When YouTube was first launched, most people who uploaded videos did so as a hobby. Now, there are people who are making a living out of this activity, with some even making millions. While some people have had instant success with their YouTube endeavors and have instantly gained subscribers and made money, for others it has taken a lot of time and effort before they can enjoy the same level of success. One person who is the perfect example of this is Brandon Rogers, who began uploading on YouTube in 2006 and is only now reaping the rewards of his efforts.
Brandon Rogers is an American comedian, actor, director, and YouTuber who was born in Hayward, California, on August 3, 1988. He first started acting as a child but did not land any major auditions. In his teens, he attended college in Livermore, California, and it was then that he tried his hand at acting again. Although he went to many auditions for small films, he did not get a call back for any. In 2006, at the age of 18, he realized that the only way he could appear on screen was if he wrote, directed, and starred in his own films. Surprisingly, this love for filmmaking led to him experiencing a bout of success while still at college. He managed to sell out theaters in Livermore, Hollywood, and Vacaville. Furthermore, his work featured at the Guggenheim Museum in New York and at several international festivals.
Youtube's Humble Beginnings
Unfortunately, his YouTube work was not enjoying the same level of success. He spent ten years uploading videos to the social media site with very little success. According to Wikitubia, the YouTube Wiki, Rogers creates a range of sketches, vlogs, and web series. His work is described as dark humor and often focuses on topics that often crass, controversial, and offensive in nature. His work has been compared to that of Sacha Baron Cohen in terms of style. Some of his most popular characters include Mr. Rimmer, Dorian Ditsen, Grandpa, Timmy, Hall Monitor Helen, Marisol De La Gorgonzola, and Mom.
One of Rogers’ earlier jobs was creating videos for a Los Angeles-based personal injury law firm. After three years of making these videos with a cameraman, they decided to satirize them and upload them to YouTube, says Wikipedia. These also did not attract much attention to Rogers at first. That was until one of his fans decided to post clips of his videos to Vine, a platform that is now defunct. A wider audience saw Rogers’ videos and Vine drove traffic to his YouTube site. This was the point when his fortunes started to change, and he finally began to get subscribers on YouTube.
Rise to Fame
Business Insider tells the story of his rise to stardom in more detail. Rogers told Business Insider that he hit rock bottom in his mid-20s after trying for seven years to make a success of himself on YouTube and only achieving a few thousand followers. He packed his bags and decided to leave his hometown of Livermore on the outskirts of the San Francisco Bay Area and to move to Los Angeles. His main concern was that he would get left there alone. His friends had already graduated from college and moved on with their lives. Compared to everyone around him, Rogers’ achievements seemed minimal and his YouTube channel futile. Although his fortunes have changed significantly since he started the YouTube channel back in 2006, he has experienced highs and lows along the way.
Rogers spoke to Business Insider about the work he did for a personal injury law firm that led to him beginning his YouTube career. The job involved him making documentary-style videos that captured a day in the life of the law firm’s client following their injury. The idea was to make their horrific life seem even more horrific to convince a jury that they deserve a large compensation payment. This was Rogers’ job for three years, and he worked alongside Gonzalez, the cameraman. During this time, he started to get inspiration from spending time with the clients. He realized that there was the potential to take some of the compelling stories he had heard and to take them beyond the context of the courtroom. He suggested to Gonzalez that they began making satirized versions of the videos for YouTube, where Rogers had already been posting video content for a decade.
One of the major problems that Rogers and many other YouTubers has experienced is working out what viewers and what will attract their attention. He thought he had cracked it when he came up with the idea for the satirized versions of the legal videos. Unfortunately, they were not the big hit that he had initially expected. Rogers also tried using different platforms to attract more attention to himself with varying degrees of success. In the end, it wasn’t his personal efforts to launch himself that gave him the boost he needed. When a fan posted clips of Rogers on Vine, his work went viral. However, there was still a big problem that meant he was still not a success.
The clip that the fan posted of Rogers was of him playing his Grandpa character. Unfortunately, nobody knew that it was an actor playing the part and Rogers was not credited in the clip. The fan started posting more clips of Rogers in various characters. Again, Rogers was not credited in the clips, so nobody knew who he was. People didn’t even realize it was the same guy playing all the different characters as he looked so different when he took on the roles of each of them.
