#Dadboss Interview with Christian Hughes, Founder Of YouTube Channel Toddler Fun Learning
Christian and his wife run YouTube sensation Toddler Fun Learning – a channel dedicated to providing fun, learning videos for kids all around the world. He also video blogs as How2beadad about family life, and runs Liverpool based production company Curly Productions. He’s married to Amalie, and has 3 children – Josh (6), Poppy (5), and Molly (1). Toddler Fun Learning has just released an app with an innovative parental timer to manage screen time.
What was your background before starting up your YT channel and app and how has being a dad of three affected your work?
I’ve been self-employed for the last 13 years, and in fact I can count on one hand how many ‘proper’ jobs I’ve had. I set up Curly Productions when I was 23, and became really interested in the shift to online video – especially the world of possibilities that YouTube opened up to independent video creators.
My whole YouTube adventure happened BECAUSE of the children.
It was the perfect place to share my anxieties about becoming a dad for the first time, in the hope that my experiences might help other new dads. Having children really opened my eyes to the need for sharing these experiences for dads on YouTube as there seemed to be very little out there for us.
Paradoxically having children made me strive harder at work, whilst also addressing my work/life balance. I tried to find ways of working smarter, and maximising my time when I was in the office, whilst also not feeling guilty about going home early to spend time with the kids if I was having a slow day. I’ll always try and get back for kids teatime and bath time, and if necessary catch up on work after they have gone to bed.
How has fatherhood made you more creative?
Toddler Fun Learning has been my ultimate creative project and was started because of the children. I was looking for quality videos for them to watch on YouTube and was surprised to find it left a lot to be desired. I immediately thought I could try and improve on it and started making my own animations for Josh and Poppy to watch.
I’m not an animator, nor am I an illustrator – in fact I don’t think I’d drawn since A level art at school, so this project that was created for my own kids really unleashed this creativity that had been dormant for 15 years.
On any one day I might be working on a script for a future episodes, consulting on a song, working on storyboards with one of our animators or refining user experience for our app. All because of becoming a father!
Describe your journey and the process of creating a YT channel/business and app?
The YouTube channel happened by accident really from creating videos for our own kids, but when we crossed 140 million views and I analysed the YouTube ad revenue, I suddenly realised there could be more to it!
The app, on the other hand certainly wasn’t an accident. Parents around the world who were enjoying our content would ask us for a way to download our videos for long journeys, or want to watch them ad free. An app seemed the perfect solution.
My background is in content creation, so developing a piece of software was a steep learning curve for me, but one that I’ve really enjoyed. Our developer is amazing, and has really guided me through the process. My role really, has been acting as the customer – as a parent – assessing what I would want, and what my kids would want.
That’s where the parental timer came in. I hate the pain point of taking an iPad away from my kids after their allotted screen time, so we decided to let our characters tell them to turn the screen off in a goodbye song instead!
How do you overcome self-doubt as a creative?
There are always nagging self doubts, but I’ve had enough ups and downs with my businesses to know that for every bad day there are usually 5 good days. Gone are the days when I’m doing the animation and illustration for Toddler Fun Learning, and we now work with some really talented animators.
I’ve therefore found the trick of overcoming self doubt is find more talented individuals than yourself to do a better job! I just want to make our content as good as it possibly can be.
What are your work goals moving forward?
We create one video per week – which is pretty relentless from a content creation perspective, but currently there is a big focus on the app. Now that it is live, we’d love to get into the top 10 for kids apps in the app store by Christmas. We’re really proud of the product, and we just need to focus on spreading the word about it at the moment.
We also have a top secret phase two plan for the app as we constantly strive to improve it and add more features, as well as updating it every week with new content.
On the YouTube front, we’d love to get Toddler Fun Learning over 1 million subscribers (so we can get the Gold Play Badge), and we’d like to explore the world of merchandising with our characters.
Any words of wisdom for dads-to-be?
Be present. In this world of distractions, everything seems to be taking us out of the present. When you’re home, leave your phone by the door, enjoy the time wholeheartedly with your partner and children. They really aren’t small for very long.
Finally, what advice would you give fellow dad bosses?
Sort out your work-life balance. To free yourself from the 9-5, see if you can take yourself out of the loop and find a way of generating revenue without needing to be present all the time, otherwise you’ll never truly be in control of your work-life balance.