Youtube has provided a platform for thousands of people to share videos with the public and only continues to show signs of growth month over month. Mastering Youtube to get people to not only watch your videos, but to also subscribe is an art by itself. We’ve invited Youtube Partner, Jackie Chu, to share how she has grown her subscriber base to over 141,274 and accumulated a total of 12.8 million video views. She shares why its important to find a niche you enjoy that allows you to build a relationship with your viewers but also why it’s even more important to stay true to yourself and why she has turned down offers from big brands that were not aligned with her vision.
Tell us a little bit about you and your background
My name is Jackie, I’m 23, Chinese-American and I’ve lived in Southern California all my life. I got into Youtube a little more than 3 years ago, really on a whim one day when I was bored in my apartment in college with nothing to do. In my “real life” I’m an Advertising professional and work full-time at a marketing agency called TRAFFIK based in Southern California. I’m more of a technical marketer though, so I don’t do so much on the creative side like graphic design and whatnot. I’m VERY active and love working out, hot yoga and hiking! I’m also a big animal lover. I worked and volunteered at a local animal center for over 6 years. I have a love/hate relationship with New York though so I’m trying to hold off on pets for now in case I ever bite the bullet, grow some balls and move. I’m also a shameless Apple fan.
How did you get involved in Youtube and Vlogging?
I watched a few people (namely Hollyannaeree and Jina Chae) and I really, really liked them. One day I realized no one had ever talked solely about fake Asian lashes so I decided to make a video since I had recently tried a good amount and I figured that was a content void that I could kind of fill. I never thought it would be anything and so I updated really sporadically, once every few months or so. It didn’t really feel “real” until Google sent the letter asking if I wanted to be a Youtube Partner…that’s when you think hmm. This could really be something.
What are your goals for your Youtube channel?
I’m really happy with my Youtube channel and how far its come…but I guess my number 1 goal is to improve the quality of my content. I’ve always used kind of low-quality cameras and always feel rushed when I’m filming. After I move I plan to really try and have a nice filming set up and create videos that are helpful- and not just kind of indiscriminately film just so I can have something new up. I think that’s a hole people tend to fall in to- they film things that aren’t worth filming. And that’s the worst because both you and your viewers know its garbage.
Are you naturally comfortable in front of the camera? What tips do you have?
A lot of my friends who have seen my first videos comment that I was a lot more shy and unsure back then. The more you do it the easier it gets but I’m still uncomfortable speaking in a live setting which is something that I’ve tried to work on. I think just being confident helps. Really thinking about what you have to say, making sure your hair looks awesome, whatever it is you need to do to feel ready. Really whatever makes you feel like “you got this” helps. Even if it’s your favorite lipstick, some sick fake lashes or even preparing a few days before if its really content-heavy.
Where do you get your ideas for videos? What have you noticed to be the best kind?
I don’t think there’s necessarily a “best kind” for everyone. Most my video ideas come from general questions my viewers leave in the comments, that helps me understand what my viewers are looking for. But in general…if you can make videos that is relevant to the time (whether its Fall fashion or the latest Selena Gomez scandal, whatever is your niche) and if you really listen to your viewers, then it’s pretty easy to come across ideas that will probably be popular with your viewers. Finding the time is the hardest part, the time and good lighting. I feel like I’m always chasing one of the two.
Oh and also…making videos about your personal experiences. Those tend to be really popular no matter what niche you’re in. Whether you’re a beauty guru or comedy channel everyone is in the entertainment niche. People really just want to learn about YOU and like YOU, which is why your loyal viewers will literally watch any video you put up (even if its not super relevant to your channel). So if you can make it personal, real, and relatable you’ll be surprised how well people will respond to it.
It seems like even your first video was a hit with 148,152 views. How did you manage that?
Geez I had to look back because I don’t even remember my first video haha! I really don’t promote my content or do anything to encourage people to watch my videos. I think if you can fill a content void, then people will watch. At the time no one had made a video talking about fake Asian lashes vs. fake American-made lashes. I had made a lot of bad lash purchases previously so I wanted to help people who didn’t know the differences between the two and try to use my experience in a way that could be helpful to others just getting in to fake lashes. Fake lashes are big with girls- they can totally change your look! But you definitely have to buy the right kind for your face, makeup and eye structure. That’s not something you’ll learn right away.
Was there a single video that really took off and helped you gain traction or has it been an effort of all videos?
I think people really enjoyed my first “diet tips” video. It was all very common sensical stuff like smaller meals, more water, less focus on starchy carbs in your meal and more so on vegetables but it received a lot of positive feedback. That was when I kind of realized I had a strong niche and following in the health community. I do feel like that niche has become really popular lately. Or maybe that’s just because its summer….haha.
