For YouTuber Caylus Cunningham, it all started with water bottle flips.
In 2016, flipping water bottles, the act of throwing plastic bottles in the air in an attempt to make them flip and land on their base, swept school lunchrooms across the world.
The Spokane Valley born-and-raised Cunningham, 21, searched for a compilation of epic water bottle flips after the craze took over the Internet.
Not finding one, he decided to make his own.
On Sept. 1, 2016, Cunningham posted a video called “Top 5 LUCKIEST Water Bottle Flips (Insane Trick Shots)” to his channel Infinite Lists, now called Infinite.
In the seven-minute video, Cunningham counts down water bottle flips from channels like Dude Perfect, How Ridiculous and That’s Amazing.
Because he got in on the trend so early, his video was at the top of search results when others looked for impressive flips, and the video quickly went viral.
Today, it has more than 5.2 million views.
Because of that video, Cunningham’s channel grew almost as quickly. He reached 1 million subscribers in April 2017, and he reached 6 million subscribers this June.
As of Thursday, Infinite had 6.9 million subscribers.
What began as a hobby has since turned into a career, and Cunningham recently decided to make the leap to Los Angeles to further that career.
Cunningham grew up watching a lot of YouTube and eventually decided to give it a shot.
He posted his first video, a skateboarding video shot in his backyard, when he was 13 or 14, and later posted gaming videos, inspired by gaming channel FaZe Clan, the first channel he watched.
“I tried that out for a while, didn’t really work out too much but it was still really fun to post videos,” he said. “Then I changed from there, tried to do different things and that’s where the whole Infinite Lists thing came from.”
Cunningham’s channel is now primarily made up of videos in which he reacts to various photos or videos.
Sample videos include “FUNNIEST Livestream Fails You Will EVER SEE!,” “Pictures That Will 1000% MAKE YOU LOOK TWICE!,” “Photos That Will Make You Say NO WAYYYY” and “Photos That Will Make You RETHINK YOUR ENTIRE LIFE.”
Within two weeks of changing the focus of his channel, Cunningham’s bottle flipping video went viral.
“It’s definitely luck-based, but there is a lot of hard work involved with it,” he said. “In my opinion, to become a YouTuber, you have to be very consistent with your uploads. Upload a lot and stay original.”
Cunningham noted there are different kinds of reaction- and commentary-based channels, but he thinks his style of editing and his comedic commentary are what attract people to his videos.
He tries to upload twice a day, with each video taking two to three hours to edit.
He recently hired an editor to help him with his videos when his schedule is full to ensure he can maintain that schedule.
Cunningham monetizes his content by placing ads before his videos. He explained that one thousand views on a video equals a dollar, more or less, 1 million views earns $1,000 and so on.
Work on an app called Squad Rivals and his Fanjoy merchandise line, which includes T-shirts, hoodies, backpacks and more, also bring in an income.
Nearing 7 million subscribers, Cunningham recently decided it was time to move to Los Angeles, where he could collaborate with more YouTubers and work more closely with his network, Broadband TV and different brands.
“I think there’s one other YouTuber in Washington, but it’s mostly spread out,” he said of the YouTube community in the Inland Northwest. “I feel like most YouTubers live in California…. There probably could be some but you’d never know. Some YouTubers don’t like to share where they live.”
Cunningham’s goal is to reach 10 million subscribers and add the milestone-marking Diamond Creator Award to his collection of YouTube awards, alongside the Silver Creator Award, which celebrates reaching 100,000 subscribers, and the Gold Creator Award, which celebrates reaching 1 million subscribers.
He still can’t believe he’s even close to 10 million and feels grateful for the support his fans have given him over the years.
“It’s crazy to me because growing up, I watched all these YouTubers and I never thought ever that I could reach even 100,000 subscribers…” he said. “I really can’t explain how cool it is. I love what I do. It’s a dream job, to me at least.”