Since its launch in 2005, YouTube has become one of the world’s most popular online destinations for entertainment and information. Providing this content are countless YouTubers, but for every popular channel there are many more struggling to find an audience or to turn their viewer figures into a six, seven or eight-figure career.
That’s where entrepreneur Mathilde Vuillermoz, founder of agency MV Worldwide, comes in. She is the behind-the-scenes mastermind and power player who helps transform those with star quality and the dedication to succeed into internet celebrities.
The power of YouTube is here to stay and it is fair to say that it is now one of the most attractive platforms for making money.
According to the video sharing service, over two billion logged-in users visit YouTube each month and consume more than a billion hours of video every single day.
Millennials, in particular, can’t get enough of YouTube, with it being the second most-popular way for watching video on TV screens among 18 to 34-year-olds, after Netflix.
The beauty of YouTube is that anyone can launch their own channel. But how much money can a YouTuber make, and where—exactly—does it come from? Also, what are the best ways to monetize content, and how can an aspiring influencer navigate this content-creation business successfully?
The harsh reality is that while a few YouTubers make millions of pounds a year, the majority will only scrape a few thousand, if lucky.
A key separator, it seems, is choosing whether to work independently or to align with social media marketing managers and high-profile, globally-connected agencies.
One such agency is MV Worldwide, run by international social media marketing expert and multi-millionaire serial entrepreneur Mathilde Vuillermoz. Over the last few years, she has built up a roster of established and rising YouTube personalities, helping to turn their channels into advertising avenues that the world’s biggest brands are queuing up to subscribe to.
“The fast pace and international nature of the business is absolutely addictive to me,” says Vuillermoz.
“I come from a background in the film and publishing worlds, where small talk is a huge part of the process and there are a lot of ‘old school’ elements to the business. This, in turn, makes securing every deal a long, drawn-out process.
“I don’t mind this, yet I also love change. YouTube is the exact opposite. It is a young business.
“YouTubers are young, relatable, accessible and, in many ways, they completely break the traditional celebrity model that we are used to seeing on TV or in movies.
“They are also reactive and ‘on’ all the time. It’s incredibly energizing, and their level of involvement and dedication to their craft is mind-blowing.
“This makes me want to do my very best for them to reach the next level, or to secure them that deal they want so badly with whichever brand they are obsessed with.
“Everything is done digitally, done quickly, and can be done from absolutely anywhere in the world. Being someone who travels constantly because of the eclectic nature of my various business ventures, this makes things incredibly easy for me, logistically speaking.
“I have closed YouTube deals from a boat in Greece, a loft in Cape Town, a hotel in New Zealand, and a restaurant in Singapore, to give just a few examples.”
Vuillermoz emphasises the point that a significant proportion of YouTuber income comes from brand sponsorships and merchandising. It is, therefore, not enough to be a great content creator with the likes and shares to prove it. You also need to be as adept behind the screen as in front of it.
She said: “Getting the best sponsorship opportunities, and having the ability to negotiate them, is a skill on its own.
“Unfortunately, it’s one that many YouTubers tend to have issues mastering, or simply giving attention to, as their minds are more occupied with creating exciting and unique content, as well as keeping up with the demands of their audience.
“Working with a manager and signing with an agency who understands these demands is key to turning a fun hobby into a full-time—and lucrative—career.
“They need someone who can guide and advise accordingly, as well as present them with the best opportunities available for their unique content. Someone who can point out the hidden pitfalls of the YouTube business, and protect their interests. Someone who can also raise their public profile, and expand their visibility outside the YouTube community.
“Someone, in short, who understands their content and how they work, and can in turn make them reach their full potential and give them star power.”
Finding the right manager
Choosing the right manager, however, is no easy task. Agencies such as MV Worldwide are highly respected and sought after in this field, not only because its global structure enables it to have its feet in key markets for YouTube—namely the US and Canada, Europe, Asia and Russia—but also thanks to its long-standing ties with high-profile partners in key industries.
