At 2.6 million-plus subscribers and 400+ videos, inspirational, self-help YouTube channel Josh Talks’ English channel isn’t exactly in the same league as its inspiration, TedX Talks. The latter has 10X more subscribers than the five-year-old Indian channel.
However, Josh Talks’ reach—it has a total of 9.3 million subscribers and around 1,500 videos across its English and nine other regional language channels—provided the Gurugram-based company the ideal jumping-off point to launch its upskilling product Josh Skills. Its Hindi channel is the most popular, with nearly 4 million subscribers.
Launched in 2019, Josh Skills offers mini courses in English and other regional languages such as Hindi, Bengali, and Marathi. These range from soft-skills courses, such as spoken English and personality development, to technical skill-based courses, such as graphic designing, content writing, and video editing on the phone. Priced between Rs 99 (~$1) to Rs 399 (~$5), the courses last anywhere from one week to three months.
Josh Skills already had the perfect audience lined up for it. Josh Talks had racked up millions of views on YouTube with videos such as “How This MBA Chaiwala Made Crore Business”, “A Failed Student’s Journey Of Becoming A UPSC CDS Topper”, and more. The videos—usually not longer than 15 minutes—involve someone with a success story recounting their journey. It was a carefully planned strategy of click-bait headlines and heavily curated content in accessible languages.
From there, though, it was a short leap from “Here’s how XYZ found success” to “Here’s how you can do it too”. And audiences, attuned to Josh Talks’ content, jumped at it. The company’s website claims that Josh Skills has amassed nearly 105,000 users within a year of launch.
Josh Talks’ success was indicative of an age of YouTubing age of YouTubing The Ken Content’s perfect storm moment in India Read more where content creators derived revenue from advertising. The more popular your channel was, the more money you’d make. “But it eventually reaches a plateau,” says Josh Talks’ co-founder Supriya Paul. “Most people didn’t see Josh Talks as a scalable business in terms of revenue as it was all sponsorship- and advertisement-led.”
The answer lay in monetising not just its content, but also the content creators’ skills.
This is happening in two ways; content creators such as Josh Talks capitalising on their existing following to launch new products that they can monetise. And niche platforms such as PepperContent and Sublist, which function like a marketplace, allowing smaller creators to be discovered by those looking for their skills.
In between the two are the millions of young, out-of-job millennials driving the demand for digital upskilling—especially in the current post-pandemic climate, where the difference in landing a job and missing out could be that extra requirement for spoken English or MS Excel know-how.