How I Quit My Job and Became a Full-Time YouTuber (Cleo Abram’s Secret Formula)

how to become a full time youtuber

In the ever-evolving world of content creation, where the lines between traditional media and digital platforms are blurring, a new wave of creators is emerging.

These visionaries are leaving behind the corporate grind and embracing the freedom of storytelling on their own terms.

One such trailblazer is Cleo Abram, whose meteoric rise on YouTube has set a blueprint for aspiring creators seeking to carve their path. With a unique blend of journalistic rigor, visual storytelling, and genuine optimism, Cleo’s journey is a captivating tale of taking the leap and finding success.

Cleo has grown her channel to over 500,000 subscribers since quitting her office job three years ago.

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Cleo’s journey began at Vox, a digital media powerhouse where she honed her skills as a video journalist.

Her experience there laid the foundation for her future success, instilling invaluable lessons in visual storytelling.

I learned how to be a video journalist at Vox,” Cleo reflects. “I still watch Vox videos in awe because I think their visual storytelling is just… [it] helps you understand something because you can see it.

One of the most significant takeaways from her time at Vox was the importance of keeping the “head and the hands” as close together as possible.

This principle emphasizes that the person who conceives an idea should also be the one to execute it, fostering a deep connection between the creator and their vision.

The person who had the idea is probably the person who cares most about it but also who has the vision,” Cleo explains.

While acknowledging that collaboration can elevate ideas, she underscores the importance of maintaining the core essence of the original vision. “If you don’t make the original bet, then you can’t iterate on anything,” she says, highlighting the need to take that initial leap of faith.

Launching “Huge if True” YouTube Channel

With a solid foundation and a clear vision, Cleo took the plunge and launched her YouTube channel with a show called “Huge if True“. The premise was simple yet compelling: a genuinely optimistic show about technology and the futures we can build with it.

In each episode, Cleo takes a deep dive into promising or exciting areas of technology, exploring how smart people are using it to create something new and potentially impactful. From nuclear fusion and quantum computing to mapping the ocean’s depths, she seeks out stories that spark curiosity and inspire hope.

But launching “Huge if True” wasn’t just about creating content; it was a personal mission. Cleo wanted to know if there were others like her who craved optimistic, technology-focused content.

I had to offer something in order to either be accepted by some people or rejected,” she says, embracing the risk of putting herself out there.

The Four-Step Process to Creating Viral Videos

Cleo’s meteoric rise on YouTube can be attributed, in part, to her meticulous approach to creating viral videos. Her four-step process, refined over time, is a masterclass in effective storytelling and audience engagement.

1. Pitch

The pitch is the foundation upon which Cleo builds her videos. It’s a comprehensive template that encapsulates the concept, the key visuals, and the overarching significance of the story. “The bulk of the pitch is just image,” Cleo explains, emphasizing the importance of visual storytelling from the outset.

In the pitch, Cleo outlines the title, thumbnail, and key visuals that will drive the narrative. She also articulates the “huge if true” aspect of the story – the transformative potential that makes it relevant and meaningful for millions of people.

2. Info Do

Once the pitch is solidified, Cleo moves on to the “info do” stage, where she collects all the visuals and information that will bring the story to life.

An info do is a collection of all of the visuals that you think are doing explanatory work,” she says.

Organized into research sections, the “info do” serves as a visual repository, housing depth maps, historical data, and any other relevant visuals that support the narrative. It’s a meticulous process, often involving dozens of rows of information and visuals.

3. Visual Outline

The visual outline is where Cleo’s vision truly takes shape. In this step, she arranges the visuals in a logical sequence, crafting a visual narrative that will guide the viewer through the story.

At this stage, “I’m describing the visual and then I’m just putting them down“. She uses simple tools like Google Slides to create rough representations of what each visual might look like, allowing her to iterate and refine the flow of the story.

4. Script

With the visuals in place, Cleo moves on to the final step: the script. She uses a three-column document which serves as a masterpiece of organization, with the left column containing the narration, the middle column housing the visuals, and the right column reserved for sources and notes.

Everything that you’re hearing goes in the left-hand column, everything that you’re seeing in the middle column, and sources and notes in the right-hand column,” Cleo explains.