The versatility of MV Worldwide’s activities—which ranges from film and real estate to finance, digital marketing and publishing—gives Vuillermoz a deep understanding of all key sectors needed to efficiently provide content creators with the “best of the best” in terms of opportunities, sponsorships, and global visibility and exposure. This, she says, “guarantees unparalleled global leverage for creators”.
The long ties of the agency with all major Hollywood studios, meanwhile, places it in a “league of its own”.
One of the agency’s long-term commercial relationships is with Amazon. A brand manager within the multinational technology powerhouse who regularly works with Vuillermoz says that it’s easy to understand why YouTubers and high-profile brands from all sectors are “keen to preserve” their relationship with MV Worldwide.
They said: “CEO and founder Mathilde Vuillermoz is very charismatic herself, and has had her feet rooted in the world of deal-making since her start in Hollywood 10 years ago.
“She knows how to navigate the pitfalls as she learned from the best, and in one of the most competitive industries. Her entrepreneurial mind then allowed her to expand way beyond this and branch out in all sectors of deal-making.
“Whenever we work with her, she delivers the best in terms of talents, and overall creative organisation, which is much needed for large-scale campaigns.
“She knows how to mentor and protect her creators, get the best opportunities available for them and fight for them”.
While the prospect of being a full-time YouTuber may so far sound much more attractive than the regular nine to five, Vuillermoz says that it is important to recognise the pressure faced by content creators—something that is not often visible from their audience’s perspective.
YouTube’s long-standing lack of transparency about how its algorithm works, for instance, is one of the major sources of stress for content creators as they try to catch which ‘recipe’ is best to adapt to the constantly-changing mathematics that rule how their content is displayed to visitors.
She continued: “The audience expects consistency and frequency, while the YouTube algorithm is ruthless, and without these, slipping off its radar can happen extremely quickly.
“Over the years, I have seen some YouTubers burn out and develop profound anxiety as a result of these constant pressures. It’s a highly competitive and cut-throat business.
“The exhaustion that comes with performing familiarity to their audience on an everyday basis; the stress of receiving online threats; the pressure of managing reputation and professional ties in the YouTuber community, where recommendations are key to getting fans; the pressure to appear perfect in front of the camera; the stress of reading comments, and the financial anxiety associated with managing sponsorships and donations can throw their mental health off track very quickly.
“Taking a break will result in altered numbers with the algorithm and less access for their content to be casually displayed. It is in many ways a never-ending vicious circle and race against the algorithm.
“I personally encourage my clients to post at least three videos of between 10 and 20 minutes each week, in order to be boosted by the algorithm, as well as remaining very niche in terms of content.
“Mastering YouTube as a content creator, and with monetisation in mind, is a logistic puzzle and is all about knowing how to pay extremely close attention to small details, which can range from posting time and the right length of the video, to choosing the right thumbnails and tags.
“The almost obsessive attention to details is everything, and is what will make a YouTuber ultimately stand out or simply be one among others in an already overcrowded platform”.
The pressure can be equally overwhelming on the brand side, she says. YouTube advertising is one of the best tools an advertiser can use, but in order to utilize it correctly, they must understand the demographics of the content creator they choose to sponsor, their user journey and the proper length of integration within the video.
Accordingly, MV Worldwide has an entire department within her agency dedicated to managing campaigns on behalf of brands and to helping them navigate the tools available to create the best result “creatively speaking” and execute their vision.
The logistics of her agency is, she adds, unique thanks to its network of high-profile brands and creators—which they carefully pair together.
The real deal
By expanding traditional sponsorships to opportunities in films, TV, publishing, arts, merchandising, gaming and E-Sports sectors, MV Worldwide has—within the space of a few short years—developed a reputation for being one of the most sought-after for YouTubers and content creators alike.
“We receive a lot of demands and requests for representation, and we review each carefully,” Vuillermoz says.
“Ultimately, though, we are extremely selective and only work with creators whom we feel have a special ‘je ne sais quoi’. They need charisma and star quality. They need to shine beyond the YouTube world and make the best of all the opportunities they will be able to access once part of the agency.”
Concerning these opportunities, Vuillermoz says that the “sky’s the limit” on how far a YouTuber with star quality can go.
