Alisha Marie: The rejuvenation of a social media workaholic.

Jul 31, 2018

Alisha Marie

Our interview of Alisha Marie for “The Creative Influencer” podcast is available today for download on iTunes. Alisha Marie has 7.6 million YouTube subscribers and 3.7 million Instagram followers. Alisha has been described as the hardest working influencer on YouTube.  We talk about the four phases of her career, from getting started to her workaholic phase, which ultimately lead to burn out. She is now entering the rejuvenation phase of her career. Alisha gives great advice to anyone starting their YouTube career.

Alisa shared the following takeaways:  

Jon: If you were just starting out now, is that what you would do?

Alisha: Fully, because I stalk smaller channels so much. I love it because it gives me the nostalgia of when I started, and it’s so funny because a lot of my friends make fun of me. They’re like, “Oh my God, you know the YouTube world,” and all that stuff. But my biggest thing is I’ll come across people and they’re an identical clone of someone else that we all know. And there’s such potential there, but they’re limiting themselves because I’m not going to subscribe because I already follow that someone else.

Jon: When did you first start to consider yourself an influencer?

Alisha: Genuinely, not that long ago. That’s when I started trying to change my vocabulary of “I can use YouTube,” but that’s limiting me to one platform and I’m an influencer. Even starting a podcast, that’s not YouTube, and I think that’s more respected in the traditional media Hollywood sense too. When you just say YouTuber, how many headlines are there with horrible things with YouTubers? Even blogger sounds more professional, which is funny because there’s still this stigma. But I think anyone could be an influencer, it’s just devoting your time to it.

Jon: You’ve been on YouTube 10 years. If you could go back to your 10-year-younger self, what would you tell yourself?

Alisha: Oh my God, I would love that. I would tell myself to not care about what people think, to just do whatever I want to do because I am talented in it. I really discovered along the journey my talent and now I can sit here so confidently and say, “I’m meant to be a creative director,” whereas back then I was not confident in myself. Now I’m just so confident and YouTube’s definitely brought that confidence. Going back to being an introvert, a lot of people from my past at different times have said, “You of all people, you were so shy.” But it’s funny now, being in this space, a lot of influencers are introverts and are shy and it’s just funny.

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A transcript of the full interview follows:

Jon: I am joined today by Alisha Marie, welcome to the podcast.

Alisha: Hello, thank you.

Jon: Full disclosure, we’ve worked together for about three years.

Alisha: Have we really? It’s been three years?

Jon: I looked it up.

Alisha: Oh my gosh, I love that.

Jon: Ok, so in preparing for this, I went back and did some research on your career.  And I’m going to divide your career into four

Alisha Marie

phases, and I want to see if you agree with me.

Alisha: Okay.

Jon: The first phase is the “getting started” phase, the second phase is the “workaholic” phase, the third phase is the “burn out” phase, and then the fourth phase is the “rejuvenation” phase.

Alisha: Yep.

Jon: And these phases are not equal time. So for instance, the getting started phase is when you joined – April 18, 2008.  But your first posted video that’s still online is January 17, 2011.

Alisha: Yeah, that’s still posted online. I remember going through and deleting so many videos. But my first video, I wish YouTube could find it. They tried to get it, but they couldn’t because I deleted it forever ago, but it was a makeup tutorial that was a minute and forty-five seconds long, and I was sitting down in my room, and that was that same year, 2008.

Jon: Ok, so why did you go back and delete it?

Alisha: I remember going through a phase thinking that everything needs to look good as far as my videos. I’d been doing it for so long, I was thinking more visually, and I was like those are old, they don’t get views, and I should delete them. I really wish I didn’t delete it, because it was my first video.

Jon: And I take it you didn’t back them up any place else?

Alisha: No, not at all.

Jon: Ok so, how many did you delete about?

Alisha: A lot are private, which means only I can see them. At that time when I deleted the first one, YouTube didn’t have that feature. There are probably a few hundred that are private.

Jon: Oh really?

Alisha: Yeah, there are a lot.

(laughter)

Jon: So, why did you join YouTube?

Alisha: I joined YouTube when it was just a genuine hobby. I loved make-up so much, and I loved watching people do tutorials and show what they bought when they were shopping, and I just wanted to be a part of it. I thought I could do it, and I thought it’d be fun, so I tried it, and I definitely failed the first four years.

(laughter)

From watching those old videos, I’m sure you could see when it finally took off. It was definitely a while, but I fell in love with it because it was genuinely all of my interests in one thing. And I think that’s what I liked because I grew up doing theatre, and I loved that, but it was never enough for me to be like, “This is my passion, and I want to pursue that.” I love music so much. Same exact thing. Same thing with acting and beauty. At one point I wanted to be a make-up artist but knew that wouldn’t really happen, so it was this one place where all of my talents could be in one spot, and I just fell in love with it.

Jon: Now, I want to back you up a second. When you were little, you were in theatre?

Alisha: Yeah. (laughter)

Jon: What kind of stuff?

