From hobbyist to filmmaker: how David built an online business selling film overlays to his YouTube audience

By Zane Skuja read
04 Apr, 2023
From hobbyist to filmmaker: how David built an online business selling film overlays to his YouTube audience

David Killingsworth is a successful YouTuber and filmmaker who’s had a lifelong passion for video production. 

He is best known for creating digital assets such as film overlays, burn transitions, and light leaks that help other video editors and content creators achieve that sought-after Hollywood film look.

David started selling online and making a name for himself after creating his very first light leaks pack as a “thank you” for all the help he had received from the online community. 

Since then, he’s been selling overlay packs to a YouTube audience of 28.9K+ in hopes of supporting his family in addition to his full-time job. He has even had an agency from Netflix reach out!

David found Sellfy through Peter McKinnon, another famous YouTuber and Sellfy creator, and quickly got hooked on the platform due to its ease of use and excellent support team.

Read on to find out more about David’s journey and how he strategically built an online community without any prior marketing knowledge.

What type of creator are you?

I make film overlays. So, I just buy old film stock, scan it and manipulate it, and then make it look how I want. 

I’ve been into video as a hobby since childhood. I’ve always liked creating and inventing things, and I’ve always wanted to have my own business. 

It wasn’t till just a few years ago I started making overlays, and it started with a YouTube comment. 

David’s Think Make Push Instagram page

I made an overlay just to give back to the community and somebody posted a comment saying, “You should think about charging money for these.”

And, that was the first time that I thought about making money with film overlays. So, I made a few more and then started charging for them. I was honestly surprised that people paid money for it.

What did you do before you got into making film overlays?

I did a lot of family and wedding videos. We lived in Alabama for a few years, and we had a wedding video business that was pretty successful. And then, I worked at a TV station and did video production there. So, it’s probably been about 15 or 20 years since I’ve started video production.

How did you create and sell your first product?

I uploaded the first one I ever made to YouTube. I put the actual product in Dropbox and then posted the link for people to download it. 

I also built a website with Google Sites and then added a PayPal link, which wasn’t very streamlined. But, it was the first time that somebody actually purchased my product. 

I realized quickly that the website I had wasn’t going to cut it—I needed something better because it didn’t look good, and I couldn’t set things up the way I wanted to. 

I knew I needed to make it easier for people to be able to buy it. So, it was a lot of trial and error to figure out the best way to do it.

At what point did you start using Sellfy?

I think it was when I started making around $20 or $50. I didn’t want to pay anything out of my pocket—I wanted to use the money I generated to pay for something else. So, I waited until I had enough revenue built up, and then I started looking for other solutions. 

I think Peter McKinnon, another YouTuber and filmmaker, had a Sellfy store, and that was the first time I came across Sellfy. So, I thought if he’s using it, then it must be pretty good.

So, I started looking into it more and comparing Sellfy to other solutions. I signed up for the free trial, got everything set up, and it worked—my sales immediately boosted from that.

It was just so much more easy for people to go through the checkout process. So, I was hooked in that free trial.

David’s Sellfy store

How did you build your audience and convert them into buyers?

That was a tough one for me because I didn’t have a background in marketing and I wasn’t a personality on YouTube. Nobody knew who I was and I wasn’t good at social media. 

But, I knew that YouTube would be the way because I figured that’s where my audience would spend most of their time. 

So, I just got in my head that whenever somebody searched for film overlays on YouTube, my stuff would show up. And, that was before I knew anything about SEO keywords.

I just told myself that I was going to make so many overlays that YouTube would have no choice but to show mine. So, I started uploading a new one every single week, and then it was just slowly getting views. 

And, anytime somebody commented, I made sure I would give a thoughtful response. So, that’s how I built my audience.

How do you split your time between managing your online store and other projects?

I still do weddings every once in a while, and I also have a full-time job working at a different TV station where I do video production. 

But, I have a certain number in mind—if I ever hit this number consistently with Sellfy, then we can look at the possibility of quitting my job and doing this full time.

What’s your favorite part about running an online business?