She added: “What I love about working on YouTube deals as a manager is that the possibilities are absolutely endless. I often expand way past traditional collaborations with brands sponsoring a channel in exchange for visibility and exposure.
“Depending on the niche covered by any given YouTuber I work with, we can create lucrative merchandising opportunities for books, stationary supplies, jewellery, self care and makeup lines, clothing brands, home decor lines, video games and so on. Basically, almost anything!
“In addition, being someone who also operates in literary and entertainment worlds, I often pitch my clients to the film/TV executives I work with, whenever I know they are casting something that would be of interest and if the YouTuber has an interest in acting.
“It is always advantageous for film and TV execs to have a YouTuber as part of the casting because it guarantees them free marketing and exposure, since they know the YouTuber will heavily promote their production through their respective social media platforms.
“This also goes for publishing deals. YouTubers are very sought after by publishers, because they already have a niche, an audience and a completely ready-to-use platform to promote the book once it is released, whether fiction or non-fiction.
“This saves publishers a lot in terms of marketing budget and is often way more efficient than their own traditional marketing techniques!
“Since YouTube is blocked in China, I also work hand-in-hand with contacts I have at Chinese TV stations owning Chinese social media platforms. I then export the content of some of my YouTube clients to China, adjusting it to the local market and bringing Chinese sponsors on their platforms to support the content we upload there. The Chinese market is mind-blowing for U.S. and European-based social media creators … and still widely unexplored. I spent a lot of time in Shanghai in the past few years to develop this part of my business, network with the right contacts, and understand the local market.”
How to become the next big influencer
So, if you want to “broadcast yourself” and potentially become the next big social media influencer, where do you start?
Vuillermoz offers the following advice: “I think the best way is to take a look at what makes a YouTube channel successful.
“The number one thing to bear in mind is, without a doubt, consistency. Successful YouTubers are incredibly hard-working, posting frequently and without taking any time off. The supply of content has to be highly consistent and, definitely, multiple times a week or even daily.
“Secondly, a successful YouTuber has a well-defined angle for their content. Successful creators all have their niche and they only post content relating to it. This helps build a very engaged and faithful audience.
“Thirdly, highly successful YouTube channels have impeccable content quality. That is, content that is recorded with a proper camera, in a well-lit setting, with great surroundings, and so on.
“Video quality is huge in importance. If the content doesn’t look highly professional, viewers won’t take it seriously.
“Many of the top YouTubers I work with actually have their own dedicated editor, some have their own studio, and some even a whole team with proper offices in order to help run their channel.
“Lastly, I would say that delivering entertainment is absolutely key. Whatever their content is meant to be about, highly successful YouTubers deliver their messages through entertainment.
“For instance, if they want to teach people how to handle their finances, they teach it in an entertaining way. If they want to present the best real estate in their area, they always make it fun to watch.
“Whatever message they want to convey, even with ‘tasks’ that are usually seen as boring and repetitive, successful YouTubers manage to make it as enjoyable as it is informative.”
Vuillermoz added: “Whatever niche they cover (lifestyle, business, travel, spirituality, DIY, academics, finance, parenting, nutrition, travel, sciences, architecture, fashion, self care, productivity, books etc.), the key word is to entertain their viewers while providing them with useful information and unique content.
“This is absolutely key to build a strongly-engaged and faithful audience who will keep coming back regularly. By this I mean not only subscribing to a channel, but actually watching every video posted by the YouTuber. Gathering a stable amount of views per video is absolutely key to build a trusted and long-lasting relationship with the best sponsors as well.
“The bottom line is that many see YouTube creators as young millennials who are unaware of the real world and overpaid for having no skills. It could not be more wrong.
“Those who are successful are incredibly hard-working, creative and absolutely obsessed and consumed with making their content outstanding.
“The competition between YouTubers is extreme and the platform oversaturated with content. Those who stand out and are successful would not be able to be where they are by simply being ‘great’.
“They are workaholics and their entire world revolves around creating their content. This is how you make it big on YouTube.”