What kind of business opportunities have been presented if any?
I’ve had an opportunity to work with Skinny Cow (Nestle), Juicy Couture and Levi’s jeans which is pretty neat. Definitely not something a college-aged girl would have had the opportunity to do otherwise. My favorite was DEFINITELY Skinny Cow because I genuinely love and purchase their products. They let me incorporate their product in any way I wanted, so I chose to make a “healthy snack alternative” video that did really well. I think that’s the key to working with companies- they NEED to give you freedom to do what you want with their product or else, turn them down. You’ll hate the video, your subscribers will hate the video and their ROI will suck.
Also I’ve had a lot of major TV networks contact me asking to work on a video with them but a lot of times, I felt they didn’t “get” social media and were pretty much trying to buy a shout out. So I said thanks, but no thanks. It’s still flattering to see their email in your inbox though! Most of them ask you to talk about a new show on their network or something like that- and this is really not relevant to your channel, who you are or what your subscribers are interested in. No one wants to be “marketed” to so it’s important to turn down things that aren’t relevant (but man will they try and BRIBE you- but you must resist). Oh, and I also had a chance to attend a Shiseido event in the US and meet their marketing team- which is amazing because I’ve used Shisedo products since I was 13 or 14. That was a really humbling experience for me.
What is your long-term goal for this channel?
I think one day, Youtube will fizzle out as do all social media platforms. But I hope to build a loyal viewership and one day become a blogger in a very specific niche about things I’m really passionate about :) I do have a blog now but I probably don’t update it often enough. But I’d love to have a beautiful, modern site that I can update about fake lashes, or diet tips. Those are two things I love! Eventually becoming (solely) a blogger would allow me to still participate in the online community but in a more discrete way than Youtube. I can’t imagine myself doing on camera stuff after I’m married and have children. I think at that point in my life I’d really appreciate some privacy.
What motivates you to keep making videos?
Definitely the Youtube community. Sometimes it gets really hard to balance “real life” and Youtube but I try my best. I get messages about once every week or so from people telling me they’ve lost weight that they’ve struggled with their entire lives and my tips helped them shed 20, 30 even 70 lbs once. Those are really inspiring- to feel like I’m positively impacting people’s lives and not just doing mascara reviews or what not. Also I noticed I really do miss interacting with people in the comments if I don’t film for a while. You get to know a lot of your subscribers and its really neat to be able to meet people from all around the world. I now have friends from Australia, Shanghai, Singapore etc and from all around the US! That’s probably one of my favorite parts- meeting people! I love to meet people and I’d like to think I’m a bit of a social butterfly.
How do you handle haters and trolls in the comments?
I used to get really upset by what people said but it honestly doesn’t bother me anymore. I’ve had everything under the sun said about me and made up about me and after awhile there’s nothing that you haven’t seen or heard before. I just delete it and block them. But also I think its important to correct people if its just a misunderstanding. I think an issue a lot of Youtubers face is that they’re quick to get insulted, and likewise viewers can misinterpret things you say. It’s important to clear the air because a lot of times if you just reply nicely rather than reach for your block button you can retain your viewer and their perception of you. Firing back really doesn’t work with anyone, and you could really be attacking someone who genuinely likes you and maybe just didn’t word their comment in the best way.
Oh and also, admit when you’re wrong. One day, you’ll say something stupid or something that is clearly wrong. Just say sorry, and move on. Don’t be too defensive.
Looking back after 3 years of videos, what mistakes do you wish you never made?
Working with crappy companies. Every Youtuber has a few companies they wish they had never responded to but sometimes you got to learn the hard way. Once I let a company really dictate what I said. I fought against it at first but ended up backing down because they were a prestigious brand- but it was so scripted and inauthentic. I really regret that. It’s not worth It to make your subscribers lose their trust in you just because you want to be associated with x brand.
Also I remember working once with a company that didn’t follow through with their promises. Again this company also had a “checklist” of things they wanted from me- these are the companies to STAY away from. They don’t take you, or your judgment seriously. That company ended up backing out after I had already posted their video and had promised my subscribers a giveaway- citing it wasn’t what they wanted. It was a promotional video for the launch of their website but honestly, their site was lame and I knew it. So if you have bad feelings, don’t do it. No matter what. A better opportunity will eventually come along.
How were you able to attract 141,274 subscribers?
It was very organic. I can’t say that I’ve ever really set out to be a big Youtuber (and I still don’t think I am honestly). I think I just kind of found my niche and although my personal take on beauty and health probably isn’t the most popular, it still resonates strongly with a small group of people. And I think that’s the key to success- realizing who you appeal to and being okay that maybe not EVERYONE will love you but that some people will. If the people you want to love you love you, then you’re a success.
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