Bodybuilding media has evolved well beyond the DIY fanzines that
the industry was built on. And while there’s no shortage of outlets
covering the sport now, it’s not all about the typical mags and
websites that dominated the ’80s, ’90s, and 2000s. A new generation
of commentators has popped up across YouTube and social media to
give fans minute-to-minute updates on the latest news, rumors, and
event coverage. Though many of these names began making videos
merely as a hobby, a select few have been able to break through and
successfully tap into the culture, becoming legitimate names in the
industry and creating a full-blown career along the way. And
leading the way is 26-year-old Nick Miller, creator of the YouTube
channel Nick’s Strength and
Currently sitting at over 740,000 subscribers and 300+ million
overall views, Miller’s YouTube is now one of the most widely
consumed outlets in bodybuilding media, with new videos
typically racking up more than 100,000 views within hours of their
We caught up with Miller to talk about the origins of his
channel, the industry’s reaction to his videos, and the mistakes
he’s learned from along the way.
M&F: How did the idea for the channel come about?
And how big a part of your life is it now?
Nick Miller: Initially, I started my channel in
2012 with the goal of just filming my workouts and progress in the
gym. It was more of a place for me to archive my progress and get
feedback from other people. But I’ve been following bodybuilding
and going to shows since 2009, so every once in awhile I would
upload videos talking about big shows that I went to, specifically
the Arnold Classic in Ohio. I noticed pretty quickly that those
contest coverage videos got way more views than the rest of my
videos. So eventually, I began to focus more heavily on creating
videos about bodybuilding rather than about myself.
The channel has become a massive part of my life. As far as
income goes it’s been my full-time job and main source of income
for 2017, 2018, and now 2019. YouTube revenue alone for my channel
(not including sponsorships and promotional content) is in the six
figures. [From] 2012-2016 (the beginning), I made almost nothing
from it. Maybe like $100 bucks a year, or something like that. It
started out entirely as a hobby with no expectation of ever making
an actual income from it. I graduated college with my bachelor’s
degree in health science in the spring of 2017, and by that point I
was already making much more than I would’ve made in any
entry-level job in that field, so I decided to pursue YouTube
At what point did you realize that your videos were
really taking off?
In the beginning, the major focus of my channel became
bodybuilding history. The primary inspiration for that was my dad.
My dad had given me tons of old-school bodybuilding books,
magazines, and even some videos and really got me heavily
interested in the history of the sport. So when I realized there
was a high demand for bodybuilding videos, I wanted to tell stories
about bodybuilding history. So the majority of my early content
revolved around me narrating stories about old-school bodybuilders
and bodybuilding contests. (Also, lots of commenters had mentioned
they enjoyed my videos because of my voice).
The first massive growth I experienced on my channel was when I
had my first “viral video.” The video was called “What
Happened to Scott Steiner’s Chest?” and it got around 5 million
views. That month my channel almost doubled in size with a gain of
almost 50,000 subscribers. That’s when I realized that a large
key to growth is not only consistent uploads, but having
intermittent “viral” subjects that will spike views and
subscribers. At the time I’m writing this, my total collective
number of views on my channel is approaching 300 million views at
725,000+ subscribers. The first time I realized that my channel was
really becoming something was the 2016 Arnold Classic Expo where
people were coming up to me and asking for photos.
I’m constantly changing and adapting my content to what I feel
the viewers want to see. I evolved from bodybuilding history, to
heavy contest coverage, to now a mix of daily news and current
events videos and contest coverage. I’ve found that current
events is really the most sustainable form of videos that a lot of
people want to see. History videos are finite, but there is always
a new story to talk about in current events.
What’s the time commitment like, and what’s it like to
stay on top of bodybuilding 24/7?
I think a lot of people have no clue how much time goes into
running a channel of this size and posting daily content. It’s a
24/7 job honestly, but as far as an actual dedicated window of
time, it’s at least five-six hours a day of doing nothing but
researching videos, stories, editing videos, reading comments,
replying to comments, etc. Most channels my size have employees or
some kind of staff working for them to help them with comments,
research, brainstorming, and editing. But I am the only person
running my channel. I have no employees, just me, in an office,
with three computers. Which I don’t mind at all; in fact I enjoy
it, and I’m grateful to be in the position I’m in.
And obviously I love the sport of bodybuilding so I do enjoy
being so involved in the community and current events.
