Welcome to Creators Going Pro, where in partnership with Semaphore — a creator focused family of companies providing business and financial services to social media professionals — we profile professional YouTube stars who have hit it big by doing what they love. Each week, we’ll chat with a creator about the business side of their channel, including identifying their Semaphore Moment — the moment they truly went pro.
Every single video Brandon Rogers has uploaded to YouTube in the past four years has gotten more than one million views. In August alone, his colorful skits — colorful both visually and definitely in content, considering Rogers has labeled many with an all-caps “OFFENSIVE” in the title — netted more than 33 million views. In fact, Rogers’ boisterous, attention-grabbing content regularly garners more than 50,000 views per hour and 21 million views per month on average, so it’s no surprise his uploads dominate the comedy section of YouTube.
Rogers’ subscriber count is skyrocketing to match, putting him close to five million when he just crossed the four million mark in June. Those millions of subscribers tune in every couple of weeks or so to watch newly uploaded installments of what Rogers is best known for: his wacky and wonderfully strange roster of characters. There’s Grandpa, who hates everything, Sam, the king of flamboyance, Helen Brownstein, the beleaguered hall monitor of an elementary school, and many others — all played by Rogers.
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He began making skits well before the days of YouTube, but now, on the platform, they’ve flourished into a full-time career. With his very first tour underway, two Streamys nominations (one in Comedy and the other in Costume Design) this year, and an upcoming expansion into other creative avenues like podcasting, Rogers sat down with Tubefilter to talk about how his high school hobby laid the foundations for his future.
Tubefilter: Tell us about your background! How did you get into skits?
Brandon Rogers: In high school (before the age of YouTube) I started a video club where we’d shoot TERRIBLE skits on VHS cameras and screen them in a classroom once a week. When YouTube finally emerged, I started releasing these sketches on there for fun, but it would be 10 more years before my channel officially launched.
TF: What made you choose YouTube as the platform for your skits? You were making videos there years before many other creators. Did you ever think it could become a career when you joined? Were you even thinking about things like monetization, or attracting an audience?
BR: I’ve always been fascinated with growing a substantial audience over making a profit. I think that’s what I wanted — I wanted people to see what was inside my mind, and as many people as possible. I was still a small channel when YouTube rolled out the partnership program, so I never took it too seriously. I just enjoyed having a platform that allowed me to share my skits and ideas with the world. It was still a new concept to me, I didn’t have YouTube as a kid, so what I was doing (uploading videos) was so thrilling and fresh.
TF: When did you get your first check for online video revenue? How much was it?
BR: My first check was about a month or two after my first viral video, David After Drugs. It was about a thousand and some change, which I promptly used to travel the country by myself
TF: When was that Semaphore Moment for you—the first time you realized you were a professional YouTube creator?
BR: Probably my first VidCon. To be schmoozing with other YouTube celebrities and mobbed by fans — it’s that up-close, in-person experience that forces you to realize how far you’ve come. And I’m still very new to this world of internet fame, so it’s all pretty overwhelming and exciting.
TF: What do you consider your personal “brand” of video? Obviously you’ve got beloved characters like Grandpa, but what do you consider the Brandon Rogers brand to be?
BR: My channel is one of the strong ambassadors for the weird side of YouTube. We could all use a little weird now and then. It’s a nice release to come home and dip your mind into a world of sick fantasies and punchlines, served as a fast-paced, snackable skit that quickly finishes before you get too ill.
TF: What kinds of videos have you noticed the strongest audience reaction from? Have opinions from your audience shifted your content creation at all?
BR: Very rarely do I accurately predict the audience’s response. I’ve had people love what I thought was some of my trashiest work, and some of my favorite work criticized. But I always listen and I always apply what I learn to my next piece. It’s part of being an entertainer.
TF: Do you have a set production budget for your videos?
BR: Nah, if I love the video, I spend more money on it, and if I don’t love it, I let it look like shit. In the world my characters live in, ugly set dressing and cheap outfits aren’t exactly out of place, so it can go either way.
TF: Do you have a production crew? How many people work with you? When did you start building out your team from just you to include more people?
BR: Primarily, the videos are a three-man operation between my cameraman Gabriel Gonzalez, my producer Jonathan Hinman, and myself. Though we do like to reuse many of the actors as different characters in each sketch. The fact that we all know each other keeps a pretty lighthearted energy on set.
TF: You are currently on tour! Can you talk about what it was like to put that together? At what point did you hit the place where you felt like a tour would be something people were interested in?
BR: I did a lot of theater and speech/debate in high school and college, so I’ve always been drawn to the stage. It offers a different high than the videos, both for myself and for the audience. It’s just an alternate experience, but people are laughing just as much, thankfully! Tickets are still available at the tour website.
TF: What’s next for you and your channel? What are you building toward?
BR: I’ve just started hosting my own podcast which will drop this winter called Deep Balls with Brandon Rogers. It’s really fun and unlike anything I’ve done! I’m also trying to give my fans as much content as I can this autumn/winter on my YouTube channel. I want to expand upon the lore that my characters are slowly carving out.
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