Alisha: I was Dorothy in Wizard of Oz. We did a lot of musicals, and I always really enjoyed it.

Jon: So you’re comfortable in front of a live audience?

Alisha: Yeah, definitely. And then I did cheerleading for 7 or 8 years. I always loved performing. Being in front of an audience was never a huge problem for me.

Jon: Did your parents take videos of you when you were doing this stuff?

Alisha: Yes and no. I know they’re somewhere, I need to find them. Especially now. I know they’re on VHS somewhere and to convert it, I’ve got to figure it out, but I know it’s possible. I would love to do a reacting video to all these old videos. It’d be so funny.

Jon: Yeah, that’d be so fun to watch. In 2011, you have two videos, 2012, one video, 2013, eleven videos. And then what changed for you to decide to now post a lot?

Alisha Marie

Alisha: That was the time that I moved out of my parents’ house and my sister and I got an apartment together. It was kind of this blank canvas of having the freedom to do more of what I wanted to do. I really got into home décor then, so that was more content that I could do. I remember coming to this point because I was commuting to college that time, and I really wasn’t investing my time much into school, and I really wanted to dive into YouTube. There was almost a switch moment of being like okay, if I’m going to do this, I’m going to do this.

Jon: And was there one thing that you can point to where you decided that’s what you wanted to do?

Alisha: I remember that was when my channel switched from beauty to more lifestyle, and that’s the moment I realized okay, I’m not a makeup artist, but there’s something that’s going here because that’s when it started to take off. I realized you know what, I’m just going to think of it more like a magazine. There’s comedy, there’s makeup, it’s everything put together. I just kept falling more and more in love with it.

Jon: Which we’ll touch on a little more later, but when you say you think of it more like a magazine, do you chart out what episodes are going to come out?

Alisha: I used to. I used to be like I’ve done one makeup this month, so I should do a comedy one next, and then I should do a hair one. I used to think that was more of a tactic, which it can be. Whereas now my views have changed a bit, but yeah, I definitely used to.

Jon: What changed?

Alisha: I think realizing that it’s so much more your personality when it comes to anything online or digital, than your routine upload. That’s important for growth and there are definitely little strategies, but just doing that isn’t going to make you a superstar or anything.

Jon: So when somebody watches your videos now, how much of that personality is you?

Alisha: Well, hopefully with this coming backstage, it’s going to be a thousand and twenty percent. My vlog channel is definitely more of who I am. My main channel, I was just talking to a friend about this, I think from doing it for so long, there’s been this presentation like it needs to be perfect, you’re on camera. Whereas vlogs, what people love about them is they’re so real. So there’s plenty of times where I’ll sit down and I’m filming a main channel video with my nice camera, and I have to tell myself it’s my vlog channel. Just to get me in the mindset that there’s no difference between this camera and this camera. This one just seems like a lot more professional, formal, with lights.

Jon: Which takes us to your workaholic phase.

(laughter)

Jon: So, I went back and counted. From 2014 to 2018, you had 250 videos, which is approximately one a week. The first question is, where’d you get the energy to do a video a week?

Alisha: You know what the hard part is?  One video a week doesn’t even seem like much, but it really is. And that’s genuinely my drive. Nothing would’ve stopped me from uploading even if I was sick, if I had the flu, or was traveling. I would make sure that I had a video up. It became more of a control thing, that workaholic phase. I’ve had so many friends be like, “Alisha, how do you do it, what do you do, what’s your secret?” I genuinely tell them there really isn’t anything, it’s just something in me. I have to have it done.

Jon: I don’t remember who it was, that described you as the hardest working girl on social media.

(laughter)

Alisha: Well, there’s so much to it. And then, that led to the start of my burnout.

Jon: Well then, that was the last phase I wanted to talk about. Talk about that. When did that start to kick in?

Alisha: Honestly, last year. So last year, when I looked at my channel, I was really not proud of it because I love including comedy, but I’m not comedy. And when I was looking back at my channel, I really noticed how it was all pretty much comedy, anything to get views. It wasn’t really me. And it’s funny because just looking at that channel, I realized that that doesn’t represent me whatsoever. I got views, but it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t mean anything now.

So then what started happening was instead of having more of a structured week and routine, I started getting more busy, whether

Alisha Marie and Jon Pfeiffer

it was press or projects, to where instead of having the whole week to film one video, I ended up only having two days to film it. What ended up happening was I would film it Friday and partly Saturday, edit all Saturday night and Sunday morning, to get it up Sunday. And that became the routine for probably five months. And that’s what really started kicking in the burnout, because I would be so exhausted by the end after uploading that I wouldn’t want to film again for a few days, and then by that time it’s Friday again, and I had to do the whole circle again. Doing that for so long and then not being proud of the videos, that was two parts of it.

And then also at that time, YouTube’s algorithm changed drastically, and there was this huge shift in views. So on top of that, my views were low, and putting those three things together, I took a step back and was like I’m not proud of this. That’s what made me not care to miss a week if I happened to miss a week.

