Don’t Be Casey Neistat

There are many ways you can make money on the Internet and one of the most accessible is on YouTube. The sheer variety of content on the world’s most popular video sharing platform is positively stupendous. And YouTube has this amazing ability to create Internet celebrities, whether or not these people intended to get all famous at all.

Remember “Chocolate Rain” by Tay Zonday? Remember the Star Wars Kid? Some of these YouTube celebrities have been able to cash in on their Internet fame — it’s said that Justin Bieber was discovered on YouTube — and others have not. One guy that has done really well for himself is Casey Neistat.


At this point, Casey is best known for his daily vlogs. They have a very distinct style and format about them, even if the actual content of the vlogs can vary substantially. He makes it all look so effortless and casual, even though the videos themselves are very professionally produced with a lot of professional polish.

He uses a drone to capture a lot of amazing overhead videos and timelapses, for example. And while he has never (to my knowledge) divulged how much money he is making from YouTube, we are free to make our educated guesses.

Take a look at the consistent view counts he gets on each of his daily vlogs.


Every video gets at least one million views with some of the more popular ones pushing upwards of four million views. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that he has no other monetization aside from the AdSense integration in YouTube (we do see Amazon links here and there, but we’ll ignore those for now). If we use the standard benchmark of $2 CPM and a modest average view count of 1.5 million, that means each video is earning him $3,000.

Take that $3,000 and multiply it through by 365 videos a year and Casey is taking home over a million dollars. He has his expenses, like the innumerable cameras and other equipment he buys, but a seven figure income from YouTube is certainly nothing to sneeze at.

Does this mean that we should all aspire to be like Casey Neistat? I respect his dedication and am a big fan of his work, but I would not want to be Casey.

It all boils down to one very simple fact. Yes, Casey is an entrepreneur and he’s running his own business. Yes, he is (presumably) making a lot of money with his highly successful vlogs. yes, he has achieved a certain level of Internet celebrity that is unreachable to most. But he has also created a job for himself with a whole lot of responsibility.

One of his greatest strengths is also his worst pitfall. He is absolutely dedicated to releasing this highly professional vlog each and every day. This takes away from any semblance of the time freedom associated with the dot com lifestyle.

His typical day starts very bright and early. He works all day, spends a couple hours with his family in the evening, and edits his vlog footage through into the wee hours of the night, only to crash into bed and do it all over again the next day. Every day.

Some people might say that Casey is simply doing what he loves and this “work” isn’t really “work” for him. They might say that it’s not really a job at all. That may or may not be true, but you can see how this crazy schedule can really wear a man down. It’s not sustainable in the long run.

Yes, you can increase your YouTube revenue by simply uploading more videos on a more consistent basis, but absolutely dedicating yourself to a daily, high quality vlog is a tremendous burden. Whether that burden is worth a million dollars to you is up to you.

Money doesn’t sleep and apparently neither does Casey. But I’ll keep watching!

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15 thoughts on “Don’t Be Casey Neistat”

  1. Toni M. says:

    Great post.

    Honestly, I wouldn’t want to be Casey, even IF he’s theoretically doing what he loves every day. I know I wouldn’t be able to do that every single day and not burn out almost immediately. I also wouldn’t be able to have much (if any!) personal time.

    I think in the rush to replicate the perceived success of others, we fail to realize we can’t also replicate their genuine joy at doing what they love. People see the dollar signs and attempt to clone the content — but lack the genuine enthusiasm. And if you’re having to adopt a similar, break-free schedule to make it happen, I imagine the feeling is even worse.

    Better to go at a realistic pace for yourself while also sticking to a niche you truly enjoy.

  2. John says:

    WOW! Well put.
    I felt that way after a while with my restaurants, I thought I was going to be my own boss but in reality I was in no better of a position as my employees.
    I basically bought myself a job instead of a way to freedom.

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  3. Hi Michael,

    Interesting point here. I put in some time and energy for sure but also place a heavy emphasis on both leveraging my presence and earning cash through passive income streams.

