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Rebecca Rogers just wanted to keep her students interested.
It was 2020. You know what that means. Everything shut down that spring–including schools. And when they “reopened” the next fall, many schools did so virtually. Rogers’ was one of them, and she suddenly found herself with a Zoom room full of hard-to-entertain high schoolers who wanted to do basically anything but listen to her.
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“I was trying to come up with different ways to bond with them through virtual learning,” she tells Tubefilter. “I tried so many things. I tried sports, I tried different animes that I knew they were watching.”
Some things worked better than others. But even if something did catch some of her kids’ attention, keeping that attention–especially when not everyone shared the same interests–that was a whole other fight.
So, Rogers turned to the one thing that united every single one of her students. The one thing they were all interested in. The one thing they were all watching.
A lot of what Rogers uploaded centered around her students–funny things they’d said, awkward situations they’d ended up in. But to her surprise, her students weren’t her only audience. Her content quickly went viral, and she found herself becoming a bona fide TikTok sensation with hundreds of millions of views and 2.5 million followers. When she began cross-posting her content to YouTube, she found similar success: her videos generated tens of millions of views and brought her more than 100,000 new subscribers each month.
That’s when things got complicated.
The school Rogers worked at had been aware of her content and had been fine with her posting it, she says. But suddenly, that changed. She was told she couldn’t monetize her content–and, when she said she hadn’t been, she was accused of lying, because administrators had seen ads running on her videos.
Rogers found herself with a choice: quit content and keep teaching, or quit teaching and keep making content.
In late 2021, she chose content.
Here’s what’s happened since.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Tubefilter: For anybody who’s reading this and maybe doesn’t know about you, can you give me a little intro about you, where you’re from, and what your background is?
Rebecca Rogers: Yes, sure. My name is Rebecca Rogers. I’m from Raleigh, North Carolina. I started out as a high school social studies teacher and all my kids obviously were watching TikTok all the time. As a very young teacher, I felt like I really needed strict boundaries. For me, that was one thing of like, “Okay, don’t get into this app. That’s one way you can keep your professional boundaries with these kids. We’re not going to do it.”
Then when COVID hit, things changed, because everything was locked down, the kids were stuck in their houses, they were getting really depressed. It was very apparent to me that they were just so sad and miserable. I was trying to come up with different ways to bond with them through virtual learning. I tried so many things. I tried sports, I tried different animes that I knew they were watching.
Eventually, the third thing that I tried was TikTok because if they did speak up at all, if they turned their cameras on, a lot of times it was about TikTok. I said, “Okay, what if I downloaded this app and tried to just do some…” You could pick the appropriate trends to participate in. It was the first time they were a little lively at all. I was like, “Okay, maybe this is the thing. This is going to be what we bond over.”
I’ve never had issues bonding with students before. It was freaking me out. We did a few of those. Eventually one day, someone said something really silly in class. Then they were like, “You can tell that story on TikTok.” I did and it just blew up a little bit. There’s no expectation that I was ever going to go viral or get a following or anything like that, I was just trying to bond with my students, give them something to smile about during the day and it just completely took off and gave me something to do during the day, during the lockdowns that gave me joy, it gave them joy.
They thought it was so cool. We considered it our project. They created my handles and it just exploded from there. I had a really awesome time doing it with them. Obviously, classes changed. I got a new sets of kids and we always had really good times with it, but eventually, teaching has always had a lot of baggage with it, but especially since COVID just became very unsustainable for me, especially where I live where retirement is going away and benefits they say, are going to be going away.
It just became very scary to put all of my eggs into this career where I don’t know if it will be able to sustain me and my husband and who knows. Maybe if we want kids one day, there’s so many teachers that can’t have kids because they’re teachers, they can’t afford it. I as of right now don’t necessarily want kids, but I want to have the option. I don’t want my career choice to make that decision for me.
After that and a few incidents that occurred with my principal, I decided that we were going to make the jump and we were going to go full-time content creator, but for me and my values, that also meant that I was going to have to shift my content because I’m very much of the opinion that someone who isn’t in the classroom should not be telling teachers what to do and should not be that champion for this is how you have a perfect class because I haven’t been in the classroom for a year and a half now.
