Bobbling along in a sea of millennials, a newfound YouTube star and social media influencer says she may be the oldest person on the many panels she’s invited to participate in – but don’t get it twisted: Life experience still counts for a lot.
“I was doing Bible study at church," Yolanda Soto-Lopez told Fox News Latino. "It was a way for women to fellowship. We had a lady who wanted to learn how to knit and crochet. I offered to teach her. I suggested doing a knitting group, but to really learn it, once a week isn’t enough. So somebody suggested a YouTube video, so the ladies could watch it for practice.”
Soto-Lopez, 55, semi-retired educator, admits she didn’t know much about YouTube, thinking it was primarily a vehicle for teenagers and people who love cat videos. She asked her 35-year-old son – she also has a daughter who’s 30 and five grandchildren ranging in age from 7 to 17 – to help her out, and he was happy to set up a channel named after her.
Using the camera on her laptop, Soto-Lopez says the only experience she had with it before that was using Skype to speak to her grandkids.
The ladies at her church group were thrilled to be able to have her tutorials to view between meetings.
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Between May and December 2012, Soto-Lopez earned a whopping 12 cents from her channel. She thought she’d make a couple of hundred dollars in a couple of years, but surprisingly, she ended up making $3,000 in the months immediately following.
“I thought I’d been hacked,” Soto-Lopez said. “I called my son and grand kids – my IT team – and they told me they’d set up the page to be public,” she said.
A year later, YouTube asked to partner with Soto-Lopez. They put ads on the page, and she says she was so excited because it meant she’d be able to buy more supplies to make more videos.
“In less than a year, I made of $35,000 in ad revenue. My husband was asking how we’d gotten 25,000 followers. He started encouraging me and pushing me to do more, and I went for it,” Soto-Lopez told FNL.
Four years later, the crochet and knitting grandma has garnered more than 400,000 followers, and the channel is earning six figures a year.
Soto-Lopez has begun selling her patterns and developing online classes.
“It’s a full-time, very structured work day. I started a blog last year, and so far it’s grown from a few thousand to more than 40,000 followers on my email list."
Her parents came from Ciudad Juárez in Mexico, she said, and the best thing about her success, aside from the income, is being able to help other women improve their lives.
“A woman in Mexico learned how to make hats and sell them, and it’s a huge help to her life. People say 50 is the new 30, but we need to accept that 50 is 50,” Soto-Lopez said.
The secret to her success is her determination to continue learning and growing.
“We invested in better equipment. Better lighting. My husband built a rig," she said. "I started taking online classes. I went to a WordPress workshop in Phoenix. I learned how to edit video and take great photos for my blog and [post them on] Instagram. We’ve invested the money back into the business in training and education.”
“People allow themselves to stay in their own comfort zone. People don’t want to pay for education,” Soto-Lopez told FNL.
Her channel is growing with Spanish speakers, and now she has more than 71 million worldwide video views, 390,000 subscribers and about 2 million video views a month.
“Every day I get about 10,000 comments. I can’t answer all of them, but I’d rather be doing this than anything else," she said. "It’s hard work, but at my last conference for Latina bloggers, I was the oldest one representing YouTube. It was so nice – I was like their mom."
Soto-Lopez added, "They were all beauty and lifestyle bloggers. We worship youth in this country, but experience counts for something.”
Rebekah Sager is a writer and editor for FoxNews.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @rebekah_sager.