The lifestyles and journeys of YouTube sports content creators

Content creators share what their daily lives look like

A common theme in YouTube success stories is the unexpectedness of it all. A lot of sports content creators start making videos as a hobby because they like a sport or a team, but almost none think it will lead to making sports content full-time.

Shannon Skanes, from the Vancouver area, started his YouTube channel “The Hockey Guy” in 2015. He started making vlogs, until one day when he decided to make a video predicting who would win in the first round of the 2015 playoffs.

As time went on, Skanes decided to start making content about the NHL in general, as many similar YouTubers would usually only talk about their favourite team.

Nathan “Grav” Murdock, from Dallas, Texas, started uploading videos on his channel “Graviteh” in March 2017. He started making MLB videos, but when the season ended in September and the hockey season started, he decided to branch out his content. By the end of that year, his channel focused entirely on hockey.

“I was 14, I was just making it for the sake of making it, and thankfully, it’s turned out pretty well,” Murdock said, with four Dallas Stars jerseys hanging on the wall behind him.

“It’s one of those things where I feel like most people that find some success aren’t truly expecting it to work out.”

He switched to making content full-time in 2019, around the trade deadline, the playoffs, and especially the draft.

“That’s when the whole thing started to become a lot more [of a] reality,” Murdock said. “And I started to take it a lot more seriously.”

Earlier this year in January, Murdock joined Sportsnet, for whom he now makes content on top of making videos for his own YouTube channel.

Skanes also switched from making videos as a hobby to full-time in his third year on YouTube, in April 2018.

“What happened was the channel was growing, and it was getting to the point where if I worked my regular job, I actually made less that day than I did if I just made YouTube videos that day,” he explained, adding that he had to quit his job to be able to cover the playoffs.

Although Skanes and Murdock both cover hockey, their routines are pretty different.

Skanes wakes up every day at around 7-8 a.m. He starts by working on game preview videos and news videos. Then, throughout the day, he moderates the comments section on his channel to prevent it from getting toxic. He keeps an eye on Twitter during the day, as well as a few other sites, to know whenever something happens in the hockey world.

“If there’s a trade and I’m not paying attention and watching a movie, I will have at least 15 messages between Facebook, emails, Discord… There’ll be messages everywhere, so I have to make sure I’m on it and I get a video done,” he said standing in front of his whiteboard, ready to be filled out for the review video of the day.

During the offseason, Skanes can have a specific schedule, but it’s harder during the season since no one knows what’s going to happen from one day to another. But he always makes sure he has time set aside for the games to be able to do review videos.

On the other hand, Murdock wakes up at around 9-10 a.m. He starts filming his daily video, which usually takes him until 11 a.m. He then does the editing and thumbnail, and by the time he puts in the titles and finalizes the video, he can upload it at 3:05 p.m., which has become the time at which he always uploads his videos, though he’s not sure how it started. He also watches the games every night, and once they’re done he starts cultivating ideas for the next day.

Murdock usually tries to make two to three videos every week for Sportsnet, and three to four on his channel, while Skanes uploads multiple videos every day.

Making a lot of content frequently can cause creative blocks, but both Skanes and Murdock have come up with ways to overcome them.

Murdock said he likes to look at old ideas he has worked on and expand on them or make a variation, like for ranking videos.

Skanes usually likes to make videos that are fun for him, whether it’s about a “horrible season a team had in the ’90s,” or uploading a video on his other channel, “The Entertainment Guy,” about a movie or a show he just watched.

Another part of being a content creator is sponsorship offers. Oddly enough, both Skanes and Murdock have received more offers to do ads for makeup, jewelry, and mobile games than for hockey products.

“I’m not doing a makeup tutorial. It’s just not happening. I don’t even know how I would work that in. Do I work that into a news video?” he laughed, adding that he wouldn’t get paid if the ad was done in a sarcastic way.

They have both only ever had a few hockey-related deals. Murdock has done an ad for the Topps Skate app, and Skanes has had deals with Bench Clearers and Ben H Sports on eBay. It’s important for them to have sponsors that fit their channels.

They also both said they don’t take any part of their journey and success for granted. Murdock said that being a part of Sportsnet is still a “huge deal” for him. “Hopefully, it lasts forever. But for as long as it lasts, I’m happy to be here,” he added.

“If I ever take it for granted, that’s when I know I’m in trouble,” Skanes said. “It’s like a dream job for me. So I have to make sure that I maintain that same level of work ethic and that I don’t take it easy and decide ‘well, I’ve made it’ because as soon as I do that, then I’m pretty much hooped.”


Graphic by Madeline Schmidt

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