What I Learned After Spending 4 Days with Influencers

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Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to travel to the Digital Games Conference in Dubai with my colleague, Stefan, and five YouTube Creators: Agent GBChaoticClayClaimNoughtPointFourLIVE, and PDK Films.

As the Head of Business Development, my primary role is meeting and working with game publishers to help them better understand and successfully market their products in the influencer ecosystem. Therefore, between meetings and countless conferences, I spend all my time TALKING about influencers, but this was the first time I’ve had the opportunity to deeply interact with the creators that we work with often. The four days we spent together in Dubai were both fun and insightful — here are the key takeaways from my time with them:

Influencers are People too!

 I think we all have preconceived notions of “who” influencers are: brats, rich kids, entitled, controversial. And just like any public figure, the media can unfairly and inaccurately portray these creators as fitting a certain negative stereotype. Despite these unfair assumptions, each one of these five guys was grateful, humble, and overall pleasant to spend time with.

They had loads of great stories and information to share about their full-time jobs as YouTubers. I appreciated their openness to discuss their experiences working with YouTube, future implementations they see on the platform, and their idea for the future of gaming.

It’s not all Fun and Games

 Being “YouTube Famous” as a job seems pretty cool, right? According to these creators, not every day is a walk in the park. In addition to your normal amount of hate from internet trolls, they also have to stress about the monetization of their videos. YouTube can randomly demonetize (or remove advertisements) on videos without much reason or explanation. If you’re earning your salary based on these ads, that isn’t something you’d want to be relatively random. Like any job, you hope to make a steady income from your employer—in this case, YouTube. In general, most of the creators felt under-supported by the platform they call home. This came as a shock to me, as I assumed channels with 1 million plus subscribers would have the support they needed to continue to create content for the platform.
While making your own hours was noted as a cool factor of the job, the creators mentioned that they sometimes feel unmotivated and isolated from the world. And when you don’t want to show up for work? Well, you’ve got 1 million screaming teenagers to deal with, rather than your typical “boss.”

Age is Just a Number

I don’t know about you, but when I was an adolescent I wasn’t busy scheming to build a revenue stream that would sustain my life for the next ten years. During the four days that we were together, it became obvious that the opposite was true for these five influencers.
Some started their channels as early as 11 years old and have since sustained it into their twenties. Their early commitment to focusing full-time on their YouTube careers has forced them to make difficult decisions such as foregoing a college career. A risky decision, but one that has certainly paid off in the long run.

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Luck or Skill?

So what does it take to be an influencer? A pretty face? Knowing the right people? Jumping on the right trends?
While having a pretty face, being a master networker and staying ahead of trends certainly helps; I learned that it takes a whole lot more than that. These 5 influencers shared that it’s an art form of sorts. It requires luck, skill, and an unrelenting dedication to their craft.
Their advice for anyone who wants to be YouTube Famous? Well, first of all, they don’t think that should be your overall goal. Their goals were all related to expressing themselves creatively around gaming, clay molding, and nerf guns. If you are doing it just for the fame, it probably won’t work out. If you want to stream or upload videos about something you love, then do it! But on the flip side, be prepared for 1 cyber bully to every 10 fans. And at that point, you have to learn to block it out.
It’s been said before, so I will say it again — Influencer Marketing isn’t going anywhere; so I am thankful to have had the opportunity to get to know these influencers and learn first hand about the perks and struggles of their career.
The trip to Dubai was incredibly productive thanks to AgentGB, Chaotic, Clayclaim, NoughtPointFourLive, and PDK Films. I learned a lot from their experiences in the industry and I appreciated them making the trip to Dubai. I’d also like to thank Habib Chams for hosting us in Dubai and organizing a wonderful event: Digital Games Conference.