YouTube star, Arkansas native talks logistics on becoming 'famous'

Do you wish you could quit your job and make a living just by creating YouTube videos? Well, it's possible.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- You might use social media to connect with friends and family or as a way to check up on interests, but some people have turned social media into their jobs.

Recent articles show top YouTube stars make millions of dollars with their videos. Although not everyone makes it that big, there are ways to make a living out of it.

Joseph Birdsong, an Arkansas native now living in Washington DC, has been working as a YouTube star for the last decade.

“It is my main job at the moment,” said Birdsong.

For the last decade, Birdsong has done comedy blog videos where he talks about something in everyday life and puts a comedic spin on it. Now, he also records daily gaming videos.

“I’ll play a video game and I’ll have me on the screen with it and I’ll provide funny commentary.”

Birdsong now has over 100,000 subscribers and over 14 million video views. His popular videos have opened doors for new gigs all across the country.

“I've been involved in two other online web series and even moved to San Francisco for a web show as an associate producer.”

The question is: how did he get famous on YouTube and how can you get famous, too?

THV11 reached out to marketing and social media expert, Emily Dean Reeves, who said it's a mix of a couple major factors. Both Reeves and Birdsong said, primarily, you must have something unique to offer.

“There are 300 hours of YouTube videos being uploaded every minute so being lost and found are challenging things online,” said Reeves. “You have to have your own voice and own identity that's different from other people out there.”

Birdsong agreed and said the sheer number of voices online makes it harder to succeed.

“You have to have something to say that no one else has to say because there are a million different voices on the internet these days,” said Birdsong.

They both also spoke about having the right training and equipment. They said successful YouTubers know how to shoot video, edit video and can produce and write well.

“It’s almost like being a backpack journalist,” said Reeves.

Birdsong says it takes a lot of work and learning along the way. It also takes a lot of time. Just because he works from home doesn’t mean he isn’t working full time.

“It’s definitely a lot of work and I spend the better part of my day scripting videos, filming them and of course the editing process takes time too.”

Reeves said it can also cost money to make money. Having nice camera equipment, good lighting, clear sound and additional tools to make your videos look like high quality productions helps make you stand out.

But, after you do all of the groundwork, how do you make money? One way is through sponsorships.

“There are a lot of brands right now focusing on influencer marketing where they are looking for regular people on social media with massive followings,” said Reeves. “Brands will contact those influencers and offer them money for endorsements and product reviews.”

Another way to make money is through ads. According to Business Insider, a video creator can earn roughly $2,000 for every million video views. 

YouTube then takes around 45 percent of that. Reeves said that in some cases, you can earn more money if viewers watch further into the ads.

So, there you have it. Before you get excited about being the next big thing on YouTube, you have to put in the work, time and upfront costs before you could ever sustainably make a living. Yet, even with all the challenges, Birdsong encourages everyone interested to go ahead and give it a try.

“At least give it a go to see what it’s like for you. Have realistic expectations about where it can take you and know that it will take time to get there.”

He said that even if you can’t support yourself through YouTube, it's a great hobby to have and you could make some extra cash along the way. 

© 2017 KTHV-TV


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