- There is an entire community on YouTube of “underwater treasure hunters,” who earn revenue from Google AdSense on YouTube by filming themselves searching waterways for “lost treasure.”
- These creators clean up waterways for a living, using scuba diving gear and metal detectors to search through rivers and oceans.
- Jake Koehler, who goes by DALLMYD online, is a successful underwater treasure hunter who has gained 8.7 million subscribers on YouTube.
- Koehler spoke to Business Insider about the success he’s had since starting his YouTube channel, and how he’s turned his passion of filming videos for YouTube into a lucrative career – hiring his mum and friends to help him run his business.
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There’s a whole community of creators on YouTube who film themselves diving underwater in rivers and oceans for “lost treasure.” But the money they make from Google can be far greater than the value of what they find.
Some of these “underwater treasure hunters” film themselves cleaning up waterways full time and will often reunite owners with lost valuables, like iPhones and engagement rings.
He spoke to Business Insider about how he’s turned his passion of filming videos for YouTube into a lucrative career and what he’s found underwater – from human remains, to phones, to guns.
From gaming channel to real-life adventure
DALLMYD started off as a gaming channel. Koehler would post videos of himself playing video games like “Call of Duty” and “Grand Theft Auto.”
The 27-year-old told Business Insider that, growing up in California, he participated in a variety of water sports. Once his family moved to Georgia, he began free diving, which eventually turned into scuba diving.
His first time “searching for treasure” happened by accident, he said. While he was scuba diving, Koehler came across a working GoPro in the water. He decided he would film his next “search” as a video for his YouTube channel.
In 2015, he uploaded his first treasure hunting video, titled, “SEARCHING FOR RIVER TREASURE.” At the time, he had just under 200,000 subscribers on YouTube. From there, he began filming more videos about his adventures finding river treasure and fewer videos with him playing video games.
Discovering guns, wedding rings, and human remains
Throughout the years, Koehler has discovered some interesting items.
Along with functional iPhones and many guns, Koehler said the strangest thing he’s found was a “box of human remains.”
At the time of discovery, Koehler didn’t realise they were ashes, but after working with the police, he ultimately decided to rebury the box, he said.
Koehler has worked with the police many times, he said, and reports every gun he finds. Collectively, he’s found around 20 guns, and sometimes the police will update him on whether the weapon is linked back to a crime.
Koehler documented his first time finding a gun in the video titled, “Found a possible murder weapon underwater in a river (Police called),” which quickly gained traction online. That is what made him decide to officially switch his to treasure-specific content, he said.
At the time of writing, the video has 20.9 million views.
“I think that’s what ultimately changed my life and allowed me to take this career,” he said. “It was something new that no one really saw before, and there was something genuine and intriguing about handing stuff back.”
Koehler scuba dives at least once a day and has reunited owners with GoPros and iPhones with lost photos, he said.
Fans from around the world contact him everyday on Facebook, he said, requesting his help in finding their lost valuables. His favourite search was the time a couple in his area contacted him to find their lost wedding ring.
“It was like I was a CSI agent or something, looking through all of the cracks and trying to figure it out,” he said. “Being able to reunite a lost wedding ring to someone means more than what it costs.”
After three days of searching, Koehler found the ring stuck wedged between two steps. Koehler said he doesn’t charge people for searches or sell any of the items he finds.
Backend of business
The DALLMYD YouTube videos are his main source of income, he said, and his videos don’t get demonetized by YouTube often, but if he mentions words like “police called,” or “gun,” in the title, the video won’t earn any money.
Koehler said he earns almost as much as he does from YouTube on Facebook through advertising. He signed with the entertainment company and digital network Fullscreen in 2017 and the company helps manage the backend of his business, brand sponsorships, and his Facebook page.
Koehler declined to detail exactly how much money he’s made off a video, but said he’s “extremely grateful” for the success he’s had.
His two best friends, who he met one day by the lake he frequently searches, are now his business partners and are often featured in his videos. And he also hired his mum as a full-time employee early into his YouTube success, he said.
With the money Koehler has made, he’s been able to pay off his bills and purchase his “dream apartment,” he said.
Koehler used the GoPro he found during his first underwater hunt to film his videos, and once he gained 500,000 subscribers, he purchased a camera, he said.
When he first started off, Koehler would keep his scuba finds in a box under his bed. Now, he keeps the “treasure” in his garage, and among the things he’s found are roughly 100 iPhones and 50 GoPros, he said.
Koehler said he holds onto everything he finds because he hopes to someday display it all somewhere for his fans to see.
Along with the items being interesting to look at, Koehler said that a big part of why he keeps the stuff is to show people just how much trash is left at the bottom of the ocean, river, or lake.
“I’ve gone to schools and events where people can see all of the trash,” he said. “The ultimate goal is to have a place where people can come and look at everything in the future.”
For more on the business of being an influencer, and a breakdown of how YouTube creators make their money, check out these Business Insider Prime stories below:
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