Fleur De Force is one of the YouTube beauty blogger generation’s biggest stars. Her most-watched YouTube video has had nearly two and a half million views, whilst her channel’s sister blog currently ranks at number six on bloglovin.com’s top UK blogs. For the uninitiated, YouTube beauty gurus upload short videos of themselves reviewing products and demonstrating hair and beauty tutorials. It’s like having the stylish big sister you never had guiding you through your make up routine and personally recommending you products. Thanks to girls like Fleur, gone are the days where you had to painstakingly teach yourself by lengthy trial and error how to perfect a winged eyeliner flick, or shell out your hard-earned money on products that disappoint.
The story of how Fleur began her career in beauty blogging is something approaching internet lore: she made a video, showed it to her Mum, who gave it her seal of approval. I asked Fleur what prompted her to begin the hobby that has become a full time career: “To be honest I was just feeling a little bored and uninspired while at university. I wasn’t doing a creative subject and the uni I went to was a solely academic one, so I think it was just fun for me to be able to be creative in my free time. I’ve always loved fashion and beauty, and was an avid blog-reader and video-watcher so it made sense really!”
That was three years ago. Now Fleur has over 683,000 subscribers to her YouTube channel, with more than 51,570,000 video views. When I asked her how she built up such a large and obviously loyal fan-base, she told me her secret “is being consistent and being true to yourself in your videos. That way your subscribers not only know to expect a constant stream of new content from you, but they also get to know you too, and you build up a good relationship with them.” Fleur credits her “wonderful, supportive subscribers” for keeping her motivated: “If I’m ever stuck for ideas, they are always there to suggest something new.”
It’s this ongoing online conversation between bloggers and their readers that has revolutionised the beauty industry in recent years. I asked Fleur if she had witnessed the changes brought about by this new peer-review culture: “Definitely; I think it’s a lot more cut-throat for brands these days. Before blogs, magazines were the only real way to hear about beauty products on an individual review basis, and they are often very biased based on keeping their advertisers happy. I think blogging has created a new consumer-led beauty experience for women.”
With consumers taking the lead, Fleur acknowledges that “it may be harder for brands to work through negative reviews and feedback from bloggers at times, but the majority of posts and reviews on blogs are very positive, and good products get good reviews, so if brands are bringing out great products, blogs are a wonderful means of promotion for them.” All this ultimately benefits their buyer: “Blogs make it a lot easier for consumers to navigate their way through all of the glossy advertising and product placement.”
When I asked Fleur what she thought the best part of being one of the UK’s top beauty bloggers was she didn’t hesitate to tell me it’s “Getting to do something I love as my job. I never thought my fun hobby at university would turn into a business for me. I really have to pinch myself sometimes to check it’s not all a dream. I love it.” Her hard work cultivating her online following has also given her some incredible experiences, of which “getting the opportunity to interview Taylor Swift has got to be the best one. I’m such a huge fan and she was so nice to me (she actually said she had seen my videos! Eek!)” She told me “going to events like VidCon in LA and Playlist Live in Orlando is pretty amazing too. I love getting the chance to meet my subscribers in person and get to know them a little.”
Fleur has also started a vlogging channel, where she uploads videos of her daily life. It’s a great way for internet personalities to connect with their fans on a deeper level. Luckily her friends and family have reacted positively to her internet fame: “My family have been supportive of my YouTube channels right from the start, which is awesome. Some of my friends took a while to get their heads around it, but once they got to understand it a bit better, they’ve been great. Some don’t want to be in my videos themselves and that is something that I totally understand and respect, while others love getting involved which is wonderful.”
Being fascinated by Fleur’s life is a very human thing; I’ve even caught my fashion-hating boyfriend watching her and her boyfriend Mike’s vlogs of them skiing or holidaying together in LA. Their last trip together was particularly exciting for viewers as the couple announced their engagement. Most of us share a great deal of our lives online now, but Fleur has a finer balance than most to tread: “I do vlog my daily life experiences, but there are also aspects that I keep private. I think you have to.
Part of Fleur’s charm is her down-to-earth attitude. I asked her what skills any beauty blogger worth her lip gloss needed: “I’m the first to admit that I’m not totally clued-up when it comes to the technology side if things. Obviously you have to be good with a camera and a computer, but you don’t have to be an expert. I’ve learnt most of what I know along the way and I think that’s the best way to do it.” Apart from basic computer skills, then, Fleur reckons “you need patience and persistence (it doesn’t happen overnight), and sometimes a thick skin (YouTube’s audience especially can be tough critics!). But apart from that, there are no specific ‘skills’ required. That’s what is so great about blogging… Everyone can give it a go!”
For a beginner, the world of online blogging can seem a little daunting, but Fleur is endlessly encouraging, her “number one tip for people wanting to start a blog is just to do it, you won’t know until you try it if its ‘for you’ and you can always delete it if you decide it’s not.” However, financial gain shouldn’t be your motivation: “I would discourage anyone starting a blog just to make money. It really is a labour of love. It’s hard work, and it takes a while to even make a penny.”
Being a full time blogger is a lot of people’s dream career, but Fleur tells me that it’s more than just job. “It’s 100% a lifestyle. It is essentially my ‘job’ but it’s also part of me as a person. I’m sharing my life and thoughts with the world, so inevitably it becomes more than just a job.” The blogging lifestyle is a 24-7 experience: “I never walk away from my desk and leave it behind like you would with a normal job,” says Fleur “some people wouldn’t like that, but for me it really is a dream job.”
Finally, it would have been negligent of me not to ask Fleur what her top three beauty products of the moment are: “That’s always a killer question, there are too many! But at a push I would have to say… Illamasqua Skin Base foundation, L’Oreal Telescopic Shocking Extensions mascara and Fresh’s Sugar Lychee perfume.” M