YouTube Millionaires: KeemoKazi is committing to his biggest project yet

By 06/30/2022
YouTube Millionaires: KeemoKazi is committing to his biggest project yet

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.

Like many YouTubers, Kareem Hesri got his start on Vine.

Well…sort of.


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Hesri was around 14 at the time, and his Vine repertoire consisted mostly of “weird” videos (his descriptor, not ours) he thought might give his friends a laugh. But while he didn’t blow up on Vine, the platform did do something important: it helped him fall in love with making videos, and gave him his first very, very small taste of what it might be like to go viral.

Fast-forward to 2019, and Hesri wasn’t too sure about this whole TikTok thing. People seemed into it, but it was just an app for dancing, right?

No, bro, one of his buddies told him. That friend had recently had a video take off and bring in 700,000 views. When Hesri checked out the video, it didn’t involve dancing. It was his friend “doing literally nothing,” he says. So Hesri, curious if he too could take off with non-dancing videos, started his own account and began uploading videos from his camera roll. By the beginning of 2020, he had his first hit–a video where he pranked his mom. Around the same time, COVID quarantines hit, and his senior year of high school ended two months early. Hesri took the opportunity to go full-time on content-making.

And these days? He’s pretty sure it’s going to be his career. His TikTok account now has nearly 30 million followers, and his YouTube channel (originally launched as a hub for his music videos) just crossed one million subscribers.

Check out our chat with him below.

Tubefilter: Let’s take it from the top! Who are you, where are you from, and what do you do on YouTube?

Kareem Hesri: My name is Kareem Hesri, and I go by KeemoKazi. I am from Los Angeles, California, and I make family content. I am the only boy out of five sisters in my family, and I have two parents that are just crazy. So it makes a funny, great mix in the videos, getting people’s reactions to challenges and pranks with a whole bunch of my family. People just love it. So that’s what I do.

Tubefilter: Did you grow up wanting to be on YouTube? Did you have other career aspirations?

KH: I grew up wanting to pursue music. I was doing music for, like, ever, and then I started releasing songs and music videos around 14 or 15 years old. And at the same time, I was always putting out weird videos on Instagram. I was on Vine. I was just doing a bunch of random skits and stuff alone. And I mean, obviously no one was watching. It was just for friends at school. I tried to make it bigger, but it never happened until TikTok came out.

And the funny thing was, I was actually never gonna download the [TikTok] app because they advertise it as a dancing app. And I don’t dance. Then one of my friends was like, “Bro, I had a viral video, it has like 700,000 views.” And he showed me it, and it was him doing literally nothing, not even dancing.

I was like, “What?” So I downloaded it and I threw a bunch of stuff on there from my camera roll. Stuff was getting like 3,000 views, 2,000. I was like, “Wow, this is a lot.” And then I had one viral video maybe a month later do a million overnight. It was me pranking my mom, just super random. I just told my sister to videotape what I was about to do. It did a million overnight.

From there everything just clicked. I was like, okay, I have to take advantage of this. I was posting three to six times a day for two years straight, and I was growing a million followers every week. Right when this happened, we went on quarantine for the first time. I was in my senior year of high school as well, so quarantine hit right when that video took off and we literally took the rest of the year off. It was like two more months of school left or a month left. And it was all off because of quarantine. So I just did nothing but film and post videos, and maybe a month into quarantine, that’s when I started to grow like a million followers every week for a year straight.

Tubefilter: So clearly short-form is your bread and butter, but you’ve also been transitioning into making longer content. When did that start happening?

KH: I was doing the short-form content on TikTok for about a year and a half. I’ve always wanted to do the long-form content on YouTube, because obviously YouTube pays more and it’s a better way to engage with your fans and create a cult following.

I think it was about a year in where I started to do little vlogs. I was doing like three-minute David Dobrik-style vlogs, but people kept requesting longer videos. And I wanted to do longer videos. I just needed help with a cameraman and an editor, because editing took a lot of time, and my posting schedule, you know, I was doing three videos a day, no matter what. So it was hard to edit my YouTube videos and make TikTok videos. So I think about a year and a half into it, I met a cameraman and editor in one, and we were just grinding out videos. We got a house in L.A. for three months. We did 90 videos—three videos a day for three months.

So definitely gonna be more consistent on the long-form vlogs. My cameraman gets back in July, so we’re just gonna kill it for six months straight. Just going ham on the vlogs.

Tubefilter: It’s interesting that you say people are actively asking for longer content. I think sometimes creators don’t realize viewers still like watching long-form videos.

