YouTube Success Stories

And how the video-sharing website could make your dreams come true

Eva Grandchamp

This post was written by Eva Grandchamp. She’s a 17-year-old student who just completed her first year of English studies in Lyon, France. She developed a passion for the English language and the Anglophone world around the tender age of 5 whenher parents introduced her to the classic TV series “Friends”. She now aspires to make a job out of this passion, combining her love (though some would say ‘obsession’) for the language, the culture – both traditional and pop, writing and modern technology, hence this article!

            Justin Bieber. Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past 4 years, the name should sound familiar. It is safe to say that the 19-year-old singer is one of the world’s biggest superstars – and he has been since he was just 15, all thanks to everyone’s favorite video-sharing website, YouTube. Justin Bieber was discovered back in 2008 by a talent manager after posting videos of himself singing and playing various instruments; he was then introduced to hip hop megastar Usher, who signed him to his record label. His rise to fame following this contract was phenomenal, to say the least.

Now Bieber may be the most impressive example of a YouTube success story, but he most definitely isn’t the only one. Dozens of talented young people have the video-sharing website to thank for their success, and in today’s interconnected world, it is no surprise that so many people owe their success to the Internet. What’s more, YouTube fame is not limited to singers and musicians; au contraire, vloggers, comedy bloggers and reviewers enjoy their own spectacular popularity, but let’s begin with a few musically talented artists who have benefitted from the website.

Musical Talents

Christina Grimmie

Christina Grimmie and her keyboard, which she almost always plays in her videos

Charice, Sam Tsui and Kurt Hugo Schneider, Cimorelli, Austin Mahone, Tiffany Alvord, Christina Grimmie, to name a few, are YouTubers whose dreams came true. Let’s take Christina for example. This talented 19-year-old’s rise to fame didn’t happen overnight. She posted videos of herself covering songs or singing originals on her channel, and the Internet worked its magic: the videos were shared, the buzz was created, the subscribers started pouring in, the view counter went through the roof, (we’re talking millions here) and after a couple of years, she was contacted by record companies and eventually signed with Creative Artists Agency. YouTube did it once again. The website is essentially a stage for aspiring singers, on which they can showcase their talents in total freedom. While many popular YouTube singers have not been signed to record labels, they have nonetheless seen their career be jumpstarted thanks to the video-sharing site; they have developed an important following on their channel and their various social networking accounts, and are enjoying that fame, uploading videos regularly and interacting with their fans online and at various concerts and meet-ups. Alex Day and Dave Days (no relation), for instance, are two self-produced artists whose songs have placed in the UK Top 40 and Billboard’s Uncharted Top 10.

Funny People

As I said before, musical talent is not the only kind of talent that YouTube showcases. When comedy duo Smosh uploads a new video on their main channel, it’s only a matter of days before it counts millions of views. Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla’s channel is the most subscribed channel on YouTube with more than 9.7 million subscribers and over 2.3 billion views as of May 10th, 2013.


Smosh signing autographs for fans at VidCon

The duo has 7 channels in total, on which various types of comedy videos are posted regularly (including animated series, video game reviews, vlogs…). Ian and Anthony even post Spanish-dubbed versions of some of their videos. Today, Smosh truly is the King of YouTube comedy.

And if Smosh is the King, Jenna Marbles, whose real name is Jenna Mourey, is assuredly the Queen. Her most-watched video, ‘How To Trick People Into Thinking You’re Good Looking’, has over 51 million views, and her channel counts over 8 million subscribers. Jenna Marbles is a hilarious, creative, original and absolutely inappropriate loud-mouth, and we love her for that. Along with the other most popular YouTubers like NigaHiga, Jenna Marbles attends various conventions and YouTube meet-ups. VidCon is the world’s largest YouTube convention, launched in 2010 by Vlogbrothers John and Hank Green. The convention, held in Anaheim, CA, USA, brings dozens of YouTubers and thousands of viewers together for 3 days of real-life interaction. VidCon 2012 was attended by 7,000 people, which shows the extent to which YouTube propels aspiring entertainers to celebrity.

Jenna Marbles

Jenna Marbles’ famous “Go Away Face” – a helpful tip for girls everywhere

Comedy Vlogging you say?

Many YouTubers mix video genres. The past few years have seen the rise of comedy vlogs (or video blogs), in which YouTubers discuss… anything, really: their life, hot topics, anything and everything. Eloquent, funny, smart young people have taken to YouTube to talk about things that matter to them, and it works: hundreds of thousands of people, and often even millions, watch their videos on the regular. These bloggers have a very strong connection to their fans, with whom they communicate through social networks (Twitter and Facebook, mostly). They get to travel the world. They meet their fans. They earn money doing what they love. They are Jack and Finn Harries, Caspar Lee, Shay Carl and Katilette, Sam Pepper, Tyler Oakley, Sam Pottorff, and many more, and they are living the dream.

