For a growing number of people, being a full-time YouTuber is a dream job. For Brianna Arsement, that dream became a reality in less than two years. Brianna, also known as BriannaPlayz, or simply Bri, has made a massive impact on the YouTube scene. Her channel has accumulated billions of views from a variety of content. From family-friendly vlogs to extreme video gameplay, Brianna creates highly engaging content to delight her following.
We got the chance to talk with Brianna about gaming, running her business and how growing on YouTube is a team effort.
A quick rise to success
Since starting in 2018, Brianna has skyrocketed to over 8 million subscribers across her three channels. Two are focused on gaming, with one geared primarily towards Roblox and the other on Minecraft. Her third channel, however, is her main focus.
“It’s a vlog channel, so just having fun challenges that are family-friendly that anybody can enjoy, whether it’s making a Lego house in my pool, or going to school, hide and seek, all those sorts of things,” Brianna said.
“I get to honestly just have fun every day, and hopefully make people smile,” Brianna added. “A big twist to my channel recently is, I try to do a charity giveaway with every single video. 2020 has been so crazy, so just to spread cheer and give back to the community has been really important.”
Brianna’s bright personality shines through as she entertains her followers across her channels to the delight of millions.
Brianna wasn’t always a YouTube star, and she wasn’t always a gamer either. Before her YouTube life, instead of getting extra lives as a gamer, Brianna saved lives as a practicing nurse.
She attended Texas Christian University and majored in nursing. Brianna practiced as an RN in the emergency room for about two and a half years. She describes her time as a nurse as an amazing experience, and she wouldn’t change it for the world.
“…it’s so humbling. Nurses are heroes, especially right now. (They HAVE) so much thrown at them, so I’m just so grateful.“
“It’s so humbling. Nurses are heroes, especially right now, “Brianna said. “(They have) so much thrown at them, so I’m just grateful.”
Brianna was first introduced to the world of YouTube through her now-husband, Preston Arsement. She was set up on a blind date by a coworker in the emergency room. This blind date was with none other than Preston, better known as PrestonPlayz. On their first date, Brianna wasn’t familiar with the world of YouTube, but there was a connection between the two. They spent seven hours talking over coffee.
As Brianna was introduced to the world of YouTube, even making appearances on Preston’s YouTube channel, she was encouraged to try to start her own following on the platform.
“(My husband) has been doing YouTube for 11 years so he was like, ‘Bri, you perform. You’re a singer, you’re an actress, just try it out,'” Brianna said. “He had me in a few videos and when I started doing that, I was like, ‘Oh my goodness. I think this is where I need to be.’”
Initially, Brianna started out with gaming content, something she didn’t have a big background in.
“I didn’t grow up gaming a ton,” Brianna said. “So it was kind of fun with my channel because foundationally, it was almost me learning with people how to do things.”
Today, Brianna is a prominent member of the gaming community and has even grown as a leader in the space. Despite not starting with a background in gaming, Brianna drew from her musical theater background and treated her YouTube channel like her own stage.
“I like to be on stage, so why not do a vlog where I’m kind of on stage, in a way?” Brianna said.
From there, Brianna took a huge leap and transitioned out of nursing to become a full-time YouTuber.
“I have all the love for nursing, I enjoyed it,” Brianna emphasized. “..I just, I really felt this calling… (to) spread joy over the internet to people in the Philippines, and everywhere, so that’s how I got to where I am today.”
YouTube life: the business
Today, Brianna works alongside her husband Preston to run their business of over 30 employees. This is not just on the content creation side of things — part of the business is managing their own merchandise warehouse. This warehouse handles fulfillment, packaging and shipping.
“Honestly, when I first started YouTube, I didn’t realize it’s a business, it’s a full-time job,” Brianna said. “We’re here six days a week, typically about 12 hours a day.”
Included in this operation is a warehouse crew that is dedicated to building sets for challenges. Additionally, there’s an in-office team that focuses on video editing, crafting thumbnails and a variety of other online components.
Jumping into this role of leadership is something that Brianna welcomes, challenges and goes all in on.
I’m (the kind of) person, if I start to do something, I go all in. I don’t want to half do it, so I really had to make the decision to devote all my time and energy into this. To make (my videos) as high quality as I want.
“I’m (the kind of) person, if I start to do something, I go all in,” Brianna said. “I don’t want to half do it, so I really had to make the decision to devote all my time and energy into this to make (my videos) as high quality as I want.”
This has lead to her focusing on being a leader in her business. Brianna shares how running multiple channels has given her a really unique set of skills, because it is very different from what she was used to doing.
“I like to be challenged,” Brianna said. “I don’t want to just be stagnant, so I like that it’s always changing and you can grow in what you’re doing.”
For a typical video for her self-titled non-gaming channel BRIANNA, Brianna meets three times a week for multiple hours to come up with a creative, loose script for the channel.
“For my real life (channel), we have a [massive] crew of like 30 people who help with that production,” Brianna said. “We have three (people) on camera, we have a PA, and multiple talents.”
These video shoots aren’t your typical productions. With content ranging from a video titled “Building A Secret Zoo” to “Spending 24 hours in a Ball Pit Pool,” Brianna’s team is hard at work bringing her visions to life.
Part of the collaboration process is allowing other people’s strengths to stand out. The team that works together on her main channel all have a specialty to offer to the production. Each member comes from very different backgrounds and offers unique personalities that contribute to the team as a whole.
“I love how different we are,” Brianna said. “This is going to be the most cringe-y thing you don’t want to hear, but we are a family. I see these people more than my family, by far. My family lives three hours away, and I’m with these people six days a week, like 12 hours (a day).”
