- Brittani Cunningham launched her travel-inspired candle business and YouTube channel last year.
- She’s sold nearly $10,000 in candles and earns hundreds a month through affiliate marketing.
- Here’s how she uses passive income streams on YouTube to boost her income.
Brittani Cunningham was climbing her way up in the film and TV industries in 2020, working in client relations and recruiting on the sets of shows like “Power,” “Jessica Jones,” and “Pose.” But when the pandemic left her job at a standstill, she pursued a new passion: making travel-inspired candles and documenting her entrepreneurial journey on social media.
In March 2021, Cunningham launched her startup, Lit City Candles — the candle scents are based off trips Cunningham has taken around the world, including to Paris and Jamaica. Seven months later, she relaunched the brand after tinkering with the production process and started chronicling her experiences as an entrepreneur on her YouTube channel. Today, her community of 10,000 subscribers watches her weekly videos recapping events she attends or a day in her life as a small-business owner.
Cunningham has sold just shy of $10,000 worth of candles since her launch, a figure Insider verified with documentation. Beyond product sales, Cunningham regularly earns hundreds of dollars a month, totaling thousands a year, through additional income streams like Google’s AdSense advertising program, affiliate marketing, and partnership deals.
Cunningham told Insider about the importance of building a YouTube community as a small-business owner. This is an as-told-to story that was edited for length and clarity.
YouTube can help you build connections with customers and fellow business owners
Before my candle business, I was interested in travel and had a YouTube channel dedicated to that part of my life. During quarantine, when I started making candles based on places I’d visited, it made sense to fuse it all together online.
The benefit of YouTube is the community that I’ve built around my brand. It’s helped increase brand awareness, share my story, and allow viewers to connect with both me and my products. When I showcase the intricate parts of running Lit City Candles — like designing my themed packaging and preparing for local pop-up shops — viewers get to see how much effort I put into my business. The encouraging comments I receive prove to me that, even with a niche business, there is an interested community and customer base out there.
The most important thing I’ve learned from growing my channel is that you have to be real and honest because people can see if you’re not. That includes being vulnerable. If I’m talking about a pop-up event, and it didn’t go well, I’m going to say so. If I don’t make any sales, I’ll tell my viewers and share what I learned and what I’ll do differently next time.
This strategy has helped people connect with me. And building that connection results in not only positive comments but also more paying customers, more honest feedback, and more genuine opportunities down the road.
An online presence can lead to lucrative connections
Posting online has also helped me generate sales. For example, a former coworker of mine found out about my business by coming across one of my videos. They ended up buying my first-ever bulk order, worth nearly $3,000. When I filmed a video about the experience and posted it, it performed really well and brought me even more sales.
YouTube also helps with public relations and outreach for my brand. Because of my online presence, brands and candle manufacturers started reaching out to me for collaborations and sponsored partnerships.
YouTube gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to earn passive income
Aside from paid partnerships, I make multiple other streams of passive income from YouTube. For example, I earn money through Google AdSense, or when Google ads show up on my videos. I also recently started using affiliate links, where I include product links in the description of my videos and earn money if a follower purchases that item. That way, if I’m talking about a candle product that someone decides to buy, I get something out of that.
As a business owner today, you’re going to have to be on social media to market your business. So I advise all entrepreneurs to take advantage of the alternative ways platforms can help support you and your brand.
On YouTube, I have a relatively small number of subscribers, but I’m able to make a good chunk of money off my channel with that small community that I built.