Farming is known as notoriously risky, often low-paying work. Recently, some farmers are finding a new way to get paid doing what they love. They’re finding that time on TV can be more profitable than time behind the wheel of their tractor. That’s right, spending time developing a YouTube channel can actually feed their families better than the backbreaking work they do to plant, nurture, harvest, and sell their crops.
Who watches farm videos?
Most people are pretty disconnected from where their food comes from. For decades, they have purchased carefully merchandised, often plastic-wrapped food from the shelves of an air-conditioned, well-lit and clean grocery store. Because of this disconnect, a lot of people find the realities behind their food production to be extremely fascinating. They’ve tuned in so they can pick up some growing tips, understand more about organic farming, or just watch how farmers work. Audiences have even been known to watch seemingly mundane activities, like the process of pulling a tractor out of the mud, what to do to keep a beehive, or how someone sharpens their lawnmower.
As part of learning more about farming, viewers are interested in the details about legislative and government affairs that affect farmers. From the use of pesticides and GMOs to tariffs and other legislation, some online channels help to spread the word about important agricultural issues.
Audiences and earnings are substantial
With as many as 59% of people living in rural communities engaging in YouTube videos, the audience for farming videos is surprisingly large. Individual influencers can draw tens to hundreds of thousands of subscribers and millions of views. These viewers often stick with what they’re watching because it teaches them something that they didn’t know or hear the details that help them to fully understand a legislative topic.
How profitable can these endeavors become? One farmer has revealed that the earnings from his YouTube channel pay as much as five times what he makes from farmwork. Generalized estimates assume that any YouTube influencer pockets approximately $1 in ad revenue for every thousand views. If that holds true it can become substantial. The money doesn’t stop with ads, however. Like most influencers, the stars of these farming videos bring in additional money through merchandise sales and endorsements.
Who are the biggest farm video superstars?
While there are lots of farm-focused videos available on YouTube, a few stand out because they’re drawing huge audiences. Here are some of the most notable examples we’ve come across.
Farming jokester Derek Klingenberger hosts a YouTube channel that is full of conversation, humor, music, and farming life. The former member of a bluegrass band, his compelling videos draw as many as 33 million views on his channel, with six of his videos earning a million views each. He shows people the stories of what farming is like, sharing its culture and daily activities while not taking anything too seriously. His videos have even been picked up by The Ellen DeGeneres Show and other worldwide media outlets.
WT Farm Girl
This channel is hosted by Suzanne Cook who uses it to show what it is like to learn the farm trade as a woman and to advocate for greater numbers of female farmers. A lot of people watch her as takes on farming tasks, and she’s gained 40,000 viewers so far. She freely talks about experiences where she doesn’t feel taken seriously because of her gender, but remarks on how encouraging her subscribers can be.
Stony Ridge Farmer
First-generation cattle farmer and Air Force veteran Josh Draper has more than 220,000 subscribers for his channel. He’s beloved for his status as a vet as well as for what he does with his ranch. Fans tune in for stories of how he’s building his farm from the remnants of an old tobacco plantation and how he raises his beef, caring for and respecting his animals.
MN Millenial Farmer
This channel is run by Minnesota soybean grower Zach Johnson who has 30,000 followers with a recent video that gained 50 million views. His videos include chats with his wife that allow people to get a sense of what it is like to make daily decisions for a working farm. They also include him using typical farm practices, even some that can be controversial such as the use of GMOs. Johnson doesn’t shy away from tricky topics because he believes viewers need to see, firsthand, the realities of what he does.
Rice Farmer TV
After time spent working and traveling around the world, Northern California farmer Matthew Sligar found farming isolating and started a YouTube channel to help him broaden connections. His effort worked, and he’s gained thousands of followers and notable amounts of fans. At least one of his videos, showing how he uses a drone to help him work, earning above 200,000 views. Believe it or not, lots of Sligar’s viewers are sushi fans and tune in to learn the details of how he farms the medium-grade rice prized by sushi restaurants.
My Organic Farm
This YouTube channel is run by Arya Pudota, an 18-year old Indian boy who is passionate about growing his food organically. His videos have earned more than 40,000 subscribers offer tours of areas of his farm and step-by-step tutorials on how he grows various types of produce. The passion for what he does is as compelling for his audience as the information he provides for them. He connects what he is doing to a larger range of environmental issues, and he takes his advocacy efforts out to schools and to community-wide events.