Like, Subscribe, Share: The Life of a College YouTube Star

(Courtesy of Chaney Steinke)

(Courtesy of Chaney Steinke)

9,319 people is almost enough to fill every seat in EagleBank Area, leaving just 681 seats open. It’s also the number of people who subscribe to Chaney Steinke’s YouTube channel, where the Mason junior posts hair and makeup tutorials as well as personal vlogs.

“In late high school, I started getting really into watching YouTube videos,” Steinke, an integrative studies major, said. “One day, I decided I want[ed] to try to make them.”

After deciding the kind of content she wanted to create, she  eventually settled on hair and makeup tutorials. “Once I picked that kind of stuff, I just started making [the videos],” she said. “But actually starting the channel itself was pretty nerve-wracking — putting yourself out there for the whole world to see can be pretty scary.”

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Steinke’s journey took off when her second video, titled “Prom Makeup/Hair Tutorial 2014,” gained almost a million views within a year and a half after being posted.

Steinke says she has “no idea” how it happened. “It was the second video I had ever made, but it went viral, which was actually kind of embarrassing! I made [it] almost two years ago, and of course I’ve learned so much in that time, so even though the hair style itself is fine, I’m not exactly confident about the way I present myself in that video.”

We all look back at things in our past and get a little embarrassed by them. Unfortunately for Steinke, almost a million people have seen what embarrasses her. And, while we all put a lot of ourselves on the Web, revealing information through our Tweets, Instagram posts and Facebook albums, Steinke’s situation is a bit different: most of her subscribers are total strangers.

But this hasn’t scared her away from sharing details of her life on YouTube. In addition to creating videos with instructions for hairstyles and makeup techniques, Steinke films vlogs about her personal life, with topics ranging from dating advice for younger viewers to her brother Dylan who has special needs.

“I like having my family in [my vlogs], and I think they like being in [them] too. They definitely think it’s fun and kind of funny and whatnot,” Steinke said. “But having my brother in my videos, that’s to kind of help people develop more of an understanding and an acceptance of people who have disabilities. Since I have somewhat of a following on the Internet, I figured I would use my channel as a kind of platform to get that out there.”

Steinke’s viewers aren’t all strangers, though. Some of her subscribers are people she knows from real life. “I’m getting kind of used to it, where people will mention something about me and I’ll realize that they probably saw it in a video … I don’t share anything that I’m ashamed of or anything, so it’s not like I put EVERYTHING out there, but I do put a lot out there, so it can be kind of weird to think about,” she said.

For some people on YouTube, the end goal is to become a full-time YouTuber; for Steinke, however, that’s never been the point. 

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“While I do this and it’s fun, it’s not really my number one priority. … It would be fun to do this as a side career or something one day, but I definitely don’t want to be a ‘professional YouTuber.’ I want to be a teacher,” she said. “I just like doing this for fun. Everyone has a hobby; mine is just making YouTube videos.”

Check out Steinke’s youtube channel here: