Just when parents, career advisers and the media had got their heads around ‘becoming a professional blogger’ as a valid life choice, Gen Y moved things on a step. With social media becoming increasingly visual (why write a tweet in 30 seconds when you can Instagram in an instant?) and young people eschewing traditional TV for online content, it makes sense that the next wave of internet wunderkinds are moving and talking, not just writing things down.
‘It’s more of a direct relationship,’ Zoe Sugg (AKA Zoella, queen of the shopping haul) told Vogue this month, explaining that she started vlogging because she preferred watching YouTube videos to real TV. ‘It was, “This is me in my bedroom; I’m not a TV set”. It had this rawness to it.’
And raw is one of the defining characteristics of the vlogging megastars, whether it’s showing us how they cover their acne, charting their break-ups or teaching teens about safe sex. Flaws are celebrated, honesty is everything and personal anecdote is king (or queen, rather).
Having tried our hand (or face) at copying Zoella last week, here are some more of the biggest names and rising stars to watch. And watch them you will, they’re addictive. Some are making thousands, some are still doing it for the love of their fans – but the main thing they all have in common is: we want to be their friends, please.
The dreamer: Carrie Fletcher
Currently starring as Eponine in Les Miserables, 21 year old West End star Carrie posts cover versions of songs on her channel ItsWayPastMyBedtime, as well as poems, stories, philosophising and older-sisterly advice. Her 500,000-strong band of followers call themselves ‘Hopefuls’ after Hope, her middle name, and she also has a second channel (having a second channel is something of a vloggers’ badge of honour) of outtakes and shorter clips. If her poignant style seems familiar, that might be because her brother is McFly’s Tom Fletcher – he of the weepy wedding speech that had all grooms-to-be shaking a fist at the sky.
The sex educator: Laci Green
1.1 million subscribers
Even the most knowledgeable of mature and responsible adults could use a little Laci Green in their lives. The 24-year-old feminist from Utah has amassed over a million subscribers with her hilarious, informative videos tackling topics like consent, virginity female health and body image. The queen of ‘I NEVER KNEW THAT’ viewing, she’s a gift for baffled teens – and, ok, not-teens too. Once you’ve watched her demonstrate the biology of the hymen using a loo roll tube and a swimming cap, you’ll pretty much never forget it.
The beauty queen: Tanya Burr
2.5 million subscribers
A make-up supremo with a sideline in Pinterest-worthy baking, Tanya Burr is a giant of the vlogging scene. The plummy-voiced 25-year-old (think: if Big Suze from Peep Show had younger sister) launched her own cosmetics line earlier in the year, and has single-handedly managed to convince us that lipgloss is a good idea again. She was mentored by Pixiwoo make-up artist Samantha Chapman, a blast from YouTube past (while we’re at it, whatever happened to Lauren Luke?).
The observer: Lilly Singh
4.1 million subscribers
Toronto-born Lilly is a satirical hero, with a cool four million subscribers confirming her online pseudonym, Superwoman, and a YouTube career she built partly the address the ‘lack of a female presence especially within the South Asian community’. A rapper, motivational speaker and comedian, she specialises in high-energy, bang-on takedowns of everyday life – more often than not involving a few impressions of her parents, who as luck would have it seem to be far funnier than anyone else’s parents. It’s exhausting but addictive viewing.
The realist: Cherry Wallis
Like Daria for the digital age, 24-year-old Cherry is a deadpan antidote to the perpetual perkiness of most vloggers. Her first video, teaching the world to drink Coke and milk mixed together, has had 1.1 million views to date – and since then she’s told us in characteristic snarky style why she hates shopping, hairdressers (which way DO those frickin’ capes go on?), school, dating, birthday cards, plug sockets, railways station toilets and, what was it? Oh yes – the internet.
The agony aunt: Louise Pentland
1.7 million subscribers
We’ll be honest, we never thought we’d have a lot of love for anyone whose screen name is Sprinkle of Glitter. But Zoella’s pink-dipped pal Louise is more than just bubble baths and shimmer eyeshadow – the mum-of-one is as astute on issues like self-harm and the hero-worship culture of the internet as she is on ‘how to be sassy’.
The wardrobe mistress: Shirley B. Eniang
Eternally chic and in possession of possibly the best bone structure on the whole of YouTube, Shirley has created an oasis of stylish, ordered calm on both her channel and accompanying blog. We covet everything she wears, but we’re also pretty sure we’d spill coffee down that white ensemble.
The queen of awkward: Emma Blackery
Writer of the sweetest, sweariest song about Google + performed on a ukulele you’re likely to find, 22-year-old Emma Blackery is what vlogging was invented for. Eternally self-deprecating (‘I don’t get why this has so many views’), her most popular vlogs to date involve awkward teen sex anecdotes, a guide to puberty and a dramatic reading of 50 Shades of Grey that has since been taken down for copyright reasons. Boo.