I have no business telling educators what they should do and what they shouldn’t be doing. I don’t know what it’s like to be in a classroom in today’s world. Education is changing every year, and I have been removed from that world for a year and a half. Now, I’m still trying my best to advocate for the injustices that teachers and students and the school systems experience, but also trying to shift a little less of hey teachers, X, Y, Z, and a little bit more to relatability and still making people feel seen just in different ways of their normal regular everyday life.
Tubefilter: I think one of the first videos I saw of yours is one where you were mistaken for a student walking through the hallway. The teacher who spoke to you was really rude, and at the end of the video, you were like, “Hey, do you talk to all your students like that?” I was like, oh, you’re actually concerned about the way kids are treated and the way that kids aren’t respected. That was what drew me into watching your videos.
Rebecca Rogers: Thank you. That became a really big thing for me even before social media started. As a new teacher, there’s a lot that you learn very quickly. I’ll never forget when I was teaching seniors and I had a kid come to my room–I’m already getting emotional right now.
Tubefilter: Don’t worry, it’s fine.
Rebecca Rogers: I had a kid come to my room borderline in tears. I was like, “Whoa, hey, what’s going on?” He’s like, “Well, my English teacher, we were talking about colleges and I was telling my English teacher I was applying for a college, and she told me not to worry about it because I wouldn’t do well anyway.”
Rebecca Rogers: She told him that because he was Black, that he might as well find a different career choice than what he was going for, and that she’s just trying to look out for him because he’s going to face a lot of discrimination. He’s going to “save himself the trouble” and do something else. I’ll never forget the pure rage that just–Oh my god, I’m going to get so emotional right now. I’m so sorry.
Tubefilter: I told you, you’re fine!
Rebecca Rogers: The pure rage that coursed through my body, and from that moment on, I was very conscious and observant of how some other…Just like in every career, there are some people that don’t always do what they’re supposed to do, and I wanted to be observant for who is not speaking to students the way that they should be spoken to.
It’s such a difficult thing because on one hand, teachers are being humbled emotionally, physically, mentally, they are not being taken care of, but at the same time, there are some instances where the students are also not being taken care of by the teachers. I’ve been balancing that fine line of trying to advocate for all the corners, but still acknowledging teachers aren’t being taken care of, but there are still some people that need to be aware of how they’re making students feel and how they’re speaking to them and vice versa.
Parents have a lot of say in their kids’ education, as they should. They should be involved, but at the same time, let the professionals who have these degrees make the calls that make sense in their classroom because they have that experience to know. There’s just a lot of fine lines.
Tubefilter: I get you. It’s really refreshing to hear that.
Rebecca Rogers: Thank you so much.
Tubefilter: When did you go full-time in content creation?
Rebecca Rogers: Not this past fall, but last fall. Fall 2021. I had this whole…It was such a long video. It’s a 45-minute video of why I quit teaching, but pretty much, I had a principal who, very oftentimes–and it wasn’t just me, just with people in general–would ask them to do something or give them permission to do something and then forget they had that conversation. That was a very common issue people had with him.
I specifically asked him the year before I started, hey, I think I’m going to try this just to boost morale. I literally would see him in the hallways and give him updates about, oh, I just reached this number of followers, isn’t that cool? Then all of a sudden at the end of the year it was, “Oh, I don’t remember us even talking ahout–I didn’t even know you were doing this kind of thing.” I was like, “Everyone at the school knows that, what do you mean you didn’t know I was doing this? We talk about it all the time.”
Then all of sudden, I got an email from HR saying that my principal requested them tell me that can’t monetize anything, and I told them, I’m not monetized. They’re like, “We know you are because we see ads on your YouTube.”
Tubefilter: That’s not what that means.
Rebecca Rogers: That’s not what that means! The uninformed confidence was shocking. Yes, there are ads on my YouTube videos, there are ads on everyone’s YouTube videos. That doesn’t mean I was profiting from those ads. I just became eligible to become monetized that particular week! I’m not sure if they couldn’t understand or just blatantly wouldn’t, but at that point it didn’t matter. They were not interested in me explaining it to them.
Tubefilter: A lack of respect.
Rebecca Rogers: Exactly, then it was actually that week that I got my first YouTube Shorts bonus. I didn’t really start taking YouTube seriously until the end of July, beginning of August. That’s when I was like, okay, let’s work towards monetization. This was all happening the beginning of September. Not much time passed and I’d just reached monetization status as this was happening.
