Michelle Phan Reveals the Secret to YouTube Beauty Video Success

Even if you're only vaguely aware of the existence of beauty vloggers (video bloggers), you've likely heard of Michelle Phan. She was one of the beauty video pioneers in 2007, when she started creating easy-to-follow makeup tutorials based on music videos, Disney characters, and more. Due to her genuine persona and her true talent for beauty, her channel exploded with popularity, and she now has over 300 self-edited YouTube videos, more than seven million subscribers, and over a billion views. She also has managed to transform being a video star into a serious career. She has her own beauty brand, Em Cosmetics, founded FAWN (For All Women Network, a women's lifestyle network), and is releasing her first book, today, on Oct. 21, Make Up: Your Life Guide to Beauty, Style, and Success — Online and Off. We sat down with Michelle to discuss her growing career, how to make it in the digital space, and (of course!) beauty. Source: Getty

About Her Book

About Her Book

POPSUGAR: Congratulations on your new book! How did this opportunity come about?

Michelle Phan: About two years ago, Random House approached me and asked if I was interested in making a beautiful, coffee table beauty book with all my different looks and instructions. I told them there was so much more I want to teach girls besides just makeup — a lot of advice that I would give to a little sister. While there is information about skin care, makeup, style, and relationships, it also shares how to turn your passion into a profession, how to become your own entrepreneur, and online etiquette.

PS: What's your biggest don't when it comes to social media?

MP: Don't fight with someone online, especially in a relationship. When you're reading a text or an email, things can get lost in translation, or you can interpret it your way rather than hearing their tone and reading their facial expressions.

PS: Do you have any words for girls about social media bullies?

MP: Bullies have probably existed since forever, and they're everywhere. You have to realize that we're all different with different opinions, and some people might be a little more aggressive in how they convey theirs, but you can't take it personally. I've been bullied since I uploaded my first video. The mean comments hurt at first, but you get over it because you realize you're living your own life. If you don't like these comments, you don't have to tolerate them. Just delete it and block it or ignore it.

Career Advice
Getty | Jesse Grant/SAs 2014

Career Advice

PS: What made you so successful in those first few years of beauty videos?

MP: I just kept pushing the envelope. I didn't want to do the same thing everyone else was doing; I wanted to create a story and almost bring a more theatrical element to my videos. I've been doing this for seven years . . . that's a long time, like doggy years! I have to constantly evolve. If you're always putting out the same videos, people get bored, and they move on. Big pop culture icons like Rebecca Black or Gangnam Style last for a year, and then they're gone. I think that because I constantly evolve and grow with my audience, I'm able to stay relevant.

PS: How do you keep it exciting for you? How do you always know how or when to evolve?

MP: In my personal life, I evolve. In Hollywood, you have a storyline and you play a character, but digital talent is so different because we are authentic to who we are, online and off. As I grow up, my audience grows up, too, and I teach them everything I've learned. Life is not a marketing scheme; life is about evolving and growing. We're no different than a blossoming, growing tree. I want to keep growing and branching out, learn as much as I can, and teach what I learn to those who are following me.

PS: Do you have tips for women who aspire to be the next big YouTube phenomenon?

MP: It's going to feel like exam week every day for a year. It's not like talent offline and talent that we see in the media. If you were to take a month off online, it would have a detrimental effect. You have to update on a daily basis because the Internet is always on. Have in the back of your mind always that this is a job that's open 24/7, every day, every hour, because it's the Internet. It's important to know that it's a lot of work and commitment, but it's so fulfilling, because you're in control of your message, vision, and career. You sacrifice a lot, but you gain so much more.

Her Beauty Essentials

Her Beauty Essentials

PS: What are your favorite beauty packing tips? You're probably an expert by now.

MP: I am. When you're on the plane, you don't really need a lot. A lash curler, brow pencil, hand cream, concealer, liquid eyeliner (but watch out for turbulence!), and lipsticks, even one that doubles up for lips and cheeks.

PS: What one beauty product does everyone need?

MP: A good black eyeliner, because you can use it for anything and everything, even lip liner. You can use it as mascara by blasting it with a hair dryer until it melts, then use a spoolie brush to comb it through lashes. You can also use a hair dryer to turn the pencil into a gel liner and an ombré gradient eye shadow — it thins out the texture of the eyeliner, so it creates a gray color, and then you can work your way up to black shadow.

PS: What is your favorite product in your line?

MP: That's a very seasonal question, but I love my brow pencil and my liquid liner. When we did ink paintings in art school, it was all about line weight and the quality of the line, so I wanted to take that approach to liquid liners. The brush is superthin, so you can create thin and thick lines.

PS: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

MP: I just want to grow my soul and evolve. Ten years from now I don't want to just be giving beauty tips. I want to show people how they can meditate, calm their soul and spirit, and how they can find their purpose. Purpose doesn't necessarily mean what they have to do with their career, but help them discover their gift.