Alisha Marie: How This Lifestyle Vlogger Reached 6.5 Million Subscribers Without Losing Her Creative Identity
Alisha Marie runs a successful lifestyle channel made up of makeup, fashion and increasingly popular comedy videos. Alisha has used her personality and approachable shooting and editing style to build a huge, dedicated audience. After nearly a decade on YouTube, Alisha has some advice for new creators looking to grow their channel and develop consistent content.
Video Views: 671,711,908
Channel Type: Howto
User Created: April 18th, 2008
Alisha Marie has a contagious enthusiasm for life that is on display in any video you might pick out on her channel. Her YouTube videos cover everything from makeup tutorials to fashion style guides and funny comedy sketches. She’s gained a huge following in YouTube’s crowded lifestyle genre, with more than 8 million subscribers between her two channels. Alisha has turned her lively personality and bright, fast editing style into a successful YouTube business. Along the way, she has found ways to build a strong relationship with her audience while staying true to the original home-movie style and feel of her videos.
In 2008, Alisha stumbled upon YouTube, then a young platform, and quickly became obsessed. When she first joined the site, most of the uploads on YouTube were home videos or webcam-style content, and many creators didn’t put a lot of effort into editing. Alisha says she would spend hours watching videos that other creators were producing until one day she decided to go for it herself. Her first video was a makeup tutorial, a review of a lip gloss, and from the very beginning, Alisha loved the creative process of filming, editing and uploading her own original content.
Today Alisha has nearly 6.5 million subscribers on her main channel, and more than 2 million on her vlog channel, but she never expected the channel to grow to this size. Initially she was convinced that seniority played the biggest role in a channel’s success — the longer you had been on YouTube, the more views and subscribers you were going to have. But as she saw newer, younger channels creating hit viral videos, she realized there was more to it. She said these successful creators were paying attention to details like lighting and backgrounds and focusing on trending topics that would really reel in viewers — so Alisha started doing the same.
Her channel didn’t grow right away, and she says that the first three years showed a steady but slow increase in views and subscribers. Then after three years, Alisha moved out of her parents house and decided to really commit to the channel, investing all her time and effort into creating and uploading as many videos as possible. She increased her posting consistency and diversified the types of videos she was uploading. Her channel shifted from mostly makeup and fashion videos into comedy sketches, which include things like DIY pranks and funny scenarios that lots of her viewers can relate to.
Once she committed to honing and focusing her content, Alisha saw the channel grow dramatically over a period of about three months, and it’s been a steady increase ever since.
Alisha says she never thought she would do comedy videos and never could have predicted their huge popularity. Her channel is still considered a lifestyle channel, but her popular Prank Wars and Back to School videos are a far cry from the first makeup review video she uploaded nearly 10 years ago.
Alisha said her comedy videos have seen the most success because these videos are a return to her YouTube roots. Her comedy videos look and feel like home movies, and she produces them as part of a family team that includes her and her sister, Ashley Nicole. For Alisha, comedy videos are the most personally relatable and easiest to film. She said she feels much more at ease filming a prank video with her sister than shooting a formal interview with bright lights and dozens of crew members running around on set. For a comedy sketch, Alisha uses just one camera with an attached mic and a couple of lights. Her videos resonate with viewers because of the down-to-earth, funny content rather than a flashy shooting style or professional quality editing.
Alisha takes inspiration for her videos from real life experiences, which allows her to more easily portray the scenario on camera. These organic, spontaneous, sometimes awkward moments are Alisha’s biggest source of inspiration for videos and another way she honors her home-video style beginnings. Alisha also tailors her content to different seasons and events and has several ongoing series like Roommate Wars that keep viewers interested week after week. Alisha’s biggest piece of advice for generating video ideas — just live your life.
“The best video ideas I have are when I’m hanging out with my friends and we’re doing something fun instead of me just sitting at a desk with a paper trying to write up amazing ideas,” she said.
Alisha’s videos are quite diverse for a lifestyle channel, but she’s developed some tricks to keep her content focused and cohesive. Alisha’s personality plays a big role in creating consistency across all her videos, and it keeps viewers attached to her channel. She says it’s important to use visual cues to help develop your brand. Creators should pay attention to small details like thumbnails, fonts and graphics and bigger visual cues like the pace of the editing style and the effects that are used in order to maintain consistency across the channel. Alisha works hard to create thumbnails that look uniform but also highlight the most interesting aspect of each video. She also establishes consistency through her intros, which she tailors for specific holidays or themed videos, giving viewers an Easter egg to watch out for. She says this visual consistency has helped her establish a uniform product, something her audience really appreciates.
“Viewers want to come back and know what to expect every time you upload a video,” she said.
