Josh Peck on trip from Nickelodeon to YouTube, making 7 figures
Josh Peck has had many professional lives.
The 35 year old player began his career at age 13 appearing on shows like Nickelodeon’s “The Amanda Show” and eventually opposite Drake Bell in “Drake & Josh.” In the 15 years since his popular show ended, Peck has used his performance skills to build a huge fan base on social media, with nearly 13 million followers on Instagram alone.
In March, he published an autobiography, “happy people are boring.”
“I’m not a big hobbyist,” Peck says of his relationship with work. “I don’t want to spend my time getting good at something that frankly doesn’t have the potential to be lucrative. And that could just be because of growing up with a healthy dose of financial insecurity.”
There may also be so many opportunities for him to be creative and get paid for it today. His social media career alone has grossed seven figures a year since 2017, he says. But none of his successes came without hard work, frustration, and a few bumps along the way.
“I started doing stand-up when I was 10 because as a chubby kid in New York, it wasn’t going to be Little League for me,” he says. Throughout his teenage years, Peck appeared on hit Nickelodeon shows, a career he leveraged to star in Sundance favorites like 2008’s ‘The Wackness’ and shows like ‘Grandfathered’. Fox against John Stamos.
“There were some great wins in the traditional space but, you know, inevitably, I found I was in that waiting pattern,” he says. Because so many actors are “at the mercy of gatekeepers, and so many people have to sign us on even to get a few lines in a movie or TV show, that it’s really hard to plan your life.”
When Peck’s girlfriend (now wife) suggested he join her friends on a trip, for example, worries crossed his mind. Peck immediately started asking himself questions like, “What if I get an audition? Is that a good use of the money knowing times can get tough between jobs?”
The career simply created too much uncertainty to allow himself to take such risks, even if he could profit from them.
Peck started experimenting with social media in 2013 using the now defunct Vine, a platform for creating six-second videos.
“I was uniquely positioned for that because I kind of had this big shticky comedic sense of having been on a sitcom for most of my life,” he says. “I found it really works in a six-second video format.”
It started to build an audience and brands started coming up with deals. The Badoo dating app, for example, was his first. They offered him $5,000 to make a Vine video about them.
Suddenly, “I saw this ability to create an income without asking anyone’s permission and without having to be at the mercy of show business”, he says.
He used his growing Vine following to build followings on platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and eventually YouTube and has since struck deals with “big Fortune 500 brands”. Social media was “act two for me,” he says.
After receiving that first $5,000 paycheck, “I called my girlfriend and said, ‘Let’s go on vacation.'”
These days, Peck continues to balance his social media production and his work in traditional media. He can currently be seen on Hulu’s “How I Met Your Father.”
As for advice on working across platforms and in life in general, Peck says, “Do people a favor. I think that makes you indispensable.”
“And I think when you’re living an ultra-self-centered life and trying to wrestle with the prestige or the financial security of life, for me, the byproduct of that has never been security. “, he continues. “It’s always been a lot of stress.”
It’s entirely possible that being of service to your employer, friends, or community will put you on top when people have opportunities in the future. But, “I think, at the very least,” he says, “you just feel good doing it.”
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