- The YouTube star Lizzy Capri has amassed over 4 million subscribers and over half a billion views less than two years after posting her first video online.
- Capri was recently nominated for a Streamy Award in the category breakout creator. The Streamy Awards recognize creators in online video and the ceremony will be held in Los Angeles on December 13.
- In 2016, she graduated from Carnegie Mellon University and immediately got a job at LinkedIn.
- But she quit after helping her friends Stephen and Carter Sharer become successful on YouTube, and she decided to start her own channel.
- Capri shared why she left her traditional job to pursue YouTube and how she’s been able to build a sustainable business online, with employees, brand deals, and millions of views per video.
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This article was originally published on October 10 and has been updated to reflect Capri’s Streamy Award nomination.
When Lizzy Capri graduated college in 2016, YouTube fame wasn’t on her mind. She followed a more traditional path, snagging a 9-to-5 job upon graduation.
“YouTube was always a big part of my life growing up,” she told Business Insider. “And I knew people had made careers out of it; I just didn’t really know how — and left it at that.”
Capri had studied statistics and technical writing at Carnegie Mellon University, and worked as a technical writer at LinkedIn after graduating.
But she had been helping her college friend Carter Sharer (5.6 million subscribers) and his brother Stephen (7 million subscribers)with their channels, watching them grow and grow.
Then, in 2018, Capri decided to start a channel of her own. It almost immediately became a runaway success.
Capri, now 25 years old, has over 4 million YouTube subscribers and over half a billion views — less than two years after posting her first video online. Recently, she was nominated for a Streamy Award in the category breakout creator. The Streamy Awards recognize creators in online video and the ceremony will be held in Los Angeles on December 13.
She is the brains behind the “Lizzy Capri” brand, overseeing analytics, logistics, marketing, and branding on a channel that attracts mostly younger viewers.
Leaving a traditional career for YouTube
Stephen Sharer’s channel came first, with videos like hoverboard unboxing and an “insane backflip challenge” (now with almost 14 million views).
The channel’s growth began to accelerate in 2017, and Carter Sharer — who was also working on the channel along with his brother and Capri — said he would quit his day job if the channel passed 100,000 subscribers.
It did, and Capri said she thought to herself, “I’d be willing to quit, too, but if we reach 1 million.”
Within two months of Carter quitting, the original channel, Stephen Sharer, hit 1 million subscribers, prompting her to leave her job at LinkedIn.
“It was so insane,” she said. “We had an Excel spreadsheet of ideas — hundreds of ideas — and any time I would think of an idea, I would add it, and that’s where a lot of the initial video ideas came from.”
At first, Capri spent time on the back end of the channel, managing the email account, audience engagement through comments, and fan mail to build audience loyalty, she said.
“My traditional job definitely helped shape my experience on YouTube and created more structure around being a creator and working in this unstructured lifestyle,” she said.
Lol I seriously love this mini car
A day in the life
Early last year, Capri decided to launch her own channel, which soon turned into four channels: a main channel, a vlog channel, a gaming channel, and a channel for her dog Milli, a Havanese-poodle mix.
Out of her four channels, Milli’s World is the second most popular at almost 1 million subscribers.
Capri said it usually takes several days to develop an idea into a video. And there’s a strategy to gaining millions of views.
“It seems like we just picked up the camera and ran, but we actually sat down, brainstormed, and figured out a structure for the video,” she said. “We want it to feel easy, but there’s a lot of production that goes into each video.”
Capri said she spends a significant amount of time thinking about what the thumbnail image will be, and takes about an hour capturing the photo for it.
In a previous interview, Reed Duchscher, the president of the talent-management firm Night Media, spoke with Business Insider about popular techniques creators use to draw in younger viewers, such as adding bright colors like neon green and yellow to a thumbnail image.
“The reason why these popular channels are being promoted comes down to two things: high average view duration and high click-through rate,” Duchscher said.
Capri employs some of these techniques on her thumbnails.
Working on something top secret 😝 comment what u think it is!
Building a sustainable business online
Capri owns and operates her four channels but has been a key member in developing the channels of three other creators: Carter Sharer, Stove’s Kitchen, and Ryan Prunty.
Today, all four creators are on a “team” together, with several employees, from full-time video editors and production assistants to someone who assists with merchandise creation and sales, she said.
“There’s a sustainability aspect for businesses that is different from if it’s a hobby or passion,” she said. “I’ve always taken it very seriously, and you have to if you’re relying on it to pay your bills.”
She said the team works together every day and films about two videos a day for someone’s channel. They’ll also spend time reviewing each video’s analytics together — like views, click-through rate, and watch time — looking at what works and removing methods that don’t. She said they try for a 50% watch time on videos and will look at where viewers click off from the video through the data provided by YouTube’s creator studio.
“Our day is totally packed,” she said. “There are a lot of back-end business things we have to get sorted out, with our legal team or accountant, on a weekly basis.”
Capri said she earns money through ads on her YouTube videos, brand partnerships, and other opportunities, like merchandise.
On YouTube, creators earn revenue through ads placed in videos by Google. How much a creator earns from Google’s AdSense program on a YouTube video depends on a number of factors, from the place in the video where viewers normally drop off to the type of advertisers the video gets. Some top creators have ad-placement strategies for earning the most money possible, and generally how much money is earned varies based on a video’s watch time, length, and viewer demographic.
What works on YouTube changes constantly, she said. Over the past year, she said her team has been focused on developing a creative strategy and rebranding the team name (previously “dream team” now “Team RAR”), while also growing a sustainable audience, making sure they are still focusing on the followers they each have, instead of the one-off viral hits.
“There is a lot more pressure now because there are so many more people involved,” she said. “For us to grow, not just as one channel but as a group, there’s power in numbers and we saw that.”
For more on how to become a successful influencer, according to YouTube and Instagram stars, check out these Business Insider Prime posts:
How much money a 24-year-old YouTube creator earned from 150 million views on a ‘Nerf war’ video: Paul Kousky is a full-time YouTube creator who films monthly videos about Nerf guns for his 10 million subscribers.
- A TikTok star with over 880,000 followers explains the ways she earns money and how much she makes: The 22-year-old college student Salina, known as “Salinakilla” online, began uploading videos to TikTok about four months ago and now has over 880,000 followers. She broke down how she earns money through the app.
- How much money a YouTube video with 1 million views makes, according to 4 creators: Business Insider spoke with four YouTube creators — Marina Mogilko, Kevin David, Austen Alexander, and Shelby Church — about how much each of them earned from videos with 1 million views.
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