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.
“Since we’re all friends here, I’m just gonna be honest,” Ava Jules says in one of her latest YouTube uploads. And that single sentence pretty much describes her entire channel: friendly, forthright, and overall chill.
In that particular instance, Jules was being honest about waking up–her alarm being set for 8 a.m. doesn’t mean she always gets out of bed at 8 a.m.–but across the same video, she also lets viewers in on the fact that she doesn’t dig the whole breakfast thing and would like the cooking process to involve as little cooking as possible, as well as her thoughts on getting dressed for attending online classes. (Her tips: You don’t have to be fancy, but at least get out of your pajamas.)
Jules uploads videos like that one twice a week (plus two more times on her second channel), offering low-key looks at what’s going on in her world. Sometimes that’s the latest additions to her closet, sometimes it’s day trips with her boyfriend, and sometimes it’s her body confidence journey. For Jules, each of these day-in-the-life vlogs are part of an ongoing, ever-evolving conversation with her subscribers–one she hopes to continue for years to come.
Check out our chat with her below.
Tubefilter: How does it feel to hit one million subscribers? What do you have to say to your fans?
Ava Jules: I remember hitting one million like it was yesterday. The feeling of hitting that number is so surreal to me that I can’t even fathom what one million people look like, you know? Having one million on my channel was all I used to care about. I thought that once I reached that goal, I would feel satisfied and accomplished. To my surprise, once it happened, I was like, “Okay, well, what’s next?”
It has always been a cycle like that with me for YouTube. Every time I would hit a milestone like 100k, 200k, 300k, and so on, I didn’t enjoy the moment and appreciate what I had accomplished because I was so focused on what was “next.” Now, the way I look at it is like this: The numbers are just numbers. Be grateful for every day and continue creating content that is meaningful to you. The numbers will come, but the ultimate goal is not to reach the next milestone, but to be happy with the process.
That being said, a million is such a big number. But when I’m filming, I feel like I’m just talking to one person. I’m so close with my viewers that it doesn’t feel like I’m filming a video for hundreds of thousands of people, which I think has helped me create content that is real. My viewers are the best people ever, and I feel like we know and understand each other so well. I love keeping up with everyone in my comments, and I know a lot of my viewers by name.
Tubefilter: Tell us a little about you! Where are you from? What did you do in ye olde days before YouTube?
AJ: I’m Ava and I’m 19 years old–almost 20, which I still have yet to process. I grew up on the island of O’ahu, Hawai’i, and am currently still living here with my parents. When I graduated high school in 2019, I thought I was going to take a gap year to “figure things out.” Two months into that gap year, I realized that I wanted to start my online classes and continue my education instead of waiting. I’m so glad I made that decision, because if I had taken a full gap year, I think it would’ve been hard to go back. Education has and always will be important to me, so while it takes up a ton of time, I’ve learned the beautiful phenomenon of ~balance~.
When I started YouTube, I was only 12 years old, which seems like a whole lifetime ago. Before all that, I was a middle school student who played volleyball and loved Justin Bieber. Back then, I wanted to grow up to be a “docto-naut,” a doctor that was an astronaut. I think I made that word up, but yeah, that was my life goal.
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?
AJ: When I started YouTube, I was so young and oblivious to what I was doing. To me, it was purely for enjoyment, and I didn’t even know that money could be made off YouTube. I made tons of videos without even telling my parents (which I don’t recommend doing, lol) and it all started because of my love for The Biebs. Yes, I started out with a fanpage channel for Justin Bieber where I made videos about my Bieber merch, posters, and my obsession. I later found the beauty side of YouTube and made a new channel called beautybyava. The rest is history!
Because I started YouTube with no intention of gaining a following or making money, it remains to not be the focus of my channel and why I do what I do. As my channel grew, there were a lot of learning curves that I didn’t really expect, but throughout the years I’ve gained a lot of knowledge about “influencer etiquette,” I guess you could say.
Tubefilter: A lot of your content feels very interactive, or almost like a partnership. You invite your viewers to plan and go about your routine with you, and you offer advice across multiple areas, including body confidence. Why is this kind of content a good fit for you? What do you like about it?
AJ: I love the content that I make because it’s always evolving with me. It’s the best feeling to have my audience grow up with me in a sense that I feel like we’re all just going through life trying to figure things out together. I make videos that are relevant to my life now, and I talk about experiences I’m going through, which is really nice, because in a way I’ve created a beautiful online community of people who are super supportive.
The best feeling is talking about real life stuff, like my journey with body confidence or experiences with boy issues, and seeing the response from my viewers saying that I’ve helped them. I always want my channel to be a safe place for people to come to and feel welcomed. Of course, I also make super fun content like vlogging my life here in Hawai’i and documenting my travels, so I feel like I have a good mix of fun stuff and “real” stuff. As an avid YouTube watcher myself, I noticed there’s two types of content creators. There are the ones who make you feel like they’re your best friend and you’re in the same room talking to them. On the other hand, there are some who make you feel like you’ll never have a life as cool or successful as theirs. You know what I mean?
Anyways, as much as my life has changed over the past few years because of YouTube, I never want anyone to feel like they’re not good enough or think, Why is my life not like that? The truth is, I’m just a teenage girl sitting in her room, talking to a camera, and posting it on the internet.
