Fragrance

Redolessence

How Initially a Good Distraction Medium Becomes An Award-Nominated YouTube Channel.

Side Hustle
November 6, 2020
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Who are you and what kind of content do you create?

Hello! My name is Steven, and I have a YouTube channel called Redolessence! I review fragrances (which include men’s colognes and women’s perfumes), and I discuss all things fragrance related to my YouTube channel. I started my channel in 2012 when I realized that I would connect with a community of like-minded individuals on the online platform.  I found fascination with fragrances to be quite anomalous and idiosyncratic until I discovered the fragrance community on YouTube.  It didn’t take long before my mind was completely changed!

 

I have been into fragrances since I was ten years old.  My mother purchased me my first bottle of cologne when I was in elementary school. My first fragrance was CK Be by Calvin Klein. To this day, I still have a bottle of it in my collection for sentimental and nostalgic reasons.  By the time I made it to high school, I had about 30 bottles in my collection.  Fast forward to 2020, and I now have about 2,000 bottles in my collection! About 90%-95% of my collection consists of fragrances that I have purchased with my own money! I think it’s fair to say that this can be a bit of an expensive hobby!

 

 

While I am incredibly passionate about reviewing fragrances on YouTube, and I upload videos daily. I do get help from time to time.  I have been editing my videos for seven years, but I decided earlier this year to hire an editor.  As a father and husband, I really had to prioritize spending time with my family over spending hours a day in front of a computer screen (this is something I already do with my day job of being a teacher).  Luckily for me, my editor is also someone within the fragrance community, so he is up-to-snuff on all of the fragrance-related references and obscure fragrances/companies I mention in my reviews. However, I still edit all of my thumbnails, do my research, compile my lists, and establish my own connections.


My channel’s name is Redolessence, and this is a portmanteau of the words “redolent” and “essence.”  Redolent means having a smell, and essence has a duality of meaning.  On the one hand, it can mean the nature or quality of something, but it can also mean smell.  I combined the two to create a neologism that would eventually become my online persona and identity.  In hindsight, I probably should have gone with something more searchable and SEO-compliant, but I like that the name stands out and doesn’t sound too awkward!

Let's go down memory lane, tell us your backstory!

Ever since I can remember, I have always been fascinated with fragrances! If something had a smell, my nose was on it (haha)! Naturally, I was attracted to scents in the form of colognes and perfumes.  I honestly have my mother to thank for inspiring me to start a fragrance collection.  As I mentioned earlier in the interview, she is responsible for acquiring my first fragrance, which is CK Be by Calvin Klein.  While I don’t really wear that fragrance too much anymore, I still have a fond appreciation for designer fragrances, and I can spend hours in Macy’s, Sephora, or Bergdorf Goodman if you left me there to pass the time!

Starting the YouTube channel was very cathartic for me, but it was also done for escapism reasons.  In 2012, I was going through a tough time where I lost people close to me. Other family members were becoming ill, so creating content on YouTube allowed me to sublimate my feelings while providing me with a healthy distraction from the real world’s harshness. 

After reviewing several fragrances from my collection, requests for more reviews started to come in.  Since I had many fragrances in my collection, I figured I would review everything I owned (I still haven’t caught up). I have currently uploaded more than 1,300 videos on my channel, and I center much of my life and free time around fragrances.  I am a creative director of a perfume brand (Navitus Parfums). I have an award-nominated YouTube channel, and I have expert certification from The Fragrance Foundation. I am a brand ambassador for some of the most recognized perfume brands in the industry. I work as a fragrance consultant for several different companies.  It’s been a dream-come-true to be able to do what I do.  I don’t take a single second of it for granted.

How do you brainstorm ideas for your content and your advice in getting the creative juice flowing.

When it comes to curating content for my YouTube channel, I try to diversify content on my channel as much as possible.  While it would be simple to review a different fragrance every day, I know that people will eventually get tired of the same-old format.  For this reason, I try to expand my content as much as possible. This includes the top 10 lists, interviews with perfumers and creative directors, retrospective videos where I discuss older fragrances and whether or not I think they are still relevant today, giveaways, and more! I have an Excel spreadsheet set up where I document what video I will publish and how day I plan to publish it.  This allows me to be more decisive and productive when it comes to the material I film for the channel.

However, it’s also worth mentioning that this is not how I approached the channel initially. Initially, all I had to do was look at my collection and just pick a random fragrance to review (as long as I knew the fragrance well enough to review it).  I still occasionally find myself doing this as I find it to require less pressure, and it’s fun to do things in a whimsical, haphazard, and carefree manner from time to time!

 

What are the tools and platforms you use to help with your brand?

When it comes to the software I use to produce content for my YouTube channel, it is mostly based around Sony Vegas Pro and Adobe Photoshop.  All of the videos I edit are currently edited on Sony Vegas Pro (although my editor may use a different software), and my thumbnails are edited on Adobe Photoshop.  I shoot all of my videos on my phone, a Samsung Galaxy S10, and use a relatively inexpensive lavalier microphone purchased from Amazon to record the audio.  I find that umbrella lighting works best for me (ring lighting is reflected quite strongly on my glasses and makes me look like an alien!).

In terms of promotion, YouTube is the mother platform, but ancillary platforms include my Facebook group (Redolessence Reviews), Instagram, and Blogger. I occasionally use Rev.com to transcribe some of my more popular videos, and I post the text on my Blogger page.

What were your fears starting out? How did you handle it?

