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 creator has a story to tell about YouTube success. Read previous installments here.
This week’s installment of YouTube Millionaires is brought to you by SuperBam, the premiere rights management company for creators.
When Aileen Xu walked across the stage at her college graduation, she had no idea what her next step would be. Throughout four years of classes, she’d watched her peers discover their passions and paths forward. Many had been scooped up for post-grad jobs, and even those who hadn’t still seemed to know what they wanted.
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Not Xu. Senior year had brought her to a low point. She’d followed the typical life-planning advice, trying internships and exploring companies, but none of the temporary positions had piqued her interest, and the prospect of working for a big corporation was becoming increasingly soul-crushing. In fact, the prospect of working any traditional job had become soul-crushing. So, diploma in hand, she abandoned job-seeking. Instead, she began traveling, working freelance to pay her way.
And then she launched a YouTube channel.
At first, the channel was a hobby, a place to share the insights about herself gleaned from reading dozens of self-help books. As her audience grew, though, Xu realized that viewers weren’t just passively watching; they were actually benefiting from seeing what techniques helped her. That’s what led to the creation of Lavendaire, Xu’s own self-help business. The Lavendaire platform comprises hundreds of YouTube videos, a six-week life-coaching course, and a 192-page workbook/journal on “self-discovery, exploration, and fulfillment,” all stemming from Xu’s own experiences.
Xu didn’t join YouTube because she thought it was the answer she’d been looking for–but over the past six years, it’s turned into an unexpected career, connecting her with more than one million people around the world.
Check out our chat with Xu below.
Tubefilter: How does it feel to hit one million subscribers? What do you have to say to your fans?
Aileen Xu: It’s literally a dream come true. It’s a dream goal that I set for myself a long time ago, yet wasn’t sure if I’d ever reach. I’m definitely so grateful for my community of Lavi Loves (as I call them!), and it’s been an amazing experience connecting with the kindest people online. I honestly believe that our community is made up of the kindest, sweetest, most good-hearted people.
Tubefilter: Tell us a little about you! Where are you from? What did you do in ye olde days before YouTube?
AX: I was born and raised in Southern California! Something not as many people know about me is that I actually started my first YouTube channel back in 2008, when I was in high school. It was a singing, cover music channel that I treated as a hobby for years. Before that, honestly, I was just in school; a big part of my life was playing piano, chatting on AIM with friends, and writing on my Xanga blog (LOL totally aging myself here).
Tubefilter: What made you start a YouTube channel? Did you go into it intending to “become a YouTuber,” or did you end up becoming a content creator without quite meaning to?
AX: I went through a couple years of feeling really lost in life and not knowing what to do with my life when I graduated. I knew I didn’t want a life working corporate, so I set off to try various creative paths and freelancing gigs. I also started reading a lot of self-help books because I was desperately trying to find my “purpose” in life. I learned so much about designing your own life during this time, and I wondered, Why aren’t there any people talking about these topics on YouTube? I had found only a handful of spiritual YouTubers, but no one really addressing this existential crisis so many people in their early 20s were dealing with. Wanting to share all the knowledge I’ve gained, plus acknowledging the gap on YouTube, inspired me to start Lavendaire.
Tubefilter: A lot of your current content feels very interactive, almost like a partnership: You invite your viewers to plan and go about your routine with you, and you offer advice across multiple areas. Why is this kind of content a good fit for you? What do you like about it?
AX: My main goal is to empower people to make positive change and create their dream life. My channel is a space to show how I’ve changed my life through adopting better mindsets, habits, routines, etc. But because the process of improving your life is so personal, I always like to share exercises and worksheets that people can do to make that active change in their life. It’s not about watching me live my life, it’s about the ideas, resources, and tools they gain from watching my videos.
Tubefilter: Is YouTube and Lavendaire your full-time job? How often do you film? What does the average day look like for you?
AX: Yes. 🙂 I film about once a week on average. I try to pick a day to batch film a couple videos at once. And then the other days are spent on preparing content ideas, editing, recording podcasts, and all the small admin things that need to get done in an online business. I don’t really have an “average day” because aside from shooting days, each day is spent working on something different.
Tubefilter: Do you have any strategies for growing your audience? Have you noticed any particular kind of content getting more traction than others? Do you adjust what you film depending on how your viewers react?
AX: I always try to balance creating content that I’m excited about with what my audience wants to see. I notice that listy content does well, as well as popular topics like organizing your life, self-care, productivity. I don’t like to be repetitive, though, so I usually like to throw in new topics here and there to test what people are interested in seeing.
Tubefilter: How do you make your videos stand out amidst all the noise on YouTube?
AX: A great thumbnail is important, which is still something I’m learning to improve at with time. High-quality shots, because I really care about the aesthetic and feel of my videos. And finally, you have to allow yourself to be vulnerable and let your personality shine. People connect with you as a person, and that’s really your best chance at standing out, because no one else out there is exactly you.
Tubefilter: What’s your favorite part of making content on YouTube?
AX: I have so much fun shooting pretty shots and being able to share new ideas that I’m excited about. When I gain new groundbreaking insight or learn something that changes my life, I’m really excited to share it, knowing that it has the potential to change someone else’s life too.
Tubefilter: What’s your favorite part of making content on YouTube?
AX: My favourite part about making content on YouTube is definitely helping others. I have received so many messages of flexibility transformation photos, which always motivates me to make new content. In my opinion, no number of views can compare to people reaching out saying how much you’ve helped them improve.
Tubefilter: Tell us a little more about Lavendaire!
AX: What I’m most proud of is my Lavendaire Shop, an online store where I sell stationery that aligns with the content I share on YouTube. The main product is the Artist of Life Workbook, which is a journal to plan and execute your yearly goals, and is a collection of all the exercises that have helped me change my life for the better over the years.
Tubefilter: What’s next for you and your channel? Any plans looking to the future?
AX: I’m excited to keep expanding my online shop, and write a book in the near future. I’ve shared so much knowledge on my channel, but I feel like I want to organize all of those ideas into a cohesive book.
Xu is represented by Charley Button at Select Management Group.
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