Most of the time, they were really good reasons, if I was actually super sick. There were definitely valid times where missing a week made sense, and I wanted the videos to be something I was proud of. And the more that happened, the more that made me realize how much my drive had changed. And I think that’s what made me notice that I was starting to feel burnt out, and that’s what really made it even harder for me. Realizing wow, I used to love this so much, it used to be my passion, what’s changed? And then also from there, I’ve had a lot of people in my life telling me you need to take a break or slow down, especially being creative, you need time to be creative. And I knew that, but part of me, I don’t know if it was an ego thing, was like no, I can do this. It’s okay.

Then finally one day, I knew I needed to take a break and had a full on breakdown and was like okay, this is even more of a sign that I need to take a break.

Jon: You posted, and I want to come back to how long it took you to get to this point, but it’s May 13, 2018, you posted a video titled “This Isn’t Goodbye.” How long before you filmed that did you know you were going to do that video?

Alisha: Honestly, only a week. Maybe two. Two weeks max. I remember also knowing, if I’m going to do this, this is actually the best time to do it because summer has always been a huge time for my channel. Just thinking on the business side, I’m like okay, it makes way more sense that if I’m going to do this, now’s the best time to do this.

But then also on a personal side of you’ve known this for a long time, there’s no better time than the present. But looking back, it was so obvious, but for some reason, I just didn’t—

Jon: Well it’s never obvious to the person going through it.

Alisha: Completely. My biggest fear with it was there’s this cycle within influencers, but mostly YouTubers, that they’re killing the game, they’re uploading so much, they’re on top, and then they start to care slightly less, they start skipping one upload, then they start missing months, and by the time they try to make a comeback, they always try to make a comeback to YouTube, their channel’s dead. And that was always my biggest fear of becoming irrelevant, or that it’s all going to be gone.

Something I really had to keep telling myself is one, Alisha, you’re not those other people, you’re different, you have your own drive, and then on top of that, it’s better to save this before it’s down in the dirt. My channel isn’t done. From most people’s standpoint, I guarantee that they looked and they were like oh, I didn’t even notice. Because I felt like taking that break while things were still good was a huge strategy that I wish someone had said that.

Jon: I don’t know if you looked, but that video has over 47,000 comments.

Alisha: Oh my God, yeah. I’m sure it’s the most commented. And the love everyone gave me was so much. I genuinely couldn’t read the comments that day because I just kept crying every time I would read them, and I was just like why? Why did it take me so long to do this? Why was my fear that they would be mad?

Jon: So now then, we enter into the fourth phase, which is the rejuvenation phase.

Alisha: Ah, I’m so excited for this.

Jon: Okay, where are you know?

Alisha: I have come full circle and I truly realized more than ever if you do what you love, people will follow it, and for the longest time I felt like I was following my old subscribers and doing what they wanted to see instead of doing what I wanted to do and allowing them to follow me. And also, I can find a new audience. Just because I’ve aged up doesn’t mean I’m stuck to catering to the millions of people who have subscribed and what they want to see, instead of no, let me just do what I want to do.

Jon: Does that involve getting older as aged up?

Alisha: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

(laughter)

For sure. That’s something I had a lightbulb moment with – why am I chasing what other people want to see from me, instead of just doing what I want to do? The best filmmakers could never live that way, you’re sacrificing your art and creativity just to make people happy, and you’re never going to make people happy.

Jon: Well that’s why they remake all the Spiderman movies.

Alisha: Yeah, for sure.

(laughter)

Jon: So what do you have on your plate?

Alisha: Right now, definitely preparing for when I come back. I think that’s something I also realized. I don’t want to just come back, I want to make sure I have a plan. I’ve pre-filmed a little bit because pre-filming’s always my biggest struggle. And just doing it right. I actually do have the chance to start over, so I’m excited to do that.

Jon: When you say pre-filming, what do you mean?

Alisha: When I say pre-filming, since I do upload about once a week, like I said, I used to be filming it Friday and uploading it two days later, whereas now I want to make sure I have at least a video or two ready to go that I’m editing, working on, weeks before they go up. I think I have to do that.

Jon: In the time off, what have you done to refresh yourself? I mean you obviously thought about what you want to do for vision.

Alisha Marie

Alisha: Yeah, it was really hard, which I feel like is not that big of a surprise. I could not sit still, I couldn’t not work. I still am a workaholic and what I did, which wasn’t the smartest thing, but I dove into my Instagram, because I was like, oh I’m just taking a break from my main channel, so I can take a break from that and dive into Instagram. There were a lot of different events that I went to, which I probably didn’t have to go to, but I definitely said I would. I did go to Greece and that was a fun trip.

Jon: You vlogged about that.

Alisha: I did vlog that. That was my first time vlogging back. So I did end up taking about a two week break from my vlog channel but over the past three months, I barely vlogged, and I think that was also a moment for me of noticing the burnout because my vlog channel’s been something that I always have been obsessed with. I loved it so much, sometimes even more than my main channel because it’s so real, and I never really tried much for that. So the fact that I noticed that I went a month without uploading, that was another moment for me like okay, something’s up.