Rogers has said that once of the worst times of his life was when he started going out to restaurants and seeing people wearing T-shirts with his characters’ quotes emblazoned on them. The fact that nobody knew it was him and his work was agony for the YouTuber. It was some fellow YouTubers who finally brought an end to the misery that Rogers was suffering. The Fine Brothers are some of the original superstars of YouTube, and it was they that began to connect the dots between the videos that were being posted online. They realized that it was the same actor in all of the clips posted Vine and recognized that Brandon Rogers was the creator thanks to the various memes. They made a video compiling clips of Rogers and credited him for the work in the video.
Growing Fanbase and Current Success
Thanks to the Fine Brothers acknowledging his work on Vine, others then realized it was the same actor and creator. Rogers then began to get fans and followers in his own right, not just as an anonymous person posted by someone else. This stopped him having negative feelings towards his work being taken and used, he says. It also led to him gaining 27,000 followers in a single night, and this was not the end of the positive repercussions of him finally being recognized for his work. He continued to increase his following online at a rapid rate. Rogers has said that the main reason his fanbase grew so quickly after the Fine Brothers video was that he had so much work already out there. He had accumulated 10 years of videos on his channel that people could plow their way through. He had videos showcasing lots of different characters and styles, so there are things to appeal to a diverse audience.
He also landed a show on Fullscreen, a subscription service. Although that was one of the highlights of Rogers’ online success, it soon came to an end as both Vine and Fullscreen are now defunct services. Rogers remembers when he landed the Fullscreen show. This happened in 2016, just one year after he started to become famous. Rogers was already taking a lot of meetings with people interested in his work when the digital studio Super Deluxe gave him a call. Rogers met the CEO of the studio in his office and was immediately offered his own show. Apparently, the studio wanted something with comedy that pushed the limits.
By the end of the successful meeting, Rogers was the showrunner for his own show and was given almost complete autonomy over the content. The show was called ‘Magic Funhouse’, and the premise was a children’s show with a dysfunctional production team. Although the show was new and had Rogers as his own showrunner, Super Deluxe gave him a very generous production budget, and the show had 150 people working on it. Things were not quite a smooth-running as Rogers had hoped they would be after being given autonomy over the show.
He described how there were regular meetings and it was being run like a television series, but without anyone knowing what they were doing. He had been hired to create the show because they wanted something that pushed the boundaries, but they were then asking him to dial it down. Throughout the production of the show, Rogers felt frustrated on many occasions as he didn’t think things were going his way. Rogers felt that too much effort was being put into the production and not enough focus was on the writing of the show.
The show was run on Fullscreen until 2017 when it was announced that the subscription service was shutting down. Despite this setback, Rogers’ life had already begun to improve and his effort on YouTube seemed less futile. Having his work on Vine and Fullscreen had increased his exposure and had driven traffic to his YouTube site. In turn, this led to an increase in his YouTube channel subscriptions. It also led to him having one of the first shows on the Watch platform on Facebook.
Reaching 5 million subscribers
By November 2018, Rogers’ life had changed significantly, and his YouTube channel had a whopping 4.5 million subscribers. This put him amongst the top YouTubers based on views and subscriptions. He was also nominated for a Streamy Award in the comedy category. This was recognition for his achievements. Since then, Brandon Rogers has achieved even greater success as he had over five million subscribers to his YouTube channel by April 2019. Of course, this means that he has also begun to reap the financial rewards of his efforts. However, it is difficult to determine exactly how much he is making from his work.
Despite this uncertainty, estimates of his personal net worth have risen significantly. Throughout 2018, the estimates grew from a mere $300,000 to over $1 million. According to Nail Buzz, it is now believed that the YouTuber has an estimated personal net worth of $1.7 million. While it may seem that he has enjoyed an astronomic rise in success if you only take into account the period from when he went viral in 2016, it has actually taken him 13 years of hard work to get where he is now.
Now that he is one of the best-known and most successful YouTubers, there is a chance for him to earn even more money from his endeavors. He can do this by continuing to increase his subscriptions, and by endorsing products on his vlogs and web series. It is also possible that he could increase his fortunes by more offers of work as his increase in popularity could create a variety of opportunities for this talented man. Rogers sometimes looks back on the decade he was an unsuccessful YouTuber and remembers how he felt that he was a failure and had let down his family. He admits that sometimes he would go home at the end of the day and cry. From that period of his life to his life now, things couldn’t be more different, and Rogers has a bright future ahead of him.
Written by Liz Flynn
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