KH: Yeah, it just makes it more personal. That’s why I said it helps you engage and build a stronger connection with your fans rather than them sitting there watching like 20-second clips of you. They can actually watch a 20-minute video and truly get to know your personality.

Tubefilter: What are you aiming for when you’re a cameraman gets back? What would be your production schedule in term in terms of balancing short and long?

KH: I’m pretty good at the short-form content. Now I can kind of make a story on TikTok out of anything. So I’m not really worried about trying to balance that out. What I’m more worried about is being consistent on the long-form videos, because it takes a higher level of thinking for the idea, the thumbnail, the title…Having something that people would actually want to watch that it’s interesting to click on, and having something that will have a higher watch time.

My main goal is just to strategize super cool content, like crazy challenges, and be consistent with it. I want to do one every other day, so we’re shooting every other day for three to six months. I think it’s gonna be big. We’re gonna get a content house out in West Hollywood for that period of time. So we wanna kill it for that long.

Tubefilter: That’s such a grind. A big commitment.

KH: Thank you. Yeah. It’s what I wanna do, so I’ve gotta do it.

Tubefilter: What’s your plan from here on out? Is content your career plan? Both short- and long-form? Do you intend to keep doing music too?

KH: I’ve been doing really well on YouTube with Shorts, like I hit a million I think two months ago and I’m now at 1.5 million, so I grew 400,000 to 500,000 within two months. So I’m killing it on the Shorts side, but I really want to do long-form content, which is why I’m starting that up again in July.

As far as music, I realized that if I want to pursue that the right way and do it where I can actually be looked at as a real artist, it would take a shift in image and all that stuff. I don’t think I’m ready to do that just yet because I really want to grind on TikTok and YouTube for the next few years.

I believe I can do both, like dropping music consistently just for the content. Like once a month do a music video and a song, which people love, and the music’s great. I’m just gonna keep doing that consistently. But to actually pursue it and maybe sign to a label or whatever…I’m not sure. Maybe when the time is right. Right now it’s more about making the funny, comedic videos.

Tubefilter: What draws you to making comedy content?

KH: I don’t know. It’s just within, it’s something that I love. It’s something I have a passion for and I just don’t know anything else, but to make content. So whenever I’m in a public setting or I’m in any kind of situation, all I’m thinking about is like, “Oh, how can I turn this into a video?”

Which sounds unhealthy, but it’s not. It’s like, I’m just there just thinking, “Oh, that would be funny.” So I don’t know, once you do it for a year straight and it’s literally all you do and you love it, you just start thinking like that 24/7. So what draws me to make content is literally everything. It’s like a burning fire that I just want to keep doing it and not stop. Just the end goal of wanting to be the biggest entertainer and accomplishing that dream is what drives it.

Tubefilter: Do you pay attention to trends at all, in terms of coming up with ideas?

KH: Trends are important too because they work with the algorithm. So if you’re doing a trend it’ll perform well either way, but mostly trends come and go. So you can’t really rely on that. I do like family content, so everything that I do is mostly relatable because I have a lot of sisters. People with siblings, which is a lot of people, can relate, so it’s mostly paying attention to everyday life and seeing what my sisters are doing in a moment or what I’m doing and how I can tell a story out of it or what’s relatable and stuff like that.

When I’m feeling down and I don’t have any ideas, the truth is I literally watch SpongeBob and it gives me ideas. It really boosts my creative side. That’s literally the truth.

Tubefilter: Do any of your sisters have their own channel? Do they make content?

KH: Yeah, so when my account started gaining traction, so did all of my sisters’, because my fans were like, “Oh my god, they’re beautiful, they’re hilarious.” They started gaining traction as well. But I’m the only one who really does the comedic stuff. They do more of the modeling on Instagram and the girly stuff. But they all help out every single day on my videos.

Tubefilter: You mentioned feeling like YouTube is THE way to build an audience. Do you feel like you’re maybe not as connected to your followers on TikTok as you are to your YouTube subscribers?

KH: I feel like obviously TikTok is a great app and I love it so much because it gives everyone an opportunity to grow. The organic reach on the app is insane. But I also feel it’s so easy to follow someone on TikTok without really knowing who they are. It could just be one video that you liked on your For You page and you click the plus sign and you follow them. It’s that easy. But on YouTube, it takes more to just follow someone. You have to actually watch their videos and spend like 15 or 30 minutes with them, and then subscribe.

