We managed to catch Saffron Barker on the final day of the first-ever VidCon London to talk about her weekend, burnout and handling controversies.
TenEighty: Thanks for sitting down with us! How are you finding VidCon London so far?
Saffron: I absolutely love it! I didn’t know what to expect but it’s been amazing, I’ve met so many people. I’ve also done panels which I was really nervous to do as I’ve never really done anything like that before, but it’s been really interesting and fun.
TenEighty: How’s it been meeting your fans?
Saffron: It’s literally my favourite thing ever! When you see a number on a screen, and I’ve hit another however many subscribers it’s amazing, but until you actually see those people and see those numbers in real life, that’s a whole different thing.
TenEighty: Doesn’t it get overwhelming, having so many people constantly coming up to you?
Saffron: Definitely – I don’t think it will ever be normal. I know for a lot of people, it becomes sort of normal but for me, I think it’s always going to be overwhelming.
TenEighty: You hit 1 million subscribers last July, but despite being at that tier for a little while now, you’re still not used to the level of attention?
Saffron: Honestly, it’s still crazy!
TenEighty: You mentioned this was your first time doing panels – how’s your experience been?
Saffron: Nerve-wracking but I was really lucky. I did three on Saturday and the first two were with my friends that I’m really close with, and I feel it’s all made me more confident.
TenEighty: What exactly makes you feel the most nervous about doing panels?
Saffron: I just feel like I’m going to say something wrong! I don’t know! I just feel like everyone comes up with these amazing answers and I’m just like “ahhh I don’t really know what I’m going to answer for this question?” And also I find it hard when they ask the question in a difficult way and I’m like “Can you just break that down for me? A step by step process would be nice!”
TenEighty: If you don’t mind me asking your age – you’re 18 now, right? How is it to be so young and having a career online?
Saffron: I think it’s changed a lot since I’ve been 18 as before there were places I couldn’t go for my job like events and stuff that I couldn’t attend because of my age.
Also, maybe I got looked down on a little bit. As I started when I was 15, in some cases some people would be like “oh my goodness you’re only however old”, whereas with some people as soon as they knew my age they were like “ok I’m not really going to talk to you any more”.
TenEighty: Do you feel there’s was a double whammy against you with being young and a woman online, with people looking down on you?
Saffron: I don’t actually think so too much. I was saying in a panel yesterday that the one thing I don’t like is people always just assume when you’re a girl on YouTube that you’re just going to be doing makeup and you’re just a beauty influencer. As much as I love makeup, that isn’t just what I do.
TenEighty: How do you feel you’re challenging that and breaking out of those restrictions?
Saffron: I think more and more people are just doing everything they feel like. I’ve always just done vlogging with my family, that’s just what I enjoy doing. I’m not a makeup artist so I’m not going to sit there and always talk about makeup.
TenEighty: Your family’s often getting involved with your videos – have they always been so supportive?
Saffron: They’ve always been really really supportive! When I started vlogging we were away on holiday and I was with my family so, bless their hearts, they were just kind of dragged into it, they didn’t have an option!
When I said I wanted to start YouTube they were the ones who were pushing me like “if you want to do it, do it – do what makes you happy”. Before, as much as they wanted me to do it, they didn’t want to be in the videos. They just kind of got in them when they had to. But now they’re such a big part of it because that’s what my audience wants to see as well.
TenEighty: Do your family members get recognised?
Saffron: All the time! And it’s weirder when I’m not there. They get recognised when I’m with them but also if my mum and dad just go out and about. They will literally get mobbed.
TenEighty: *is amazed*
Saffron: Seriously! My younger brother and his friends find it [to be] the weirdest thing. He’s not really on YouTube that much and he’s only in a few of my videos but his friends find it really bizarre because they’re out with him and he’s getting stopped all the time.
TenEighty: As vlogging is such a big part of your life, do you get worried about oversharing online?