In the beginning, I took every comment personally.  I didn’t do well with criticism initially, so I would dwell on every last thing that was said to me.  I have to remind myself that all I do is make light-hearted videos in which I speak about scented water.  This isn’t something to be taken too seriously, and any militant commenters with negative sentiments are often ignored.  If the feedback is constructive, I always retain an open mind.  If I pick up on an undertone of intentional disrespect or intention to insult, the block button becomes my best friend. When someone allows himself/herself to become a public figure in such a way, he/she often becomes the subject of warranted or unwarranted criticism.  I have come to realize that YouTube is something that should be fun and not something to create unwanted stress.  Once it stops being fun, then I’m out.

A couple of quotes have helped me out along the way, and they are:

Empty pots make the loudest noise.
You will never be criticized by someone who is doing more than you.

How did you build your brand to where it is now, take us through your process.

In the beginning, it’s relatively easy to get discouraged.  It took a long time to get my first 100 subscribers.  I seemed to be making videos for the same 20 subscribers for many months with my first few dozen videos.  Once my channel started to gain visibility on the platform, the subscriptions grew exponentially.  Before I knew it, I had crossed the 1,000 subscribers threshold, and my channel currently stands at 132,000 subscribers. People value hard work, honesty, and consistency.  As long as you continue to grow as a content creator and remain true to yourself and the values you upheld when you first started, you will inevitably continue to grow.

For someone who wants to get into content creation, what is your advice?

When it comes to the type of content you choose to create, make sure it would interest you if you were on the other side of the screen.  For as long as we continue to speculate on what other people want to see, we become more distant and detached from the content we want to see.  This also might make the content come across as more impersonal and inauthentic.  Make sure you are always moved by the content that you create and feel the passion every time. 

Also, keep in mind that everyone comes into content creating from a different angle, and everyone has something different to offer.  Try to identify your niche and what makes you different from everyone else.  Do you have a unique background in the area in which you choose to create content? Is your content creation centered around your career? Do you live in a part of the world with a unique perspective on the topic you feature in your content?  There is value in what you bring to the table.  Embrace your uniqueness.

How did you finally commit to X platform rather than your regular day job?

While my level of involvement with YouTube is undoubtedly enough to encourage me to do it full time, I still haven’t quit my day job! By day, I am a high school English teacher.  I love what I do, and I know that teachers have a special responsibility to shape our youth’s minds and attitudes.  I don’t take this lightly, and I consider myself very privileged to be in this position.  Therefore, I will always aim to strike a balance between my day job and YouTube. 


However, I hope to one day reach a point where my YouTube channel provides me with the financial stability that will allow me to provide for my family in the most significant way.  I never do anything without first thinking about my family and the impact it will have on them.  I also understand that short term pain creates long term gain, and this allows me to keep my eye on the prize and not give up on my goals prematurely.  We must remind ourselves that not everything in life needs to be a sprint.  Run a marathon if you need to!

Tell us your best milestones in being a content creator.

While I consider each of my uploads on YouTube to be a milestone in and of themselves, there have been some memorable times throughout my journey as a content creator. One of which was being invited by the brand Tom Ford to attend a private dinner at the top of Rockefeller Center in New York City:

 

 

Another memorable moment was being nominated for Vlog of the Year by The Fragrance Foundation in 2018! In previous years, I also served as a judge on the Indie Fragrance of the Year panel for The Fragrance Foundation.  In 2019, I was contacted by an investment company and was given a chance to be a creative director for a perfume brand.  This has allowed me to visit countries like France, Spain, and Turkey, where I was given a chance to meet up with some of my favorite perfumers.   

 

I have also spoken on panels on the topic of fragrance (StyleCon, Menfluential, ScentXplore, etc.).  This has allowed me to connect with people face-to-face while sharing my passion for fragrances.

As a brand ambassador, I have also done events for some of the industry’s leading brands: Parfums de Marly, Initio Parfums, etc.

 

However, the most significant milestones and most memorable occasions are those where subscribers recognize me in person or when I receive comments being told that fragrances were purchased on my recommendation.  This is proof for me that my videos are having an impact on others.  I can’t even find the words to express the joy I feel when this happens!

What are your marketing strategies to grow your brand?

When I first started, I will admit that there is a lot more I could have done to get ahead.  I could have used SEO to my advantage. I could have invested in Google AdWords, and I could have used backlinks like they were going out of style.  I could have even cross-promoted a little bit more.

I am proud to say that the growth I have experienced was entirely organic, albeit slow.  My current marketing strategies include sharing my videos in my own Facebook group, occasionally sharing my videos on my Instagram page, sharing my videos on Blogger.com, and transcribing my videos on Rev.com. To remind me why I started my channel, I try not to treat my channel too much like a business.  While the ad revenue and the occasional sponsorship helps tremendously, I primarily treat my channel as a way to connect with like-minded individuals.  I enjoy contributing to and fostering a community of people who are obsessed with fragrances the way I am.

How do you handle brand deals and sponsorships?

I choose only to discuss brands on my channel about which I am passionate.  I make sure to thoroughly audit a brand and spend time with it before I recommend it to my subscribers.  Taste is subjective, so that people will feel differently about different fragrances. 

I am a “live and let live” kind of person, so I never contact others to initiate a brand deal/sponsorship. I am always at the receiving end of sponsorships. In other words, every sponsorship I have ever taken on has been initiated by the brand. Given my level of familiarity with so many perfume brands, I often already know about the brand and their offerings before they contact me for a review/sponsored post. Lastly, the most important thing is, to be honest with your audience and disclose every time a video is sponsored! This disclosure is not only the legal thing to do, but it’s the morally right thing to do to continue to foster trust and credibility with your audience.

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