Meet Keely Stagg, a graphic design student at the Columbus College of Art & Design with over 33,000 subscribers on her YouTube channel. She is taking a semester off of school because of COVID-19, but the extra time allows her to spend more time and effort on her channel. Stagg started her channel in 2012 and makes thrifting hauls, outfit ideas, DIY tutorials and other fashion videos. Her most popular video has raked in over 1.3 million views. We sat down with her to discuss how she started her channel and how she maintains it.
Q: What inspired you to start your channel?
A: I don’t know if I have a specific inspiration. I just watched a lot of YouTube videos. I always have since YouTube started. I loved watching videos and I loved watching fashion YouTubers and I’ve always been really into fashion from a young age. I saw what they were making and thought, “Hey, I wanna do that, too.”
Q: Was there a YouTuber that inspired you to make your channel?
A: The most specific person I can think of watching is Jenn Im. She’s been on YouTube for a very long time and I really loved her videos. I still do. I watched a lot more YouTubers than that, but I think that’s the one person I watched a lot.
Q: Do you remember when you first started gaining a following?
A: It happened at the end of 2016. I posted a video that jumped, I don’t know why this specific video, it must’ve gotten picked up by the algorithm. I always had a really low number of subscribers, probably just a couple thousand for a very long time. Then I posted this “thrift with me” video. I think it was in December 2016. That video just got a ton of views and got really, really popular and I gained a lot of subscribers from that. That was definitely the video that gained the most attention to my channel.
I think it just had to do with the way I titled it and the thumbnails. It was a really, really good thrift haul and I found a lot of really good stuff so I titled it “The Best Thrift Haul I’ve Ever Made” or something like that. So I think that title drew people in.
That one has over a million views. [My next most popular videos] aren’t even as close to being as popular as that video.
Q: So do you think titles and thumbnails have a lot to do with how many views a video gets?
A: Oh yeah, for sure. That’s definitely a big part that I think a lot of people that make videos always have to think about. A lot of people don’t mind making clickbait videos, but I think a lot of people always have in mind, “OK, how am I going to get people to watch this video without having to make it false with the thumbnail and title?”
Q: How do you decide which videos to make?
A: I have a long list of ideas. If I think of ideas I’ll write them down. Usually, if I want to film a video, I either have an idea and I just start making it or I’ll write it down and come back to it later. I try to keep it relevant to things that people would want to click on. I’m not going to make some type of summer fashion video in the middle of winter. If I have an idea, but it’s not something that is super relevant at the moment, I’ll write it down and save it for later. There’s definitely some videos that I’ve thought of years ago and I still haven’t made them.
Q: Are you ever overwhelmed by the amount of people who watch your videos?
A: It definitely has gotten to me before, especially with the videos that get really popular, like when they have 10,000 views then I’m like, “Wow, that’s crazy.” Especially those videos that got a million and close to it. That’s really insane. I can’t fathom that amount of people. That’s a lot of people.
Q: If you had more time, what would you like to do more of with your channel?
A: I definitely want to post more frequently, which has always been a goal of mine, because I’ve never really had a super consistent upload schedule. That’s actually what I’m trying to do now because I am off of school, so I do have a lot more time on my hands. I have so many ideas and I’ve just never had the time to execute them. Sometimes, I just felt like I never had the resources, but I’m older now, I live on my own, I have a car, so I can go do a lot of the videos that I’ve always had ideas for and I have the time to do them now. So, I definitely just want to make all the videos that I have ideas for and try to post them.
Q: Do you find it easier to work on one video at a time or to work on multiple projects?
A: I’m a person who can’t really function unless I’m multitasking. Even if I’m just doing things around the house, I have to be doing two things at once, at least.
The video I’m working on now started out as two hours of footage and now it’s in a rough cut stage and it’s like 16 minutes long. And then I have another one that’s a haul video and it was just me sitting down and talking for 40 minutes, which is ridiculous. So I feel like when I’m editing, I get really tired of working on the same video because it’s just so long, especially when you’re going through those stages where you have to watch every clip. So I like being able to switch back and forth between multiple videos because I might get tired of working on one that day and switch to another for a couple days. It’s like a palette cleanse.
Q: Does it get boring editing such long videos?
A: I’ve definitely gotten used to it. I feel like when I started making videos they were far, far shorter. As I make more videos, they just become longer and longer. When people first started making videos they were like five minutes long and that’d be considered a long video. Now people make super long, 40-minute videos. That’s how I tend to watch videos — I’ll sit down and watch a 40-minute video with a snack or something. My videos have just grown longer and I’ve just gotten used to it.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who wanted to start a similar channel?
A: It’s hard when you first start making videos not to compare yourself to others. I’ve definitely fallen into holes where I’ll really start liking one person and I’ll try hard to make my videos like theirs and I try to emulate what they’re doing. I would say to avoid that as much as possible. Just be yourself. I feel like that comes across in videos way better because your viewers are going to notice if you’re trying to be like someone else. If you’re being yourself people are going to take a liking to it much faster.
If you have an idea, but you haven’t seen it done anywhere else, you should just do it. Be yourself as much as possible and if you have cool, fresh, creative ideas then don’t concern yourself with what other people are doing.
If you want to make videos but you don’t have super fancy equipment, don’t let that hold you back. People are like, “I have to buy this one thousand dollar camera and get these studio lights and get a really pretty background and all this stuff,” when honestly you really don’t have to do that. If you have a phone that records video, you have everything you need. For editing software, you can just use iMovie and be perfectly fine. Use whatever you have and don’t feel held back by your equipment.
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Hi, I’m Maria McGinnis, a senior journalism student from Stow, Ohio. I’m also the editor in chief of A Magazine. My staff and I are committed to bringing you the most important and entertaining news from the realms of fashion, beauty, and culture. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate to A Magazine.