Starting at the age of 15 with a borrowed camera from her dad to record her first videos, Molly Templeton has quickly become one of the most well know names in YouTube by wearing many hats — vlogger, YouTube enthusiast, and currently, My Damn Channel’s Director of Talent and Audience Development. Better known as the YouTube personality Meme Molly, Molly has transitioned from being in front of the webcam to working behind the scenes to support the expansion of the My Damn Channel Network since 2011. Nominated in 2007 for YouTube’s “Best Commentary Video” for her video, “are you anybody’s favorite person?,” Molly has used her years of experience navigating the world of YouTube to strengthen My Damn Channel into a prominent comedy network. Excited with My Damn Channel’s development of a live show that allows fans to be part of the videos, Molly gives us a little insight into the world of vlogging, tips to starting your own channel and her slight obsession with watching slow loris videos.
How did you originally get involved in YouTube?
Molly Templeton: I started watching [YouTube] in like 2005. I saw a bunch of Smosh videos being posted around on bulletins on Myspace, and I was like, “These two guys are kind of cute,” so I talked with my friends and realized that these guys were making multiple videos, so I became a subscriber of Smosh. I went to the first hang out where most of the people like Smosh or couple other people like Trophy Whore were rising to the top of the commented. I became obsessed with these people, and I decided that I just wanted to be friends with them all. I was watching people like iJustine, and I kind of figured that the best thing to do would be to start making my own videos and try to become friends with them. I borrowed a camera from my dad somewhere when I was 15, and I started recording YouTube videos and joining online chat rooms where I would just go hang out with a bunch of YouTubers who just stayed up really late telling bad jokes each on our own laptops. That is kind of how I got started.
What made you decide to start your own channel?
Mostly, I really wanted to be having conversations with the other people who were making videos. I really wanted to be friends with Lonely Girl, and I figured, “How am I ever going to get her attention unless I start making videos?” So I just started putting myself in front of the camera and talking to people. It all became real; I found that out very quickly.
What has been one of your most memorable videos that you’ve made?
I’m trying to remember the first one that really took off. Alright, there was one called “Dear Body,” which was sort of based on livejournal tags that were going around. My viewers were really into livejournal, so I was blogging when I was younger and it was just people would write letters to body, and I was like, “I can do this, and I’ll make a video.” That was the first video that got a lot of responses, including one from a YouTuber who I really admired and people really ran with it in funny directions. There was a guy named “Frezned” who made a joke out of it; it was supposed to be this really serious letter to Dear Body, and he made a similar that was about him disposing of a body in a bathtub. That was really neat, and that fueled my fire of the YouTube bug. People could respond to me and take my ideas and take a new spin on it, so that was really neat.
As the Director of Talent and Audience Development, what is your role at My Damn Channel, and how has it grown in the past year?
I run the My Damn Channel vlog network, and I run all of our YouTube channels. I’m sort of the overseer of channel management, and I implement new strategies to grow the audience development and channel. Primarily, what I am interested in doing is finding talent already on YouTube or comedians in NY, or you know, whatever channel I come across that I think is worthwhile on the Internet and creating a blog for them.
What kind of attracts you to a certain channel? What do you think stands out about certain people?
That is hard to say. I’m really into specificity and niceness, so a blog that we started is called “Coffee Chat.” We got this girl, Shannon Coffey, and immediately, I was like there was something weird about her, I love her. And then I got to know Michelle, and we talked a lot about what she was into, and I sort of tried to understand where her comedy came from. I started to come and watch her videos, and we were like, “Shannon is the sweetest Barbie doll that I never had as a kid.” She has every occupation; she was an expert on everything and an expert on nothing. I feel like her catchy personality is beautiful online.
How have you seen My Damn Channel grow?
In terms of what I’m doing, I would love to expand my net of talent. I’m really interested in more comedians like Shannon involved in blogging, and I would love to get more traditional talent involved in it. We did a segment of My Damn Channel LIVE that called Gilbert Gottfried. We sort of made him into a talking head, like a vlogger, and he was giving his opinion on weird topics spreading throughout the Internet. It was really cool and a neat experiment — I would love to do that with more TV people.
