YouTube allows young entrepreneurs to flourish
What started for many as a camera in the privacy of their bedroom has quickly turned into a platform with millions of views per video where followers await new content that is just as, if not more, popular as the content on T.V. With categories from fashion and beauty to entertainment news and comedy, YouTube has launched ordinary people with a passion for sharing their talent into mini moguls and Internet celebrities.
One such celebrity, Bethany Mota, posted her first video five years ago when she was just 13. Today the 18 year old has a YouTube following of 1,936,962, bigger than Lady Gaga, Vogue, Glamour, and Cosmopolitan combined. Last year Mota launched a clothing collection with Aeropostale and recently released her own fragrance. This summer she was awarded “Choice Web Star” at the 2014 Teen Choice Awards and will be a contestant on Season 19 of Dancing With the Stars. Mota, however, is just one of many examples.
Michelle Phan is one of the first to pioneer the “Beauty” field on YouTube and has become an icon in the world of Internet success. Through YouTube, Phan has had opportunities such as a position as beauty ambassador for makeup chain Lancôme, and her own skincare, beauty and cosmetic tool lines. Featured in YouTube’s highly successful first-ever TV ad campaign and plastered throughout the NYC subway, Phan is one of the most easily recognizable stars on the Internet.
This dynamic has been a cause for concern for some “YouTubers.” With the success of YouTube as a media platform constantly reaching new heights, there has been some backlash. Many on YouTube receive derogatory comments from viewers criticizing them for their looks and even the sound of their voice. But, with the critics come fans. These followers want to know everything about YouTube stars, from what they eat, to where they live, and even whom they are dating. Fans often forget that these are people just like them and some become surprised at request for privacy.
The truth is, YouTube has grown so much now that the website has a say in the way we view popular culture. “YouTube Stars” have turned their passions for sharing funny clips and tips into careers.
“I think it’s good because they have made a living out of what they do,” said sophomore and frequent YouTube user, Hana Stanojkovic.
But not all share such a positive opinion of the many overnight internet celebrities YouTube has created.
“I feel like all of a sudden people on YouTube blew up and now they’re living in L.A., not in school, going to movie premieres and red carpet events. How did that happen?” said junior Ngoc Ly.
When one makes a YouTube channel and starts uploading videos, there is an option for users to “monetize with ads.” This means that ads will be featured at the start of the video. Channels with a substantial amount of views can then begin receiving payment from these advertisers. Another way that “YouTuber’s” make money is through sponsorship. Companies send popular users products to review on their channels and in return they are compensated. This is a marketing practice that is quite common and not limited to YouTube. Companies recognize a market and a means for advertisement and the individual can chose to review the product or not. This is a practice that has received a lot of backlash from channel followers, however, and even prompted YouTube to issue a FTC disclaimer on videos stating whether the YouTube user is being compensated or not.
The popular website has become the leader in Digital marketing with the L.A. Times reporting that their ad revenue will cross the $1 billion mark this year. The growth in viral marketing makes YouTubers attractive to companies looking to prompt new products. This speaks to today’s youth and the entrepreneurial spirit they posses. Today’s college students are all about getting out there and just doing it.
“I think first it depends on the individual and the passion they have towards succeeding in life,” said Nisha Lalchandani, Programs Coordinator of Marketing and LST Lubin, adding, “Some people are in college just to get a degree and get out, but other people are there to see what their options are. I believe that hands on experience provides the tools necessary to decide whether or not they have the entrepreneurial skills. Education provides you with the basics, but the passion really has to come from within the individual.”
YouTube’s slogan is “broadcast yourself” and that is quite literally what users do. From the funny clips of dancing babies to the tutorials and reviews of popular products, YouTube has created a space for one and all. Just how far the success of “one and all” can go, however, is something only time will tell.
This article originally appeared in the September 17, 2014 edition of The Pace Press.