We’re reaching out to some popular creators to get their best tips and tricks for success and better understand the ups and downs of life as a trailblazer on the internet.
This week, we caught up with Kahlen Barry via email. The popular YouTuber has over 248,000 followers across YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. In addition to being a musical artist, he is known for his storytimes and content on astrology, horoscopes, conspiracy theories, and social issues.
The interview below has been condensed and edited.
What’s the first thing you do to start your day online?
I check my social media notifications and email.
What do you wish you knew when you were first starting out as a creator?
Knowing my worth. I definitely have taken deals in the past that weren’t what I deserved. Also, I’ve put up with things or people I shouldn’t have had to in this industry. I know better now.
When did you realize you’d broken through and become a successful creator?
I used to struggle with the idea of success a lot and it’s easy in an industry like this to compare yourself to others. I’ve definitely gotten better at accepting and celebrating my successes now. I feel very grateful to be able to do what I love as a career and being able to financially support myself through my passions. I realized I was truly successful when I had the freedom to do what I loved as a job.
If you hadn’t become a creator, what would you be doing right now?
I definitely would still be creating in some aspect or another. I’ve been making music since I was 14 years old. Through building a social media presence I’ve been lucky enough to be able to take that passion even further. I definitely would always be creating music whether I was doing this or not. The same with acting.
What’s one thing you do to manage your relationship with your fans?
Honestly, setting healthy boundaries. When I first started social media I definitely was very giving of my energy to a point where I didn’t have as much for myself. I just felt so much love from the people that supported me that I didn’t want to turn my phone off and I’d spend hours responding to dms and tweets. I also talked about everything under the sun in my personal life. Now as I’ve grown up, I’ve realized there has to be a level of privacy and also grace with myself. It’s ok if I have to turn off social media and live more in the present at times. I’m very interactive with the people who support me and I’ll always be that way because I’m beyond lucky to have them in my life. I just have to make sure I have a good balance.
What do you think of the idea of cancel culture?
I do believe cancel culture exists but sometimes I feel that people mistake being held accountable for being “canceled.” People being called out on their harmful behavior tend to dismiss people’s valid criticism or outrage as “just cancel culture.” It’s important to listen to those calling you out sometimes to understand the harm in something you may have done or said. Not everything is a personal attack.
How much of your true self do you show online?
I think I’m very honest about who I am online. Sometimes a little too much, but I’ve also noticed at times that I don’t share as much about my personal life as I used to when I was younger. I think it’s a way to protect myself but I’m learning to open up more especially about things that are universal like heartbreak and the human experience through my art, such as my music. I think with being an Internet personality it’s super important to be yourself and not pretend to be someone you’re not. There will always be others who connect with the person you are. That’s the cool thing about the Internet and the world, everyone is going to attract their crowd. You’ll find yours.
What’s one of the best interactions you’ve ever had with someone who follows you?
One of my followers interviewed me about my music for a documentary for their film class. I felt super honored that they enjoyed my music enough to want to use me as a subject for their project. We ended up getting along so well that now she’s my best friend.
What is your most treasured tool?
My voice. I feel communication is very important to me. Whether it’s speaking up about important issues or writing songs that others feel seen and heard by. As a Gemini this makes a lot of sense as we’re ruled by Mercury, the planet of communication.
What holds you accountable?
My family and friends. I definitely trust the opinions of those closest to me. They keep me grounded in the very wild space that I’m in. If I were ever to start becoming someone that I wouldn’t like, they’d call me out on it before I got the opportunity to call myself out on it. It’s super important not to surround yourself with yes men but with people who truly care about your well being and your growth as a human.
Thank you, Kahlen, for talking with us!
We’ll be featuring a new Q&A with a creator every week, so shoot an email to [email protected] for a chance to be included.