The Working and Applying for Jobs as an Online Creator panel took place on Friday on the Lifestyle Stage at Summer in the City 2019. It was moderated by Beckii Cruel and attended by Bianca “BinkyBee” Oliveira, Sanne Vliegenthart, Olly Thorn, Liam Dryden, and Ehiz Ufuah.
Beckii opened the panel by asking Sanne and Liam how they found switching between being employed and working as a freelancer. Sanne pointed out that YouTube was acting as half of a full-time job in terms of time and income by the time she moved to freelancing, and she felt that made it easier to move into freelancing as she could spend 50% of her time working on YouTube and 50% in freelance work. She also said that YouTube acts as a portfolio and appeals to potential clients.
Liam explained that he has jumped between work and freelance over several years “depending on how overconfident I am”. He highlighted the importance of looking at his skills from content creation and presenting them in a way that makes him more employable. Sanne then pointed out that balancing YouTube and freelance work involves an element of crossover between the two: “Am I a YouTuber or freelancer at this event?”
Beckii then asked Bianca how she manages full-time work alongside full-time YouTube. “Poorly!” was Bianca’s immediate reply. She explained that she tries to keep her work and YouTube separate due to the nature of her content. The main thing she highlighted was time management: she schedules her days and, particularly in the winter, has to sacrifice Saturdays. “It’s all about discipline,” she said. When Beckii asked how she manages to enjoy free time whilst being so busy, Bianca said that it was mainly coffee and sleeping well, but that ultimately she sometimes has to turn things down as her work and YouTube are her priority.
Beckii then asked Ehiz and Olly if YouTube has helped or hindered their acting careers. Ehiz said that you have to mindful of words; all manner of topics affect viewers and casting directors will look at your channel so you have to be mindful. He said that because “you are representing yourself, your culture, and your family”, people pursuing an acting career whilst being a YouTuber need to ensure they remain professional in their videos. To highlight this importance, he explained that in 2017 he had his first TV appearance and was cast because of his YouTube channel. He added that content must appeal to the public eye for casting directors to be interested. Olly said he struggles with merging his work as a YouTuber and his work as an actor, and often doesn’t know whether to mention he is a YouTuber in auditions. He worries that mentioning his work on YouTube could lead to difficult discussions — like the fact that he has stalkers, which could be a security risk. He feels that it depends on where you want to act: when it comes to acting on TV, casting directors usually like that you’re involved in YouTube, whereas the Royal Shakespeare Company might not. He added that he has a new agent who told him to put YouTube in his showreel.
Beckii then asked the panel how they deal with coworkers who bring up or watch their videos and whether it makes them self-conscious. Liam told everybody about how he once found a coworker going through his channel; when he asked the coworker why, he replied “looking for evidence you can sing”. He felt it was a strange thing to do at work, he then added that he tried to explain YouTube to his university flatmates when he was 18 and it was awkward. Sanne told a story about when she was at a work event on the behaviours of book readers and a woman was on stage giving examples of book influencers. Her coworkers began to giggle and she realised she was on screen. She added that all her company roles have involved being in YouTube videos so it is less of an awkward topic to broach. Bianca said that she does mention her YouTube experience on LinkedIn because it is a large part of her skill set, and that people she works with have come across her videos: her line manager tried to discuss a video with her where she talked about a boy who didn’t tell her he had chlamydia, and Bianca explained it was very uncomfortable for her.
Olly said he once assumed that he had received a role because of YouTube, as the character was incredibly similar to his online persona, but when he mentioned his YouTube work the casting director was surprised — it was just a coincidence, and Olly was a little embarrassed by the incident. Ehiz explained that he started his YouTube channel whilst he was in school and it wasn’t viewed as a good thing. He then recalled leaving his computer logged in to his YouTube account in school and when he returned, his video had been put on the interactive whiteboard. He said he feels he was far more vulnerable then, and at the time was embarrassed by it. Beckii said she feels she has become more self-aware about her videos since starting her current job.
Beckii then asked the panel if they felt that beginning work outside of YouTube meant they were giving up on the dream of being a full-time YouTuber. Ehiz said that he never made videos for fame and that people should always be truthful to how they feel. He said there are pros and cons to being a full-time YouTuber, and that with more fame and opportunities there is more pressure to be who you’re not. He added that there is a sacrifice that comes with the job, and it requires dedication.
Liam said that when he first moved to London he needed a job, and the job became about YouTube; he then felt that he didn’t have the creative energy to go home and make things for himself because it was his job. Sanne explained that she started YouTube in her first year of university, and said she always wanted to work with books and was never a full-time YouTuber. She added that she gains things within the companies she has worked for and through YouTube that complement each other. Bianca said that she never set out to become a full-time YouTuber because it places certain expectations on your personal life. She felt that she gave YouTube everything whilst she was at university and then decided to focus on her job. She added that she has of course wanted YouTube to be her full-time job, but she feels it involves her being in her best emotional state, and she can’t do that all the time so her job was a “safer bet”. Beckii then said that working alongside YouTube means there is no financial pressure which can take fun out of creating.
The audience were then able to ask questions, and the panel were asked how you can advertise yourself and get clients whilst doing freelance work. Liam said people should reach out to friends who freelance to make sure friends know what you can do and what you’re good at, and Sanne added that in an office situation people usually just ask around if they need a job doing, so making sure people know you are available is important. Liam added that you should also get a website.
Photos by Christy Ku.
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