The video production process is a family business for Alisha and her sister, who usually make up the entire crew. The duo relies on a Canon 5D Mark IV with a mounted microphone and multiple lenses, including a wide angle lens that she can switch out to give the videos a different look from time to time. Alisha edits all her videos herself using Final Cut Pro, and as an editor she’s a bit of a perfectionist. By doing the editing herself, she’s able to maintain control over the consistent branding and tone she’s established across all her videos. Alisha says YouTubers have a unique amount of control over their projects because they wear all the creative hats.
“When you go into the entertainment industry, there is a huge crew — everyone has different jobs for one project — but we’re the director, producer, editor and talent,” she said.
Alisha uploads a new video on her channel every Sunday, and she can tell from the comments that her viewers really appreciate the consistency. She says she gets comment from viewers who can’t wait for a new video to premiere every Sunday, the same way some people wait eagerly for a new episode of a network show to premiere every week.
Building Relationship with Viewers
Alisha wants to keep her viewers happy, and she’s found a simple formula that works pretty well — make videos that viewers want to watch. She welcomes comments from her fans; she reads them carefully and often takes requests and recommendations directly from viewers.
“I want constructive criticism because I don’t want to spend hours and hours every week on a video that [viewers] don’t like and don’t want to see,” said Alisha.
Alisha said she can tell that her viewers appreciate how much work goes into producing her content. She tries to provide variety for viewers, changing up her posting schedule to mix in makeup, fashion and comedy videos. She might make a full blown video based off of an idea from a fan, which is part of how she fosters her community of viewers. “I want them to feel like a family and feel like they’re part of it,” she says. She said fans appreciate this type of direct response, and it heightens their dedication to the channel.
Instead of guessing how her viewers are responding or reacting to a certain video or series, she asks them. In addition to her YouTube audience, Alisha has millions of followers on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. She’s used Instagram’s polling feature to get a general feel for her audience and find out what they want to see next. She uses Snapchat and Instagram stories to let her audience know when a new video is up. Fans have even told her that they discovered her YouTube channel through her Instagram or Twitter, which is surprising, she said, since YouTube is her first and primary platform.
Alisha has seen her audience grow substantially over the past nine years due to her dedication to consistency with her branding, voice and posting schedule. Another way she’s fostered her channel’s growth is through collaboration videos, a process which allows two creators to tap into each other’s viewership and creative resources.
Over the summer, Alisha collaborated with the popular YouTube comedian Shane Dawson, at his request. This was the first time she had worked with someone in an entirely separate genre, but it turned out to be one of her most successful collaborations. She and Shane found that they share a lot of the same audience, which makes the collaboration a special treat for viewers.
“It was successful because it helped both of us and because viewers loved it; they wanted more,” she said.
Alisha acknowledges asking another creator to collab can be tricky, and she said when requesting a collaboration you should try to avoid coming off as a fan girl. Usually, she collaborates with other creators she’s already friends with, or tries to establish a relationship with a certain creator before even mentioning the possibility of collaborating.
Takeaways for Emerging Creators
Alisha is a self-proclaimed perfectionist when it comes to editing, and this is one area where she’s had to learn to loosen her creative grip over the past nine years. She said in the beginning, she thought that the longer she spent editing, the better a video would perform.
“I would sit down for hours,” she explains, “and just aimlessly edit and then sit back and think, ‘viewers won’t notice the difference between these two cuts that are identica.l’”
Videos don’t necessarily go viral because of their stellar editing, and sticking to her home video style, Alisha said she realized her videos didn’t have to look professional to be successful. So how does she decide when the video is ready to upload?
“I sit down and watch my video a million times when I’m done editing, and if I cannot physically sit through my own videos, no one else will,” said Alisha.
Her videos tend to run long by internet standards, sometimes into the ten minute range. It’s a big commitment for viewers to give you five or even ten minutes of their day, and Alisha said that, as a creator, it’s important to make sure the video is interesting and engaging for you personally before you share it with anyone else.
Alisha’s YouTube channel has become both a financial and creative success, but this wasn’t always the case. She says it took about three years of producing videos and uploading consistently before her channel started generating any income. Her first payment was a 100-dollar check she received through the YouTube Partner Program about two years after she started the channel. The first time she applied for a YouTube partnership, she was actually denied. Alisha said the most successful YouTubers aren’t in it for the money.
“When you have a passion for it and just love doing it, the money will come. People can tell you are just doing things for the money; my biggest advice is to just focus on your content,” she said.
Alisha says high-quality content will speak for itself as you build a brand and grow your audience. It’s important to follow YouTube guidelines for monetization and get help from YouTube resources like the Creator Academy for questions about sponsorships and endorsements.
Alisha also emphasizes one important thing for creators to remember is just to be yourself because the viewers can tell when you’re not.
“No one wants to see a copy of someone they’re already watching, so even if you’re inspired by someone, take inspiration, but be yourself. The second I was able to do that, I was more confident in my channel and I noticed it grow, and I noticed the relationship with my viewers get a lot stronger.”