With Internet accessibility, it's possible to create a community with millions of views from a click of a few buttons. Being one of the world's most recognizable names within the Photoshop and photography industries comes with hard work, teamwork and a great support system. Aaron Nace is the founder and president of Phlearn, a company that creates Photoshop and photography tutorials for users of all skill levels.
Just like starting any company in the beginning, it takes hard work.
"I have seen the company grow from very humble beginnings. In the beginning, it was just me working out of my apartment trying to make ends meet. These days, the company is quite a bit larger. We have a full time staff of professionals who create and deliver great content to our amazing customers," Nace said.
It starts with an action. For Nace, it was leaving his engineering job in North Carolina to create a creative job in Chicago.
"It was a great job, but I needed a bit more freedom," Nace said, referring to his previous job. "The idea of starting my own company seemed perfect. I was ready for a shift in my life as well as profession, so I chose to move to Chicago. I had friends in the area who wanted to help me start the company, so it was the perfect opportunity.
"Initially, the business made almost no money - that's why I worked out of my apartment. At the time I didn't know where things were going, I was just trying to do everything I could think of to develop the business.The early days were more of a scramble than anything else. It was an exciting and scary time. I had no idea whether I would fail or succeed and thankfully, that drove me to work hard. In the end, working hard has made more of a difference than anything else I have done," Nace said.
After completing an action of starting a company comes the second phase which is maintenance, or some may call it keeping your head above water. This is extremely difficult to execute especially when you're a solo entrepreneur and new to a city. For Nace, he worked out of his apartment, a mentally tough experience.
"I would often feel like I never left work. I would go to bed thinking about work and wake up with work on my mind. Occasionally I ate. It took a real mental toll on me and I realized that working that way was unsustainable. People need breaks. Now I take my break time just as seriously as my work time. Breaks help to keep things in perspective and remind me that I am in this for the long haul, not the sprint," Nace said.
With Internet trolls in full throttle commenting on every detail, and people with plenty of keyboard courage, this negativity can break a person down. But that didn't stop Nace.
"Negativity is a dangerous plague - if left unchecked it can take over a person's life. As simple as it sounds, I have found regular exercise to be the cure for negativity in my own life. Negativity seems to wash away with sweat. I have also worked hard on accepting the present and moving towards the future. Dwelling on the past doesn't get you anywhere," Nace said. "Thankfully, I have amazing people in my life who push me forward when all I want is to give up. Everyone needs a support system."
Nace's support system and team is continually disrupting the traditional educational model. He brings the class to your computer screen with a welcoming teaching style. The way that package is delivered cannot be created by one person. You need a producer, customer service, business development, videographer, distribution specialist, and accounting to price the product properly.
"My team is the most important part of my business. Without them, I doubt the company would be successful," Nace said.
To date Phlearn has over 350,000 YouTube subscribers. When a member of YouTube reaches the 100,000 subscriber mark they receive a plaque delivered to them. It was "pretty unreal," Nace said when Phlearn hit the milestone.
"I remember going to a concert at the United Center. The concert was sold out and there was a sea of people around me that seemed to go on forever. Then I realized that all those people made up one-fifth the amount of YouTube subscribers we had earned. It was a really good feeling," Nace said.
With massive influence comes impact, and on a stage in front of billions of people Nace would leave this message.
"Everyone has value. Don't look for meaning in living other people's lives. Find yourself and live your own life."