Exclusive - How to become a YouTube hit...from one of the big stars
You may wonder what your teenager is up to when they slam their bedroom doors shut and settle in for an evening of YouTube watching.
They may pop out for the occasional toilet break, yet flushing the loo and washing their hands might be asking too much as they dare not miss a second of the phenomenon they have long since become addicted to.
Essentially, millions of kids (and some who refuse to grow up!) in Ireland, the UK and around the world are hooked on the craze of watching other people play computer games on YouTube.
To those of us 'on the outside', it seems like an uninspiring entertainment concept, so we asked Mark Turpin from one of the UK’s biggest gaming channels Yogscast to enlighten us on what we are missing out on.
After spending 20 minutes in his company, it became clear that the scale of the entertainment network he is overseeing deserves a little more respect than some may choose to give it.
“The best way to explain what we do is to say we are entertainers who aim to produce videos that our fan base enjoys,” begins 29-year-old Mark, who is known to his army of fans as Turps.
“YouTube is an alternative platform to television and what we do is even more intimate to the viewer than a TV show that has been through post production, an ethics board and so many other layers of management before we see it on our screens.
“TV can feel elitist and distant, yet what we find that people who watch our YouTube channels have a different experience.
“Our viewers get the real person producing his or her own videos and they gravitate to the YouTuber who appeals to them most.
“We like to see the audience as our friends and that intimacy makes the videos feel like you are involved in a video chat with your mates.”
Yogscast became the first YouTube channel in the UK to reach one billion views in 2012 and they have multiplied that number many times over in the years since.
That has helped them to become a magnet for advertisers keen to tap into the enthusiasm of their audience to support anything associated with the Yogscast their brand.
With this company assets listed at £2.8m in their latest accounts and that figure rising, the idea that YouTubers are just a bunch of computer geeks who should find better things to do with their time is put into some perspective.
“There are a variety of ways we can create a revenue stream,” explains Mark, who revealed Yogscast have also raised $6m for their chosen charities through a series of online campaigns in recent years.
“We have pop up adverts and YouTube take 45% of the revenue from those. The rest of the money is then distributed and we get some of that.
“We also have companies that specifically request to have their adverts appearing on our channels and this ensures their products are getting to an audience that are likely to be receptive.
“Then we have our very popular merchandise range and we also appear at gaming conventions for signing sessions that allow us to meet our fans.
“Our subscribers make donations if they enjoy what we are giving them and in many ways, that’s the secret to success.
“You have to engage with your audience and show a passion that comes through their screen.
“If someone is on YouTube trying to be famous, they will probably not succeed as people see through that.
“Our viewers are not paying a subscription fee, so if they lose interest, they will simply turn off and go elsewhere. That keeps us motivated to continue to produce interesting content.
“YouTube channels are being sold around the world for many millions of pounds right now, so this is a growing industry and our company is pleased to be at the heart of it.”
Turpin admits he does not know whether his YouTube channel and the thousands striving to replicate the success of Yogscast is sustainable, but he has certainly silenced the pleas of his own parents with his runaway success story.
“My Mum and Dad told me I was wasting my life away playing computer games all day, yet none of us could have imaged how this would go,” adds the entrepreneur who is married with young daughter.
“Now I have people of a variety of ages spotting me and wanting selfies and autographs when I go out, which is quite a strange feeling.
“This is all about people wanting to come and hang out with us as we have fun playing games. So long as people continue to enjoy that, we will hopefully be here for a long time to come.”
Parents may never fully understand the appeal of YouTube gaming channels, yet the audience who view Turps and his friends as icons of their era could care less what we think.
YouTubers and their admirers are here to stay and while we may not understand what they are all about, the influence they have on a generation of their disciples is only likely to grow.