I first met Ela Gale through a family friend while on holiday in Wanaka, New Zealand where she is currently based. Ela has done extremely well via Youtube and I find her story super-interesting and different from what I am used to hearing about. She has taken her passions and created a profitable business and lifestyle in a very short time. Ela has over 440,000 subscribers and over 34 million views from her videos on Youtube, making her one of the top Youtubers in New Zealand, at the age of 23! I am excited to see where Ela goes over the next few years. Enjoy the interview we did with an amazing view of Lake Wanaka!
- Logan Elliott, Entrepreneurs Adventures.
1) WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU DO?
I'm Ela Gale, a 23 year old New Zealander who currently makes a living through Youtube. I have a Youtube channel called ‘Ela Gale’ where I share my insights and ideas for a positive, low-impact lifestyle.
I studied an undergraduate degree in Zoology and then the Masters in Science Communication at the University of Otago. Youtube is currently my fulltime career. My interest has aways been around animals and conservation - hence my studies. I started a youtube channel to build an audience that I could share my interest in conservation with. First of all I started doing videos which fitted into a niche that already existed - beauty. This helped to begin with and I recommend this to people starting out on Youtube because it does make your videos come up and helps you get noticed quicker to build an initial audience.
But I have started to move away from that niche these days towards a better representation of the sort of content I want to be making. Now that I have subscribers regularly watching my videos I feel a lot more freedom to film topics that inspire me/ topics that i'm capable of inspiring others with, but that wouldn't have been found in the masses of youtube video's if I had started out doing that sort of thing.
My direction now is towards more documentary-style content - incorporating greater awareness of the ways we impact the world around us alongside the ideas and inspiration for positive options. I hope to continue building a like-minded audience, and seeing what we can accomplish together into the future.
2) WHAT ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT AND WHY?
I am crazily passionate about everything really!
Change-making is one of my biggest passions. I’m a huge fan of the notion 'Be the change you want to see’ and I try to be an example of that philosophy in my daily life. I think it’s in human nature to want to make the world a slightly better place while we are a part of it. We all have unique things to offer and I feel particularly strongly about harnessing whatever capabilities, perspectives and privileges my upbringing has afforded me. I think it should be a core driver of our society to work towards a better quality of life for all. I often think ‘if there is a way of life on earth that I wouldn’t want to be alive in, then we need to improve their circumstance” - because any of us could have just as easily been born into their circumstances - and almost any of us could end up in those circumstances into the future. It would be great to create a world where every walk of life has a baseline quality of life! Currently my biggest efforts are towards environmental awareness. If we interact with the environment in a non-detrimental way it will enhance the lives of millions of people and animals. I think environmental concerns are among the most paramount issues of our time.
Challenging my views and others' views- challenging our societal norms and the boundaries of our minds. This is particularly why I love communications.
Creating. Getting stuck into creating anything is the most wonderfully fulfilling endeavour in my opinion. I like to paint, draw, make jewellery, experiment with recipes, build tree houses, write poetry and a million other ways to output the crazy and beautiful things going on in my mind. Photography has to be one of my favourites, along with film. They just enable a form of communication that is so aesthetic and evocative.
Social enterprise! Entrepreneurship on it’s own is such a great way to bring personal passions and ideas to life so that they can add value to others, but social enterprise adds change-making in the mix and I think that's the best thing ever.
Living a fulfilling life. To me that means being enthralled in the adventure, finding magic in what the human experience has to offer, being a person I’m proud to be and cultivating a colourful connected existence.
3) WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST BARRIERS TO ENTREPRENEURSHIP?
A big challenge I faced with my youtube channel was figuring out how to present myself to a global audience. For a long time I didn’t really have this problem, largely because when I started my channel I hadn’t expected it to become a source of income let alone a business and my videos were only getting a few hundred views at the time. But when my subscribers hit a rapid increase I was suddenly getting people recognising me on the street and ‘haters’ in my comments section, there was a lot more pressure and a sense that I needed to really think about my online ‘image’. I became quite stuck on this, mainly because I didn’t have a clear aim, I was just making content that I knew things about and thought people would find useful. I know it would be different for someone who sets out with a clear focused idea for their content, but I still think, with online video in particular, it can be a struggle to figure out how you want people to perceive you.
We all obviously have many facets to our personalities. It’s hard to know which parts to project and how your audience will respond. I learnt that’s something you just figure out once you have gaged audience reactions. Nevertheless, as a general rule when trying to be as openly applicable as possible - be quite PC and have an understanding of words/cultural norms that are specific to your country and wouldn’t be understood internationally.
A hurdle that I faced when defining my business idea was the ‘paradox of too many choices’. I love how much freedom of choice we have these days, but in order to create a business you need to have a clear focus and a strong commitment to it… so constantly second-guessing myself or thinking the grass might be greener in another direction was really detrimental. I spent a good year or so thinking about all the things I am passionate about and learning about various industries/endeavours - I’d say a bit of 'soul searching’ is good, but an important insight I gained was that it’s not about finding the ‘right thing’ or the ‘best thing’ of all the things you care about/are good at… because whatever you choose to do will have positives and negatives - the best thing is throw yourself into something you believe in the value of and make your best of it. I was conditioned to that norm of “a career path for life” and I think that is really intimidating, so now I see it as a project to be enthralled in for x number of years and “I’ll see where it takes me!"
I have also struggled with not knowing when to share my ideas, I like to actualise an idea to an extent I feel has started the snowball rolling in the desired direction before I start rambling on about my idea to others. I think that this is beneficial for me because when I tell people my ideas, their opinions or concerns can throw some curve-balls that from past experience can derail me if I don’t already have some momentum. But I also know that sharing ideas in their early stages can provide a lot of helpful insight and even necessary reality checks …
4) WHAT ARE THE MOST EXCITING THINGS ABOUT STARTING A BUSINESS?
You get to be your own boss and have complete creative control. You can interact with the world how you want to. You get such an incredible level of freedom. For me my business has opened up a whole world of opportunities. It is all a bit of a journey and you often don’t know where you are going to end up. The first step is really exciting and unknown.
Being able to make a unique contribution to society/others lives. When I studied my Bachelors in Zoology I thought I might end up working for DOC or something like that, but I just didn’t feel inspired by the thought of anyone being able to do my exact job - like, if I wasn’t hired by them, someone else would fill the position. I know that’s not exactly true, I mean you can always take pride in your position and do it with a quality or perspective that makes your input uniquely valuable … but business enables that to a much greater extent.
Connecting with other entrepreneurs. I would have to say entrepreneurs tend to be some of the most exciting and inspiring people to be around, they allow you to buzz on a vibration that so many people seem to have left behind in their childhood.
5) Blogs ABOUT ENTREPRENEURSHIP?
I used Socialblade a lot when I started making money on Youtube so I could better understand the financial side of things. You can look up any channel name and get a feel for how much money they are making and gage what content is popular of your own and others channels.
Patreon for extra income for Youtubers is also great.
Ela Gale, www.youtube.com/user/ElsBeautyxx