Tubefilter: Is YouTube your full-time job? How often do you film? What does the average day look like for you?
AJ: YouTube has been my full-time job since high school, and it’s taught me so much about time management and learning to be innovative and creative. I couldn’t do everything I do without the help of my wonderful management team or the support of my family.
I’m always filming or editing something. I can’t remember the last time I had a full day without anything I was working on. I have two channels, so there’s always things to be filmed! What my day looks depends on what type of video I’m filming, because sometimes I can film a whole video from my room, and other times I am running around the island going to different locations to get footage. Since I finished school for the summer, I’m uploading four times a week (two on my main channel and two on my vlog).
Filming days for my main channel usually takes up the whole day. Sometimes I’m so much in what I call a “filming frenzy” that I forget to eat. Because I do all of the planning, filming, and production myself, it’s very time-consuming, but I can’t imagine it any other way. A lot of YouTubers have a full team of people who help them brainstorm their videos and film, but I like doing it myself because it feels more personal that way. Anyways, it can take anywhere from two to ten hours depending on what type of video I’m filming. After that, I’m sick of hearing myself talk, so I usually wait to do the rough cut the next day.
The rough cut is where I take out my pauses and cut out me repeating myself nine times because I didn’t like how I sounded the other eight. This usually only takes an hour or two. Once that’s done, the real editing work comes in. I add music, zoom-ins, doodles, color correction, and effects to the video, which usually takes four to eight hours. It takes so long because I’ve been adding my own handwritten doodles and text that I think make my videos a lot more me. I then watch my video a few times over and fix little things, then upload it to YouTube, which literally feels like giving birth to a child because I spent so much time creating it.
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?
AJ: My channel has gone through a lot of changes over the years because my content is different depending on where I’m at in life. I started out as a beauty channel because I was so obsessed with makeup. Then, when I was in high school, people loved my high school vlogs, and that’s how a lot of people found my channel. Obviously, I’m not going to make videos about high school anymore, and I’m glad that I’m not stuck making certain types of videos because I feel like my viewers are growing up with me. I also started to show a bit of my life in Hawai’i, and people loved seeing what it was like to live here, so those videos always did very well. Now I’m in a completely different stage of life, and I like to show me going to online school, taking viewers along with me for my travels, and talking about different things that come with growing up. I’ve also gotten back into makeup and skincare, so I like to sprinkle that in there, too. Because I have such a plethora of videos I make, it’s allowed me to attract audiences of different ages and interests, which is really cool.
Tubefilter: How do you make your videos stand out amidst all the noise on YouTube?
AJ: I think my videos stand out because I don’t change who I am on camera and I talk about real life stuff I’m going through. My viewers are always saying how it feels like they’re on FaceTime with their best friend or talking to their older sister (how cute?!). It’s super important to me to interact with my followers, because I wouldn’t be where I am without them. Every day I put in an hour or two to respond to comments and DMs, which really strengthens my relationships with my followers. It truly feels like a little family, and my goal is for everyone to feel happy, loved, and welcomed when they’re on my channel. I am constantly trying to make my videos better by getting inspiration from other creators, learning what I can do better from my past videos, and finding new editing techniques!
Tubefilter: What’s your favorite part of making content on YouTube?
AJ: Oh gosh, I can never seem to find just one answer to this question. There are SO many things to love, like creating relationships with viewers, having an outlet for creativity, and making YouTube friends. I’m going to share two answers because I can’t pick, okay?
Interacting with viewers and creating an online family is unbeatable. How cool is it that I have friends from all corners of the world because of my channel? And don’t get me started on meeting them in real life…That has got to be the best and most fulfilling thing ever. The other favorite part is definitely post-production. As time-consuming as it is and as much as I love shooting content, seeing everything come together during editing is the best feeling. I get to see what a video starts off as and then what it becomes.
Tubefilter: Have you expanded your content or personal brand off YouTube at all? Launched any merch, a related business, a presence on another social platform, etc? Do you want to?
AJ: I’m present on pretty much every social platform you can think of. It’s fun because I always say that each platform sees a different side to me. As for merch and starting a business, right now I can’t say much, because there might be some things in the works…But let’s just say I’m very excited for the future! There’s so many projects I dream of doing, and I love to always have something other than YouTube that I’m working on.
Tubefilter: What’s next for you and your channel? Any plans looking to the future?
AJ: This question is always so hard for me to answer because I don’t even know what I’m doing next week, yet alone next year. Last year, I was set on moving to Los Angeles, and nothing anyone did or said could change my mind. As we can now see, that clearly didn’t work out. Things are always changing, and if 2020 has taught me anything, it’s that life is unpredictable. However, in the perfect world where everything goes as I plan, there will be a few very exciting things happening within this next year. My goal is to build something outside of YouTube that is successful, so the process of that vague thing I just described is definitely going to take some time.
As for the future of my channel, I plan to continue evolving my content, filming skills, editing techniques, and being the best YouTuber I can be. Lately I have taken a few online courses in video editing and have learned a few new tricks I’m excited to implement. My content will change as I change as a person, which is exciting because one day I’ll get to make videos about my first move, getting married, and stuff like that. My forever goal with my channel is to inspire, help, and bring others joy.
Ava Jules is represented by Charley Button at Select Management Group, and UTA.