On March 23rd, 2023, the semi-famous YouTube channel Linus Tech Tips and several related channels run by Linus Sebastian were hacked and subsequently unceremoniously terminated by YouTube – a worst nightmare scenario for any content creator.

Fortunately a fellow creator was able to alert Linus to the hack, but in order to stop the scam being perpetrated by the hackers of the account, YouTube terminated several channels

Thankfully, Linus got his channels back and the hackers were booted. But for a while, his YouTube business was nearly burned to the ground. Scary.

Don’t rely on a single source of income.

The unpredictable nature of any given source of income is a strong point in favor of having a side hustle. You should never become too dependent on any one source of income because you don’t know if or when that source will dry up – sometimes suddenly.

In the case of Linus Tech Tips, a major source of income was quickly eliminated. Fortunately Linus and team have other streams of income through Floatplane and their own merchandise, and they could have continued to create content elsewhere if needed. But what if they had only YouTube as a source of income?

That would have been even more terrifying.

Whether you’re writing on Medium, making money from Substack, selling affiliate products, or building another stream of income, make sure you have another source of income too.

Certainly no one hopes that an income source will dry up, but it’s best to plan for that eventuality – because it can happen, even without notice. It’s not fun to think about, sure, but it’s better to prepare for something to go wrong than to be caught unprepared.

Relying only on YouTube or only on Medium or only on another platform for all of your income is just as foolish as relying only on a job for the entirety of your income.

You don’t own YouTube, Medium or other platforms.

While we can create content all day every day, at the end of the day we don’t own many of the platforms we use. If YouTube decided tomorrow that your channel violates their terms of service, they could simply ban you – no questions asked.

I love Medium, for example. They have some common sense rules that aren’t difficult to follow, but I don’t own the site, do I? If Medium decided that I’ve somehow violated their terms of use and wanted to ban me, I could appeal the decision, but if they didn’t reinstate my account what recourse would I have? None really. I don’t own the site. I don’t have any pull with anyone who does.

The same is true with any of the many platforms for content. YouTube is great, but channels can be terminated without warning – and sometimes mistakenly. While that’s certainly not something fun to think about, it can happen. And the same can happen elsewhere too.

This is why I so strongly believe in the importance of owning at least one of your platforms. This is why you should have a site that’s yours – that you control – so that if you had to fall back on it, you could, and you wouldn’t be left without an asset that you control.

Protect your passwords and accounts with strong security.

As an IT guy by trade, I know first hand just how important security is. A compromised account could mean the end of your business. Scary.

While a proper treatment of everything you can do to protect yourself could fill a library, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Don’t download strange attachments. If you absolutely certain, don’t download or open it.
  • If you don’t need to be logged into an account on a computer, sign out of it so your session cookie can’t be used to hijack the account.
  • Never share your password with anyone or anything for any reason.
  • Keep any device you use to access your accounts up to date
  • Change your passwords frequently.

According to Linus, their channels were compromised by a malicious PDF that stole a session cookie – giving the hacker(s) access to their accounts. So even if they had changed their passwords, it wouldn’t have mattered.

What a world.

The moral of the story here is don’t trust anyone or anything with your account that you don’t have to trust with it. Don’t download or open anything you don’t trust 100%, and make sure to log out of accounts that you don’t need to have logged in.

Learning from others’ mistakes

Thankfully, Linus and his team were able to recover his accounts, and team YouTube was able to get them back up and going. But that’s a terrifying thing to wake up to – years of your life being wiped from the Internet by a hacker.

That’s something I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

But you and I can learn from that mistake and ensure that we are building multiple streams of income and preparing for the (hopefully-never) occurrence that one of our income streams is compromised – even if temporarily.

The Internet is a scary place, and it only takes one compromised account to put a stick in the wheels of your business. And because any given income stream can vanish in the blink of an eye, it’s always good to have a backup.