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Introducing Real Talk, a new series where we sit down with you the creator, get to know you, your creative process, how you got started, and also ask you to get real.
We’re kicking off the series with a couple of our favorite creators: Joanna Spicer & Haley Blais. They both run amazing channels covering everything from beauty tutorials, sketch comedy, vlogs, music, and so much more. One of the most interesting things about them is their cross-continent collaboration. Haley lives in Canada, and Joanna here in LA, and yet they run a podcast together, and found a way to collaborate despite not being in the same location.
Let’s jump in!
Fullscreen: Okay how about for starters both of you run down how you got started on YouTube, and how long you’ve been making videos?
Joanna: I started my channel in 2012 doing mainly makeup tutorials. It started out as a hobby, a way for me to showcase my makeup skills, but over time (mainly this past year) it kind of developed into something else. I went through a lot of life changes and with those changes came a sort of re-evaluation of myself and my goals and I was using my channel as an artistic and also therapeutic outlet. I started doing vlogs and comedy videos because they felt more fulfilling to me than any tutorial I was doing. And I’ve become much more career oriented than when I first started in 2012. July will be my 5th anniversary on YouTube.
Haley: I hate this question because it makes me come across as the most boring creature on the planet; which is something I’ve been trying to conceal from the internet for MANY YEARS. Almost 4 years to be exact. I started in April of 2013 because all my friends went off to literal medical school while I watched haul videos in the basement of my parents house. LOOK AT ME NOW, DOCS!
FS: Having been on YouTube for that long, how has the community changed through those years? Have you found it easier or harder to meet other creators you vibe with?
J: I’m not really sure if it’s changed over the years as I’m what you’d call “a total loner.” You know? Like, I order a lot of postmates. (Please be sure to write loner and not loser when you print this). I’ve always been someone who has just a few super close friends and my friendships with other creators hasn’t been any different, but I will say that YouTube has allowed me to meet and connect with likeminded people from different parts of the globe where I’ve never been (because I’m “a total loser”) and otherwise wouldn’t have met.
H: Only in the past couple years have I actually started making good, solid friends and connections (in general) through YouTube and really become involved. For the first few years I was still kind of on the outside looking in… until my mom Susan Wojcicki, the CEO of YouTube, introduced me to all the ‘Tube stars!
J: That’s actually how Haley and I met.
FS: Which segues perfectly into what I wanted to ask next – how did you guys meet? And was it love at first sight? What was it that initially bonded you as friends?
H: Our manager set us up last year at Vidcon! It was an arranged marriage. Definitely love at first sight.
J: The first thing I ever texted Haley was a screenshot of a news article with the headline: Woman Quits Her Job To Breastfeed Boyfriend Every Two Hours, and the rest was history.
I’d want to expand on this:
My manager sent me a short list of other youtubers that she thought I’d be interested in linking up with and I quickly checked out their channels and simply replied with something like: “yeah, Haley”. What I initially loved about her was that she was a cool chick just doing what she thought was funny and being the hottest girl on YouTube wasn’t at the forefront of everything she did. Though it’s worth mentioning that she IS the hottest on YouTube regardless, with me coming in as a close 2nd.
H: All of this is very true!
FS: I guess the next natural step to becoming best friends is starting a podcast, right? Who’s idea was that, and can you tell me about the inception of that idea?
J: Haley and I have talked about doing a podcast for a long time, but I think we had this idea that you had to be rich and famous to start a podcast and even though we are clearly both of those things we always talked about it as a future goal. Our manager suggested we just start now. I’m gracefully entering into my late 20’s this year and while that is so young it still lit a fire under me to not waste anymore time dreaming instead of doing. Haley and I decided early this year to become collaborating partners. We have similar goals and sense of humor, we are cut from the same cloth, but we are also very different. I’m more of an instant gratification, learn and improve as you go type of person and Haley likes to have a plan ahead of time and make sure all the ducks are in a row etc. The combination of spontaneity and structure has worked really well for us. You can expect to see a lot more joint projects from us this year, we have a lot of irons in the fire right now.
H: What she said. Also this reminded me to start thinking of some hilarious jokes to tell when we record episode 5 tomorrow!
FS: That’s amazing, I’m also really interested in what it looks like to collaborate across an entire continent. I think a lot of creators are probably hesitant to collaborate with people that aren’t in the same physical location. How does that work for you guys, and is it a challenge?
J: Not really. It helps that we are in the same time zone. If we weren’t I’d imagine that would be a challenge. It’s obviously not ideal, and Haley will be coming to LA next month for a couple months so we will definitely be cramming in a lot of content. Collaborating on videos and sketches is near impossible to do while we are in different countries, but for the podcast we have come up with a good system. We call each other on the phone and wear headphones while we both record on our mics. We give a loud clap at the beginning and then I sync up the audio in post and like magic we have a podcast as if we are in the same room. There’s a lot of room for improvement which is why we recently set up a Patreon where our listeners can donate to help us purchase better equipment.
FS: That’s such a brilliant system to get a really nice, high quality result for the podcast. It just goes to show, you shouldn’t be deterred from collaborating with people that aren’t in your same location.
Well to start wrapping up, are there any exciting projects either of you are working on that people can look forward to?
J: Oh yes. Haley and I are constantly bouncing ideas off of one another and then expanding on them together. When she’s in LA next month we’ll be putting our nose to the grindstone as they say. Do they say that? Anyway, we’ll be working together a lot in the next few months not only with the podcast but more visual stuff also.
H: We’re working on putting out more scripted content; a short or a series of sorts. We’re wanting to try out every medium we can. Individually, I’m always writing music. My EP Late Bloomer, which came out this past October, was pretty (unexpectedly) well received so I really want to get more out there.
FS: I’m fairly certain “nose to the grindstone” is a thing. And if not, it certainly will be soon – #NoseToTheGrindstone.
Super excited about you guys putting out more content. I guess the last thing I’d want to ask you both is what’s one piece of advice or tid-bit you would want to share with a young creator?
J: Start now. Don’t wait until you have the equipment or the audience. Just keep creating.
H: If it’s what you want, just DO it! We are all going to die from the tsunami that will one day destroy the west coast! Unless you live on the east; then you’re lucky.
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