Jon: So now, are you the kind of person that can go to the beach and just lay there?

Alisha: No, this is also the struggle that I have. My hobby is taking photos. I need a new hobby that has nothing to do with social media because when we were in Greece, there were so many times I wanted to enjoy the moment, have fun, but I was like no, what I want to do is go around town and take some photos because I love photography too. I like being behind the camera so it’s hard, that whole thing of all my hobbies being one. In some ways, I’m like okay maybe it would be good to be able to draw and paint.

Jon: Well, most people’s greatest asset is also their greatest liability.

Alisha: I love that. Me.

(laughter)

Alisha: Literally me.

Jon: So it is. It’s like what has gotten you where you are is also going to be the hardest thing you have to fight.

Alisha: Wow, that’s so true.

Jon: So there you are. Do you want to announce your—

Alisha: Oh my God, I can! Can I?

Jon: Yes, sure.

Alisha: Oh my God. Other things that are coming up that I’m super excited about. I actually am doing my own podcast soon, which I am so excited about. There is another influencer doing it with me, I’m not going to say who yet. But I feel like there are so many moments where I’m always telling people, “Something exciting’s coming,” and I feel like this is something I’m genuinely so pumped for, and I know it’s the right thing to do, and it’s going to be so good. I’m genuinely so excited for that, not exactly sure when it’s going to come out, but you’re the first exclusive. Oh my God!

(laughter)

Jon: I’m going to call E! Entertainment.

Alisha: There you go.

Jon: Let’s shift gears a second.

Alisha: Okay.

Jon: Let’s talk about your platforms. Right now, you almost have seven and a half million YouTube subscribers.

Alisha: Yes.

Jon: 5.3 million Twitter followers.

Alisha: Yeah, I don’t know why that one’s so big.

(laughter)

Jon: Yeah, I was going to circle back on that. And 3.7 Instagram followers. Are you on Snapchat?

Alisha: I am. They don’t show you how many followers you have on that. But views-wise, it can be anywhere depending from 300 to almost 500k.

Jon: What about Facebook?

Alisha: I’m not on it. I mean I have an account, I think there’s 20k maybe 50. I don’t know–

Jon: Are you on it privately?

Alisha: Not that much, and I think that’s my thing. I’ve been told by so many people that I need to get on that, so maybe this year, finally.

Jon: Back in your workaholic days, how many hours a day were you online? Making content online.

Alisha: I’ve noticed the times that my channel is doing the best is when I’m watching YouTube videos as a viewer. Just being aware of the content, the trends, and genuinely wanting to watch it. Also, sorry I keep flipping between all these phases, with the whole burnout thing, there was easily two months where I didn’t watch any YouTube videos, and I had no desire to. I almost resented it honestly. But I noticed I didn’t even care to watch it then. So I’ve noticed when I’m feeling really good about my channel and proud of it, I’m usually watching it. It’s funny because it doesn’t have to go hand in hand, but it makes sense.

Jon: Your most popular video has over thirty million views.

Alisha: The pranks one.

Jon: Funny pranks, roommates—

Alisha: —I love that one.  

Jon: Why do you think that is?

Alisha: I think that was the first video I filmed in this house. I remember having so much fun with it. Ashley and I going back and forth and that was part of a series, so people were looking forward to it. But it was also entertaining. When you watch it, there isn’t a three-minute-long intro of me talking that people skip. It dives straight into it. It was fun.

Jon: Where did you get the idea of pinning a bar of soap?

Alisha: You know what, you’d be surprised with what you can find online. That’s all I have to say. There are so many things. There are only some that I’ve actually come up with, but most of them I do find online. Some of the things, wow, if I was super young finding all this, it would’ve been horrible. I totally would’ve done all of them on Ashley for sure.

Jon: And Ashley’s your sister.

Alisha: Yes.

Jon: Do you have any other sisters?

Alisha: No, I don’t. I do have a brother but no other sisters.

Jon: Do you go for G, PG, PG-17, R?

Alisha: For the longest time, I was definitely G, being super, super clean. Think Disney Channel clean. And then throughout, I aged up more to PG. And then moving forward, especially with me growing up too, I don’t want myself to limit myself to—I’m rambling so much. I’m sorry.

Jon: That’s what a podcast is.

Alisha: (laughter) I love it. Moving forward, I want to age it up and have it more PG-13 and have it more who I am. It’s not like I’m a crazy party girl or anything but just having it more realistic because I think I’m at a point—

Jon: —well you’re not 16.

Alisha: Yeah, I’m not 12 anymore. And then I think also getting older. For the longest time I truly was like what you see is what you

Alisha Marie

get. My channel was 100% a representation of me. That was always something I loved – when people would come up and say wow, you genuinely are that same person. But as I’ve gotten older, there becomes this moment where people almost don’t trust you because they’re like okay, there’s no way you can be like this. Who’s the real you? I think the timing’s perfect because within the past few months, I’ve changed so much. It felt like ever since I cut my hair, I don’t know what happened but the second that happened—

Jon: You know, it’s common when people get out of a relationship they cut their hair.

