An active-duty US Navy sailor shared his experience on YouTube and has now become a popular influencer

An active-duty US Navy sailor shared his experience on YouTube and has now become a popular influencer

Austen Alexander

  • Austen Alexander is an active-duty sailor for the US Navy and a popular YouTube influencer with 135,000 subscribers.
  • Alexander started sharing his story on Instagram, but after receiving too many questions to answer on the app, he decided to start a YouTube channel.
  • Now his videos range from 10,000 to 3 million views, and he earns money through Google ads and sponsorships.
  • Visit Business Insider's home page for more stories.

Austen Alexander never expected the pictures he posted on Instagram ⁠- of his life as an active-duty sailor for the US Navy ⁠- to launch an influencer career.

Now two years after starting to post, Alexander is a popular YouTube creator with 135,000 subscribers and millions of views.

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"I always liked making videos, but I never really made it a priority until I started building my social media on Instagram, posting pictures here and there," Alexander told Business Insider. "When people started figuring out I was in the Navy, they had all kinds of questions wanting to know what my job was."

Alexander said he struggled to answer questions on Instagram, and decided to give YouTube a try.


"I never thought I would have a YouTube channel," he said. "You see all these vloggers on there, building up a big social media following with subscribers. I never really put myself in that picture until I started posting consistent content."

At first, Alexander posted videos like, "Should you join the military?" and "What job to pick in the military." He started to grow a niche audience of people interested in those subjects, he said.

"When you first start you are not going to see a whole lot of growth," he said. "That's how some people fall off really easily, they post a video that they spend hours and hours editing and it gets maybe 20 to 30 views."

Although Alexander's first few videos only got a handful of views, he didn't get discouraged, and eventually as he continued to upload, he saw his numbers grow.

In May, Alexander noticed a spike in growth on his channel after uploading the video, "Ms. Bikini Olympia Attempts the US Navy Physical Test" (3.6 million views). That video boosted his channel, and now he films videos like, "A Day in the Life of an Enlisted US Sailor," (800,000 views) and "Top 4 Military Hacks That I Actually Use," (500,000 views).


His videos range anywhere from 10,000 to 3 million views, depending on if a video gets picked up by YouTube's algorithm and recommended to viewers.

austen alexander youtube

Earning money as an influencer

Today Alexander earns money from YouTube ads and through brand sponsorships on social media. YouTube influencers like Alexander, who are a part of YouTube's Partner Program, can earn money from their videos through advertisements placed by Google.

Alexander's first Google AdSense paycheck was for $42, he said. Now AdSense is his highest revenue stream and he earns an upwards of thousands of dollars per video.

Influencers can also earn money by promoting brands on YouTube and Instagram, and by selling merchandise.


Alexander said he's earned some money through brand sponsorships with companies like Dollar Shave Club.

For more on Alexander and how he earns money on YouTube, check out the full breakdown on Business Insider Prime, including how much he makes from his videos:

A YouTube star and active-duty US Navy sailor shares how much money a video with 1 million views makes him