Friday, 4 February 2011

YouTube Gurus and Lauren Luke at IMATS

YouTubers were out in force at IMATS last weekend. We attended Lauren Luke's solo talk, as well as a round table session with gurus Pursebuzz, Wayne Goss, Pixiwoos and Koren Zander (Enkore).

We were introduced to the Pixiwoo sisters before their session and found them to be as friendly and upbeat in reality as they are on the small screen. The general impression from the YT speakers was exuberance, enthusiasm and a sense of humility - it seemed that none of them could quite believe the scale of their success and they were very mindful of all the supporters who put them where they are today. All of them discussed how much time they spend answering emails and moderating comments from their audiences; often several hours per day. No sense of entitlement here!

The same can be said for Lauren Luke, who has recently set up an agony aunt style service - "Dear Lauren" - which will strengthen her bond with the public and the sense of her as an accessible "big sister" figure to those starting out with cosmetics or in need of general advice. She told us that audience interaction is the high point of her work. She loves feedback and comments.

The presence of YouTubers at IMATS has raised a few hackles in the makeup artist community. Lauren Luke in particular has been subject to some barbed attacks from trained makeup artists who feel that she was unqualified to be a keynote speaker at an industry event. IMATS is a trade show for professional makeup artists, some of whom feel that their training and experience is belittled by the presence of a girl who, despite her stratospheric success and 450,000-strong subscriber base, hasn't gained any professional accreditation.

Lauren addressed this in her IMATS speech; "Who says I'm not a professional? I make money from it, so yes I am." She's been upset by some of the comments online about her IMATS billing, but maintains that she quite was entitled to be there. She told us that she doesn't see herself as a makeup artist, and has never claimed to be one. Rather than someone who does makeup on others, she enables people to do their own makeup - she's a tutor rather than an artist. She went on to state that makeup artists are a closed community who tend towards elitism, and that her experience at counters and makeup stores has reflected this.

It seems that some things sadly haven't changed much since last year! 

Meanwhile, it was fascinating to hear some of the comments and questions the audience had for the gurus at both sessions. We heard people asking how they could maximise their subscriber rates, whether they should continue aiming for YouTube success, and how many subscribers it took to become a YouTube Partner. It was clear that there were a substantial number of people looking to find out not how to become a makeup artist, or even to improve their skills in DIY makeup, but how to become "a YouTube Guru". The title has become an aspiration in itself.

Nic Chapman of Pixiwoo had a clear and emphatic answer to this - "Don't do it for the subscribers, do it for the passion". She vocally discouraged aspiring YouTubers from begging for subscribers or offering biased reviews to gain brand relationships and product samples, urging them to post videos and write blogs for enjoyment and personal satisfaction. The other panellists agreed with her completely. All of the gurus we heard from began their work at a time when there was no culture of brand involvement or competition for subscribers. In fact Lauren Luke began as an eBay merchant who would post videos to show the benefits of her wares. She stumbled across her YouTube audience completely by accident.

It's easy to see how the fairytale success story of the single mum from South Shields could prompt others to follow down the same path in the hope of recognition and fame. But YouTube (and blogging) is not showbusiness - it's a hobby. A tiny minority of successful amateurs can make a living from it, but for most of us, it will only ever be a part-time pursuit.

If you can enjoy it for what it is, blogging and vlogging is rewarding even without an audience. It's good to know that those who are in the limelight are aware of that too.


  1. ooh I really enjoyed reading that! thank you x

  2. Great write up!
    I personally didn't go to either talk because I didn't see what I could learn that I couldn't get off their YouTube Channels. So it's very interesting to hear your thoughts and the slant of the questions.
    Thank you for taking the time to go and report back. x

  3. I didn't go to IMATS but I'm glad to know that the views I have are similar to that of the speakers.

    Brilliant and well written post, a great read.



  4. Thanks for this - very interesting read. I particularly agree with your thoughts about blogging etc being a hobby. For me it certainly is, and I really enjoy it, but I suspect only a tiny number of people ever make any money from blogging - I don't ever expect to - I do it for fun! xx

  5. Loved this post. I always enjoy reading more than looking at pictures, I feel like I've got more to learn. Thank you for this.

  6. Great post!

    I think the hate towards Lauren Luke is absolutely ridiculous and jealousy is an awful trate. What she has done has shown that if you work hard enough and have a good heart and passion, then you will get far. And I would be quite happy to listen to someone like this who has came from nothing to something.

    With make up courses becoming more affordable and more accessible it would seem that everyone and their granny is doing make up courses lately and gaining the title.. 'qualified make up artists' - which is great, but just shows that the make up world moves on.

  7. i soooo love this post, very insightful post of all the IMATS guru summits posts I'd seen.

    As I'm not an artist I wasn't able to attend this segment, but with this post, I now feel I was practically, well virtually there.

    Thanks xx

  8. Great post! I don't watch vloggers that often but am aware of the big names on YouTube. Fascinating insight.

  9. That's interesting. I myself have recently started doing vlog or just videos on youtube though been blogging for just over a year when my passion for cosmetics, skincare and beauty took over my mind just a year ago. I agree bout being professional does not mean you have to have such and such degrees... being a makeup artist, being a tutor, being a youtube guru, we all have at least 1 thing in common - we all love makeup =)

    love this post!

  10. Great post! I'm not a fan of Lauren Luke but I totally agree with her comments about the elitism among MUAs. I would've loved to have been there to see the Pixiwoo girls, they're some of my favourite "gurus" on YT :)

  11. Thanks everyone for reading and commenting. I'm glad so many people have a realistic and open-minded approach to blogging & vlogging. I heard from Lauren herself that she liked this post, which is quite an honour! x


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