Rachel Levin, the second top performing beauty vlogger of 2017, is sick of traditional makeup tutorials.
“There’s not as much production or editing to be done with them — they’re more like something you do on a whim,” she said, clarifying the more involved elements are those she enjoys most.
Levin has been creating those videos for her YouTube channel RCLBeauty101 since she was 15 years old. Now 23, she’s closing in on 13 million subscribers and garners 100 million views on average per month, according to her team. Data from the influencer marketing platform Traackr shows that her YouTube audience grew by 14 percent in the last year, while her total audience across platforms is at 20.5 million. (That audience, sometimes referred to as “the Levinators,” skews young — between the ages of 13 and 24 — and female.)
Success aside, Levin hit a point in the last few years, she said, where it felt as if she was just recreating the same looks (“another smokey eye”) over and over, so she pivoted to comedy sketches that allowed her to get more creative. One of her most popular series, for instance, is a spoof on the Disney Princesses that reimagines them engaging in basic tasks, like carpooling, or hanging out at a sleepover party.
But now Levin is attempting to bridge the two content formats.
“I’m getting back into beauty videos again by having fun with them,” she said. That’s resulted in episodes like “Putting One Pound of Makeup on My Face,” a response to the common “she’s wearing a pound of makeup” diss, and the self-explanatory “DIY Peel Off Foundation!” Her videos are longer now, too, growing from an average of five minutes to seven.
In a sea of beauty vloggers that keeps on growing, Levin believes that keeping her episodes uniquely entertaining like this is key to standing out: “You can’t just focus on the makeup aspect; you have to really let your personality shine through, as well.”
So far, it seems to be working: Data from Pixability shows she has a high favorability ratio, at 98 percent, meaning her videos are well-liked.
While Levin would not comment on financials, industry sources suspect she’s making seven figures annually. It’s likely she makes most of that money from advertisements on her channel, as product placements are surprisingly few and far between. Levin herself said they are very infrequent.
Whatever her annual salary, it was enough to let her dropout of college during her freshman year to pursue beauty vlogging full-time from her home in Philadelphia. In the last month, however, she moved to Los Angeles on the advice of her manager and publicist, who believed it was important for her continued growth. She also employs an assistant and a stylist, and will likely hire a producer and an editor in the L.A. area to help her out with production, which is getting more high-level, she said.
As of now, Levin’s videos — which she puts out once a week — take roughly 48 hours, from conception to creation, to complete. Longer, comedy-driven sketches require a script, and take about 10 hours to film. Editing the videos, which she currently handles herself, can take from 10 to 18 hours. She is also on platforms like Instagram, where she has 3.8 million followers, and Snapchat.
“Snapchat and Instagram Stories are like my unedited vlog channel, and are just fun for me,” she said.
Why continue to rely on both, given how Instagram has pilfered most of Snapchat’s capabilities? Because her following on Snapchat is different, she said, and her videos there often get more reach. “I’ll often get around a million views per story there, but I don’t get nearly as many on my Instagram Stories.”
What’s more, she said, some of her followers’ parents don’t allow them to have Instagram, for whatever reason. “I just want to make sure I can connect to my subscribers on any channel they’re on,” she said.