By now you may know about some of the biggest YouTube stars out there, such as PewDiePie, Smosh, Jenna Marbles, and The Fine Brothers. These are people with millions of subscribers and billions of views, and while the names may not be familiar to you, the videos may well be. And if you have kids under 15 or so, that is almost definitely the case.
But these billionaires of YouTube views like The Fine Bros., producers of the "People React To..." videos, are the exception. More interesting -- to me at least -- is that there are about 6000 YouTubers each pulling in over a million views per month. At a recent digital content conference held in Toronto I had the opportunity to attend panels featuring assorted 'Tubers telling their tales and today, some nuggets from two more: Rachel Cooper of the RachhLoves channel and Matt Santoro, the guy on YouTube who does those 'amazing lists' videos that attract tens of millions of views per month.
First, let's hear from Rachel, one of about 50,000 beauty bloggers on YouTube.
For some it's a hobby, for some it's a part time job that supplements their income, and for some, such as Michelle Phan, it's been the path to getting their own makeup line with L'Oreal. For Rachel, recently married and with a baby daughter, it's a full time job, and one that now also employs her husband. She posts two videos per week, on a consistent schedule, and each video runs around 5 to 6 minutes. When she started posting videos a few years ago it wasn't about money, because nobody was making any. "It was about community and making friends online and just having fun" she told the crowd at the conference.
Rachel is part of the Style Haul network on YouTube, which is home to about 5000 YouTubers creating content related to beauty and fashion. While not everyone's YouTube MCN, or third party multi-channel network experience has been great, most notably the Annoying Orange's as explained in Part 1 post, Rachel says she's happy with hers. Among the things it brought her that she says she probably wouldn't have achieved on her own are increased visibility, opportunities for collaboration, a web series, and a deal with Unilever.
To me, personally, beauty bloggers' videos aren't interesting (I still have no idea how to do a 'smoky eye'...maybe I should watch the channels once in a while?) but what is interesting is how many of them there are, and most come from the humblest of beginnings...literally shooting videos in their bathrooms with a headband on and a makeup palette and flat iron just a few inches away. And yet, they're able to pull in hundreds of thousands of subscribers and millions to billions of views. Whereas a previous generation of girls and young women flocked to magazines like Seventeen and Elle for beauty and fashion tips, today it's a much more fragmented landscape, spread across the 50,000+ beauty bloggers and their often niche areas of expertise. What is too various to be covered by mass market magazines and broadcast networks works perfectly for an army of YouTubing young women and their video selfies.
And if there's one thing the Internet has taught us it's that people love lists. So when it comes to lists of particularly mind-blowing facts, it shouldn't surprise us that one man can generate tens of millions of views per month doing videos that regale us with this trivia. Meet former accountant and now full time YouTube video maker Matt Santoro.
Matt told the audience that he didn't want to perpetuate the stereotype of one guy in his apartment making videos and throwing them up on YouTube, when in fact that's exactly what he does. "If I had more funds I'd have more people...writers, social media person, editors...but I'm everything. If I had just a writer I could triple my production but I'm still just a 1-man show."
When he was posting one video a week Matt's monthly view count was around 23 million, he told the crowd at the conference. One he added a second video per week his monthly views jumped to 35 million and he says it's now closer to 40 million views per month.
|The many obsessions of Matt Santoro, in easy to digest list form|
"I get a lot of brand deal offers through my YouTube network The Collective (incidentally, the same network with which the Annoying Orange production team is embroiled in a lawsuit). They get me deals to do things like fly to L.A. to do the YouTube Super Bowl half-time show and I also do integrated brand stuff when it feels right, which means I tweet about things and post on social networks, but the number one thing for me is that it has to feel right. I value the trust I've built with my audience. That's the most important thing."
When asked how he keeps up with all the research, writing, production, marketing, and personal appearances that are part being a 1-man show such as he is Matt ascribes it to two things: "empty bottles of vodka and a lot of crying."
"For the first four years I really didn't make any money. It really just blew up last year. What other job would you do for four years, make almost nothing, and still do it? You do it because you love it. When I started making the same I did as an accountant, by uploading 1 video per week, that's when I decided to take the plunge and do it full time. And people know it's not teams of people, yet if I don't post on the day of the week I usually do people are hitting refresh every minute and sending me tweets and emails saying "Matt, where's the video?"
Talking to and/or back to YouTubers? All part of the job in this world of direct-to-fan media and 2-way communication. Which is another way of saying this ain't your mama's TV show.
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