This YouTu­ber’s pop­u­lar series Chal­lenge Accept­ed enter­tains and inspires — and it makes mon­ey.

10 min read

Imag­ine this: You’re 40 feet in the air, stand­ing on a wood­en plat­form with no safe­ty line and there’s a guy on the ground yelling at you to grab a sin­gle rope and slide down. Sound like a night­mare? For YouTu­ber Michelle Khare, it was just a reg­u­lar work day.

Not that she wasn’t com­plete­ly ter­ri­fied. But that was exact­ly the point. Khare’s fans watched recent­ly she com­plet­ed a “con­fi­dence course,” among oth­er obsta­cles, as part of a three day US Marine recruit boot camp for her pop­u­lar series Chal­lenge Accept­ed.  

In the two years since she has launched her chan­nel, it has grown to 1.3 mil­lion fol­low­ers and has received more than 75 mil­lion chan­nel views. Khare attrib­ut­es the suc­cess to con­tent like Chal­lenge Accept­ed, in which she immers­es her­self in worlds as var­ied as stunt train­ing, beau­ty pageants, pro­fes­sion­al ski­ing and voice-over act­ing.

Relat­ed: How This For­mer Make­up Artist Broke the Rules to Cre­ate a YouTube Com­mu­ni­ty of More Than 2 Mil­lion

Khare said the idea began because she want­ed to add some spe­cial skills to her resume when she went in for audi­tions — and have actu­al proof that she had, if not mas­tered them, then at least had giv­en them a shot and broad­ened her hori­zons. “And I was a pro­fes­sion­al cyclist in col­lege so I want­ed to essen­tial­ly con­tin­ue to be a pro­fes­sion­al ath­lete with­out the fear of crash­ing on my bike at 30 miles an hour,” said Khare.

She has def­i­nite­ly pushed her­self like a pro ath­lete. A recent episode fol­lowed for a month and a half as she learned what it takes to be a pro­fes­sion­al bal­let dancer. But she says even in moments that are tru­ly dif­fi­cult, the expe­ri­ences have been worth­while. And she hopes that watch­ing her go through these expe­ri­ences will inspire peo­ple to go after dreams they didn’t think were pos­si­ble.

“No mat­ter how hard the chal­lenges are, I always come out on the oth­er side think­ing I’m real­ly glad I did this and I’m real­ly glad I have a new per­spec­tive on this. I gen­uine­ly have grown so much as a per­son from the expe­ri­ences and it’s just a bless­ing that peo­ple enjoy watch­ing it,” said Khare.

She has been nom­i­nat­ed for a Streamy Award for Best Unscript­ed Series and a Shorty Award for YouTu­ber of the Year and she has worked with brands like Tar­get, Toy­ota, War­by Park­er, Away and Blue Apron. And Khare says that her phi­los­o­phy of being open about deal­ing with chal­lenges extends to being as trans­par­ent as pos­si­ble about the fis­cal real­i­ty of being a YouTu­ber.

Khare shared her insights about own­ing your space and plan­ning for the worst while hop­ing for the best.

Relat­ed: YouTube Star Remi Cruz Built a Lifestyle Brand With Mil­lions of Fol­low­ers by Stay­ing True to Her­self

How would you describe the con­tent you make for your chan­nel?

On my chan­nel, I do a wide vari­ety of bound­ary-push­ing con­tent. I have a show called Chal­lenge Accept­ed where I take on a vari­ety of extreme phys­i­cal and men­tal chal­lenges rang­ing from one to three months in train­ing, whether it’s train­ing with the U.S. Marine Corps or becom­ing the short­est woman to walk the run­way at Lon­don Fash­ion Week or even enter­ing a beau­ty pageant. I real­ly like div­ing into com­mu­ni­ties ful­ly and whole­heart­ed­ly and address­ing issues from all angles. So not just what is the train­ing for this per­son or com­mu­ni­ty like, but more specif­i­cal­ly, what are the social issues sur­round­ing this. Is it empow­er­ing or sex­ist to walk into biki­ni down a run­way for a pan­el of judges at a beau­ty pageant?

What goes into mak­ing a Chal­lenge Accept­ed video?

Mak­ing a Chal­lenge Accept­ed episode is tru­ly a com­bi­na­tion of deter­mi­na­tion and pas­sion. Usu­al­ly, it starts with me think­ing of an issue that I’ve always want­ed to explore or some­thing I’ve always been scared to do. We spend about a month doing back­ground research and pre-pro­duc­tion on the project and that usu­al­ly means find­ing coach­es or speak­ing to dif­fer­ent orga­ni­za­tion, get­ting back­ground inter­views and then I begin my train­ing for one to three months and every video is a final cul­mi­na­tion or test of my skills, whether it’s you know doing an actu­al beau­ty pageant, or walk­ing run­way.

Has there been a par­tic­u­lar favorite or least favorite chal­lenge you’ve tak­en on?

I think that the hard­est one men­tal­ly for me was train­ing with the U.S. Marines. It real­ly was an incred­i­ble men­tal obsta­cle. In the video, there is a point where I am hang­ing on the A Frame, which is one of their con­fi­dence course obsta­cles and you’re basi­cal­ly in the air like 30, 40 feet. You’re not attached to any wires and you have to reach out and grab a wire, or a rope and slide down. It’s absolute­ly ter­ri­fy­ing. For me what I learned from that expe­ri­ence was that my drill instruc­tors and often peo­ple around me believe in me more than I believe in myself. And that was an impor­tant les­son for me to learn because I do need to believe in myself more, just as a per­son. The most phys­i­cal­ly demand­ing one that I have done was absolute­ly bal­let. Hands down. That was the hard­est. I mean the flex­i­bil­i­ty and strength, grace, poise — every­thing required to be a dancer is so hard.

