A 24-year-old YouTuber explains why she became a full-time influencer when she graduated from UNC Chapel Hill instead of getting a traditional job
Category : entrepreneur
- Morgan Yates is a YouTuber who graduated from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 2017 and immediately moved out to LA to pursue a career as an influencer.
- Today, YouTube is Yates’ full-time job, and she posts weekly lifestyle vlogs for her 300,000 subscribers.
- She earns money through sponsoring brands on social media and by ads in videos placed by Google.
- Yates shared her experience with Business Insider, from graduating college to moving out to LA to pursue an influencer career.
- Sign up for Business Insider’s influencer newsletter, Influencer Dashboard, to get more stories like this in your inbox.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
When Morgan Yates uploaded her first video to YouTube in 2011, the platform looked a lot different than it does today.
“It wasn’t a cool thing to do at the time like it is now,” she told Business Insider. “When I started YouTube, no one shared their name, or said where they lived. People [now don’t] have to have a terribly embarrassing username like we did.”
Yates said she started her channel with a friend while she was in middle school, and she decided to name the channel “TheForeverGlamorous,” inspired by popular creators like JuicyStar07, AllThatGlitters21, and MacBarbie07, who she watched regularly.
When she got to high school, Yates’ channel turned into a group friend channel, and her and a few friends took turns filming vlogs and makeup tutorials for fun. But it wasn’t until Yates’ senior year of college, when she weas attending the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, that she decided to take YouTube seriously.
“Going into college I thought I wanted to go into nursing school,” Yates said. “I knew I loved editing and filming, [but] it just didn’t seem like it could be a job.”(Eventually, Yates switched majors, and in 2017, she graduated as a communications major with a concentration in media production.)
The summer before her senior year, she interned at the digital media company, AwesomenessTV (which originally started as a YouTube channel, then as a multi-channel network).
“That’s when I really ramped up my consistency, my content, putting YouTube above my classes even,” she said. “My senior year was the biggest period of growth for my channel, and it got me to a good place to where I was making a good salary leading up to graduation.”
Today, YouTube is Yates full-time job, and she posts weekly lifestyle vlogs for her 300,000 subscribers.
From graduation, to moving out to LA to pursue a career on YouTube
When Yates was preparing to apply for internships the summer before her senior year, she used her existing YouTube channel as a portfolio.
“Even three years ago, so few people had that firsthand knowledge of influencer marketing or just inside the YouTube space,” she said.
When she got back to school, she grew her channel by thinking about what content would interest a broader audience. Paired with her video editing skills, Yates produced high-quality content for YouTube, and today she uses equipment like a lighting kit and microphone when filming videos.
Until recently, Yates was signed with an agency for a year and a half, before her agent went on maternity leave, she said. The agency brought her brand opportunities and took a cut of her earnings (typically, agents earn between a 10% and 20% cut).
Now she’s on her own and finds her own sponsorship opportunities by connecting with brands through email or networking with fellow creators. She’s promoted brands like Pantene, Canon USA, and Chili’s in in-grid posts on Instagram.
Celebrating being back in the US after 3 weeks of traveling with the help of @Chilis Presidente Margaritas! On March 13th 3/13, Chili’s will be celebrating its birthday by offering margaritas for only $3.13, and they invite you to come join the party! #ad #Chilis #ChilisBirthday
A post shared by Morgan Yates (@morgan.yates) on Mar 12, 2019 at 7:22pm PDT
“YouTube is so creative, but also so entrepreneurial at the same time,” she said. “I really missed being proactive about my own deals and negotiating things on my own.”
Yates also earns revenue from YouTube’s AdSense program, which is when Google places ads within videos. These ads are filtered by Google and earn a certain amount of money depending on factors like a video’s watch time, length, and viewer demographic.
This can be lucrative. Videos with over one million views can earn a creator thousands of dollars, according to some influencers. Yates has six videos on her channel over one million views and today she averages between 25,000 and 100,000 views a video.
‘There is no job security’
Though she is supporting herself with YouTube, Yates said her parents had some concerns about her finances.
“There really is no job security,” Yates said. “But that’s just how it is.”
Yates’ dad is her accountant, she said, and helps her organize her finances and set aside money each year for taxes (creator Katy Bellotte previously said she saves 40% of every sponsorship paycheck for taxes, which she pays quarterly).
And it really is a full-time job creating the videos, she said.
“There were definitely people thinking I was moving out to LA to get brunch every day, and go to the beach,” Yates said. “I guess that came from a position of not knowing what goes into it.”
For more on how to become a successful influencer, according to YouTube and Instagram stars, check out these Business Insider Prime posts:
- A Harvard student with 265,000 YouTube subscribers breaks down how much money she earns as a college influencer: Sienna Santer is a second-year Harvard student and a YouTube influencer with 265,000 subscribers.
- A YouTube star and active-duty US Navy sailor shares how much money a video with 1 million views makes him: Austen Alexander is an active-duty sailor for the US Navy and a popular YouTube influencer with 135,000 subscribers.
- YouTube creator Natalie Barbu breaks down how much money she earns from a video with 100,000 views: Natalie Barbu, a social-media influencer and YouTube creator with 227,000 subscribers, shared how much money she earns from a video with 100,000 views.