    Case in point; I can bust my tail to try to comment on 100 blogs daily, committing to a huge goal that saps up my time. Or I can spend 10 minutes reading this post and commenting on John Chow Dot Com. Which nets me more traffic and more email subscribers daily. I also can pop in twice or three times weekly to comment. 30 minutes of work, weekly. At least spent on this blog. Then multiply a bit for other blogs and it is still a respectable level of work without going batty.

    I am for publishing 2 posts weekly to my blog. Totally against doing the daily posting bit. Only because it becomes a job, and a challenging one at that, when you commit to publishing a post daily. Especially with all the production that goes into a post or video, a’la Casey.

    The flip side of things; if Casey has an unending passion for what he does, then those long days really are not too long. They are fun. And who knows? If he becomes the next super star that goes from being internet famous to OFFLINE famous, the millions or even hundreds of millions he makes ensures he never has to work another second of his life. So he seems to be on the perfect path, for him.

    As for the dot com lifestyle, he is definitely not a match because he is tied down a bit with his current approach to vblogging.

    I always made freedom my #1 goal. I published a post this morning on my blog. Wrote 2 guest posts. Did a Twitter chat. Then I took a nap and walked a dog around Central Park for a while. Writing this comment now. Then I will work for a bit, a bit of NYC cardio later and up tomorrow for seeing the Kelly and Ryan show here. And yes, me and my wife Kelli are the other Kelli and Ryan show in NYC for a while 😉

    That offline stuff is as important to me as the online stuff. That freedom. THAT is the key to building the dot com lifestyle. Love your craft but build your day around being free and you will do the things one does to leverage their presence and live a life of freedom.

    Thanks for sharing.


    1. Pastor Bob says:

      Great assessment I love Casey’s work and have learned how to film and edit, and I now have a drone. He inspires others and that’s his greatest accomplishment

      1. Adrian Cox says:

        Agree 100%. He is also a well known commercial film maker / producer and entrepreneur.

  4. You make a very good point here. Some people become online entrepreneurs, only to replace one job with another job. How many times do we hear of people online hustling into the early hours of the morning. Surely, it’s about time freedom, not just about changing one job for another one?.

  5. Chris says:

    Great analysis, Michael. Just a few things to note: YouTube is not Casey’s full-time job. His main source of income comes from his numerous corporate partnerships/endorsements and speaking engagements. He also recently sold his company (Beme) to CNN for $25 million and is starting a new production company in the coming months.

    Sure, YouTube may be profitable, but it’s definitely not the basket in which he leaves most of his eggs.

    1. Michael Kwan says:

      Yes, I’m aware, but we don’t really have any publicly accessible data on how much he is getting through endorsements and other endeavors. We can extrapolate what we can based on pure view count though.

  6. Deb Poole says:

    He’s no longer daily vlogging ALL year long. He’s doing “seasons” to allow for a more sane schedule and also to allow him to pursue other opportunities like re-launching beme which he sold to CNN last year. He’s pulling down more than a cool million, I’d imagine.

    1. Michael Kwan says:

      I originally wrote this post quite some time back, but it just hasn’t been published here until now. Back then, he was still daily vlogging.

      1. John Doe says:

        So your opinion piece is pointless.

  7. Dan says:

    You all did see he stopped doing daily Vlogs for every reason you listed above in this article (and subsequent comments to follow). It didn’t challenge him creatively anymore, it got in the way of family…. the blogs are back to an average of 3 a week. So this whole article is kind of a moot point. He also owns Beme which sold to CNN for a cool $20M and speaks all over the world. So if the point you’re trying to make is his life really sucks and his family “suffers” then you kind of did a bad job at it

    1. John Chow says:

      He has started vlogging again. I guess he misses it too much.

  8. Krissy says:

    Why are you focusing time on negative press? Who cares how this person is trying to make money? Focus on what you want to create for yourself and your business. Others can do as they choose.

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