Arlene Harris meets three teenage influencers who are making their mark on the world.
MAKING a living by simply talking about yourself or documenting your daily wardrobe would have seemed like a ridiculous concept when I was growing up, but these days the world and its mother are making (or attempting to make) a small fortune by doing just that.
Among the first to make their fame (and a lot of money) in this fashion, British vloggers (video bloggers) like Zoella and her partner Alfie Deyes have tens of millions of subscribers between them. But while still only in their 20s, this pair are old in comparison to the new wave of internet ‘influencers’ who are leading the way with daily updates on their wardrobes, likes and dislikes or simply their view of the world.
And it’s a lucrative business. One young YouTube sensation in America reportedly makes up to €20 million per year simply reviewing toys online — with 18.5m subscribers, toy manufacturers have realised how important a good endorsement from this seven-year-old really is.
There are many others like him across the US and Europe where a following of 50,000 or more is licence to start making money.
But it isn’t always about filling up their piggy banks as the lure of simply being famous is what drives much of the young generation these days.
We caught up with three young Irish influencers to find out what they are doing, how they are getting their views across and why they spend their time trying to influence others.
Just 14 years old, Allie Sherlock has a huge fan base.
The teenager, who last year appeared on the The Ellen Show in the US, lives with her father in Douglas, Co Cork, uses YouTube to showcase her musical talents to more than 1.5m followers. On Instagram, she has 550,000 fans and on Facebook 250,000 followers.
“I make sure to upload something to each platform I am on every single day,” she says.
“This usually takes me about an hour and I really enjoy doing it. I put up videos of my performances and also write about what is going on in my life — personal experiences which I think other people will find interesting.
“The feedback I get is mostly good — obviously there are some bad comments, mainly on YouTube, but thankfully these have now been stopped because of my age — as it’s no longer possible to comment on posts made by people under 16.
“I great really positive comments on both Facebook and Instagram and I think it’s because I am just being myself — whether it is playing music or talking about stuff which happened in my life.
“My followers vary in age from mid-teens all the way up to 30 and I think I have an influence on people and can help them feel more confident about themselves as they often ask me how to get confidence and I try to always be positive and give a good response to them.
“I really enjoy being an influencer and particularly love uploading my music videos because being a singer/musician is what I want to do in my life.
Living in Wicklow with his parents and sister, Sean Treacy’s passion in life is film-making. He uses YouTube to showcase his work to 23,000 followers.
The 14 year old, also inspires his 11,500 fan base on Instagram and Twitter with snippets of information about his recent videos and stories about his day-to-day life.
“I am primarily known for uploading films about events in my life to my YouTube channel, Stellar. I also upload short films to my second channel, ‘Sean Treacy’, where I get to gain experience in filmmaking as I wish to be a director when I’m older.
“On this channel, I have 3,700 subscribers who are mainly sourced by my main channel. I also use Instagram and Twitter — which are both linked to my YouTube channel.I like to use these platforms to promote videos on my main channel, but also to share some insight into my daily life and share stories.
“I make videos about special stories which I feel are worth sharing. For example, I recently made a video about coming first in an Irish film festival and prior to that, I made a video dedicated to my dad. No matter how personal or comedic the videos, I always try and leave some message for the viewer which they can potentially benefit from — as otherwise I see my videos as a waste of other people’s time.
“The feedback on YouTube has been mostly positive — some say I’m talented, others simply say it was a good video. The most meaningful feedback is when somebody says the video has helped them in some way — and it’s really great as a creator to know that you are potentially helping people.
“Obviously, every once in a while, there are some comments which can be put in the category of ‘hate’, but you simply just have to focus on the good side of things. It was difficult at first to differentiate ‘hate’ from ‘constructive criticism’, but you begin to see the difference over time.
“I upload every Saturday, but when things get busy with school, I have to postpone it. I spend a lot of time editing (four to five hours per video) and filming — and it may not be the stories which attract viewers, but sometimes the way in which I tell them.
“Some of the benefits of an online following include having a voice, having the opportunity to help people and also having the chance to make a name for yourself. I can now promote things which matter most to me as there are people who actually care about what I have to say.
“The thing with being an influencer is that your followers are literally the people who allow you to do what you do. Without them, you would be at square one. So it’s very important to consistently be in contact with them and show your appreciation for every individual supporter.
Cal O’Driscoll is 16 years old and lives in Dublin with his parents and three brothers. He also enjoys making films which he uploads for his 40,000+ subscribers on YouTube and his 10,000 followers on Instagram.
“On my YouTube I post vlogs and skits on a regular basis. The vlogs document my life and the stuff I get up to, while the skits would typically be a funny, relatable video about a current topic or even just a crazy idea I have. And I have another channel on YouTube where I post short films. I send these to the Fresh Film Festival every year which is amazing if you’re looking for feedback and to meet other teenagers who create content.
“I also make videos with a group of friends completely through YouTube, so it’s great being surrounded by people with a similar mindset who are always excited to make a video.
“The feedback from followers is incredible and I have the best fans in the world. They support and encourage me in everything I do by leaving messages and comments.
“My demographic of viewers is mainly Irish (of no specific age group) and they are so supportive of another Irish person making videos. I try to post as often as possible. As well as YouTube I keep everyone updated on my Instagram and Twitter — but consistency can be difficult as a teenager as there is always something else going on.
“I don’t look at making videos as being like work — it’s more something I do for fun even though there are a lot of steps involved in creating a video and it’s not as easy as just going out and recording.
“My videos have a specific way of storytelling and I have to write out the general idea first so when I go out and film I have an idea of what direction the video is going — then I can improvise the rest.
“I think being an influencer is the way forward to making a name for yourself as nowadays everyone is on the internet and social media.
“Pretty much anyone can be an influencer — which can be a good and bad thing at the same time. There are lots of responsibilities that go along with influencing a group of people who follow you and it can be quite daunting. But I do think social media is the way forward if you want to build an audience or advertise something.