Almost five years ago Shannon Harris picked up a camera and started talking. With more than one million YouTube subscribers to date, she has become ingrained in the social media video blogging, or vlogging, sphere and has created for herself the household name Shaaanxo.
When a hobby turns into a full-time job you know you are on to a good thing. “I didn’t even know you could make a living off YouTube,” says Shannon. “One day I got an email from YouTube saying ‘We want to start monetising your content’ and I thought, ‘Is this spam?’ I just used my vlog as a hobby to meet new people who had the same interests as me.”
Shannon’s blogs are the most subscribed and viewed online shows for fashion and beauty in New Zealand. Through her YouTube channel the Palmerston North beauty teaches anyone with an internet connection all about the world of makeup and fashion. She also lends advice on cooking, exercise and wellbeing. If this weren’t enough, she also has her own ‘xoBeauty’ business line, all of which is just in a day’s work for the 22 year old.
I don’t think YouTube is ever going to fade away, it’s taking over
The secret to her success is something even Shannon can’t quite put her finger on. “I don’t really know. I try to be myself and that comes off quite genuine I suppose, rather than trying to be scripted or professional because I’m not a professional or a makeup artist, I’m just another girl in her bedroom doing makeup. I just try to be positive and happy. I think people like seeing happiness.”
“No one else I knew really liked makeup that much, so YouTube was a good outlet. I didn’t really have any goals at first, but I guess now it’s educating people about makeup in New Zealand because it’s not really a huge thing here. I’m just trying to inspire other people.”
The constant stream of videos, photos and updates is anything but ordinary and is inspired predominantly by feedback from her followers. “I like to cover a lot of different things so that it’s interesting all the time. A lot of my ideas are from my viewers; I’ll ask them for inspiration or what they want to see. That’s a huge part because obviously you want them to watch it.”
When working from home Shannon enjoys the flexibility of being able to “do whatever I feel like doing on that day”. “On a typical day I usually go straight to my computer and answer all my business emails; I get on average about 150 a day. Then I jump into filming and try to film one or two videos. In the afternoon I like to sit back and start some editing, do some social media updates and post photos that I’ve taken.”
“I have a separate room from where I film, which is different from my bedroom, but sometimes I’ll cart my computer out into the lounge and edit there just so it’s different, because it gets a bit hectic just working in the same area all the time.”
Her booming business, xoBeauty, is a professional brush and lash company that was developed in October 2012. “Makeup brushes are one of my favourite things because they are underrated in New Zealand. It is really hard to find good quality at a cheap price, so I thought there was a gap in the market. False eyelashes are something I just really love and I found I had so much fun designing them. It was just one of those things that came naturally to me.”
I try to be myself and that comes off quite genuine I suppose, rather than trying to be scripted or professional
At such a young age, Shaaanxo is taking her career one step at a time. “I can see myself doing what I’m doing throughout the majority of my life, but maybe not the exact same thing as what I’m doing right now. There is always room to do videos no matter where I am in life.”
“I also want to really focus on my business. As a hobby vlogging will always be there. I don’t think YouTube is ever going to fade away, it’s taking over. You are always going to get negative people so you’ve just really got to look past that and focus on positive people.”
Her advice to others is mainstream, but sincere. “Just follow your dreams. For me I was just your typical Palmy girl who didn’t have any special treatment or anything. I always knew I wanted my own business one day but never really knew what I wanted to do. I love makeup and doing makeup so I found an opening for my own opportunity. There is always a way.”