Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
You may know her by her YouTube handle bohosolo. With about 7,000 YouTube subscribers and over 860,000 video views, Jay Stephens ’14 is certainly making a splash. She has gone in and out of regularly posting videos since 2007, and she says that now she’s here to stay — to continue making fun of politics, pop culture, or anything her many followers might suggest she talk about. We caught up with bohosolo to ask her about her videos, her fans, and the YouTube community.
Why did you start making YouTube videos?
I watched a lot of YouTube and I never really go into it, like making actual videos but there was one channel, The Gradual Report, that I was super psyched about and I started making video responses to some of his videos and that’s how I started getting into the actual content creation part.
When did you first start getting a lot of followers?
I got my first big jump in subscribers when I made a video response to sXePhil, who has 2 million subscribers at this point, but I made my biggest jump when I made a response video to Michael Jackson dying, that something like 300 thousand hits and it was on the front page of Google for a day, and so a lot of people found me through that but that was kind of a dramatic, serious video.
What has your relationship with your followers been like?
It’s been kind of iffy because I’ve left and come back and left and come back a few times to regularly making videos, but it’s been interesting. They’re really funny people and they give me really interesting suggestions for what to talk about and what they’re interested in.
When did you start selling advertising on your channel?
I think back in 2009 I started getting the partner program stuff, and basically once you get to a certain level of subscriber number and view count you can partner with Google, and they will monetize your videos and you’ll get a certain number per click you have on the ad on your video. It’s not much unless you have hundreds of thousands of views, so I’ll make a couple dollars every video, but it’s cool to see that.
How are you trying to build your subscriber base?
I’ve been trying to get into Tumblr and I’ve been tweeting a lot more than usual, and with the weekly videos I hope I regain some subscriber trust, like hey I’m actually going to be here and actually going to be making videos and listening to you guys. It’s consistency is really important.
Have you ever got any negative feedback in the comments?
Surprisingly not that much. There have been a couple more controversial videos that I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from people not really understanding the joke I’m trying to make. Overall it’s been really positive feedback.
Who do you subscribe to on YouTube?
You say you don’t watch as much YouTube as you should. You already make a video a week, but it sounds like you feel guilty for not spending more time on YouTube.
I do. I mean I feel like with the really successful people on YouTube are way involved in the community as far as making videos and keeping up with other people who are making videos, and it’s hard enough for me to make a video once a week but to actually get involved in it is something I want to do but time wise it’s difficult to be involved in multiple channels and connect with them like I should.
Can you talk about your relationship to the YouTube community. Do you talk with other producers?
A couple of years I was involved with a couple of them, just like through video responses. There’s a website called blogTV, which is this live video-streaming website and people can live broadcast and there’s chat rooms so people can go and talk in there. It’s a really weird but cool group of people who are on the site who know each other and have inside jokes and backgrounds and that’s where a lot of YouTubers have gone to hang out and meet new people. I’m pretty regularly there.
How many hours do you spend on there a week?
I would say 1 hour a day.
What do you all talk about?
It ranges. There isn’t a consistent topic. It’s like going to a high school where people range in age from like 16 to 50, so there’s a lot of different things people talk about.
It seems like the commonality you all share is that you all make YouTube videos, but that seems like a really broad thing to be connected by. Is that a defining factor that brings you together?
I think a more defining factor is just being involved in YouTube somehow. Not everybody makes videos, but a lot of the people do. It’s actually kind of hard to think about a unifying factor because there isn’t really one, which is strange that everybody goes there consistently and talks to each other. It’s more like being in this kind of new age society and playing around with it.