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Profiles in success: Two KU student blogger/vlogger gain online fame

By Hanaa Foura Nov 5, 2014

It is no secret that bloggers/’youtubers’ are making a living and becoming highly successful doing what they love. Following this YouTube ‘phenomenon’, an array of british youtubers are starting to become pretty successful and not only in the digital world, I mean in the business world.


Zoe Sugg, otherwise known by her YouTube name ‘Zoella’ is a 24-year-old fashion and beauty vlogger from Brighton. She started her YouTube channel in 2009 and now Buzzfeed has recently called her ‘arguably the most marketable person in Britain’ because of her over six million subscribers to date.  Advertisers and businesses are clamouring to make deals with her, resulting in a Zoella beauty line which was released early this year, a two-book publishing deal with Puffin books with the first fictional book, Girl Online, coming out soon. She also recently won ‘Best British Vlogger’ for the second time at Radio 1’s Teen Awards.  All in all, a pretty successful outcome from just making lifestyle videos in your bedroom.

Most students learn in their first year how to start a professional blog, and many studying other subjects also have a strong online presence, whether through personal blogs or social media profiles. This is precisely how the most successful bloggers and vloggers got their start, building a following and then drawing the attention of advertisers and other sites eager to find fresh young writers and vloggers who have established an audience for themselves with their talent.

Two students at Kingston University have built particularly strong online profiles and have a wide audience. We spoke to them about how they managed to turn a small online presence into what they have today. Both offer their top tips on how you could also pave your way into the b/vlogging world.

Studded Kisses

Roxanne Hoare-Smith, photo credit: Karl Cowell
Roxanne Hoare-Smith, photo credit: Karl Cowell

Roxanne Hoare-Smith is a former KU journalism student who graduated this past year, and managed to earn some money from her blog ‘Studded Kisses’ which has over 1000 followers and one million overall page views. Hoare-Smith also works, but with such an audience it is clear she has found her way in the blogging world.

Roxanne began blogging in her first year of university because of her interest in fashion and beauty blogs. She started off simply wanting to join this vast online community and practice her writing, never imagining that she might one day be able to make money from blogging.

Studded Kisses focuses on buying clothes and beauty products on an intern (or student) budget. After noticing the success of bloggers such as Zoella who blog full time, she realized she could approach her blog as something of a personal business venture. Her partner now helps her run the blog and she said his advice helped her realise it could be run as a business.

She says she wishes she had understood the business potential of blogging during her time at KU, when she would have more time to dedicate to posting.

“Start looking into making money now as I regret not doing that,” she advises students. “I wish I could spend more time dedicated to blogging but I need to focus on working and I couldn’t just quit work to focus on blogging, as it would be too much of a risk not earning money. I am still going to carry running Studded Kisses as a business but it is a slower process just working on it a couple of hours a week now.”

Roxanne explains that she makes money from her blog by getting paid for advertisements from clothing websites that she features on the blog by adding a banner or writing a review of a product. She says that at the moment she does not make enough money to support herself, but that it is only recently she began to monetise the blog. She makes enough to buy an outfit that she can feature in her next post, which is updated twice a week. Roxanne mainly receives in-store credit commission, which she also uses to buy outfits to feature on the blog as a sponsored post.

“Fortunately people contact me about these opportunities and it’s great developing different relationships with companies,” she said.

YouTube Musician

Naill Fegan
Niall Fegan

Niall Fegan, a 2nd-year Music Technology student at KU, has just recently jumped on the YouTube bandwagon with the release of his first cover music video on his page, which already has gained over 50,000 views thanks to Deadmau5, read his full story here. Although he signed up to YouTube in 2011 to publish music, he did not have the right equipment at the time to do so.

He decided to post the live instrument cover of Deadmau5’s single Strobe because it was genuinely what he loved to do and he ‘enjoyed every aspect to making the cover and video’. A lot of work went into that one video starting from Niall arranging and recording the cover at his house in Ireland, and then when he came back to KU, he mixed the track and put the video together, he then got the track mastered at Metropolis Studios in London. “It was an insanely enjoyable experience and I would advise anyone with that sort of interest to really pursue it,” said Niall.

Regarding how he will continue juggling his music covers during uni, Niall says studying Music technology offers him access to facilities he would not otherwise have at home back in Ireland.

“I can get recordings done here (at university), I feel it will take me slightly longer this time as I will be balancing my uni work with this YouTube work but hopefully it will be worth it,” says Naill.

Niall currently isn’t making money from his new video because it is regarded as third party content since it is cover of Deadmau5 and he doesn’t want to risk getting it taken down by the label as copyrighted work.

“If they approve of the cover I will be able to monetise it without any problems! With original content you can monetise your video straight away and earn an income through advertising.”

How you can start making money through b/vlogging

Here are Niall and Roxanne’s top tips on how to become successful and bring in an audience through blogging or YouTube.

Know your audience

“Select a target audience and get involved with them through social networking,” says Niall. “Post to groups on Facebook, use Twitter, blogs and forums. If you can find pages similar to your style of videos, post your videos to them.”

Promotion could also be through word of mouth, says Roxanne. “Always tell people you meet, it’s been helpful for me.”

Feature strong, clear content

This can be applied to both blogging and YouTube, know how to use the website and software and you will be one step ahead.

For your blog, it is important to feature vivid, clear photography, says Roxanne. “Invest in a decent camera and editing software and really learn how to use them,” says Niall.

Commit to your posts

Make sure to blog regularly or post videos at the same time, whether it is every two weeks or once a week. Find a time that suits you and stick to it so your audience knows when to expect new posts. Start early when you have free time; Roxanne says that now she updates her blog twice a week since she doesn’t have much time however at uni she updated her blog once everyday.

Interact with your audience

Roxanne says, “reply to comments on blog posts”. Whether it is comments on youtube or on your website build a conversation with your bloggers to create a great relationship between you and your followers.

Create a niche identity

People should want to come back and read or watch your content, or advertisers to consider you to represent their product. Well, it is all about branding yourself. Create your own unique bubble on the internet to stand out from all the other millions of blogs out there.

About YouTube, Niall says, “I would recommend to plan out what your channel is about and think of a target audience, look at other youtuber’s videos in a similar style and try to figure out what makes them work.”

Spread your details

Get your name out there on other websites to get new audiences who might not have known your digital presence.

“Putting your details on Gorkana PR for example is good too, as soon as I put them on there I received emails from PR and online stores immediately,” says Roxanne.

Be patient and do what you love

You will not start making money straight away but as long as you are doing something you love you will want to keep doing it. The more time you spend the more followers you will build over time, which will look impressive to advertisers who considering running advertising on your blog.


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