Eva Gutowski wasn't always the YouTube superstar she is today.
Once upon a time, she was just a broadcast journalism major struggling to get by. But once she picked up the video camera, following her father John's advice, and began sharing bits and pieces of her life on the video-sharing website, all that changed. Her channel, MyLifeAsEva, quickly gained a following that included more than just her friends, with people all over the world tuning in to watch her latest upload. 10.5 million subscribers and over a billion views later, she's become one of the platform's biggest stars, published a book, and even landed a gig as one of one of the rotating social media correspondents on MTV's 2017 (and sadly, somewhat short-lived) revival of TRL.
Here, Eva exclusively answers all our questions about what it takes to become an influencer, stay an influencer, and stay sane in the process. And bless her, because we had a lot of them.
E! News: Tell us exactly how you got started?
Eva: I got started freshman year of college. I was going to school for broadcast journalism. I basically wanted to be Oprah. Growing up I loved to write, produce and I loved talking to people and getting to help them through their problems. I bounced around a few jobs I might be good at. I thought I could be a psychologist or a teacher. It all led to the idea that I could influence a community. I always loved entertainment. I was acting, doing drama and was on the dance team. In college, I put them together and I thought there was someone out there doing what I wanted to do and I landed on Oprah and followed her trajectory. She went to school for broadcast journalism and that is how I got started. Freshman year in college, I noticed I was doing well in my broadcast journalism classes. We were doing exercises in class when we would talk to the camera and report stories. So, to get good at this, I started a YouTube channel and little did I know people were watching these videos. At the time there was no YouTube fame or money in it, I was just making videos to talk to nobody. So that's how I got started.
Once you started putting out the videos and realizing you had an audience, did you just keep doing what you were doing or did you tailor it to specific content people wanted to see?
At the time, I was writing a blog in college. In the blog, I was writing about college on a budget and I loved DIYs so I did crazy DIYs I found on Pinterest. I had about 1,000 weekly readers on my blog weekly but I always felt like the comments were people that were older to me and not my demographic. My first YouTube video was a Black Friday haul. I was just making YouTube videos about my life. I was noticing that the comments on my YouTube were people more my age in high school and college and they seemed to really connect with what I was saying. So, I took a break from my blog and focused on my YouTube because it felt like more of my territory.
What does the word influencer mean to you?
I hate calling people influencers based on their follower number. I feel like everyone has a good amount of influence and they don't really know it. To me, I am less of an influencer, when I think of an influencer I think of someone who got a social media following. I really care about sustainability and conservation, so the things that I get to post online and share my experiences with is what I am doing to learn more about the issue. I see so many people in my DMs doing that and taking my advice. To me, being an influencer is being able to have the power to affect people on a mass scale and do some good change in the world and direct eyes to things that matter to me like conservation and sustainability.
What is one thing that that is different from when you first were starting out?
I went through a period where I resented the things that I cared about because I didn't want to take time away from YouTube. You go through the period where you think, 'I am only getting older. I need to enjoy the things I like to do.' So, instead of spending eight hours staying up editing a video, let me spend four hours editing it and four hours on a passion I have like taking the time to explore. For me, right now, that is music production. I am splitting my time now between making YouTube videos and learning as much as I can about music production. Music production will take just as long to learn as it did for me to learn the ins and outs of YouTube. So definitely factoring time in for that.
Was there a time when you thought, 'Oh my god, I'm YouTube famous,' or 'I am Instagram famous'? And what happened in that moment?
I remember the first time I ever went to the Teen Choice Awards, this was back in 2014. Pretty Little Liars was the No. 1 show and everyone was obsessed with them. I was nominated for female web-star and when I walked into the venue, the cast of Pretty Little Liars walked in front of me. The announcer said my name two minutes after and the crowd screamed the same loudness as Pretty Little Liars. That's when I thought, 'Wow, people know who I am and cared.' Other people didn't get the same cheering so I know it was of value.
What do you think is the biggest misconception out there about influencers or YouTube stars?
I think the biggest misconception is that we have it easy. There are definitely some people that make it look like they are working hard and they aren't, but that's true for any industry. You will have people that on the outside look like they are doing the most but in reality they aren't doing anything. I think influencers get a bad reputation because there are so many of them now and a lot of them are born not doing much. But YouTube is who you follow, I always say that. You choose who shows up on your feed everyday. There are so many amazing people making content on the internet. You can surround your life with people who lift you up. You don't have to follow people just because they have followers. So, once you get caught in that trap I think you start to see the negative side of being an influencer but there are so many creative people out there you just have to find them.
What would you say is the biggest difference between you as an influencer and you in the real world, if there is one?
In the real world, I am very introverted which I guess people may not think about me. If I am with my friends, all I want to do is chill and I don't want to be in control. I usually am because I am a Leo and most of my friends are Cancers so they make me do everything which is annoying. All I ever want to do is chill, rock climb, camp and listen to Ben Howard. And on my YouTube, you see me as a hyper girl who does a lot of comedy. That is still me in person, but I am a pretty chill person. Maybe I put all of my energy into my videos, so when I am not making my videos, I just want to chill and listen to folk music.
What is your self-care go to when you want to unplug?
I have to listen to music all the time. I have speakers all throughout my house. If there is no music playing, I feel like my life is on pause. Sometimes I walk into peoples houses and they don't have music playing and I think that is the weirdest thing. I like to take a lot of baths. I collect a bunch of bath bombs. I don't really relax that much. Even when I am in the bath, I will bring a notebook and write music. My form of relaxing is painting and making music.
If you could go back and give yourself just starting out one piece of advice what would it be?
I want to say don't be afraid to be yourself. I was never afraid of that, I think that is why I got to where I am. There was definitely a period on my YouTube in 2016 where I felt like who I was as a person was changing but I felt like I had to stay true to who people thought I was. I think at that time I was more of myself in the new transitioning version of myself that I wish I stayed true to. Be authentic with your true self.
How do you decide what you will share with your followers/subscribers and what you want to keep private to yourself?
I think relationships. I always kept my relationships super public, but now I know I am not going to do that again. No one knows who I am dating, but everyone has ideas. I'm just keeping it super between me and the person because it is better that way.
Who do you follow and who are you keeping up with?
I am keeping up with Nikita Dragun. She is everything to me. Anything she does, I love. I follow a lot of my travel friends, like Chelsea Kauai. I follow low key fashion accounts, like little designers that are getting bigger. I follow musicians like Rosalia and a lot of DJs. I love Skrillex.
Is there anything you would like to promote?
Right now I am working on my clothing line, It's All Wild. We are launching in October, so just getting ready for that. It's going to be really exciting.