“How many fishtail braids can someone do before their eyes bleed?”
Chatting with today’s guest on Beauty and the Vlog is a master class in sharing your authentic voice. Prepare to laugh and learn from a lifestyle and food influencer who has been on YouTube since 2008, amassing 150,000 followers and 18.5M video views.
Theodore Leaf began his career – and his YouTube channel – as a stylist at Chris McMillan Salon in Los Angeles. Hoping to expand his client base, Theodore uploaded a demo video on YouTube, but had no intention of posting consistently to cultivate a following until he met and became friends with Michelle Phan.
Watching Michelle work and teaming up with her on projects for the For All Women Network (FAWN), Theodore got inspired to grow his own channel. He was able to capitalize on that social media presence to land network and cable gigs including Fashion Star and Secret Guide to Fabulous. But after a move to New York and a little soul searching, Theodore made the decision to shift the focus of his channel to lifestyle and cooking. He incorporated a vlog while attending culinary school, and thus began his quest to become the next Martha Stewart! Listen as Theodore shares the importance of being yourself, diversifying your online presence and capitalizing on the freedom provided by the YouTube framework.
Key Interview Takeaways
Hit the books. Theodore took classes on lighting, filming and editing to give his channel a professional look. The Apple Store even offers a free course to learn Final Cut Pro!
Do a gut check when considering unpaid opportunities. If the gig offers exposure, it may be worth it to work for free.
If you’re talented and have something to say, go for it and start your own channel. Yes, YouTube is more competitive now, but that just means you need to be more intentional.
If you are considering making a pivot on your channel, prepare for the backlash. Subscribers will complain when you shift your focus, but remember that they are not network executives. Part of the magic of YouTube is having the freedom to reinvent yourself.
YouTube is too much of a commitment for you to do it for the wrong reasons. Viewers are savvy, and they can tell when you aren’t passionate about what you’re doing.
Do market research on other social platforms. Theodore is planning to study the top pins on Pinterest and create complementary videos.
Be a social media triathlete. Choose two or three platforms that you navigate well and cultivate your presence on those fronts.
Consider using a tool like CoSchedule to plan and manage your time as well as create social campaigns.
Refine your photography game. Theodore recommends taking a good portrait that can be used on several different platforms.
Put your eggs in several different baskets. Theodore is in the process of growing his following on Facebook and Instagram, posting videos from his YouTube channel on those platforms as well.
Go where the eyeballs are. Brands are interested in ‘total outreach,’ so go to the social platforms where your audience is active.
You are your own best publicist. Theodore still makes an effort to connect personally with brands at trade shows.
Actively respond to comments on your videos. Theodore uses the Creator Studio app to engage with viewers.
Develop killer thumbnails and titles. Vivid colors and bold fonts make for a thumbnail that stands out, and catchy, creative titles like ‘3 Smoothies to Make You Prettier Than Her’ persuade viewers to click.
Spend money on the lens, not your camera. Theodore uses the Canon EOS 6D DSLR camera with 24-105mm f/4L lens.
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