Though I haven’t discussed it much, I’ve been watching YouTube makeup artists/beautubers/influencers/beauty gurus for years. I’ve learned a lot that I still can’t translate to my face, and spent way too much money on makeup and skincare products, most of which I’ve given away due to them not working. However, my staple products that WORK are so worth it and I would have likely not tried them without seeing videos of other people using these products and discussing them.
Beautube is a fun pastime for me. I have my regular favorites bookmarked and I know their posting schedule, if they have one. I watch others on a sporadic basis. Some I watch simply due to their soothing voices and personalities, regardless of their technique or product recommendations. I’m perfectly aware that watching them is like watching an infomercial for fun because the ones I’m watching tend to be open about being sponsored.
A sponsored video is one where the content creator is paid to talk about a specific product, often in a specific way. One creator I watch is slowly becoming nearly all sponsored videos (but I like her and her dog so I keep watching). This is like a magazine advertisement, but at least you get to see the product in action and maybe closeups of the color/texture/etc.
There are also sponsored trips, where a brand will whisk away some lucky beautubers to an exotic location, first-class everything, all expenses paid, for the purpose of introducing a new product and getting the influencers to make tons of social media posts about the trip and/or product. They do not get money from the trips, but they get to live the life of a high-end travel companion minus having to have sex with the brand owner to get said experience.
I also have been lurking at a Reddit forum that discusses the beautube community. Sure, there are makeup Reddits but those are hardcore makeup discussions and I’m rarely interested. I enjoy reading the gossip and speculation about a community I am not a part of. It’s fun and entertaining, mindless, and stress-free for me.
Until this past week.
The community has been on fire the past couple weeks and I barely have a handle on that drama. It somehow sparked this current drama. But the current drama I understand perfectly and is the whole reason for this post.
The revelations that have shocked the community have been: how much beautubers can get paid (up to $60k per video), how stringently controlled what they say can be, that one brand can pay them even more to trash another brand. What makes me sit up and pay attention is the figures being tossed around. (Even the less popular beautubers can still command decent four and five figure sums for sponsored videos or sponsored social media posts.)
All I could think of was…where are the sex workers? Why isn’t our community on YouTube building huge audiences and getting sponsorship money? Yes, I know plenty of sex workers have taken to YouTube to make work-related rants, promote their own products (like books or marketing courses), pass along free advice, or discuss their own lives. But that doesn’t bring them to the attention of corporations with advertising money to burn. They aren’t reviewing/recommending products, which is clearly where the money is.
I know that not all sex workers can show their face. But for those who can, why not make this your side business? It’s a niche market…at first. Our lives and jobs have very unique needs: like truly indestructible makeup, anti-aging concerns (also a solid money-maker on YouTube), privacy, self-education, time and project management, customer service, fitness, healthy eating, sexual health and safety, photography, lingerie, clothing…this is all off the top of my head as I’m writing this. All of these topics have related books and products backed by major corporations who have advertising budgets far larger than your average client has discretionary income. WHY AREN’T SEX WORKERS GETTING THIS MONEY???
No one out there hustles harder than a determined, business-minded sex worker. (I’m not referring to myself at all, but to the many sex workers I’ve admired over the years.) While people in the forum where I lurk say that the beautube bubble is going to burst, others who are in the industry say that from the corporate point of view, the advertising money spent on beautubers is still cheaper than most print and TV ads, and the ROI is still there. The focus is turning more to the smaller beautubers too (“smaller” meaning those with less subscribers). And don’t forget social media. You can get paid for Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat posts. You don’t need millions of followers to command these rates. You can get paid for social media posts if you have five and six figure numbers.
Sure, there’s an investment of time in building your brand and audience. There’s an investment of money in equipment and editing software (or time in editing or money in hiring out the editing). The beginning costs aren’t huge, though. The biggest cost is obviously in a camera and lighting equipment and even that can be done for under $1000. The main thing is getting out there and doing it.
If you’re sponsored, it’s the law to announce you are. There’s no shame in making money and sex workers are the least shameful about that concept. Yet I don’t see any out there making that money (correct me if I’m wrong).
I know tons of sex workers are struggling right now. If you can post your face online with your ad, why can’t you post your face on YouTube and starting what could become a very lucrative side hustle, or even a full-time career? Or if you don’t post your face in conjunction with your sex work, it could be even easier for you to start a YouTube career.
You don’t have to be impossibly attractive, or white, or female. Having a distinct personality and brand is crucial, though.
Do I want the YouTuber to be open about being a sex worker? I’d love it, of course, but I understand why they might not want to. They might not ever get a single dollar in sponsorship if they did that. I would be so happy to watch and support a sex worker on YouTube though. They would talk about the things relevant to me and my life and work, so much more than these civvie YouTubers. I’d love to watch some real and relevant beautubers.
Just food for thought, ya’ll.
Reference threads from Reddit. Read the main post, and comments too. A lot of info is in the comments.
Marlena Stell kicks it off
Kevin James Bennett reveals you can get paid to trash brands
Beautuber Chloe Morello reveals her payments
Discussion on the future of beautube
One medium-sized influencer’s rate card (Samantha Ravndahl)