The Women on YouTube Panel took place on Sunday on the Main Stage at Summer in the City 2017. The panel was chaired by Lucy Moon and featured Hannah Witton, Rowan Ellis, Jana Damanhouri, Jamie Jo, and Imani Shola.
The panellists talked about how being a woman influenced their YouTube channel, how being a woman affects working with brands, what expectations they feel are placed on them, and the importance of good management.
Lucy did not manage to arrive until later in the panel (she was stuck in traffic!) so Jana got the conversation going by asking the panellists how being women had influenced their channel. Hannah started by saying that it had a very strong influence since, having a cis female body, she talks about periods, hormones, and boobs. She went on to mention that although most of her audience is female, she notices men thanking her for the explanations in the comments. Rowan added that, as a queer woman, a lot of her channel specifically analyses the nuances specific to queer identities.
Jamie Jo said that being a woman means that people are very fixated on appearance. However, she told the audience that the treatment is much worse when it comes from brands. “They address you differently when you are a woman,” she said, specifically mentioning a brand calling her the C-word after she refused to work with them. Rowan talked about similar experiences, and mentioned a situation where she and a male YouTuber were approached by the same brand, but the male YouTuber was offered a higher amount of money from the outset. “Do they not think we talk to each other?!” she said, expressing her frustration.
Lucy then arrived, and she took over the questions by asking if management had made a difference to some of the problems that the panellists faced, particularly in regards to working with brands. She started with her own experience, sharing that before she had management she undersold herself and she still was haggled down; now that she has a manager, she gets a lot more. Jamie Jo shared a story where she ended up paying a brand in order to work with them. Imani said that it is hard to say no to brands by yourself. “You need to learn that your product has value,” she added.
Jana said that she found that, without a manager, she was often told she was being difficult. Rowan talked about how, in general, women need to work twice as hard to get the same respect and professional treatment as men. Jamie Jo concluded by advising about the dangers of bad management, having been with several management companies. “Don’t sign your channel away,” she warned, and she went on to talk about how one company took 60% of her earnings, and another took 90%. She ended by giving the tip that if you have over 10,000 subscribers, you can also get a manager from the YouTube Space.
Lucy went on to ask what expectations the panel felt were placed on their channels. Hannah started by stating that “Sex Ed puts you in a box” since there are no cis straight men tackling this topic. She also talked about feeling an expectation to talk about personal things. Imani agreed, adding she felt that there was a pressure to talk about relationships and dating life. Jana also added that despite most of her comments being positive and constructive, “there will always be one comment about my eyeliner”.
The moderator then turned to take questions from the audience. One of the audience members asked how to know what you are worth and whether you are underselling yourself. Hannah started by saying that the best thing is to talk with other people who are in the industry. Failing that, there are consultants who can advise you. Rowan said that there are ways of calculating by taking into account the time taken for labour, size of audience, and other analytics. She insisted “big brands have a lot of money, [so you should] charge for everything”. Jamie Jo said that she had sometimes done some unpaid collaborations for the sake of the experience, such as a great trip. “Follow your gut,” Imani said. “Trust yourself.”
Photos by Anna Holling.
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