Vloggers and YouTubers are regarded as highly influential by the beauty industry. Now Irish women are getting in on the act, with some even earning a living. Makeup and beauty blogs.
THE bubbly brunette talks directly into the camera, a smile on her face despite the fact that much of it is covered in prominent red spots. Holding each product up to the camera, she expertly applies a variety of concealers and foundations to her skin.
Eight minutes later and her complexion is flawless, the effect more akin to a film star than a home movie. Small wonder, then, that this video has been viewed by more than 1.3m people worldwide.
The woman in question is Sinead Cady, Ireland&rsquo,s top female YouTuber.
Her online channel, The Makeup Chair, has 465,000 subscribers and has had more than 43m views since it was founded in 2010. Such is the success of the channel that vlogging (video blogging) has now become the 25-year-old&rsquo,s full-time job.
Sinead posts three videos a week, covering everything from first date make-up to fake tan for Irish skin. The majority of her viewers are in the US, Britain, Australia and Canada. While most of those are aged 13-23, The Makeup Chair is watched by women of all ages. She also produces videos specifically for women aged 40-60, using her mother as her model.
&ldquo,I started making videos about four years ago,&rdquo, says Sinead, whose family comes from America but moved to Ireland. &ldquo,I had applied to do a make-up course at Cork College of Commerce and was denied the first time. I had to go back to them and show that I was really interested in make-up, so I started researching products and making little videos about them.
&ldquo,By the time I was accepted into the course, the YouTube thing had really taken off. In the end, I studied for one year but didn&rsquo,t go back for my second year. YouTube was already a full-time job.&rdquo,
Sinead is part of a global trend that has seen women &mdash, and some men &mdash, who are passionate about make-up and beauty flock to YouTube to post their own product reviews, recommendations and tutorials.
The queen of beauty blogging is American Michelle Phan, who has 6.8m YouTube subscribers and whose videos have been viewed an astonishing 770m times. Vlogging since 2007, she is credited as being one of the very first YouTube beauty vloggers. Phan was signed up as an official online make-up artist by Lancome, created her own cosmetics line and has also written a book, appropriately entitled Make Up.
While her latest videos feature professional graphics and sets, Phan&rsquo,s demeanor is that of a bubbly girl-next-door. She looks like an MTV presenter, but her tone is more of a warm friend. Each of her videos has a storyline, be it perfecting the latest trend or replicating a celebrity look. Phan&rsquo,s central message is about using make-up to empower women by helping them feel more confident.
In Europe, the most influential beauty YouTuber is Britain&rsquo,s Tanya Burr. With 2.3m channel subscribers and more than 6m video hits a month, earlier this year she released a signature line of lipglosses and nail polish with Superdrug.
With videos like theirs getting an estimated 700m hits a month worldwide, the beauty industry now regards bloggers and YouTubers as being more influential than traditional media.
&ldquo,Instead of going into a shop and asking the sales assistant for help, customers are going online first to see what products have gotten good reviews,&rdquo, says Edel Cox, beauty account executive with social media specialists Fuzion PR. &ldquo,This means that bloggers have a huge role to play &mdash, and the brands are starting to pay attention to this.
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&ldquo,A few years ago they would have reached out to journalists, but now they will connect with influential bloggers, providing samples of new products to review,&rdquo, says Cox, who also runs her own blog The Beauty Dial.
&ldquo,For a brand it&rsquo,s a risk &mdash, you need to be confident in your product because you are exposing it to an honest review.&rdquo,
Honesty is paramount for online reviews agrees Sinead Cady. &ldquo,I get invited to make-up launches and have free samples sent to me but when it comes to the videos I use only the products that I really like. I don&rsquo,t ever feel under pressure to feature something just because it was sent to me, that wouldn&rsquo,t be fair. Viewers can spot advertorial a mile away.&rdquo,
What they don&rsquo,t often spot is the hours of work that goes into creating each video, according to Galway&rsquo,s Siobhan McDonnell, whose Letz Makeup YouTube channel has had more than 20m views.
&ldquo,It can take a day-and-a-half to do one five-minute tutorial,&rdquo, says the 32-year-old. &ldquo,That includes everything from shooting and editing to adding music and uploading.
&ldquo,I film two videos in one day, and then edit and upload the next. A &lsquo,favourite products&rsquo, video might take five hours in all, whereas something like a Halloween make-up special can take three days.&rdquo,
Siobhan began posting videos five years ago. As a trained make-up artist she saw a gap for vlogs that contained more technical expertise. With her tattoos and dramatic make-up looks, her rock chick style helps her to stand out from the thousands of vloggers with a more mainstream, high street style.
Laughing, she says that her Galway accent seems to be particularly popular in America where fans often comment that she sounds like One Direction&rsquo,s Niall Horan.
As well as producing her weekly videos, she continues to work as a freelance make-up artist and at a make-up counter in a Galway department store. &ldquo,I don&rsquo,t earn a huge amount from YouTube but it&rsquo,s enough. I have been able to reinvest in constantly upgrading my camera and lighting. It would be my dream to do it full-time but at the moment there&rsquo,s no way that I could afford to leave my other job.&rdquo,
Vloggers can earn money from the ads at the beginning and the sides of their videos. They are paid on what is known as a CPM rate &mdash, a set payment per 1,000 views. You can attract advertising by becoming a YouTube partner, which gives advertisers access to your channel, or by being signed to a network which matches you with advertising for a commission.
