Vogue spoke with beauty vlogger  Shannon Harris ahead of VidCon 2017.

What started you on your YouTube career?

“I loved makeup as a teenager but none of my friends were that interested. I began searching online for other people I could relate to, and came across YouTube channels. I watched them for a year or so and decided to try and find a New Zealand or Australian person to watch but found it hard, so decided to make my own channel!”

Was it hard to get it ‘out there’ straight away – was it ever frustrating to the point you thought ‘Who is actually going to watch my channel?’

“It was, but I never created a channel to become ‘well known’ or ‘famous’. I remember 100 people subscribing to me and I lost it. It was so awesome (and still is). It took a long time to grow my following, but I think people came across my channel because I was one of the only people from New Zealand doing it, and they valued my help. In New Zealand a few years ago, good brands were difficult to find, and we couldn’t get the same things that the American beauty gurus were raving about. I think I was easier to relate to, and that’s why my channel grew.”

YouTube is the place so many people use as their point of news/entertainment/information contact – do you take a look at ‘traditional’ media at all?

“I never watch TV, read newspapers etc. Personally, I rely on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook to hear about news, trends, entertainment etc. YouTube is such a huge network of different people and I think you can find almost any and all information you need right there. And you are in control of what you want to watch, unlike TV where you just have to pick from the limited channels and watch what is on at that exact time.”

What are three or four tips you would give to someone starting a YouTube channel?

“1. Be yourself. It sounds cliché but people will subscribe and watch because of YOU and YOUR personality. If you are serious, goofy, weird etc, it doesn’t matter because as long as you are you, people will relate.
2. Make videos about what YOU love. Don’t just do beauty because its popular. If you LOVE gaming, or baking, or ANYTHING else, make videos about that. Your passion will show through your videos and the more passionate you are, the more interesting you will be. There is a demand for almost everything on YouTube so you will find your own niche.
3. Start off strong with good quality videos. Speak up nice and clear, have good lighting (even setting up in front of a window will give you perfect lighting) and use a good quality camera. Even your iPhone will do a good job if its paired up with a good lighting set-up!”

Is it important to stick with what you know – as opposed to trying to be all things to everyone?

“I think it’s good to stick to what you know, but also try new things. You can never please everyone, but it’s always good to push yourself out of your comfort zone. I do it a lot on my channel, and sometimes it’s a disaster but I’ll upload it anyway and have a laugh, because it’s important that my viewers know I’m not perfect.”

What will the next 5–10 years bring: where can you see your channel going?

“I really want to continue uploading my videos because making them makes me super happy. I love filming makeup tutorials and trying new beauty products. I also want to work on expanding my brand xoBeauty and adding more beauty products on there, because it’s a huge goal of mine to one day have a full beauty range under my own name.”

What is your favourite thing about creating content – the reaction you get from people and that fantastic sense of having built a real, interactive community?

“There are two parts – actually creating the content, especially the filming stages. I have so much fun playing with makeup. And then definitely reading the comments after I upload. It’s very rewarding seeing people’s reactions, reading requests, seeing pictures of my viewers recreations etc.”

How important is an event like VidCon for you to all get together, as I’m sure it probably doesn’t happen very much?

“It’s so much fun to be able to get together with other influencers that you don’t get to see much. And I also love doing meet ups with my viewers too!”

Who do you look up to in the creator space and admire?

“Basically everyone. I don’t watch much YouTube because I spend more time creating my own videos and interacting with my viewers, but I have so much admiration for anyone and everyone putting themselves out there. It is a lot of work, but it’s fun work.”

The article first appeared on vogue.com.au