Welcome to TopBuzz Creator Spotlight, where we’ll be profiling a handful of notable creators who are expanding their distribution prospects onto TopBuzz — a two-year-old content aggregation app owned by Chinese mobile giant Bytedance. Even in a crowded platform landscape, TopBuzz offers discovery and revenue prospects that these creators describe as irrefutably additive.
Lovely Ti, a self-taught journalist from St. Paul, Minn., is building a digital gossip empire. Across two YouTube channels that count roughly 1 million collective followers, the 36-year-old waxes philosophical about eye-catching stories: reports that rapper Tyga was texting a 14-year-old girl, for instance, or a vicious Twitter feud between Disney star Skai Jackson and rapper Azaelia Banks. On a second channel, Ti riffs on tragic and bizarre wacky local news stories.
Ti — who does not disclose her real name — likens herself to TV host Wendy Williams in that she hones a brutally honest rapport with viewers and takes the time to back up her reporting with receipts. However, unlike Williams, she says that being a digital creator enables her to speak without fear or favor of TV advertisers.
Ti is continuing to build her news brand on YouTube with a slew of complementary ventures, including her own line of tea — a reference to the tea (or gossip) that she regularly spills online — as well as a burgeoning presence on the news aggregation app TopBuzz. Check out our conversation with the star about all of these pursuits and more below:
Tubefilter: You call yourself the “Wendy Williams of YouTube — but realer.” In what ways has Wendy inspired your career?
Lovely Ti: I talk about similar celebrity topics, but I don’t have the constraints of TV censorship.
What you see is what you get. I’m not always politically correct, I speak from my heart, and I speak my truth as I see it without having to worry about offending sponsors or advertisers. So you will get your celebrity tea in a rawer form than on Wendy. But me saying that isn’t a diss, it’s just a fact that I happen to be on a different platform.
She definitely inspired me to speak on celebrity topics and not just kiss ass. That’s what I love about her. So many hosts love to exalt celebs, and are scared to call them out when they are wrong. Wendy isn’t scared and neither am I — so I love her for inspiring a young chick from St. Paul, Minn., to find a way to do something similar but with her own twist!
TF: Your second channel chronicles wacky local news stories. Do you have a background in journalism? What was your life and career like before you became a digital creator?
LT: I have no background in journalism. I am self-taught, and I just have natural journalistic integrity. I’m also a self-taught editor. It took lots of practice, but now I can edit in my sleep.
Before the online thing, I worked in auto finance and repossession for eight years, and then I worked in the IT field for three years.
I turned my second channel into a crazy news channel as a way to break up the monotony of celebrity news and gossip. I also like the fact that I give our most-featured states crazy names — it make the news a bit more fun, and you see people bonding over it in the comments. You’ll see subscribers say thing like, “OMG, I’m so ashamed to be from ratchet Florida.” Then another subscriber will say, “It’s okay, don’t feel too bad. I live in nutty New York.”
TF: There are a lot of gossip and commentary channels on YouTube. How would you describe your approach to tackling news, and what do you think makes your voice stand out in a crowded landscape?
LT: Everyone is doing commentary — it’s very over saturated on YouTube. The thing that makes me stand out, and the thing people appreciate about me, is my integrity and the fact that I take my time to report the truth.
So many YouTubers try to be the first one out with a video — so much so that they are willing to spread fake news. They don’t fact check, and they constantly clickbait. I’m old-school. I edit, research, and bring actual receipts. And if I happen to post misinformation (which is rare), I have no problem taking ownership of my mistakes, and apologizing. That’s what separates me from the rest.
TF: How do you determine which celebrities to cover on your channel?
LT: It all depends. Sometimes I will cover celebrities because they are trending, and other times it will be fan-requested. If I get a lot of messages, Tweets, or DMs from a particular fandom, then sometimes I will do a story based on how many requests I’m seeing for that particular star.
TF: Your editing tends to be very clever. Is that an important part of the process for you?
LT: Yes, editing takes a very special skill set: you either have the patience for it or you don’t. I love editing and I love having fun with it. I know a lot about pop culture, and I make a lot of my own GIFs. The best video are the ones where I am cracking up while editing.
A lot of my quirky sense of humor shows up in my editing, like when I use the meme of the young white kid saying, “Today I got time cuz.” It’s so random, but it’s also very funny. In my opener, it says, “Get ready, get ready” — and that came from a viral Taco Bell video. Most people wouldn’t have thought anything of it, but now I’ve turned it into an opener for my show. And it’s funny because a lot of people don’t know that the video is showing spilled iced tea on the floor, so it fits with my brand of spilling tea.
I think to have a job like this is a blessing, and you have to have fun with it. You can’t be serious 24/7.
TF: How did you get connected with TopBuzz? What are the benefits you’ve noticed since distributing your content on the platform?
LT: I met TopBuzz at VidCon, and I really liked their attitude and how they were very welcoming to me.
I have definitely seen growth on the platform. I’m currently at 4,000 followers — which shocked me that it happened so fast. I’m even noticing a lot of engagement on the videos as well, which is wonderful. The extra revenue is nice, too.
TF: In what other ways have you sought to build your business and brand off of YouTube? What do you hope to accomplish next??
LT: I launched my very own tea company this year at LovelyTea.net. We are also sold on Amazon now, and people are really liking the fact that they can watch me spill the tea while sipping my tea from the comfort of their own homes.
I think my next goal is to take things to the next level, to do more on YouTube and appear at events like VidCon. I would also love to collaborate and be a news/celebrity contributor on TV — like on Wendy Williams, The Real, and maybe even CNN one day.
This Creator Spotlight is brought to you by TopBuzz. TopBuzz is a distribution platform that uses powerful AI and algorithms to help creators and publishers discover new audiences for their content. If you’re interested in monetizing your content join TopBuzz for free. Take the AI-powered app for a spin and see how your customized feed improves with every touch. Download TopBuzz for iOS or Android.