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.
Rose Ellen Dix and Rosie Spaughton tell their subscribers everything. The duo, who have been together since 2012 (when they met through a “common lesbian denominator” in their town, as Dix puts it) and married since 2015, have made a career of oversharing with their fans. They talk about everything — the good, the bad, the cringe, and the joyous, from terrible holiday experiences to their ideal baby daddy to intimate “lesbian confessions” to how they both cope with sometimes crippling anxiety.
Back when Dix originally joined YouTube in 2010, she had no idea it’d wind up as an outlet for her, let alone a career. Then a university student, she had to sign up for a channel to upload short films she was making for a class. But while she was making those short films, she discovered that she and Spaughton had a talent for riffing with one another in front of a camera, talking frankly about whatever came to mind. Even when she started uploading their chats, Dix didn’t expect to get a following. YouTube, as she points out, was dominated by cat videos and compilations of drunk people falling down. She didn’t think a same-sex couple oversharing would interest many people.
She was wrong.
Now, Dix and Spaughton have 1.5 million subscribers across their three channels, and pull in around 3 million views per month collectively. Their flagship channel, Rose & Rosie, hosts the majority of their videos. One side channel, Rose & Rosie Vlogs, focuses more on their out-and-about adventures, and the other side channel, Let’s Play Games, follows the pair coplaying top games like Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption.
Last year, they took a leap and parlayed their personal brand of candidness into their first book, Overshare: Love, Laughs, Sexuality and Secrets, published by Hachette. They also embarked on an associated tour across the U.S. and U.K., meeting fans to overshare in person. (For those who didn’t make it to their tour, they have a documentary in the works that follows the entire event.)
For Dix and Spaughton, the key to maintaining a successful channel — and building a successful career off that channel — is to stay authentic to the people they were years ago, in those first riffing videos, even as they and their content have grown. As for what they’re planning to build next…we’ll let Dix share that in our chat with her below.
Tubefilter: So first, tell us a little about each of you! Where are you from? What did you do in the days before YouTube?
Rose Ellen Dix: I was a model. Rosie was a dreamer. Just kidding. Like most recent graduates, the world was our underwhelming oyster with a questionable smell. Our aims were to fall straight into our dream jobs, as we felt university provided enough “independent study” to independently navigate this life and the next. So I really had to pick myself up when Pizza Express didn’t see me as qualified enough to bring people their halloumi bites. I ended up working at an Apple premium retailer, where I’d incorrectly teach people how to back up their data to iCloud. Unsurprisingly, my client list was short. Rosie worked in digital marketing and specialised in “open plan office” politics. Life was simpler back then. One needn’t worry about keeping up with YouTube algorithms — just the culprit responsible for the tikka masala microwave splash.
Tubefilter: How did the two of you meet? How did you decide to launch a YouTube channel–actually, multiple YouTube channels–together? Why did YouTube seem like the ideal home for your content?
RED: Rosie and I met through a common lesbian denominator in our local town. There was, in fact, one gay. Back when we started making videos, hamsters were powering the internet and Wi-Fi passwords were a blend of Pi and Morse code. YouTube wasn’t a recognised career path, nor a way to make money — it was simply a free online platform to get creative! I initially used it as stage to upload my student films throughout my degree, but it soon became a hobby of mine to make nonsense content with Rosie, where we’d sit in front of the camera and have a conversation about nothing and everything.
YouTube was notorious for compilations of cat fails and people falling over, so it seemed like the ideal platform for our intimidatingly intellectual dialogue. It was only after a few years had passed that we decided to create an additional vlogging and gaming channel. We had conned our audience into thinking we were funny for a while now, so we thought, why not expand and take them on a journey of self-discovery? I’m not sure what that means or how our gaming videos would facilitate that…but say anything with enough conviction, and anyone will believe it.
Tubefilter: What would you say is the “Rose & Rosie brand”? What can viewers always expect when they tune in to one of your videos?