What have been some of your favorite moments being in this position?
I manage audience development for our live shows, and that’s pretty exciting for me. Everyday is really cool, and I always start the same: I hang out in the chat, talk to all the audience. I’ve gotten to know the viewers, and I get to help figure out ways so they can interact with us live, so I guess the first time we went live, we had like 800 viewers in and got to include them in live comedy, and that’s super cool. That is my favorite thing about the job, so the first day was a pretty exciting day.
Is it still as exciting to go live?
It’s super cool. The live stream I feel like I’m getting to know them, and they are growing up with us, and it is really fun for us to come up with games and ways for them to interact with us every single day. It’s awesome to send us segments to do on the show and questions to send in. People are getting more intelligent with the ways that they can interact; it is amazing, and I am really excited about it.
How has having your own channel on YouTube and having worked with YouTube for so long really benefitted you in this position?
I think it’s really benefitted me in that I’ve been in the community so long, and I know a lot of people. I feel like I have experience in all facets of it including just getting started in your bedroom and just making videos by yourself or working with a network or hosting a produced show for a network. I’ve sort of been all around, so I feel like I have a well-rounded perspective of the space.
What advice would you have for people who are just starting to become vloggers?
I would suggest just watch a lot of content. Watch as much as you can, learn as much as you can with the people that you watch and don’t be afraid to get fans. If you can sort of get into that space by meeting people who are already involved in it, that’s the best way for you to feel excited about what you’re doing and potentially know you are wanting it.
What are some ways that vloggers can grow their audience?
That’s a big question. I wouldn’t even know where to begin. You just start really small, just title your videos well, tag them nicely, create a nice thumbnail and create great content and build relationships on the Internet and work with them.
Do you think that there is a formula for the videos that do take off, or is it just the luck of the draw?
All over the place! There are definitely formulas for what takes off online, but a lot of it is lightning in the bottle. Hit it once and you can repeat.
Are there any tools that vloggers should look into when developing their channel and their audience?
I am really into analytics and watching panels that happen on your YouTube channel to finding patterns that happen are just fantastic. Analytics are just fantastic; just keep your eye on that when you’re getting started. Yeah, looking at times happen over time to discuss X a lot, which is nice for finding patterns as well.
What is your vision for the channel as it grows in the future?
I just want to see them continue to grow and adapt in how the Internet is changing. For my Damn Channel LIVE, I would love to get more people to know we are live everyday at 4pm and that they can come and hang out with me. I’m listening to them in the chat, and they can affect the way the show goes.
My Damn Channel is kind of an umbrella for all these individual channels. How is it that you kind of bring them all together but allow each channel to be an individual?
We bring them all together on My Damn Channel.com, and we are putting them all together on the live show everyday. We try to introduce all of our talent and all of our programing so that you know you can come and watch the show. It’s an interaction with everything our channel has to offer.
Talking to Grace Helbig of “The Daily Grace,” she mentioned that you had been a mentor to her for her channel. In what ways have you acted in this role for the channels?
A lot of the time, it’s just looking at it from a space that’s not as close to it. So for the vlogger like Grace, I looked at her content, I decided how each piece of her content was different and how she could make that really good for her audience and how she could plan her programming around current events or what other YouTubers were doing.
Outside of social media, what do you enjoy doing?
Aside of the Internet? I love to draw, I love to bake, I love to play my ukelele, and I really like animals.
What is something that makes you laugh uncontrollably?
I am really into weird animals, man. I’ll watch any video of like a dog climbing into a box. I keep telling people to do this: if you go to Instagram and you type in the hashtag “slow loris” — I think they are Taiwanese — you will find all these Taiwanese girls who own like these weird little animals with giant eyes and weird grabby hands, and they are so cute! They make me laugh a lot. Yeah, it’s weird. Go look it up.