Santa Ana, Calif. — Many big YouTubers make money by running ads on their videos. Not Nelk Boys. Creators often and proudly state that they do not make any income from the platform despite their regular video uploads, high view count and millions of loyal customers.
His channel does not generate any revenue, it is neither a fluke nor an accident. His videos revolve around fraternity-like parties and elaborate pranks that sometimes promote illegal activities. They drink and abuse and make lewd jokes on camera. The police show a lot.
YouTube doesn’t like this. That’s why last year, Nelk’s channel was monetized after several incidents in which the group encouraged fans to violate COVID-19 safety guidelines.
Nellk Boys’ response: who cares? Advertisements were not a big part of his livelihood.
“Every video, we’re swearing, we’re doing something that might be suspicious or illegal, we’re making sexual references or drug references,” said the group’s leader, 26-year-old Kyle Fjord. “So we weren’t making money on YouTube at all.”
Instead, they’ve sold their 6.6 million fans on the Nelk lifestyle, which is both a state of mind and a growing suite of subscriptions and products, all summed up by the secret-to-someone-but-a-brow catchphrase. Done is “Send Complete.”
“It used to mean party hard, but now it has evolved into, ‘Whatever activity you do, give your best,’” Mr. Forjord said. “If you’re in the gym, you’ve got to send the whole thing to the gym.”
And while his work can often seem like playing out on YouTube, a visit to Nelk’s headquarters paints a more laid-back and corporate picture of Full Send life.
all in a day’s work
Outside a non-descript building in a simple office park in Santa Ana, California, there were few signs of the Nellk Boys, except for a truck parked in front with the group’s new hard seltzer, Happy Dad, and a bright red Lamborghini. “Send Full” emblazoned on the hood.
There was a similar silence inside. For the duration of one reporter’s visit, most of the staff in the open-plan office was working on video and business development.
The office scene – and later, the spacious house where the boys live – was the stark contrast to Nelk’s public image.
“If you take the frets featured in college movies from the ’80s and ’90s and give them the technology of 2021 America, that’s basically what Nelk is,” said Joshua Cohen, founder of tubefilter, a website that covers the producer economy. “They’re popular because they always look like they’re having a good time and have this seemingly idyllic party existence.”
In addition to “full sends” with their parties, group members have posing as real estate agents and fortune tellers; changed qr code on restaurant menus; Trump supporters trolled (Then met former president); and zoom-bombing Distance learning classes—anything to wow your fans and make other people swoon.
“If you’re a certain type of guy, it feels great,” said Mr. Cohen.
Nelk was first formed in 2010, when Mr. Forjord was a high school freshman. The name was an acronym that stood for its original pranksters: Nick, Elliot, Lucas, and Kyle, who grew up together in Mississauga, Ontario, outside Toronto. “N” and “E” didn’t last very long, but “L” – Lucas Gasparini – kept on recording and uploading videos with Mr. Forjord.
Initially, Nelk’s YouTube channel was bringing in about $500 a month in advertising revenue, an amount based on the number of impressions each video received. “We made more money from YouTube than we did at the time,” said Mr. Forjard. When that figure rose to $5,000 a month in 2014, Mr. Forjard and another member of Nelk, Jesse Sebastiani, moved from Toronto to an apartment in downtown Los Angeles.
His first major hit came in 2015, when Mr. Foregaard and his friends Put a big pack of Coca-Cola in the trunk of the car And in Venice Beach began to “coke” passers-by. Long ago, the police showed up; When he opened the trunk, the officers laughed. The video was an instant Nelk classic, and has garnered over 44 million views.
Going ‘full send’ on full send
Over the years, the Nelk Boys have traveled the country filming pranks and parties and bringing in new talent. Steve Delonardis, 22, became a member in 2018 and Salim Sirur, 19, of San Jose, Calif., joined the group last year after Mr. Forjord discovered him online.
Through it all, the boys have always stuck to their tried-and-true methods: getting a little crazy serving the brand.
However, in 2020, the group went a little ahead of its antics. Last September, when Nelk promoted an individual college party at Illinois State University, YouTube citing a violation of the platform’s “producer responsibility” policy and stating that the boys were “posing a wider public health risk, His channel got demonetised.”
“We couldn’t go anywhere before, so we tried to make it work by filming it around the house,” said Mr. Forjord of the pandemic, “but Nelk is based on travel, that’s our whole point, having a trip. As a performance.” (He eventually stopped promoting his stop to large crowds.)
One of the group’s business partners, John Shahidi, said, “A lot of YouTubers have come out, they’re press-trained.” “With Nelk, you get what you see.”
Mr Forjord said this is what keeps him from backlash: Backlash is part of his brand. “A lot of YouTubers are fake, or they are just too cool online. Then you go to an LA party and they’re doing drugs in the bathroom,” he said. “We were always real, we didn’t want to be fake for the camera.”
In the winter of 2020, Mr. Shahidi joined as president of the Nelc business, which also includes the Full Sand merch line; He encouraged Mr. Forjord and Mr. Delonardis to lean more into marketing their lifestyles through products. He also brought in his brother Sam Shahidi to oversee Nelk and Happy Dad at the executive level.
According to the company, Nelk sold $50 million in Full Send merchandise last year and could surpass $70 million this year. Merch is sold in limited edition “drops,” so the hype is high. Mr Cohen at TubeFilter said of becoming a multimillion-dollar: “The numbers are really high, but if you look at the top tier of YouTubers and online video stars, they are able to do that.”
The Happy Dad Hard Seltzer line is also bringing in a lot of money. When the drink was released in June, rowdy fans queued up outside some stores, eager to meet the creators. seltzer early sold out online and in liquor stores throughout California.
“YouTube is money compared to building businesses like a seltzer,” Mr. Forjard said. “We’re not going to sacrifice our content or change to earn $500,000 per month from YouTube,” he said. “We might not be buying Lambos like other YouTubers in the short term, but with this hard sell we could have a multi-billion dollar business on our hands.”
Happy Dad is the first step towards the expectation of a full range of products and services. John Shahidi imagines that Nelk is someday competing with multinational corporations like Amazon, Anheuser Bush, and Apple.
“With our audience, we can create pretty much anything,” said Mr. Forjord. “Maybe we can start a men’s grooming company or we can sell condoms if we want. We can open full sand gym. We could do pizza delivery. “
Mr Shahidi said they could have “a network of drivers that can ultimately deliver anything in our ecosystem – whether it’s a hoodie or Happy Dad’s 12-pack or a protein bar.”
One way Nelk will not make money is through pump-and-dump crypto schemes, which have become popular with other influencers. In a recent Twitter post, he warned fans not to invest in alt-currencies that are being hawked by creators. “When you all trust and invest in them, they sell and make a lot of money from you!” read tweet. “Don’t fall for it.”
Lately, the group has been jetting off around the country promoting Happy Dad, meeting fans, and of course, getting in trouble.
In April, Mr. Forjord was Arrested Accused of riding a Segway around a mall pretending to be a security guard for a video. allegations were later dropped, but the hashtag #FreeKyle started trending on Twitter and fans raised money for his bail.
For some creators, this would have been a scam. For the Nelk Boys, it was a boost. “Once you have your own platform,” said Mr. Fjord, “you can do whatever you want.”