RED: Expect to feel uplifted in the knowledge that there’s always someone dumber than you. No, in all seriousness, we strive to create content that’s both meaningful and meaningless, but as entertaining as it comes! What you see truly is what you get. Our videos aren’t scripted and are rarely planned, but always a genuine pleasure to film. We create content for people to forget about their stresses or anxieties just for a moment.
I like to think you’ll be spiritually enlightened after the 10-minute mark…just after the second ad plays…So make sure you stay tuned for that.
Tubefilter: When did you get your first check for online video revenue? How much was it for? What about your first check outside of AdSense?
RED: Our first check caused problems. How on earth were we going to split £60 two ways? That’s fast maths. Once we’d figured it out, we spent our riches in Iceland on prawn kormas and Haribo sweets. A sensible investment, I think you’ll agree. That was back in 2012, when we reached the minimum threshold to be paid by Google. It was many a month later when we did our first paid promotion.
Rosie and I are incredibly picky when it comes to affiliating ourselves with brands. We turned down big opportunities to make money quite early on because we didn’t want to be the face of anything we weren’t 100% confident in and comfortable with endorsing.
There seems to be a lot of interest in how much YouTubers make, and it’s my experience that some make millions and some do not, and it doesn’t always correspond to how many subscribers they have. There is undeniably big money in being an online influencer, but Rosie and I are well aware that this industry lacks in stability. This is why everything we’ve ever made has been saved in order for us to get on to the property ladder which was always our goal. We did not cash-buy our house, we have a mortgage, but brand deals helped us put a sizeable deposit down in order for us to borrow as little as possible.
It seems a certain minority resent YouTubers earning money. I understand why some people feel cheated when they’re sold to, especially if it seems like a crude hard sell and an unauthentic fit, but as influencers, we cannot continue to create content for free. Advertising is just a part of life. It’s everywhere, and it’s what allows us to carry on doing what we love and creating the content people want to see.
Tubefilter: Last year, you released your first book, Overshare. How did that come together? Was it nerve-racking wondering if your YouTube audience would support your literary debut, or did you know they had your back?
RED: Exploring opportunities off YouTube has never concerned us! Our audience has proven to support our other projects time and time again. I think they trust that whatever content we make, we try to bring exactly the same energy! The book is something Rosie and I are both incredibly proud of. We have a very open relationship with our audience, and always have. We hoped that our candid and truthful account of our experiences would help others who may be struggling with the same issues. We wanted to touch upon heavy subjects in a lighthearted and positive way, so the process of writing was so fun for us both! It was cathartic and humbling to be praised for our honesty, and encouraging to see that a lot of our audience resonated with our experiences.
Tubefilter: You also went on tour with the book last year, and filmed a documentary about your experiences meeting fans. Tell us your favorite story from the tour. What made it so special?
RED: My favourite story was a tale from Seattle. Rosie and I suffer from nerves in very different ways. I’ll have sleepless nights for months, but somehow manage to come through on the night of and really enjoy the rush! Rosie will chill for months and SUFFER STRONGLY on the night of. And when Rosie suffers, everyone suffers. It’s what I like to call Odour de Nerve. I’ll never forget the evening of our first performance in North America. Rosie came out of the bathroom five minutes before showtime and announced to our tour manager, the crew, the northern hemisphere, and the world that she would “NEVER TOUR AGAIN.”
Rosie’s notorious preshow breakdown is both tragic and hysterical. Hysterical in the sense of losing control of oneself, but also hysterical in the sense of laughing at one’s distress from a safe distance. It’s something we all managed to joke about afterwards, yet at the time, it’s best not to approach if you want to see another day.
Meeting subscribers is always the best part of touring! It’s often easy to forget that there are real people behind views and numbers, and it’s hearing their stories that makes making the content we create extremely worthwhile.
Tubefilter: What was that Semaphore Moment for you—the first time you realized you were a professional creator?
