A small town Jersey Shore lifeguard who became one of YouTube's most popular creators in the real estate sector just landed the biggest deal of his career.
Erik Conover, 30 -- who has 1.48 million YouTube subscribers -- is Nest Seeker International's newest New York City broker. And he credits the values his parents instilled in him growing up in Absecon.
"Anything is possible, as long as you’re willing to put in the work and not have expectations about how you get there," Conover said.
"I knew that there was something big like this on the horizon, especially starting on YouTube. But the journey that led to this point was very unexpected."
Conover has always been a swimmer. But in his senior year of high school, one of his coaches suggested he try rowing.
"Before Northeastern, I rowed maybe four races my whole life but my cardio vascular training as a swimmer really translated well to rowing," he said. "I just saw it as an opportunity to go to a good university."
The Holy Spirit High School graduated landed a rowing scholarship to Northeastern University. He majored in public speaking with a minor in business marketing, and graduated in 2013.
Sure, he had a degree -- but still no real idea of what he wanted to do. Only that he wanted to work for himself and that New York City was a good place to start.
Conover moved into a cheap Manhattan rental and worked eight or 12 odd jobs a day.
"I was the manager of a clothing company, fitness instructor, intern at the Actors Studio in Hells Kitchen, mover and a caterer," he said. "You name it, I've pretty much done it."
It wasn't until 2015 that Conover got a job at a luxury hotel and discovered YouTube.
"I saw people building brands on YouTube," he said. "That was a path I wanted to explore."
And so, he made a channel. He taught himself how to film and how to edit by watching other people's videos.
His first uploads were nothing special, he said. But after about two years, he got better.
"I was making travel guides to extreme destinations like Mt. Kilimanjaro and Norway," Conover said. "Then I started working with some bigger companies, some Fortune 500 companies, doing commercial work."
He worked day jobs to pay the bills. But YouTube felt natural. He was a natural. It felt right.
As his channel grew, Conover started making money.
"In the beginning it wasn't much at all," he said. "Maybe $3 for 1,000 views. But as your channel grows you become more desirable. You can make a pretty healthy income."
In 2016, he quit his day job at ritzy hotel and focused on making content. Conover gained 300,000 subscribers in three years and by 2018, things were really picking up.
His first big hit, a Jan. 7 video tour of his 300-square-foot Chelsea apartment caught the eye of Ryan Serhant from "Million Dollar Listing" and racked up a million views in a month.
Serhant wanted to collaborate.
"I told him to give me access to one of his most expensive listings and it would do pretty well," Conover said.
He wasn't wrong: The 7-story, $20 million New York City townhouse pulled in 4 million views in two weeks -- "And that was just the beginning," he said. "No one aside from celebrities were doing it at that ultra-luxury level."
The videos became a new marketing tactic -- a successful one, too. Many of the properties that Conover took on sold, and he even got a cut of the cash.
For two years, Conover was living his dream. This was exactly where he wanted to be. Big things were on the horizon, he could feel it.
Sometime in late-January, Conover got into talks with some real estate brokerages about becoming a licensed agent. He'd already built a massive platform to market his listings.
But then, the pandemic hit. In hindsight, Conover said it happened at the perfect time.
"I was fortunate enough to have done well enough on YouTube to take the time off financially, reassess goals and plan the life my fiancé [Hanna Coleman] and I wanted to build," he said.
The couple, like many New Yorkers, temporarily left the city and spent some time with Conover's family in Absecon -- where Conover once learned the importance of hard work and persistance.
"My family is the farthest thing from well-off," Conover told Daily Voice during a recent trip to New Jersey. "But they have very good morals and values they passed onto me."
Conover recalled being in grade school and seeing how his dad would work until about 2 p.m., pick him up from school and then go back to work around 7 p.m.
"I saw him providing and how hard way he was working," Conover said. "He and my mom taught me, it's one thing to have a goal, but it's another to have a dream and a plan to achieve it. Then, take those steps and make it real."
Conover admits he wasn't sure what he wanted to do after college. But over time, he found his passions and was able to combine them, forging his own path.
He pursued his new dream last summer and became a real estate agent. Earlier this month, Conover announced he'd signed with Nest Seekers International, a full-service residential and commercial brokerage firm servicing some of the wealthiest areas in the world.
"The CEO of Nest Seekers really understands that in 10 years from now, people will be looking to buy homes from the internet. "There has been a very large shift in the real estate industry, which has been pretty traditional up until this point."
Equipped with an audience of more than 1.48 million -- and with his fiancé serving as the agency's head of digital marketing and strategy, Conover feels well-prepared for his new chapter.
"It’s interesting how powerful YouTube has become in building an audience and businesses," he said. "It happened organically and I think that the digital space will continue to grow with the way things are going. We're going to see a lot more of this."
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