This meticulously crafted script ensures that every element of the video – visuals, narration, and information – is seamlessly woven together, creating a cohesive and engaging experience for the viewer.

Becoming a YouTube Journalist

While Cleo’s process is undoubtedly effective, her success is also rooted in her commitment to journalistic integrity. She believes that as more creators venture into various industries, there is a growing need for them to adopt journalistic principles.

“What’s the future of journalism, especially given how quickly creator-dom has risen?” Cleo ponders. “One of the interesting questions is how do journalists become creators, but I think another really important one is for creators who want to, how do they become journalists”?

For Cleo, the key lies in sourcing information, empathetic storytelling, and maintaining a genuine effort to find the truth. “Journalism involves sourcing it, involves a genuine effort to find the truth, it involves explaining that in an empathetic way to an audience,” she says.

Humility is also a crucial component of Cleo’s approach. She acknowledges that she can’t be an expert on every topic she covers, and she openly shares the limitations of her knowledge with her audience.

At the end of the day, it involves a lot of humility because you might be wrong. You need enough humility to be able to correct your work or do better“.

Building Relationships and Landing Interviews

One of the most striking aspects of Cleo’s videos is the depth and quality of her interviews with experts and industry leaders. From NASA engineers to tech CEOs, she has a knack for securing interviews that elevate her content and provide valuable insights.

Her approach is rooted in respect, authenticity, and a genuine passion for the subject matter. “If you are able to connect with them about [what they love], you might just get a yes“, acknowledging that most of the time, she receives rejections – and that’s okay.

When it comes to crafting the perfect pitch email, Cleo follows a simple formula: introduce herself and her show, highlight her reach and credibility, and make a specific request – all within a single screen on a mobile device. She believes that respecting people’s time is paramount, and her emails are concise yet informative.

Shorts and the Power of Visual Storytelling

While Cleo’s long-form videos are a masterclass in visual storytelling, her approach to creating shorts is equally impressive. She approaches these bite-sized nuggets of content with the same level of care and attention to detail.

“I want my short form to feel like I’m just FaceTiming you and explaining something, like with some good visuals,” Cleo says. Her process involves a mini-pitch with a key visual, a script, and a concise structure that communicates the essence of the story in just 60 seconds.

The key, according to Cleo, is to identify the one thing you want to say in those precious seconds and build the visual narrative around it. “If it’s the most recent Nobel Prize in physics, you need to understand how small that is. There’s a comparison for how small that is – that’s the only visual,” she explains.

The Future of YouTube and Creator-Owned Distribution

As Cleo looks ahead, she is excited about the growing trend of creator-owned distribution channels. YouTube, she believes, offers creators a unique opportunity to control their own narratives and build audiences on their own terms.

I’m really excited for people to lean into the fact that what YouTube offers you is distribution that you control“. This shift empowers creators across various industries, from journalism and acting to comedy and culinary arts, to build their careers in the public eye, free from the constraints of traditional media.

Cleo envisions a future where creators wield more power, leveraging platforms like YouTube to amplify their voices and connect directly with their audiences.

I think the people who are creatives and across many different industries should have more power, and that’s a wonderful thing,” she says. “Having the opportunity to build something on YouTube facilitates that.


In a world where traditional career paths are being disrupted, Cleo Abram’s journey serves as a beacon of inspiration for aspiring creators. Her success on YouTube is a testament to the power of passion, perseverance, and a well-crafted strategy.

Through her meticulous four-step process, Cleo has mastered the art of creating viral videos that engage and educate audiences. Her commitment to journalistic principles and her ability to forge relationships with industry leaders have elevated her content, making it a go-to resource for those seeking insightful and optimistic perspectives on technology and the future.

As the landscape of content creation continues to evolve, Cleo’s blueprint offers a roadmap for those seeking to leave the corporate grind and embark on a journey of creative fulfillment. By embracing the freedom and control offered by platforms like YouTube, creators can forge their own paths, amplify their voices, and inspire others to join them in shaping the narratives of tomorrow.

So, if you’re feeling the pull of creativity and yearning for a career that aligns with your passions, take a page from Cleo’s book. Prepare, iterate, and most importantly, take that leap of faith.

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