RED: For me, it was actually quite late into our careers. The moment we won a Radio 1 Teen Award for Best British Vlogger felt extremely special. To be awarded on the same day we interviewed Camila Cabello and all our faves, was one of the highlights of our YouTube careers. But for us, it was more than that; to be recognised by mainstream media was something I felt we deserved. Being openly LGBT hasn’t always meant that doors opened for us, even when we thought they ought to have been. Whether it was not being considered the right “fit” for brand deals or being told our audience was “gay” and perhaps not the right fit for “music,” it took us a long time to get to where we wanted to be. So to be commended on a platform as large as the Radio 1 Teen Awards was a really special moment for us.
Tubefilter: Why is it so important for you to produce positive queer content about your life together?
RED: Growing up, both Rosie and I had no queer representation. Both the media and entertainment industry seriously lacked LGBTQ+ role models and narrative arcs, leaving us with little to no validation or visibility. Rosie and I never planned for our YouTube channel to predominantly focus on being gay and bisexual — we just wanted to create the funniest content we could! Perhaps naively, we didn’t think being in a same-sex relationship would ever affect our careers. Despite my lack of representation growing up, I still didn’t realise the impact it would have to be openly gay online and in a visible relationship. With great power comes great outfits…I mean responsibility. As our relationship organically grew online, so did people’s investment into it.
It’s incredibly important for me to show the world that any two people can fall in love and love should always be celebrated. To love someone fearlessly can be terrifying for so many people around the world facing so many obstacles, but how can the world change if we don’t strive to encourage it?
Tubefilter: Who do you have working with you behind the scenes? An editor or personal assistant? What about a manager or network?
RED: We don’t have a manager and Rosie is my personal assistant. Just kidding. Rosie is actually the brains of the operation! Despite what millions may think, Rosie’s actually a genius. But we have lived and learned and come to realise that managing ourselves seems to work extremely well. I’m far too much of a control freak to allow someone to speak on my behalf, especially if their grammar is wrong.
After eight years of creating content, it was only this year that we realised we couldn’t create as much as we wanted to without a little help. So, from time to time, we have an editor who we work extremely closely with, if we’re especially busy! That was a really difficult decision for us to make. Our circle of trust is very small…not because we’re like horses who trust NO ONE WHO STANDS BEHIND THEM, but because we often find the best content is created when doing it yourself. We were offered a ghostwriter for the book, but hated the idea of putting something out there that wasn’t 100% us. Even when it came to touring, we wrote and developed the show ourselves, designed the set ourselves, starred in it ourselves…(although I suppose that one was to be expected). We’re certainly not a big team, but since when did size matter?
Tubefilter: Have either of you experienced burnout? What do you do to combat it?
RED: Fortunately, we haven’t experienced severe burnout yet! I think the hardest thing to keep up with is how YouTube is pushing your content. We always say to each other, never adhere to what you think YouTube will push if it’s not authentic to us. If we did that, there will be a day where we look back and think, “Wow. That video really isn’t what we wanted to make.” It’s very easy to see a trend and think, Yep, let’s hop on that, it’ll guarantee views. But Rosie and I try to look at the bigger picture and create content that’s helpful, entertaining, yet natural to us. If ever there comes a day where we don’t know what to make, I’ll create a channel dedicated to sculpting ice in hot weather. I see no hurdles.
Tubefilter: What do you think is the most vital skill you possess as a creator?
RED: Remembering what made you popular to begin with and managing to evolve your content without changing the essence of yourself. It can be quite a tricky feat to evolve online not only as a person, but also as a creator. Some will criticise and tell you that they miss the content you used to make, whilst others will commend you for being consistently entertaining and original. But the fact is, Rosie and I can’t produce the exact same content we used to make, because we’re simply not in the same place in our lives. If our content hadn’t changed, I’d be concerned that we weren’t growing individually and as a couple! I’m far more excited by where we are now, despite loving how we started.
Tubefilter: What’s next for you and your channels? What are you building toward?
RED: Honestly, I’m looking to kick Rosie off the channel. I’d much rather not have to split the billions I’m making as an online influencer in half!
After that, we’re looking to build a baby.
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