I hadn’t even been eligible before. When I saw that my first Shorts bonus was about my monthly teaching salary, my husband was like, “I think that you should go for it.” At worst case scenario you’re still going to be making your teaching salary clearly, so let’s do it. We went for it and I quit.
Tubefilter: That’s very cool. Is your husband also full-time on this or does he have another gig?
Rebecca Rogers: My husband’s an attorney. That’s definitely been very handy to have. We’ve been discussing him coming full-time with me, and he once tried to make content but he hates the process. He got in front of camera, and all of a sudden he froze.
Tubefilter: Oh, no. One of those.
Rebecca Rogers: Yes! Then he was like, “I hate editing, I hate the filming, but I want to help you.” There’s been discussions for sure because I also want to dip my toes into educational, but not necessarily teacher things. I want to teach about different cultures and different places of the world that will also require a full-time videographer and someone to help me with all the nitty.
There’s definitely been discussions, just no official yay or nay kind of thing. Even if he did leave, he would still keep his license because you can’t not.
Tubefilter: Very handy.
Rebecca Rogers: Right.
Tubefilter: You don’t have to give me get me exact numbers or anything, but obviously if your first bonus was as much as you were making teaching, you must be doing pretty well now. I hope you’re doing better now.
Rebecca Rogers: Yes. That’s another thing that’s very surreal about this line of work. I went to VidCon for the first time last summer. Everyone was having such a good time and it was really awesome. I think that my experience at Vidcon was a little unique because I just came from a career where we didn’t have enough textbooks to give to all the kids. Then there are platforms that are, “Hey, do you want a third pair of crocs? We just have extras.” And it was very cool, but also almost a little frustrating of, wow, there’s so much money in the private sector. Why are schools the way that they are?
Something that I learned even before I had a manager, which is so weird to say now that I have a manager. That’s weird. I never thought I would say that in my life. I remember before I had my manager, I was told if a company reaches out to you, and says, “Do you want to do a sponsorship?” Your first response should be, “What is your budget for this project?” Don’t just give them a number.
Ask them what their budget is. I did, and the numbers that some of these companies were giving me…What? Where’s all this money coming from? Why are schools not getting it? There’s funds to just throw around on a one-minute video for 60 seconds. This is more than some of my old colleagues make in a month. Why? And it’s very strange, sometimes I feel guilty, and obviously I’m very privileged to be in this spot, but it makes me feel guilty that there are so many occupations, like teaching and nurses.
I was in those trenches and I have never felt the stress and anxiety and just run down, burnt-out mentality as a content creator that I did as a teacher. It frustrates me and I deal with a lot of guilt with that sometimes.
Tubefilter: I understand. It’s definitely something to think about. You touched on this a little bit before, but more specifically how have you changed your content strategies since leaving the classroom?
Rebecca Rogers: Once I started taking off content-wise, I really wanted teachers to just feel seen, to know that they weren’t alone with all the craziness and weird feelings and experiences that they might have. Since leaving the classroom, because again I’m very passionate about the idea that non-educators and non-teachers should not be telling teachers what to do or what to feel or like, “I know what you’re experiencing,” when you don’t.
Even though I was just teaching a year and a half ago, I don’t know what it’s like to be a teacher right now. Education changes so much every year, every semester really now that COVID’s done. It’s really another game and I just didn’t feel right, doing that. Now instead of just focusing–I mean, I still want to, of course, advocate for teachers. I’ll still always do those skits because I still want them to feel seen and advocated for and heard.
I also more so think of all of my weird quirks and thoughts that I just experience on a daily basis that maybe my anxiety or my ADHD, what are weird things that I go through on a daily basis just as a person because another thing I think is important is that teaching is not people’s whole personalities. You’re still a person, you still have your own friends and significant others and pets and whatever.
Sometimes I’ll just scroll through sounds and scroll through trends and think, how can we relate this to an every day quirk to just make people in general with anxiety feel seen, or ADHD, or sometimes girls–I just did one yesterday about wanting to just stay home on the couch and watch Netflix over the weekends and not wanting go out drinking or dancing, which there’s nothing wrong with that, but I know that sometimes the girls that don’t like doing those things get labeled as boring or lame or whatever.
I want to do a video that made them feel seen and like you’re not alone and it’s okay. You sit on Netflix, enjoy your weekend, don’t leave your couch. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Tubefilter: Totally. Sorry, just taking notes as you’re talking.
