Today Lee Steinfeld “Leonhart” discusses launching a successful YouTube channel and raising funds for charity.
At Your Money Geek, we are huge fans of pop culture and side hustles, so whenever someone manages to combine the two, it piques our interest. When someone manages to turn their side hustle into a full-time gig, we are doubly interested.
We are thrilled that Lee Steinfeld, aka Leonhart, agreed to stop by the blog to discuss his excellent YouTube channel.
Lee Steinfeld turned his passion for Pokémon cards into a thriving and successful full-time gig. Whether you are a fan of his channel or are looking to find your success on YouTube, Leonhart offers some great tips.
About Lee Steinfeld
Lee Steinfeld is a 31-year old licensed attorney in Dallas, Texas, who is utilizing his vast knowledge of the law and turning it into a fun source of entertainment for thousands. Having received his Bachelor’s from the University of Texas in Austin and his J.D. from Southern Methodist University Law School in Dallas, Steinfeld has taken his strong academic background and turned it into more than just profits.
Leonhart is his online personality, most notable for his YouTube channel, with over 350,000 subscribers. While Leonhart primarily does videos revolving around Pokémon, he is also an avid streamer on Twitch and YouTube. Leonhart is also an actor and voice actor having done work for shows like One Piece for Funimation Entertainment.
Can you tell us a little about your background?
I was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. I graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with an advertising degree, but soon after went to SMU Dedman School of Law, earning my law degree. I practiced law for several years while beginning my YouTube channel, Leonhart. Currently, I do YouTube, traditional acting and voice acting full-time.
Leonhart on YouTube
How did you get started in with YouTube?
I began YouTube in November 2014 after getting inspired from successful channels like Markiplier and JackSepticEye. Initially being more of a nostalgic video gaming top 10 channel, I found more success and passion doing Pokémon card openings and video logs (VLOGs).
Can you tell us about your channel?
My YouTube channel has almost 400,000 subscribers and is family-friendly. I primarily revolve around opening Pokémon cards while filming my reactions to what I get. Additionally, I record video logs (VLOGs), which can involve myself going to the store to purchase cards to funny skits with family and friends. I post around 5-7 videos a week, each being from 15 to 30 minutes long.
[Editor Note] Hopefully, Leonhart is using our hack to earn free gift cards to purchase those Pokémon cards. 😉
What caused you to get into Pokémon?
I found my old Pokémon card collection at my parent's house and made a video on it. I found the nostalgic feeling of going through the cards along with Pokémon having a strong following made going into mainly Pokémon a natural choice. To this day, opening newer sets of Pokémon cards feels like I'm a kid again, opening packs searching for a rare holographic card!
How long did it take to build up your subscribers?
I would steadily grow in subscribers, and I’d do it well. In 2016 when the mobile game Pokémon GO came out, it brought many new players back or to collecting cards again.
Pokémon GO was extremely popular, and at the time of its release, I was able to go from around 17,000 subscribers to almost 100,000 subscribers. I'm now getting close to hitting 400,000 subscribers.
How long were you at it before the channel started making money?
I went full-time with my YouTube channel in September of 2017; however, I was patient before making a move.
The landscape of YouTube is always changing, but it took a couple of years before I was able to say I was comfortable with how much I was making through YouTube to be ready to go full-time with it.
That being said, I was an attorney beforehand, but my passion and what truly made me happy was entertaining others, so I took the risk and went full-time. (a calculated risk though, ha).
Related: How much do YouTubers really make?
Any tips for YouTubers trying to get the first 1000 subscribers?
Pick a niche topic and do videos on trending topics for that specific niche. Contact creators with more significant followings and ask for advice or even to collaborate, but please make sure you're proud of your work before doing so.
What trends do you see with YouTube? And where do you see YouTube heading?
YouTube is still a young platform; however, children are spending more time on YouTube than watching traditional TV. Advertisers and companies are now seeing the advantage of going through influencers more than spending dollars on conventional media.
The only thing that would stop YouTube is literally YouTube themselves (which the algorithm and platform are always changing).
What is the coolest Pokémon you unpacked?
The most popular video on my channel has over 2 million views. I was in the library opening packs in a series I call “Where You At?!” where I go to public locations and open packs while filming my reaction in search of the rarest and most valuable card for each Pokémon card set that gets released.
I finally had pulled the Ultra Ball Secret Rare Pokémon card after spending months hoping to pull it, but it was in the library, a place I obviously couldn't celebrate loudly.
Is there a card that is your “white whale” that you keep looking for and haven’t found?
As far as a new card I haven't pulled yet; I'm currently going on well over a year now opening Burning Shadows packs searching for a Hyper Rare Charizard GX Pokémon card that is worth around $200.
How did the channel become so successful?
Seeing someone passionate and positive about their craft is always infectious. I believe a combo of passion and still creating original content (setting trends) helped make my YouTube channel a success.
Can you give some tips on how people can make a great YouTube video?
One should always make sure audio and video are clean and clear. Additionally, while you don’t need expensive equipment to record (i.e., I use my iPhone 8s Plus), look up how successful channels in your specific niche produce their videos and build off that.
Finally, being passionate about your niche topic will show to the audience watching.
Any advice for growing a channel and getting subscribers?
I’m a big fan of collaborating with other content creators. Look for other creators with similar audience and size as yours to work with. Additionally, you want to create videos that provide some sort of value or benefit to the viewer; thus, making them want to stick around or subscribe for future videos.
Can you tell us about how you have been able to use YouTube to raise funds for mental health?
Since day one of my channel over four years ago, I’ve made it a mission and always use my power as an influencer to give back. Over $10,000 has been raised for various mental health charities.
I primarily raise awareness and funds through a big Pokémon card opening or event on my YouTube channel. i.e., In 2016, I opened an original 1999 Pokémon Base Set Booster Box and donated 100% of the advertising revenue from that video (along with viewer donations) to the Grant Halliburton Foundation on Mental Health.
Can you tell me more about your work with Save the Children?
Providing a safe harbor for children across the world is very important to me. That is why I teamed up with Save the Children to raise funds and awareness for them. I opened two vintage Pokémon card booster boxes throughout November and December 2018 in hopes of raising funds and providing recognition for the organization.
Leonhart on Success
What have you learned from being successful?
Always stay hungry, but remain humble. I’m always trying to improve my content and myself as a person. However, I still remember where and why I started. My fans mean everything to me, and I always make sure to take the time to chat with them 24/7.
Is there a mistake you have made that you wish you could change?
Patience. I believe I rush things (even to this day) that I shouldn’t have. I’d highly suggest always taking a step back and thinking over your projects, ideas, and plans before going ahead with them.
What advice would you give someone starting?
Whatever you decide to do on YouTube, or in life for that matter, make sure you’re passionate about it. If you’re not where you want to be in life, don’t fret, if you diligently work your way up, you’ll eventually get to where you want to be.
Is there something you learned from the industry that you found surprising?
There are tons of creators out there that are willing to help smaller ones on the path to success. Never be afraid to reach out to your favorite creators.
If you could recommend a book (or two) to help people be more successful, what would it be?
I’d highly recommend Who Says You Can’t, You Do by Daniel Chidiac, and 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. Both of these books provide solid advice and actionable steps you can take right now to be more successful in all areas of life.
What does your social media strategy look like, any tips?
I routinely post my videos and random life updates via social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Each platform has its unique benefit, including a specific audience. To post my videos, I schedule the posts ahead of time via each platform to save time in the future.
Any mistakes you see people routinely make with social media?
One should make your posts visually engaging and beneficial to the viewer. I try to create posts that incite engagement from my followers.
Do you have any apps, books, or tips that you use to be more productive?
The books I mentioned above were great, but are just a couple of tons of useful self-help books which can be found on Amazon. I use Hootsuite to auto-post on Twitter, but otherwise, I tend to prefer a good-ole pen and paper for help.
How do you manage time?
I have a daily planner that I use. I’ll plan out each day and write the most important things that need to get done via pen and paper. I prefer pen and paper more than electronically because it’s just a personal preference of mine. Whatever works best for you is what I would go with.
What is the best advice you have received?
Stop worrying about others and focus on yourself. Spend more time coming up with ideas and improving yourself than worrying about the success of others.
Do you have any advice for people that may feel discouraged about reaching their goals?
If you aren’t reaching your goals, be patient, and create smaller, more attainable goals that you’ll reach faster. You will build momentum by reaching your more modest goals and will eventually reach your bigger goals.
How necessary is fitness to success?
Fitness is essential to living a longer and healthier life. Even taking 30 minutes out of your day to take a long walk has shown to provide immense benefit to the mind and body.
Do you enjoy working out? If not how do you get motivated
I actually find myself needing to take a rest day because I love working out so much. If you never have really worked out before or are wanting to continue the fitness path, I’d suggest checking out sites like BodyBuilding.com, which has tons of free diet plans and workout plans for beginners and advanced.
Leonhart on What's Next
Do you have anything you would like to promote or tell us about?
Yes, never let someone dissuade you from beginning your journey into doing something you love. You have one life, go out and live it.
Any upcoming projects you are working on?
I’m currently writing a book and already planning my next big charity fundraiser for 2019! Have to be hush-hush on everything for now.
Where can people connect with you online?
- YouTube: https://youtube.com/leonhart54
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Leonhart54YT/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/leonhart54/?hl=en
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/Leonhart54YT
What is the one thing you wish everyone knew?
To be more amicable to those who have differing views than oneself.
Great questions! Thanks for the opportunity.
Thank You, Leonhart, for this great success story! Please take a moment to subscribe and follow Lee's YouTube channel. He is sharing some fun videos and is doing great work helping charity. Let's get him to 400k subscribers!!!
Michael launched Your Money Geek to make personal finance fun. He has worked in personal finance for over 20 years, helping families reduce taxes, increase their income, and save for retirement. Michael is passionate about personal finance, side hustles, and all things geeky.