Alisha: Cut their hair, dye it, do something different. It was like out of a relationship with my channel, that’s so funny. So I am excited to reintroduce everyone to the new me, and how I’ve changed and grown up.

Jon: We talked a little about you being comfortable in front of a camera. When you were acting as a kid, did you want to be in front of a camera or live?

Alisha: I don’t think I ever made the conscious thought of which one. I definitely enjoyed it a lot. And I remember making movies with my friends when we were young, and I remember even then thinking about editing and thinking oh, when I edit this, I can erase this, and we can do flips. It was this spy series. It never made it. We do have the footage somewhere, but I always loved cameras. And there was this one time I wanted a video camera so badly, but we didn’t have the money for it. And then finally one year, I got one and it was this huge thing. It was literally so huge, and I loved it so much. Fast forward about a year, I think it died and it broke. And all I wanted to do was break it, so I could see how it worked. And I remember my mom was confused because I was like, “Can I go smash this in the backyard?” And she was like, “Why?” and I was like, “I just want to see how it works.” She’s like, “Okay, cool,” so I got a hammer. I just always loved them.

Jon: Which leads us into the creative process. You talked about getting some of your ideas for the pranks by Googling them. Where do you get your ideas?

Alisha: This is so cliché sounding but I always tell people this on panels, my best ideas come when I’m hanging out with friends. It makes sense because especially being in a more relatable category, I feel like a lot of my content is geared towards that because I’m a Kylie Jenner. I’m me. Whenever I’m just hanging out with friends and someone does something funny, I always say, “Oh my God, that would be a great video idea.” The times that I’ve tried to slave myself to my desk and think of a viral video, it never happens. So a lot of those pranks, even though it’s a prank, I have a go to group chat of friends who I can bounce ideas off of and say, “Hey, is this actually funny? Do you have any recs?”

Jon: What do your friends think of this?

Alisha: You know what’s funny is I’m actually not that close to anyone I went to high school with, and I’ve been doing YouTube for so long so there was a point where all my friends do it or are aware they are fully in it. So I’m curious what a lot of people from high school think.

Jon: So dating.

Alisha: Nonexistent. (laughter)

Jon: How much do you think though when somebody meets you, they’re going to go actually watch the videos?

Alisha: Oh, I’m sure everyone would. I feel like if I met a guy and he said, “Oh yeah, I do this,” and he explained it and said his channel name, the next day I’m going to look it up because I’m curious. What’s hard about it is it’s 90% of my life, so when I meet people, even friends, to not talk about it— I remember I did an acting class over a year ago, and I tried to not bring it up because I hate people thinking that I’m bragging or something, so I tried not to bring it up, which almost hurt me more because I sat so quiet in the back. I’m such an introvert, by the way. I sat in the back of the class and didn’t talk to anyone because I was like I don’t know how to not talk about it, so I’m just not going to talk to anyone. And especially acting class, you’re doing group things, you’re in front of everyone. At some point, everyone will be like, “So what do you do, are you in school?” I don’t want to lie, like no I’m not in school, I do this YouTube thing. And I’d always be so awkward with it and then there came a time where I realized, “Alisha, you just have to own it and you know you’re not bragging.” It’s just so much in my life that it’s weird to not talk about.

Jon: When people point out you are on YouTube, are there preconceptions that you bump up against?

Alisha: Yes. It truly depends on the person and their views of social media because a lot of people will be like “Oh,” and it’s very obvious that they think I don’t work, I don’t do anything, I just have to travel everywhere. And then you get some people who understand it and they’re super impressed. They’re like, “Wow, that’s amazing. I follow these people,” which over the years it’s definitely gotten to that but…

Jon: Well let’s talk about that. You said towards the end, it was kind of a three-day marathon to create videos. Take us through the process. What is the process?

Alisha: The process is an interesting one. It’s hard because there’s the process before the burnout and then during the burnout but—

Jon: Well what do you think the process is going to be going forward?

Alisha: The process going forward, I already have a list of video ideas that I want to do, and I’ve promised myself that I’m going to keep to this up. I’m not going to have a set day for uploading because I think half of my stress genuinely came—

Jon: —was meeting that deadline.

Alisha: --meeting that deadline. It was a great tactic to grow, so people know when to come back to your channel. It’s one of the biggest things YouTube tells people you should do, but I think now knowing my personality and knowing how I work, that stresses me out too much to where I would put away all the creativity to put up a crap video that I’m not proud of. I wouldn’t even want to watch it, who else would want to watch it, just to meet that deadline. So now, I’m definitely not going to have a set day of uploading, and if I want to upload twice in one week, I have that freedom, and if I want to skip a week because I need more time to work on the next one, then I have that freedom too. So I’m curious to see if it hurts the views or if it makes it better because the content is so much better. I don’t think it’ll matter too much.

