With more than four million subscribers on YouTube and seven million TikTok followers, it’s clear that Howieazy has developed a formula for social media success. We had the chance to sit down with this prolific comedy creator to learn about his career, his production process and his perspective on YouTube and social media.
Video views: 2,127,115,733
Channel type: Entertainment
User created: Jul 16th, 2015
Comedy in six seconds or less
For Howieazy, it all started on the now-defunct video-sharing app, Vine. Back when iPhones were first becoming popular, Vine dominated the viral video scene with its six-second looping video format. It was the perfect platform for short, goofy skits — and Howieazy wanted to give it a try.
“Back then it was like when everybody was starting to get iPhones in my college and downloading, like, Twitter and everything,” Howieazy (Howie) recalls. He was drawn to this new way of reaching people: “I saw how popular that Vines were, and I thought it was gonna be pretty fun to be a part of, like, making a six-second video.” And that’s all it took for Howie to get his start.
“I didn’t have any experience or anything but I always thought it was just very interesting,” Howie tells us, thinking back to his first upload. He posted his earliest Vines when he was still a student at UNCW. “My first Vine video was just something very simple,” he says, “just me longboarding … It wasn’t like anything crazy, and I just found it really enjoyable.”
Though Howie wasn’t very talkative in his early videos, it didn’t take long for him to lean into the comedy potential of the format. “I believe my second video — it was just me punching an apple, just giving a thumbs up,” he tells us. “So that’s pretty much how it all started out.”
Getting over nervousness
Like many aspiring creators, Howie found being on camera uncomfortable at first. “I didn’t really talk ‘cuz I was really nervous doing it, first of all,” Howie admits. Eventually, however, making videos got easier. He says the key was pushing through that nervousness and continuing to practice. “A lot of people are just scared because … it’s new territory for a lot of people. Most people don’t have that experience,” Howie observes. “For me, I just push through it … It was just a practice thing for me. The more I posted on social media, the more naturally comfortable [I got].”
Make it a habit
One reason Howieazy was able to get comfortable on camera so quickly was his consistency. In fact, for an entire year, Howie posted a new video to Vine every single day. “I really feel like doing that kind of solidified me being able to quickly think of ideas,” he says.
Not only did making a year’s worth of daily Vine content help Howie build up his creative muscles, but that consistency also helped him form the habits he needed to be successful long-term. Howie tells us, “I also wanted to make it a habit too, ‘cuz I believe it’s like 60 days of doing something straight — it forms a habit. So I got into the habit of just making a Vine video every day, as well.” The volume of content Howie is still able to produce speaks to the effectiveness of this practice.
The end of Vine
Over time, with consistency, Howie built a loyal following on Vine. “I had a video that went viral for one of my skits, and then I just started gaining like a little bit of a following, like just growing constantly.” From there, Howie started connecting with other creators on the app.
Then, in 2017, Vine was suddenly shuttered. “When Vine shut down, I was very devastated,” Howie recalls. And understandably, he had spent more than a year building an audience on a platform that no longer existed. “At first, I was just — I was like, I just kind of wasted my time.”
For Howie, Vine had become more than a hobby: “I started slacking off school and everything just to make videos … I even would skip classes just to make a Vine video … I didn’t know how I could turn into a living, but I was just like, I want to be able to do this for a job or something, rather than, like, anything — College wasn’t really satisfying me.”
Fortunately, Howie didn’t give up.
Forced to move to YouTube
“When Vine shut down, I moved on to YouTube,” Howie tells us, “and it was a good thing … even though it took me a bit of time to adjust.” At that time, Howie had only made videos within Vine’s six-second time limit. “Going to a new platform where it’s mainly long-form content, I had to learn how to, like, film content that was about a minute long.”
In the end, though, Howie got used to the extended run time: “I had that practice from Vine, so it was just kind of another skill I had to learn.” He does admit, though, that the longer videos felt awkward to make. “I felt like I was dragging on the videos ‘cuz I’m used to doing quick things,’” Howie says. “But over time, like, after being on YouTube for, I would say, like, about a year or so, I got used to the format, too.”
A smooth transition
Despite the initial adjustment period as he got used to the longer format, Howie was able to transition to YouTube relatively easily. One reason for this is that Howie had already been cross-posting his Vine content to YouTube. This gave the Howieazy channel an instant boost when Vine shut down.
“I was already monetized on YouTube before I even got serious with YouTube,” Howie recalls. “What I would do is upload my Vine videos to YouTube while I was doing Vine, even though it wasn’t really typical at that time … most people would watch long-form [content].” He reminds us that this was before TikTok burst onto the scene and upended our collective viewing habits.
Some of Howie’s earliest success on YouTube came from his Ultra-instinct Mom character, which emerged from his love of anime — Dragon Ball Z, in particular. “It was the one video that kind of hit off and then sent my YouTube into the trajectory of hitting a hundred thousand followers,” Howie says.
After that, YouTube was the obvious place for Howie to continue his journey as a creator, and he brought a good chunk of his Vine audience with him: “A lot of people from Vine that did support me went ahead and subscribed to my YouTube.”
Short-form vs. long-form content
As Howie adjusted to the longer format of YouTube, he noticed some differences in his own approach and in the response from his viewers.
“For me as a creator, when you post long-form,” Howie says, “you could build more of a connection with your following.” He explains that long-form content allows you to show off more of your personality, which helps viewers get to know you. “They kind of get to understand you more,” he tells us. “I feel like short-form content, you can’t really get that same connection, but you could get to a lot more people.”
This observation explains why Howie’s mix of short and long-form content has attracted so many viewers. “With short form, you could get very viral … you could just get a lot of eyes on you.” He contrasts this with his longer videos: “It’s harder to get that connection with your following when they just see a short-form content with you, but if they see a lot of you, I feel like you could build more of an established connection.”
TikTok and the rebirth of short form
For the next few years after Vine closed down, Howie’s comedy skits attracted a modest audience to the Howieazy YouTube channel. Then, two things happened: First, the emergence of COVID-19 forced large portions of the population to stay home in quarantine. Second, the short-form video app, TikTok, exploded in popularity.
Like a lot of people, Howie was stuck at home with nothing else to do, so he started testing out TikTok. “I was kind of hesitant to go on TikTok,” he admits. “It was just, like, new and people really had a stigma with it.” Despite his initial misgivings, Howie soon saw the app’s potential. “I was like, ‘It’s the closest thing I can maybe get to Vine … Like, if this is going back to how Vine is maybe I should try this out.”
All in on TikTok
After a few posts, Howie started to feel right at home in this new haven for short-form video: “It didn’t take me long at all to get back in my rhythm of how it felt in Vine.” He enjoyed using the platform so much that he stopped posting to his YouTube channel — something he had never done before.
“I kind of got addicted to the format again,” Howie says. People who knew him from his Vine days were also starting to discover his TikTok account. “It didn’t take me long to hit my first super viral video.”
That video features a comedy skit where Howie overreacts to another video to the point of blowing up his phone in a microwave. That video quickly skyrocketed to 40 million views and propelled the Howieazy TikTok account to around 200,000 followers overnight. That was much faster than any growth he’d seen on YouTube. “I was only on for a few months, and I already surpassed my YouTube following by a lot,’” Howie recalls, adding, “TikTok was the first platform that I hit a million followers.”
Howie also acknowledges that luck and timing played a big part in his initial TikTok growth: “I was just fortunate to come in on TikTok at that right time, ‘cuz everybody was just consuming content during quarantine … it was just kind of a gold rush on, like, viewership.”
Today, TikTok is home to Howie’s biggest audience of more than seven million followers. Plus, TikTok was the first platform to give Howie the coveted Verified badge.
Worth a try
Before even jumping into TikTok, Howie had a small following on the app. Previously, he had lucked out with a couple of viral videos on Musical.ly, the lip-synced video-sharing app. Then, ByteDance bought and merged Musical.ly with TikTok, bringing in old accounts and their followings in the process. This meant that Howieazy had around 10,000 TikTok followers on day one.
It goes to show that trying out new social media platforms can pay off in the long run, even if you don’t have a lot of time to invest at first. You never know which platform will dominate the social landscape next.
Competition is a good thing
Howieazy is on Twitch, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, but he doesn’t put much focus on those platforms — partially due to monetization issues. “[Facebook] isn’t really competing as hard as YouTube and TikTok,” he says.
Howie likes to see healthy competition between the different platforms. “I feel like the more competition between these apps, the better opportunities for the creators.” He gives an example, “Now, TikTok rolled out a new creator fund program, which is like a play on their move. Like the only way … where they monetize you good on TikTok is if you post a video over a minute, which is, like, directly in competition with YouTube Shorts, ‘cuz you can’t post a YouTube Short that’s over a minute … that’s TikTok’s strategy of trying to get people off of YouTube Shorts.”
However, there is another platform that has been vital to his overall success: Snapchat.
Howieazy on Snapchat
Despite his massive success on TikTok, it was actually his relatively small following of around 600,000 on Snapchat that first allowed Howie to pursue social media full-time.
“When Snapchat Spotlight came out, it was their competition. It looked just like TikTok … where you could scroll down,” Howie says. “They were paying people a massive amount of money to post viral videos.” Howie recalls that not a lot of creators knew about the program and some of those who did found ways to abuse it.
Eventually, Snapchat ended the bonus payouts: “I mean, they were spending a massive amount of money … They probably thought that everybody was gonna hop on and they were gonna beat out TikTok or YouTube or something.”
As for Howie, he came away with around $200,000 after posting only a few Spotlight videos. Those viral Snapchats paid off his school loans, funded some equipment upgrades and enabled Howie to become a full-time creator.
Around the same time, YouTube aimed its sights at TikTok by introducing YouTube Shorts. “I was skeptical about YouTube Shorts,” Howie says, “but then I was just like, I might as well post my TikToks on YouTube — just see what happens.” What happened was that Howieazy started going viral, first on YouTube Shorts, then on the main page. Howie went from around 200,000 subs to over one million in about six months. “And now, on YouTube, I have over 4 million subscribers because of YouTube Shorts.”
Howie says YouTube is the most reliable in terms of monetization, but beyond that, he praises the team at YouTube for their creator outreach and community building. “They invited me to like a lot of events. They built a community, and YouTube gave a lot of opportunity.” YouTube even invited Howie — a huge Spider-Man fan — to the red carpet premiere of “Spider-Man: No Way Home” (2021). “It was like craziness for me ‘cuz it was just like, ‘I can’t believe I’m here at the red carpet, let alone, like, ‘Spider-Man,’” he recalls.
YouTube also makes efforts to support the mental health of its creators. “They invited a bunch of YouTubers to Palm Springs,” Howie says. “They flew us out there for massages and eat like good food and just to relax in a hotel for a few days.”
It’s clear why YouTube is on Howie’s good side. In fact, he’s now the YouTube Shorts Ambassador for Charlotte, North Carolina.
Though Howieazy has been through many iterations over the years, Howie still uses the same formula he relied on when posting daily videos to Vine. “Outta all — like most — creators that I know, I’m probably the very simplest when it comes to video creation … my skits are just very simple,” he tells us, adding, “this is something that I’m looking to innovate as a creator.”
Ideas for new videos come naturally at this point. Howie finds inspiration in hanging out with friends and watching other creators. “A lot of my audience is a lot of gamers and such,” he says, “and you could probably tell because I incorporate a lot of things like that. I like Marvel and like ‘Spider-Man’ … so especially in my early YouTube, I was heavily inspired by kind of just switching outfits and pretending to be characters from the movies and stuff like that.”
He says a lot of his success comes from getting to know his audience. Some recurring characters and skits have become fan favorites, and he can lean on these when he’s short on new ideas. For instance, Howie’s Disney Minus series is especially popular:
“I’ll take a funny video and pretend I’m like watching it … I’m just acting like I’m watching a show and just commentating it and everything, which they really enjoy. And I even feel like maybe even Disney even enjoyed that,” he adds, “because Disney did send me an Xbox with Yoda on it.”
This series also give Howie the chance to promote other creators. “The people that I take the clips from, I always credit them, and they always like the free promotion for the videos and think it’s really funny.”
The perks of being a creator
Howie admits that life as a creator can be mentally draining at times. Burnout is a real risk when you’re making new content nearly every day: “As a creator, I had to learn, like, or I’m still learning how to take better care of myself, maybe like go outside, more exercise, like, kind of taking a break off the internet when I need to.” He says this is the hardest aspect of being a full-time creator.
On the other hand, Howieazy’s success has given him unique personal freedom. “The part I do like about being a creator,” Howie says, “is definitely — it’s like you’re on your own time. You’re a lot more free … if I need to go somewhere or hang out with friends or travel somewhere, I have that. I’m lucky enough to be able to do that.”
At the same time, life as a creator keeps him connected to others: “I also really just enjoy, like, the people that support you and just being able to … [have] that impact on people in a positive way.” Howie also appreciates the comradery in the creator community. “I just enjoy having people just experience that with me and kind of just grow with them,” he says.
What’s next for Howieazy
Moving forward, Howie is ready to evolve away from “lone-wolfing it” to participate in more collabs. He’s even thinking about ways to get involved in larger studio productions. “I want to know what it’s like to kind of be in a team of creators doing something,” Howie says. He also expressed interest in acting: “I don’t really write scripts or anything in my videos. I just kind of play a character, then react. So it’s definitely gonna be something that I wanna just dabble my feet in and see what it’s like.”