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INTERVIEW: Michael Cost on creating YouTube content & growing #YouTubeZA conversation


INTERVIEW: Michael Cost on creating YouTube content & growing #YouTubeZA conversation

Photo: supplied/Michael Cost

So what does it take to be a YouTuber? And how do you make it a cool thing and even make good money out of it?
Well, we recently caught up with SA’s very own popular YouTuber – Michael Cost to chat about creating YouTube content, it’s community and his weekly Twitter conversation #YouTubeZA.

What are 3 things Michael Cost is known for?

Michael Cost is known for being creative, proudly South African and, most importantly, he is known for calling his Subscribers and Followers ‘Bananas’!


When did you start being a YouTuber?

I technically started 5 years ago on May 19, 2012, when I uploaded acapella rap covers of Tyga (Rack City) and Die Antwoord. It took me a year to come to my senses and deleted those covers. I decided that I needed to start spreading a positive South African message online as I felt that this was not being done. So I officially started being a YouTuber 4 years ago and as of this year, I am a full-time YouTuber.


What do you chat or discuss on your videos?

My YouTube channel aims to showcase South African culture, comedy and urban life not only for South Africans to enjoy but the rest of the world as well. My videos tackle all things South African paired with a strong positive message.


Are you making good money with YouTube?

This is a question I receive constantly which baffles me. I would never go into a Doctor’s room or a Lawyers office and ask them, ‘how much money do you make?’ but, being a full-time content creator, many people do not fully understand what that means and the ways in which someone can earn money working in this new industry. I am making money as most people are making money in their respected jobs but the question I prefer is, ‘Are you able to follow your passions?’ and the answer would be YES!


Photo: supplied/Michael Cost


Can one consider being a YouTuber as a career and still make a killing ($$) out of it?

I think there is this false notion of what a YouTuber is and how much a YouTuber makes. You constantly see blog posts and news articles stating how much YouTubers make but this is a gross misconception and false hopes that are sold to people. When we hear the word ‘YouTuber’ many people think about international content creators with millions of subscribers. We need to remember that being a YouTuber in South Africa is a completely different ball game. We need to stop seeing South African YouTubers as Beyonces when we are not even close to being Bonangs!

With that being said, being a content creator, on any Social Media, comes with many challenges and long hours. A very few people find success over night and the rest of us have to work for years at our craft before being recognized in the industry. If someone is considering becoming a YouTuber, they need to take these things into account:


1. Am I doing this to get instant fame? If yes, you are not going to succeed.
2. Do I have a plan and know what kind of content I want to make? If yes, then start today.
3. Do I have the skills to be making good quality content? If no, what can I do to learn and better my skills?
4. Am I doing this to make big money fast? If yes, sorry boo boo but you are going to be disappointed really quickly.
5. Do I have passion? If yes, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? JUST DO IT.


Is South African YouTube community growing? at sametime do you feel they’ve nailed it in terms of producing quality, relevant and creative content?

The South African YouTube community is growing both in terms of creators and viewers. There is this constant growth of new South African YouTubers and growth of those YouTubers, like myself, that have been doing this for years, but growth doesn’t always mean good content growth. What I mean by that is that as new YouTubers enter the South African market, not all are producing ‘quality, relevant and creative content’, I mean I wasn’t doing that when I first started. On the other hand, YouTubers who have been doing it for years are at a much better production quality and relevance level but there is still so much room for growth in this country. Our biggest problem that is restricting our growth as a community and individuals is that we do not work together in making the growth a reality. Many YouTubers in this country (big and small) are still against growing the community. Because the community is still young, it is very competitive and those who are trying to make a living off of their YouTube channels feel threatened by growth in the community as it might mean less income streams and opportunities. This is not the case, if we work together, there will be more income opportunities and a quicker growth in viewership and public awareness of YouTubers.

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

-African Proverb


Your favourite 5 YouTubers ; Local /International?

South African YouTube Channels: (These are YouTubers that have been apart of my #YouTubeZA twitter chats and deserve a shout out!)
1. Stef Rust
2. Ich Bin Siv
3. Lauren Dixon-Paver
4. Rob the Ranger Wildlife Videos
5. Halys World
6. Renaldo Gouw
7. Super Teacher Unite

International YouTube Channels:
1. Liza Koshy
2. Jenna Marbles
3. Mango Street
4. Brandon Rogers
5. Super Deluxe


You extend the conversation further with #YouTubeZA : What is #YouTubeZA movement all about?

#YouTubeZA was a hashtag that has been used for years by South African YouTubers so I decided to spontaneously use the hashtag to start a Twitter Chat to discus what it means to be a South African YouTuber. I did this as I felt that South African Youtubers were not talking to each other, there was no sense of community and things needed to change. The hashtag trended on Twitter and I decided to host a weekly #YouTubeZA Twitter chat every Tuesday afternoon, which has been running for almost 3 months. There has been such a great success from these twitter chats, which aims to build the South African community and bring YouTubers to one spot online in order to discuss, learn and network.

The #YouTubeZA has truly become a movement and I have been able to use it in order to grow the community and the awareness of the community. We are also planning a #YouTubeZA live-stream event which will be streamed online and possibly on TV with 100 audience members. The aim of these free events will be to start having these conversations offline and online and to bring YouTubers and Content Creators all in one physical environment. The events will consist of a panel discussion with industry professionals and newbies because we all have something to contribute to the discussion. Details will be out soon!


Photo: supplied/Michael Cost


How can one benefit from #YouTubeZA discussions?

Every week the #YouTubeZA twitter chat discusses a different topic which is vote for by the community. The aim is to talk about different topics in order to grow our individual and collective knowledge about being a South African YouTube community. One can benefit from these chats by not only learning from everyone who is taking part but by also networking and connecting with other South African content creators. One must remember, that this is purely a online conversation and it all comes down to what you decide to do after the twitter chat and if you are wanting to take action and take what you have learnt and enrol it into your life and work.

The BIGGEST misconception is that the weekly #YouTubeZA chats are only for YouTubers. This is not the case as the chats deal with content creation, it is up to the individual to take what is being said and apply it to their field. For example, we might be talking about being a YouTuber and our videos but you are not a YouTuber but you have an Instagram account. Therefore, see the word ‘YouTuber’ as ‘Instagramer’ and the word ‘video’ as ‘posts’. Lessons from one Social Media can translate to any other Social Media platform.

There are many benefits from the #YouTubeZA discussions but it is up to you to make opportunities arise from it.


What are you enjoying about the whole social media vibe lately?

I am enjoying that South Africans are finally having a platform to voice their opinions and to discuss Social Issues within South Africa such as racism, gender based violence, land issues, and the rape culture that exists in this country. I know I am an advocate for positive South African messages but I see the positivity in being able to discuss and bring to light issues that have not been discussed in the past 23 years of Democracy. I also am pleased in the fact that young South Africans are able to have a louder voice through the use of online platforms so that their problems, achievements and stories can be heard.


Besides Youtube and Twitter – which other Social Media platforms are you enjoying?

INSTAGRAM, I have always loved Instagram but I am willing to put a ring on it since the release of InstaStories. I am addicted to Instastories as it allows me to share the behind the scenes action of being a Youtuber and to connect to a large group of people that have a daily glimpse into my life. YouTube has always been the polished final product for me, but InstaStories is where I truly connect and share my life.


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