The online world of vlogging and social media might seem alien to many older people.
But a growing number of over-60s are embracing the earning potential of the internet by making videos about their hobbies – and attracting millions of followers.
Video website YouTube pays users who let it run adverts alongside their videos. Those who attract enough of a following can reap the rewards.
Green fingers: Charles Dowding, 61, has earned more than £68,000 since he set up his gardening YouTube channel seven years ago. He now has 148 videos
YouTube says it cannot guarantee how much people will be paid, but says more views could mean more revenue.
Here Money Mail speaks to two over-60s social media stars earning hundreds and even thousands of pounds every month with how-to videos.
Charles Dowding, 61, has earned more than £68,000 since he set up his gardening YouTube channel seven years ago.
He has 148 videos including ‘making compost from the garden and other waste’, which has been watched 878,000 times, and ‘how to grow lettuce’. His most popular video has had 3.5 million views.
Users flocked to his channel in lockdown. He gained 122,000 subscribers by September. During this time he earned £27,000. He now has 359,000 subscribers.
Charles had already written books and articles teaching his methods, but had never thought about creating videos for gardening enthusiasts until a customer buying his lettuce suggested it.
Her brother, a videographer, helped Charles make his first and many other videos on the channel. Charles’s son Edward, 22, now makes and edits the rest.
Charles says: ‘I never set out to make money but just wanted to communicate my ideas about no-dig gardening, which involves minimum disruption to the soil. It is a big timesaver, results in fewer weeds and better vegetables and flowers.
‘But slowly the channel gathered momentum without much effort. YouTube is a great platform to share the content.’ His videos take half an hour to film and three hours to edit – costing £300 to £400 to produce.
Tasting success: Over the past three years Charita Jones, 65, has uploaded 526 cooking videos on her YouTube channel Momma Cherri. She makes between £200 and £250 a month
Charles, who lives in Somerset, aims to make three every month with a focus on quality. He spends an hour a day replying to viewers’ comments and two or three hours on social media.
Three years ago he set up a limited company for his several businesses. His YouTube revenue is paid into the company accounts and is subject to corporation tax.
His advice to people who want to create a YouTube channel is to know what their story is. He says: ‘You need to have a positive reason to be there. What can you do that is interesting and could help people?
‘Also, some smartphones have features that allow you to make really good quality videos. It’s been a great learning curve – like being at school.’
Charles adds that you need to be in it for the long term. In the first year he barely made £770 before the momentum picked up.
Over the past three years Charita Jones, 65, has uploaded 526 cooking videos on her YouTube channel Momma Cherri. She makes between £200 and £250 a month in advertising revenue.
Web of receipt: A growing number of over-60s are embracing the earning potential of the internet by making videos about their hobbies – and attracting millions of followers
Her top videos include ‘How to make peach cobbler’ and ‘How to make coleslaw’, earning her £47 and £38 in 28 days in May and June.
First, Charita, a mother-of-two who ran Brighton restaurant Momma Cherri’s Soul Food Shack until 2009, was filming two videos a week on her mobile phone with help from daughter Katrina, 40.
She now uses a video camera on a tripod, and edits the footage over tea using software called Movavi which costs around £40.
Yet her first video was filmed spontaneously. Charita says: ‘I was making beef stew out of a roast I had cooked two days before.
I like to teach people how to reuse food and reduce waste. My daughter started filming and uploaded it on to YouTube. I now film and edit the videos myself.’
Charita, who has 135,000 subscribers, says interest soared in lockdown.
Viewings spiked to 416,000 one day in late March, staying high until June, when people started going out again.
Over spring, her top video earned her £137. Charita, a foster carer, says: ‘I never went into this to make money but I realised there was an opportunity. ‘How to’ videos are brilliant and you would be surprised what people are looking for. Do what you are good at, and be sincere.’
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, says: ‘Older people can be very inventive – it is good to hear they are using their skills and knowledge and finding ways they can earn some extra cash during their retirement.’