Should You Aim For YouTube Fame?

Fame has been a part of the cultural consciousness since as long as history has been recorded, and now YouTube has made it possible for ordinary people to achieve fame overnight.

Given the sheer number of YouTubers who have made it big, like Smosh, Jason Horton and Promise Phan, by amassing a huge following of fans, it’s no wonder that many people are attracted to the possibility of being famous on YouTube. Why? If a YouTuber can find fame without starring in their high school musical or moving to Hollywood first, then anyone can have a chance!

YouTube Trends Manager Kevin Allocca made a TED Talks appearance last year and noted to the audience that “any one of you could be famous by next Saturday.” He also talked about the formula for YouTube viral success.

He said, “Only a tiny percentage [of YouTube videos go viral] and gets tons of views and becomes a cultural moment. How does it happen? Three things: tastemakers, communities of participation and unexpectedness.”

In short, it’s a lot of luck (and knowing the right people) that will propel your video or your personality to go viral. Allocca cited the infamous “Double Rainbow” video as an example of instant fame. The uploader, Bear Vasquez, posted the outrageous video back in January 2010, but it took a tweet from Jimmy Kimmel several months later to propel the YouTube hippie to unexpected fame as a part of the national conversation.

It is fairly reasonable to say that any one of us could be YouTube famous by this Saturday, but if your sole reason for joining YouTube is to become viral, then you’re going to have to fight tooth and nail. You’re working with staggering numbers; with 72 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, your chances of instant fame are slim to none.

Are you discouraged yet? In his recent interview with NMR, Jason Horton dished out some advice for aspiring YouTube comedians, encouraging content producers to hone their talents first before seeking fame.

He said:

“Don’t go on YouTube first and do the comedy second. Don’t be like, ‘Alright, well I want to be an aspiring comedian. I’ll figure out the YouTube stuff, and later I’ll figure out my voice in comedy.’ Know your voice. Know what you think is funny. Be unapologetic about it. Do it, and never look back. There’s people that will love it, people that will hate it, but you’re going to find your audience, and it’s going to be genuine.”

With the improbable odds of going viral, should you still seek fame on YouTube? Absolutely, but fame should be an incidental part of the YouTube experience, not encompass it. Instead of wishing and hoping your one video will go viral, why not work on the interests and skills that you love? Although it does not guarantee that Jimmy Kimmel will tweet your video in six months, it will endear you to a community or group of fans that share your interests. Learn how to market yourself as a YouTube artist and you will reach beyond your inner circle. More importantly, never settle for making one video. Work on as many YouTube projects as you can to see what works and what doesn’t work.

Of course, if you’re looking for a taste-maker, look no further than NMR to help you out! Contact us if you’d like to nominate a feature.

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