What do you represent? One of the most difficult aspects of establishing yourself as an influencer is finding that thing that makes you unique and leveraging your ‘superpower’ to stand out in a crowded field of YouTubers. The platform has evolved into a lucrative business, and that means your channel is its own brand. And when your personality matches up with a beauty brand, collaborations follow. Today’s guest is a YouTube veteran with a unique brand identity who is ready to share how her individuality as an influencer has led to some awesome opportunities.
Stephanie Ledda is a 26-year-old New York native with a passion for beauty and a unique eye for fashion. Her channel, SMLx0, has over 900,000 subscribers who look to Stephanie for inspiring hair, makeup and styling tutorials. She was a college student when she started her channel in 2009. A business management and marketing major, Stephanie enjoyed watching YouTube videos and decided to try it out herself. Using the webcam on her MacBook to make videos in her dorm room, she created celebrity-inspired looks and gained a modest following.
Stephanie considered YouTube a fun hobby, but she didn’t realize its potential to become a career until StyleHaul and the YouTube Partner Program reached out to her in 2011. After graduating from college, she tried to balance a traditional job in marketing at a bridal boutique with her channel, but quickly recognized that she couldn’t do both – and she really missed YouTube! Certain she could support herself through the channel, Stephanie quit her marketing job to pursue YouTube full-time. She definitely made the right decision, considering that she’s partnered with major brands like Schwarzkopf, Maybelline, Sephora, Ulta Beauty, and Tarte. Today she chats about sharing your personal life with your followers, the value of a degree, and how she chooses brands for sponsored videos.
Key Interview Takeaways
You are a brand. Understand what you represent and present yourself in a professional manner. Stephanie, for example, sees herself as your makeup friend – someone you can connect with – who loves the same things you do.
Respond to feedback from brands and networks like StyleHaul. Industry professionals notice and appreciate it when influencers are prompt, flexible, consistent, and enthusiastic.
Work to find a balance between sharing your personal life with your audience and keeping things private. Stephanie recognizes that there is an expectation to put yourself out there; however, you want to avoid compromising your privacy and safety.
There is value in having a college degree. Though Stephanie doesn’t have plans to use her BA in business management and marketing in the traditional sense, she is able to leverage her education in her work as a YouTuber.
If you’re struggling to come up with fresh ideas, ask your followers. Stephanie has had much success with videos based on subscriber suggestions, i.e.: Makeup for Glasses.
If you’re considering the transition from iMovie to Final Cut Pro, don’t be intimidated. Yes, Final Cut has more options, but Stephanie doesn’t find it any more difficult to navigate than iMovie.
Consider using a good camera and lighting from the start. Stephanie recommends the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II or the Canon EOS 70D, and her go-to lighting tools are the ring light and softbox.
If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Only work with brands that you genuinely know and love, and don’t force it to make a video that isn’t relatable just because everyone else is doing it.
There is no magic formula to get noticed on YouTube. Because the algorithm is always changing, it is best to focus on creating quality content rather than worrying about analytics.
Having fun and sharing your ‘goofy self’ makes a big difference. Stephanie’s favorite video is an Instagram inspired post she made last year that allowed her to share a silly side of her personality.
YouTube gives you the opportunity to make friends with people you wouldn’t have connected with otherwise. Stephanie recently returned from a trip sponsored by Tarte, where she had an amazing opportunity to travel with girls who share her interest in beauty.
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Connect with Stephanie Ledda