YouTube stars and fans are gathering in London for Summer in the City, the UK’s largest and longest-running online video festival. We meet the people who get to call YouTube their job.
Lewys Ball is a 19-year-old YouTuber whose make-up tutorials and vlogs of his daily life as a student have earned him a following of more than 300,000.
He’s been posting videos for more than five years and tells the BBC he has no regrets about documenting his teenage years online.
“I have lived my teenage years from 13-19 with every moment documented online – I know some people would hate it but I love watching back 14-year-old me.”I was obsessed with social media from a young age – I started a YouTube channel just uploading random clips of my pets when I was 8 or 9 years old.
“Then about five years ago I broke my arm and I found Zoella and all those people and saw they were making videos weekly for a specific audience and not just uploading clips of their mum falling over or their dog barking.”
He says within a week of discovering these YouTube channels he posted his first video – a vlog about his experience of primary school.
Lewys’s videos, which have now had a combined 16 million views, document everything from his clothes and make-up to holidays abroad.As someone whose years as a teenage boy have been atypical to many others, he says his experience of “growing up online” was a positive experience.
“Posting videos online has helped me find who I am as a person and bring out the best in my personality.”As a teen I had a thick skin. Between the ages of 14-16 for a lot of people hate comments would affect you, but I’m lucky that they didn’t get to me at all.”
He says seeing people commenting on him as a teenager was “strange” and that he was different from a lot of YouTubers who already had a distinctive identity, whereas his was changing all the time.
“For people who followed me when I was 14, I changed by the time I was 18 and people would be commenting ‘what happened to the old you’ – I’d grown up and everyone else had done it, except they hadn’t done it online.”
He said, “There are many people online who are supportive of what I do, but also so many who tear down not just me but other YouTubers.”I’ve never heard of another YouTuber who hasn’t received a hate comment or a dislike.”
He says the online world can be less accepting than the real world as “people can be nice to your face but say whatever they want online”.”[Commenters] have this anonymity so if they were a stranger walking past you in the street they would never say something like that you.”On YouTube people can say whatever they want without any consequences.”