Jon: So how long is your typical video?

Alisha: Between five and ten minutes.

Jon: How many takes does it take to get it?

Alisha: It depends what mood I’m in that day. I can be a perfectionist, which I also hate about myself. So there are definitely times where I’ll refilm the same scene or same shot so many times and then I finally get frustrated and am like, “Alisha, no one else cares. It’s okay.” But I still try to get the shot that I want.

Jon: Do you use a camera person or tripod?

Alisha: My sister helps me. So it’s really just us. Moving forward, I’d like to hire people when needed. If I’m planning on doing a house tour, and I really want a stabilizer and the full thing, I’ll definitely hire someone, whereas before, I would waste time trying to do it myself because I have in my head this cinematic movie video, but it doesn’t meet that standard and that’s what makes me have to redo something 20 million times, and I realize okay, next time I need to be more realistic. Can I actually get the shot that I want? Is it the right time of day instead of oh, it’s Friday, the sun’s going down, and okay, I’ll do whatever.

Jon: What about Instagram photos?

Alisha: Instagram, oh my God. I’m known within my friends to take the most photos. So many of my friends are like, “Hey can you take a photo of me?” because whenever we go on trips, I’m usually the one who takes photos of everyone and then Ashley will take them of me and everyone, maybe 30 photos max and they’re like, “Yep, that’s good, sure that works.” And then me on the other hand, I’ll take a million and I’m like no that’s not good enough and I want this. It’s bad I will say. I’m actually, moving forward, trying to have on my feed less effort. Instagram’s definitely that place where people to show the highlights of their life, the best of the best.

Jon: Well certainly the beautiful channel.

Alisha: I feel like moving forward though, there’s going to be a switch at some point where everyone on YouTube at least is so tired of that picture-perfect person, and I think Instagram’s going to be following that step soon. I think it’s hard because now everyone knows that most people photoshop everything. Even locations. There’s a lot of people who photoshop if they’re at Huntington Beach, it looks like Thailand.

Jon: A typical shot that you do, how long does it take to set it up? How much thought do you give to the background and how you’re sitting…

Alisha Marie

Alisha: Kind of a lot. A lot of times I’ll work with photographers and we’ll set up a quick little photoshoot and before that I’ll usually think about the outfits that I want and the locations. Then I’ll be like, “Okay, do I want to have an ice cream with this one, do I want to be like chilling on my phone, or is it an outfit one?” Then once I get all the photos, narrowing them down to the top four, and then from there, there’s an app I use called Snug where you can preplan all your photos to see what it’ll look like and most people use something like that. So right now, I think I have like 10 photos that are ready to go but like I still have to figure out the perfect feed and order for it.

Jon: How much time do you spend working on that?

Alisha: A lot. It kind of feels like a game. I don’t really go on games on my phone, and I’ve realized what feels like a game to me is finding the perfect layout. It’s like a puzzle. The apps make it feel like a game so I think that’s why a lot of my time and energy goes there because it can be addicting. You’re just like, “I have to figure out the perfect puzzle,” and when your feed looks perfect you just have this satisfying moment of like yeah, I did that. I’d love to have more of a 9 to 5 where it’s like okay, now I’m going to work on my Instagram for 20 minutes, but it doesn’t really work that way.

Jon: So how did you grow your following?

Alisha: It took a long time to realize this, but thumbnails matter, titles matter, the more technical side of YouTube matters. I remember having this moment of realizing I should do videos that other people are searching—popular videos. At that time, morning routines were everywhere. Back in the day, if I had a video get a hundred thousand views, I didn’t think in my head I should do more like that. I was like, oh that was good, now I’m going to do this eye makeup look and name it some fancy, creative title to make me stand out but in reality, no one searches that. So I had that moment of realizing that did well, I should do more of that, people like that, this is trending, this title works better. I always tell people starting out on their channel that you should do popular videos and trending things. However, have your own twist to it to where when people want to find it, they’ll want to stay and watch more because you’re standing out.

Jon: So if you were just starting out now, is that what you would do?

Alisha: Fully, because I stalk smaller channels so much. I love it because it gives me the nostalgia of when I started, and it’s so funny because a lot of my friends make fun of me. They’re like, “Oh my God, you know the YouTube world,” and all that stuff. But my biggest thing is I’ll come across people and they’re an identical clone of someone else that we all know. And there’s such potential there, but they’re limiting themselves because I’m not going to subscribe because I already follow that someone else.


So having your own personality, which I realize ten years later, is the number one most important thing.

Jon: Now on Instagram, about how many people do you follow?

Alisha: Under a thousand because at one point I was at a thousand and I unfollowed 200 people. The reason why I unfollowed them all was I took a second and was like I don’t even know your first name, I usually feel bad about myself because your body’s so perfect when I see your posts, so why do I want to see that? And then I just don’t know who you are. I’ve realized, most of the people that I unfollowed at that point, it was nothing against them in any way, I was just like I can’t connect to you on something. I think realizing that, and being a viewer, and being active user, helped me as a creator because I realized what I was looking for.

