Junior Ariana Lease chats animatedly to the camera in her YouTube video, smiling and gesturing while she talks.
As she casually pushes her bangs away from her face, an ad for TOMS shoes pops up at the bottom of the video screen, partially obscuring her video. If a person watching her video clicks on the ad, Lease will make money.
The popular video-sharing website YouTube has become more than a place of entertainment. For several students at Santa Rosa’s Maria Carrillo High School, it has become a means for earning money and a self-promotional platform.
Lease, who posts videos “just to talk about something on my mind,” currently is at 1,232 subscribers and counting. She said the topics of her videos are “mostly random” and range from advice to her younger self to talking about her pet cat, Panther.
Because of Lease’s high number of subscribers, she has become a partial member of the YouTube Partner Program, which allows YouTube to place ads on her page and videos. In return, she is given creative freedom with her YouTube channel so she can customize more features on her page, create longer videos and be paid for each person that clicks on an ad posted on or around her videos. After a certain amount of clicks “you are sent a check when you’ve got $100 worth,” she said.
Lease, who creates videos “just for fun and to make friends,” said YouTube has connected her with people that do not live nearby.
Last summer, she attended VidCon, the Online Video Convention that hosts many YouTube celebrities in Los Angeles.
“I met up with friends that I met over YouTube,” she said.
Lease is a part of a collaboration channel that she shares with six other people. One person posts once a week, yielding a new video every day.
The collaboration channel “has especially connected me with other people,” Lease said.
Maria Carrillo senior Stephanie Evans also uses YouTube to earn money. For her “Beauty Guru” channel, she makes videos pertaining to makeup and beauty products.
“I’ve just begun improvising with YouTube tutorials. I just turn on the camera and play with colors on my face,” said Evans, a freelance makeup artist.
Evans’ YouTube videos recently earned her a job at The Powder Room, a Santa Rosa salon that applies makeup and styles hair for special events.
The YouTube channel was “something I put on my resume and it definitely helped me get the job,” she said.
Like Lease, Evans enjoys the community aspect of YouTube.
“YouTube becomes its own culture and it’s kind of like a family,” she said.
The site also helped Maria Carrillo students show their artistic talent.
Senior Sydnie Kim posts videos of herself singing and playing both the guitar and the piano. She said YouTube has furthered her music and allowed her to connect to a larger audience.
“A lot of people get to hear (music) that otherwise wouldn’t,” she said.
Her channel is mostly for family and friends, but it’s “good to get feedback” on her videos from others on YouTube.
Kim, who performs at open-mike nights, feels that making YouTube videos has helped with her performance.
“YouTube is a nice way of overcoming stage fright, because it’s just you and the camera,” Kim said.