In just 10 years, YouTube has gone from a start-up idea by three former PayPal employees to a video-sharing behemoth where more than 300 hours of video are uploaded every minute of every day.
It’s a phenomenal success story and one that has spawned mini-industries in homes all over the world as popular “YouTubers” forge successful careers making videos watched by millions around the world.
Based in Athlone in Westmeath, Seán McLoughlin, 25, is Ireland’s most successful YouTuber. He runs the gaming channel JackSepticEye which, this week, topped one billion total views. More than 3.2m people from all over the world subscribe to his channel, with his videos routinely getting millions of hits.
Speaking at the YouTube Irish Creators Day, run by Google Ireland, the gamer said he had no great business plan in mind before he uploaded his first video onto YouTube.
“I make gaming videos. I play the games and then record my face so you can see me and my reactions in the corner of the video. Really, I just got into it because I like games and I wanted to feel like I was being a bit more productive with my time than just sitting around playing them.
“I wanted to learn about editing and making videos so they just went together. I didn’t think it would end up being my job,” he said.
However, it has become just that and one which Seán acknowledges is the “best paying job I’ve ever had”.
A look at the timeline of his channel shows just how rapid his success has been — going from just over 2,500 subscribers in September 2013 to more than 3.2m as of yesterday.
“I suppose January of last year was the real turning-point. The channel started getting a lot of views and the channel really started to grow. It was really then that I started to see ‘Wow, I could make a living out of this’.”
By his own admission, his videos are an “assault on the senses” that people “either love or hate”. Most importantly, they require a huge amount of time, dedication and plain old graft.
“I guess the thing most people don’t realise is that it’s hard work. I work 12-hour days. I put up two videos a day at the same time every day, so that’s 14 a week. A lot goes into that — like editing and rendering. Then I spend three to four hours a day replying to comments and tweets.”
As for making videos that have been viewed by the equivalent of one sixth of the population, Seán simply tries “not to think about it”.
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