Meet the vloggers: Self employed and 'worth a fortune'

13/11/13

In theory, anyone can video blog, or 'vlog', as long as they have a camera, an internet connection and something to say.

But for the UK's top vloggers it has become a career where they can earn thousands of pounds for mentioning a product to their millions of fans.

Newsbeat has been to meet some of the most successful young vloggers.

Many started out as students, were unemployed or, in one case, earned £25,000 a year in an office job.

They changed all that by setting up business in their bedrooms - however making a career online is tougher than you might think.

(L to R) Lily Pebbles, JJ Olajide, Anna Gardner
Image caption (L to R) Lily Pebbles, JJ Olajide, Anna Gardner

None of the vloggers wanted to reveal exactly how much they earn.

However JJ Oladjide, who's known as KSI, left school two years ago to vlog and admits he's "a lot better off than he was two years ago" having built up 4 million followers on YouTube.

Anna Gardner, 24, who runs the Vivianna Does Make Up blog says it's not money for nothing.

"I wake up at six," she says. "I'm on my laptop working by seven and I probably finish at about six."

'Can't stop'

Lily Pebble, 25, spends her days tweeting, recording vlogs, writing blogs, researching beauty products, chatting with followers and negotiating contracts.

"You can't stop at the weekend. Twitter and Instagram are 24/7," she says.

Zoe Sugg
Image caption Zoella, 23, has 2.5million subscribers to her YouTube channel.

The vloggers know they are valuable to high street brands. Anna again: "I mentioned a brush set and online it had sold out by mid day."

Key to a vlogger's success is the trust they build with their audience. That relationship makes them valuable to advertisers.

"If a blogger endorses a product it gives it more weight than if it was just featured on the page of a magazine", says Jessica Walker, a digital marketing specialist.

"Some of the top bloggers we work with are very successful and can earn thousands of pounds a month. But it's nothing they have set out to do.

"It's something they've been really good at and grown their following by having really good content."

Jessica works for eight&four, whose clients include major health and beauty brands.

If a vlogger endorses a product it gives it more weight than if it was just featured on the page of a magazine.
Jessica Walker
eight&four Digital Marketing

She says although most bloggers are upfront about which products are "sponsored", it is not always very clear.

"[Some] are quite clever about their language," she says. "They don't want their blogs to look like a catalogue."

"You'll notice they use words like, 'I was shown this product', rather than, 'I was sent this product by a PR'."

It comes as the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have released a warning telling vloggers they must make it clear when they are being paid to promote something.

1.5 million unique visitors click on to Zoe Sugg's blog every month, which works out to around 6 million page views. She's one of the UK's most successful young vloggers.

She started when she was unemployed three years ago.

"There are companies who would love our help," she explains. "But if I would never actually use that company or even if I just don't like the product I'm not going to even think about it.

"I try and stay true to what I like and what I believe in because people trust my opinion and I wouldn't want to jeopardise that."

How much can top Vloggers charge?

    • Up to £20,000/month for banners and 'skins' around edges of web pages.
    • Up to £4000 per mention of a product.
    • Up to £4000 per Instagram/Twitter post featuring product.
    • Up to £10,000 per personal appearance.
Source: eight&four Digital Marketing

Lily Pebbles says it's important vloggers don't go after the money: "I don't think we should be ashamed how much money we're earning. It's just important people know the money doesn't affect how we write our websites".

Some vloggers get professional representation to help negotiate contracts with big companies and advertisers. They take a cut of profits.

Earnings 'up 60%'

Another big earner is placing adverts at the start of their YouTube videos.

Vloggers get a cut of the revenue from advertising displayed on their content
Sara Mormino
Director of Global Content Operations at YouTube

This type of earning capacity has gone up 60% in the last year - mainly thanks to mobile phones - according to Sara Mormino, a director at YouTube.

"If you have a very strong passion for a particular area, be it beauty, fashion, tech or gaming, I'd give it a shot," she says.

Sara believes the UK is one of the global leaders in vlogging and many rank among the top earners globally.

"These young people have really captured a new way of creating content and a new way of engaging an audience".

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