Forget training to become a lawyer or a top city investment banker, it seems nowadays you can earn mega bucks without even having to leave your bedroom.
The new generation of beauty YouTubers are making millions, paying off mortgages and taking trips around the world – all before they’ve reached the tender age of 25. What’s the secret to their success?
How they make their money
The new generation of star doesn't need a TV show to launch their career. Instead, they are self-recording in their home environment, covering everything from make-up tutorials to best buys to diary entries on their lives.
Uploading videos at least once a week, the vloggers (that's video bloggers) have nurtured loyal fan bases of upwards of a million and have social followings (Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram) to match.
What's savvy about this new batch of talent is that they are earning money on every hand-held video they create - so it's turned into a full-time job.
On Youtube, for example, every 1000 times a pre-roll advert is shown before a video, YouTube gets a portion of the revenue and the vlogger gets a cut too (55 per cent).
And the figures are so eye-watering, this lot don't even need to subsidise their income. Chris Hall, Tech Writer at Yahoo UK said: “While it might seem incredible that an amateur YouTube channel can grow into a full-time job, the advertising revenue available to people with more than 100,000 subscribers – whether they’re gamers, musicians or beauty experts – is significant.
“With a few million subscribers, you’re looking at making in the region of $100,000 (£60,000) a year.”
And it's big business. Beauty videos on YouTube have just hit more than 700 million worldwide hits a month, with 41 per of women now watching them online, according to figures from VoucherCloud.com.
But that's not the only way they're earning the big bucks. Beauty brands are so keen to piggyback on their popularity that they're getting as much as £100,000 a day to promote their products. And they're even launching their own brands.
The online stars are dripping with designer goods and paying off mortgages on second homes in London.
Which makes us wonder why we're slaving away at our desk jobs.
The biggest stars
In the UK, there are a number of young women getting in on the act but the most popular beauty vloggers are Tanya Burr and Zoe Sugg aka Zoella respectively.
The 24-year-old former make-up counter girl – known affectionately as Tan to friends and fiancé, Jim Chapman (who has also jumped on the act himself) - is now a household name amongst Generation Z with two million subscribers, 10 million video views and 500,000 followers on Twitter to date.
She’s just launched a make-up line with Eye Candy - with the largest waiting list they’ve ever had (5.5k customers already signing up to get their hands on Tanya’s range ahead of its launch at the beginning of 2014).
It’s already the 11th most popular brand on Feelunique.com and is now sold on Superdrug.com and soon to be in stores up and down the country.
Tanya was recently named the 17th most influential young person in the Guardian’s Top 30 Young People in Digital Media – pretty good going for a girl whose first job was a paper delivery girl.
And it's not an accolade that's been handed out lightly. The girls aren't just creating a video a week and leaving them to take off, they are constantly pushing from their social channels, appearing in other Youtube vlogger videos to up their following and interacting with their fans to create content that's in demand.
They are not just presenters, they are also social media wizzes, marketeers and do their own market research.
Zoe on the other hand is the most popular beauty vlogger in the UK with more than four million subscribers. In an industry first, she’s also just landed the cover of the latest issue of Company magazine. Impressive.
Why we keep tuning in
The most sought-after beauty videos according to the latest research are smoky eyes, with 42 per cent of people looking for tutorials on this topic, followed closely by contouring and highlighting. Fancy dress make-up and filling in your eyebrows are also popular searches.
And it doesn't even have to be that informative. For the highest-earning beauty vloggers, including Tanya and Zoe, a haul video where they simply talk through the products they’ve bought (you'll even see them talking about something as unglamorous as deodrant they bought from Superdrug) gets on average half a million views.
So what is it about these girls’ videos that gets the millions of youngsters tuning in devotedly? Body language expert Judi James reckons it’s because it’s like having a virtual best-friend in our bedroom that we wouldn’t have been cool enough to talk to at school.
She told Yahoo Lifestyle: "There are two strands of appeal factors in both Zoella and Tanya’s videos: firstly they are very good at what they do.
“If a make-up counter could talk, it would sound like them, luring you into sampling the products that they are only too happy to guinea-pig themselves.”
She reckons the reason that viewers don’t find their excitableness annoying is because we have chosen to watch them – and we can turn them off whenever we want.
“Despite the over-emphatic girly-ness, they only teeter on the side of being annoying and that’s because they are in a controllable space,” she said.
“We summon them up like genies from a bottle when we want a bit of girl-on-girl camp.
“If they worked in the same office we’d probably lock them in the toilets with a copy of The Female Eunuch until they’d lowered their vocal tone and stopped waving their hands around their heads like something from Carry on Girls.”
What their body language reveals about them – and us
Deep-down, Judi thinks the reason we engage with these videos on YouTube is because we wouldn’t have had the guts to speak to them in person when we were younger.
She said: “The subliminal appeal is to do with emotions and childhood/teenage relationships. Both Zoella and Tanya would have been the girls at our school that were pretty enough and sassy enough to be part of the smart crowd.
“With their confident smiles and their clear skin they would have been way up the pecking order and so probably wouldn’t have bothered to speak to plebs like us.
“Yet here they are at our beck and call, looking for all the world like our very best friends, mingling beauty and confidence with subtle submission signals and what look like an overpowering desire for our approval and friendship.”
Judi also thinks their animated behaviour gives viewers the impression that they really want us to be their friends.
“Zoella is in full pseudo-infantile re-motivational mode, self-diminishing by keeping her elbows pulled into her waist like a cute little animal that is fearful of attack,” she told us.
“Her eyes never quite meet ours as her hands flap about her head and she talks to herself when things go wrong.
“Tanya starts in a higher than high vocal tone which again mimics childhood. Her eyes are straight to camera but with her ingratiating, suppressed smile and looks as though she really wants us to be her friend.”
Our virtual best friend
Ultimately, watching and engaging with a fashion or beauty vlogger online is like having a ‘virtual best friend’ that gives us what we want without anything in return.
“This approach sates a bit of a dream for most girls who found siblings’ relationships or close friendships a problem,” she said.
“These girls are not only great at what they do they are also like a virtual best friend who demands nothing from us in return for that friendship apart from tuning in and listening whenever and however we want.
“They are like an ideal sister who sits quietly in her room until we decide we want to pop in for a chat or to get advice on the lippy before a big night out.”
So what next?
It's the first generation of this kind of money making and so we don't really have a precendent for what to expect as each profile grows.
But it's fair to say that many of them have already transformed themselves since first hitting the scene.
It's not surprising to see vloggers sporting designer handbags and thousand-pound pairs of heels as they sit front row at London Fashion Week, so does that remove them from the normality that made them so enticing in the first place?
Although we don't predict a car crash scenario like some teen Hollywood stars. And that's because these famous fledglings are so connected to their audiences that they'll never stray too far from their tripod.
We say watch this space. And one thing's for sure, we wish we hadn’t thrown away our webcams…
How I got six million viewers on YouTube - and turned it into a full-time job