Iam often asked this question via Youtube messaging and while I try to answer each person as thoroughly as possible without getting too wordy, I thought a little blog response might be a good idea.
Lisa Freemont Street on Youtube started back in 2008, shortly after I had gone 'platinum blonde' and was avidly researching authentic vintage hair settings to compliment my new color.
I started the channel as a means to document my adventures in hair styling, but also because the vintage oriented channels on youtube at the time seemed to be geared towards very different hair types than mine (Ilovegerardo was the only girl who regularly did vintage styles back then and her hair was super long and thick). My hair is fine and very straight, making setting it imperative. I also realized quickly that heated sets didn't give my style much stamina.
In keeping with my love for silent movies, I decided to try shooting my tutorials without any spoken instruction. After all, my kids are loud (I had three at the time) and I knew having a few minutes of quiet time would be tricky. Instead, I sped up the video footage and added music. Music and classic movies are a passion of mine, so it seemed a no-brainer. Of course, I knew NOTHING about copyright stuff back then. I just knew that the right music coupled with my videos about vintage hairstyles seemed to work. All of that seemed to come together most successfully in this video, which to date is still one of my favorites:
People seem to like my videos, which improved a bit once I figured out lighting, camera placement, and video editing. I felt like a little independent film director. Companies started sending me things to review, which was extremely flattering, so product reviews soon followed as well as cooking videos, Pin Up features, and fashion reviews. I also was able to purchase a better webcam eventually, so the quality of my videos improved over time.
So why don't I have more subscribers? I can't really answer that question completely, but I am flattered that people feel I SHOULD have more. :) So I'll try to let you in on what I feel holds me back from having a larger audience, and why I'm fine with it.
1. Target audience: My target audience is obviously limited. Vintage style, especially using authentic techniques, is not something that is in the mainstream in most communities. Though there are many professional hair stylists with youtube channels and many of them create gorgeous retro INSPIRED looks, most of them do not take the trouble to do so in an authentic way. Not only is this in the interests of time, since heated irons and setting options facilitate styling so much more efficiently, but it also gives a decidedly 'current' look to a style. After all, authenticity lends itself to what most fashion experts would term 'costumey'. And most people choose to avoid that. So naturally, retro styles with a modern flair are what the general public would prefer.
2. Youtube Partnership: I used to have no opinion of the youtube partnership program, which puts popular videographers on the 'payroll', so to speak. You don't get a fee to actually make a video, from what I understand, but you receive a set percentage based on the amount of times your viewers click on related ads that Youtube places around your posts and channel. If you have an enormous audience like Michelle Phan, you can see how this could result in quite a little income. For someone with a smaller audience, the payback is reportedly small. I really don't know because my opinion of the partnership program has lowered significantly since I originally learned of it and I now have decided opinions about the amount of control that they exhibit over their 'partners'. Either way, I have no interest in becoming partner and therefore I miss out on a lot of the promoting that Youtube does on behalf of those who choose to join the program. Partners also seem to support each other as part of an elite club of sorts, which I appreciate. However, those who are not partners also give each other plenty of props and I credit many of my fellow youtubers for my current viewership. You know who you are. :)
3. Copyright Strikes: This one is the kicker. And it's the one feature of my channel that I'm most militant about protecting. Since the beginning, I have used some of my favorite music as the background of my videos. While I'm sure some artists may not want to be affiliated with a gal doing her hair on camera, I strongly feel that most artists and record labels want to get the music out there by whatever means possible. Even if it's a somewhat questionable platform. There is some GREAT music out there that is no longer available, some that has fallen by the wayside, some that deserves to be resurrected. A lot of it's not even that old; it just doesn't get air play and MTV no longer cares about music (different rant; different time). So I thought Youtube was a great way to get the music out there to the people.
At first, my videos were muted or pulled sometimes and I was very disappointed. I would upload with new music, hoping for different results. Over time, I noticed that more and more labels were starting to 'allow' the music, as long as an Itunes link or ads were placed by the video. This seemed like a win-win situation for me, since I truly want my viewers to purchase the music, above all. When the music is not automatically 'allowed', I can technically appeal to the Fair Use portion of the Copyright law, which states the the use of some material can be considered lawful if the person is receiving no payment for distributing the content and if they are using the material for the purpose of teaching. This is a gray area for me, but I'll take it. And this reason continues to be a driving force in my decision not to start getting paid for my videos in any way. A person who has any copyrighted material in their videos does not qualify for partnership anyway, and that's fine with me.
Over time, I developed some great contacts with amazing musicians and artists willing to 'donate' to my cause and allow the use of their music. I'm so thrilled to have their support and continue to appreciate their generosity. In return, I hope that being featured on Lisa Freemont Street has helped some of them gain a few more fans.
Well, that's about the size of it. While I appreciate all of your concern for my slow grow on Youtube, I truly would'nt have any other way. I see the results of huge fan bases on Facebook and in the sordid comments left on many of the most popular Youtubers' channels. I will continue to support those folks and I am super excited to see other great vintage styling channels getting more popular, like that of Cherry Dollface, who is a great teacher and one of my favorites. But I can clearly see that there are definite perks to having a smaller, choosier audience. I can respond to individual comments, form relationships with many of you on Facebook, actually get to each one of your requests! And I'm steadily building a little business based on your continued support. Most importantly, I can keep up with the growth and rearrange my schedule around it. As it stands...I'm happy.
So in answer to your question, the title of this blog post, 36,000+ subscribers might not be 5 million. But it's just the right number for me.