What was the biggest mistake you made early
The biggest mistake I really make when posting so many videos is
maybe reporting misinformation or not doing enough research on a
subject. But with nearly 2,000 videos uploaded to my channel,
it’s almost impossible to get everything perfect. But it’s
something I work on every day, trying to make sure I research
everything to the best of my ability before making a video about a
How much hate (or love) have you gotten from the
bodybuilders themselves? What’s the worst thing any of them have
said to him?
Surprisingly, the response from the pros has been overwhelmingly
positive. Because I go to expos, I have to meet the bodybuilders
that I make videos about. And I’ve never met a single bodybuilder
that’s said something negative to me in person. And I’ve met
pretty much everybody. Jay Cutler is one of the guys that stands
out to me; when I met him at the Arnold Classic this year he did a
video with me and said a lot of positive things about me and my
channel. He even said he’s subscribed himself and watches every
day for the latest bodybuilding news. Or this year’s Indy Pro,
for example, at the meet and greet there were pros coming up to me
and introducing themselves, and even some that seemed excited to
meet me. And that was a surreal feeling.
As far as social media goes, it has been overwhelmingly positive
as well. On Instagram the vast majority of top pros follow me back
on Instagram and I have regular conversations with many of them,
whether they are open bodybuilders, classic physique, or men’s
physique competitors, I’m in direct contact with many of them.
Some of them even ask me for advice on growing their own YouTube
channels and I’m happy to help. The biggest negative was the
situation with Phil Heath, but for the most part almost no
negativity from the pros.
Talk a little bit about the issue you had with Phil
Heath. Was there concern that it could hurt your access to other
bodybuilders in the future?
The issue with Phil was not a badge of honor to me at all. I
reported on a story, that was public, and posted by a public figure
(NFL player, Jimmy
Kennedy) about another public figure (Phil Heath). Without
going into the details, this NFL player was accusing Phil of
stealing from him. So, I made a video reporting on the story.
Didn’t give my opinion, didn’t make an accusations, made clear
that everything was just an allegation. Just business as usual, a
story came out and I reported it on my channel. Shortly after
publishing the video, Phil sent me a direct message saying I would
be hearing from his attorney about the video. And sure enough, his
attorney sent me what was essentially a threatening email along the
lines of “remove the video or else.” I felt that I did nothing
wrong, and was well within my rights to report the story. So I did
not take the video down. I want it to be known that I had no
intention of defaming Phil, and I’m confident that no part of my
video could be considered defamation. That was almost a year ago
and I never heard anything else from Phil or his Lawyers after
that. But I will say several pros reached out to me about that
situation taking my side.
However, I do think if Phil had followed through and sued me it
would have legitimized the impact of my channel on the bodybuilding
world. Not necessarily a badge of honor, but I don’t think ever
in the history of bodybuilding has a Mr. Olympia sued a member of
Do things outside of your control—like the changing
YouTube algorithms—get you nervous?
With YouTube constantly changing, algorithms are always
something in the back of my mind. There is a certain feeling of a
lack of “job security” being a YouTuber because they change
their policies and algorithms so often. But at the end of the day I
really enjoy what I do, and even if I took a massive pay cut or got
totally demonetized because of the algorithms I would still make
videos, because I love it.
Hopefully what’s next for me is hitting 1 million subscribers.
I want to help bodybuilding reach a new audience, and there’s
never been a bodybuilding coverage channel to reach 1 million
subscribers before, and I plan on being the first. I would also
like to start traveling to more shows and covering more shows in
person. Right now I’m only going to a handful of pro shows and
some amateur shows each year. But every year I enjoy it more and
more because so many people want to meet me.
Another big plan I have for my channel after I hit 1 million is
to start doing interviews. It’s something I’ve held off on for
because I didn’t want bodybuilders to feel like I was using them
for views. I want them to feel like they are gaining something by
coming on my channel. And I feel like once I’m over 1 million
subscribers, the publicity they would gain from coming on for an
interview would benefit them possibly even more than it would
benefit me. Kind of like how actors and musicians go on talk shows
when they want to bring exposure to themselves, or a movie or
project they are working on. So I want to do that in the form of a
podcast. Maybe something similar to the Joe Rogan Experience. Build
a professional studio and everything.
Source: FS – All – Fitness – News
Nick’s Strength and Power Creator Talks YouTube Success, Being a Bodybuilding Influencer, and That Phil Heath Controversy