Well, I said I’d share a few of my favourite vloggers. I’m leaving off the ones that focus on bro humour because 1) Wired covered them off nicely and, 2) I don’t really like bro humour, even if it is the hottest commodity on YouTube.
You can read my post about them here, but the long and short of it is that they are a nice, normal family that uploads a new video of their daily life each day. This makes them lifecasters.
The whole thing was spearheaded by patriarch (they are Mormons after all) Shay Carl Butler. His wife Colette also has her own channel called Katilette, which was the pseudonym she originally used. The kids are still working fake names - SonTard, PrincessTard, BabyTard, and baby Rocktard. Their baby has spent every day of his life on camera (well, I think they tape for like, twenty minutes a day so we aren’t entering Toddlers & Tiaras territory here.) An interesting thing about the fake names: they aren’t really a security measure. You can find the kids’ real names online. Every once in a while, Shay explains that he doesn’t want to read negative comments with his kids names in them. That said, the comments are overwhelmingly positive. Quite a feat for YouTube, which is usually has comments that read like a middle school bathroom wall.
- A trip to Disneyland
- Rocktard is born
- Shaytards Christmas Special
- Shay runs the LA marathon after losing 100 pounds (on camera)
- Katilette on bullying
Casey is Shay’s brother. He is younger and his humour is drier. Casey and his wife Kayli, daughter Brailee and son Gage joined the Shay and his family in LA after he founded his YouTube production company/talent agency Maker Studios. He aims to upload about five lifecasting videos a week, and usually lands somewhere around two.
A true man’s man, Casey hunts and fishes, incurring the wrath of the 13-year-old girls who make up a large proportion of his audience. His wife Kayli has her own channel, HeyKayli, where she covers crafts, hair tutorials and her recent Oprah-style attempt at getting mentally and emotionally healthy after struggling with an eating disorder. She is the sweetest woman in the world. Imagine if Cindy Lou Who grew up and didn’t become Taylor Momsen, but instead became a sweet mom who loves to bake cookies and style her daughter’s hair - that’s Kayli.
- Casey and his wife Kayli frolic in the park
- The family visits a crappy-seeming amusement park called Lagoon
- HeyKayli on her eating disorder
The Mom’s View
I am not a mom, but this show doesn’t just talk mom stuff. It’s like The View would be if it were actually run by normal women instead of hideous shebeasts who are hungry for wedding freebies and cheap laughs. This is another one from Maker Studios featuring Kayli and Colette along with some other YouTube famous moms - but hey, they produce the best content. Also, this is where Colette and Kayli talk about their marriages most openly. (Fun fact: Kayli has always believed that she loves Casey more!)
Earlier this year Maker launched a mom vertical and this intimate talkshow (taped on Kayli’s couch but still high production quality and multi camera) is the result. They are starting to book higher profile guests and their audience seems to be growing.
Even though I have a sweet cable package, this show is the closest I’ve found in terms of filling the void that Oprah left behind. Sample wisdom: You aren’t raising children - you’re raising adults. BAM.
- Shay and Casey guest star and talk fatherhood (and Shay admits that if his house caught on fire and he could only save one person, he’d save his wife - and his kids know it)
- When is the right time to have kids?
My Housewife Life
Finally - one that isn’t from Maker Studios, but from a lovely homemaker (that’s a compliment) named Jen who lives with her husband Donald in Chicago. I discovered her when planning a recent trip to Disney World (you can read a little about why exactly I love Disney World so much here) and found some vlogs she made of her trip.
Jen is pure escapism. She is what I imagine I would be like if I stayed home - a Type A Missus who treats homemaking as a serious profession. She has an office where she films Birchbox openings and haul videos (which are all the more credible because she can afford to buy what she wants so she isn’t swayed by sponsorships) and wraps gifts. The wrapping paper behind her changes to reflect the season and upcoming holidays. Jenn also has a channel called OrganizedLikeJen where she shows people how to organize like a pro. These videos have changed the way I approach storage.
Jen is endearingly sweet and open about her struggle with social anxiety. She lunches with her mother at Neiman Marcus and gets excited by $5 eyeshadow. She shares my love of J. Crew and we have the same birthday. In the short time I’ve been watching her videos, her popularity seems to have grown. If I were Maker Studios, I’d be falling over myself to convince her to sign.
WARNING: Jen’s husband is a sweet nerd (again, a compliment) who lives to make her happy. If your own relationship is in a bad place, avoid her slice-of-life vlogs at all costs.
- OrganizedLikeJen magazine storage
- Jen’s Ulta haul
- Jen’s birthday vlog and birthday haul (her husband Don brought her presents/cake in bed and then they went shopping!)
- Disney vlog (skip to 16:46 to see her husband surprise her with an in-room Princess celebration)
This is another family (Mom Jinger, Dad Phil, and their three kids) that produces almost-daily slice-of-life vlogs. Their appeal is similar to that of the Shaytards (in fact, Jinger is Colette’s best friend from childhood.) They recently had the unfortunate experience of announcing their miracle pregnancy (Phil had recently had a vasectomy) and then having a miscarriage in realtime. Not only did it made for riveting viewing and make me a more compassionate person (nobody close to me has gone through something like this, and seeing it up close really breaks your heart), but it raised a challenging question around lifecasting.
Building up a base of loyal viewers through vlogging means sharing intimate details and never letting anyone think you’re hiding anything. What do you lose when you give up your privacy? When your vlogs are daily or almost-daily, it’s almost impossible to keep important news to yourself without betraying the trust of an audience who believes they are seeing an accurate depiction of someone’s life, warts and all. Does this make going through a tragedy more difficult? I’d say - judging from the outpouring of love and support during this family’s miscarriage (and a similar outpouring I witnessed when fellow lifecaster CharlesTrippy discovered a brain tumour and told his audience about it the same day) - no.
The audience a lifecaster builds isn’t looking to see them fail. They are “along for the ride.” They are also behind a screen. When something terrible happens, lifecasters aren’t facing the equivalent of being bombarded with the uncomfortable (but appreciated) IRL sympathy that can come from acquaintances. They receive thousands of tweets, wall posts and messages from people who are rooting for their happiness and success.
Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for now. Leave me an Ask Me Anything message (or contact me on Twitter @gillianlanyon) if you have any fave vloggers of your own to share.
- Celebrity 2.0 and YouTube’s New Studio System (gillianlanyon.com)