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.
After spending more than four years exciting, enthralling, and uplifting her viewers, Molly Burke has surpassed one million subscribers on YouTube. Burke, who at a young age was diagnosed with a condition called Retinis Pigmentosa, is the first blind creator to surpass the million-subscriber mark. Despite her disability, she rolls out regular vlogs, beauty videos, and collaborations, accompanied by her dog Gallop. Now that Burke, who is managed by Reuven Ashtar of Never Napping, has made such a big name for herself, we talked to her about what she has acomplished.
Tubefilter: How does it feel to have over one million subscribers on your channel? What do you have to say to your fans?
Molly Burke: I don’t think it will ever sink in that I have a MILLION humans that have, at one point or another, decided that they care about me enough to hit subscribe. Being the first blind YouTuber to hit one million subscribers is SO cool and I couldn’t be more grateful to my killer bees for joining the club and choosing to come on this crazy journey of life with me! And Gallop, of course…the real reason everyone follows!
All that said, at the end of the day, as much as I appreciate having all these people in my life, I’d post videos even if I didn’t. It took me a year to get to 5,000 subs and another year to get to 10,000, and 4 years in I’m at one million. It makes me sad when I hear people say that they started a channel but gave up because no one was watching. Do it for YOU, because you love it and for the few who do watch. Don’t do it for the numbers, the fame, or the money that could potentially come. I literally avoid looking at Social Blade, I avoid looking at the views, or any of that stuff. I know if I looked at it too often I’d get caught up in it and I’d stop creating for the right reason.
That’s the biggest piece of advice I could give any aspiring YouTuber – don’t look at the numbers and don’t give up when it’s not working. You never know when it’s going to explode – do it for the love of creating and sharing.
TF: Why did you decide to launch a YouTube channel in the first place?
MB: Back in 2009 I was struggling with my vision loss and depression and didn’t have many friends to spend my free time with. That’s when I found out that YouTube wasn’t just cat videos, but also had covers of my favorite songs. After a few months of bingeing on music channels I stumbled up the beauty community.
I’ve always been a big beauty lover but after losing my vision I was struggling to figure out how to do my makeup and put funky outfits together like I used to. By listening to fellow beauty lovers like JuicyStar07, MeaganHeartsMakeup, and Bethany Mota, who were all around the same age as me, I learned how to do blind girl makeup, I learned what was trendy in the stores without being able to read magazines or look in the windows, and I found my confidence again. They felt like my best friends when I had none, they felt like my big sisters when I needed help, and I knew that I eventually wanted to do that too. It would be many more years before I would be confident enough to start my channel, but finally in late August of 2014 I did and I’ve never looked back!
TF: Your viewership seems to have grown significantly over the past couple of months. Why do you think that is?
MB: Casey Neistat was the first big creator that I met who really believed in me and my message, saw my potential, and believed in my enough to collaborate. That was a huge boost for not only my channel, but my own belief in myself. I went from 67,000 subscriber to over 100,000 the first day the video came out on his channel, it was nuts and totally unexpected. Since then, there have been more and more creators that I have looked up to over the years, like Shane Dawson, who have also viewed me as a talented and valid voice on a cluttered platform and have chosen to collaborate. I am so grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had to work with other creators, big and small. Collaborating and helping to share each others messages is what YouTube is really all about!
TF: As a blind person, are there any significant ways in which you feel your experience is different from that of a typical sighted creator?
MB: Is it possible to film and edit all your videos alone as a blind creator? Yes, but it’s much more difficult. For that reason. Front he very beginning of my channel I had to have other people help me with those things. It’s been a long, and at time difficult, process over the almost four years to find the right team to help and the right system to end up with content that I’m proud and happy of and that reflects my own creative vision for each project. Luckily, I’m finally feeling like I have the right team of people on my side and I couldn’t be more grateful to everyone who plays a role in making my content come to life!
TF: What impact do you hope your videos have on your viewers?
MB: SO much! I hope my videos can educate, motivate, and inspire people – three words I’ve lived by since my vision loss in 2008. I love building a community of support, love, and acceptance of differences and that is a source of hope for those dealing with something challenging in life.
TF: What do you think is the most common misconception people have about blindness?
MB: There are too many to count, which is one of many reasons I love making videos. I love showing people the reality of blindness and disability, which is often so different than the media portrayal we’ve seen for years. We don’t all wear dark sunglasses or have foggy eyes, we don’t all look or act the same. Like everyone, we are all unique and have different interests, life experiences and abilities.
Blindness is a spectrum, about 90% of blind people actually have some form of remaining vision and in my case it’s light and shadow perception. I feel like I’m always trying to explain myself and educate on my community because I so often of accused of “faking blind” because of the fact that I don’t fit this mold or stereotype of blindness, which like in many cases of stereotyping groups, most blind people don’t.
TF: Do you feel your career on YouTube has helped you become a better public speaker? Why or why not?
MB: I’ve been public speaking since the age of five, and was doing it as my full time career for two years before I started my channel, so I can’t say I feel YouTube helped me with my public speaking in terms of making a more confident or capable speaker. If anything, the fact that I was so used to performing in front of live audiences with automatic feedback made me feel less confidence or comfortable in front of a camera and it took me years of making YouTube videos before I actually felt like I could be my true self on camera the way I’ve always felt on stages.
TF: If you could collaborate with any single person, who would you choose?
MB: There are SO many YouTubers I’d love to work with – Liza Koshy, Remi Ashten, and too many others to name! BUT if I had to pick just ONE person, who isn’t a YouTuber, I’d have to say Ellen Degeneres. From the time I was young I’ve looked up to Ellen as someone who has faced adversity but has overcome it to live her dream of working in the entertainment business. As a fellow minority, it inspires me to see how much she’s done for her community by simply being herself, following her dreams, and using her talent.
TF: What’s next for your channel? Any fun plans?
MB: Hopefully a TON! I’d love to do a speaking tour – at this point I only speak at private events, meaning my followers never get to come. I’d love to be able to take my speaking on the road so that my subscribers can come, see me speak, and hangout! I’d love to make epic merch, write a book, continue to do what I love, and of course, always MORE fun collabs!