Cyber Stars: Local Youtubers Launch Careers With The Click Of A Mouse

By Madison Rutherford; Photos By
Kimberly Carrillo

In 2005, Jawed Karim uploaded a
19-second video to YouTube in which he’s standing and speaking in
front of the elephant exhibit at the San Diego Zoo. That quick clip
of the video-sharing site’s co-founder, which has more than 60
million views, was YouTube’s first upload. The streaming platform
now hosts nearly seven billion videos, is the second largest search
engine in the world and has single-handedly turned some of its users
into overnight celebrities.

YouTube serves as the main source of
income for many of its most popular uploaders. But what about the
millions of other users who are still waiting to make it big?

Anyone can create their own YouTube
channel by signing up, choosing a screen name and uploading content,
but only a small percentage of these channels generate enough money
to make a living.

“It’s not a get-rich-quick scheme,
I can guarantee you,” says North Phoenix resident Jason Yoder, who
started his travel vlog channel, Explore with Jason, in 2018.
According to Yoder, YouTubers with millions of subscribers make big
bucks off videos produced in the comfort of their bedroom, creating
the illusion that the site awards ready money to anyone with a
computer and a camera. Making a YouTube channel is easy and
accessible, but building a following – and earning a paycheck –
can be extremely difficult.

“There’s only a minute portion of
the population that ever achieves that. You see all the social media
stars, but what you don’t see is the tens of hundreds of thousands
(that are trying to make it),” he explains.

One of the most common methods
YouTubers use to monetize their videos is through Google AdSense, but
users must have at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 yearly watch
hours to be eligible. Once they’ve crossed this threshold, they get
paid a small amount every time a viewer watches an ad that’s placed
before their video. The system is simple: more views, more money.

Anthem resident Reese Meyer has been
using AdSense to monetize her videos since last November. She started
her channel, Spellbooked, in 2015. The Boulder Creek High School
sophomore now has over 100,000 subscribers. Meyer’s channel
features edited clips from shows and movies that have huge
followings, such as Stranger Things and Harry Potter. Her unique
style, creativity and sense of humor caught on quickly in the YouTube
community. “It’s me taking things from different movies and TV
shows I like and putting my own spin on them and how I interpret
them, turning them into a kind of art form,” she says.

“Depending on how many people watch
my videos in a day, that determines how much money I’ll make that
day. I never really knew how much money you could make until I
actually started doing it,” she says. “If I ever think I’m
having a good month, I think about these really big YouTubers who
have millions and millions of subscribers and views… I don’t want
to be a YouTuber as my job forever but for a lot of people, they’re
able to make that a reality. You’re able to make a living off of
doing something at home on your computer.”(Meyer declined to
disclose her monthly income.)

Meyer says she started her channel for
fun. She didn’t even consider the financial aspect. She certainly
never expected to gain such a big following in such a short time.

“Editing was something that I did
just to entertain myself and I realized that maybe other people would
want to see that kind of stuff,” she says. “I saw that other
people were able to be successful with their channels, so I think
that’s what made me want to start my own.”

Yoder, who is a chief in the U.S. Navy
and a freelance Microsoft-certified trainer, was also driven by his
passion instead of the payout.

“I specialize in what’s called
Windows Powershell, which is an automation language. I was on the
team with Microsoft to help develop the type of training that I
give,” he explains. “We have training centers across the country
and the world. That’s what allows me to travel.”

Yoder has taught classes in Canada,
Singapore, Japan, Italy, Bahrain and across the U.S. He’s been to
16 countries and 46 of the 50 states. He says he “stumbled”
across YouTube and thought it was the best platform to blend his
hobbies of photography and travel. His channel features slice-of-life
video blogs, travel and photography tips and commentary on the food,
culture and community of each city he visits. What sets his videos
apart from other travel vloggers, he says, is his honest portrayal of
each of his trips as opposed to just posting the highlights. Above
all, though, Yoder uses his vlog as an excuse to get out of the hotel
and explore. “It’s really opening my eyes; it’s getting me out
more so I can see more,” he says.

Yoder, who just surpassed 100
subscribers, wants to continue growing his channel and eventually
start teaching travel photography workshops. The vlogger brings back
very few souvenirs from his trips, instead using his photos and
videos as mementos. “At some point, your ability to travel will go
away, but those memories, those images, will always be there,” he
says.

One of YouTube’s biggest draws,
compared to other social media sites, is its unparalleled sense of
community. The platform was built on the principles of
self-expression and inclusiveness, which have only progressed since
the site’s inception. According to the website, YouTube encourages
its users to “find communities of support, break down barriers,
transcend borders and come together around shared interests and
passions.”

“I’ve always been a big fan of
stories and the ability they have to bring people together. I can
find other people who also like them and talk to them about the
storylines and the characters and things that we all find humorous or
funny,” Meyer says. “Being able to connect other people and
personally connect to the stories and be able to go back and enjoy
these movies and TV shows has always been really special to me. It’s
an awesome way for me to make friends and find people who I have
interests in common with.”

Nearly five billion people in 91
countries use YouTube every day. The speed and level of simplicity in
which users from different countries can communicate, collaborate,
influence and inspire makes YouTube an integral tool in
globalization.

“I enjoy the fact that these people
are from all over the world. It’s not just people that I know in my
personal life,” Meyer says. “I get people who watch my videos in
Australia, Europe, Asia… English isn’t their first language but
they’re still able to watch my videos, I’m able to talk to them
and they can be directly impacted by something that I do in a
positive way.”

Though the YouTube community is largely
known for being caring and supportive, Meyer says she has encountered
some negativity.

“People don’t like what I’m
making or they think it’s stupid or they say, ‘Anybody can make
this’ or ‘I don’t understand why people think you’re so
special,’ but the nice people outweigh the negative ones,” Meyer
says. “I just have to put into perspective how many people like
what I’m doing versus those who don’t.”

Though sharing creative content on
YouTube can garner a sense of community and connection, posting
personal information online can pose a risk. Yoder says this is a
concern for him, so he takes proper precautions to ensure his safety
on and off the internet.

“If you see pictures of me somewhere
in the world, trust me, I’m not there. You do have to be careful in
this day and age,” he says. “I keep tabs on what I put out there
and there’s things in my life I will not share on YouTube because
it’s personal. I do exercise great caution. I recommend everybody
do that.”

Meyer has a personal YouTube channel on
which she posts Q&As, vlogs and life updates, but she admits she
monitors just how personal she gets online. “I try to focus more on
things I can connect with other people on that are much more broad
and general rather than things that are extremely personal to me,”
she says.

Yoder says dedication is one of the
most important parts of launching a YouTube channel. If the passion
is there, success will follow, not unlike Jawed Karim’s now-viral
video from 2005.

“Find something that you enjoy, find
your passion, find a way that you’re going to be able to make a
lifestyle that’s sustainable and start building your dreams,”
Yoder says.

© 2018 85085 Magazine. A Division of Strickbine Publishing Inc.

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