A study was recently making the rounds on Twitter about how nowadays, more kids want to become YouTubers than astronauts. We're long past the days where having a YouTube channel was a side project or hobby. Professionals like Emma Chamberlain are making full-on careers out of it—and loads of cash, I might add.
But even if you *think* you know how to become a YouTube star, the truth is, you don't. It's about way more than unboxing your latest beauty haul or eating an unthinkable amount of spicy wings. You can study your favorite vloggers all day long, but you need to add your own personal flair to your videos to have any shot at replicating their success. Since How to Become Famous on YouTube School doesn't exist (but dear god, it should!), I reached out to two experts: Raye Boyce, who runs the beauty channel ItsMyRayeRaye, and the woman behind the uber relaxing Gibi ASMR channel. Boyce has 1.98 million subscribers, and Gibi has 2.47 million, so yeah, they know what they're talking about. Read on for their expert advice on how to become a YouTuber.
YOU CAN START A CHANNEL WHENEVER YOU WANT
Boyce launched her channel in 2012. "I've always been into anything beauty," she tells Cosmo. "In the past, I posted makeup deals and looks on my Tumblr. Andrea Brooks (an OG YouTuber) reached out to me and suggested I try creating YouTube videos to show my favorite looks and products. That was all she wrote!"
Gibi had a similar start. "I used to post (terrible) sketch comedy videos in middle school; my brother and I made over 100! They're all private now, though," she assures me. "When I was a film major in college, I was still on YouTube all the time as a viewer, so actually launching the channel was as simple as filming my first video and making it public."
The takeaway? Create an account and start making videos.
YOU CAN POST ABOUT WHATEVER YOU WANT, AS LONG AS YOU'RE BEING TRUE TO YOURSELF
A lot of YouTubers stick to one kind of videos, but the experts say you don't have to do that, as long as you're being 100 percent you in all your content. "I think you should create any videos that feel authentic and true to you," recommends Boyce. "Your followers want to see things that you love to do and relate to you."
"It's important to be dedicated in whatever you're doing and make sure your audience knows what you're doing. If you want to post a variety of videos, let them know when you'll be posting them and make it consistent," suggests Gibi. "With something like ASMR, it's definitely important to only have ASMR content on your channel so Auto-Play doesn't wake anyone up with your louder content."
POSTING CONSISTENTLY IS A GOOD IDEA, BUT IT'S WAY MORE IMPORTANT TO JUST MAKE GREAT CONTENT
If you're debating how often to post, take a page from Gibi's book: "It totally depends on your workload and your intentions. Three videos a week is great for my schedule, but a lot of YouTubers can't put out that much content and that's okay, too!"
"What matters is the quality of your content," agrees Boyce. Focus on making strong videos once a week or a couple times a month, rather than spin your wheels making a meh video every single day.
LONGER VIDEOS ARE BEST FOR GROWING AN AUDIENCE
Short videos work well on platforms like TikTok, but people typically come to YouTube for appointment viewing. "Longer videos are definitely more effective for building a fanbase," says Boyce. "It should feel like you’re sitting down with one of your best friends having a conversation."
Through experimenting, Gibi determined that 20 minutes is her sweet spot, as it helps her viewers relax and fall asleep. Boyce's videos, on the other hand, run from anywhere from four to 20 minutes, depending on what she's filming that day.
GROWING YOUR SUBSCRIBERS TAKES A LOOOOONG TIME
Getting followers takes time, plain and simple, but receiving help from other people in your community won't hurt. For Boyce, her friendship with Andrea Brooks played an instrumental role in her success. "It took six months for my channel to take off thanks to Andrea," Boyce says. "She would help boost my channel every time I would upload a new video. I’m forever grateful for her support and mentorship." If you know a creator in the same community that you're trying to break into, consider reaching out to them for advice.
Success came down to hard work and good timing for Gibi. "My channel had a very consistent rise," remembers Gibi. "I never 'went viral' or had a HUGE boost in subscribers. I just kept at it and was lucky enough to start my channel right before ASMR as a whole got more and more popular."
SOO...HOW DO YOU MAKE MONEY OFF YOUR CHANNEL?
Money on YouTube primarily comes from advertisements (both pre-roll and mid-roll), and once you have an established brand, people will buy products you recommend or sell, and you'll get a cut. "Monetize your videos through YouTube, post frequently, and recognize which videos are your 'money makers' and which ones are more passion projects," explains Gibi. "Then, do a mix of both, be genuine, and don't worry too much about obsessing over the money aspect."
Once your channel is successful, then it's time to look into sponsorships—but until you've reached a certain threshold of success, making great content should be your one and only priority. When it comes to recommending products and the holy-grail joint ventures known as "collabs," it's super important to pick products your followers will truly appreciate. "You can monetize by creating products you love, and you know your supporters will love. I did something like that when I had a collab with Colourpop and BH Cosmetics," says Boyce. Both Gibi and Boyce started making money from their channels in less than a year, so I'd listen to them if I were you.
WHEN YOU'RE JUST GETTING STARTED, DON'T BOTHER HIRING A PR FIRM
"You should only do that after your channel is off the ground," says Gibi—that is, if you choose to hire a PR firm at all. "I still have never worked with a PR firm. I have my manager (my husband!) deal with sponsorships for me, but we don't do any extra PR or marketing beyond me just...being me." Huh, pretty sweet.
Boyce started on her own, but she thinks there's value in working with a PR firm if you have the means. "In the past, it was all about being a one-man show, but in this day and age, it’s difficult to do it all alone," admits Boyce. "If you can [work with a PR firm], more power to you!"
PRO TIP: THINK ABOUT YOUR PRIVACY BEFORE YOU POST YOUR FIRST VIDEO
Putting yourself in the public eye—especially on the internet—puts you at risk. Gibi deliberately chose never to make her real name public, which gives her a sense of privacy—despite the public nature of her work.
"Lock down your privacy before you start your channel," Gibi advises. "Don't share your full legal name, where you live...don't show your school name, your license plate, the outside of your house...do a full back-stalk on yourself and realize how much is out there. It really is not a joke, and I see a lot of young kids especially not realize how many eyes can be on their sensitive information." Take the precautions necessary to ensure you're being safe and only sharing the information with which you feel comfortable.
AND REMEMBER: THERE'S NO ONE RIGHT PATH TO SUCCESS
"Stay true to yourself, be consistent, and create a genuine relationship and connection with your supporters," recommends Boyce. It's important not to let other people's expectations get in your head. "Try your best not to overthink everything and compare yourself to others."
Gibi echoes a similar sentiment: "There is no surefire way to grow your channel. You have to put in the work, effort, and also get lucky. You have to understand the space you're entering, and also understand what YOU are bringing to the space."
So, bb, get out there and find something you're passionate about, and then make some quality content that other people can relate to. You'll be a YouTube star in no time. (Well, not really, and if you made it this far in the article, you know why!)
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.