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.
Two years ago, Jenna Sinatra and Will DeVane were bored. Like millions of other high school students, they were stuck at home during early COVID lockdowns, and looking for some way–any way–to entertain themselves.
And, again, like millions of other teens, they found themselves on TikTok.
But for Sinatra and DeVane, scrolling endlessly through dance trends, challenges, cat content, and memes wasn’t enough. They wanted to make their own videos–and they knew just where to start.
Sinatra, who’s 18, and DeVane, who’s 19, grew up in the same small New Jersey town. DeVane is Sinatra’s brother’s childhood best friend, but the two of them didn’t talk much until high school. By the time 2020 came around, they’d become a couple, and as they watched more and more content together during lockdowns, they found what they figured was a gap in the creator economy.
Anyone who’s been on TikTok or YouTube knows that couple channels is an expansive, crowded genre, with thousands of couples vying for viewers’ attention. Sinatra and DeVane saw that lots of these channels are helmed by people in their mid to late twenties and upward–firmly in millennial territory.
They could distinguish themselves, they figured, by offering couple content from a “Gen Z perspective,” following them from their lives as high schoolers to, now, their lives as college students, with Sinatra majoring in education and DeVane majoring in business and finance.
How’s that strategy paying off for them? Well, over the past two years, Sinatra’s TikTok account has gone from zero to 1.6 million followers, and currently brings more than 23 million views per month, with an average of 442,000 views per video. DeVane’s account, meanwhile, has 1.4 million followers and brings 31+ million views per month, with an average of 500,000 views per video.
Over on their shared YouTube channel, the duo has gathered 558,000 subscribers, and grown from getting 440,000 views in their first month of doing YouTube Shorts–March 2021–to bringing more than 86 million views in February 2022, and 83 million views last month.
Check out our chat with Sinatra below.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Tubefilter: Where did you two grow up? How did you meet?
Jenna Sinatra: We grew up in a small town in New Jersey, and he was actually my brother’s friend growing up. We never really interacted until high school.
Tubefilter: Did you end up on TikTok first or YouTube first?
JS: We actually ended up on TikTok first. Like everyone else, we were bored in quarantine, and we were seeing the content everyone was creating. And we knew of so many couples’ channels that were over the age of 20, and family channels. And we were like, “We could be that younger couple, with the Gen Z perspective.”
Tubefilter: Had you wanted to do content creation before quarantine, or did you get the idea during the pandemic?
JS: We got the idea during the pandemic. We were really bored and we just started making silly challenges. And then we started getting comments like, “Oh, I want to be in a couple like this.” So we just started doing more and more.
Tubefilter: What was the first video you had that took off?
JS: I finally convinced Will into it, and he made this video of what it was like on a run. So it was us going on a run together, and it was him three laps in and I was still on my first lap. It took off and we were so shocked.
Tubefilter: So how long have you been on TikTok now?
JS: We’ve been on TikTok for two years.
Tubefilter: How have things changed for you, personally and professionally, over the past two years?
JS: We’ve learned so many things being on TikTok. We never really had any knowledge in this aspect of social media, and we’ve just learned so much. We love it.
Tubefilter: When did you start working with The Network Effect?
JS: Probably about a year ago. They’ve helped us so much with different content mixes and diversified us across all platforms.
Tubefilter: Speaking of, you’re also on YouTube. Why did you decide to expand to YouTube?
JS: We got a couple comments about how, “Oh, you guys should make a YouTube channel.” And we were like, “I don’t know if we’re made for that.” But then we figured, let’s do it. We’ve always looked up to people on YouTube growing up, so we were like, let’s try it.
You see so much more personality through YouTube rather than on TikTok, or Snapchat, there’s such short videos. And YouTube is so stressful because you have to really understand the short-form and the long-form. And you get to see someone’s personality.
Tubefilter: Do you feel like YouTube is more difficult to do than TikTok?
JS: It’s definitely more work, just because of the editing, and you have to put more time into it. But it’s definitely way more rewarding, and so much more fun, in our opinion.
Tubefilter: Have you noticed any difference in your audience on TikTok and your audience on YouTube? Is your audience on YouTube more engaged? Is your audience on TikTok more engaged?
JS: The connections we grow with people on YouTube versus TikTok are so much stronger and we just love the connections that we have with our supporters on YouTube rather than on TikTok. It’s so much more special.
Tubefilter: Your YouTube channel is newer than your TikTok, and it’s growing pretty rapidly. Do you had any videos take off there that you’ve noticed?
JS: So we were averaging probably like 20,000 to 50,000 views on YouTube, and then we started trying to do Vlogmas in December. It was definitely extremely difficult, but one videos we had made generated…I think now it has 300,000 views. It was our first YouTube video that actually took off.
Tubefilter: What video was that?
JS: I tested [Will] on female products. But that’s not Shorts—we had Shorts before that. And one of our Shorts has over 30 million views. It’s our biggest viewed video. And we were so shocked at even generating that many views on a video on YouTube. It was so cool.
Tubefilter: Do you like Shorts? Do you think Shorts is good for creators?