Depending on the number of viewers and the advertiser in question, the CPM can fluctuate from a fraction of a cent up to a few dollars. It&rsquo,s difficult to get exact figures but, in February of this year, the New York Times estimated that the site&rsquo,s highest earners receive a CPM of $7.60 (&euro,5.75) &mdash, before YouTube&rsquo,s cut which can be up to 45%.
Official YouTube statistics tracker Social Blade estimates that a channel with the same level of views as Sinead Cady can earn between $7,300 and $58,000 a year. Exact fees are difficult to pin down.
Siné,ad is signed up to an LA-based network, Style Haul. Founded in 2011, it was one of the first companies to monetise beauty tutorials.
Today, it&rsquo,s the largest lifestyle network on YouTube and has more than 4,600 vloggers and 175m subscribers on board. The network operates a flat rate CPM with its users, details of which are kept confidential.
Networks such as Style Haul also host regular meet-ups for their members &mdash, usually in London for Irish contributors &mdash, where they can meet representatives from the beauty industry as well as being trained up in the latest presenting and editing techniques.
The standards of videos on Irish YouTube channels vary greatly, from grainy mobile phone clips to slickly-edited packages complete with captions and music. Rather than featuring fairylights or colourful locations, the best videos are brightly-lit against white, uncluttered backgrounds. They all retain something of a homemade feel &mdash, an important factor in connecting with the audience, says rising YouTube star Melanie Murphy.
&ldquo,There are a lot of trained make-up artists who give great YouTube tutorials but regular people can have just as much sway,&rdquo, she says. &ldquo,A lot of viewers prefer a girl-next-door type who has an interest rather than an expertise. With them, you&rsquo,re getting genuine customer reviews.
&ldquo,If an individual is engaging they can build a platform from there. The ones who do well are personality-based channels. You want to make it bubbly but relatable &mdash, as though you are sitting chatting with a friend.&rdquo,
Dubliner Melanie, 25, started her YouTube Channel Melaniie last year and quickly racked up some 98,000 subscribers and 8m views &mdash, a growth which has garnered her a lot of industry attention.
She is signed to the Canadian BBTV network and an agency which handles pitches from brands that want to be associated with her. BBTV has also chosen her to front Kandesa, the first dedicated female lifestyle network on YouTube. She now averages 1m views a month, which brings in what she describes as &ldquo,the salary equivalent of a minimum-wage job&rdquo, &mdash, about &euro,17,000 in Ireland.
Melanie&rsquo,s popularity is thanks, in part, to a compelling tutorial she produced about covering up her acne which got 4.7m views and made newspaper headlines earlier this year. As well as beauty, clothing and health, she often strays into more personal territory &mdash, covering topics such as her struggle with an eating disorder.
Questions about body image and social pressures feature on many of the beauty vlogs, and it seems that sharing personal stories that young viewers can relate to increases hits. The vloggers are looked upon not just beauty gurus but as the viewers&rsquo, friends.
Despite their bubbly onscreen presence, Sinead, Siobhan and Melanie all describe themselves as being naturally shy and say they have struggled to make friends in the past.
While Sinead is somewhat quieter to talk to in person than she is onscreen, Siobhan comes across as confident and self-assured, while energetic Melanie talks a mile a minute. All three credit their videos with helping to build confidence from both the perspective of getting used to public speaking to positive interaction with their followers through online comments and Tweets.
&ldquo,Doing the videos has helped me so much,&rdquo, says Sinead, who has posted videos on anxiety, body image, the pressures of being a teenager and her experiences of being bullied.
&ldquo,I was always shy but watching myself back on video has gotten me used to hearing the sound of my own voice. It&rsquo,s made me much more confident. I still have panic attacks and a lot of anxiety, so working from home in an environment that I can control is great.&rdquo,
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Ultimately, to turn online popularity into a successful career vloggers need to push beyond the boundaries of YouTube.
Melanie has been interviewed on Channel 4&rsquo,s Embarrassing Bodies and TV3 and has since been contacted about possible TV presenting work. Sinead is brand ambassador for Irish make-up brush range Blank Canvas and she hosts The Makeup Chair Live events around the country.
&ldquo,Irish bloggers are growing in number and are well respected internationally,&rdquo, says PR executive Edel Cox.
&ldquo,Video can bring blogs to life. Reputation is more important than presentation. If you are dishonest about something, people will post critical comments straight away. It&rsquo,s a lot of work, so the people who are just in it for free samples fall by the wayside quickly enough.&rdquo,
With such a small niche, one might expect competition among the vloggers to be fierce but, as Ireland&rsquo,s leading female YouTuber, Sinead insists that the opposite is the case.
&ldquo,There&rsquo,s a huge Irish beauty community who all talk to each other through various social media outlets,&rdquo, she says.
&ldquo,Anyone thinking about getting into video blogging should get in touch for tips and advice. It&rsquo,s not a competitive area at all &mdash, we are all friends who support each other.&rdquo,
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