In today’s interview, we have talked to Steve M., or Denotin, a YouTube video creator and animator from Germany. Steve makes his living creating Minecraft episodes on YouTube. His episodes has been seen 140 million times, and Steve has gained several hundred thousands of subscribers on YouTube and is making a solid income from it each month.
We are happy to have him here to tell us his story, how he started making a living through YouTube, hearing his tips to anyone looking to create an income through YouTube, and more. Let’s get into it!
Nice to have you here, Steve. Having watched your videos, and even collaborated with you, I am very interested in hearing more about your journey from not having any subscribers, to having a very substantial following on YouTube and making quite a decent income online. How did you get started making videos and how did you get to where you are today?
Steve: I was quite interested in doing videos when I was 16. I didn’t really know what kind of content I would enjoy doing, it all just started with the free Cinema 4D student version in which I played around with fluids and shattering effects, and slow motions of course. A year later I had my first job in logistics, and I just knew that that’s not what I want to do.
So I kept my eyes open for other opportunities and Youtube just was the best choice, I could work independently, have my creative freedom and I had nothing to lose. I didn’t want to do gaming videos back then, because everyone did it so I reminded myself of my shattering and slow motion skills and got inspired by the few Minecraft animators that were around back then.
The first thing I made was a short trailer, with some explosions and monsters, just to see what kind of feedback it would get – and it was great. I even got in contact with one of the Minecraft animators who I got inspired by, AnimationCraft. He liked what I did, and motivated me to make my first full animation and if it turned out good he would even feature it in his spotlight series he did back then to help out talents from the Minecraft community. It took me 2 months to make the video, but it was worth it. The feedback was fantastic and with over a hundred thousand views after a few days and five thousand subscribers it was the best start I ever could have gotten.
We know you’re a great 3D modeller, animator and video editor – are there any other passions, talents or interests that you have other than creating videos?
Steve: I recently enjoy playing The Witcher 3, Overwatch and Counter Strike. I also would love to travel more and explore other cultures and nature in general. Some places I want to visit soon are New Zealand, Iceland, Japan and the Salar de Uyuni.
Do you think that YouTube has been crucial for your online success as an animator? If so, how?
Steve: Yes, I don’t think there were any chances to get successful on the internet with animations before YouTube. What YouTube made so unique was the variety of contents and the many different interests of people drawn to the platform because of that, then you would have to go with the trend though.
Your episodes are based fully around Minecraft. I quite like the concept of Minecraft myself, and have had some fun playing it. What made you choose it as your base for the episodes?
Steve: Minecraft was and still is the perfect subject to reach as many people as possible and to keep your creative freedom. I’ve enjoyed playing it when it came out and was familiar with the laws of Minecraft and their potential stories, that’s why I picked it.
You have created Minecraft episodes with a bunch of different themes, including some favourites such as Spongebob and Cars In Minecraft. Could you let us in on where you’re planning to take your episodes in the future?
Steve: I didn’t plan that much yet, but I’ve got Toy Story rigs on my Computer somewhere. They are probably getting to life someday.
Have you ever worked on bigger productions with many people, or do you mainly work on your own solo channel? Is that something you would like to get into?
Steve: I’ve gotten many offers to animate parodies for other YouTubers but I rather spend time on my own content.
Tell us a bit about your creative process. How does it usually look from idea conception to finished episode?
Steve: Getting the idea is often the most difficult part for me, I usually get ideas in the state of mind right before sleep. When I remember the next day that I had an idea and wrote it somewhere down, I immediately start working on the story. As soon as the story and script is good I send it to the voice actors and get in contact with the rigger to make sure I got everything for the episode I need.
As soon as I got the planning part done and I got everything I need I get right into making the scenes, adding lights, creating folder structures and animating the rough animation, render it out in low resolution and without any details, cut it together and see how it works out. Once the timing is working and I’m sure that nothing is going to change about it, I send it to the composer. I usually start working on the detailed character animation while the composer is working on the music to save some time. Once everything is animated and composed I add the final lighting and start rendering out the scenes through the renderfarm. That’s basically it, then it’s just the post production and cutting together and its done.
Would you recommend others to start their own YouTube channel for making passive income?
Steve: Definitely, it’s always great to be creative. Even if it doesn’t make much money, you probably will get experience on how to increase it later.
What would your top 5 tips be for people wanting to get into earning money on YouTube?
#1. Be patient – it took me over a year to make a good income off it.
#2. Learn about advertising networks and AdSense – Advertising networks can grow your income based on the type of content you have; they can also help you out if there are copyright or other problems. Be aware of their conditions though, there are a bunch of bad networks out there that tie you up for 3 years and never talk to you again. I would stay with AdSense at the beginning until you have a bigger fanbase, that’s what I did.
#3. Spend time on the thumbnail, title and tags. The thumbnail and title are in my opinion the only and most effective way to promote and advertise your content and tags help you get the video in the fitting Youtube algorithm. Getting people drawn to click on the video should be the highest priority if you want to make money, making the people stay through quality is the second step. While getting the idea, I always imagine how the thumbnail would look and if I would click on it myself.
#4. Don’t get demotivated by dislikes, dislikes aren’t always bad (If it’s not 90% dislikes). Dislikes show you that even people that didn’t like the video, or are just hating, clicked on it and took the effort to downvote it and maybe even wrote a comment to show it. Which means you got the first step right. Now you just need optimize the little things that got criticized and keep it going.
#5. Don’t choose the type of content you are going to do based on what other people are successful with. For instance, don’t force yourself to do pranks just because they get viral. Choose the type of content you want to do based on your skills and interests. You just have to be flexible and adjust the content to the trends to make it work, just combine the right things.
What has been the hardest thing becoming successful on YouTube, and how did you overcome it?
Steve: The hardest thing was to find the balance between quality and quantity to produce regular content and make more off it then you pay for it.
Just one last question, Steve: what is the definition of success to you?
Steve: To reach the goals you’ve set for yourself.
Thank you so much for taking the time to join us for an interview, Steve. It has been great hearing your answers, you’re doing a really swell job and we can’t wait to see more of your episodes.
Please check out Steve’s YouTube channel, website and We hope you guys picked up a great tip or two from this interview, maybe it’s time to start your own YouTube channel and create a good monthly income source yourself.
Until next time, stay awesome folks!
Co-founder of Evenant, Walid is a composer, mechanical engineer, concept artist and entrepreneur from Sweden. Travelling and exploring new opportunities, always looking for new things to learn and create.