Content creation has captured the desires of people around the world. Especially among younger generations — millennials and Gen Zs — the influencer lifestyle seems to have far more appeal than a corporate job.
As of April 2022, 67 per cent of Singaporeans between the ages of 16 and 24 were creating online content. Whether it’s photography, music, dance, or even vlogs capturing everyday life, there are endless niches today, for people to discover and become a part of.
With the emergence of platforms such as TikTok and the rise of short-form videos, content creation has become more accessible than ever before. The creator economy has been rapidly growing, and for many companies, influencer marketing is no longer an experiment — it’s essential.
That being said, what does it really take to succeed (read: make a full-time living) as a content creator in Singapore? We spoke to Jay — more commonly known by his YouTube handle, Sneaky Sushii — to find out more.
Becoming a YouTuber in Singapore
Unlike many others in his shoes, Jay’s rise to YouTube fame was surprisingly fast.
In July 2018, he posted his first video — a short film created entirely out of footage from the video game Fortnite. A few more followed and in just six months, there were 100,000 subscribers waiting for Jay’s next upload.
It could’ve been the top-notch editing, the well-told stories, or Fortnite’s immense popularity — either way, Jay found the confidence he needed to put all his efforts into a YouTube career.
“The channel sort of blew up and I thought, ‘I can probably make a living off of this’,” he explained.
Midway through 2019, Jay’s videos were getting millions of views. However, after a year of creating short films, he’d grown bored of the game itself. He decided to shift niches and under a new moniker, Sneaky Sushii, he began offering up a blend of comedy and social commentary.
I got bored of Fortnite and decided to enter the Singapore YouTube market. Back then, I thought the YouTube scene in Singapore was trash and felt I could probably provide some value to Singaporeans. That’s where I am today.– Jay, also known as Sneaky Sushii
Today, Sneaky Sushii has over 380,000 subscribers (and counting). Along with this, Jay also posts content on second channel, Sneakier Sushii — with 53,000 subscribers — and hosts livestreams on Twitch every Thursday.
What makes Singapore’s YouTube scene stand out
While his Fortnite content was geared towards viewers from around the world, Jay’s videos as Sneaky Sushii have a heavier Singaporean focus. In the past, he has shared his views on local brands, influencers, and trending news stories.
Targeting a Singapore audience comes with benefits and drawbacks. On one hand, Jay believes that as compared to countries like the US, it’s easier to draw in Singaporean viewers.
Singapore is so tiny and concentrated that all you need is one viral video to [gain the attention of the masses]. Maintaining your relevancy is another issue but I’d say — as long as you’re targeting the local demographic — it’s easier to be a content creator in Singapore.– Jay, also known as Sneaky Sushii
On the flip side, when creating for a Singaporean audience, there’s also a tight ceiling on maximum viewership. This impacts the amount which creators can directly earn from YouTube.
“The method of earning money is very different from US creators. In Singapore, the money is in getting sponsors and brand deals,” he explained. In other countries — with bigger populations — creators can build up enough of a following to earn a substantial amount from their views alone.
“I guess that’s why most content creators in Singapore default to ‘selling out’ and [promoting brands in all of their content]. Either that, or they just stop doing YouTube because you can’t survive solely off of your views,” he added.
Reaching a global audience
Despite the current focus of his content, Jay hopes to expand his audience in the future. This is particularly important for him as his unfiltered style often shuts him out from brand deals.
I make a lot of [inappropriate] jokes and I try to be as authentic as possible, which limits the brands that I can work with. I want to reach a global audience and get more viewers so I can be as independent as possible, without having [to rely on] too many sponsors.– Jay, also known as Sneaky Sushii
Jay acknowledges that this comes with its own challenges. He has to look, not only at the content he creates, but at the way in which it’s delivered.
“Maybe it’s just my subconscious inferiority complex, but as a Singaporean, I’m not super proud of the way I speak. This may or may not affect how my content is perceived by a global audience,” he said.
Jay clarifies that he’s immensely proud to be a Singaporean and loves the country, however, in his attempt to reach a global audience, the accent may be holding him back.
“I find myself speaking more eloquently and enunciating my words more. Perhaps, this is a good thing, but I risk sounding inauthentic, like someone who picked up a British accent just because they went on exchange for six months.”
A YouTuber’s work-life balance
From the outside, the influencer lifestyle can seem like a breeze. However, there’s a lot of work which goes into creating content on a daily basis.
“I’m definitely working more than someone would in a traditional nine-to-five job,” he admitted.
As far as work-life balance goes, he argues that it comes down to having fun with what he does.
Work-life balance is quite a myth isn’t it? What if you really enjoy what you do and obsess over it every day? To others, it may seem like you’re overworking yourself, but to you it’s not really work. I find [YouTube] fun — for the most part — so I’m just going to keep doing that.– Jay, also known as Sneaky Sushii
That being said, Jay acknowledges that, even though he loves the job, it’s not always smooth-sailing.
“Burnout is a real thing,” he said. “Especially when you start becoming too hard on yourself and expecting every video to do better than the last. I’ve learnt to let that go though, so it’s much better now.”
Featured Image Credit: Sneaky Sushii
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