My favorite part is knowing that people like the stuff that I create enough to spend their hard-earned money on it. And, then seeing my favorite YouTubers using my overlays in their videos.

A look at one of David’s Cinematic Film LUTs on his YouTube channel

It’s a cool feeling to see my stuff being used. I’ve even had an agency from Netflix reach out asking if they could use some of my stuff in a new documentary they’re working on.

And, what’s the most challenging part?

I’m a perfectionist who’s constantly changing things around because I want everything to be perfect before I put it out. But, that just isn’t realistic—nothing would ever get released if I did that every time.

But, sticking to a schedule outweighs the getting it exactly perfect. For example, I’ve set a strict upload policy for myself on YouTube. I upload every Wednesday at nine o’clock, and that’s my deadline.

How do you keep yourself motivated?

People want consistency on YouTube, so I just make a schedule and tell myself that I’ve got to stick with it. 

YouTube is where I drive my audience to my Sellfy store. So, I upload a video every Wednesday morning, and I’ve been doing this for the last two years.

When you know that there are people that are expecting something from you, then it kind of turns into a deadline. That’s how I look at it.

I’ve got a few followers that will comment “First” as soon as I post a video. So, I just know that I’ve got people waiting for me to post something, and that’s a good feeling.

What kind of an impact has Sellfy had on your life and business?

So, back when I did video shooting for weddings, it took up a lot of my free time. And, of course, I have a wife and three kids, so I never got to hang out with them. 

So, when I finally started making these overlays and selling them with Sellfy, it was great because I could put in however many hours it took to create them. And, once it was done, it could just keep selling and I’d be able to move on to the next thing.

Creating digital products has freed up so much more time with my family. It has also freed up time for me to learn about marketing and how to grow my audience.

So, it’s nice to have that extra money. We’re working on paying off our house and everything quickly. And, without Sellfy, we wouldn’t be able to do that.

A quick peek at one of the overlay transitions on David’s Sellfy store

What do you like the most about Sellfy?

The first thing that comes to mind is the support team. I love the support. 

There have been times when I’ve had technical issues or I don’t know how to do something, so I’ll send you a help ticket. And, I always receive a response back in just a few hours. Your team is always so helpful. 

Other businesses don’t have the same support system. I’ll send them an email asking for help, and it’ll be maybe days before I hear back. So, that’s one thing I’ve always appreciated about Sellfy—how quick and helpful your support is.

It almost makes me feel like I’m part of the team because you’re going out of your way to help me figure out solutions.

Another thing I enjoy about Sellfy is the ease of use. It’s not a steep learning curve—you can sign up for it and just start creating your site right away. So, I always recommend Sellfy to friends.

I also like the fact that Sellfy doesn’t take a percentage of your sales. There are different tiers but, overall, it doesn’t matter whether you make a lot or a little because Sellfy doesn’t take advantage of that.

What’s your favorite Sellfy feature?

The upselling feature is probably my favorite. I’ve been using that a lot. Like I said, I had no background in marketing, so the upselling feature was the first time I ever heard of upselling. So, when I looked into it and tried it out, I was like, “Wow, this is great.” 

What piece of advice would you give to other creators?

Just do it. Quit thinking about it and quit trying to make everything just right. Just get your website done, release a product and start trying to get it out to people. 

Remember, there’s power in big numbers. I knew from the beginning that I needed a big audience. I didn’t know how I would market to them but, somehow, I knew that would translate into making sales. 

So, just grow your audience and, eventually, you’ll figure it out.

Also, no matter how small or big your niche is, just believe that there are so many people in the world that will be interested in your product.

I hear a lot of times that some things are oversaturated because there are so many people doing the same thing. But, you’re not just selling in your community or in your country—it’s worldwide and there are a lot of people in the world. 

I would have never thought that I would be making the amount of money that I am now.

In the spotlight

In the spotlight

David Killingsworth
Zane started out in Sellfy as a Customer Support rep and quickly became fascinated with clients' business stories. Having worked in Customer Experience and Marketing projects, she is now part of the Customer Success team and enjoys interviewing Sellfy creators.

In the spotlight

In the spotlight

David Killingsworth