Bethany Mota is no Sheryl Sandberg; she is 18 and yet to get a degree in business studies. But Mota, who is better known to millions of teenage girls on YouTube as “Motavator”, has already created a million dollar fashion and media empire just by sitting in her bedroom of her California home and posing videos on YouTube that all those teenage girls out there cannot wait to get hold of.
Enter the teenage entrepreneur who can easily address her audience from YouTube without paying a cent to anyone. She is only one of the YouTube generation that shares everything from hair and makeup advice to hair drying techniques on the video uploading channel and in the process, attracts millions of fans throughout the world. Mota represents a wired generation who can easily conquer social media and set up a business in next to no time with no capital requirements and no costs involved.
Mota now has her own clothing line at retailer Aeropostale; her MACBARBIE07 YouTube channel generates around US $ 40,000 per month. She has an audience of over 300 million views since she launched it. Bethany Mota truly represents a new generation of entrepreneurs whose uncanny ability to attract other young people on the Internet represents huge opportunities for advertising revenue and promotional value.
Bethany struggled with bullying, shyness and coming to terms with being a teen under pressure in an environment that did nothing to comfort her. She was home schooled and shy. When confronted with cyber bullying at her high school, she found herself bored and lonely. She found her calling in creating YouTube videos on makeup tips, fashion and lifestyle advice for girls like her.
Bethany had no team to support her videos – no stylists, no cameramen, no editors, just one girl determined to get something done on a platform that gave her an instant connection with others like her. She was competing against thousands of others, some big brands and others sharing similar content. She believes that it was her personal appeal and her ability to engage directly with her audience that heralded in her success.
She says that she replies to the comments made on her videos and utilizes her social networking sites to create impact. Her breakthrough came when she realized that she had 100 views of her video – from that point onwards, there was no turning back for the teen.
Almost five years after Bethany’s YouTube channel went viral, she has over 5.5 million subscribers and 2.4 million fans on Instagram, more than Vogue, Elle, Marie Claire, Glamour and Cosmopolitan combined! In December 2013, Bethany Mota line of clothing debuted at Aeropostale, featuring over 60 pieces from Bethany’s collection. She is also in discussions with Forever 21 and J C Penney to expand her line.
Power of Internet
So what’s the lesson here? Is Bethany Mota delivering something more than the conventional beauty and hair advice channels – is there a lesson here to pick for other entrepreneurs?
In fact, there’s a lot here we can learn from. One clear lesson is the power of social media and the Internet which never ceases to amaze me – particularly when it engages young men and women, my son’s generation, who we can safely say, were born wired. They understand and relate to social media in a way we cannot. They figure it out in ways only they can. So naturally, they can connect with others like them. In the process, they can turn their bedroom into a virtual office generating revenue on a YouTube channel.
The ability to find new opportunities and new outlets that can generate a new line of business always exists. Whether online or otherwise, there are thousands of people out there who are looking for goods and services in ways that have not been imagined yet. Many successful products and services have been developed based on an unfulfilled personal need experienced by an individual. Those opportunities will always exist and we just need to find ours.
The ability to do something different is a passion most of us can understand. It may be the same old but done differently, delivered on a different platform. It may be finding a new audience or delivering a new message. We just need to make the connections that have not been done before.
Young men and women like Bethany are using the power of the Internet to create and generate business concepts that may threaten big time businesses; big beauty brands are already being challenged on YouTube by thousands of young girls like Bethany who are able to attract others like themselves without the hype of the big brands. The same power can be harnessed for other services, other brands, using the same or different techniques than Bethany. The potential exists; we just need to find the avenue.
(Nayomini Weerasooriya, a senior journalist, writer and a PR professional, can be contacted at email@example.com)