Some call themselves vloggers, others prefer YouTubers. But whatever the prefix, they are collectively a new media phenomenon.
Scots are part of a growing global trend of social networking stars who successfully turn a hobby into a lucrative full-time career.
They upload high-quality video and pictures – on subjects ranging from fashion to computer games – to websites like YouTube and Instagram which are shared by their thousands of followers.
Thanks to their loyal following and ability to reach a younger audience, leading retailers are only too happy to enlist their services to help promote new products.
Some of the world’s biggest YouTube stars can earn millions each year from advertising and revenue generated from video views. England’s Zoe Suggs aka Zoella – one of the UK’s most popular vloggers – reportedly earned over £10,000 a day in 2015.
What started as a hobby can quickly transform into a thriving business. Becoming a vlogger sounds deceptively simple. All you need is a camera of reasonable quality, a laptop and an internet connection.
But the reality is different. Leading social media stars have often spent years carefully building their personal brands.
“The most common question I’m asked is how gain to following,” said Jamie Genevieve, who uploads videos offering detailed fashion tutorials on YouTube to 178,000 subscribers as well sharing pictures with her 400,000 followers on Istagram.
“You have to be consistent in what you’re doing. If you post videos, you should upload new material at least once a week. With Instagram, you should be posting new pictures every day. People like to know you’re going to be around. They don’t want to follow you if you’re not active for two weeks at a time.”
The 23-year-old from Glasgow is now in high demand. This weekend, she will be one of the main speakers at Spa In The City, Edinburgh’s biggest health and beauty festival, which takes place at St Andrew’s Square gardens.
So how do you progress from enthusiastic amateur to respected pro? Like in any field, offering both expertise and a unique insight goes a long way.
Jamie learned her make-up skills the old-fashioned way – training at college and working ‘on counter’ at Debenhams in Glasgow.
“I then became a self-employed make-up artist last June, but as of August I will be doing social media full-time,” she said.
Negative comments – by so-called online trolls – are a downside of the job, admits Jamie. But she insists it’s something you learn to ignore.
“It’s random people from all over the world who maybe are having a bad day, and they want to take it out on someone else,” she said.
“At first, it was more difficult. I would talk things through with my family. Now I don’t bat an eyelid. I know myself what they’re saying isn’t true.
“You’re only showing people one part of your life – and they’re making up the rest, but they have no idea.”
Social media stars are only possible thanks to the technology revolution that has changed the way the world communicates. Video editing equipment was once the preserve of film studios and operated by technicians.
Now it’s possible can learn basic skills in minutes.
“You really do need to be a jack of all trades in this industry, there’s so much to know,” said Kate La Vie, a Glasgow-based fashion blogger.
“Editing was something I just picked up along the way, I’ve always been good with the technical side of things. A lot of Googling and trial and error helped too.”
The appeal of uploading video over pictures is that it encourages more interactions with viewers, but also generates more advertising revenue – although the number of views required for a single video to make more than pennies is considerable.
“I do probably get more interaction on a video, but sometimes certain content is more suited to photos and words,” added Katie, 25.
“I’ve been uploading to YouTube on and off since I started blogging years ago, but it’s only recently that I really committed to it. There’s a lot more you can do with video – but it takes a lot more effort.”
It may be hard work, but Kate readily admits she loves her job. “I don’t think I ever truly switch off – there’s always something to do,” she added.