Can you imagine having the responsibility of a student and the income of your parents? To any student in the world, that concept sounds pretty great; the idea of talking about your day over a webcam and raking in the rewards, and that’s why countless people have given the act of vlogging a crack.
Such a relatively sudden uproar of media enthusiasts has people thinking that these people are the future, and that they’ll apparently be the end of films, books and TV. All of a sudden, you have a plethora of millennials giving their opinions, to the detriment of critics everywhere. But hopefully, everyone will soon come to realise that the concept of vlogging isn’t exactly as black and white as it is commonly perceived.
There’s something simple and enticing about vlogging, blogging and generally attempting to make money from platforms like YouTube. People eat up the idea of the making their own independent dream come true, and vlogging offers one of the best opportunities to do so. The concept of being able to start from nowhere and grow to be as big as Zoella, danisnotonfire and Emma Blackery is one which attracts essentially anyone with a laptop and a built-in webcam. If someone showed you a picture of one of the aforementioned vloggers and said, “You could join this swirly-haired bunch simply by talking about your day to complete strangers,” you would probably be somewhat interested, or at the very least have your curiosity tickled.
This idea, and the positive side of it, has publishers, marketing teams and various multinational companies excited beyond belief. If you didn’t catch Zoella’s book, ‘Girl Online’, you probably should have, given that it sold 78,109 copies in its first week, beating authors such as J.K Rowling and E.L James. Granted, these impressive figures were, in part, due to the author’s six million subscribers on YouTube, and over three million Twitter followers, a luxury that the other aforementioned authors did not have, but still, over 78,000 copies in seven days is still remarkable nonetheless.
Hopefully this will give you an idea of the world of vlogging; it isn’t something to be taken lightly. Zoe Sugg also has a range of beauty products, and a £1 million property too, testament to how much this new form of media is potentially worth.
Still in its relative infancy, vlogging has only really gained popularity over the past four or five years, although it’s only just gaining mainstream recognition. For a medium which is still learning the ropes, you’d think that the most powerful players in the game would’ve attempted to instill some sense of legitimacy into the growing industry, but unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case, not yet anyway. Below is a video on disclosure, by a gaming critic, TotalBiscuit. While the video is more focused on gaming rather than vlogging, the principles are the same, and it involves a lot of content which some vloggers could do with having a listen to.
These individuals, who seem to range from harmless and happy, to vainglorious and over-confident, already hold a surprising amount of power within their respective fields. This is one of the first problems with vloggers; as you’d imagine, someone sat in front of a webcam chatting to the audience seldom has a distinct purpose, so the influence of a vlogger can range anywhere from beauty products to gaming, and everywhere in-between. Subsequently, this leads to products selling out in less than a day, which to certain firms, is quite an attractive prospect. But of course, a bunch of smiling faces sneaking promoting products in a vlog to a fan-base seeking direction is never a good, moral practice. Carefully chosen words and a lack of clear disclosure have caused the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to warn vloggers to clearly state when they’re partaking in a paid promotion, something which shouldn’t have really happened to begin with.
If you can swindle a deal with certain brands, you can also make much more than normal YouTube ad-revenue will allow, a BBC article reckons that a single mention of a product via a video or post can make up to £4000. Bloody hell. With a developed audience who are just itching to buy, it’s no wonder that vloggers can reap such rewards with so little effort. So if good old fashioned advertising presents no moral quandaries to vloggers, what’s the latest potentially questionable method of gaining an income?
Well, to get you started, there’s TV and radio deals, partnership with high-street stores, book deals, and most significantly, meet and greets. What used to be a nice, little gathering of people who share the same interest for a certain YouTuber, has now drastically evolved into something which highly profitable, and highly exploitable. Once you’ve waited in excess of six hours to meet your favourite YouTuber for 20 seconds, and paid for the privilege, you’re whisked away to talk about it in person, and to advertise it on social media. Sounds cracking.
It seems that one of the best ways to gain an insight on vloggers would be from another vlogger. Another fashion-based YouTuber, Sprinkleofglitter explains how vloggers are excessively idolised, and of how a niche medium has now made its way to the mainstream, with all the negative connotations associated with it. I’ll risk sounding biased here, but it’s a perspective which I do agree with; how can a small industry gain any traction or legitimacy when no-one in it knows what the hell they’re doing? Everyone’s making it up as they go along, and are leaving themselves ripe for shady dealings and mindlessly loving fans.
So, in what has essentially become a rant on vloggers, (probably out of jealousy that I didn’t get into it), are they actually the future of modern media? Unfortunately, yes, there’s no question about it. Anyone who has such a mass of followers isn’t going to be vanishing from the internet anytime soon, not without a massive uproar anyway.
This isn’t to say they’ll be the only form of media, the downfall of society isn’t that imminent. With firms investing in the industry heavily, with so much revenue being generated, and with an audience which is still growing, vloggers will continue to be utilized to their greatest extent, and personify a lot of issues with modern media in the process; the grey areas of promotion and advertising, the morally oblique practices and deals and methods used, and the reliance on an audience who doesn’t realise it’s being used. I appreciate that these people are simply utilizing their tools to make a living, just like any of us would, but that doesn’t exclude them from a few basics which shouldn’t have to be mentioned: Disclose promotions. Remain unbiased where possible. Don’t be a dick…
Good on these ladies and gentlemen for going against the millennial stereotype, for taking the tools of our apparent laziness and making heaps of money with them and surpassing any nay-sayers. But please, sort yourself out if you wish to be taken seriously, you’ll make the rest of us youths look bad. Carry on, just do it properly.
Photo Credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/71073129@N06/7946267658/”>theanthonyryan</a> via <a href=”http://compfight.com”>Compfight</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>
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