Welcome to YouTube Millionaires, where we profile channels that have recently crossed the one million subscriber mark. There are channels crossing this threshold every week, and each has a story to tell about YouTube success. Read previous installments of YouTube Millionaires here.
On YouTube, Laurie Shannon gets to displayed her passion for baking, and the large following she has generated as a result is just the icing on the cake.
The Canadian confectioner, managed by Reuven Ashtar of Never Napping, is known online as The Icing Artist, and her cakes are an eclectic bunch. Some are inspired by pop culture, others appeal specifically to kids, and still more are themed around holidays. We decided to get some answers from the lady who has a dessert for every occasion and one million subscribers on her channel.
Tubefilter: How does it feel to have more than one million YouTube subscribers? What do you have to say to your fans?
Laurie Shannon: We’ll let you know when it sinks in!! This whole year has really been a blur for my fiance Kevin and I. It took us 3 years to gain 80,000 subscribers, then ten crazy months to get to one million! In our wildest dreams we never imagined we would have over a million subscribers, and certainly not in such a short amount of time. It’s kind of like that feeling that things are too good to be true and you’re about to wake up from a dream. In our mind it still feels like we have around 100,000 subscribers, because that’s what seems realistic.
To our viewers, this may sound cliche…but thank you all for making our dreams come true. We get to work from home and do what we love for a living because of YOU! Your encouragement, whether it be through clicking the subscribe button, giving a video a thumbs up, or leaving us an awesome comment, has meant the world to us and really made all this possible. If not for you, I’d still be filming silly videos alone in my parents’ basement storage room. (True story!) Love you guys!
TF: What made you decide to share your cakemaking skills on YouTube?
LS: Two reasons, really. I LOVED making cakes but couldn’t afford to go to school for it. It seemed like in order to make amazing cakes, you had to go to an expensive school to learn. Since that wasn’t possible, I taught myself through books, videos, basic classes, and A LOT of practice. I wanted to share what I had learned with the world so everyone could see how easy it is to make amazing cakes with only a few tools and no training. I wanted to take the seriousness out of cake decorating and get back to the reason every person picks up a spatula: to make something beautiful and yummy for their loved ones.
Also, working at a bakery making minimum wage wasn’t going to pay the bills. Where there is no clear path, create one.
TF: What do you think are some small details that often get overlooked when making a cake?
LS: A beautifully decorated cake really comes down to the fine details. I find simple cakes can look amazing if I spend time making sure all the little details are clean and perfect. If you get too ambitious with a design and rush through it, you won’t end up with as nice of a result as you would if you go for a simple design and execute it well. Sometimes less is more.
TF: How much time on average would you say it takes to design one of your cakes?
LS: It can take me anywhere from 20 minutes to a few hours to design a cake. When coming up with a design I’m not just thinking about what will make a cool cake, I’m thinking about what will make an awesome video. They usually start off as a simple idea, then I build and build on them until I feel like “It’s perfect!”
It’s all the things that follow after the design is done that are time consuming. Making a cake into a video is quite a process. It would take me about an hour to make most of my cakes, but with filming it usually takes a full day. It’s really important that we capture the story of me making the cake perfectly and that we aren’t just documenting the process.
TF: Do you have a favorite cake out of all the ones you’ve made on your channel?
LS: With almost 300 videos on our channel, it’s hard to pick just one, so I have a few favourites! My Harry Potter Monster Book of Monsters Cake, Twirling Cinderella Dress Cake, and Walking Dead Zombie Head Cake. Such a strange combination now that I look at all three grouped together! But my favourites are always based around things I love.
TF: Why do you think compilations in particular have performed so well on your channel?
LS: Compilations, in general, are so easy to consume. There’s no language barrier and you don’t have to want to learn how to make a cake to enjoy watching the process. For example, I could spend hours watching nail art videos, but I have no desire to spend hours making little designs on my nails. But, just like cakes, they’re fun, satisfying, and mesmerizing to watch.
As for why they have done particularly well for us, I spend a long time coming up with concepts, editing them down, and picking the perfect thumbnail that will catch a viewer’s eye in the sea of content on YouTube.
TF: Given how regularly you upload new cake videos, what steps do you take to avoid creative burnout?
LS: Oh that’s a tough one! Everything you can think of has probably been done before in some form. It’s challenging to come up with new, creative, unique ideas that will resonate well with our audience. I love to pull inspiration from lots of different places, and put my own personal twist on classic designs.
I wish that all the cakes I made were just from my own imagination like my Cookie Jar Cake, but often times I turn to the internet to get the creative ball rolling. Whether it be from a new movie or popular TV show such as my Lego Batman Cake, or from an everyday object that I think could be turned into cake, such as my Cup of Hot Chocolate Cake, inspiration can be found anywhere if you look hard enough.
TF: Beyond cakes, what other foods do you enjoy making?
LS: I love to cook and bake just about everything! Sadly life sometimes gets in the way and I don’t have much time to make all the yummy food I love. But Christmas is where I make time to make all the family favourites for everyone to enjoy over the holidays! Baking is always a huge production at our house. Our dinning table is covered with cinnamon buns, tarts, squares, and, of course, cookies!
TF: What’s next for your channel? Any fun plans?
LS: Other than continuing to post new cake videos and grow as a creator, I would love to write a cookbook and create some products that would help our viewers with their own cake adventures. With YouTube being such a digital business, it would be so amazing to have a physical thing to share with everyone! It almost seems like big dreams more than plans. But, apparently dreams can come true…so ask me again next year!