The leading vloggers are a close-knit bunch, often appearing on each other’s channels. This cross-promotion helps to pool audiences. Zoella’s gang includes her boyfriend, her brother Joe (whose blog, now with 2m subscribers, started after hers, she insists) and Marcus Butler. There’s also Louise (aka Sprinkle of Glitter) and Tanya Burr, a make-up artist who beams advice from her Norwich bedroom, and whose diffusion line of cosmetics Zoella has recently recommended on her own vlog. “We all want to help each other so we can bring all our channels up together,” she says. “That’s absolutely what social media is all about: sharing.”
I tell Zoella she is known to the advertising world as a “crowd-sourced people’s champion” and she laughs. “That’s cool. I hadn’t heard that one before.” But she acknowledges that big brands are lining up to cash in on her popularity. “They know that there’s a way that YouTubers can connect with an audience that they can’t, even though they’ve got all the money in the world.” An example of her reach is that she has a deal with Unilever, marketing their skincare range to younger users.
Advertisers are said to be willing to pay £20,000 a month for banners on well-known vloggers’ YouTube channels, while £4,000 can change hands for each mention of their product in the video itself (it costs roughly the same for a shout-out on Twitter). Zoella doesn’t like to talk about how much she earns. But, based on the rates commanded by the most successful vloggers, her income from advertising alone could now be running at a rate of several hundred thousand pounds a year.