Lauren Francesca: How to Make it Big on YouTube
Today, online actress and Key of Awesome regular Lauren Francesca is part of a VidCon panel on online comedy, but last month she sat down for a red carpet interview at the Streaming Media East conference in New York City. Faced with a YouTube superstar who's resume already included loads of interesting projects, we had to ask how to make it big on YouTube.
"Be very, very consistent," explained Francesca. "It's just kind of being able to interact with your audience and grow your fan base, and at the same time, find things that you do videos about that are relatable to pop culture so that you can outreach to a larger demographic."
Collaborating with other YouTube names is another way to grow a fan base:
"Any kind of work can potentially be good," explained Francesca. "You just have to be smart about how you do it and be careful which things you decide to say, yes I will collaborate and do, and which ones you say, oh, that's good but you've still got to be picky. If somebody's reaching out to you and they have two million subscribers and they want you to do something really awesome, generally it's going to be positive because there's a reason they have that big an audience."
To see the full interview, watch the video below.
Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen: Hi, I'm Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen. I'm the editor of StreamingMedia.com and Screaming Media magazine.
Lauren Francesca: Hey, I'm Lauren Francesca.
Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen: And we are here at Screaming Media East in New York City and I'm speaking with a woman that Tubefilter called the queen of music parody video, I believe.
Lauren Francesca: That's awesome.
Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen: It is awesome. And you work with Key of Awesome.
Lauren Francesca: Yes.
Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen: And you just spoke here on a panel called, I believe, "Making a Living on YouTube."
Lauren Francesca: Yeah.
Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen: Is that, like, a legitimate career goal these days?
Lauren Francesca: Yeah, a lot of people are doing it, and it's funny because I do all these panels and people are always asking me, "How do you do it?"
Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen: And, well, so how do you do it? What tips do you have to people who either have already established themselves as content creators, or even better, folks who aren't in it at all but sort of have this they want to become the next YouTube star? What are some tips you can give?
Lauren Francesca: Be very, very consistent, and I feel like that's what everyone says. It's just kind of being able to interact with your audience and grow your fan base, and at the same time, find things that you do videos about that are relatable to pop culture so that you can outreach to a larger demographic.
Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen: Right, I was watching that interview you did with Tubefilter and one of the things you mentioned was the importance of trying to connect with established brands such as The Gregory Brothers or folks like that who already have a name and have a following and try to help them and then they'll help you gain that following.
Lauren Francesca: Yeah.
Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen: Now, you've been an actor forever, more or less.
Lauren Francesca: Yeah.
Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen: You've done a lot of commercial work, pilots, and then you had this huge success with the first Lady Gaga parody you did. Is your goal still to work in television or is that still a part of what you're working towards?
Lauren Francesca: Oh, yeah, it's really cool. I shot an episode of Louis CK last week, which is awesome. I'm an actor, so whatever I can do. I'm shooting with Key of Awesome tomorrow and then I'm shooting with them on Tuesday, so it's great. And then doing colabs with other big people is awesome, too, because just more people see my stuff and offer me projects and roles, so it's awesome.
Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen: Do you find that there's more of a willingness to cooperate and collaborate among the online video producers and content creators than you find in traditional media, traditional television?
Lauren Francesca: I feel there used to be more of the willingness between people with fan bases because they saw the value in saying, "Oh, let's work with this person. He has a big audience." Now more TV and movie producers are seeing and just realizing and getting funding because people have fan bases, so it's slowly kind of taking over, which is great.
Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen: Right. Is there any downside to that you feel? I wonder, I worry that perhaps that organic sense of community and people who are just creating things without the goal of necessarily getting funding or something like that. I worry sometimes that some creativity might be stifled a little bit.
Lauren Francesca: I think it's all good, any kind of work can potentially be good. You just have to be smart about how you do it and be careful which things you decide to say, yes I will collaborate and do, and which ones you say, oh, that's good but you've still got to be picky. If somebody's reaching out to you and they have two million subscribers and they want you to do something really awesome, generally it's going to be positive because there's a reason they have that big an audience. If you send an audience that you want to connect to, then you can always say no.
Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen: Right. As you look back at all the videos you've done over the last few years, what's your favorite? Do you have a favorite?
Lauren Francesca: Oh, I have so many, I have so many. Well, my Gaga ones, those are just the ones that like it was just a video and then one day I woke up and I'm like, "Oh, my God. Where am I? I'm all over the internet," which was awesome. And the videos I did with Epic Meal Time. It was just so much fun to be in Canada with them. And then I did Lady Pasta with Daneboe before it was like really huge, and then just seeing how amazingly big it was. It was pretty cool to be a part of that.
Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen: Are there any that you look back on and you say, "What the hell was I thinking?"
Lauren Francesca: I mean, there's some times you'll agree to do a video with a friend and then they won't tell you all of the specifics of what the video's going to be and that, but I'm generally pretty good at asking lots and lots of questions and making sure that what I'm doing is all okay because I have a big audience of different ages, but I do have a lot of young fans, because Key of Awesome fan base is pretty young. So it's just I have to, my number one fan is this 15-year-old girl in Europe and she writes me every day and she makes videos. She started a YouTube channel, I Love Lauren Francesca, and she's a 15-year-old girl, so I try not to do anything that a 15-year-old girl would look at and say like, "Oh, I want to do that," and it be really bad.
Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen: Right.
Lauren Francesca: ‘Cause I'd feel guilty.
Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen: Sure. You've mentioned some of the other people you've worked with, but when it comes to some of the online sites and channels, what are some of your favorites to watch, the folks you always say, "I have to watch everything they do"?
Lauren Francesca: Well, Key of Awesome/BarelyPolitical because I worked with them for five years and they always come out with stuff that makes me laugh. I love CollegeHumor because it's very topical. FunnyorDie is great, too, because I love that they have so many different people that are a part of FunnyorDie. One of my favorite YouTubers right now coming up is this guy Mike Diva. I don't know if you've seen any of his stuff. It's amazing. It's like he does all these graphics and After Effects, and I've been stalking him. I'm like, "I want to work with you," so hopefully I'll work with him in the future. And Phil DeFranco is just very good. He's topical. I pay attention. You make YouTube videos so you have to pay attention to who really does well, so Phil DeFranco is just really great and just smart about how he edits things. I'll spend a day watching all the YouTube videos and I'm like, "Okay."
Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen: Right, right. So last question, anything you're working on now that you're especially excited about now that's upcoming that you can talk about?
Lauren Francesca: Yeah, well a comic book character I developed got picked up by Zenescope, so they are actually basing a comic on me. It's a..
Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen: Is that Space Babe?
Lauren Francesca: No, Space Babe was Key of Awesome. It's a web series.
Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen: Okay.
Lauren Francesca: I see so much stuff. So that's really cool. It's a comic book basically based on my image and I'm like a warrior angel. And I'll be actually at Philly Comic Con on the 1st and the 2nd, but I'll be going to San Diego Comic Con with it, signing autographs and stuff at Zenescope. It's in their Grimm Fairy Tales, comics, so that's really cool. And then I did four movies last year, so hopefully, they're all like higher budget Indie's. One I starred in called Catskill Park, so I'm super hoping. You can only hope with things. And I'm producing three pilots, so one of them is with Diedra Wayans. The other is with Rex Pickett, who wrote Sideways, and yeah, and that one I'm really, really excited about. so currently, I'm just in the process of pre-production with that one and hopefully I'll shoot it in August.
Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen: Very cool. And you still had time to sit down for us with a few minutes here. I really appreciate that.
Lauren Francesca: Well, thank you for making time for me. I know you're pretty busy all day, too.
Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen: Well, we try, we try. Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen signing off from Streaming Media East in New York and thanks to Lauren Francesca.
Lauren Francesca: Bye.
After the success of their Auto-Tune the News videos and the hit single "Bed Intruder Song," the Gregory Brothers have become online comedy royalty.