I began as a makeup artist and fashion guru on YouTube, so that’s the niche I have studied and have been sharing with my followers since 2009. But when I moved to LA in 2017, I was exposed to a network of creators that I could film with, so I branched out to pranks and comedy on TikTok and Facebook, and the videos took off. Nothing happens overnight, but it’s important to try every opportunity and platform, instead of limiting yourself.
What began as a hobby (I had brands send me makeup, skincare, clothes, etc. in exchange for video exposure) turned into a full-time job (where I get sponsorships from brands I love and become one of their representatives).
Being a one-person show is definitely time-consuming. I am the one who films, edits, produces the video ideas, directs, and puts on makeup/hair. Moreover, I am also the talent on camera, and at the same time I also do all the emails, and manage and negotiate with the brands.
The reason I came up with K3chocolate is that when we were making our MySpace names, a lot of my friends choose usernames that represented them, adding a number to the end and I wanted to be different and put a number in the middle (my favorite number 3) after my first name initial K. Then I had to add something on and I thought about my username as I sat next to my best friend, who suggested I put chocolate because I loved chocolates and candy. And when I wanted to create a channel on YouTube, I immediately thought of my MySpace name.
It didn’t occur to me at the time that I might film YouTube videos later. But once I had the YouTube name, I had some fake accounts pop up on Plenty Of Fish and Facebook, so with Instagram coming up at the time, I wanted to keep my YouTube username the same across all platforms, including Facebook, TikTok, etc. Even though I began as a makeup artist/fashion guru, my true passion is dance and fitness, so I would love my brand to follow what I believe in.
A little bit about my back story… I began filming my first videos using my laptop’s webcam, but later invested in a professional camera, lighting, and editing software like Final Cut. But nowadays with our phones shooting in 4k, one doesn’t even need a professional camera.
I began filming YouTube videos when I started following the OG beauty YouTubers like Michelle Phan and Blair & Elle Fowler, who filmed their videos in their bedrooms. After I realized that they weren’t professionals either, I decided to start filming videos myself. So those OG YouTubers were my inspiration to start. My first videos included try-on fashion hauls and makeup tutorials. Just go for it!
I get my inspiration for videos from content I see on various platforms (including videos and memes), as well as everyday situations that my friends and I find funny. I jot down the ideas and meet up with my friends to shoot our TikTok skits. In addition to the funny skits with my friends, I still film beauty and fitness videos on my own.
If I get a block or my mind is on something else besides filming, I still post content for my followers. These can be videos I’ve filmed but haven’t posted yet or older videos that may need to be reposted. That’s better than disappearing from the online world completely. If I hit a mental block, I give myself time on my own to relax, draw, paint and watch movies that I love to put myself in a creative mindset.
I use Final Cut to edit all my videos. At first, I used iMovie (which is free), before upgrading to Final Cut (which you have to buy). But you don’t have to spend any money if you don’t want to. There are plenty of editing apps these days that are free.
My platforms include YouTube, Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, Discord (I’m K3chocolate on all of them), Snapchat (KristinaUA), and Linked In (Kristina Urribarres). I don’t use any apps to help me post on schedule. I post everything myself.
I was very comfortable in front of the camera and I didn’t care what other people who apparently didn’t get my videos, thought. I lived in Virginia and I was in college when I started my YouTube channel in 2009. There is no filming there like there is in LA, especially back then. So a lot of people didn’t understand what I was doing at the time.
But when I moved to LA and YouTube started catching on, those same people from Virginia would reach out to me to help them with their YouTube channel.
Just because others don’t see your vision, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep going!
When I started on YouTube, I only had my webcam and the free iMovie editing app. No fancy equipment and natural window lighting. I didn’t know anyone who was also doing YouTube videos in Virginia or elsewhere, so I didn’t have any mentors. I learned to edit as I went and I learned about branding, marketing, affiliate programs, etc. on my own.
These days, there are so many tutorials online and tools to help you get a start. I still film, edit and do my own marketing. But I also enjoy filming with others (versus the makeup tutorials I filmed on my own) when we come up with skits and shoot funny content together. It’s great to be among others who think alike.
I saw some traction for my content when my YouTube, Facebook, and TikTok videos hit millions of views per video. That’s definitely encouraging, but consistency is key. Keep posting and trying different things when you are starting out! Personally, I found that my best videos are different depending on the platform. On YouTube, my try-on hauls do the best while people on Facebook and TikTok like my comedy content.
I wish I had a mentor when I started. So I would recommend learning from someone who has experience in what you want to be doing; maybe even collaborating with them. Personally, moving to LA and collaborating with other creators has helped me with my content. But you can do it on your own too; it really depends on the type of content you do. Some beauty gurus film YouTube tutorials on their own and some guys on Twitch game on their own and they do very well in their respective fields.
I started my YouTube channel while working full-time and putting myself through college classes full-time as well. I graduated from university with a bachelor’s of science degree in Psychology and I had more time to pursue my hobbies. When I started getting paid (versus free product) is when things began to change. If you decide to quit your “regular” job, put all your time into creating content and discipline yourself. Being your own boss definitely requires dedication and time management, so you don’t get side-tracked into partying, etc.
One of the drawbacks I had was starting out my YouTube journey on my own. I was the only YouTuber in my 757 area and I didn’t have a mentor. I had to learn to film, edit and do the marketing all on my own. Nowadays, jobs in social media are more common and it’s easier to find all the materials you need online. I wish I had a mentor or someone to show me the way when I was starting out. But I’m glad I learned to do everything, instead of relying on someone to edit for me, for example.
Receiving my YouTube plaque was very exciting. But it was also very exciting to see some of my videos do really well (my shampoo prank video hit 100 million views on Facebook and my cake prank hit 20 million views on TikTok, for example). Reaching a wide audience is always exciting!
Consistency in posting is key and collaborating with other creators is always a plus. Growing your network and collaborating on videos helped me once I moved to LA. Even if you don’t live in an area with other creators, you can collaborate long-distance too. I’ve done comedy skits for TikTok with other creators in person, but I also held beauty giveaways that I collaborated with other makeup artists with for YouTube (which doesn’t need us to film in the same space).
I’ve worked with many brands over the years. They find my YouTube videos and reach out to me via email. Living in LA and meeting brands in person by attending events has helped me as well. But you can certainly reach out to brands yourself as well. Social media has helped creators by cutting out the middle man, so a creator can DM the brand on their own. I’m always eager to work with brands that I already use and believe in, but it’s fun to learn about new up-and-coming brands that email me as well. I haven’t had a manager yet that would take care of ALL my emails, so I answer them myself. I have been signed with an agency and an MCN though, so I’ve gotten a few brand deals that way as well.
Your monthly income is directly correlated to how much work you are willing to put into finding and negotiating brand deals, filming, and editing new content, among others. The more work you put in, the more you will make :)