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Accidentally built a successful social network

Update: This blog was written in 2016. There have been significant changes to the Casting Call Club platform since. I've since figured out how to make money.

You’ve heard of those kids on YouTube making millions of dollars. I hadn’t really, either. I thought these “YouTubers” were a bunch of high-school and college youths with too much time on their hands — narrating themselves playing video games, making top 10 lists of best/worst fictional characters, dubbing over anime. I never imagined there would be money in it for them.

I wanted to be a broadcaster back in college (basically I wanted to be a YouTube kid). I interned at one of the big radio stations; it’s how I got into voice acting. Then I learned that traditional broadcasters spend their lives straddling the poverty line, and I changed my major to software engineering the next day (and then spent years straddling the poverty line paying rent in San Francisco).

Fast forward to 2015. I had gone through Techstars with a company I founded and it failed. While soul searching, I met with Jack Conte from Patreon (and successful YouTuber) and became slightly obsessed with this YouTube craze. With me having no job and a rekindled interest in voice acting, I thought I’d found the perfect market:

There’s a job board for professional actors, but nothing for YouTubers looking to become a star! -Buf 2015 (I stupidly didn’t realize that unknown YouTubers have no money)

I got to coding immediately. Three weeks later, I launched Casting Call Club and spammed all the voice acting and YouTuber buddies I knew.

Being in the Bay Area and not having a job was the same as setting fire to my bank account. So soon after the launch of Casting Call Club, I had a job again. The new project smell of CCC began to fade as the months of having the new job went on, and eventually I had to abandon it altogether except for once a week logging into my email and replying to support questions.

Now it’s late 2016 and I’m glancing at the numbers here:

  • Nearly 35,000 users have signed up.
  • There’s been over 250k auditions uploaded.
  • Over 4M actions have taken place (upvotes, comments, etc).

Wut… I did nothing to fuel growth. How the…. viral word of mouth.

There is a downside though. Looking further into the numbers, almost nobody is actually paying for the service. Can’t say I blame them. The site appears as if it was built in three weeks or less.

My theory that YouTubers needing a job board was wrong, but they did need an organized place to practice their YouTubing and find collaborators. CCC is that place.

Some of the stories of voice actors emerging from CCC to fame are astonishing. Take Lord Frieza for example: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzYkQgr2iZFYHPJIPONyvsQ

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This guy went from 0 to 50,000 subscribers in less than a year making Casting Call Club auditions and turning them into YouTube videos.

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How did CCC benefit so well from this? All of these YouTubers are wanting to emerge as stars, so every time they’re proud of their work, they share it, and that link juice comes right back to Casting Call Club.

Soul searching again, I’ve turned my attention back to the project and made a few tweaks. Money is starting to trickle in and growth is accelerating (despite not spending any money on ads yet, and no press except for this Medium post). I’ve got some ideas on where to take it from here, but I’m in the market for advice.

Until then, if you’re looking for a voice actor, you know where to find it.