Beauty And Style

Michelle Phan (aka MichellePhan), Blair Fowler (aka JuicyStar07) and her sister Elle Fowler (aka AllThatGlitters21), Lindi (aka BubzBeauty), Beth (aka MacBarbie07). What do all these young ladies have in common, you ask? They are all YouTube beauty ‘gurus’. The video-sharing website is indeed also home to style and beauty bloggers. Beauty tutorials and how-to style videos are among the most watched videos on YouTube. ‘Easy 5-Minute Messy Bun Tutorial’, ‘How To Apply Liquid Eyeliner’, ‘Beachy Summer Waves Tutorial’, ‘DIY Tie-Dye Shorts’… these helpful videos, much like those of comedy bloggers and singers, amass several million views, and their authors are constantly getting requests for specific tutorials, reviews or hauls.

… ‘Haul’? It’s the term used for a video in which the vlogger presents their viewers with their latest purchases, before wearing or using them. A haul is thus different from a review in the sense that a review will explicitly expose the vlogger’s opinion on the quality of products after testing them. Reviews can stem from personal initiative or be sponsored by companies who send proficient YouTube beauty vloggers products to be reviewed, but whether they are sponsored or not, they always represent the blogger’s personal opinion.


Beauty guru Beth aka MacBarbie07 doing a fashion haul)

All it takes is a knack for beauty and style and the ability to speak clearly and interestingly to thousands of viewers through a camera to share this passion, and you can be a beauty guru.

 How It Works And How It Can Work For You

Now, you must be wondering – how do these different kinds of YouTubers earn money through their videos? Three words: YouTube Partner Program. Among other things, it allows qualified users to expand their audience and monetize content on their channel. Proficient YouTubers also earn money through their various appearances and events, merchandise sold on their websites…

Another common question would be why vloggers are so popular. The answer stands in one word: charisma. It’s not just about being nice on the eye; in fact, more often than not, it isn’t about that at all. It’s about charisma; this little thing that makes average people absolutely irresistible. It’s the way YouTube vloggers talk, the way they are, that makes millions addicted to their videos.

So how can you use this magical website to make your dreams come true, you ask? Showcase yourself and your passions; that’s all people want to see. People want to see originality, and how can you be more original than by being yourself? You can’t. People don’t want copycats, a second Justin Bieber or another Smosh. They want someone who will bring something new and fresh to their lives. EpicMealTime, a crazy cooking show, posts videos of calorie-packed recipes such as Maximum Mac & Cheese, Fast Food Sushi or the 216,960-calorie Bacon Christmas Tree with Fast Food Ornaments – I bet you’ve never seen that before! Originality. Whether your passion is cooking, music, film, fashion, comedy, or dancing, it has its place on the YouTube stage.

EpicMealTime creator Harley Morenstein and his epic Bacon Christmas Tree

EpicMealTime creator Harley Morenstein
and his epic Bacon Christmas Tree

Another important thing to remember would be not to limit yourself to YouTube; being present on various social networking websites so you can advertise your videos and connect with people is essential. Interaction is key; it’s all about communicating with the world, letting people know who you are. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should tweet hourly and Instagram a picture of your every meal, #TryingTooHard. But people should be able to communicate with you outside of YouTube. I mean, this is 2013.

Now, there is no real miracle recipe for YouTube popularity. All you need to remember is that people like to be wowed, they want to see new interesting content regularly, and they want to see what you can do. There is no need to over-promote yourself – with the right tags and keywords, YouTube will do its job and suggest your videos to viewers, and if they like them, they will be shared. That’s the beauty of the interconnection of social networks. Moreover, while many channels have become popular thanks to viral videos, others have acquired their solid fanbases through regular video uploads. So if your video doesn’t get a million views in a week, don’t sweat it – if it’s quality work, it’ll happen!

Oh, and one last piece of advice. Invest in a HD video camera – low quality is so 2008.

PS. It may appear so, but no, YouTube fame is not reserved for English-speaking YouTubers. However, seeing as English is the most widely spoken language on the planet, and even more on the worldwide web, English-speaking YouTubers tend to have more international fanbases. Some YouTubers speaking other languages are also very famous, albeit more locally. In France for instance, YouTube stars like Norman and Cyprien also count over a million subscribers and millions of views and have gone on two stand-up comedy tours across the country with other famous French YouTubers.


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