The curious business of vlogging
28 October 2014
Withpr Content Team
How is it possible to build a career – and even a business – around making videos of your life and the things you like, getting millions of people to watch them and, more importantly, attracting lucrative brand partnerships and advertiser revenue?
It is hard to escape the rise of the vlogger, the new, raw type of celebrity that is quickly taking the place of pop singers, reality stars and supermodels as the idol of choice for the required teenage obsession. When even candidates on The Apprentice are tasked with devising and launching their own YouTube channel (as they are tomorrow night), you know that vlogging has become a big deal.
It seems so simple. Documenting their everyday lives or discussing subjects that interest them on camera and then uploading the content. Dragging us along on their ordinary everyday escapades and whittling on about the minutiae of what they’re up to and what they’ve bought.
Sounds totally tedious and utterly uninteresting right? Then why can’t I get enough?
Because not only do they make videos – oh no it doesn’t stop there! Their amazing following stretches to the infinite universe of Twitter, Vine, Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest, Instagram and whatever other social media platform you can think of. Maybe even Ello.
I know all celebrities these days are socially accessible, but there is something in the way a vlogger genuinely lets you into their life, and talks to you as if you are the only one watching, that makes their followers feel special – and makes them so sellable. Their videos show a refreshing and authentic side to young adult life, displaying personalities and characteristics similar to that of their viewers which is something film stars just can’t realistically portray, try as they might.
Perhaps it explains why former Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles’ own recently launched vlog isn’t doing so well – he’s not really letting anyone in. People can’t relate. And this shows in the numbers. Vloggers actually want to talk to us because they value our opinions. To them, we are friends they share their lives with, not fans. This is perhaps the most important point for success as a vloggers on other platforms.
The level of personal accessibility vloggers offer normalises them and reassures us viewers that we can rely on them to be a trusted and valuable voice. And despite their large following, vloggers make it clear to us that we are not to view them as celebrities.
There’s also the feeling that their lifestyle is achievable – the fact that vloggers appear to be on the same level as us viewers contributes to their magnetism, and appeals to the voyeurism in my curious (ie nosy) teenage mind.
So if you’re a business wanting to partner with a vlogger to leverage their audience, where do you begin?
You could of course go for one of the obvious big stars, and negotiate with the likes of Gleam Futures to come to a lucrative financial agreement. If you’ve got the budget, now-household names like Zoella and Pointless are easy wins.
Zoella, aka Zoe Sugg, has a jaw-dropping 5 million+ subscribers to her YouTube channel, with her popularity opening up commercial opportunities such as releasing a book and launching a beauty range. And of course, her boyfriend is Alfie Deyes of the Pointless vlog. With a following of over 3 million, his purposeless shenanigans mean this cheeky chappy never ceases to amuse me.
But you might not have the budget to work with the likes of Zoella or Alfie. Or if you do, you have to elbow your way past the thousands of brands also vying for their attention.
As much as I love these guys, entrepreneurial businesses would benefit from having their eye on who’s up and coming in this curious world.
Like Sunbeams Jess. Jess is a 20-year-old fashion and beauty vlogger/student who just oozes cool. She’s the style icon every girl dreams to be. The quality of her videos takes vlogging to another level. Just as she spends time making herself look oh-so-fabulous, so she applies the same level of attention to her video productions.
Or Patricia Bright of Britpop Life. In her mid-20s, Patricia is one of the few black female vloggers on YouTube, yet caters for a huge variety of people. Vlogging with her husband, Mike, she gives a good insight into typical family life, with such normality being the reason that I and so many other people watch her videos.
And don’t forget the boys. Danisnotonfire, real name Dan Howell, is hilariously awkward. He tells comical anecdotes of his blundering encounters and misfortunes. Dan never fails to make me cringe but in a way that I’m laughing with him, not at him. By sharing embarrassing stories that we’ve all experienced, Dan makes himself one of the most likeable and down-to-earth people on YouTube.
Now I’m not the only one enthralled by the life of vloggers. Events such as Vidcon and Digifest are testament to the amount of people that are actually fans. Think swarms of gushing girls and boys queueing for miles just to meet their idols. These forums provide an immense opportunity for vloggers to connect with viewers and get genuine insight into the content we actually want to see. And brands can use events like this to benefit twofold – to connect with both vloggers and the consumers that love them.
There’s no doubt that vlogging, and vloggers, have become big business. As a dedicated vlog viewer, I hope that the increasing commercialisation of this new form of media doesn’t eradicate what makes vloggers so lovable in the first place – being human.
Do you have a favourite vlogger? Do you have your eye on anyone new to the YouTube world? Have you seen any interesting brand/vlogger collaborations? Let us know!