Jon: So do you follow people that you’re not friends with?

Alisha: Definitely, but for some reason there’s something about them that sticks out to me and that I remember them by, and I follow them because I love their feed, their photos, I feel like they’re standing out, they’re being themselves and doing something different. There’s this one girl named Tessa on Instagram and she’s been blowing up lately, but it’s because she came in and her vibe was so different than everyone else’s and she stood out in front of the world of other bloggers. I don’t really blog that much, but my sister told me about her and I really love her, and it’s funny because everyone talks about her and says the same thing. So it’s interesting how much people like things when they’re the same but at the same time love when things are also different.

Jon: Now you had mentioned earlier you think the next thing on Instagram and a little bit of YouTube is to be more real.

Alisha: Yeah. I had this idea which to do my feed normal but when you slide the next photo, it’s a blooper photo and that way it shows people yeah, I got this perfect photo but there were 200 other ones where I felt I looked horrible, so I think that could be something fun. Someone like Lele Pons, she’s huge. I think she does an excellent job in showing her goofy, funny side and not her perfect side because she’s beautiful, she has those photos, but at the same time she’ll have her derpy photos and rock it and that’s why she has close to 20 million. She’s massive, and I think that’s because people want something to connect with.

Jon: So what do you think’s going to happen when Instagram allows hour long videos?

Alisha: IGTV. I actually first was a little confused by it, but I think it’s also really good for YouTube to have a competitor. So it is a separate app but at the same time I think it’ll be good. I think it’ll be fun. It pushes me as a creator to think, “Okay, what kind of content do I want to do here?” I think that’s also going to show because obviously you can edit, but I think in the long run you’re going to see more of someone.

Jon: More vlog.

Alisha: Yeah, you’re going to see more of someone’s personality where on Instagram, most people don’t upload videos to Instagram. Some people do, but overall most people don’t because it ruins the feed or you can’t edit it the same way and there’s a lot of little things around it. So I think IGTV was a great way for them to bring that in.

Jon: So now we’re going to get into a little self-reflection.

Alisha: Yes.

Jon: On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being you care less, 10 means it matters a lot, how important is how people think about you?

Alisha: Used to be a 10. Definitely now I’d say a 7.

Jon: Which takes us to, how about criticism? Which is kind of a twin sister of this.

Alisha:  Weirdly enough, and this is what I’m still figuring out about myself, and going to therapy helped me realize this, but in some ways I don’t care at all what people think. And other ways, I really care what they think. When it comes to viewers, I told you hearing that they were super supportive helped a lot, but overall the average hate comments don’t really bother me. When it’s other creators, I want them to respect me as a creator, and that’s when I overthink things, and I’m like, “Oh, I care about what you think,” when I think of other peers.

Jon: Do you read your comments?

Alisha: I do within the first hour or two and sometimes throughout the week I’ll kind of check up on it, but I used to read them all day, every day. And then I finally realized for the most part, most the haters are trolls that find your video later. The people that have the notifications on that you’re in their sub box, within that first hour, you hardly get any hate because they’re subscribed to you. And if they’re subscribed to you and they’re still leaving hate, then that’s on them. It’s just like why are you doing that? So I’ve figured out that little tactic and that’s helped a lot because honestly your most dedicated followers in a way, you can say they get I don’t want to say rewarded, but you will reply to them more because you’re going to see them.  You get that interaction and then you don’t have to worry about the haters because they usually come later in the week when they just stumble upon your video.

Jon: What has been your family’s reaction to this?

Alisha: They’ve been so supportive. I remember when I first started, I didn’t tell my parents at all.

(laughter)

Jon: How did they find out about it?

Alisha: Well this is what was so funny because especially then, to say you’re a teenager and uploading videos to the internet just sounds extremely—I get why parents wouldn’t want their kids to do that, but I didn’t tell them because I knew they wouldn’t want me to do it.

Jon: Well I have my nephew. He’s from Omaha, Nebraska. He did a rap video, I saved it.

Alisha: Oh my God, yes. I love it. Save it so he doesn’t delete it.

Jon: He took it down. He deleted it when his mom found out.

Alisha: He’ll want it in ten years, I promise. Oh my God, that’s so funny. But I was watching YouTube videos, and I was watching them all the time. And I remember my dad walked by, and at one point was like, “When are you going to do that?” And I was so shocked and was like, “Um, I already am.” But then from there I felt like I had that okay. They know, it’s fine.  And then I actually just talked to them about this recently, but it was maybe a year after that, my mom had that moment of like oh, this could be something, I’m assuming. We were shopping and people kept coming up, and I think she was just like wow.

Jon: When was that for you? When was it that the first person recognized you?

Alisha: I remember I went to a makeup convention called IMATS and there was this one girl, I probably had 50,000 subscribers at that time, and this girl comes up to me and goes, “Hi, I watch your channel. Can I get a photo?” and I was like, “Yes!” I totally remember what she looks like, I forget her name which pisses me off so much, but I was so blown away, and I think two people came up to me. Two or three people came up to me that day.

