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15 Minutes with Michelle Phan

We talk to the beauty vlogger about breaking the Internet.
15 Minutes with Michelle Phan We talk to the beauty vlogger about breaking the Internet.

It’s a cold but bright afternoon in Tokyo, and we are ushered into the Google/YouTube office. They just flew in Michelle Phan, one of YouTube’s biggest stars, to judge a region-wide beauty guru competition. She sits across us on an armchair in a sunlit room. Her hair is in French braids. She wears blue lipstick. Blue lipstick! I was expecting her of the 300-makeup- tutorial fame to wear no less than flawless makeup. We meet her, and I think, obviously, she’s clocked in her 10,000 hours of makeup application. But blue lipstick? She stands out.

That was Michelle’s deciding factor when she chose the next “beauty creator,” as YouTube coined it. “They’re willing to experiment and to also fail because they’re doing something different,” she says. But we prod on: Give us a plan from point A to point B—how exactly do you get from zero to 100 as an online influencer? Here’s what we found out, straight from the veteran beauty vlogger’s mouth.

BE A LEAN, MEAN, CONTENT CREATIVE

"Know who you are so that other people can see that, too.”

“Machine” is too efficient, so let’s replace it with “creative.” Michelle is a believer in having the best visuals and having a plot because anybody can do makeup tutorials now. She says, “It really boils down to quality storytelling and how thoughtful you are, [and] the most difficult production.” What propels you beyond that, however, is how you manage that content. “Divide your content, but in a more meaningful way,” Michelle advises. “Don’t be on everything—be the one that makes sense for your content and branding.”

Doesn’t that make sense? But it doesn’t end there. The most important part is follow-through. She continues, “It’s important for you to stay visible in the online landscape because people can watch other things and they can easily forget about you if you’re not present. So choose a platform that you can easily be present in that really works with your brand and your story, your content, and be consistent about uploading it and maintaining that visibility.”

Read the rest of our interview with Michelle in our May issue here

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