Rebecca Rogers: No, you’re good. I’m like, “I wonder if they can hear my cat snoring.”
Tubefilter: I have three cats. I understand.
Rebecca Rogers: The other one made a fort out of my bedsheet. He’s living it up his fort right now. I really love that lately my cats are starting become part of my content. These things run my life. They run our household, as they should, and it honestly is so sweet. I made some random story a few weeks ago about how my boy cat, his eye was changing colors, and I was nervous. I have to take him to the vet. The number of people over the last few weeks who are like, “Is he okay? What did the vet say?” was the most heartwarming thing I’ve ever experienced because that cat is my whole world and knowing people are worried for him for me is just the sweetest thing ever.
Tubefilter: Is he okay?
Rebecca Rogers: I think so. Both the vet and the specialists were, “Honestly, we have no idea.” It looks okay. The worst that it could be would be this melanoma, but it doesn’t have the characteristics of a melanoma. They were like, “Probably not. We’ll keep an eye on it just in case, but probably not.”
Tubefilter: That’s very good to hear! What is your current production schedule? Do you have a set production schedule?
Rebecca Rogers: Yes, I do. I usually try to set aside two to three days a week to just be full filming days. People are always so surprised when I tell them a lot of my days that I’m filming it’s really just computer work, emails and editing, and research, and things like that. Usually Mondays, Wednesdays, and then every other Fridays.
Tuesdays, every other Wednesday and Thursdays are really when I sit down and I record everything. Mondays and Fridays, and then every other Wednesdays, I will come up with an entire list of all the sounds that I want to use. Right now, I literally have 20-something sounds just to record over the next week or two that I think that I can relate to either cat-obsessed people, or millennials that don’t want kids, or people with ADHD, or anxiety, or something that other people will just resonate with and feel seen and just put together all the skits that I need to record and all the nitty pretty, and all the long-form content.
Then Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, I just try to knock it all out for the next week and repeat.
@rrogersworld #stitch with @africaqueenzz I am not as brave as you🥲🥲🥲 #cat #catsoftiktok #pet #animals #joke ♬ original sound – Rebecca Rogers
Tubefilter: Do you make the same videos for TikTok and YouTube, or how does that work for you?
Rebecca Rogers: When it comes to short content? I post the same thing everywhere. I post TikTok, I post on Snapchat, I post on YouTube. Not everything goes on Instagram because I’m finding that algorithm is a little difficult right now.
Tubefilter: I’ve heard that from other people, yes.
Rebecca Rogers: Well, I met someone who just stopped working at Reddit. She used to work for all the platforms, and she told me that right now–I don’t even know how accurate this is, it’s the only information I have to go on, but it makes sense–that the Instagram algorithm is set to handle one or two Reels a day, and they want there to be more, but right now, it just isn’t programmed for that. So I pick my favorite two videos of the day that I’m posting. I usually post three or four on TikTok, Snapchat, Facebook, and YouTube. Then I’ll pick my favorite two of the day and post those to Instagram.
Tubefilter: You also do long-form content too, and you’ve been growing that side of things. When did you get into long-form?
Rebecca Rogers: Yes, YouTube was such a surprise for me. I didn’t expect it to go as wonderful as it has and I’m so grateful for everything on YouTube. I started YouTube the summer after I started TikTok, which I started TikTok in October of 2020, and I started YouTube that summer. I posted a couple of shorts here and there and they didn’t really go anywhere, I think because I was on TikTok and Instagram. “Please go follow my YouTube.”
I think I had 2,000 or 3,000 subs, which is still great, which is still amazing. YouTube is really fun to grow on. I actually had to take a break from social media because I was working on some AP US history, AP World History content for school stuff and APs really kick your butt and I needed to focus. I took a break for two or three months. When I came back, I didn’t even mean to come back, I got an email from Cricut that was like, “Hey, our influencers, if you have 5000 subs on YouTube, we want to do a campaign with you.”
I already did one with them on TikTok. I thought, oh, probably not, but let me go check. I had 90,000 on YouTube. No idea at all what sparked it. Just everything that I had posted a few months ago just exploded and caught fire. I thought, okay, I guess I need to YouTube now. I just posted shorts up until the following spring when I hit a million subs. It was last spring that I was like, okay, I’m at a million subs now. I guess I need to figure out long content. I think my first ones were maybe in March or April of last year maybe. Maybe April or May.
