Have you ever seen a guy walking around with a camera in front of him or a GoPro strapped to his head? It was probably freshman Kent Heckel. He’s got an interest that isn’t very common here at Principia.
Heckel is a daily vlogger. He makes a short video of himself every day, edits it, then uploads it to his YouTube channel for viewers to watch. In January of 2014, Heckel really got into YouTube and was inspired by well-known vloggers like Ben Brown, CTFxC and BFvsGF to start vlogging himself. “I was wondering how they could live all these cool lives, and it wasn’t because they had tons of money. They were doing simple things,” Heckel said. “It was because they had a vlog camera in front of them every day reminding them to go out and do something cool.”
Heckel decided that vlogging would be his reminder to get out there and do something awesome everyday. He has videos that include his senior prom night, moving to college, going to Six Flags with friends, and a simple day-in-the-life recording. He tries to make content that he thinks people will enjoy.
A critical factor to consider for any YouTuber is how many views a video gets. Heckel gets about 1,000 views, on average, per video he posts. YouTube puts advertisements on his videos and he gets paid every time someone views it. “It’s enough money for it to be my full time job,” he said.
He is also working to partner with Grafton Zipline to do tours and vlog himself there. He would say something like, “Hey, I’m at Grafton Zipline, you should come here!” He would then get paid by Grafton Zipline for endorsing its company.
Heckel plans on working with other YouTubers in St. Louis in the near future. His manager gets in touch with another vlogger’s manager and sets up a time to meet. His manager has also arranged for him to attend a YouTube convention in New Jersey at the end of November called Playlist Live. “The point of this convention is for viewers to meet YouTubers and small YouTubers, like myself, to meet bigger YouTubers,” Heckel explained.
Fans? Yes, Heckel has fans. He currently has over 9,300 subscribers to his YouTube channel, and receives fan mail almost on a daily basis. “It is really inspiring to see that someone is on the other side of this tiny box that I hold in front of myself.”
With every fan comes a hater. Heckel can only recall two negative comments on his videos. He said he has gotten a lot of constructive criticism, though. He doesn’t think of it as negative feedback; he finds it helpful and key to improving.
Along with constantly improving, Heckel has a great support system. “My parents are really supportive,” he said. “My siblings think it’s weird, especially when we get recognized [in] places.”
Heckel went out to dinner with his family one evening and posted a photo to Instagram, not thinking anything of it. Next thing he knew, 30 people showed up to meet him. Word spreads like wildfire in Maryland, apparently. This was his first “meet and greet” with his fans. “I was so nervous. It was surreal to have someone like, ‘Oh, Kent! Can we take a picture?’” he said. This was a pivotal moment for his parents, when they realized that vlogging was a big deal.
Heckel is still at an early stage in his career as a YouTube vlogger. He hopes to vlog daily this year. He explained his goal, saying, “I vlog because I want to be a better person and I want to have more fun in life. I really take life day by day and to tell myself, ‘Today I need to have fun somehow’ because if I’m not enjoying life, then there is literally no point.”