Welcome to Creators Going Pro, where in partnership with Semaphore — a creator-focused family of companies providing business and financial services to social media professionals — we profile professional YouTube stars who have hit it big by doing what they love. Each week, we’ll chat with a creator about the business side of their channel, including identifying their Semaphore Moment — the moment they truly went pro.
As a small-town Canadian, professionally trained makeup artist Jordi Dreher didn’t have much opportunity to wield her well-honed cosmetics skills in the offline world. She graduated from beauty school and was able to pick up the occassional freelance gig doing makeup for weddings and photoshoots, but couldn’t find steady enough work to build what she loved doing into a full-time career. Then she started posting online.
Beginning with Instagram and moving to YouTube once she realized there was a steady demand for her video tutorials, Dreher (aka itslikelymakeup) found the opportunity she needed. Her career has since led to partnerships and product deals with companies like NYX and Furless Cosmetics — as well as the upcoming launch of her own company, Likely Makeup.
For the past few months, Dreher’s YouTube channel — which has 669,000 subscribers — has been quieter than she likes. In the past, she’s taught viewers everything from full-face galaxy makeup to how winter can affect foundation to how to master perfect winged eyeliner. She’s open about why her YouTube content production has decreased: she has anxiety, depression, and chronic pain that all sap her energy, as well as two kids and a burgeoning business to manage. But despite the relative slowdown of content, her channel still nets between 600,000 and one million views per month.
Over on Instagram, where she has 344,000 followers, Dreher gives folks regular glimpses of her latest makeup collaborations. The newest is a lip gloss shade she created with Furless Cosmetics, a company that, like Dreher, is committed to making products that aren’t tested on animals.
As Dreher heads into 2019, she plans to debut Likely Makeup’s first product — which is a secret — along with a set of faux lashes. She’s also looking forward to getting back to her YouTube channel. She recently sat down with Tubefilter to chat about how she decided to launch her online presence into a full-time business.
Tubefilter: Tell us a bit about your background. How did you get into makeup? Did you follow any YouTube makeup artists before becoming one yourself?
Jordi Dreher: I was born in 1989, which means I’ll be 30 next month. (Yikes!) I was raised in a town where the population of humans was less than cows.
My first makeup memory is from when I was around four years old. Blue eyeshadow and red lipstick from my kids’ makeup kit. I realized from a very young age that I could take my love for art and put it on my face. I used it as a form of therapy. I attended makeup school in Vancouver, B.C., and graduated in 2008. From then on, I did a lot of freelance makeup for photoshoots and weddings, but living in a small town, there wasn’t a lot of opportunity to be creative, and I only ever got to do fun makeup on my own face. Back when I was really getting into makeup, I didn’t know about YouTube, and I don’t think I saw a makeup tutorial until around 2014.
Tubefilter: Why did you decide on YouTube as the place to share your content? What were your goals for your channel when you joined YouTube?
JD: I started an Instagram so I could share the looks that I did for weddings and the looks I did on myself. It gave me an excuse to be more creative with my own makeup. 90% of the comments on my photos became, “Is there a YouTube tutorial for this?” At first, I had no interest in starting a channel, but eventually decided to give it a try. When I realized that people were actually learning and benefiting from my videos, I was super inspired to create more. My goal for my channel then became about inspiring people, letting people know it was okay to wear different makeup, and get creative.
Tubefilter: Can you chat a little about how Likely Makeup came about? How did you hit the point where you decided to go from makeup artist to brand creator?
JD: My partner is a business guy — a media strategist, to be exact. When we put our heads together and realized that with his business knowledge and my creativity, we could create a brand, we knew that the direction we should go in together. It just made sense! I have a large audience that trusts my opinion on products, and I want to create things that I am proud to share with them!
Tubefilter: You’re about to launch your first product, and you have a second product, Likely Lashes, in development. Tell us a little about the nuts and bolts of creating makeup.
JD: I had no idea how hard it would be to find the components for makeup, let alone someone to create the perfect formula. And I didn’t expect the production cost to be as high as it is. I wanted to create something that was super on-brand for my image, and lashes are kind of my thing. They were a cost-effective product to launch with, and an easier product to make. We’re hoping to fund our first makeup product with the lash line.
Tubefilter: When did you get your first check for online video revenue? How much was it for? What about your first check outside of AdSense $?
JD: I think my first AdSense payment was $10. I have zero memory of when this actually happened! Outside of AdSense — again, my memory is terrible — I think was a commission check for around $50 from a makeup brand that provided me with an affiliate code.
Tubefilter: Speaking of working with brands, have you partnered with any notable companies? Had any sponsorships?
JD: I’ve been lucky enough to work with a lot of my favorite brands. I’ve done videos for Nyx Professional Makeup, and am currently the face for their new lip product. It’s my first time having my face on display in stores, so that’s surreal and exciting! I’ve done videos for quite a few beauty brands and fashion brands, and they all reached out to me, which makes me feel so special!
Tubefilter: How many people work with you behind the YouTube scenes, and behind the scenes at Likely Makeup? Do you have a network or talent manager?
JD: I film and edit everything on my own. I don’t think I could ever let anyone edit my videos. I wouldn’t say I’m a perfectionist in any sense, but I am very particular. I feel like I would lose a little bit of my style if I let anyone help. It’s actually something in life that I need to work on. Ha!
Likely Makeup is just me and my partner Luke. (For now!)
My channel is managed by BBTV (but mostly my girl Alex!). She seeks out extra sponsored work and cool opportunities for me. BBTV provides me with music for my videos, a travel budget, a merch store, and any help that I need in regards to my YouTube.
Tubefilter: What’s your YouTube production schedule like? Do you have a set filming and uploading schedule?
JD: Another thing I need to work on is a schedule. I have two kids, so finding the time to film is tricky. I don’t have a room in my house where I film, so I can’t close the door and make a video. To film, I need the house to be quiet, which doesn’t happen very often. Someday, I would love to have an uploading schedule, but I can’t see it happening in the near future.
Tubefilter: Is it difficult to balance your time and creative energy between YouTube and managing Likely Makeup?
JD: The holidays were super busy, and I’ve been struggling with a connective tissue disorder that causes chronic pain, so my YouTube has suffered, but having Likely Makeup to work on in the background has kept me sane and creative. It’s also inspired me to get back into filming! I have unlimited creative energy, but my actual energy suffers quite regularly with anxiety, depression, and chronic pain.
Tubefilter: What was that Semaphore Moment for you—the first time you realized you were a professional YouTuber?
JD: I still don’t feel like a professional YouTuber! Especially when I go to YouTube events and talk to other creators. I feel like a makeup artist who happens to have a camera!
Tubefilter: When did you really feel like you’d found your audience as a YouTuber? How did you grow that audience?
JD: When I first started making videos, I felt like I had to keep it pretty minimal. Doing natural looks, smokey eyes, nothing too out there. When I started to express myself more and show my creative side, I found the audience that I vibed with. By doing whatever I wanted, my audience grew organically of like-minded, creative people.
Tubefilter: How has being a YouTuber affected your makeup creator career, and vice-versa?
JD: Since there were never any creative jobs in the small town I live in, and doing bridal makeup over and over and over wasn’t making me happy, I was able to quit freelancing and focus on building a channel and a brand. I think the skills that I learned while doing client makeup makes it easier for me to answer makeup-related questions for different skin types, face shapes, and styles.
Tubefilter: What’s next for you, your channel, and Likely Makeup? What are you building toward?
JD: I’m really determined to start pumping out more creative makeup on my channel and put out way more content. I hope that Likely Makeup grows into a successful cosmetics brand for creative people and fills gaps in the makeup market.
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