Shruti Arjun Anand shot her first YouTube video using a point-and- shoot camera when she was bored. Slowly, she realised the business was lucrative as views started pouring in. Soon, her husband joined the venture. He was followed by her niece and cousins. Soon, many in her family quit their jobs to make it a full-time career. Today, Shruti has her own company - Shruti Makeup & Beauty Private Limited, 700 videos and 1,616,616 subscribers. Here’s how the story started..
YS Weekender: How did you start your YouTube channel?
Shruti Arjun Anand: I was in the US when I uploaded my first video - it was on hairstyles. I would try different hairstyles before I shot the video, and people seemed to like my work. I thought maybe this is what I am good at. This was 2012; I had some free time and I wanted to do something creative. I used to watch a few YouTube channels, and thought I could do this - maybe a hairstyle tutorial video. I took my point-and-shoot camera, shot some videos and put out the entire unedited footage. Now when I look back, it was an amateur video - but still, it was my first video.
YSW: Then what happened? How did you start taking this seriously?
SAA: My first video didn’t get too many responses, but I was keen on learning more.
I am an engineer and I love decoding stuff. I started learning software and tried to make better videos. People started noticing and appreciating them. By early 2013, I was getting paid by YouTube through the YouTube Partner Program (YPP). Now, in 2018, for making money you have to make 4000 hours of watch-time in year, plus 1000 subscribers. Then, it was different.
When we came back to India, we were in Noida and all the jobs I was looking at were in Gurgaon. I didn’t want to commute so far and so I waited it out, and did some more videos. This was still a hobby until my husband, Arjun, encouraged me to take this up as a full-time career. He said I should pursue this as it made me happy. He was working 16 hours a day, and encouraged me to work as well. I started taking my YouTube channel seriously, and got a lot more responses.
YSW: What were the responses like?
SAA: They were really good.
I would get some responses from audiences in Tier-2 cities saying they owned beauty parlours, and were inspired by my videos. That was really satisfying - it felt like I was helping someone. My audiences are in the 15-30 age group - girls from Tier 1, and Tier 2 cities. It was also because of the content I put out. I wanted people to enjoy my videos. I concentrated on positivity, and that showed in the audiences too.
YSW: How did you plan the content for your younger audiences?
SAA: I am very conscious about the content I put out because I have younger audiences. I watch the video 4-5 times, then my husband and the editors watch it, and I filter out all content that anyone thinks could be remotely vulgar. For example, when I was working on a video about menstrual cups, I had my family telling me to change the kind of words I was using. I balance it out. I feel a lot of people on Youtube don’t do that, and I can see the difference in their video comments and mine.
YSW: How did your family get involved in your business?
SAA: YouTube has new algorithms all the time. So, unlike a ‘normal’ job, the money that you generate doesn’t go up. You make less money because of the consistent changes. Hence, it was necessary to do brand collaborations, etc. Initially, I didn't feel good about the deals. They didn’t hit the right note. Arjun then came on board and helped me choose wisely. My niece also loved shooting videos and some of them went viral. We looked at her coming on board as something she does for fun, nothing serious. Plus, she has to go to school. Whenever, we had the time - we shot a lot of videos with her. My sister-in-law cooks, so we did videos around that. And slowly, my family came on board.
YSW: What’s the next step?
SAA: Now, I am confused. I feel like I have achieved all my goals at the moment. I have a company and employees. Plus, back then, YouTube was fun. Now, it’s about getting the SEO right, cover-photos right, etc. When I started out, the watch-time had to be good, and the video would get views. How do I do this for the rest of my life is something that I think about all the time.