Young content creators sharing their worlds, leading the YouTube phenomenon
Young content creators sharing their worlds, leading the YouTube phenomenon
  • Lee Young-in, Wee So-yeon
  • 승인 2018.09.17 20:33
  • 수정 2019.10.01 12:48
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Photo provided by Natalie Collins.

YouTube is the world’s most-used video sharing platform these days. Among the wide range of people joining the platform, YouTubers in their 20s are especially prolific.

Balancing life as a student vlogger

Among the young people who are sharing their own videos online, many university students are juggling their studies with running their own YouTube channels. With her channel named “Bubbly,” Ko Yoon-ji, a junior at Ewha Womans University has attracted more than 10,000 subscribers in just eight months since she started posting. Her vlogs are about her daily and school life, covering topics such as studying for exams, applying to become an exchange student and showing her dormitory life. These videos are loved by many viewers and have attracted comments from teenagers saying that they have been motivated to study at Ewha.

Although she is balancing her time well between studying for her business administration major and being a student-YouTuber, she shared that not everything was easy starting out.

“I taught myself how to use the editing program by trying every function available,” Ko shared. “I also had to respond to many business enquiries and write contracts with companies such as Hackers TOEIC all by myself. Since I had no experience like this before, it really was a complex and difficult process. So, I had to ask to people near me and study for myself to get used to such work.”

Ko believes that her vlogging experience will be a great help in achieving her ultimate goal of opening her own company. She said that running a YouTube channel is similar to running a company in the sense that her channel is providing a service to the customers in the form of videos. Though she is not planning to be a full-time YouTuber, she hopes to continue her channel for as long as possible. The student-YouTuber also commented on the increasing popularity of the format.

“Although it has not been long since I started my channel, I do feel like there are more and more content creators on the platform running their own channels,” she said. “Video is such a strong medium to communicate and the platform having a low barrier of entry seems to be the main contributor to the current trend. Before, people had to purchase expensive cameras and professional editing programs to make a video. Now, the price of cameras is lower and there are editing programs that everyone can easily learn to use.”

This is a trend that is being seen around the world, with many British students also creating their own contents. Jay Fiaes, a 23-year-old studentYouTuber based in London, creates diverse contents including vlogs on travel, fashion and beauty. After starting in 2016, she has built her “Eataliens” channel to have more than 4,000 subscribers. To her, YouTube has been a great way to genuinely express herself and communicate her perspective with others. However, she has faced some difficulties along the way.

“I definitely can say that it is quite stressful having to balance YouTube, work, life and school all at the same time,” Fiaes said. “It really is a difficult work and requires me to spend all of the weekends working. However, it is totally worth it since I can interact with my viewers, which makes the stress of each day seem small.”

She also shared her challenges in reaching out to people to get them to view her videos. “I always believed, and I still do, that my channel has a lot of potential and I want to create something amazing with it,” she said. “Even so, it is hard to succeed as a YouTuber with a number of people on the platform. I am pleased that I did not stop and kept going on with my work on YouTube.”

While YouTube gives everyone the chance to speak up, Fiaes also observed that sometimes such power is misused. With YouTubers being so influential, especially on young people, she expressed her concern that a platform should not be given to YouTubers creating inappropriate or discriminative content. On the contrary, she hopes to become a fulltime YouTuber, delivering positive messages to her viewers.

YouTube as a career tool

Young people are actively using YouTube as a tool to achieve their offline goals. Natalie Collins, a 22-year-old British YouTuber who has more than 2,000 subscribers, has been running her own channel, mostly about beauty and fashion, since 2015, when she was a university student. Having undergone the difficulties in balancing the two roles, she shared that she could not regularly upload videos on her channel when in college since she had no time and no space, living with her housemates. However, she also mentioned that there are many benefits to starting a YouTube career.

“YouTube can be a great tool to get a job,” Collins said. “A job as a YouTuber is also possible, but the YouTube channel itself can work as your CV. Regardless of the field that you want to work in, anything you have done for your career can be recorded on the channel and be a proof of those activities.”

As a small creator on the platform without any sponsors, Collins also expressed concern about the platform discouraging such users’ active participation.

“In order for YouTube to retain its influence, the platform will have to work more fairly for the creators using the website,” she suggested. “For those who just started out, mostly those who do not have any sponsorship, have less chance to be introduced to the viewers and their videos get lost easily. So, the company should give them more opportunities by letting them be on the recommended video lists or people’s feeds.”

There are also many young people in Korea who are actively creating content to benefit their careers. One such channel is Solfa, a YouTube channel run by Yoon Seong-weon who just graduated from Yonsei University. He first started his channel in 2015 to make extra money to use while he was an exchange student in Japan. However, the channel’s success surpassed his expectations – ending up to attract more than one million subscribers – and he continues to run the channel today. The main purpose of his YouTube work is to become a video director.

“Solfa is a tool for me to achieve my further goals,” Yoon said. “To become a director, the process is really difficult and takes a really long time. However, by uploading videos on my channel, I thought that I might be able to become a director in an easier way.”

He shared that he always wanted to create something new, something that does not exist in the platform. He has tried to create new and never-seenbefore contents to form new trends. This includes videos about breaking down the prejudice toward certain groups of people, providing English subtitles so that foreign viewers can watch and understand his videos. He also mentioned that he focuses more on video composition, trying different ways of filming and editing since the style of the video matters a lot to him.

“YouTube is great in the sense that I can find people who are willing to watch my videos, which may not always follow mainstream trends. They may be quite unique and represent what I want to deliver.”

There are also people in their 20s who have already achieved great success by using YouTube as a tool. Jung Sung-ha, one of the very early content creators on YouTube, started uploading his music cover videos in 2006 when he was a teenager. He now has more than five million subscribers.

“It was when YouTube just began getting attention from people,” Jung said. “I made my account to upload guitar cover videos and to share them with many people around the world. The videos were well received, and I was able to share my music and introduce myself to the audience. Through my YouTube channel, I was able to get a chance to meet the musicians of the songs I had covered and started being invited to many performances.” 

Recently releasing his eighth album, he is now working as a fulltime guitarist. For him, YouTube was the tool that led him to become a great artist who now has his own world tour. Motivated by the success of Jung, there are more people sharing their works on YouTube to introduce themselves to the audience. 

After meeting some of the people behind the online video platform trend, and exploring how young people are using it as their creative outlet, the next issue will focus more on YouTubers using the platform to break down physical and social barriers.

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