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Meet The YouTuber Who Made Lockdown Work For Her

May 19, 2020

Like millions of Britons, Jessica Kellgren-Fozard is at home. Unlike other workers, however, the impact of the coronavirus lockdown on her day job has been minimal. That’s because her home in Brighton with her wife and two dogs was already her office and her career is making YouTube vlogs for her 686,000 subscribers.

The deaf influencer, who posts upbeat videos about disability, LGBTQ+ issues, vintage fashion and other subjects, started her channel three-and-a-half years ago after she left a job as a presenter for a local TV station. Because she suffers from nerve disorder HNPP (hereditary neuropathy with pressure palsies), which results in extreme palsy in her arms and weak limbs, as well as a rare autoimmune disease called MCTD (mixed connective tissue disease), she was often unable to meet the demands of the job, and there were days when she couldn’t leave her bed.

“I really needed a more flexible way of working,” the 31-year-old says. “Trying to fit around someone else’s schedule was driving me into the ground and making me really unwell. So when I got married, my lovely wife said: ‘Why don’t you give YouTube a go? For six months I will financially support you – just have a go.’”

Success wasn’t instant. Like all YouTubers, she had to apply to the site’s partner programme to make money from adverts running on her videos. To achieve partner status, your channel needs 1,000 subscribers, and for people to have watched 4,000 hours’ worth of your videos a month. Kellgren-Fozard says she earned just £200 a month at the beginning. It wasn’t until one of her videos went viral and her subscribers swelled to more than 200,000 that she saw her business take off. Now she’s earning a five-figure salary and is the main breadwinner of the family.

As well as ad revenue, she makes money from partnering with brands to promote their products or services in her videos, and from members who pay a fee for access to exclusive content and privileges.

If you are at home now, watching viral cat videos or PE with Joe Wicks, and think you could do better, then join the two-metre spaced queue. As the number of people working from home and self-isolating increased, so did the number of people considering vlogging for the first time.

According to Google Trends, YouTube searches for “how to start a YouTube channel” increased by 230% between 14 March and 4 May, while searches for “how to edit videos” increased by 225% over the same period.

Research conducted by SEO agency Blueclaw claims that even filming mundane activities has the potential to make money. It looked at the most searched-for videos on YouTube and calculated how much the creator whose channel has been monetised stood to make.

For example, a video of someone shopping online could make them £1,523 if it is watched 1,160,988 times. Needless to say, that’s a lot of viewers, and some videos on YouTube struggle to get even hundreds of views.

Jennifer Quigley-Jones, founder of YouTube influencer agency Digital Voices, says it is about finding a new twist on a popular topic, for example, beauty looks inspired by specific music videos or films. Or food challenges, such as feeding a family for £5. With home schooling now widespread, explainer videos in education are also flying at the moment, she adds.

But while Kellgren-Fozard says the startup costs are minimal – initial videos can be shot on a laptop or smartphone camera and edited on free apps such as Apple’s iMovie – launching a successful channel requires a big time commitment. To launch her usual two videos a week, she works 60 hours coming up with new ideas, filming, editing and managing her social media.

The most important consideration, she says, is choosing the right content for your videos.

“For some it is working out what niche works best, whether you really enjoy making videos that are incredibly fast-paced and funny and chunkily cut together, messy and fun, or whether you want to make the long-form, slower pieces which people will have on when maybe doing the dishes or chopping food ready for dinner,” she says.

As Kellgren-Fozard found, getting enough subscribers to make your videos profitable is the real challenge. People subscribe usually once they trust your channel. If you are lucky enough to have a video go viral, that’s great, but unless you can convince people that you are more than just a one-trick pony and give them a reason to come back, you are not going to grow.

The key, Quigley-Jones says, is building up a bank of videos that shows what you specialise in, what type of content you consistently create and what your channel is about. Consistency is also vital – launch the same number of videos at the same time each week. Making longer videos, naming them in intriguing ways and tapping into trending topics as much as possible can also get your channel noticed in a sea of vlogs.

One of the biggest things that stops people starting their own YouTube channel is the idea that they have to be perfect, she adds.

“We are all perfectionists and deeply self-critical and anxious, but YouTube is not like TV. It’s not embarrassing to make mistakes,” she says. “So try to stop your perfectionist side. A lot of people stop themselves making videos because of that fear, especially women who are quite disheartened by criticism and nervous about how they might be perceived. So try to silence your inner critic and get something out there.”

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