On the gaming side of things, it’s a much more paired-down setup. Her gaming setup includes three custom PCs, with one computer dedicated to streaming and another for gameplay. To capture her reactions, Brianna has lights and a camera already set up and ready to go.
“I go in my office by myself and talk to myself for like three hours in a row, as I go through a storybook,” Brianna said. “So whether I’m a fairy princess or a nurse in Minecraft, that’s kind of how that goes.”
Though it may not be as large of a production as her main channel, Brianna still puts a great deal of work into crafting stories her audience will come back for.
“I’ve always done storytelling since I was little,” Brianna said. “I did Disney princess parties in college, so I’ve always loved being able to almost sit down and tell a story to other people, and I feel like I get to use that skill when I do gaming.“
Once the content is created across all of her channels, the editing process begins. Brianna’s post-production team does the editing.
“I have so much respect for editors. I don’t know how to edit, and I need to learn because it’s a very unique job,” Brianna said.
While the editing process is happening, Brianna is already hard at work on the next video — collaborating with her team to see what’s next for her channels.
“Having the team, it just helps so much,” Brianna said. “When for two years you’ve filmed like six gaming videos a week and three real-life ones, there’s going to be weeks that it’s a little harder to come up with ideas.
“We do a lot of research on YouTube itself to see what’s going on in the community, whether it be in our hometown, or just the trending page to kind of utilize that,” Brianna added. “It’s a great time to then be like, ‘Oh, how do I twist this in my own way, so it’s relevant to what people are searching now, but make it unique to me.’ “
Making an impact
As Brianna’s popularity has grown, her impact followed. Recently, Brianna organized several gaming livestreams with today’s top female gamers to benefit the Starlight Children’s Foundation, an organization that provides hospital wear, entertainment, games and deliveries to hospitalized children.
In addition to that, Brianna shows her audience how they can get involved to make a positive impact in their own community.
“I went to a cat shelter and brought over $1,000 worth of supplies to help these animals,” Brianna said. “I think that’s going to make a greater impact to visually see that and really show how to put that out into the world.”
The influence Brianna has is a responsibility she takes very seriously. Recalling her time as a nurse, she expresses her desire to be a positive addition to her viewers day.
“if you’re working for 12 hours a day and your child’s at home because you’re working night shifts, I want that mom to be like, ‘You can watch Bri, she’s (safe). She’ll make you smile. She’s not going to curse or say anything controversial, she’s just going to make you smile.‘”
“If you’re working for 12 hours a day and your child’s at home because you’re working night shifts, “I want that mom to be like, ‘you can watch Bri, she’s (safe),” Brianna said. “She’ll make you smile. She’s not going to curse or say anything controversial. She’s just going to make you smile.'”
Brianna’s content doesn’t just impact her online audience. Her content impacts the people she meets in real life.
“My husband and I just went on an anniversary trip and every day we had kids come up to us that recognized us. So I think that’s the biggest thing — knowing eyes are on you,” Brianna said. “Make sure you’re true to yourself, be genuine. I don’t want to be happy and fun and videos, and then just be (miserable) in real life. That would be disappointing if I’m grumpy, and not friendly.”
Advice for creators
For creators who are looking to follow in her footsteps, Brianna’s biggest piece of advice is to not worry about starting small.
“I think it can feel daunting and it can feel like, ‘Oh my gosh, I have to have a streaming PC and three PC screens.’ No. I know plenty of people who film vlogs on their cell phones,” Brianna said. “You can do stuff on your iPad, with an app. It doesn’t have to be extreme, you can build that up. So it doesn’t matter, which I think people don’t always realize.”
Additionally, Brianna shares it’s important to follow your own interests first and put popular trends second.
“If you have a passion for it, go for it,” Brianna said. “Don’t just do something because it’s a trend, because you’re going to be doing this as a full-time endeavor.”
“Believing in yourself and staying grounded are important perspectives when creating your content,” Brianna said. With how massive her following is, she knows not everyone will enjoy her videos and that’s okay.
“Not every single person who watches your video (WILL BE REALLY INTERESTED IN IT). That doesn’t matter. As long as you stay grounded and you know you like what you’re putting out, that’s what matters.“
“Not every single person who watches your video (will be really interested in it). That doesn’t matter,” Brianna said. “As long as you stay grounded and you know you like what you’re putting out, that’s what matters.”
Beyond that, Brianna recommends partnering with others to get the support you need to create. In addition to her team, Brianna shares that she regularly seeks advice from fellow creators.
“I have so many mentors too, like people who’ve done it longer than me. I mean, a really cool thing is there’s not a ton of girls in gaming, for instance,” Brianna said. “And so, I can be like, ‘Hey, what have you gone through with this?’ or like, ‘What is your opinion on this?’”
“I honestly have found (this industry) welcoming, because you can learn something from everybody,” Brianna added. “It doesn’t mean that you have to utilize that information, but it’s really cool that people actually do pass a lot of stuff to each other.”
Work hard, but don’t do it alone
A common misnomer on YouTube is that you have to do it all yourself. Brianna shares the opposite sentiment: you can’t do it alone. Though you may not start out with a team of 30-plus people helping in your production, don’t be afraid to seek out those who may be able to help you bring your dream to life.
Brianna’s first collaborator is always her husband.
“My husband’s insanely creative, so we always bounce ideas off each other,” Brianna said. “We’re blessed to have an amazing team as well.”
From Brianna’s perspective, it’s never too late to pursue opportunities that bring you a great deal of joy. YouTube is constantly changing, and she believes the platform always has room for more.
“It’s a growing thriving industry in my opinion, and I love seeing little kids who aspire to do YouTube now,” Brianna said. “I’m 27, so that wasn’t something when I was growing up. It’s cool to be in an industry that’s still growing, and we’re all learning together.”