28-year-old Lilly Singh made her first YouTube video to deal with her depression. She started her channel in October 2010. Today, she is the highest paid female Youtuber for the year 2016, has more than 2 billion views and over 14.5 million subscribers across her 2 channels (IISuperwomanII and Superwoman Vlogs) and is the third highest Youtuber overall behind Pewdiepie and Roman Atwood and hangs out with the likes of former First Lady Michelle Obama, actor The Rock and Bill Gates.
She has transitioned from making videos in her bedroom as a way of treating her depression to having a global audience who visit her main channel religiously twice a week and vlogging channel seven times a week to see her latest uploads. Lilly’s videos have found a resonance with young women and she speaks about topics on equality, bodily functions such as periods and more.
Around the time that Singh started making videos, there were no major South Asian comedians on the video blogging website. She realised that she had an opportunity to share her unique voice with the world. The Canadian-Indian comedian is often inspired by her Punjabi heritage as is shown by her skits on her parents’ reactions to different situations.
Her ethnicity is also an advantage from a business perspective as well. In an interview, she said “I saw that there were no South Asian females doing it, so I thought it was a great opportunity in a business sense to create a niche – I market (and target that audience).
Lilly made $7.5 million in 2016 from a growing franchise of viral videos, to parlaying her digital success into other projects such as a deal with the cosmetic company, Smashbox to release her own line of lipsticks called Bawse, a world tour and the release of her book How to Be A Bawse:A Guide To Conquering Life in which she tells her readers how to become a bawse (who she defines as a person who exudes confidence, hurts efficiently and smiles genuinely because he or she has fought it through and made it to the other side).
Lilly will continue to be successful because she is disciplined, consistent, original and constantly pushing boundaries. She’s always reinventing herself and finding new ways of doing the tried and tested. There’s one other thing she constantly does, which is connect with her audience, she has said, “One of my goals is for someone to watch one of my videos and react in such a way where they’re like, ‘Oh my God, I thought I was the only person who did this. This is so me’. They’re all things that we do—I’m just presenting them in a very exaggerated, comedic way. I think there’s that element of being universally relatable.”