Relat­ed: How This YouTu­ber With Mil­lions of Fol­low­ers Used the Plat­form to Cre­ate Her Dream Job

What have been the biggest sur­pris­es and chal­lenges of launch­ing your chan­nel after work­ing for a big media com­pa­ny like Buz­zfeed?

When I worked at Buz­zFeed, I obvi­ous­ly learned so much about the YouTube world. It was a bless­ing of a first job because I was basi­cal­ly paid to be a YouTu­ber with­out hav­ing to take the risk of start­ing my own chan­nel. When I was there, I got a lot of oppor­tu­ni­ties to exper­i­ment and real­ly learn how to set a sched­ule for myself, how to pro­duce, direct and edit all of my own con­tent. Sev­er­al months before I left Buz­zFeed, like many peo­ple there, had the idea of “What if I did this on my own?” And the thing that scared me most about being an entre­pre­neur was the finan­cial risk or risk of fail­ure, which I think most peo­ple can relate to. I was read­ing a lot of Tim Fer­riss, who is a real­ly cool entre­pre­neur that I think a lot of peo­ple look up to as well.

And I kind of had this moment where I was thought “What if I live as if I’m fail­ing and that just becomes my every­day norm?” I think it was prob­a­bly a year before I left before I had any seri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion of should I do this on my own. I moved into a stu­dio apart­ment. I cut down all of my expens­es. I quit my gym mem­ber­ship. I nev­er ate out. I bare­ly went out or went to the movies. I nev­er took a vaca­tion and just lived on a real­ly tight bud­get and all the mon­ey I saved I put in a sep­a­rate sav­ings account.

Why was it impor­tant for you to approach it this way?

It cre­at­ed a bank of sav­ings for me to live with­out mak­ing a prof­it for four to six months. And it also made the lifestyle of fail­ure some­thing that I was famil­iar with and used to. I was very much at peace leav­ing my job. I felt like I did what I need­ed to do and I was ready for the first time in my life to do some­thing for myself.

Did you feel any exter­nal pres­sure?

Com­ing from an immi­grant fam­i­ly, I think there’s a lot of pres­sure to suc­ceed. Oth­er­wise, why did my dad move across the world from India to have a new life for his fam­i­ly? In my whole life, I have been kind of cir­cum­vent­ing the things that I want­ed to do by cling­ing on to more finan­cial­ly or men­tal­ly secure paths. Whether that was col­lege or a career path or what­ev­er. And this was the first time I was allow­ing myself to explore that and I think the biggest piece of advice I would have for that is I feel like in the news there’s a lot of sen­sa­tion­al­ism and praise for when peo­ple quit their job point blank and then find imme­di­ate suc­cess. I don’t think that’s real­is­tic and I also don’t think that’s the whole sto­ry. I believe that there is a way to pre­pare and train to be real­ly smart for that jump so that you feel secure and not like I’m risk­ing it all.

Relat­ed: When It Comes to Grow­ing a Mas­sive YouTube Audi­ence, This Entre­pre­neur Explains Why You Should­n’t Focus on Mak­ing a Video Every Day

After hit­ting the 1 mil­lion sub­scriber mark, you made a video that talked about how you make mon­ey on YouTube. Why did you want to share that with your fol­low­ers?

I think there’s a lot of fear and ambi­gu­i­ty sur­round­ing what it’s like to be a YouTu­ber or what it’s like to make mon­ey [with the plat­form] and what it’s like to start your own busi­ness. And I’ve actu­al­ly been inspired recent­ly by this YouTube chan­nel called Kara and Nate. It’s this cou­ple and there are trav­el blog­gers. Every quar­ter they have a blog where they post their finan­cials and share and this is how we made mon­ey, this is how we grew the busi­ness. This is the exact dol­lar amounts on what we made off of ads or brand part­ner­ships or mer­chan­dise. That kind of thing. I was real­ly inspired by that because I wish I had that when pur­su­ing my career in enter­tain­ment in gen­er­al. I think a lot of peo­ple are afraid to talk about mon­ey or embar­rassed to talk about mon­ey.

What do you think is a mis­con­cep­tion that peo­ple might have about YouTube?

I wish that more peo­ple would talk about mon­ey so that oth­er peo­ple could learn. Espe­cial­ly young peo­ple want­i­ng to do this. I was even speak­ing with some­one recent­ly who for the longest time was under the impres­sion that once you hit 10,000 sub­scribers being a YouTu­ber you can be your full-time job. As far as I know, that is not the case. Most peo­ple have to have half a mil­lion or more to sus­tain them­selves finan­cial­ly. But again it’s all over the place. Some peo­ple with low­er sub­scriber counts get more brand part­ner­ships than peo­ple with mil­lions of fol­low­ers just because they’re more brand-friend­ly. So I don’t think the sub­scribers or clout or fame real­ly show what’s finan­cial­ly occur­ring for a lot of peo­ple.

What is your biggest piece of advice for peo­ple who want to grow their brands and fol­low­ings on YouTube?

I would say own your space. Nev­er apol­o­gize. And don’t be afraid to take risks and be a badass. And remem­ber hav­ing a plan is cool. Find­ing that bal­ance of tak­ing the leap off the cliff, but also wear­ing a para­chute. Every­one needs to find that bal­ance for them­selves and I encour­age every­one to push them­selves to find that.

Check out Khare’s five favorite videos:

1. I Tried Marine Boot­camp

2. I Tried To Become A Run­way Mod­el at 5’2”

3. I Learned Hol­ly­wood Motion Cap­ture

4. I Trained Like Miss USA For 60 Days (PART 1)

5. I Learned How To Voice A Car­toon

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