Nova Scotia

Want a career as a full-time YouTuber or blogger? Here's how

Given the often tough job market for recent grads in Canada, many might be tempted to spend their days on YouTube. For some, that'll become a full-time job.

'I've never really applied for my first big-person job,' says Savannah Jones, aka Savannahandstuff

Savannah Jones offers boredom-busting tips in a recent video. (Courtesy Savannahandstuff)

Given the often tough job market for recent grads in Canada, many career-seekers might be tempted to spend their days on YouTube.

And for some, that'll become a full-time job.

Savannah Jones just graduated with a psychology degree from St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S., but she has no plans to seek a regular job. She started her YouTube channel Savannahandstuff while she was a student in January 2013.

She now has more than 100,000 subscribers and eight million views. This one on acne has more than 750,000 views.

"I've never really applied for my first big-person job," she says. "I always wanted to grow my channel enough where I would be able to do it full time when I was done university." 

Her channel targets young people and offers items about makeup, beauty, fashion, DIY and a few other things.

"For pretty much all of my YouTube career, I was in school," says Jones. "Now that I'm done school, I do YouTube full time. I definitely see YouTube as something that I can build and build."

She writes, shoots and edits each video, and also appears in them all. One video can take from five to 12 hours to produce.

"It completely depends what realm of YouTube you're in. I do a lot of DIY videos, which really require heavy editing for the type of demographic I'm going for," she explains.

If you're aiming at an older group, simpler videos might do the job and take less time.

Jones says most professional YouTubers earn money from the ads that run before videos and through sponsors whose products appear in the videos. She declined to say how much she makes.

More views, more money

"It's an extremely low amount of money per view on that ad, but it really adds up when you get hundreds of thousands to millions of views every month," she says.

If you want a regular cheque going into your bank account, this is not the job for you. 

"One of the main reasons I love YouTube is because it's all in my control. I can work when I want to, I get to create my own schedule, I can create videos about virtually anything."

She can also work from anywhere — which means Halifax at the moment, but she may eventually move to a bigger city that has more YouTubers. That helps with collaborators, networks and bigger opportunities. All that builds your subscriber base. 

YouTube declined to be interviewed for this article, or to provide any information on how many Canadians run full-time YouTube channels. 

Jones says the hardest part is building your audience. "I've been at this for two and a half years and I have 100,000 subscribers, but I know people who have been at it longer than me but haven't reached that."

Her advice to those who wish to follow her is simple.

"You need to find your own channel. If you're a travel blogger, what is the way you are authentically talking about your experiences? It really should be your own signature look and content."

Connecting business and bloggers

Tara Wickwire, a Halifax-based director of National Public Relations, helps corporations find ways to work with "digital influencers" like Jones. Basically, she convinces them to divert money from traditional media into digital media.

"Blogger engagement is very high on our radar here at National," she says.

Wickwire recently organized a gathering with the blogging network East Coast Mom Media looking at how bloggers and businesses can connect. 

"We had the opportunity to sit down and chat and hear from them what they are looking for in terms of content and how we can support them with our clients," she says. 

She offered her tips for making it.

What works

  • Knowing your audience and what they want to learn about.
  • Using quality photos and videos to show your story.
  • Designing your platform so it reflects the content.
  • Keeping it authentically your voice.
  • Connecting to traditional media for wider exposure.
  • Connecting with brands you already love.

What fails

  • Trying to be everything to everyone. Wickwire says unselective product support can kill off a hard-earned audience.
  • Forcing in products or content that barely relate to what you're talking about.
  • Letting your aging digital presence gather a Geocities vibe of outdatedness.

"The most successful people are the ones who integrate brand content with content that's authentic to their own platform," Wickwire says.

Good bloggers and YouTubers "don't want just straight product placement, they want to weave in the brand message with the content; that is what their readers are interested in reading on their platform."