College students are the latest group to start to build careers online by sharing their experiences and advice on YouTube.
Cashing in on the success that comes with being an influencer, these creators have made a name for themselves among big brands like Amazon as "college YouTubers."
Margot Lee, a 21-year-old influencer and YouTube creator, makes videos about her experience as a college student at Syracuse University for her 425,000 subscribers on YouTube. Although Margot (she prefers to keep her last name private) initially started her channel as a hobby, sharing fashion and beauty tips in high school, she has carved out a brand niche for herself as a college YouTuber. She has worked with top brands like Amazon, Victoria's Secret, and Sephora through brand sponsorships.
Though Margot has been on YouTube for six years, her channel's growth has recently accelerated. She's gained roughly 100,000 subscribers in one year, from August 2018 to September 2019, according to data from Social Blade. She said she did so by paying close attention to analytics and to what strategies work best.
Margot teaches an "unofficial pop-up class" at Syracuse with her professor Corey Takahashi. In the class, she shares her advice on how someone can start a successful career on YouTube.
"People are going to watch you if they can find your content useful to them," she told Business Insider. "They need to be actually learning something, and gaining something."
Here are Margot's three big themes for gaining a following online:
1. Pick a subject that's specific to you.
Margot developed a brand for herself almost by accident when she began to share her college experiences and decided to pitch herself as a "college YouTuber."
If she were to start a channel now, with the intention of starting a business, she said she would pick a specific niche. It doesn't have to be a small niche, but just something that you can be an expert on, she said.
"I think there's an oversaturation right now of people sharing viral content," she said. "I think that's one formula of how to do it, but I think the way to excel and create a longer-term audience that finds value in you is by finding content that you can be an expert on."
She films vlog-style content for her channel with videos like "college move in vlogs" and "back-to-school try-on hauls," where she shows and trys on clothes she recently purchased. Her most popular YouTube video is her 2017 college move-in vlog, which has 1.6 million views. And second to that is her 2016 move-in video, with 1.2 million views.
Margot focuses most of her content around being in college. The videos that get the most views for her are the ones where she shows bits of her life like "a week in my life, in college," and any "what you need to know" style videos about college.
2. Focus on both the quality and quantity of content you are putting out.
Find a balance between "not being too much of a perfectionist" about the first few videos you are putting out and "not taking too long to produce content," she said.
In her experience, a creator should be posting a video once or twice a week and shouldn't "over produce."
"Put enough effort in the videos to where they are done well, and fun and entertaining for people to watch," she said. "But not to the point where it takes away from the quantity of videos you would be putting out."
Quality doesn't mean how high-tech your equipment is. She said anyone can grow a channel simply by recording videos on a smartphone. And editing skills will come naturally and shouldn't be something to focus on when you're starting out.
"It's about whether people can learn something, or find something entertaining to take out of the video," she said.
3. Be yourself and show your true personality.
If you aren't being "authentic," then oftentimes people can spot that, and it will be harder for the viewer to "see you as a friend or someone to look up," she said.
Showing parts of your life, like your friends and family, can help people start to get closer to you and understand you more, without having to push out a fake personality, she said.
"If you want someone to consistently watch you for months and years to come, then you need to keep up with that personality that you are starting out at," she said, and added that it is also important to interact with the people who are viewing your content.
"People will notice if it doesn't seem like you care about your audience," she said. "At the end of the day, those are the people that are going to ultimately help you out and help you build a brand."
For more on how to become a successful influencer, according to YouTube and Instagram stars, check out these Business Insider Prime posts: