Elliott ‘Muselk’ Watkins has that story you’ve heard a number of times: a law school drop-out, he decided to take the plunge into content creation. Now more than half a decade on, he’s one of the biggest faces on YouTube, and his empire reaches millions daily.
Muselk had a career in law sitting for him on a silver platter when he decided to make the full-time plunge into content creation. YouTube had always been that thing he could try and do, but it’d be impossible to make it, right?
Looking back to those early days in 2014 to now, it’s funny to see how things have changed for Watkins. Being in the right place at the right time with the right attitude, Muselk turned thousands of fans into millions practically overnight.
It was never the plan for Watkins, who was nearing the end of his law degree in Australia. However, it’s a lot better than shuffling through all those legal documents — even if the first initial step was daunting.
“[I knew I could do YouTube full-time] when I was getting about half the minimum wage and was looking at making minimum wage as a goal,” he explained in an exclusive interview with Dexerto. “Early on when you start getting that momentum behind the channel and you can feel the growth, that’s when I knew I could make it full-time.”
First it was Team Fortress 2, then Overwatch. However he’s exploded alongside Fortnite since 2017. With an intense daily upload schedule (for a time) and pure down under Aussie charisma, he had the foundations to thrive, and the formula to catapult into stardom.
In those early days, it was great seeing the numbers climb. The Silver plaque becomes a Gold button, and the accolades roll in. No matter the success though, the grind eventually takes its toll.
“I used to struggle with it quite a lot when I started. I was doing 7 days a week, 16 hours a day — and I’m not exaggerating because I was recording videos, editing them, creating thumbnails, uploading and releasing them,” he said.
“These days I’ve got a good team around me that does a great job of that, but I’ve also told myself that the daily schedule isn’t everything. I try to not stress too much anymore and convince myself that after doing it for so long, it’s okay to miss a release here or there. It’s about balance.”
He’s put in the hard yards though. Now it’s a case of making sure his throne is nice and shiny for the years to come — and that future is a long one if Muselk has things his way.
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Following the trends
Muselk’s entire career has been based on trends. While it started out with Team Fortress 2 shenanigans, the Valve shooter was quickly replaced by Blizzard rival Overwatch, which took the world by storm in 2016.
Overwatch is where Muselk built his foothold on the creator space. His wacky videos with a healthy dose of experimenting in a time before the workshop went viral. It also helped he was semi-decent at the game too, brushing shoulders with pros and top players constantly and competing at OWWC.
However, as Overwatch fell off, Fortnite was just starting. It was a perfect situation — Muselk could continue to focus himself on content creation instead of having to contend with the idea of returning to university.
“I got kind of lucky with the timing of every game I’ve ever really covered,” he laughed.
“With TF2 for example, I was making videos on that for three years before Overwatch. By that point, I started to run out of content. You’ve got a set number of lego blocks, and you can rebuild it in a certain number of ways, but you start back tracking on things you’ve done. That’s what happens when you do daily videos for a couple of years — I’ve done everything, there’s no video idea you haven’t already covered.
“I was blessed to always have a new game to move into. In games like Overwatch they never add content. With Fortnite they do a pretty incredible job in keeping things fresh and adding new content, which gives you more videos.”
That doesn’t guarantee the success of Fortnite now and into the future though. Chapter 3 has been mega successful for Epic with their seemingly-infinite crossovers with everything from Marvel to League of Legends. That could all crumble overnight — it’s the cutthroat nature of the industry.
Attention spans are short. Trends fleet in and out. In 2020 it was Among Us. The next viral sensation probably isn’t even out yet — or might only have a few hundred viewers on Twitch and a small, dedicated YouTube audience.
While Muselk professes work-life balance, the nature of the industry is high-stress, and you have to be constantly chasing the next trend else you’ll end up becoming irrelevant.
“Obviously I love doing what I’m doing, but I think it’s hard because you’re always on the lookout for cool new things you can make content with,” he admitted.
“The good thing with the games industry is you never know when that’s going to come. I could see it with TF2 to Overwatch, but most games that end up taking over the world — very few do you see coming. Minecraft, Fortnite, Among Us, every game that becomes a viral content sensation always comes out of nowhere.
“Something like Call of Duty is never going to go back to its highs, so the next hit usually comes from nothing.”
If he was to place his bets on something though: “Probably like GTA 6, but god knows when Rockstar is going to release that.”
The future of content creation
Muselk has grown past content creation, now heading up the Click Management talent agency in Australia. The brand has gone through numerous renditions over the years, including a gaming house that ended after just a few months, but it achieved one goal Watkins set out on after making his name on YouTube: giving opportunities to future Australian stars.
“When we first started it, the goal was to push YouTube content in Australia. There was literally no one [helping] and if I talked to others, they’d say the same. It’s been very rewarding to build out a service and do things that are helpful to a creator starting out,” he said.
It’s not just the games that are evolving though. It’s the platforms creators are promoting themselves on. Muselk isn’t much of a livestreamer — although he is increasingly getting involved and professes a lot of respect for those who do it full-time. However, the future is in short-form videos like TikTok or YouTube Shorts and not the 10-minute algorithm pleasers.
“The explosion of TikTok and shorts and all those things really plays off the ADHD we’ve all got today, but it’s definitely becoming a huge medium. All the content platforms are starting to realise this is what everyone is making and watching, and the space is really evolving,” he explained.
For Watkins, it’s easy to look back in retrospect and admire the rise and rise. The end result has been the result of hard work — and a bit of luck — but there’s no intention of slowing down anytime soon in the creator space. However, there was never the expectation to make it here, which makes the success that much sweeter.
So, if he could go back to the start and tell his younger self something, he wouldn’t give too much advice in making it big. He just wants to enjoy the ride again, just like he’s done for the last eight years.
“That’s hard. ‘Holy sh*t, what a ride, strap in’ is what I’d say, probably something along those lines,” he laughed.