Jon: How long ago was that?

Alisha: That was 2011 or 10? Maybe 2010, but it was so crazy, and that made my month. I was just like, “Oh my God, that girl came up to me.” And it’s the best way to get—it’s so easy online to see a number and to see it as a number. When you actually have someone face to face with you­– there’s times when a video hits a million views and I was expecting it to hit 2 million, and I’m upset about. If a million people were in front of me, I don’t think I would even care, I wouldn’t care that I didn’t hit 2 million. It’s so easy to see a number and see it as a view but when you have a meet and greet and meet people in person, that’s such a special connection, and I think it’s really important for creators to find a way to connect with their fans whether it’s face to face or something like that.

Jon: How often, when you go out now, do you get recognized?

Alisha: You know what’s funny? It’s definitely all the time. I can definitely expect it. It wouldn’t shock me ever, but what’s interesting

Alisha Marie

is I can go to Disneyland, I love Disneyland, I can go there and if I don’t Snapchat, if I don’t vlog, if I wear slightly darker clothes, I can easily not get recognized. It’s funny how I can have a meet-up if I really want it. If you see a girl with a camera, that just brings attention, so it’s funny how I can know what to expect by what I’m wearing, if I’m vlogging, but yeah, it’s definitely a lot, I will say.

Jon: Completely shifting gears, what is your definition of influencer?

Alisha: Well lately, I’ve tried to change my vocabulary and stop saying “YouTuber” because I realize no, I’m an influencer.

Jon: You forget your Twitter followers. How come you don’t follow Twitter that much?

Alisha: Twitter’s an interesting one.

Jon: And now we’ll come back to your definition of an influencer.

Alisha: Definition of an influencer. I would say anyone who, it’s so cliché, influences, whether you have a blog or a Facebook. I would say your full-time job of doing social media and all that stuff.

Jon: When did you first start to consider yourself an influencer?

Alisha: Genuinely, not that long ago. That’s when I started trying to change my vocabulary of “I can use YouTube,” but that’s limiting me to one platform and I’m an influencer. Even starting a podcast, that’s not YouTube, and I think that’s more respected in the traditional media Hollywood sense too. When you just say YouTuber, how many headlines are there with horrible things with YouTubers? Even blogger sounds more professional, which is funny because there’s still this stigma. But I think anyone could be an influencer, it’s just devoting your time to it.

Jon: Have you had an “I made it moment”?

Alisha: When I hit a hundred thousand subscribers, I cried. I have a vlog. I cried, my family got me a cake, but back then a hundred thousand was like the million now because it was not saturated like it is now. Hitting a million now sadly isn’t as impressive anymore because the bar just keeps going higher and higher, but back then when I hit a hundred thousand, it was everything.

Jon: You’ve talked about advice on if you were growing a YouTube channel, what’s your general advice for somebody that wants to get into this space?

Alisha: Ooh.

Jon: On managing your life, on managing who you are, why you’re still being that out there.

Alisha: It’s so cliché, I’ve heard this so many times but it didn’t click to me, but having a support group around you, whether its friends, family, or people who can keep you in check and that are going to be honest and genuine with you. There are so many times I see people and they’re in friend groups and it’s toxic because you know that it’s all superficial and you know that they really don’t have each other’s backs. When I think of the people who are in my life right now, I’m blown away because all of them care about me so much and they know the real me, and I think that’s the biggest thing. Have a good support group, have balance to your life, it’s always going to be the next thing. The vlogs are going to have to get crazier and crazier if you set that precedent.

Jon: So you’ve been on YouTube 10 years. If you could go back to your 10-year-younger self, what would you tell yourself?

Alisha: Oh my God, I would love that. I would tell myself to not care about what people think, to just do whatever I want to do because I am talented in it. I really discovered along the journey my talent and now I can sit here so confidently and say, “I’m meant to be a creative director,” whereas back then I was not confident in myself. Now I’m just so confident and YouTube’s definitely brought that confidence. Going back to being an introvert, a lot of people from my past at different times have said, “You of all people, you were so shy.” But it’s funny now, being in this space, a lot of influencers are introverts and are shy and it’s just funny.

Jon: You see that with a lot of television actors and--

Alisha: Yeah, everything entertainment is so funny.

Jon: This has been great. Where can people find you?

Alisha: Yes, my main channel is AlishaMarie. I have my other vlog channel which is AlishaMarieVlogs, which is just a daily follow me around on my day kind of video. Instagram @alisha, I don’t know how I got that, but I did, it’s just @alisha. And @alishamarie on Twitter. So, if you type Alisha it should come up anywhere.

Jon: Thank you.

Alisha: Thank you.


The Creative Influencer is a bi-weekly podcast where we discuss all things creative with an emphasis on Influencers. It is hosted by Jon Pfeiffer, an entertainment attorney in Santa Monica, California.  Jon interviews influencers, creatives and the professionals who work with them.

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