It can start with something as simple as uploading a video rant to YouTube when bored. Then, literally only a week later a person can find themselves in the middle of something bigger than they intended. That’s what happened to the Internet celebrity Jenna Marbles. She posted a video one night about something as simple as putting on makeup and by the end of that very week the number of views had reached 5,000,000. Now, the cute playful vixen finds herself uploading videos to YouTube as a full-time job, one that assuming pays quite well as the new-found star has moved into a $1,100,000 (albeit rented) mansion in Hollywood. Her video hits consistently achieve over 1,000,000 views per day and it’s reported that Jenna Marbles makes somewhere in the neighborhood of $350,000 per year solely off YouTube advertising. This is all without an expensive production crew, high-tech film editing, or a pushy director – it’s just a girl, a laptop, and a niche.
The Jenna Marbles Story
Jenna is not a career girl who threw away her professional dreams and hard earned master’s degree in Sports Psychology to take a chance on the Internet, instead she kind of lucked into fame. She worked part time jobs as a blogger, bartender, tanning salon attendant, and go-go dancer. One night while getting ready to go to her dancing gig, she decided to film the process of getting ready, aptly titled “How to Trick People into Thinking You’re Good Lucking.” In the video, Marbles showed off the syllabus that would become her calling card – self-degrading, quirky, attractive, bubbly, and weird. That first weekend video has led to a move from Cambridge out to L.A. and an inbox that receives 50,000 messages a day. Jenna has maintained what many an Internet celebrity strives for – longevity. She has even resisted turning her fame into a quick buck by turning away a number of potential endorsement deals.
The Tale of Fred
One day Lucas Cruikshank and his cousins were messing around on YouTube, trying out different characters. Lucas uploaded one of his creations named “Fred Figglehorn” and sped up the audio control to make Fred’s voice sound high pitched, almost like a chipmunk. Soon video commenters started proclaiming their love for Fred and not long after the Fred Channel became the first YouTube channel with over 1,000,000 subscribers. What followed was three Fred movies produced by major television studio Nickelodeon as well as a sit-com on the network. Cruikshank himself made appearances on iCarly and Hannah Montana and was granted a second sit-com by Nickelodeon called Marvin Marvin.
Not the Norm
Even though Lucas and Jenna made their transition from first video post to instant Internet celebrity look pretty easy, people should know this isn’t the norm. In fact there are millions of videos uploaded daily by people trying to make it big but all they really do is annoy you and draw hurtful comments on themselves. At the very most a video can be hoped to be broadcast on shows that trash the upload like Tosh.O. That being said, if Jenna Marbles or Fred Figglehorn never took the chance to upload that first video the many avenues that opened up for them afterwards would have never existed.
Whats’ the Formula?
There are some really talented individuals on YouTube who will never see an ounce of success that ‘Fred Figglehorn’ has. Some online singers, comedians, news reporters, and other YouTube broadcasters produce really good material and have high production values but for some reason they can’t seem to retain subscribers, profit off advertising, or get their big break from the mainstream level. Becoming an Internet celebrity requires luck but also a couple other factors:
- Find an Original Genre or Target a Specific Audience Base– Fred Figglehorn and Jenna Marbles seem to be especially popular among Tween girls, which is a large market thanks to the time they spend watching videos on their phones and tablets. Often times the audience base of a comedian is too wide and can’t be honed in. That being said if a comedian were to tell strictly adolescent jokes about sports he or she might develop their own market.
- Market the Heck out of Yourself – Even A-list actors will tell you that the worst part of a movie is making the rounds on late night talk shows or doing the radio circuit that is mandatory to promote a film. Even with multi-million dollar ad campaigns Hollywood makes their stars do the rounds for even more exposure. A potential Internet celebrity needs to have Google+, Facebook, and Twitter accounts as a way to draw in even more people to their sites and integrate their followers between each other. One thing Jenna Marbles excels at is interacting with her fans, often soliciting advice for upcoming videos and having a legitimate conversation with them.
In the quest to become an Internet celebrity, some people might get frustrated but they have to remember that even though the process can be simple, it does take time. They have to remember to listen to their constructive criticizing commenter (when they aren’t talking about political conspiracies) and get better with each video. Almost all stars should pay their dues, after all many celebrities are put into tap dance, singing, or acting programs by their parents when they are only a toddler and a few stints in rehab by their adolescent years.