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YouTube star LaurDIY is hosting a new HBO Max series. She shared how she built her business empire from search to merch to streaming TV.

LaurDIY
  • The YouTube star Lauren Riihimaki has built a business empire online from her success on YouTube. 
  • Riihimaki has just under 9 million subscribers and has created a multipronged business around her "LaurDIY" brand.
  • Her business includes a merchandise line, dozens of brand collaborations, and crafting kits sold through Target. 
  • Riihimaki is the host and executive producer of the new HBO Max series, "Craftopia," which launched May 27. 
  • She shared her influencer journey, which started during her first year of college, and how she's expanded her digital brand. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
This article was originally published on December 12 and has been updated to reflect the launch of Riihimaki's new HBO Max show. 
During her first year of college, the Canada native Lauren Riihimaki sat down to film a video for YouTube.
The video, titled "How To: Underside Braid to Bun," launched Riihimaki's seven-year career on YouTube.
"I've been crafty since day one," she told Business Insider. "I was an only child so crafting was my go-to thing growing up. I also had this passion from day one that I always wanted something custom, and I would spend hours and hours decorating the covers of my binders, just because I liked having something that was unique."
In 2012, Riihimaki attended a university in Toronto and enrolled in a printing program. But it wasn't as creative as she envisioned it to be, she said. That's when she started a blog, and shortly after, a YouTube channel.
She filmed that first YouTube video using the photo-booth application on her 2010 MacBook, which she propped up using a stack of textbooks, she said.
"Things have changed since then," she said. "I was getting the creativity that I think I missed from grade 12 art class. Going into university, everything was so different, and I had this void I wanted to fill."
Since then, Riihimaki, 26, has built a massive community through her success on YouTube. She has just under 9 million subscribers, which she calls her "#prettylittlelaurs fam," just under 5 million followers on Instagram, a merchandise line, products sold at Target, and an Amazon shop. She's collaborated with dozens of brands.
Riihimaki is also the host and executive producer of the new HBO Max series, "Craftopia," a children's crafting-competition show, breaking into traditional media in a way that few influencers have.
Lauren Riihimaki

Building an empire through YouTube, from 'Sun-DIY' to search 

"I told people, but I wasn't advertising it," she said about her YouTube channel when she was starting out. "But it wasn't a big secret."
Riihimaki's roommates, friends, and family knew about her side hobby, and she said her friends were interested in helping in any way they could.
"I feel like a lot of creators have a viral video that shoots them into their stardom," she said. "But I was more along the lines of just a gradual incline of growth because I've always been really consistent with uploading."
Riihimaki uploaded weekly, creating the phrase "Sun-DIY," indicating that Sunday was the day she would post a video. As a college student, picking one day helped her organize between her school work and YouTube, she said.
"I got really lucky because I feel like a lot of creators have to choose between finishing school or following YouTube," she said, adding that she worked traditional jobs all the way up until the day she graduated, which was when she felt confident enough to pursue YouTube full time.
Riihimaki's DIY, or do-it-yourself, content on YouTube does well through search, she said, and that has played a major role in her growth. She films videos like testing viral DIYs (11.6 million views), crafting back-to-school supplies (6 million views), and DIY Halloween costumes (6 million views).
Around her second year, Riihimaki signed with Select Management Group and has been working with the same manager since (Scott Fisher). Managers help their clients diversify their online brands and build lasting partnerships with companies through influencer-marketing campaigns. They also often assist their clients in developing consumer products and merchandise, which has been popular among influencers in 2019.
With Select, Riihimaki has developed partnerships with companies like Target, Forever 21, and Walmart Canada.
Lauren Riihimaki

Shop LaurDIY: bedding, clothing, and craft kits at Target

Through licensing her brand, Riihimaki now sells DIY crafting kits at Target and Walmart Canada, and a bedding line with the brand Jay Franco on Amazon. She said she has also expanded her business by finding brands she's passionate about to invest in and by collaborating with different brands through sponsorships.
"It's a really great place to be an entrepreneur right now," Riihimaki said of YouTube. "Something that's unique to a YouTube influencer is that any business that you might want to start or branch off your brand, you can bring your subscribers along for the whole journey. Which is very nontraditional I feel like."
Riihimaki said YouTube influencers have the opportunity to bring their followers along, like if they were creating a bracelet (Riihimaki recently collaborated with the bracelet company Pura Vida), influencers could include their followers in the production process — sharing photos and videos of themselves picking out colors, beads, and styles to social media.
"It's a very millennial element of business," she said, adding that creating a product for a specific audience in mind is about feedback and listening to what her audience wants.
Riihimaki has also sold merchandise like T-shirts, phone cases, necklaces, and a plush toy of her dog Moose online.

'Being an influencer and creator can be a 24/7 job if you want it to be'

Riihimaki said creators on YouTube need to find balance and separation between work and life.
"The struggle, I think, that a lot of creators have is that YouTube and being an influencer and creator can be a 24/7 job if you want it to be," she said.
She said she tries to keep her conferences, meetings, and calls within the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but when it comes to social media, there's really no set boundaries.
"I would say there are two types of days," she said. "The creative day where it's either going around and getting the DIY supplies, brainstorming video ideas, and filming the actual video."
With her DIY videos, there can sometimes be multiple steps to a craft, so filming one video can span across a few days. The other days of her week are more management and analytical: looking at how a video performed, subscriber feedback, and seeing what viewers liked and didn't like about a video.
Quarterly, Riihimaki sits down with her YouTube partner manager — a point person YouTube assigns to check in with top creators — to talk about what's been working and what hasn't. They look at when viewers are clicking off from a video and dropping off. Her manager will summarize points and give feedback based on the data that YouTube provides its creators on the creator-studio page.
"I think the biggest thing too is knowing when I need to hire someone new on my team to delegate a task," she said. "Just hiring a business manager and accountant because I shouldn't be spending time drowning in my tax receipts."
Sign up for Business Insider's influencer newsletter, Influencer Dashboard, to get more stories like this in your inbox.

For more on the business of influencers, check out these Business Insider Prime posts:

  • TikTok star Addison Rae describes her rise to 33 million followers, from dancing competitively at 6 years old to catching Mariah Carey's attention: Addison Rae spoke about her rapid success online and how she is building a larger business with merchandise and lucrative brand partnerships.
  • An Instagram influencer with 166,000 followers breaks down how much money she earns from a sponsored post: Katy Bellotte, a YouTube creator and Instagram influencer, broke down how much she earns per sponsored Instagram post. 
  • 5 YouTube creators break down their monthly incomes from the platform: Creators who are a part of YouTube's Partner Program can monetize their YouTube videos with ads and they receive a paycheck every month.

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* This article was originally published here
https://www.businessinsider.com/lauren-riihimaki-laurdiy-youtube-channel-business-how-she-did-it-2019-12
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