Saffron: I never want to regret anything that I’ve done but I do look back and think I did share a lot of my life. When I first started vlogging, I was doing it more and more, and then I became a daily vlogger. As soon as I gave myself that title, there was like 10 times more pressure to do it every day. I was vlogging not only when I was happy and feeling great but also when I was feeling down and upset, which was quite nice as people could relate to it, but I was sharing so much and I do look back and I’m like “maybe I did share a little bit too much.”
But I also don’t regret it because that’s kind of got me to where I am and my viewers like seeing that side of me as well, rather than just the filtered version of myself. I share less of my life now because I do a lot more main channel content and that’s just what I really enjoy.
TenEighty: What was it like to make the decision to stop daily vlogging?
Saffron: It happened quite gradually. It got to the stage where I was making nine, ten videos a week and editing and doing everything myself. If I was half an hour late uploading a video my viewers would go crazy, like “where is it?! It should be there! You call yourself a daily vlogger?”
I think I just stopped titling myself as a daily vlogger. I still vlog a lot but not every single day.
TenEighty: Burnout is a big topic in the YouTube community – what’s been your experience? Did you feel you were burning out as a daily vlogger?
Saffron: I feel like that’s kind of the stage I was getting to. I don’t think I completely hit that stage, but I feel like I was nearly there and I was having a conversation with my mum. She also saw it and she was the one telling me “I think you need to take some time out”.
TenEighty: Mum always knows best!
Saffron: They always do!
TenEighty: So we see you’ve been training to run the London Marathon for Dementia Revolution – how’s the training going?
Saffron: It’s been going amazing actually – well, for me! I could not express how bad of a runner I was, I’ve never wanted to do the runathon. Runathon?
Doing the marathon has never been on my bucket list because I hate running and everything about it. I got asked by Dementia Revolution to run for them and at first, I went back and said to my manager “I can’t do it”.
I literally cannot run a mile without crying – it’s that painful! Honestly me and my mum would go running together to try and get fit. We’d try running a mile and she’d be screaming, we’d get into arguments, it was awful!
Anyway, I thought about it and I thought it was such an amazing cause that I should really do it for them and if I set my mind to it, I must be able to do it. I was also very lucky because my personal trainer is there helping me and pushing me. I think two weeks ago I ran 15 miles which was the most I’ve ran and you’re supposed to get up to 17/18. I think I’m getting to 22 as I want it to be not as hard on the day. But I’m still slow!
TenEighty: You’ve been involved in recent controversies due to things you’ve done or said which have been picked up in the wider YouTube community and tabloid papers. How do you react to that professionally and personally?
Saffron: I think if anyone ever says anything about me, I’ve just kind of learnt to ignore it now. I think ignoring’s the best thing, no matter what it is; if it’s a hate comment or anything.
TenEighty: Do you have any advice for any upcoming YouTubers?
Saffron: My advice would be to be yourself because there’s already Joe Bloggs out there, so don’t try and be anyone else. Also, a great way to grow on YouTube is consistency and I feel like that’s really the key. Once you stop uploading people will find someone else to watch and there’s so many people are doing YouTube now.
I’ve done that myself. I’ve been obsessed with someone’s channel and then they take a month’s break so I’ve just found someone else to watch. That’s just the sad reality of it.
TenEighty: Tea or coffee?
Saffron: Neither! I hate them both. Uhh, hot chocolate!
TenEighty: Cats or dogs?
TenEighty: Would you rather haver your nails or your brows on point?
TenEighty: What colour would you dye your hair?
Saffron: Baby blue.
TenEighty: Top three beauty products?
Saffron: Lip gloss, highlight and bronzer.
TenEighty: Top three countries you’d love to travel to?
Saffron: Japan, Jamaica and Dubai.
TenEighty: Who are you listening to?
Saffron: Billie Eilish.
TenEighty: What’s your Netflix obsession?
Saffron: The Vampire Diaries, always!
TenEighty: Three YouTubers everyone should check out?
Want more from VidCon London 2019?
Read more about Saffron’s London Marathon run for Dementia Revolution. Alternatively, read our chat with VidCon founder Hank Green at this year’s event.