Welcome to Creators on the Rise, where—in partnership with global creator company Jellysmack—we find and profile breakout creators who are in the midst of extraordinary growth.
When Alyssa McKay returned to YouTube in February 2021, she had a plan.
A full-time college student and content creator based in Portland, McKay started uploading personal vlogs to YouTube in 2018. The audience these videos amassed–around 40,000 subscribers–was nothing to sneeze at, but McKay couldn’t shake the feeling that unless she found her own niche, her unique “thing,” her content would never take off the way she wanted.
The problem? She had no idea what that “thing” could be.
Then, in 2020, amid a quarantine-induced national economic downturn that also saw incredible stock market gains, it dropped into her lap.
The rich girl.
The rich girl is McKay’s haughty, head-tossing alter-ego. She’s better than you and knows it. She doesn’t have time for bank errors, or Becca (her archnemesis in socialitedom), or other TikTokers threatening her queen bee status. And she especially doesn’t have time for boring college classes.
After the rich girl’s introduction, McKay’s TikTok engagement “exploded” with people following the character’s (mis)adventures, she says. In less than a year, her rich girl videos collectively netted more than one billion views, and her account grew from 2 million followers to 7 million.
McKay knew she’d found her “thing” on TikTok, but she wasn’t ready to give up on YouTube. So, she went back to The Network Effect, the digital marketing and talent agency that had been helping manage her TikTok account, and together they came up with a strategy: they would deploy McKay’s shortform rich girl content on YouTube Shorts.
The rich girl made her Shorts debut in February. Over the past three months, McKay and her team have dropped at least one rich girl video per week. As a result, her channel has gone from 40,000 total subscribers and 3.3 million views per month in February to 223,000 subscribers and 37.7 million views in March to, now, more than 350,000 subscribers and 70 million lifetime views.
McKay’s YouTube view and subscriber counts spiked in February and March. Data from Gospel Stats.
For McKay, the rich girl was her key to content creation as a career. But Shorts is the bridge that allowed her to turn her established success on TikTok into the foundation for a career on her very first home platform: YouTube.
Check out our chat with her below.
Tubefilter: Tell us a little about you! What’s your name? Where are you from? What do you get up to outside of YouTube?
Alyssa McKay: Hi everyone! It’s Alyssa! I am a proud born-and-raised Portland’er. Outside of creating original content, I am a full-time college student. I am working toward getting my degree in communications.
Some of my passions outside of school and content creation are fashion, sushi, and dogs. I absolutely adore Ayla, my mini long-haired English cream dachshund.
Tubefilter: When and why did you start a YouTube channel? Was there a specific reason? Was there a specific kind of content you wanted to make?
AM: I first started my YouTube channel in July 2018. When I first launched my channel, I was creating long-form vlogs/behind-the-scenes videos. I built an immediate audience of 40,000 subs.
Then, with the launch of the “rich girl” character and her shortform POVs and rap battles on TikTok, my channel literally exploded! At this point, these videos have over one billion views. My audience also went from 2M to 7M followers in one year.
I knew I would be back on YouTube with a vengeance once myself and my team at The Network Effect got a good sense of YouTube Shorts.
Tubefilter: Your channel has recently seen a huge spike in views and subscribers. When and why did it take off?
AM: We launched our specific YouTube Shorts strategy on February 12, while Shorts was still in beta in the U.S. I saw an immediate spike once the initial videos gained traction, which was pretty much right away!
Over the last 90+ days, I am so excited to say that my channel has gained over 300k subscribers and has seen over 70 million views. Sixteen of the 70 Shorts I have posted so far have over one million views each!
All my Shorts videos feature the “rich girl” in a variety of situations and scenarios . From POVs to rap battle to skits/shortform vlogs to miniseries. I am blown away every day by the amount of comments and votes on my Community tab polls. One has almost 100,000 votes.
Tubefilter: Why do you think the “rich girl” character caught on?
AM: The shortform POV videos that I create featuring the “rich girl” and her music/rap battles have initially done VERY well on YouTube. I think it is because of a few reasons.
First, I do believe that she has struck a chord with this generation. The audience gets to live vicariously through her quick bytes every day. I also think these music videos allow the audience to sing along to the lyrics and also recreate their own versions. It is amazing to see this take place. I love it!
Tubefilter: We’re seeing a lot of creators take off on YouTube Shorts. Do you think Shorts played a significant role in your channel’s engagement boost?
AM: I know it has played a significant role. I have really leaned into shortform content over the past two years across all platforms. With YouTube, I knew my audience was there–it was just about giving them the content in the brand-new way that YouTube is now offering within their product.
Tubefilter: What advantages does Shorts have versus long-form content on YouTube main? Does it have any advantages over platforms like TikTok and Snapchat?
AM: With Shorts, YouTube is providing the next generation with the content and experience that they have raised their hand for. I do think there is a place for BOTH long-form and shortform, and YouTube feels like that place.
And they have a massive global audience!
Tubefilter: Tell us a bit about using your Community tab. When did you decide to launch one? What perks does it offer for you and your subscribers? Is this an important part of your channel?
AM: My team at The Network Effect gave me an overview of the Community tab and how it was a great way to interact directly with my channel/subs. I posted my first poll where I asked everyone to vote on which Shorts they have liked the best and what their favorite of the last five were. The response has been nothing short of Amazing. 500K+ votes already.
Tubefilter: Has your recent engagement uptick changed anything for you? Do you have any new plans or goals for your content career?
AM: I absolutely LOVE what I am doing right now and extremely grateful for everything. I am very focused on continuing to build out the “rich girl” character and her story.
You never know what is going to happen with her next.
Tubefilter: What’s your favorite part of making content on YouTube?
AM: My favorite part of creating content on YouTube is the community. It is amazing to see the level of engagement and back-and-forth dialogue with everyone watching these videos.
Tubefilter: Are you making content on any other platforms, or are you mainly focused on YouTube?
AM: I create original content across all platforms that feature shortform content: YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram. I’ve also recently launched my customized Amazon Storefront, which I love. It really allows me to curate my favorites in fashion.
Tubefilter: What’s next for you and your channel?
AM: Great question! I love the journey that I am currently on. I’ll continue to create content that hopefully continues to make people laugh and smile!
Jellysmack is the global creator company that detects and develops the world’s most talented video creators. The company’s proprietary video optimization technology and data drive social audience growth, unlocking new revenue streams and amplifying monetization.
Currently home to over 150 influential Creators including PewDiePie, MrBeast, Brad Mondo, and Bailey Sarian, Jellysmack optimizes, operates, and distributes creator-made video content to Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube. Jellysmack-managed content boasts 10 billion global monthly video views and a cross-platform reach of 125 million unique U.S. users, making it the largest U.S. digital-first company in monthly social media viewers.
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