VidCon: From Vine to YouTube to TikTok, Sarah Schauer Discusses How She Grew a Loyal Audience

Sarah Schauer
Sarah Schauer/Instagram

If you’ve been on the internet in the past seven years, you definitely know Sarah Schauer. Getting her start on Vine (and winning the last ever Viner of the Year award at the 2017 Shortys), she has had a steady evolution in her online content. 

“I lost 847,000 followers [on Vine] in one day,” Schauer, who uses she and they pronouns, said in an interview. “It’s kind of funny. Anytime I post something that someone’s like, ‘I don’t really like that anymore,’ I’m like, I don’t care if you want to follow me because I’ve literally lost over 800,000 in one day. So it’s totally fine.”

After working as a copywriter for brands for a few years, they felt unfulfilled. Like other Viners, she had started a YouTube channel and grown her Twitter and Instagram followings when the platform shut down. However, content wasn’t their primary job, as the AdSense from their YouTube videos wasn’t enough to sustain themself. But then in 2019, she was fired from her corporate job for “a bogus TikTok.”

Coincidentally, her cousin, Brittany Broski, was fired the same week for the same reason. She said the two of them were making decent money from AdSense, so they decided to move to Los Angeles together and pursue content creation full-time. In April 2020, she said that she received her first big check, which affirmed that she was on the right track.

“I was like, holy crap, this is now my job,” Schauer said.

Monetizing her work has never been easy. During the Vine years, they said fans were critical of creators who got brand deals—essentially the only way to make money through the platform—because it was considered “selling out.” Twitter didn’t have a lot of monetization options either, although Schauer has had more than a few hit tweets. Now, she makes a living from YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok—where she has more than 2 million followers—and she’s currently figuring out a distinct Reels strategy for Instagram.

“I’m actually kind of excited to start on Reels because I feel like everyone is on TikTok, and everyone on TikTok talks about how all the Reels are just reposted TikToks,” they said. “I feel like there’s no like Reels creators. I kind of want to try to be the top comedy Reels creator. Because who is that right now?”

Because Reels is so new, however, Schauer’s content has been recommended to people outside of her normal demographic—which she described as “90% women and 10% gay guys.” This has led some confused men to comment under her videos. 

“Sometimes I’ll get comments from men who are like, ‘Is this a joke?’” they said. “And I haven’t dealt with these comments since I was new on Vine. Because I’m not in specific people’s feeds yet.”

It took a while for Schauer to cultivate a dedicated audience. When she came out as bisexual, then subsequently as a lesbian, she said she lost most of her male followers. She says the gradual growth amid a changing audience has helped her maintain a loyal fanbase because the people who support her have been around for years. However, she said that she once thought Vine would be her peak because she had so many followers and she was “hot and young.”

“I was like, ‘This is my peak.’ And then I went to like a nine-to-five where I thought I was gonna die,” Schauer said. “And now I’m older and gay and I don’t look the same, and I’m better off than I’ve ever been, and no men are in my life, too.”

Their years of experience have also allowed them to be more comfortable with dips in their content or growth. Because they’ve been online for so long, they’ve grown confident in their humor, and they know that lulls don’t last forever. They said the important thing is to be consistent and post good content—the rest will follow.

“When people kept saying, ‘I’m in my flop era’—never say that,” Schauer said. “Because then you believe it… I don’t really believe in manifestation, but something happens because that person is getting down on themselves. And then they just are discouraged to post and then you see them less often. Then they’re getting less likes and engagement and then they just kind of disappear for a bit.”

Now, Schauer and Broski have their podcast, Violating Community Guidelines, which they launched in January. After years of collaborating on YouTube, with bits like “Zillow Gone Wild,” people really loved their dynamic as a duo. 

Schauer advised aspiring creators to start with a vision and unique perspective. They also said that people have to get comfortable with criticism. 

“Everyone who is a content creator is so mentally ill at this point because you have to deal with so much online criticism and not take it to heart,” they said. “You have to be very strong-willed and have a perspective.”

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