Tubefilter: Would you say you’re equally focused now on both?
Rebecca Rogers: Yes, I think so. I definitely pump out more short content than long content. I edit all of my short content myself, and then I actually hired an editor, which is also weird to say, but she takes care of all of my long content editing. That saves me so much time. It’s so worth it to me. Then I will take the long content that she edits, and I will edit down little clips to post. Am I the bad apple? I’ll do those clips myself. I am focused on making the content equally, I guess, but it’s just more possible to get more short content out of that long-form content.
Tubefilter: Yes, totally. I feel like that’s pretty standard.
Rebecca Rogers: Yes.
Tubefilter: What are your goals for this coming year?
Rebecca Rogers: That’s interesting. I guess my biggest goal has always been and continues to be just making people feel seen and loved, and they have a place where they belong. It really started with my students. It transferred to– it grew to teachers around the world, and now I just want it to be people around the world. That started as my goal and it’s something that will always be my goal.
Another big goal that I’m starting to look into is still finding a way into education, but not necessarily in the teaching aspect of it. My favorite part from teaching was standing up there and teaching kids about social studies and about the world. If I could find a way to bring that back to what I’m doing now, I would love that. It’s in the works. It’s not something that I’m like, yes, in a month.
It’s definitely heavily in planning stages of figuring out what’s possible and what can I do and what are the options. It’s something that I would really like to see come to fruition in the next year.
Tubefilter: Great. I’m almost done grilling you.
Rebecca Rogers: No worries. I’m an open book.
Tubefilter: What would be your number one piece of advice for somebody who’s looking to get into your kind of content?
Rebecca Rogers: Oh, yes. I tell this to everybody because so many people ask this, and I love when people ask me this. I genuinely believe that it’s very possible for anyone to make content. I think that a lot of people get in their own way because they’re afraid. There’s a lot of anxiety that I think of. My husband was like, I want to be a content creator, and tried and just got scared.
I think that more people could definitely do it. Just don’t get in your own way, go for it. I also think another big piece of advice that I would give is to make sure that you enjoy the content that you’re making. Have fun with it, or else what’s the point? If you’re not having fun with it, you’re going to get burnt out very quickly. I just think that go for it and see what happens. You just never know.
Tubefilter: Is there anything else that you would want readers to know?
Rebecca Rogers: I guess the only thing that I could really think of is…I don’t even know how to phrase it, but it’s something that’s so important to me, is that there are so many people that I meet in real life, whether it be other content creators or fans that are like, “Wow, you’re like the same person here as you are on social media.” I think that’s something that I think is very important for anyone in this line of work is really being authentic.
Tubefilter: I’m not going to lie, that did surprise me when we first got on our call. You’re exactly the same.
Rebecca Rogers: Everyone always says that! It honestly is my biggest flex. My favorite thing about myself is that I’m told by so many people, “You are the exact same human being as I see on my screen.” That is genuinely is my favorite thing about myself, and I think it’s very important. I don’t think everyone needs to be the kid-friendly, or a good role model. Everyone has their own version of an influencer that they want to be.
I just want to be this one and there’s nothing wrong with it. Even just this week, I’ve had friends that are like, “Do you feel like I do you feel like you’re boxing yourself in because you don’t curse on your platform?” I’m like, no, because that’s never been the influence that I wanted to leave on the world, and I feel very confident and comfortable knowing that I am myself through and through, even if I found a lot of success. My friend of 15, 20 years, Lauren, at her bachelorette party, I took her to the bathroom, an there was a girl in the bathroom who recognized me.
Lauren had a little too much to drink, and she put her arm around this fan of mine, and I thought, “Oh, dear god, what’s happening?” Lauren said, completely inebriated. “You know what my favorite thing about Rebecca Rogers is, she’s the exact same human I met 15 years ago, even though she got all these little fancy-dancy followers.” It was so funny, but it meant so much to me. I just knew I had to keep that because it was incredibly important to me.
I’d say that is the biggest thing for future content creators, is to be prepared. There will be a lot of people you see online that you’re like, “I want to be their friend. They seem so fun and cool.” Just know that you’ll find a group that really speaks to you, and you will be the happiest clam in the ocean.
Rogers is managed by Never Napping.
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