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.
Each week, millions of people tune in to watch Steph Pappas chow down.
The 19-year-old started off as a beauty YouTuber, but when a trend called “mukbanging”–created and popularized by Korean digital stars–caught on with YouTube viewers in the West, she and a few friends tried it out.
Mukbanging is pretty simple: all you have to do is eat on camera. Creators make their mukbang content special by tweaking and personalizing the concept; some eat vast amounts of food, others challenge themselves to get through the world’s spiciest dishes…Pappas and her friends’ mostly joking video chronicled their adventure to obtain some tasty Taco Bell. It wasn’t meant to be a thing, but to Pappas’ surprise, her already-established viewer base liked it. They liked it a lot.
She had, as she puts it, “always been a foodie,” so giving enthusiastic viewers more mukbang wasn’t exactly a hardship. As for finding her own mukbang niche, that came naturally, too. She’s now built her channel into a smorgasbord of videos where she tries the newest items from restaurants like McDonald’s, IHOP, Papa John’s, and, of course, Taco Bell. She tries to be one of the first YouTubers to upload a video featuring new menu adds–something her fans help with, as they often DM her tips about fresh or upcoming items. She also regularly puts an In-N-Out spin on other restaurants’ items, tests viral edible hacks, and tries new-to-her eateries and foods–most recently Hardee’s and Instagram’s favorite dessert, macarons.
Pappas recently crossed one million subscribers, and brings in around 12 million views per month. To celebrate this milestone, she sat down with Tubefilter for a chat about her time on YouTube, her toughest mukbang, and how she decides what to snack on next.
Check it out below.
Tubefilter: How does it feel to hit one million subscribers? What do you have to say to your fans?
Steph Pappas: Honestly, it’s pretty unbelievable, and it still doesn’t feel real to me. It’s absolutely insane how many people that is!! I thank them all the time for all the love and support they continue to give me. Subscribers are really your biggest supports ever.
Tubefilter: Tell us a little about you! Where are you from? What did you do in ye olde days before YouTube?
SP: I’ve always lived in Ohio! I do like it here, because I’m close to family and friends…but I’d love to move somewhere else one day. I started posting YouTube videos sporadically when I was eight years old–now, I’m 19! I’ve always loved filming myself and editing videos all by myself. It’s always been my dream to be a YouTuber.
Tubefilter: You started YouTube with mainly beauty content, and have transitioned into a mix of mukbang and beauty. How did you discover and come to love mukbanging?
SP: Well, I will always do beauty and fashion videos because I am a girly girl. I also have always been a big foodie!! My first mukbang my friends and I did was a few years ago as, like, a joke. It was a Taco Bell one. We ordered a small bit of food and just ate and talked. People loved it. So I just kept doing them and having fun, and it helped my channel grow a lot!
Tubefilter: What do you think draws people to mukbang content? What have you noticed about your audience specifically?
SP: I also watch mukbangs. Watching someone eat on camera is honestly just satisfying. It makes me very hungry for the particular food they’re eating. I notice lots of comments where people say they’re dieting and watching my mukbangs helps because it satisfies their needs! Haha, I feel the complete opposite of that, but that’s awesome that helps some people!
Tubefilter: How do you make your content stand out when the beauty and mukbang genres are so crowded?
SP: I think already having an amazing fanbase that continues to support and watch what I upload helps a lot. But also, I’m always consistent with uploading a couple times a week and never taking breaks! Also, I read the comments and engage and post what my subscribers would like to see!
Tubefilter: Have you tweaked your content strategy at all? Adjusted for foods or restaurants your viewers like?
SP: So in the mukbang community, spicy noodles are realllly popular! I like spicy, but not too spicy. And Korean spicy noodles are HOT. So I’ve tried to eat those for a video, but I just couldn’t do it. My mouth was on FIRE, hahaha. So I just stick with what I’m used to!
Tubefilter: What’s your production process like? How long does the average video take you to make, from conception to posting? How often do you film?
SP: I’d say the average video takes an hour to film. And that’s with getting the cameras set up and all of that. Some videos I have on my channel are 24-hour challenges, so those obviously take the entire day. Usually I start editing right after I film, because I get excited to post what I just recorded. So editing could take an hour or two…including the thumbnail designing on Photoshop. I love this part of the process. I’m a big computer nerd, haha. But I try to film at least two or three times a week!
Tubefilter: How do you decide what to eat for your next video? Do you ever take suggestions or theme your videos to specific occasions, or holidays? Have you ever mukbanged something you didn’t like? (Extra spicy stuff aside.)
SP: I stay away from foods I don’t like. I film mukbangs with foods I know I will LOVE, because if I’m enjoying the food and filming it, then I know my viewers will enjoy watching it. I always take suggestions on what to eat next. And i’m always checking my instagram DMs, because my viewers will send me new fast food items that I have to be the first to try and share!
Tubefilter: What’s your favorite part of making content specifically for YouTube?
SP: My favorite part definitely has to be posting what I’ve created and seeing everyone’s reactions. I love reading my comments. It amazes me how fast people click on a new video and leave sweet comments. It’s so great. I definitely have the greatest job ever!
Tubefilter: What’s next for you and your channel?
SP: I’m so happy with how things are going with my channel already. I want to keep doing the same stuff I am and keep going up from here to grow!
You can add yourself to the ranks of Pappas’ more-than-a-million YouTube subscribers at her channel YouTube.com/StephPappas.