JS: Yeah, 100%.
Tubefilter: Can you talk a little bit more about that, because we know you guys do a mix of short- and long-form, so it’s interesting to hear your perspective.
JS: Before we started doing Shorts, I think we had about 40,000 subscribers. We started Shorts about a year ago, and we’ve gotten over 518,000 subscribers from where we started off before then.
Tubefilter: So currently YouTube is your main platform, or do you balance YouTube and TikTok?
JS: We try to work hard across all platforms, but our main focus is YouTube right now.
Tubefilter: Do you make the same short-form content for YouTube and TikTok, or do you make different videos for each platform?
JS: The same, yeah.
Tubefilter: As you mentioned, there are tons and tons and tons of couple and family channels on YouTube. How have you worked to distinguish yourselves as a couple channel?
JS: We show what it’s like, our perspective in school as college students, and prior being high school students, and how we go about our relationship and our lifestyle. We just show the average college student’s life, while also being on social media, and in a relationship.
Tubefilter: How do you two balance the work that goes on behind the scenes? Does one of you edit, does one of you do more filming…?
JS: Both do equal filming, and then I just do a lot of the YouTube editing.
Tubefilter: How do you come up with ideas? Do you brainstorm together?
JS: We normally brainstorm together, and we get ideas from other people as well.
Tubefilter: How long does the average video take for you to make?
JS: It takes a long time. I would say probably editing across the week is probably up to like 15 hours total. Just filming a video is like 20 minutes, or it can range from like 30 minutes to an hour. And then editing is a whole ’nother part.
Tubefilter: It sounds like you put a lot of thought and a lot of time into editing. Is that a very important part of content creation for you?
JS: Yeah, because I feel a video is changed so much by how it’s edited. You want to have people enjoy your content, and want to stay and watch. And I think editing has so much to do with that. I love making it and making people laugh and smile. This is my favorite part.
Tubefilter: Are you a self-taught editor, or how did you learn?
JS: I was actually in a TV production class in high school, and I learned there. So I was very lucky I took that class. And I have learned and grown more since we started.
@jennasinatra ahahaha @willdevane ♬ original sound – braest13
Tubefilter: You’re both in college right now. What are your majors?
JS: I’m majoring in education and Will’s majoring in business and finance.
Tubefilter: Are the two of you planning to go into jobs and go into careers? Or do you want to stick with doing social media full-time?
JS: Our goal is to definitely take social media to be our full-time job in the future, but depending on how much we grow and if we’re able to do that, it’ll depend if we get other jobs within our major.
Tubefilter: How do you balance your time right now, between school and social media and having a life?
JS: We have our school scheduled in the morning, so we have our time together for social for the afternoon. That’s kinda how we found time. We wish our weekends could be relaxing, but our weekends are full of content creating. We look forward to it, though. It’s definitely a lot of work to put in, but we have fun doing it and it’s a huge reward.
Tubefilter: Do you tend to film videos in batches and then release them over the week? Or do you film the video that you’re going to put out today, today?
JS: We do it both ways. We’re still trying to decide what we like more, but we do sometimes make four TikToks in one day and then the next week we’ll do one each day and spread it out like that. We still don’t know which way we like doing it better. Sometimes when we do more videos in one day, it makes it not as fun.
Tubefilter: Do you have a set publication schedule?
JS: We don’t have a set publication schedule, besides YouTube. With YouTube, we post every Sunday at 10:00 a.m. I like having that set time because we give our supporters like a time to know when it’ll be published. And then we do four Shorts every day.
Tubefilter: Have you had any brand deals or any sponsorships? Any companies you’ve worked with?
JS: We just did our first promotion with Logitech, which was super cool. A big computer company. We’re trying our best to get more big brand sponsorships. So that’s what we’re trying to work for.
Tubefilter: Is there anything you’re looking forward to in the next few months?
JS: We’re super excited for summer, because our content right now is kind of hard to make since it’s winter here. New Jersey’s cold, and we can’t get out.
@jennasinatra lol @willdevane #comedy #couple ♬ original sound – Complex
Tubefilter: Is there anything else that you feel like readers should know, or that you would want your audience to know about you?
JS: We really enjoy what we do and we love the connections. We love that we’re able to know people all across the world. When I get comment saying “love from India” or “love from Ukraine” or love from wherever, it’s so awesome that we can just have connections with people all over the world.
Tubefilter: Would you ever want to do travel content, once traveling is a thing again?
JS: Yes! I actually was just talking about this with Will. This is something we want to put out, something we want to do next year, starting in January. Every single month, I want to be blindfolded or Will will be blindfolded, and we want to pinpoint a spot and state in the U.S. Each month of the year we want to travel to a different state, which will be super cool for our YouTube and TikTok and everything. We feel like it’ll be great for our content being more interesting too—keeping people on their feet, wondering where we’re gonna go next.
Tubefilter: What’s one thing you’ve done that’s had a major effect on your growth as creators?
JS: Be ourselves. We love people seeing our true personalities and how we act around each other. We’re very goofy people, which I think helps with making our videos entertaining. We just love people seeing our true selves.
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