by Mike Vogel
Updated 6 months ago
One wonders what career Sandra Cires would be in if she’d had the proper documentation to get a job here when she immigrated.
Instead, the Cuba native, while waiting for her immigration status to be resolved, made a video tutorial about cosmetic makeup and posted it on YouTube in 2012. “I had to do something,” says Cires, who has the over-the-top energy that’s the first requisite for a YouTube career. Posting videos on YouTube, she says, is “now my full-time job. It became something great.”
Cires’ SandraCiresArt channel on YouTube now has more than 4 million subscribers. She has 1.5 million on Instagram. She says her audience is mostly female and heavily from Mexico and Spain and Cubans in Miami. Her visibility has put her on the red carpet for the Latin Grammys and taken her to Spain. She went to Madrid and invited fans to meet her at a park. So many came that the police had to step in to control the crowd.
A native of Pinar del Rio in Cuba, Cires earned a degree in economics from her hometown university and became a professional singer and songwriter. She pursued that career in Italy for eight years before coming to Miami. She was selftaught in video creation and a one-woman effort for years, though now she has a staff of three. She once said traits to describe her are “persevering, crazy and happy.”
The latter two certainly describe her YouTube presence, a Spanish-language mix of art, her singing, makeup tutorials, the acceptance of “challenges” from viewers and lots more. Her most popular video with 25 million views is a six-minute comedic demonstration of why women arrive late that requires no Spanish knowledge to understand.
“Be patient,” Cires says. “You have to invest a lot of time. If you keep it simple, it’s not expensive.” The job does require moving outside your comfort zone and keeping up with YouTube trends and audience tastes, she says.
Cires, 41, says she loves social media because there’s no executive, audition panel or other filter between what she wants to do and her audience. She instantly knows whether something works.
It’s demanding. She posts usually three videos a week. “People keep telling me I’m funny. If they tell me that, I do my best to make them laugh,” she says.
Income: SandraCiresArt’s revenue could be from $30,000 to $120,000 a month from YouTube, according to Social Blade.
In November, Sarasota-based music group Boyce Avenue headlined and sold out the Royal Albert Hall in London — perhaps the ultimate validation of the online path they chose to seek success.
Brothers Daniel, Fabian and Alejandro Manzano are serious musicians who briefly tried the traditional route to stardom. They played the college and bar circuit, but realized as they reached their mid-20s that they were as serious about settling down and starting families as they were about music. They knew from their gigs that people liked to hear bands cover well-known songs, and they saw the same thing online. In 2007, they posted their first YouTube video under the name Boyce Avenue, named for a combination of Sarasota streets. They did the work themselves. The earliest online video shows them performing in front of a white sheet, but they always made sure to record the audio to the highest quality they could, eventually turning to studios and professional engineers.
YouTube and covers provided a way to introduce people to their original music. They collaborated with other YouTube mainstream and cover artists for some of their most-viewed videos. As their fan base grew, they started to tour — globally — thanks to the global reach of online.
“We, from an early stage of our career, were able to tour all over the world,” says Daniel Manzano. They tour three to four months a year here and abroad.
Their videos — covers, original music, video from live shows — have been viewed in the aggregate 3.7 billion times. An important thing in online is to produce consistently to keep the audience with you, Daniel Manzano says. The benefit of online is instant response to see what’s working.
Daniel Manzano says they’ve been able to support their families, buy houses, have 401(k)s and IRAs and employees. “Sarasota, Florida, is still very much home to us,” he says.
Income: From YouTube ad revenue alone, assuming 50 million views a month, Boyce Avenue likely earns between $50,000 and $200,000 a month, according to Social Blade. This is based on an industry average $1 to $4 per thousand views (or RPM, revenue-permille) that larger channels usually see on YouTube. The band also earns revenue from song downloads and streaming, touring and merchandising. The band pays royalties for covers it streams or downloads; its YouTube covers come under a blanket license YouTube has with music publishers.
Natalie Alzate earned an associate’s degree from Valencia College in Orlando and had started on a four-year degree at the University of Central Florida when her “nice hobby” of posting YouTube videos took off. “I didn’t even know you could get money out of it,” she says.
Today, she has 5 million subscribers to her channel, Natalies Outlet, another 465,500 on a Spanish-language version and 421,462 on a channel devoted to chronicling the lives of her and her longtime boyfriend and now husband, Dennis, who has his own channel. Like other YouTubers, she’s also a presence on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. Since going on YouTube in 2014, her videos have drawn a total of nearly 750 million views, and she looks forward to about 300 million more. “A billion views would be amazing,” she says.
The child of Colombian immigrants, she speaks Spanish but built her audience on English-language videos that began with fashion and beauty tips appealing to her audience of young women ages 13 to 24. She later moved into a popular YouTube genre — pranks — and whatever else comes to her mind but especially “life hacks,” do-it-yourself and comedy. Says Alzate, “I’ve always been a very creative person.” Also, she’s very animated, which helps on YouTube. “You’re always going to be your biggest asset,” she says. “Just be yourself, and you will find a niche.”
Initially, she produced her videos herself but now has a team. Making a six-minute video can take from four hours to 14, and she posts a minimum of three a week across her channels with new videos on her main channel every Wednesday and Sunday. “YouTube is like a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week kind of job,” she says.”
Income: Alzate brings in between $40,000 and $160,000 a month from YouTube alone, Social Blade estimates.
For an introduction to the paths to YouTube stardom, you won’t do better than Tpindell’s parody “Types of YouTubers.” In its first 24 hours online, it drew 81,688 views. Within a month, it was up to 240,556 views. Troy Pindell covers the basic genres along with the necessities to success, such as constantly reminding people to subscribe, sign up to be notified of new uploads and to hit the like button.
Attention to those details, skill at skit comedy and knowing what draws laughs propelled Pindell to 2.25 million subscribers on his namesake channel and 173,686 subscribers on a separate channel where you can watch him play video games. He has 77,000 subscribers on his fitness channel and 420,000 on TpindellTV.
Pindell, a Maryland native who came to Florida as a teenager, played football as a defensive back for one of Broward’s high school football powers, American Heritage School in Plantation. He went on to play under the legendary Howard Schnellenberger at Boca Raton-based Florida Atlantic University, where Pindell studied criminal justice. He spent “2½ hours” with Canada’s Edmonton Eskimos and then cast about for a living. He was a substitute teacher (a good source of material for future videos) in Broward schools and then worked as a school behavioral specialist dealing with troubled teens.
Bored and missing the days when he made teammates laugh, he made videos in his spare time. He went at it full time three years ago. It took 2½ years, he says, to reach 100,000 subscribers. By year three, he hit 1 million. Like other YouTube stars, he’s self-taught. Unlike others, now that he’s made it, he remains largely a one-man operation. A night owl, he sleeps in, but then works to nearly dawn.
His YouTube stardom has enabled him to travel the world. He’s moved into merchandise, personal appearances, entertaining at high school and college events. He’s branched into short films. He cites artist Issa Rae, whose web series
“Awkward Black Girl” graduated into a well-received HBO series. “There’s going to be more people that are going to do that in the future,” he says.
Pindell says the keys to YouTube success are quality content, responding to the audience (70% of his viewers are 13 to 24) and uploading consistently to keep the audience engaged and the revenue flowing. He creates two to three videos a week for his main channel and as many as six for his gaming channel.
“You can’t really take a break,” he says. “It never stops.” Then again, he says later, “I wouldn’t ever want to stop what I’m doing now.”
Income: Pindell could be earning between $5,000 to $20,000 a month on YouTube ad revenue alone, according to Social Blade.
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