for the channel.
I never thought I would make a penny on YouTube. The fact that so many incredibly generous people are willing to donate their money to my channel never ceases to blow me away.
People look at YouTubers like you would look at a street performer. If you are entertained and get value from someone’s video then you might drop a dollar or two.
I do my best to answer everyone’s questions as I get thousands of fan emails every week. This is what really establishes the Marvel Contest of Champions community.
⏱️ Time In Business
Proff Hoff started off as a fun hobby project, not a business.
In just 23 months, Shane turned what had been a very small YouTube channel – reviewing pizza and Oreo products for less than 100 subscribers – into a successful channel with more than 16 million views and 36,000 subscribers.
🚀 $0 → $1k/month
Shane says it was hard to gain viewers initially, but that may have been a blessing in disguise.
When you start out on YouTube no one will watch you. And that’s a good thing! You want to find your voice early and make your mistakes before your channel grows.
It took 5 months of work before Prof Hoff started earning $1,000 per month consistently.
I had a couple of videos go viral in the community with over 10,000 views. Once those videos started to be recommended to the casual YouTuber, my subscriber base exploded exponentially.
💰 Starting Capital
$1,500 was the approximate cost to get the business running.
Shane explains the main expenses:
The key is a high processing computer to record and live stream on, as well as a professional microphone and editing software. After that, the monthly costs of running a YouTube channel are minimal.
Shane has uploaded more than 2,000 videos in less than 2 years (!), and spends 35-40 hours a week building and running the business.
I spend more time answering fan questions than I do working on videos. This business thrives on its outreach to the community.
Most of my videos take little-to-no editing whatsoever. I’m skilled in doing everything in one take and then uploading it straight to YouTube. I believe that’s the secret to my success: minimal time editing and maximum time interacting with my fanbase.
💻 eBiz Purity
While Shane prefers to use a desktop computer in his home office, he notes:
I can use my laptop from anywhere along with a portable microphone to live stream and record videos. As long as there is an internet connection I can make money from anywhere in the world.
A low score here because ~95% of Prof Hoff’s views come from newly uploaded content.
He gets very few views – and therefore very little ad revenue – from his older videos.
Fan donations also tend to come via newer videos and conversations with subscribers.
If I’m not active in uploading and communicating with my subscriber base, my channel loses momentum very quickly.
🔥 CENTS Score
🎮 Control – 0/1
Shane has no employees, variable costs or overhead expenses, but we’re scoring the business low here for two reasons:
- Running a business on a single platform – YouTube in this case – means complete dependence on that platform. YouTube’s policies can change without notice, videos can be demonetized, etc.
- Prof Hoff’s channel in particular is focused on one niche video game: Marvel Contest of Champions. As Shane notes:
The biggest setback would be if the game goes under.
🚪 Entry – 0.5/1
Barriers to entry are low in the world of vlogging – anyone can create an account and start uploading videos to YouTube – and the starting capital can be minimal.
That said, there are so many channels and videos on YouTube nowadays that it’s increasingly difficult to get views and build an audience.
Prof Hoff has managed to build a solid subscriber base and attract many “true fans”, making it hard for would-be competitors in his niche.
🙏 Need – 0/1
Prof Hoff is a pure entertainment channel focused on one niche video game.
🕓 Time – 0/1
Shane spends 35-40 hours per week working on his business and must keep producing fresh content.
📈 Scalability – 0.5/1
The channel continues to gain subscribers and views daily.
However, there’s limited potential to grow the business while producing content focused on a single video game.
🤝 Lead Generation
Pretty much every viewer finds Prof Hoff while browsing YouTube.
YouTube suggests my channel to different users every day.
Despite the large subscriber base, I consistently gain a lot of revenue from having my videos watched by people who aren’t subscribers. They’ll come across my videos as recommended by YouTube.
Most likely, the high engagement rates on Prof Hoff’s videos – from comments, especially – prompts YouTube to recommend his videos to more people.
👣 Want to follow in Shane’s footsteps?
Here’s his advice:
Don’t go into YouTube for money. Go into it for fun and no matter what – it’ll be a win/win.
Make a video every week and then eventually every day!
Other than the cost it takes to create the video, YouTube is free – so you don’t have much to lose. Sign up to Canva for free and start experimenting with thumbnail designs as well.