What does it take to grow and audience and earn “influencer” status?
To find out, I talked with Taren Denise, a beauty and fashion vlogger with more than 13,000 YouTube subscribers and over 1 million views.
In addition to revealing how she juggles a full-time job as a TV reporter and her YouTube side hustle, she spilled the tea on what it takes to grow a personal brand and, more importantly, an audience.
Let’s dive in.
1. Keep it real.
Whether on TV or on YouTube, Denise strives to be authentic and, most importantly, not put on-air airs. She believes genuineness is they key to success.
“A lot of reporters…have a reporter voice,” she explains. “They sound different on TV than they do in normal life. But I work really hard to sound like myself…I want to be very geniune and I hope that comes across on TV and YouTube.”
Which segues nicely into the next tip.
2. Don’t sell out.
With so few ways to actually get paid for content generation, many influencers turn to sponsored content — or agree to promote or give positive views in exchange for product or other incentives. Denise’s advice: Don’t even.
“There is no way in “H E double hockey sticks” I would go on camera and say something positive just because I got something for free,” Denise says. “I’d buy it myself before I took it for free.”
In fact, she’s turned down quid pro quo offers as a matter of pride. “I turn it down Every. Single. Time.” she says adamantly.
That’s not to say she doesn’t receive products for reviews, she does. She just makes sure she is up front about that and honest in her reviews.
3. Believe (in) your audience.
The real and only contract that matters is with the audience, starting with being responsive to comments and listening.
“I’m very interactive in the comment’s and I welcome them,” Denise explains. In fact, her audience is her biggest topic generator.
“I try to do videos that people want to see…so I do a lot of Instagram polls,” she says.
Her audience is very supportive and, in turn, Denise is inspired by how she has touched so many women.
Which is good, because the next tip is probably the hardest.
4. Show up.
When it comes to building an audience, consistency and tenacity are essential.
“If you post a video and it gets no views, you’ve got to keep going,” says Denise. “That was me. That was everybody. Every single person who you watch on YouTube posted a first video and no one watched it.”
For Denise, that means uploading three videos per week — rain or shine. But she admits, that’s easier than it sounds. She often spends 20+ hours a week — on top of her full-time job — to create content and promote it.
5. Love it or leave it.
With such a high level of commitment required, the last tip naturally follows: Have a passion for creating content as well as your topic.
“If you are going to start it,” advises Denise, “you have to love it or you won’t make it. Don’t start something about a topic just because you think people want to hear about it.”
“Just do it. Hit record and just do it!”
Listen to the full interview with Taren Denise on the podcast My Smart and Funny Friends.
Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash