Who’s that weird girl with the purple hair playing this bizarre game you’ve never heard of? It’s LaurenZside, of course. With more than six million subscribers, YouTube gamer and comedian LaurenZside has embraced her weirdness to build a vast audience of loyal fans. We had the pleasure of picking Lauren’s brain for nuggets of YouTube wisdom and we came back with a wheelbarrow full. Let’s dig in.
Video views: 2,493,217,890
Channel type: Games
User created: Feb 25th, 2007
The early days of LaurenZside
Lauren uploaded her first videos in middle school, but back then, she wasn’t putting much thought into her content. Circa 2007, YouTuber was not yet a career option, so Lauren just uploaded for fun. As a teen, Lauren took a break from YouTube to focus on school. Her channel was dormant throughout high school and college. It wasn’t until after entering the workforce that Lauren returned to YouTube.
“I was trying to get a job in either TV production, filmmaking or social media marketing” — Lauren had dabbled in all of these while earning a degree in Communications and TV Production — “and then I got an internship.” Lauren interned as a production assistant before going freelance as a teleprompter. From there, she got an administrative job assisting media and sports executives. “I was in the [entertainment] sphere,” Lauren explains, “but I was more in the, like, corporate setting of it, not the creative setting.”
But Lauren didn’t give up on the creative side of filmmaking: “I wanted to practice my skills as a hobby, to keep them sharp so I could maybe get a job doing what I really wanted to do after that.” All Lauren needed was something to tie her content together, to give her channel direction.
How Lauren started playing games on YouTube
Lauren stumbled across that something one day while looking for something else. “I was really bored one day — and I was looking up a video game that I used to play on the PlayStation 2 … I looked it up to try to remember what game that was that I was thinking of, and I saw people on YouTube playing video games.” That initial astonishment still resonates as Lauren recalls this discovery.
“That was a totally new thing for me; I didn’t know that existed.” Lauren also noticed that there weren’t many women making content in the gaming scene at that time — “maybe a handful,” Lauren remarks.
So, she thought, “Maybe I could do this. Because there’s not many girls doing it, and also, it kind of helps me stay sharp in, like, the social media sphere, my filmmaking abilities, storytelling — so that’s why I started making videos.” LaurenZside came to life.
Growing the LaurenZside channel
Lauren makes it clear that the LaurenZside channel started as a purely personal project. “Unlike most people now, I did not think it would become anything,” she explains, “I was not doing it for money or to get noticed; it was for self-improvement.”
A year or two into posting, LaurenZside started to pick up steam. Lauren started playing more Minecraft on different survival multiplayer servers. Playing on these servers helped Lauren network with other YouTube gamers like LDShadowLady and others. “Basically, I got connections with a lot of other YouTubers who were larger than me at the time because of those Minecraft servers.”
Around the same time, Lauren’s Sims 4 videos began to attract a huge audience. “I had a couple Sims 4 videos blow up — big time.” Lauren took a unique approach to playing the popular simulator game. Instead of constructing the typical house and family, Lauren would recreate popular games such as Five Nights at Freddy’s within the Sims world. “I wasn’t seeing anyone doing something like that,” Lauren says, “and then that blew up.”
Eventually, Lauren reached the point where the LaurenZside channel was bringing in more income than her regular job — and that was with just a part-time effort. “So I started thinking, ‘Well, if I wasn’t working, and I just did all my time on YouTube, I could probably double what I’m making. And that’s kind of what happened.” Indeed, Lauren soon doubled her subscribers and other metrics after giving her YouTube channel all of her efforts.
How to grow consistently
Looking back at her earlier content, Lauren notes how different videos helped her channel grow in different ways. “The Sims was where I got the most popularity the fastest, and I think I still have a huge audience from that,” Lauren says.
She contrasts the viewers she gained playing the Sims with those she got playing Minecraft with other YouTubers. “Getting viewers through other YouTubers is good,” Lauren says, “because it’s exposure, but at the same time, some people are only watching you because you’re playing with this other person. They might drop off when you don’t.” Lauren has found that content based on her own ideas and personality generally leads to more sustained growth. “The Sims was better for getting my own organic audience,” she explains.
A combination of knowledge and timing
“I think I hit the YouTube scene at a good time. It was when it was still” — Lauren hesitates — “not ‘new,’ but — I guess new.” “I hit it when there weren’t many girls in the sphere, so that shows how far back I started actually going in.”
Lauren also spent her first year working on LaurenZside full-time, posting a new video every day. She says it helped her gain initial traction, but the increase in upload frequency wasn’t the only factor in her channel’s growth. After Lauren was laid off from her job, she had more time to research the trends and strategies that would help her content find its audience.
“I definitely had an edge because I already knew how to use Photoshop and how to edit videos,” Lauren says. In fact, she was taking graduate-level social media marketing courses at the time, and working on her channel gave her a way to apply that knowledge. “I got to experiment with all the stuff I had learned,” Lauren reflects. “In part, I had an edge because I went to school for all those things that would help, without me knowing that they would help.” But Lauren is also quick to factor luck back into the equation. She concludes, “And I think the timing also helped, for sure.”
Researching content ideas with LaurenZside
Lauren believes thoroughly researching and developing an idea is crucial to a video’s success, so she is happy to dedicate time to the brainstorming process. “Trying to find ideas is probably the thing that takes me the absolute longest,” Lauren says. To deal with this, Lauren spends a bit of time idea-hunting every day.
“So I have a process: I’ll start with YouTube.” Lauren even has a separate YouTube account she uses to curate a list of inspiring or trendy accounts. “I check that subscription feed and see what people are doing,” Lauren explains, noting that she also looks at the home page and recommendations feed to get a broad sense of the popular uploads on similar channels. “It’s basically not copying someone’s idea but trying to have someone’s idea spark something in you that you could do a little bit differently.”
Aside from YouTube, Lauren also looks to TikTok, Instagram and Twitter for trends and ideas. Sometimes, however, following trends can backfire. That’s recently been the case for Lauren and video game content.
Embracing the weird
“Lately, the most trendy games don’t do as well for me,” Lauren tells us. She says that it’s the lesser-known titles that really draw in the viewers. She uses sites like itch.io to find weird indie games to share with her audience.
“I try to find games where it’s easy for me to put myself as a character in the game,” Lauren explains, “So I’ll play a lot of like office-related games or like working in a restaurant, being a customer somewhere. And then I can pretend to be that person in the game, more than just reacting to the game.”
It’s no surprise that Lauren is drawn to the weirder side of gaming. “I like to think I’m that weird, relatable part of yourself,” Lauren says, “especially with younger people, people in high school. I remember being a weird kid and kind of hiding that part of me.”
Above all, LaurenZside is about making people laugh and feel comfortable. She doesn’t want to be a source of stress for her viewers. “I feel like the internet is filled with perfection, and a lot of times YouTubers get big, and they get big offices, or hire a whole production team — and that’s great if that’s what you want to do, but I’ve never wanted that because it kind of makes things too perfect.” Lauren wants her viewers to be able to watch her videos and relax, without feeling like they need to compare themselves to her. “I visibly act super weird in my videos, and I think especially younger people like watching that because they’re like “Oh, I don’t feel so weird anymore. I’m not like her,” Lauren concludes, laughing.
The LaurenZside production routine
Lauren has a solid routine when it comes to producing content. After brainstorming over the weekend, the first three days of Lauren’s week are devoted to filming. “I do that alone in my office. Nobody is helping me out with setting up my equipment. If I have to troubleshoot something, it’s me.”
Lauren encourages new creators to learn the entire production process, from writing to shooting to editing. “Always learn to do everything yourself at the start,” she says. “That’s what’s going to set you apart anyway, but also it helps you when you do get to hire somebody that you know what to tell them.”
She does admit that hiring help is sometimes necessary. “My husband gets on with this all the time because he wants me to hire more people, and I like, refuse.” Lauren’s husband, Bobby, used to help edit and even appeared in some of Lauren’s videos. These days, he’s on babysitting duty with their newborn daughter. This support allows Lauren to continue working on the LaurenZside channel. “He’s definitely still a big part of the channel,” Lauren says, “He’s the reason I’m still able to make the content I make while knowing our daughter is taken care of.” Since Bobby has taken a backseat, Lauren brought her part-time editor on full-time to handle the extra work: “She basically knows what I’m looking for now, so I don’t have to direct her as much.”
Lauren aims to post three to four times per week, usually over the weekend since that’s when her audience is most eager for content.
Perfecting the details
Before uploading, Lauren also designs a thumbnail and perfects the video title. To make sure she is hitting the best keywords, Lauren relies on tools like Google Trends. Lauren’s willing to spend time on these details because she knows it makes a difference when it comes to attracting an audience.
“I literally looked up ‘which word is more clickable: kidnapping or abducting?’” Lauren says, laughing as she thinks back on her video, “I Forced Famous YouTubers to Make Videos with Me By Kidnapping Them …in The Sims 4.”
“Packaging is always going to be the most important thing to get new eyes on your content,” she explains. “If you look at your analytics, you can see how much of your video is being watched … and it’s usually not the entire thing.” She points out that while editing is important, especially at the start of your video, it’s the title and thumbnail that will grab the viewers’ attention first.
“It’s like selecting a book … once someone has selected your book, and you have the personality, even if the editing’s not like perfect, you’ll do good,” Lauren reassures us. She points out that researching strategies outside of YouTube can give you an edge. For example, she’s researched how Netflix designs thumbnails to attract more viewers. She explains, “Just because it’s YouTube doesn’t mean the same rules don’t apply as anything else.
