Kicking off the Saturday of VidCon London, Mark Ferris, Nikki Lilly, Mikey Pearce, and Daniel Preda discussed finding your own style on YouTube, moderated by Gleam’s Bronagh Monahan.
After introducing the guests, Bronagh went right into asking the panellists their opinions on having a channel with a specific or niche focus. Nikki Lilly started by saying: “I think it’s always good to start off with a passion, but I don’t feel like you should have to stick to one thing.
“I would never say my channel is just a makeup channel, because the whole message behind all my videos is that I’m an average teenager, but I don’t look average and I still deal with the same issues and problems that any teenager deals with.
“The whole message behind all my videos is that I’m an average teenager, but I don’t look average and I still deal with the same issues and problems that any teenager deals with.”
Nikki went on to say that this is a message that she tries to include in all of her videos, and that would therefore be the niche message of her channel.
Bronagh then brought up the mental health related videos that both Mark Ferris and Mikey Pearce have been touching on lately. “I think it definitely comes naturally to me now,” Mark began. “When I first started I was all about fun and loving life, but I think when I started opening up about certain struggles everyone has, that’s when my audience started to really connect with me.”
Mark continued: “I’m really happy with the amount I share with my viewers because when I was really struggling with my mental health a few years ago, YouTube is what made me feel as if I wasn’t alone and that’s so important to me.”
Having just made a video on Blue Monday regarding his mental health, Mikey added onto this by saying: “It was just kind of showing that everyone goes through problems, just be open about it.”
Elsewhere, Daniel Preda mentioned the issues that he tries to bring attention to through his channel and how his personal life mirrors that: “I always try to stay very honest and open with people. I think it’s really hard to stay well-liked online if you are calling things out and I think there’s a lot of – for lack of a better word – shite online. I always try to keep a very strong front about my personal life, I’ve always been a very strong-minded and strong-willed person.”
Moving on to how the panellists started their channels, Mikey looked back on his sketch-based beginnings: “I saw this sketch where James Corden was learning how to dance, and I was terrible at YouTube – like I didn’t know how to edit, I didn’t know how to film, so why don’t I play a character where I want to be a YouTuber but I’m terrible at it, and everything I did went wrong?”
In contrast to Mikey’s position, Mark discussed how he learnt the majority of his techniques from university, but didn’t use his TV and Film course as inspiration. “I just get inspired by what I see and how I’m feeling,” he said.
Previously, Daniel worked as a producer at NBC and on the YouTube Red series Escape The Night. Touching on how the social media world works in comparison, Daniel highlighted how mainstream celebrities are now using social media to promote their content.
“You can see a lot of actors making YouTube channels to promote their movies. Drew Barrymore’s doing Instagram Stories and stuff,” he said.
Talking about how that reflects on him as a creator, Daniel went into how seeing the mainstream get into YouTube affected him: “I think it gave me more of an idea that it was okay to be myself instead of a persona.”
In a conversation about endeavours outside their own channels, Nikki Lilly discussed her CBBC show My Life. As she had done an episode previously, she reflected that the big production team wasn’t too scary but as it was more personal the process felt “more raw”.
Separately, Mark talked about previously being a guest on The Secret’s Out podcast, hosted by Alfie Deyes: “I think podcasts are very different to YouTube.
“I find podcasting and YouTube quite similar. When I’m filming, I kind of forget that the camera’s there, and when I’m sat around a group of people that I’m really comfortable with, I forget the mic’s there.”
Moving onto audience questions, the panellists were asked whether they find it difficult to upload around their other commitments.
“It can be quite testing some days, when you promise your audience a video but you’re not feeling that great. I find that quite hard, because it’s like you’re not being 100% yourself,” Mark reflects.
“It’s a little weird to vlog in public,” Daniel added on. “Especially because now being a YouTuber is a career, so you pull out a camera and suddenly the whole crowd is staring at you and standing around you to see who you are.”
Finally, the panellists were asked what they were most worried about when they started YouTube. Nikki explained that her biggest worry was hate: “I think at the beginning it was the negativity, because doing YouTube everyone has probably had hate comments before.
“I think it was knowing that I’m putting myself out there for the whole world to see. Through doing YouTube, it’s helped me build my confidence. I’ve just learned that you need to love yourself and I think at the beginning I found that quite hard.”
“When you put yourself out there, you just don’t know what’s going to come back,” Mikey added. “Anything can come out of your past. I’ve not been perfect in the past – everyone made mistakes in the past.”
Photos: Emma Pamplin.