But it has kind of changed now because there is YouTube Shorts. So someone can watch your video on YouTube Shorts for 15 seconds and click the subscribe button. That’s why everyone’s growing super quickly on YouTube. But for the long-form content, like the 15-minute videos, if you’re gaining like 100,000 views, 200,000 views consistently on each video, you’re building a stronger connection with just those 200,000 people that are watching your 15-minute videos daily. If that makes sense.

Tubefilter: It does. What effect do you think the pandemic has had on your growth? Do you feel like people have been trying to connect more with each other online?

KH: I really believe if someone is trying to grow on social media or do anything in that space, the pandemic was a blessing in disguise for everyone in that space, because it really put everyone on their phones. That’s why TikTok blew up, because everyone was spending their time on the app. And that’s why creators were blowing up so much, because they were getting all the attention. So the pandemic was like a blessing in disguise for anyone who really wanted to pursue social media. And yes, it did really have an effect on my account because it really just forced everyone to watch when they didn’t have anything else to do so.

@keemokaziThat was so unfair 😂😭♬ original sound – KEEMOKAZI

Tubefilter: Do you have any advice for other creators who are trying to transition from short-form to long-form?

KH: It’s gonna be a lot harder if you’re doing it alone. Holding the camera and doing the vlogs and editing it alone is gonna be a lot harder. You’re not gonna look forward to editing a 30-minute video, and it’s gonna hold you back a little. Having a team to help you is really the key.

Also, watch people in your niche. Watch other creators, see what they do. Just pay attention, take notes from their videos. And it’s not really copying in the social media space. You can’t really copy anyone because everything’s already been done so many times. So it’s just taking an idea your own way and having fun with it.

When I started the long-form content, it was kind of hard for me because I felt like it was awkward, a little bit, because I had to talk to a camera for longer than 30 seconds about the same thing. But just have fun with it. Like, pretend the camera’s your best friend, and it’ll just come out natural.

Definitely have someone there to help you, though. Like an editor to put everything together, because editing is what makes it art.

Tubefilter: How does editing go for you? Do you do all your own short-form?

KH: Yeah, I edit everything from my Instagram Stories to Snapchats and TikToks and YouTube Shorts, but when it comes to a YouTube video, I’ve got an editor for that.

Tubefilter: Your production schedule is really tight, and you’re about to go into a long period where you’re making a lot of content. What do you do to combat burnout?

KH: When it comes to TikTok, at least, when I bust out a video it takes less than an hour, depending on the video. Sometimes it takes five minutes to bust out a really good video. Sometimes it takes 20 minutes. And I have posting times. So if I’m gonna post a video at 12 and it took me 20 minutes to make, I’m not gonna sit down for the rest of the day. I’m gonna be ready to bust out another vid for four o’clock and seven o’clock.

The burnout doesn’t really hit me often because I have a period every day where I can think of ideas before I have a poting time. I’m not posting back to back to back and burning myself out and putting myself where, if I don’t have a post in the next 20 minutes, I’m gonna fail. It’s more like I have three to four hours to plan everything because I have posting times to think about what I’m gonna do next.

@keemokaziShe tried cutitng the napkin 😂😭♬ original sound – KEEMOKAZI

Tubefilter: What else do you get up to outside of YouTube? Do you have any hobbies?

KH: I love to edit. Watching movies is a great hobby. I’m a visual learner, so if I ever want to learn something, I have to watch a movie on it. I do kickboxing on the side. I love to box. I love to do anything that involves kicking. I’m a black belt in taekwondo, so that’s cool. Basketball’s fun. I’m not good at it, but I love to just play with my friends and have a good time.

But yeah, just living life. I carry my camera around everywhere, which is my phone, and just take pictures and create memories and enjoy every second of my day.

Tubefilter: Do you have any specific goals or plans for the rest of this year? Is there a specific number of followers you want to hit, or a number of videos you want to publish?

KH: I want to hit 30 million followers before the year ends. I’m at 28 million right now. Well, I’m at 27.9, so I’ll be at 28 million by tomorrow or the next day. And yeah, 30 million followers on TikTok, 2 million subs on YouTube, maybe a little more before the year ends.

My goal isn’t really the number of followers, though, it’s the number of content I produce, like the amount of videos I get out and the amount of watch time I get, stuff like that. That’s really what I pay attention to, to see how productive I’ve been on posting content. My goal is really just to be, starting in July, to really kill it on the YouTube side for the long-form content and keep being consistent with TikTok and start getting back into dropping music videos every month.

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