Lauren reminds us that, to succeed, you need to “be willing to do a little bit more.”
Running a business on YouTube
Though Lauren is semi-active on other platforms, most of her effort still goes towards YouTube. Right now, with the help of her manager, Lauren is focusing on increasing her sponsorship rates so that she can take on fewer sponsorships without losing revenue. She notes that hiring a manager has been a big help in aligning her sponsor rates with her value as a creator. “I never know what my worth is, and I feel like most YouTubers don’t know what their worth is and undervalue themselves,” Lauren says.
She doesn’t blame the brands, however: “If they’re like, ‘Hey, do you wanna take this amount of money?’ and you’re just like, “Yeah, sure!’ … they’re not going to be like, ‘Oh, we undervalued them; let’s give them more money.’ It’s up to you to decide if they’re undervaluing you.” She still encounters sponsors who refuse to pay fair rates — these she avoids.
Though she is putting more effort into landing high-paying sponsorships, the majority of her revenue still comes from AdSense. She hopes to flip this balance soon since revenue flow from AdSense can be somewhat unstable. Merch and stream donations make up the smallest piece of the pie; her merch serves more as a creative outlet than a revenue stream. “I try to get most of my money from companies and brands, rather than viewers,” Lauren says.
Everywhere, all the time
Being a creator comes with a certain amount of stress. For Lauren, the biggest source of stress is the pressure to be everywhere all the time, to always be on. Lauren recalls when Instagram released Reels: “Ya gotta be kiddin’ me,” was her initial response. The immense number of video outlets can be overwhelming, but Lauren has settled on a strategy of figuring out where her time is best spent rather than trying to do everything.
“I don’t use other platforms really to promote my YouTube directly; I’ve found that that doesn’t really work that well.” Rarely, she’ll post on Instagram or TikTok to promote a merch drop or a new video.
When your job depends on social media, it can be hard to find time to step away. Lauren, however, has been making the effort. Having a baby recently also helped her cut back on screen time. “Taking a break on YouTube was terrifying for me,” Lauren says. But slowly, she has tested the waters and discovered that her viewers tend to stick around. “I think it’s just learning that everything you’ve achieved isn’t going to go away by taking a break for yourself.”
The truth about posting less
Fortunately, Lauren believes it’s actually beneficial to post fewer but more well-thought-out videos. In fact, her channel started growing faster when she switched from daily uploads to posting only three or four times a week.
Lauren acknowledges that daily posting was once an effective strategy, but those times are gone. “I feel like now that there’s so much content to compete with, doing the bare minimum and just pumping videos out of whatever you can is almost worse than not pumping out videos.”
“My biggest thing right now is I’m trying to focus on quality versus quantity. So if there’s a video that I think I’m gonna film and I film and I’m not totally happy with it, I don’t want to just post it to post it because, more times than not, it performs really bad. I don’t want somebody to see that and think like, ‘Oh, she’s not funny, this isn’t good,’ and then not try my other content.”
Taking time to be creative
Specifically, Lauren is leaning into the character and narrative-building aspects of her videos. “I did a game where I was in an office, drinking coffee,” Lauren says, referring to her video on the short indie game, “Why is Office Coffee So Bad?” “So I literally went into my wardrobe, got a button-down shirt and dressed in that, and then got a mug filled with, like, water, not coffee,” Lauren laughs, sharing a behind-the-scenes secret. Putting on these characters — office worker, grocery shopper, real estate agent — lets Lauren engage with these games in a unique way.
This approach also extends to open-world games. Lauren usually has a predetermined arc for her characters in games like the Sims, giving each video series a clear start and endpoint. The result is a library of episodic narratives arranged in tidy playlists, ready for browsing.
“People have seen you play the Sims 20 million times,” Lauren explains, “so if you can play it with a totally different story in mind that they haven’t thought of, then they’re gonna watch it — more so than you just playing it the way you’ve always played it.”
Building the LaurenZside channel has allowed Lauren to travel, make connections and take her excited family to fancy award shows. The experience has pushed her to be more outspoken and assertive. Most recently, she had the opportunity to host a new show produced by YouTube — look out for more info on that coming soon.
But she wouldn’t have any of this if she had never posted her first video. She encourages new creators to get started with whatever gear is available:
“The biggest thing, I feel like, is people are scared to start — or scared to not have a video be the exact way that they want. But I always tell people, listen, I started by recording my audio on my iPhone because I didn’t have a mic, and I had a very old webcam and I played on a computer that couldn’t run flash games. So like, it doesn’t matter where you start, it’s just about starting. And then, also that little advice about going a little extra mile.”
With a solid strategy and an eye for detail, Lauren has her sights set on the ultimate goal: 10 million subscribers on the LaurenZside channel. We can’t wait to see what characters and stories she brings to life on her way there.