The photo above is a snapshot of the first Youtube video created, featuring one of its founders, called “Me at the Zoo.”

By Osaretin Iyare
Special to the AFRO

Move over Hollywood, there is another path to celebrity status. In the past, the highly competitive space of television and movies was the quickest way to the hearts and minds of the public, until technology disrupted everything.

Social media carries incredible power to transform the average person into an influential individual; change their financial status; provide a pool of adoring fans through exposure to a global audience; cut across age and social status groups; create a niche; and reach previously underserved markets.

Content creation has only existed as a career for less than 15 years, but over time, it has rapidly exploded in leaps and bounds as access to broadband internet and mobile devices has continued to grow. As a result, the space has attracted many people motivated by several factors to take a shot at success.

Being a YouTuber has become a viable opportunity for expression. Many of those who owe their start to the YouTube platform have pivoted into other careers such as music and movies Logan Paul for example has found another career in boxing, with the star considering a fight with legendary boxer Mike Tyson.

YouTube, created by former PayPal employees, Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jared Karim, is owned by Google, following a $1.65 billion acquisition in 2006. The social media site is the world’s top video sharing platform and the second-largest search engine with its content available in at least 80 languages, present in more than 100 countries and over 2 billion users across the globe.

With an estimated 500 hours of video content uploaded to YouTube every minute, it is the most popular long-form video sharing platform on the internet. Since the first video featuring one of its founders, “Me at the Zoo” YouTube is now the springboard for the next generation of celebrities, personalities, and big stars.

Professional YouTubers such as “PewDiePie,” “Markiplier,” and “Blippi” earn a living through their accounts, with creators receiving from YouTube varying amounts from a couple of dollars to hundreds. Beyond money from AdSense, successful YouTubers have built-in other income streams from brand partnerships to merchandising and much more. 

With the platform open to all comers and subject areas from comedy, gaming, fashion, and dating, these stars, armed mainly with a video camera and internet connection, have “racked up millions of subscribers” and built seemingly personal relationships with their followers.

New and emerging vloggers are continuing to break through with creators putting out original content and growing their fan base steadily. JBV Creative was listed amongst others in YouTube’s creators to watch of October 2021.

Jay, a 31-year-old, says he got on the platform in June 2020 during the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Canadian makes engineering art pieces and shares them with the world, inspiring his followers to create interesting DIY stuff.

Martin Solhaugen, another content creator, is a 27-year-old Norwegian travel vlogger, joined YouTube while in college to share his life in Hawaii primarily with his family and watched his friends attract brands and use the proceeds to pay tuition. Today he travels the world sharing his experience and encouraging people to see the world through his platform.

Children are also creators on the platform; 7-year-old Diana and 8-year-old Boram are stars in their own rights, having built their platforms through creating content aimed at children. In fact, kids seem to have a more considerable following than their adult counterparts raking in subscribers and finance. Notable names in the sphere include Ryan Kaji, Like Nastya, and Vlad and Niki.  

These new generation creators enjoy the process of putting out content. “If you created it and no one watched it, there is no point in doing it,” says Jay, while Martin opines “that the journey is your destination.

Are there challenges in their career path? Yes. Martin says scaling to the next level is the biggest challenge, stressing the importance of consistency. Another issue is burnout. Jay counsels YouTubers to strive to maintain a balance and keep their mental health in check.

As competition by other technology companies for a slice of the video sharing market hots up, these creators believe YouTube would continue to be a leader and remain relevant, successfully fending off the onslaught of Instagram and Tiktok. We therefore expect to see more emerging creators with unique content sharing their lives with the world.

The writer is a graduate student in the Morgan State University School of Global Journalism and Communication. 

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